Solid horticultural practices define a landscape. When landscapers become complacent, your landscape prematurely ages. Low branching trees, dead wood in deciduous shrubs, excessive mulch around tree trunks, perennials running amuck all contribute to the aesthetic decline of your exterior environment. But you have a professional landscaper, so what's the problem?
Generally speaking, stale landscapes are usually a combination of neglect and complacency. Unfortunately, the problem isn't always as simple as hiring a good company. Antiquated landscapes are often the result of property managers and owners who lack the knowledge and expertise to identify the issues, paired by landscapers who simply provide the status quo.
The idea of fair and balanced competition seems logical on the surface, and when a property manager outsources landscape services, the first thing you'll usually hear are terms like 'Apple to Apples'. I've said it a thousand times, but we're talking about services, not apples. Competitive pricing usually begins with an expectation, a specification of services to be provided. Here in lies the first problem. RFP's (request for proposals) usually outline services on a line by line basis, but tend to fail when it comes to capturing the details that matter most. The product of such oversight is an aesthetically un-appealing and overrun landscape that in turn becomes a major capital project for renovation.
As with most relationships, communication is paramount. An understanding of the contributing factors of these issues are the first step in ensuring your landscape remains fresh, and an approach to constantly measuring these factors is what separates one company to the next. It takes an experienced contractor who sees the bigger, long term picture and a open minded property manager who understands the value of such expertise. Expertise that usually isn't found in any specification or RFP.
Case in point, enter the 'mulch volcano'. Over mulching has become a phenomenon by landscapers for the last 20 years resulting in excessive mounds of mulch climbing the base of tree trunks everywhere. When over-mulching occurs it's usually the result of a landscaper meeting the contract specifications and adding fresh mulch every year, as clearly defined in a landscape scope of work. Year after year the mulch piles climb up the tree trunks, above the root collar, opening up a myriad of issues for the tree. After a while, trees that survive the cracking bark, insect and disease infestation usually produce poor foliage, or develop rooting above the soil level. Before long it's too late to correct and the only alternative is replacement.
Perhaps nowhere does the term, "cheap is expensive" hold more true than in these circumstances. Landscape renovations have become the norm in larger scale commercial landscapes, as companies invest significant dollars into projects that could've been avoided through the cooperative management of basic horticultural standards between owner and landscape provider.
If you're interested in how to value engineer your project and get the most of your landscape investment, give us a call.
Below: Ornamental Flowering Pear Trees that once had excessive mulch "volcanoes" removed, tree saucers uniformly edged and correctly mulched using a high quality organic mulch.