Letting the Liriope Go… and Other Invisible Landscape Mistakes that Cost You Money

It’s bad enough if you have to call your landscape crews every three months to remind them of the things they forgot to do—again. But what if their carelessness is also wasting your money, and you don’t even know it? Here are five of the most expensive invisible mistakes landscape crews make.

1. Using a weed-eater to trim grass edges around tree rings.

Grass that grows close to mulched tree rings can’t be mowed without making a mess of the mulch. A good landscaper knows to edge those rings by hand, but inexperienced or lazy landscape crews sometimes use the weed-eater to trim it back. At first, it looks great. Unfortunately, each time this happens, the weed-eater digs into the mulch and spreads it out a little. Over a few weeks, the mulch bed expands from three feet, to three and a half feet, to four feet, and just keeps growing. It looks messy and kills off the original grass. To repair the damage, more mulch must be purchased and the sod renovated.

2. Improperly calibrating irrigation.

Unless your general manager is on site at 3am when the sprinklers kick in, this one is easy to miss. Sprinkler heads that point into the parking lot or are not working correctly can lead to water waste, which is both expensive and potentially damaging to your environmental certifications and reputation. Evidence will eventually show up in your turf as well, when the weather goes dry and you suddenly have a brown patch of lawn. It will be nearly impossible, and extremely expensive, to reinvigorate that sad brown section any time before next Spring.

3. Inappropriate pruning.

This can take many forms that won’t be obvious until the damage is done. For instance, Bradford pear trees have fragile wood and lots of foliage. Appropriate pruning opens them up so that air flows through and the weight of leaves is balanced with the strength of the branches. Inexperienced—or lazy—pruners may cut the tree to a nice shape, but leave it vulnerable to wind damage. Not only are the trees costly to replace, but they can damage other property or even cause injury when they come down.

4. Murdering the crape myrtles.

While we’re on the topic of inappropriate pruning, let’s mention the most common—and sad—pruning mistake landscapers make in the Southeast U.S.: Chopping crape myrtles off at the knees. The short-term result of this practice is fast and bushy growth the next year, and plentiful blooms during the summer. The long-term result is a severely weakened plant that carries way too much weight on damaged limbs. The damaged plants pose a hazard to nearby plantings and cars, and will have to be replaced much sooner than otherwise necessary.

5. Letting the liriope go and other species mistakes.

Liriope is a common, attractive evergreen edging grass, that when mismanaged can ruin the effect of the entire landscape. In early Spring, old growth dies off and new growth comes up. If the landscape crews fail to give it a tidy crew cut just before new growth emerges (approximately mid-February), the old growth will dry, turn brown, and make the entire landscape look like something out of Pet Semetary. The only remedy is to replace the plants, or wait until next year, and hope your customers don’t judge you by your exterior (hint: They will).

Of course, liriope is not the only plant species whose timely care is critical in maintaining an attractive landscape year-round. A centralized exterior maintenance company that understands these complexities and holds your landscape crews accountable for proper care can save you significant time and hassle. Look for these three things when choosing your provider:

  • Depth of knowledge on the complexities of appropriate landscape care,
  • A history of holding landscape crews accountable for appropriate maintenance,
  • An online portal that allows you to see at a glance what maintenance has been completed,
  • A spec document that meets these criteria.

If you think your landscape crews may be making costly mistakes, you may want to ask a professional organization to manage those crews. Take a look at our guide to choosing the best landscape partner for your company (download below), or request a consultation to discuss how we can make your life easier.

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