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The Accordion Effect

It's one of the most common questions we’re asked when we start working with new clients.

How many people will you send out to our property at each landscape service visit?

If the previous landscaper had a 4-person crew servicing the site, and your landscape didn’t look the way you wanted it to, it’s logical to assume that throwing more people at the problem is the answer, right?

Not always. Here’s why:

Commercial landscape management is a seasonal business. There are things to be done in your landscape every month of the year, but in the spring and summer, the total number of hours spent at each property increases exponentially. That’s why at this time of year, all landscape companies are at our peak employee counts. At Yellowstone Landscape, for example, we grow by about 800 employees across all our branches at the peak of the summer.

Further complicating things, our work schedule is almost completely dependent upon the weather and the natural environment. Add in periods of drought, heavy rainfall, storms, pests and diseases in turf, trees, and plants, and the summer can seem to last forever. But if you’re a client of a commercial landscape management company, you still have every right to expect your landscape to be cared for and kept looking its best, no matter what challenges Mother Nature throws at us.

The quality of the landscape is a direct result of the organization, efficiency, and skill of the Landscape Professionals that you see working on your property. Not the sheer number of people you see working on a landscape crew.

We’ve seen it time and time again. Our crews start servicing a new property. The first couple of landscape service visits take a full, 8-hour day for a 4-person crew. But by the end of the second month, the same crew completes the job much, much faster than they did in the beginning. Their performance improves, not because they start cutting corners or stop being as careful as they were in the beginning. They get faster as they get more familiar with the landscape. When we schedule our crews to consistently service the same sites, week after week, productivity and quality improve naturally.

Another common misconception is that the crew that handles the mowing and detailing are the only members of our team that play a role in your commercial landscape management service program. In a comprehensive, professionally managed landscape service plan, your site will also be inspected by a superintendent or Account Manager on a weekly basis. They’ll also send out specially licensed and trained technicians to evaluate your irrigation system, and other specialists to apply nutrients, pest controls, and disease management products. Add in regular spot inspections by our local branch leaders and you may have twice as many people involved in the success of your landscape than you thought you had.

The number of staff may be a convenient measure of the value of the services you receive from your landscape service provider, but in most cases, more isn’t better. More is just more.

Real quality in commercial landscape management is driven by experienced and well-coordinated Landscape Professionals. Your landscape management plan will expand and contract the number of staff as needed (like an accordion), always seeking to achieve the best possible appearance for your property.

 

Special thanks to Jon from our Tampa location for the accordion analogy. It’s a really helpful way to think about how we staff our service teams across the seasons.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

 

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Ideas for a Sustainable Landscape for Your Commercial Property

The idea of a “sustainable landscape” can mean many different things to many different people, but at its most basic level, the term refers to the practice of minimizing the utilization of non-renewable and non-native plant materials. Following are a few ideas to consider if you’re seeking to make your commercial landscaping more sustainable.

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Tips When Starting Up Your Irrigation System

When it comes to the management of your commercial property’s landscape, securing and maintaining an adequate water source is essential. For most commercial property’s landscapes, an automatic irrigation system is an effective method to provide the required amount of water over the property’s landscaped areas. To keep your landscape looking its best, your commercial landscaping service partner must continuously monitor and adjust your property's irrigation system.  Professional monitoring of the system not only helps to maintain plant health, but also helps you conserve water and saves on extra, unneccesary water expenses.

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First of the Year Landscaping Tips

Looking for ways to keep your commercial property’s clients and employees happy? Don’t underestimate the power of an attractive and well maintained landscape.

You don’t need to spend lot to create green spaces that will entice employees to go outside, relax, and explore your property’s grounds. Here are some tips that can ensure an effective commercial landscape design:

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You Deserve Better Than Average Landscaping

“On a scale of 1 to 10, we’re going for a 5. I want my property’s landscape to look really average”, said no one ever.

You hire a professional landscape company because you want your property’s landscape to stand out – in a good way. When you sign a contract with a big commercial landscaping company, you expect that you’ll get something much better than what you’re getting today, right?

Otherwise, why would you go to all the trouble to qualify vendors, conduct an RFP, evaluate the responses, and negotiate your contract? You’d just stick with whoever’s cutting the grass for you now and doing an “okay” job.

When we talk to the property managers we work with, they tell us that they expect more from us.  The same old, same old just doesn’t cut it for them.

But how do you get an above average landscape?  Without blowing your budget, how do you turn an utterly unremarkable landscape into one that really stands out?

Every property’s different, but here are 3 simple tips to help you get a landscape that stands out from the crowd.

