Taking a strategic look at the grounds maintenance year

We can’t expect Facilities Managers to be expert horticulturalists but grounds maintenance experts GRITIT argue that having a seasonal approach to planning your year can help you stay in control

For busy facilities managers, grounds maintenance is just one of many competing priorities and with pressure to keep budgets under control it can be easy to prune your investments in GM in ways that end up costing more long term. Whether it’s an unexpected bill for tree surgery after neglecting care of wooded areas or discovering that cutting back winter grounds maintenance visits hasn’t produced the expected cost savings due to the added costs of reinstating lawns, the pitfalls can be hard to avoid without dedicated subject matter expertise. In many instances this is the same dilemma familiar to anyone in facilities management – how do you best balance the potential costs of acting reactively versus the added investments needed to develop plans and specifications for effective maintenance? However, with the breadth of skills and

responsibilities involved in modern facilities management only increasing, not all FMs are fully equipped to take a more strategic view of grounds maintenance and adopt a more cost-effective PPM (planned preventative maintenance) orientation. However, a grasp

38 fmuk

of the basics can go a long way and help FMs with responsibility for outdoor areas to start to think about the lifecycle of outdoor spaces to better manage the seasonal nature of grounds maintenance. Doing so is the key to managing your landscapes, budgets and contractors alike.

How to approach your year strategically

To gain a high level understanding of the grounds maintenance year, the two infographics included with this article are a great place to start. Naturally every business and every site is different, but together these offer a useful starting point that can be adapted to your requirements. The Grounds Maintenance Planner can be used to track your teams’ or contractor’s current work and service reports and gives a sense of what to expect now and the coming months. The Soft Landscaping Planner provides an understanding as to the optimum times to make improvements or changes, such as extending beds, creating more naturalistic areas or planting.

Don’t cut back excessively in colder months

Without doubt, summer is the most intensive period for lawn care and turf management, but activity is seasonal and should continue right throughout the year. In the attempt to cut costs, many organisations significantly reduce grounds maintenance during the winter, for example by reducing the number of site visits. However, this can be a false economy: some of the most beneficial care is carried out in the coldest months to help lawns grow healthily and free of moss during the summer, and this is true for grounds maintenance as a whole: In any given season, the work you’ve done in the preceding period is often the key to success. During winter, grounds maintenance teams

should focus on conditioning the grounds to get a head start for spring. Collect leaves and debris that can build up and destroy lawns. Cut the frequency of site visits in winter, and you simply add more cost in springtime to bring these areas back up to standard. Neglecting clearing decaying leaves on lawns or hard standings can also form a substrate

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44