Trust is a vital part of any business relationship, and when it comes to property management, trusting contractors is essential. As a property manager, you must balance the needs of tenants, investors, management, and other stakeholders. You don’t have time to micromanage contractors or make sure that every job is done perfectly.
In that spirit of trust, here’s a list of six things your landscape contractor is probably afraid to tell you, but this information is important to know to get the most out of your landscape and contractor.
1. This is not the only property we service
It takes a lot of properties to make the combination of quality service and affordable pricing possible. Many expensive pieces of equipment are required to make tasks and crews more efficient and deliver a great finished product. Landscapers must average these costs across many customers in order to keep pricing budget friendly. This also means when a windstorm causes tree damage, or a snowstorm accumulates on the ground quickly, all of the properties are experiencing the same issues and everyone wants to be first on the route. Landscapers want to get to everyone as fast as possible and routes should be planned to best accommodate everyone’s needs and wants, reasonably. Landscapers must have enough clients on each route to be profitable but not too many; each property needs to be serviced in a timely fashion. A good landscaper will work with you to accommodate your property’s specific requirements.
2. Your grass is dying
Every blade of grass has a life expectancy much like leaves on a tree. The life span will vary depending on soil conditions, available water, shade, sun, etc. Because of cosmetic desires, grass gets cut before it ever has a chance to germinate and does not naturally reproduce enough new grass to keep your turf areas lush and green over time. If your landscape plan or budget does not allow for new seed, top dressings of fresh compost or aeration, you have essentially made a plan for your grass to die over time and allow weeds to grow where once healthy grass lived. Good turf keeps out bad weeds.
3. Weeds happen
Landscapers can’t control weeds. They can take all the precautions in the world to avoid them, but nature always finds a way. It’s important to know weeds will happen, and when they do, your landscaper can take care of them but eliminating them entirely is impossible. Weed seeds will find their way into every crack and crevice around your walkways, parking lots, bare spots in your garden and unhealthy areas of your turf. Spraying for weeds is the last thing your landscaper should want to do. Instead, discuss natural prevention strategies to reduce weeds such as organic mulches, proper turf care and properly maintained hard-surface areas.
4. Not everything is included in your contract
Before you sign a contract make sure you understand all the terms. Routine maintenance and seasonal maintenance, for example, are often confused with one another and property enhancements are typically completed “on-request” or “as-needed”. Routine maintenance refers to mowing, edging, reasonable debris clean up, garden maintenance and weeding, etc. Seasonal maintenance could mean pruning, aerating, mulching and other horticultural requirements. Everything should be clearly defined in your landscape contract, including costs for one-time services you may request later. You should discuss your long-term goals for the property and know what’s included in your regular contract and what could be charged in addition to those services.
5. Pruning is done regularly but not too frequently
Pruning is a very specialized and delicate process. Blanket pruning every tree and shrub on every visit is a great way to kill your plants. Your landscaper should be pruning regularly enough to keep everything looking good but not so frequently they are wasting time and potentially damaging the plants. Not every shrub should be carved into a circle or a square either; your landscaper should be using correct horticultural techniques to enhance the natural qualities, health and beauty of each plant species.
6. More is not always better
Finding a landscape contractor who does everything is not always ideal – many over promise and under deliver and it’s better to find a contractor that is laser-focused on your type of property. Ensure you choose a landscape contractor with the right team and equipment to handle the needs of your property.
Many contractors will tell you they can do everything; most cannot. It is important for you to confirm what your contractor tells you; ask to see equipment lists, insurance certificates, training tools used with staff, or even their office space and equipment yard. The right landscaper will want to be transparent and tell you what their business is focused on and any limitations they might have servicing your property. A good contractor should be willing to walk away from work that doesn’t fit their company portfolio; you should ensure your property matches the contractor’s expertise.
When you interview a landscape contractor for your commercial property, make sure to bring up these topics. Their willingness to be open and candid about the things landscapers don’t usually talk about is a great indication of their level of experience and competence. Not to mention, discussing these finer landscaping points can help you build a trusting business relationship with your landscape company.
Written by Paul Lammers
Paul Lammers is the vice-president of operations with Garden Grove Landscaping. Garden Grove provides Commercial Landscape Management Services across the Golden Horseshoe, GTA and Southwestern Ontario. Paul may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-996-1099.