  1. Start with a solid fertilization and pest management program. Your landscape is never going to look its best if it’s not getting the right nutrients. Have your landscape contractor take soil samples from various locations in your property, then design an application program that addresses the specific needs of your landscape and its environment. You can’t get an above average landscape if you don’t start with a healthy landscape.
  2. Second, make sure your irrigation system is regularly inspected by trained professionals. Most property managers don’t think about their irrigation system until there’s a broken head, or a huge water bill comes in. But just because you can’t see any problems, doesn’t mean that your irrigation system is doing all that it should for your landscape. During monthly inspections, irrigation pros don’t just look for problems. They make sure that your landscape is getting the right amount of water, in all the places that need it. Properly managed irrigation plans keep pests and disease out of your landscape and keep it looking it’s best.
  3. Finally, seek professional help. If you think about it, it’s easy to ignore most landscapes. After a while, they all start to look the same, don’t they? But what if your property had something that the others didn’t? We employ trained Landscape Designers, and we offer their expertise to our clients as a value-added service. Because sometimes the difference between an exceptional landscape and an average one is as simple as having one or two focal points to draw attention to your property. Adding some color to your landscape with a new annual flower bed, and keeping the design interesting with each rotation, gives you a chance to refresh your property's curb appeal several times a year.

These are just a few tips to get you started. Remember, the journey from average to remarkable isn’t as hard as you think, or as expensive. Your landscape probably doesn’t need a major overhaul. Instead, find the small, but important steps you and your landscape contractor can take to get you the landscape that you deserve.

 

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Your Landscape & Marketing Your Commercial Real Estate Property

 

Marketing a commercial real estate property can be a challenge. There is more competition for commercial space now than at any other time in history. And it’s easier than ever for buyers and lessees to search available inventory. That means getting your property noticed among all those other listings is more important (and more difficult) than ever before.

Whether selling or leasing, a few smart investments in your property’s landscape can help you stand out from the other listings your potential buyers and tenants are considering.

 

The Case for Making Your Landscape a Feature

Almost every commercial real estate listing starts by talking about the same things - proximity to interstates and public transit, hotels and restaurants nearby, parking areas, security and maintenance, energy efficiency. Sometimes a listing may mention a “park-like setting”, but a property’s landscape is rarely given top billing in its description.

We think the reason that landscapes aren’t given any special mention is that 99% of commercial properties have no distinguishing landscape features.  The result is that all properties end up looking basically the same from the outside.

If you want to make your property seem unique, but the exterior and grounds are no different than the competition, your only option is to make expensive updates inside the building. Landscape enhancements are significantly less expensive than interior improvements.  And once they’re installed, the new landscape improvements cost relatively little more to maintain than the boring old landscape that looks like everyone else’s.

 

Getting Your Property Ready for a Photo Shoot

There’s a lot more to closing a deal than having great photos of your property, but clients looking to buy or lease are starting their search online. Whether they’re viewing your property on your company’s website or another commercial real estate listing site, they’re looking through your pictures before they ever read a word about your property.

9 out of 10 listings will start with a photo of the building’s full exterior. I know you’ve seen the shot we’re talking about – lines of glass windows, gray concrete, a few small trees lining the front, and maybe a little strip of green grass.

Instead, why not highlight the interesting parts of your property’s grounds in the cover photo? A colorful installation of annual flowers at the main entry. A group of blooming perennials at an outdoor seating area. An aerial shot of a crushed granite walking path around the property’s lake.  Bright colors, or anything different than the typical cover photo, will help your listing stand out on the search results page.

Also, consider the time of year when you’re shooting the photos of your property. Even a great listing can be ruined by bare trees and dormant turf. Consider having photos done after your spring cleanup when trees are full of green leaves and the flowers are blooming. Even if you’re marketing your listing in the winter, show the landscape when it looks its best to maximize views.

As more commercial real estate professionals begin using social media sites like Facebook and Instagram to market their listings, photos of your property and its landscape can become a huge asset, driving views to your website and property listings.  The right improvements to strategic areas of your property’s grounds could become a key component in your commercial real estate property’s marketing plan.

 

For more ideas on how to turn your landscape into a marketing feature, schedule a meeting with your local Yellowstone Landscape Professional. They have the tools and experience to help your commercial property’s listing stand out from the crowd.

 

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Central Houston Landscape Management Intern Finds Her New Passion!

This is a guest post, written by Baylee, about her intern experience with us this summer.

As a horticulture student from Texas A&M University, I came into this internship knowing I wanted to work in landscaping, but had absolutely no idea of where I would fit into this well-oiled machine known as Yellowstone Landscape! Over the past two months, I have experienced a little of everything; management, maintenance, irrigation, enhancements.  Use of my new knowledge of these various areas will help me figure out exactly what I want to do after I graduate.

