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Schill Grounds Management Blog

What's Included in a Commercial Landscaping Contract?

landscaping contract.pngUnderstanding commercial landscaping contracts can be difficult, whether you’re looking for corporate landscaping, HOA landscape maintenance, or apartment landscaping. In fact, that’s why our guide to Landscape Maintenance Pricing is our most popular free resource.

Never ones to shy away from tough questions, we created an outline of all the services that can be potentially included in every contract so that property managers might understand them better.

Size, scope, and frequency

Before we get into the types of services offered in a commercial landscape maintenance contract, it’s crucial for us to mention the three most important factors that will determine the ultimate price of your bid: property size, project scope, and frequency of service. The size of your landscape is the surface area of all the greenspace on your property. The larger the property, the more your fuel, labor, and material costs will increase.

Unlike some providers of HOA, apartment, or corporate landscaping, the Schill team does not provide maintenance on a per service basis. Instead, we schedule work on a contract basis for the entire landscape maintenance season, which is 38 to 40 weeks long, and our crews can be scheduled to visit your property 28-32 times to mow during that period, with several additional visits scheduled for fertilizer, pruning, and landscape detailing. As you probably guessed, an increase in the frequency of service will lead to an increase in the cost of your landscape maintenance.

The scope of services in your contract is simply an outline of which services your landscape maintenance provider is performing. To make things simple, we’ve broken down these services into the following categories: general seasonal care, irrigation and sprinkler care, plant and horticultural care, and enhancements. 

Different care for each season

4 seasons.pngNortheast Ohio is blessed to have four seasons, and each requires a different approach based on how it will affect your landscape.

Some of our clients get the bulk of their care during the spring, whereas others will get more care in the summer and fall. Each property has different needs, and the following is a basic summary of what we do throughout the year.

Late spring is generally when we do the bulk of our annual planting, although fall is another time of year when certain types of flowers bloom and thrive.

Throughout the spring and summer, our crews are out mowing turf about 11,000 times per year as well as fertilizing and detailing landscapes. Throughout the fall we’re busy blowing the leaves that fall from the deciduous trees on our client’s properties, though we do some autumn planting during this time as well.

In winter we focus on snow and ice removal services, and we classify those contracts differently. To learn more about the three main types of commercial snow and ice removal contracts, read our article outlining the differences.

Plant and Horticultural Care

Here at Schill, we care about making sure your perennials, flowers, trees, and shrubs look great, but we also want to keep them healthy. For example, we make sure your trees and shrubs look well groomed by pruning them. This could mean trimming them to maintain their growth in the summer or practicing dormant pruning in winter to make sure plants are healthy. In addition to this, we also promote plant health with organic fertilizer and by monitoring for insects and diseases.

Bed Care

schill_mulch_post.pngTypically, any mulching that’s done to flower or plant beds is classified as bed care. This includes everything from the installation of flower beds to maintaining them by adding mulch, etc. We take mulch very seriously here at Schill, as you can see from our comprehensive review of 9 different types of mulch (3 of which we actively use).

And once that mulch is applied, we make sure that as much of it stays in its place as possible by blowing and raking any that gets displaced by wind or foot traffic. In addition to this, bed care also includes the prevention of unwanted plants by weeding.


Fertilizer Application

Contrary to popular opinion, plants don’t just need water and sunlight to thrive. There are a host of environmental factors that determine how healthy they will be, and the key to ensuring that health starts with the soil.

Schill Grounds Management uses a hybrid of approach to make sure your flowers, turf, and shrubs are getting the nutrients.

grubs_under_turf.jpg

Pest Control

No landscape is impervious to pests. As silly as it sounds, it’s easy to forget that your landscape is a part of nature, and that animals and insects will always be a part of that ecosystem. However, Northeast Ohio is home to a variety of insects that can wreak havoc on your trees, shrubs, turf, and flowers.

Just like a few squirrels on your property can be cute while a few hundred is an ecological nightmare, an infestation of pests like grubs or chinch bugs on your lawn, or leaf hopper and aphids on your trees and shrubs should be treated immediately.

The Schill team knows how to spot the differences between bugs that are harmless or even beneficial to your plants, versus insects that feed on and leach nutrients from your trees and shrubs.

Disease Treatment

Like pests, no Northeast Ohio property is completely immune to the immense variety of plant diseases commonly found here. The most common are red thread, rust, dollar spot, as well as pink and gray snow mold. Disease can crop up on even the healthiest of landscapes because common weather occurrences, like excessive rain, heat, and humidity are the primary contributors to increases of disease in the area. And, unfortunately, each species of plant on your property will have a different vulnerability. The most important step we can take in preventing diseases is making sure that the soil is as healthy as possible. We accomplish this by using organic fertilizer designed to provide nourishment; just like a vitamin deficiency can lead to scurvy in humans, adding nutrients to your soil can cure and prevent many diseases.

dollar_spot.pngIt’s vital that disease is treated as soon as it crops up, as anything from foot traffic to mowers can help spread it. While many diseases will go away on their own, others may require additional treatments that your standard lawn care programs do not cover.

Our clients don’t have to worry, as the Schill team is trained to recognize several varieties of diseases commonly found on turf, trees, and shrubs. However, if your lawn has experienced any issues with disease in the past, it’s important to let your service provider know so that preventative measures can be added to your maintenance program.

