When it comes to deciding what to put in your commercial landscaping contract, you want to be smart about your choices. After all, adding commercial landscaping services to your contract that you don’t actually need to be performed every year can be a waste of money.
As a company that prides itself on being transparent when it comes to commercial landscaping contracts, we often advise HOA boards and commercial property managers to look for the savings opportunities that can come with designating certain services to be “as-needed” in the contract.
Let’s look at some examples.
Understanding the Regional Differences in Commercial Landscaping Services
Before we get into any specifics regarding services included in a landscape contract, we want to point out that as a national company we have the ability to look at trends from a big picture perspective. One thing that we’ve noticed is that the demand for specific commercial landscaping services can differ regionally.
For instance, in Florida, annual mulch installation is almost always included in the contract price. In fact, when we suggest that a property manager in Florida consider mulch as an “as-needed item,” we sometimes get a look back at us like we have two heads! There really is a regional aspect to what’s included in a landscape contract.
Of course, for our Florida clients who want mulch included, it means that they are taking the cost of mulching and spreading it out over the 12 months of their contract. Because of Florida’s year-round warm climate and the fact that plant beds are important all year long, there is never a circumstance where mulch wouldn’t be needed. Because of that, this plan makes the most sense for them, but it’s often the quantity of mulch they think they need that becomes an opportunity for cost savings.
As in many other areas of the country, mulch can very easily be included in a landscape contract on an “as-needed” basis.
With that example in mind, we want to point out that we recognize these suggestions might not be the right fit for everyone. The takeaway from this list has more to do with encouraging you, the professional community or property manager, to think about what your specific property truly needs and what can be performed as an add-on, when it’s really needed.
While each property is unique and there will be differences, we don’t want to charge clients for something they don’t need, and more than you want to pay more for services or materials than you really need to achieve your landscape maintenance goals.
Commercial Landscaping Services that Could be Made As-Needed Items
As you consider which commercial landscaping services will be a “must-have” on your contract, there are others that could be made “as-needed.” We often find that clients can be reluctant to do this, but the fact is, it can save them money in the long run.
Consider these three examples.
1. Pruning Services for Tall Trees
If you have all of your pruning services included in your commercial landscape contract, it’s possible that you might not be getting your money’s worth for that expense each year. The fact is, there are certain hardwoods that just don’t need to be heavily pruned every year.
We think it makes a lot of sense to make tall tree care an “as-needed” item so that you’re only paying for exactly what you need, in the years you need it done.
2. Seasonal Flower Installations
Like mulch, seasonal flower installations are one of those items that we have found are often regional variances in opinion about including in a landscape maintenance contract. Again, in Florida and other warmer climates, flowers are almost always included in the contract because they’re such a vital aspect of a landscape’s aesthetic appeal. With a year-round warm climate, most commercial properties and communities are expecting seasonal flower change-outs all year-round.
However, in other parts of the country, it might make sense to include seasonal flower enhancements on an “as-needed” basis. There may be times of the year that you decide to forgo a large seasonal flower installation, or reduce the number of flowers in the rotation in order to spend money on another need that’s come up. With a contract that includes a predetermined flower rotation schedule, it’s more difficult to re-allocate those monies for emergencies.
3. Mulching, Pinestraw, and Other Bed Coverings
As we mentioned, mulching and other types of planting bed covers are another example of a service that certain properties are going to think is a necessity and must be included. But with mulching, rarely do you need the full allotment of mulch that is often included in the scope of your contract with every application. Many times it might just mean freshening the bed up.
We believe that if you just pay for what you need each year, you can save money in the long run on mulch. The same goes for pine straw. Rather than including it in the contract, you can pay for it per bundle with each application, so that you don’t end up paying for more than you actually need.
Commercial Landscaping Services that Should be Part of the Contract
Again, our point in writing this article is to ask you, the reader, to think differently about items that you can pull from the contract and instead, pay for as needed, in order to save you money. Obviously, there are certain regular maintenance services that you will always want to be included without question - services like mowing, edging, and trimming.
And it’s also important to keep in mind that there are some services that can be really problematic to include on an “as-needed” basis, as you’ll end up spending unnecessary time having to constantly approve requests.
Monthly irrigation checks and repairs are a prime example of this.
Our recommendation is to put a monthly irrigation parts and labor “do not exceed amount” into your commercial landscaping contract. That creates an opportunity for repairs to be completed seamlessly, without having to check back before replacing a very minor part of the irrigation system.
That’s important for you as a commercial property manager or an HOA manager or board member. After all, you have better things to do with your time than approve a $50 charge here or there. But when you come up with a monthly “do not exceed” amount, then any charge which is going to put you over that set amount will need to get approved. Anything under that is good to go!
Getting the Most out of Your Commercial Landscaping Contract
We know that there are plenty of companies offering commercial landscaping services that would like you to include everything in your contract. They know full well that you won’t get the most out of that investment by doing this. For instance, you may not need as much pruning or as much mulch as you sign up for—but they’ll get to make the most possible money from you.
While it’s unfortunate this often happens in our industry, you should know, that’s simply not how Yellowstone Landscape operates. We wouldn’t be writing this article if that were the case.
We want you to see us as a trusted partner in landscaping and be able to get a lot of value out of our guidance.
That means that we want to help you get the most out of your commercial landscaping contract investment. We don’t want to see you paying for services that you don’t need or that you might make changes to down the road. As a result, we’re more than happy to help you set up some landscaping services as “as needed” while including others that you can’t live without.
We also recognize that there is no uniform approach to this. There might be services that are incredibly important to your property—or that regionally, are in-demand—and those will make sense for you to include. Sometimes, for maximum value, including services makes more sense.
It all depends on your expectations and your specific property’s needs.
Your Customized Approach to Commercial Landscaping Services
We understand that no two properties are alike, so you shouldn’t expect two commercial landscape contracts to be alike, either. You should determine the level of care and what commercial landscaping services are most vital to your property, and go from there.
That may sound daunting but know that you’re not alone in that effort. You don’t have to figure all of this out without help.
At Yellowstone Landscape, we are available to guide you in the process of creating a contract that is going to get you the maximum return on each dollar spent in your landscape. Since you can truly count on us to not push services we believe you can hold off on, you can trust that we’re offering advice with your property's best interest at heart. That means you’ll get the most out of your contract, save money where you’re able, and have a landscape that everyone loves. In the end, that makes you look like the hero.
Are you looking for a commercial landscaping company that will guide you on landscape contract items in an honest and transparent way? Request a consultation today. We’ll meet to learn more about your property and its challenges and come up with a comprehensive plan to take care of all of the details for you.