I’ve enjoyed working in all areas of the company, and ultimately, I’ve found a passion for irrigation and enhancements.  I love troubleshooting and solving the puzzles that go into designing and running a successful irrigation system.  After spending a day with our irrigation Account Manager in the Houston Central Branch and observing him work on a backflow system, I was hooked!  I plan to not only become a certified irrigator, but to earn my own backflow license.  I already knew I loved plants, but lately I’ve begun to appreciate the need for a functional irrigation system to keep them alive!

I’ve also learned, perhaps most importantly, how hard the crews work.  They are the very foundation of our industry and absolutely nothing could be done without them.  They’re extremely knowledgeable and have been nothing but willing to teach me what they know.  They work long hours to keep our clients happy and make sure their properties are always in tip-top shape.  Working with, speaking with, and making friends with these men has brought home just how fortunate I am and how many opportunities I’ve had.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to work at Yellowstone Landscape this summer and learn real, practical skills that I can build my career on.  Thank you for everything, Yellowstone Landscape!

 

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Port St. Lucie Intern Falls in Love!

 

This is a guest post, written by Emily, about her intern experience with us this summer.

 

This summer I’ve had the pleasure of being an Intern at the Yellowstone Landscape, Port Saint Lucie Branch where I have been exposed to an entirely new world - the world of professional landscaping! Between mowing lawns, detailing palm trees, installing irrigation systems, and applying fertilizers and pesticides, I have gained an enormous amount of experience. These skills will be essential to my success in the future, as I’m certain this is the industry for me.

Before this summer, I had only been exposed to farming and small-scale horticultural practices, such as planting and harvesting fruits and vegetables, at my university’s gardens. As I went through each of the rotations of the internship, I experienced a different aspect of landscape maintenance, and I’ve fallen in love!

Every department has its own unique and essential role, and every crew member’s attention to detail and commitment to creating and maintaining premier properties impressed me to no end. In fact, I was incredibly impressed by every department I worked with, and I’m proud to say I believe that the relationships I have made this summer will last a lifetime.

This summer I learned a very valuable life lesson, “go with the flow” and it will work out. There were times throughout the summer that people wouldn’t show up or the weather would interfere with our plan for the day and the common approach was to stay calm and let things work out. This was a new concept to me, being a college student, when disaster strikes you, act! But in “the real world”, acting isn’t always the best option. Sometimes, the best course of action is to wait and let the situation work itself out. This lesson has proven to be invaluable to me not only in a professional setting, but in my every-day life. This summer has taught me more than how to operate a lawnmower and how to troubleshoot an irrigation clock; it has taught me how to be a more functional, professional, and go-with-the-flow adult with a tremendously useful skillset. I am grateful for my experiences with the crews and my Mentor and wouldn’t trade them for anything!

 

 

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Houston Construction Intern Applies Classroom Knowledge with Field Experience

This is a guest post, written by Blake, about his intern experience with us this summer.

 

Interning with the Houston Central Branch has been an experience unlike anything I expected.  As a Construction Intern, I was exposed to many new things and many different management styles.  Although I was assigned one Mentor, all four Project Managers stepped in to mentor me and make sure I got the most out of my internship.  Whether it be through shadowing, supervising crews, or helping manage projects.  I was exposed to everything that goes into project management and was able to apply what I am learning in school with those experiences, which is extremely valuable.

During my internship I experienced site analysis, plan take off’s, estimates, procurement and ordering, working on crews and managing crews.  I also participated in punch walks and pre-construction meetings, gaining an understanding of business language, client engagement and meeting topics which I found very valuable.

My favorite internship experience was a sustainability project at a landfill where we planted 60,000 grasses.  The process, known as Phytoremediation, uses various grasses and trees to clean pollutants and leachate water from the landfill so it can be recycled.  As part of this project, I attended client meetings and experienced behind the scenes discussions.  I also participated in the project start up, helped unload the 60,000 grasses, and saw the project through to the end.  Applying my knowledge of sustainability and water recycling from classroom studies in school was extremely valuable throughout this process.

Interning with Yellowstone Landscape has been a blessing and everything I could ask for in furthering my education in the landscape industry.  These lessons learned, as well as the importance of safety for all employees, and to be proactive rather than reactive, I will carry with me throughout my career.  I am forever grateful for my experience at Yellowstone Landscape and for the many opportunities provided by the managers and mentors I am working with.

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Infographic: Economic Benefits of Green Spaces

It's something we've written about many times before, but the economic impact of green spaces really is remarkable. Check out this infographic we created to share some facts about just how important professionally managed landscapes are.

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