GRITIT looks at how FMs can successfully anticipate and plan for this season’s landscaping and grounds maintenance challenges

While you don’t need to become an expert horticulturalist, any FM with responsibility for outdoor areas will find it valuable to develop a high-level understanding of the seasonal nature of grounds maintenance and the key challenges presented by each season. This will allow you to more effectively plan and manage grounds maintenance, map out activity and milestones for the year and benchmark the activity of in-house grounds maintenance (GM) teams or contractors. Indeed, should you decide to bring external contractors on board, the seasonal nature of grounds maintenance can also determine the best times for reviewing activity or kicking off a tendering process.

Summer is clearly the most intensive period for lawn care and turf management, but activity is also seasonal and should continue right throughout the year. 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.

Preparing for summer Ahead of the busy summer months, it is advisable to ensure your grounds maintenance teams have provided you with an outline programme of works and a schedule


for the season ahead. This is the time to create an effective set of KPIs to measure quality and pick out standards from your maintenance specification – e.g. grass to be evenly cut and sward length not to exceed 60mm. Always ensure that KPIs are driven by and in line with the wider FM strategy or overall business objectives.

Meet up with your grounds maintenance teams before they mobilise and make sure they understand the specification and KPI criteria. It is important to arrange regular review meetings to discuss and rectify any issues. Finally, update all your compliance folders, including items such as staff training records, risk and COSHH assessments.

Late spring into early summer is the ideal time for activities such as planting bedding plants and hanging baskets. But planning even further ahead of the summer, can also pay dividends and help save time and resources during the summer months. Many organisations reduce grounds maintenance during the winter, but this season should be used effectively to condition the grounds and get a head start for spring. Collect leaves and debris that can build up and destroy lawns. On hard standings too, decaying leaves can form a substrate that allows weeds to germinate and neglecting both areas can result in more weed control and unnecessary chemical treatments being required during the subsequent growing season in the summer.

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