Professional Landscape Maintenance…NOT!

The Few, The Proud, The Busy

There is not a week that goes by that a client doesn’t ask for a landscape maintenance company recommendation. These homeowners know enough about their landscape that they recognize inadequate or inappropriate care and are frustrated.

I know of only a few professional maintenance contractors that do site-specific maintenance. By site-specific I mean these companies treat each property individually with their knowledge and experience. They know what, how and when to prune. They understand different plants and what each like and dislike. They spot problems or potential problems, advise the homeowner and then solve them.

Most landscape maintenance companies that operate at this level are relatively small. It’s just logistically difficult to do this kind of professional landscape maintenance on a volume basis.

As it stands, I don’t have anyone to recommend for this type of service.  The few companies I know who work this way have “waiting lists” for new customers.  Imagine that – a “waiting list” in this down economy!

The Many, The Mediocre

Well, it’s that time of year again. Landscape maintenance crews race to get all their accounts cleaned, edged and fertilized before the lawn cutting regimen starts. Stay out of their way or they’ll unknowingly throw you in the leaf barrel. Hey, I get it – you have to work fast to make schedule. What I don’t get is why some of them do more harm then good in their haste.

In the picture above this garden was recently installed and mulched. Without a second thought the maintenance crew went into “auto mode” and edged the beds tossing the dirt edgings onto the clean mulch and into the necks of the plants. Now it looks like *&@#, the mulch is commingled with the dirt (defeating the weed preventive ability) and the constant buildup of dirt and excess mulch under the plants is detrimental to the health of the plant.

Here’s the solution: When you edge the bed avoid the urge to fling the dirt edgings up into the garden and keep them within 6 to 8″ of the edge. Now ask another guy to follow behind with a 5 gal. bucket and pick up the dirt clumps. Wala!…a nice sharp edge without trashing the mulch and burying the plants!

Here’s another example of thoughtless work. We had installed this wood lamp post and the electrician had set the junction box leaving the cover plate off because his work was not finished.

The surrounding bed had been neatly edged and the mulch set just below the wood base and junction box.

Evidently when we left for the day the maintenance company came in to “do their thing.” The new mulch was tossed up onto the wood base of the lamp post and into the open junction box. You would think there would have been one person on that crew that had the common sense to see “the obvious” and leave well-enough alone.

It didn’t take us too long to re-distribute the mulch and clean out the electrical junction box. What really eats at my core is that crap work like this denigrates the trade and the knowledgeable people who do professional landscape maintenance well. The notion that this homeowner was paying for this service makes it almost criminal.

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