Irrigation Care

While not all commercial properties have irrigation systems, we know that it’s a big investment for those that do. We want to protect that investment by making sure your equipment is working properly. This can not only save you thousands by helping to prevent water waste, but also reduce the impact that your landscape has on the environment.

A Schill team member performs quality audits on each property we service several times per season. During these audits, we are checking for obvious signs of damage to your sprinkler heads (i.e. are they broken, do they raise and lower to the correct heights, do they show signs of wear and tear).

Irrigation Audit

5505107751_7298672b93_b.jpgOnce every three years, we recommend that a comprehensive irrigation audit be performed. This includes doing a full inventory of your irrigation system that will result in GPS coordinates being assigned to all heads, valves, and controllers on the property. This will indicate whether your system is configured correctly based on the types of plants throughout your landscape, which is important because too often, changes are made to a landscape’s design without taking into consideration the systems already in place. For instance, it’s not uncommon for annuals to be removed from an area while a sprinkler head continues to water that zone daily, wasting gallons of water and quite a bit of money.

Like in every other aspect of our lives, technology for irrigation is always changing. Irrigation audits also help make sure that your property's irrigation system is running as efficiently as the changes in technology allow.

Our irrigation expert also uses a pressure gauge to test for leaks below the surface, which a simple quality audit wouldn’t catch. Finally, sprinkler heads are evaluated to make sure they’re watering evenly, and rain sensors are checked to make sure that they’re turning off your irrigation system when it’s raining significantly.

Enhancements

Enhancements are our blanket term for optional services that enhance the appearance of your property but are not necessary for proper maintenance. We’ve written several articles about each of our enhancement services, but we’ve listed them for you below as well. Overall, our most popular types of enhancements are landscape installation and design, color care, pond maintenance and goose control, and holiday décor.

Landscape Installation and Design

Landscape installation and design services can include everything from an initial build from scratch on a new property, or making adjustments to a landscape that’s already being maintained. This can consist of everything from adding a simple flower bed to a landscape, to adding a 500-gallon fountain or a paved patio. General upgrades, like the initial installation of an irrigation system, can also be included under this category.


flowers-0016.jpgColor care refers to the installation and maintenance of annual flowers, typically in spring and fall. Not all properties get flowering plants that change with the seasons, but annuals are an investment that need special care.

The Schill team protects that investment by making sure that flowers are watered daily, whether via the property’s irrigation system or manually by one of our water trucks.

Pond Maintenance and Goose Control

Quite a few of the properties we service have ponds or some sort of large water feature, though they are in the minority due to storm water management regulations that can be demanding. Ponds provide great curb appeal but they require very specialized care and can be magnets for some invasive species of birds. We conduct regular examinations to make sure that our client’s ponds are ready for their annual inspections. This means constantly removing debris and monitoring stress on soil embankments, as well as looking for signs of erosion.

geese 3.jpgGeese are adorable creatures to everyone except the people who have to deal with them on a regular basis, who know that the waste the birds leave behind can cause an increase in invasive weeds and damage aquatic life. Here at Schill, we specialize in humane ways to deter geese from ponds and water features, including simple solutions like inconspicuous temporary fencing, noisemakers, and predator decoys. In addition to geese, Groundhogs and other rodents can also be a nuisance to property managers and owners with ponds. As they make your pond their home, they often dig holes near the water basin, which can contribute to erosion.

Holiday Décor

christmas_story_2-552696-edited.jpgRinging in the holidays is crucially important for the retail properties we serve, but it can also be a great way to add value to tenants in apartments or senor living facilities, as well as to members of homeowners' associations. For example, we create eye-catching fall harvest-themed displays for properties like St. Mary of the Woods, which the tenants there thoroughly enjoy.

Whether it’s for Christmas, Chanukah, or other holiday celebrations, we’re happy to string lights and hang silver bells for customers to safely enjoy as winter approaches.

And, as the official decorator of Cleveland’s famous house from The Christmas Story, we feel confident in saying that we’re among the best for bringing holiday cheer to Northeast Ohio’s commercial landscapes.

 

Schill wants to be your partner in comprehensive landscape maintenance

So what does a seasonal landscaping contract include? Well, it depends! Each of the categories above is fully customizable. We’ve even installed some xeriscapes for clients that require almost no maintenance other than some occasional aesthetic adjustments like pruning and blowing.

The Schill team has worked with hundreds of property managers and homeowners’ associations to help them discover what type of care is best for their landscapes. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you get the most out of your environment, or download our landscape maintenance pricing guide below to learn even more about landscape maintenance contracts.

Commercial Landscaping E-Book

 

Topics: Irrigation, Landscape Maintenance, Plants, Enhancements & Add-On Services

Jerry Schill

Written by Jerry Schill

Jerry Schill is president and co-owner of Schill Grounds Management. He's received numerous accolades for his leadership in the Northeast Ohio business community and the commercial landscaping and snow management industry, including the National Leadership Award from SNOW Magazine and Lawn and Landscape Magazine. He is an active member of the Legislative Committee for the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) and the Snow and Ice Committee for the Ohio Landscapers Association (OLA).

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