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that allows weeds to germinate. This then requires more weed control as well as unnecessary and costly chemical treatments during the summer growing season. A less obvious implication of cutting


back on grounds maintenance during certain times of year relates to health and safety, as risks on site – e.g. tripping hazards, or dead wood on trees – may not be identified and mitigated in time. Here too, there’s a case to be made for a more joined up approach to outdoor facilities management with regard to winter gritting. It clearly makes sense for grounds maintenance teams to use the weeks when snow and ice clearance is a priority to also monitor grounds maintenance requirements that arise. Teams should also undertake gritting operations in a way that doesn’t impact landscapes i.e. by allowing salt to damage green areas that will later need restoration. Avoiding such inadvertent costs requires careful planning and management, however engaging a contractor that offers both gritting and grounds maintenance services can ensure that a more holistic approach is taken.


Preperation for summer


From a horticultural point of view, late spring into early summer is an ideal period for activities such as planting bedding plants and hanging baskets. However, this is when FMs and site managers also need to get to work developing effective KPIs to measure quality and – where needed – review and update the organisation’s maintenance specifications (e.g. sward length of grass). Now is the time to meet with grounds maintenance teams to explain any changes and to provide an outline programme of works and a schedule for the season ahead. This isn’t a one off activity but


rather a good way to kick off an iterative process – set regular review meetings to discuss and rectify any issues. A further essential activity at this time of year is to update compliance folders, including staff training records and risk assessment and assessments to stay compliant with COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations.


Managing the peak summer season


Summer is the most intensive period of activity during the year with the vast majority of activity focused on the demands of grass cutting and pruning. However, when outdoor spaces are at their most busy, also use this time to evaluate potential site improvements. This is the time you can best assess a site and understand which changes could add the most value to end users or the client. Seek out opportunities for multifunctional


improvements, such as aesthetic changes that also encourage wildlife. A great example of this is the creation of a wildflower meadow that both adds visual interest and supports pollinators. As well as improving a site’s environmental impact, this sort of feature can have a financial benefit too. For instance, during the grass-growing season you may need to schedule 26 weekly visits for mowing. However, converting a less trafficked area of a site to a meadow could help to reduce the number of visits while still maintaining a high standard overall. Again, throughout the summer it’s essential to continue to communicate and review activity with grounds maintenance teams to ensure that specifications and quality standards are being adhered to and KPIs met. This process can allow for adjustments to specifications as needed


to help stay in budget, such as agreeing to maintain sward length of lawns at 60mm rather than 50mm to reduce visit frequency. From a risk management perspective, summer is an important time to monitor sites for reportable invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed or Giant Hogweed and plan control measures into new plans.


Autumn


Autumn provides a great time to schedule site improvement works such as planting and arboriculture activity. This is also an ideal point in the year to plan any tree surgery necessary to keep wooded areas healthy and safe. This is also a good juncture to more


comprehensively review your landscape assets and management and maintenance plans and specifications. This is a point where subject matter expertise can really add value: when seeking to make improvements, engage with a landscape expert to develop a comprehensive set of output specifications that is aligned to your key objectives – e.g. environmental objectives, workplace wellbeing – rather than just focused on the frequency of visits. If cost is a factor, then this process can also help to identify opportunities to change the landscape to replace trees or shrubs with species that require lower maintenance. When tendering for grounds maintenance contracts over the quieter winter period, autumn is the ideal time to review and release PQQ and tender documentation.


For more info on managing your grounds year round visit: www.gritit.com


Telephone: 0800 0432 911 Email: info@gritit.com


fmuk 39


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