Oct 31, 2016 2:06:09 PM / by Claude Kershner IV

What does landscape maintenance mean to you? What do you expect when you hire a grounds management provider to care for your South Florida property? This is an important question to consider when you hire a professional landscaper because not all companies, and not all services, are created equal.

Some property owners want their Florida vacation homes to look neat and clean—mowed, edged, and healthy so they don’t have to worry about the landscape. Other residents expect their grounds to look like resorts with fine gardens with the type of detailed care that is delivered by a horticultural expert.

Of course, there are plenty of owners who want a service that falls in between these “premium” and “basic” levels.

What’s crucial is to be specific about what level of landscape maintenance you desire. What is you budget, and how do you expect the property to look while you are in South Florida enjoying it—and away, if the residence is a second home you’ll use seasonally.

At Reef Tropical, we spend time asking a lot of questions to get to know property owners’ needs. We find out how they like to spend their spare time—is it on their property in an outdoor living space, or on the beach or a boat (making the landscape a lower priority)?

We want to know what a beautiful landscape looks like to them.

For some, it means cut grass. Others have much higher expectations that includes artistic pruning of shrubs. (What are your goals?)

professional gardener

Flexibility Matters.

Ideally, you want to work with a landscape provider that has the experience and in-house certified landscape maintenance staff to be flexible and offer a range of services. We often find that clients who begin with a basic landscape maintenance service decide to increase the time our crews spend on their properties so they can get even better results. (Ultimately, in the landscape business we are selling our time and expertise. A greater landscape budget affords more time.) Even clients who get basic landscape maintenance—a mow, blow and go service—can trust that the team on their property is looking out for plant health, and not just showing up to cut grass and leave.

Watch Out For Mow-Blow-and-Go.

In the landscape industry, you have a range of providers from the guy in a pickup truck to high-end, detail-oriented landscape maintenance firms like Reef Tropical that care for everything from resorts to estates. So often, we see property owners go for a no-frills service from a fly-by-night operator and they are disappointed. It’s important to know that there is a significant difference between that “mow and go” service and the basic landscape maintenance package you’ll get from a firm like Reef Tropical. 

Understand the service.

Getting the best service for your South Florida property begins with knowing your budget and being honest about your expectations for the landscape when you meet with a provider. To get what you want out of your landscape, it helps to understand what you can get. Here is the difference between professional gardening vs. basic landscape maintenance.

What Is Professional Gardening?

We call the highest level of landscape maintenance professional gardening because the care goes beyond the basic steps of mowing, edging and cleanup. The key words with this service are: detail oriented. Some of the property owners we serve who request professional gardening value their landscapes as an artistic statement.

They appreciate the color, texture, variety and overall design of landscape beds and want a horticultural expert to maintain their gardens.

Delivering this level of quality requires weekly maintenance and landscape staff that has an intimate knowledge of plants. The landscape specialist serving a professional gardening account gets to know the client’s plant preferences so he or she can make suggestions. There’s a relationship that grows from this type of service with constant back-and-forth communication between the provider and client.

fine gardening.jpgProfessional gardening is not for the price-conscious customer because the service takes more time than basic maintenance. It includes general services like mowing, edging, trimming hedges and blowing away debris. It also includes pest and disease control, which is critical in South Florida where the growing season is year-round.

And, maintenance goes even deeper. Professionals reach into their “quiver” of tools and pull out prunes and loppers. They examine plants and train them to grow in accordance with the landscape design. (For example, a horticulturalist on a professional gardening team might prune a croton into a statement topiary.)

Weed removal is done on a weekly basis to ensure completely clean beds. Landscape specialists are on their hands and knees, pulling weeds and adjusting plants. They dote over the landscape as if it were their own.

Plant and turf health is always a focus. That ranges from putting in place the best lawn care program to ensure green grass year-round, to managing the irrigation system and carrying out proper cultural practices. Regular property inspections by account managers ensure the highest quality.

Property owners that select professional gardening want their landscapes to be a stunning reception area of the home. They place as much value in caring for the outside as decorating the interior of their estates. And, the price tag on such a service exceeds what clients who want basic maintenance will pay. Again, landscape service fees are based on time, and professional gardening requires more visits and more hours on the property per year in order to tend to details.

So, be honest about the results you expect and the budget you have to work with. If you want a garden appearance for a bare-bones monthly rate, your relationship with the landscape firm will likely suffer. No one will be happy.

What Is Basic Landscape Maintenance?

Many property owners who have vacation homes in South Florida plan on spending their time on the beach, a boat or by the pool. They want their landscape to look neat and clean. (They feel a responsibility to maintain the property value, after all.) They want mowed grass, clean edges and healthy plants. And that is all.

While they are away from their South Florida home, they might prefer bi-weekly service to keep the landscape in shape. (Keep in mind, 13-days post service, the landscape is bound to look “in need” of mowing and more.) But investing in a professional gardening experience is simply not a priority. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Some refer to basic landscape maintenance as “mow, blow and go,” because the service is designed to be efficient and effective.

There is a difference between a basic maintenance service offered by a respected landscape provider and a mow-and-blow that a one-man pickup truck operation offers. The services aren’t even in the same class.

When you get a basic landscape maintenance service from an experienced professional like Reef Tropical, your contract will include mowing, edging, pruning and blowing/cleanup, among other tasks. The service is generally bi-weekly, unless otherwise specified.

We make sure the grass is mowed to the correct height for optimum plant health. We ensure that landscape beds are thriving. We weed on a bi-weekly basis.

Basic landscape maintenance is ideal for customers who are budget-conscious yet want quality service. They have the flexibility to increase their service when they choose a provider that has professional gardening experience. However, if they go with a fly-by-night contractor who just shows up to mow, that’s all they’ll ever get.

a nicely designed landscape in south florida

Be Clear About Your Landscape Maintenance Expectations

Property owners have different priorities for their residences. While some want a magazine-cover worthy landscape, others are happy when they arrive at their South Florida vacation home and the lawn is cut. When you select a respected landscape maintenance provider that offers the full spectrum of services—from high-end professional gardening to basic landscape maintenance—then you gain peace of mind knowing that the health of your property is in good hands no matter what type of service you choose.

You’ll get the landscape maintenance you want for your South Florida property when you:

1) Define your expectations.

2) Set a realistic budget.

3) Communicate any changes to your landscape goals to the provider so they can tweak the service.

Let’s talk more about what is included in professional gardening and basic landscape maintenance at Reef Tropical. We want to improve your landscaping. Contact us any time at 305-367-2005, or fill out this simple contact form and we’ll get in touch with you.

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Topics: Landscape Maintenance

Claude Kershner IV

Written by Claude Kershner IV

President Reef Tropical • Pool & Landscape

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