Why Spring is the Right Time to Review Your Commercial Landscape Contract

Posted by Joseph Barnes on Mar 4, 2024 10:38:20 AM

Springtime brings with it the most radical changes of any of the four seasons. And those changes can happen quickly. That’s why we encourage property managers and business owners to revisit their landscape maintenance contracts before spring arrives. 

There’s no reason to wait until your landscape maintenance provider has already begun springtime maintenance before re-familiarizing yourself with what is and what is not included in your service agreement. Nobody likes surprise charges popping up on your bill, or being told that certain services aren’t included, and that’s just a couple of the things that could happen if you’re not clear on the terms of your landscape provider’s contract. 

Your Current Landscape Maintenance Contract Specifications

Let’s start with something we hear about often when winter’s chill starts to thaw.

Irrigation systems, especially large-scale commercial systems with many zones can be complex to maintain. Add in aging technology and several hard winters and all-inclusive sprinkler system maintenance pricing can be almost impossible to predict. That’s why many property managers and owners may feel taken advantage of when they see additional charges beyond basic startup and shutdown services that are often included in a landscape agreement.

The best way to avoid surprises or confusion is to read through your current landscape maintenance contract. If possible, do so in a quiet environment with no interruptions. This can help you avoid missing contract details that give you a heads-up about potential additional charges. If you have questions or want additional clarifications, highlight the section and schedule a time to talk through it with your landscape contractor’s representative.


Here is a short list of the standard services included in most commercial landscape maintenance contract specifications:

  • Mowing, trimming, edging, blowing off surfaces 
  • Shrub pruning and  trimming
  • Seasonal flower rotations 
  • Aeration of turf areas
  • Fertilization of turf areas and beds
  • Weed control of turf areas and beds 
  • Irrigation system testing, startup, and shut down

However, since each property is unique, as are the needs of the property manager and the client, your specific contract terms may not have all the above “standard” services included. 

Let’s look closer at the lines that divide standard, included items from additional services.

Contrasting Standard vs. Additional Services

Let’s say, for instance, that a giant oak tree toppled in a late March storm that hit your property. Most clients would see this as an event that would require additional service outside of the standard scope of a landscape agreement, but not all. When special equipment or additional manpower is needed for a large cleanup, it’s generally going to come with additional expense. That it’s necessary so that your contractor can resume normal services after the cleanup is complete.

We mentioned irrigation maintenance earlier, as an example of one of the more complicated services in landscape maintenance, with each property using varying numbers of irrigation stations and sprinkler heads. It would be difficult for a landscaping company to give accurate pricing to cover all the necessary irrigation repairs that could present themselves during the entire year.

Any “all-inclusive” price is likely a very high estimate that would cover the contractor’s worst-case scenario. This is costly for the property owner since they will likely be paying for services they may never receive. 


At Yellowstone Landscape, we advise the majority of our clients to designate irrigation repairs as an “as-needed” service. This saves our clients money as they only pay for work that’s done, when the system needs repair or adjustment. In some cases, clients pre-authorize up to a set monthly amount, freeing our irrigation technicians to make emergency repairs, without having to wait for approval, which can save valuable time and money for our client in the long run.

The responsibility rests on both the provider and property owner (before signing an agreement) to understand which services are included in the annual pricing and which services will only be done as needed—at additional cost. And the approval process for any additional service should also be clearly defined and included in the text of the landscape services agreement. 

But we do understand that things can change…

Is the Scope of Maintenance Accurate?

A question many property managers and owners forget to ask themselves: “Does my current contract still align with my property’s needs?” A lot can change over what might be several months since you initially signed your commercial landscape contract. 

Here are a few examples of circumstances that may warrant changes to your landscape maintenance contract terms:

  • New construction on the property
  • Extreme winter weather damage 
  • Improvements and other enhancements to newly landscaped areas
  • Landscape damaged by wildlife 

Also, it’s important to understand if your needs or the desires of the client for the landscape have changed over the months since signing your agreement. Are you interested in upgrading the property aesthetics to attract new residents with higher-quality HOA landscape maintenance? Has the market become more competitive, and now you need more frequent provider visits to give the property enhanced curb appeal to compete with neighboring properties? 


