Preventive Landscape Maintenance: A Long-Term Management Strategy for Efficiency and Cost Savings

By Michael D’Aversa of Cherry Logistics

Cherry Logistics Corporation, headquartered in North Aurora, Illinois, was founded in 2003 as a snow removal service. Since that time, the company has become a premier provider of consolidated facilities maintenance, commercial construction and emergency asset response services. Cherry Logistics is currently operating in 42 states.”

Cherry Logistics

The pressure to drive down prices, for example during a competitive landscape maintenance bidding event, may cause providers to consider cutting corners to make their bid seem more enticing. The immediate effects of such cuts may be negligible, if apparent at all, but the long-term consequences are fundamental and, unfortunately, quite common. If a bid seems too good to be true, it probably is. Preventive landscape maintenance services are not cheap, let alone free. They do, however, provide the best long-term value. Let’s explore these key areas individually.

1. Insect and Disease Control
Preventative insecticide applications as well as certain mechanical controls, such as physically removing bagworm egg sacks from host plants, will prevent insect damage before it occurs, but will also add expense to a landscape maintenance program. Similarly, preventative fungicide applications will stave off losses from disease, though the materials can be costly. Reducing application rates or the number of applications will reduce maintenance expenses, but the cost of replacing turf or ornamentals lost to insects or disease can be substantial, far greater than the costs associated with proper preventive control.

2. Irrigation Audits
When properly carried out by a qualified specialist, irrigation system audits ensure that equipment is kept in optimal working order and various landscape plants receive watering in appropriate amounts and frequencies. While upfront maintenance costs can be reduced by omitting audits or reducing them to visual inspections by the maintenance crew, irrigation repairs and plant replacements will eventually mount as the result and the out-of-scope expenses will quickly surpass any in-scope cost reduction.

3. Soil Management
Nutrient levels and organic matter content become depleted over time, in virtually all soil types. In order to prolong plant life, these components should be replenished as needed. If replenishment is reduced or omitted, in order to cut maintenance costs, for example, landscape plants will not thrive and some will inevitably perish. The reason for plant loss may not be apparent and the cost of more frequent plant replacement will be far greater than the cost of proper soil management, as part of a sound landscape maintenance program.

4. Pruning
Besides maintaining desired sizes and shapes, tree and shrub pruning is often performed to promote healthy vigorous growth, flowering or fruiting. The consequences of not pruning at all include overgrowth, cracks, disease, drooping or broken branches and defective growth. Some trees and shrubs may eventually outgrow their space to the point that they can no longer be aesthetically pruned back. Others may perish from unseen damage from cracking or the spread of disease. Either way, expensive removal and replacement, which could have been prevented through proper cultural practices, will become necessary.

By now you have probably recognized the pattern. Experience has taught us that focusing on preventive maintenance in the four categories described above will lead to savings in landscape services expenditures over the long term. This is why many companies already have them written into their comprehensive scope of work documentation. But unless these critical areas of preventive maintenance are being addressed by the service provider(s), landscape losses will mount— often without apparent cause — and the savings will not be achieved.

Please contact the experts at Cherry Logistics to learn how you can streamline your landscape-related processes to reduce long-term landscape maintenance expenditures.

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