Akehurst Landscape Service

Make Sure That You Understand Your Needs Before You Sign That Contract.


Property managers have a lot on their plates when it comes to managing a property.  They have to keep up with the aesthetics, the repairs, general management and the ever growing needs of their clients.  Hiring good vendors to get the work done on their sites is crucial to both their sanity and their effectiveness as a property management professional.  Looking for a great landscape management firm to handle the grounds care is an important ingredient to make a property manager’s job a success.

Previously we shared tips on What To Look For When Hiring A Landscape Management Firm prior to sending out a request for proposal to help you find the best vendor fit for the site.  Now that you have put your property out for bid and have a couple of proposals in your hands from three different reputable firms you notice at a quick glance, there is a $10,000 difference between the lowest bid and the highest bid.  Before you sign that contract, you need to make sure that you understand what is going on between the different proposals.


So let’s take a quick glance at a basic grounds maintenance proposal and at the pricing that was figured into the estimate.


First, we need to understand “What is considered when a proposal is made?

For starters, a professional Landscape Management firm will look at the topography of your property as well as the size.  The terrain of your site will influence the mowing portion of the estimate by its degree of “difficulty”.  For example, a flat one acre field with no obstacles can be mowed faster then a one acre field with a large hill in it.  The field with the hill will require a slower mowing speed for the safety of the worker and may also require a different type of mower that can drive across it if it is a steep grade.  A one acre flat field with no obstacles can be mowed faster then the same flat acre field that has trees planted through it or a drainage ditch that runs the length of it causing the maintenance worker to slow down and mow around the obstacles.  These kinds of scenarios do not stop at the mowing portion of the bid either … but different items of the property as well as the condition it is in or the condition that you want it to look like can also affect each of the various services in a proposal.

Everyone knows the saying that “Time is money.” And that saying holds true in the management of your landscape. The more “difficult and or more desire for detail” will result in more time for a team to perform the intricate task(s).  Proposals are made up of the time and the materials that it will take to accomplish the completion of the tasks.  Are the shrubs to be sheared with power shears?  Or are they to be selectively pruned with hand pruners?  Obviously the second alternative will take longer then the first, and this is truly up to the desired look of the property by the owner.  More hours spent on a property, can also mean more time to take care of the details on a property making it look more attractive.

The second ingredient to the proposal is the The Scope of Work.  In order to accomplish the goals of your property … a property manager should consider the scope of work that is needed to maintain the landscape aesthetics that they wish to obtain and maintain and provide this need as an outline to the prospective bidders.

In a contract, the scope of work is simply an outline of the services that your landscape management firm will be performing on your property.  This is an area that can greatly affect both the bottom line expense of the services as well as the look of your property.

A “basic” grounds maintenance proposal will include the following in the scope of work:

  • Mowing of turf   (Typically in Maryland this would be 24-26 times per season.)
  • Turf fertilization (Typically this will range from 3 to 4 times per season.)
  • Pruning  (Typically this will range from 2 to 3 times per season.)
  • Mulching  (Typically this will occur one time per season, however the depth should be discussed with the vendors at time of bidding.)
  • Weeding  (6-8 times per year or … how many times the buyer wishes it to be done.)
  • Leaf removal (2 to 3 times per year.)

 (In the above mentioned “basic” grounds maintenance proposal scope of work listed, the guidelines and numbers of times are typical for the Maryland region, but may or may not be an exact fit for your property and the desire of the aesthetics.  This can be discussed with your landscape professional for more understanding if you need more clarification.)


Buyers can customize the services that they want at the time of their request for proposals.  Be sure that all vendors that submit their proposals include the services in the scope of work that you desire.  After verification that the services that you require are contained in their proposal, the next item of attention should focus on the amount of times that the services are being performed.  Again, this can greatly affect the bottom line expense of a contract and can create great variations between those competing for the job as well as eliminating issues for yourself later.  For example, one contractor may figure a one time leaf removal as another may figure three times.  It is up to the property manager to know the desired outcome of how they wish their property to look throughout the season and to let the landscape management firm know this during the bidding process.  In this instance, a one time leaf removal may result in a large amount of leaves accumulating until late fall or mid winter after the bulk of leaves have dropped from the trees before the clean up occurs.  If the desired aesthetics are to keep the leaf accumulation to a minimum, then the property manager should request additional leaf removals within their scope of work.

Understanding the needs of the property and how you want it to be maintained is the foundation to measure the proposals submitted.

Once you can confirm that these needs are met by a proposal then the decision should be made by the price and the firm that you feel the most comfortable working with.  After all, once you have made the decision to select a vendor, this is who you will be working with throughout the season.


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Categories: Commercial and Industrial,Residential Communities,Retail and Resort.

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