Making sure you have a good gardener or landscaper maintaining your property is critical in the sense that your garden is what people see and make easy judgements upon. You might have more important issues to hand like blocked drains, uncompliant fire systems, and even asbestos lurking around – but if the external areas look a mess, then game over.
This can then knock on to values and costs, so a residential block suddenly flourishing in values and rents when people love the garden, or a commercial retail park suddenly having reduced service charges by the largest landscaping cost being under control.
Managing the Right Contractor
So in short, make sure you are using the best possible contractor, providing the most impressive service, and all coming in dead cheap. This may be through a local hands-on local contractor, or a larger national corporate as part of a larger deal – whatever it is, you need to manage them correctly.
It’s therefore important to bring in some good property management skills and make sure this is happening. Even when the basic instruction and service is there, it’s that extra-mile detail that will pay off and save you a pile of trouble later.
Therefore with this in mind, here are our ten top-tips for getting this right.
1. How Often They Attend
Although instinctively you might say every week, fortnight, or month on an ongoing basis, it’s often worth taking an annual total and adjusting the frequencies through out the year.
So if you total 20 yearly visits, this may mean fortnightly in the summer months and monthly in the winter ones to account for more work in the summer growing period.
Payment wise though it may benefit everyone to even out to the same monthly amount to regulate cashflow.
2. Your Ears on the Ground
Gardeners themselves along with cleaners are often the contractors at site most often, and therefore they can help communicate back any day-to-day issues, even if they don’t relate to their role.
With today’s technology this could include a quick photo or an email, and even notes being left and sign-sheets being updated.
A classic example is refuse stores getting full of rubbish, or any obvious disrepairs.
3. The Seasonal Perspective
A good gardener will take a longer-term perspective in their job and relish taking time to ensure that plants grow, vegetation flourishes, and things get pruned back ready for the next season. Often the quieter winter months can allow for this, with the summer ones being busy with bog-standard grass cutting and hedge trimming, say.
Even buying plants out of season can be cost effective, and planning for issues like leaves in autumn can be a huge help.
4. The Add-on Services
There will unfortunately always be those little extra jobs within property management, some which may overlap with the landscaper in terms of their skill-set but also by the fact that they are on site.
So grounds work like re-slabbing and walls and fences, or tree cutting may or may not be possible by the landscaper – plus more specialist ones like bulb changes and drain clears.
In some cases it may be worth them doing direct or managing a sub-contractor, but make sure it’s being correctly managed and charged for.
5. How They Do It
So drill down into how they will practically carry out the job – from access and parking vans, to using and storing equipment, to even noise levels with machinery.
Organising this early on can save a huge amount of hassle and problem-solving afterwards.
6. Getting Health & Safety Compliant
Just as with other contractors, this needs addressing right through from policies, to insurance cover, to risk assessments.
Watch out for detail like how they safely use sharp tools and electric machinery, and deal with substances like weed killer which may fall under COSHH obligations.
7. That Personable Touch
This is a subtle one but can make a huge difference.
Whatever actual gardeners you have on site, make sure they behave well with some good old fashioned good manners. Obvious things like foul language or excessive smoking can be noticed by occupiers and residents, and even less obvious ones like lack of elbow grease and individuals slowing down or even stood just watching.
8. The Walk Around
This is real simple but will always work by the nature of the job – just walk around the whole site with the gardener and chat through what has been done and what needs doing.
You’ll both naturally spot and remember issues as you go around, and a whole stream of head-knowledge from a good gardener can demonstrate that behind the scenes there is a lot of thought and often passion going into things.
9. A Load of Rubbish
They’re naturally going to generate lots of rubbish, both direct vegetation and, say, grass cuttings, plus any other litter and even fly tipping.
By having correct procedures for waste removal they can often easily help with the larger items, and even if they can’t then help organise others who can do.
10. Watching the Use
The way people use an area will then affect how it’s managed.
Cars parked or items stored on grass means a gardener can’t then access with a lawnmower, or people may be causing litter and rubbish out of context.
Even regular use of a path or washing line can cause issues with worn-down grass and excessive rubbish.
Seeing the Best From a Landscaper Gardener
So whether you’re a tenant occupier wanting help with your garden, a landlord needing to instruct external works through a service charge, or a managing agent dealing with complex landscaping contracts – these above pointers will help you bring out the best in the service.
Remember that getting this right not only makes the property look amazing, but this will undoubtedly filter through to better values and rents, and reduced costs. And of course more enjoyable outside spaces that look top notch.
If in doubt, shop around, and take advice. Even just simply chatting through with the contractor as above and walking the site can suddenly bring to light all these issues, to then begin on the path of a blossoming garden.
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