And often, it just comes down to the quality of the service and the communication you’re receiving from your landscaper. You may know exactly what’s in your landscape maintenance contract, but if your provider is constantly falling short of the service that should be provided, overcoming that shortfall without switching landscaping companies may no longer be possible.

Adjusting for New Additions or Changes  

The best way to make adjustments to a commercial landscape contract is to walk the property before spring with your landscape contractor’s account manager and talk about what may need to change, and why. It helps to have already created a map clearly defining areas you both agreed on for services so you can compare and contrast changes to the property’s current condition.

Once you’ve both noted any changes, it’s as simple as asking to have certain services added to the existing agreement. Two simple recent example scenarios one client asked for were:

  • Crabapple trees required special care, so they requested a switch to regular services being included in their agreement, rather than treating them as-needed.
  • Pest control for an invasive species, tent caterpillars, that go from no problem one year to major outbreaks the next.

Preparing and Recovering for Spring

From year to year, winter will make its mark on your property’s landscape. To get an accurate quote for winter damage repairs, a dedicated account manager is a must. There are lots of things to check for, but some of the most common items are dead shrubs and trees (or limbs), metal railings and doorways with salt damage, and flowers and plants that didn’t survive a deep freeze. 

This spring property check-up is also the perfect time for you to talk about your landscape “wish list” items with your account manager. Some list items might fit into the budget as is, especially if there are pre-authorized limits already established for as-needed items and services.

And don’t forget to note dates for spring and summer flower installations. Weather patterns change from year to year, so installation schedules may need tweaking. 

Communicating with Your Landscape Maintenance Provider

At Yellowstone Landscape we’re firm believers in clear, proactive communication. It can’t be overstated how vital this is to getting an accurate initial estimate and a service agreement that meets the property owner’s needs and expectations. With this foundation and continued open communication, contract adjustments, and updates should go smoothly.

What aspects of property management bolster communication with a landscape maintenance company? Some key ones are below:

  • Understanding needs versus wants
  • Focusing on safety and urgent needs first
  • Being realistic about the budget
  • Smart long-term planning

Contract Review and Renewal Tips

Budget changes and challenges are always a consideration when renewing and revisiting a landscape maintenance agreement. Additionally, having a partner you feel comfortable continuing to work with is just as important. Partnering with a company that has your best interests in mind and employees you can trust to do what was promised means less work for you as the property manager or owner.

Here are seven things to consider before renewing a landscape contract:

  1. Are there any included standard services you should switch to as-needed?
  2. Do you understand all the standard services and what services will add extra cost?
  3. Is the relationship with your provider a positive and honest one?
  4. Is there any ambiguity in the agreement that needs to be documented?
  5. Have your property’s needs changed?
  6. How open is your landscaper to making changes to the agreement? 
  7. Did the provider deliver what was promised?

Revisiting Commercial Landscape Contracts Before Spring

Springtime is a time for rebirth, renewal, and new beginnings - and that applies to your commercial landscape contract, too. Revisiting your contract’s terms and scope can provide a chance for positive changes to be made before the hard work of spring and summer gets started. When you're partnering with a landscape maintenance company that wants what’s best for you and your property, contract changes and updates should be easy to navigate.

Now’s the time to get ahead of the game. Don’t be afraid to be proactive in reviewing your current service agreement and acknowledge the changes to your property’s landscape over time. Then, communicate any concerns with your provider before spring rolls back in. This way, contact updates can be handled without delaying any vital services that are needed immediately.

Don’t let spring catch you off guard. Change is always right around the corner, and Yellowstone Landscape is here to help you achieve a beautiful commercial property and offer an experienced perspective on ways to stretch your budget further with a flexible landscape maintenance agreement. Contact Yellowstone Landscape today.

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Joseph Barnes

About The Author

Joseph Barnes

Joseph Barnes has served as Marketing Manager of Yellowstone Landscape since 2013. He writes on a variety of topics related to the commercial landscaping industry.