The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly of Landscape Maintenance Contracts

If landscaping companies were created equal, it wouldn’t matter who you chose to manage your landscaping maintenance contract. Everyone would show up on time, do the job you hired them to do, and we could all get on with our days. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works in the real world, and the landscaping companies you entrust with your maintenance makes all the difference in the world. 

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If you don’t know what to look for, you might not think there’s much difference between company A and company B. So you choose whichever logo you like best or the company that’s going to save you $60 per week, and that’s when it starts.


The window they gave you was between eight and ten in the morning. You work at a restaurant and your lunch rush starts around eleven. They’re five minutes outside the window. Ten. When they finally arrive, they park on the curb, just outside the restaurant, and block the new sandwich board you just had painted. They water the flowers first, so the seats on the patio dry, but that means they’ve got to edge last, and now your best customer has grass clippings flying into his steak salad.


It’s a problem.


To run a business is to place a lot of dominos carefully in a line. Things need to happen in a certain order or everything falls behind. The way your business looks from the outside is an integral domino in that chain and one that must be handled with precision.

Red Flags

Unfortunately, common sense is not a flower that grows in everyone’s garden. Some crew leaders won’t see the problem with parking their work truck, bristling with shovels and rakes, and caked in dirt directly in front of your patio. Worse, they’ll show up late. They’ll change crews. They’ll do the bare minimum.


The problem with many of the red flags you see with landscaping maintenance crews is that many of them only appear after the contract is already signed. 


That’s why it’s important to ask the right questions before you sign a contract. Questions like:

  • How many crews do you have?
  • How often do crews change?
  • How many years have you been in business?
  • Who are some of your longest-running clients?
  • How often do supervisors perform site visits?
  • What is your communication policy for rain?

The T Lake Method

At T. Lake Environmental Design commercial landscaping is all we do, so we know how landscape maintenance should be done.


We send the same crew to your place of business, always on time, and in the agreed-upon window. We take the time to understand your business and adjust our service windows to reflect that. Good landscaping should be seen, not heard.


The only thing that could delay or cause our service hours to change is rain, and we always make sure to communicate our actions clearly to our customers. 

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We always ask where our customers want us to park, and do our very best to maintain a low profile while we perform maintenance duties. We have monthly inspections from maintenance supervisors and make every effort to make our maintenance relationships last. This year marks our 30th year in business, and we’re celebrating 30 years of maintenance with several of our clients.

RFP, Contracts, and Work Plan Methodology

You don’t stay in business as long as we have unless you’ve got it down to a science. We use tried and true methods of a customer-first approach while embracing technology to make estimates easier, faster, and more accurate. 


Whether you call or email, we do our best to respond in kind. We send an RFI (request for information) to learn more about your project or maintenance request, then we come to your site to look it over in person.


If you’re looking to change up your landscape design, here is where we’d bring in one of our landscape architects to help, and then we’ll come up with a maintenance plan that will work for you and the specific needs of your business.


While our minimum maintenance contract is one year, we prefer to make contracts longer. Generally speaking, it takes three years to get a landscaped area as healthy as it can be, and leaving a landscape in any shape less than perfect is a difficult thing for us to do. What can we say? We’re all about making things better.


We are also able to help with one-off, large scale projects. Many institutional and corporate clients choose this option as it allows them more freedom within their budget to complete the projects they need to without having to go through the whole bid process again. We call those projects ‘Saving the Day,’ as they often arise before a large event, and we’re always happy to don the cape for a client or potential client.

This Applies to Any and All

Hey, all this isn’t to say you have to pick T. Lake. While we are a strong choice and noteworthy company in the Georgia region, you might be reading this in Denver or Sacramento or Phoenix, in which case the mileage really might start to add up.


What we’re saying is that it’s important to measure your landscaping maintenance company, so you’ll have a better idea of what it is you’re signing up for. It’s hard to ask the right questions if you don’t know what they are.


The best landscaping companies take the time to understand exactly what your business needs and when, they show up on time, and they keep their promises. And if that’s not the way you’d describe your current landscaping management company, well, maybe it’s time to start looking for someone else.

Topics: Commercial Landscape Maintenance, Culture