If you are a strata owner or manager, or if you are the head of a homeowner’s association, then a part of your strata management is maintenance of shared spaces such as lawns, gardens, patios and decks, and walkways. Ornamental shrubs and large trees also require special attention.
Hiring the right landscape company for your property maintenance is an important decision. Your property’s curb appeal will influence the attractiveness and its overall perception for not only current residents but also prospective future renters and buyers.
For Sydney, Australia, alone, googling something like “landscape design service” is going to bring back a great number of results. Are they all the same, all just as good? Obviously some are much better than others and provide more value. But how do you choose the right one?
There are several questions to ask before signing a contract. If you can’t get good answers to each one of them, then that service is probably not the right one for you.
What Do You Need Done, and Does the Company Do That?
Take stock of what your property requires and make sure the company you’re considering can perform those services. Common needs include the following:
- Lawn mowing, edging, and trimming
- Lawn seeding, fertilisation,and aeration
- Weed and pest control
- Planting trees, shrubs, and hedges
- Pruning trees and shrubs
- Hedge trimming
- Applying mulch to garden beds
- Leaf collection and debris removal
- Cleanups in spring and fall
- Other general gardening services
If you have larger projects such as water features in mind, tell the landscape design service about your ideas to see if and how they can help.
What’s in the Contract?
Are all fees and policies clear? Is there an itemised list of services provided? Be on the lookout for hidden or open-ended fees. A good landscaping service will make everything organised and clear in the contract so that you have confidence in the work to be performed and can keep your budget under control.
Part of this is also knowing when and how frequently the company will provide services. It’s to your benefit, especially the larger the property is, to have a set schedule. This ensures that maintenance truly is routine and reliable.
Is the Service Insured, and is the Insurance Adequate?
Not all damage is due to negligence or incompetence. Sometimes lawn mowers hurl rocks that break windows or cause other property damage. Sometimes accidents occur.
What you want from a good landscaping company insurance-wise is twofold. First, you want assurance that any property damage that might happen will be repaired by the company at no cost to your organisation. Second, you want to know that the landscaper’s insurance covers injuries that its workers might sustain so that you will not face potential legal liability.
We cannot stress the importance of this enough. There are some services out there that are underinsured, and there are even some shady contractors that have no insurance at all. These contractors often entice customers with hugely discounted fees, at the hidden cost of massive liability. When injuries or property damage occur with these actors, the likelihood that you will be left with costs, repairs, and legal fees increases substantially.
Is the Staff Professional and Well-Supervised?
Uniformed employees and clearly marked vehicles have some important benefits. First off, these factors make it easier for a strata manager to locate and communicate with on-site teams. Also, they assuage security concerns residents may have. Being able to tell that unfamiliar people on the grounds have a legitimate purpose for being there will make residents feel safer about who is outside of their unit or building.
A professional staff also means a well-trained one, one that will do its work efficiently, properly, and safely.
Adequate supervision is also important. Will there always be an experienced foreman on the site? If there are questions or concerns, it’s important that there be a foreman who can address them with authority. Also, good supervision means a better product and a better value. Poorly supervised crews or unsupervised ones are more likely to leave trash behind or stretch the timeline out in situations where the service is performed at an hourly rate.
What If There Are Special Requests from Residents?
Residents with small gardens and lawns may wish to tend to them on their own. This might especially apply to the use of pesticides and herbicides, which residents may want to keep away from the green spaces they maintain. Can the company accommodate requests like that?
If the municipality or the community has a ban on pesticides or herbicides, is the company compliant in this regard? How will it practice weed control and pest control in that case? This final question is vitally important if you do not wish to be fined by local authorities for someone else’s work.
What Can You Expect When the Unexpected Occurs?
Let’s say that after a strong storm, substantial debris is scattered about on the grounds. Or let’s say that high winds or lightning topple a tree or damage it so that is an impending threat to people or to property. What if overhanging branches are now impeding walkways or affecting visibility for drivers making turns out of the complex?
It may not be reasonable to expect the landscaping company to address these matters at no additional cost, but it is reasonable to know what the additional fees will be, whether a crew will tend to them on the next scheduled visit, or whether the company can dispatch a crew as soon as possible. We’ve talked about this as a separate category of concern, but it’s something that the contract should cover.
Why Should You Choose The Garden Men?
The Garden Men is a leading landscape design and maintenance company that has helped beautify and protect Sydney’s residential, commercial, and strata properties for more than 20 years. Our expert care will not just keep your property looking great but will also add to its value and appeal. Contact us today to discuss your property’s needs and get a consultation!