MODEL Landscape Maintenance Plan

dimondFebruary 6, 2010

During NEW project approvals, our Town requires commercial developments and other large developments to appropriately landscape - which they design for and install. However, as the years go by and personnel change (including landscape maintenance contractors), the landscaping sometimes (on some properties - not all) tends to go downhill ending in very unsatisfactory landscaping. I would like to propose to the Town that they adopt a MODEL Landscape Maintenance Plan for developers/owners to follow that has all the necessary elements to ensure that the landscaping is maintained in top notch condition in perpetuity. CAN YOU RECOMMEND A GOOD MODEL THAT OUR TOWN COULD ADOPT AND THAT DEVELOPERS COULD FOLLOW? I am looking for a scope of services that could be followed that would permit the landscaping to look as it was intended for future years. It would need to be customized for each specific project depending on the landscaping chosen, but it should nevertheless have some common critical elements (e.g., irrigation, fertilization, replacement, checklists, quality control, trimming objectives, etc.). One MODEL that I have come across can be viewed at following link:

Do you have any suggestions for other MODELS? Thanks.

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Just what we need; another level of government to micro-manage how we live. And I thought it was bad when code enforcement jumped me about not having a permit for the addition I was building on my house. I had to do a free hand sketch of a site plan and pay $50 to get rid of them.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2010 at 8:36PM
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I agree with Pls8xx. This is for homeowner associations (or people in Oregon) if one chooses to live that way.

However, it is not a necessarilly bad idea for a limited length of time to be imposed on a commercial development. I see that done here to ensure that the hit and run developers don't appease a board with a landscape plan that requires maintenance that is more than they will do. The result is that minimal need for maintenance is often designed into it. Good for maintenance costs, lighter on resources, but not necessarilly a better project.

They usually go three years and require a bond. The regulators don't make the maintenance plan, but they do use their descretion on accepting or rejecting what is proposed. They will point out what they think needs improvement so that the maintenance plan can be ammended. Sometimes the plan is ammended in order to change the maintenance need rather than increase the maintenance program.

The end result can be the type of landscape that will prompt posts in editorials or websites about how commercial landscape designers don't do enough to improve aesthetics. ... but without it a hack developer will have the deteriorating landscape that you want to address.

However, these places are built to sell or lease to people and more often than not the ability to do that is dependent on aesthetics to one degree or another. There is pressure to maintain within the private sector in most cases. It does not happen naturally if the rest of the area is in serious need of revitalization because it will not benefit the bottom line. But, revitalization does not happen if you make it too expensive for the developer to make the investment.

It is a double edged sword. You can't assume that everything else will be the same AND the maintenance will be guaranteed. These things do kill some projects by being too much of a burden and the project moves to a different location where there is less burden.

If you are going to do this, require the developer to provide the maintenance plan and use what is proposed to be what defines how much maintenance there should be. There needs to be descretion and the required maintenance should be appropriate and not excessive. A standard maintenance for all landscapes would be excessive regulation.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 10:37AM
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to ensure that the landscaping is maintained in top notch condition in perpetuity.

And you think a uniform/model mainenance plan will achieve this? Sorry, but I think that is a very naive thought process. Commercial plantings aside, homeowners will or will not adhere to maintenance schedules or plans as they see fit. CCR's, when in place and enforced, may dictate to some degree how very visible or frontyard plantings and common spaces should be maintained but even that's not always a guarantee. And landscaping of personal property is not a finite situation - it often changes dramatically with change of ownership and what was spec'd orginally with regards to maintenance may not be at all appropriate or even applicable down the road.

Even commercial landscape installations are not static - again these will change with changes in ownership of the property and how well they are maintained is far more a factor of the ownership and economic resources than simply adhering to a prescribed maintenance plan. You may get better results with this theory applied to city or municipality owned properties or plantings but I think you would have a very hard time getting a model maintenance plan accepted by the general public - once a property leaves the developer's hands, all bets are off.

I guess I've been around this business long enough to realize that very few landscapes exist in any state 'in perpetuity' and that there are some expectations of autonomy involved in any privately owned landscape that would make adoption of this theory pointless or at the very least, virtually impossible to enforce.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 1:20PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I can't imagine a required maintenance program that applies to everyone/every property! I read the one that was referred to and the first thing that jumped out at me is that the outcome would be very much dependant on the knowledge of whoever is doing the maintenance. If you apply it to homeowners, the knowledge ranges from zero to very experienced. At the low end of the knowledge range, they wouldn't know what they were doing so just telling them, for example, to prune at certain times won't help a lot if they don't know what and how to prune. At the high end of the knowledge range, they don't need a checklist and, if things are not being done, it's likely for reasons other than a lack of knowledge.

For commercial properties using a landscape contractor, the contractor's horticultural knowledge/expertise would be the issue. I suspect there's a fair number of landscape maintenance businesses that don't have a high level of horticultural expertise. So the business owner would end up needing to hire more expensive contractors and/or the lanscaping would be driven to the 'lowest common denominator' - i.e. 'idiot-proof' plants. So you'd like exchange a varied but sometimes inadequately maintained lanscape for a uniform/boring - and still sometimes inadequately maintained - one! I don't see that as anything worth working towards.

It also seems at odds with the ideal of individual freedom of choice. You'd probably be further ahead to encourage your town to actively participate in something like America in Bloom and get businesses etc. competing for recognition as having a beautiful landscape. Encouraging individual initiative and competition seems more in line with American ideals than a mandated one-size-fits-all solution.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 3:19PM
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I don't know that I agree with the negativity. I am sure that most homeowners associations already have something about yard upkeep in place. I am also sure that, generally speaking, the maintenance of public landscaping is not up to much. If the OP is looking for a list of items that should be included in a maintenance contract, a list provided by horticulturalist/arborist and other professionals wouldn't this help the bureaucrats (if only in my dreams)?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 3:25PM
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Wow woody you have certainly made this a broader issue. Landscaping to suit the skill (nil) of maintenance contractors is already in full swing and replacement plays a big part of a budget when people know that stuff will die from neglect. When I take my truck for repair I am not looking for, neither will I pay for a mechanic who wants to exercise his "individual freedom of choice". Why should this be any different?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 5:38PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

Ink - I see it as different because the truck is a standardized thing - every truck of the same model is built the same way and needs the same parts etc. for repairs. and there's a limited number of models using a limited number of parts to make construction and maintenance efficient. A garden/landscape on the other hand is unique to a site and its owner. The pieces may be similar from one place to another but the how they are put together is different; the 'look' desired may be different; the intended use may be different which might impact how you prune and maintain the individual plants etc. etc. In other words, the truck is a standard product and the landscape is not. There is WAY more individual freedom of choice in a landscape - thank goodness! - than there is when you choose a vehicle. And a garden/landscape is a living thing that ultimately has 'a mind of its own' :-)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 5:58PM
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But no woody. The little growth coming from the root of a tree is a sucker and is standard in the harm it causes the tree, it should be removed.You see we are not talking about the "look" as you call it but what used to be called husbandry that is taking care of stuff. I press you to give me one example off how an individual persons choice has altered the way a plant grows.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 7:29PM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

I chose to prune my heptacodium as a tree instead of a multi-stemmed shrub... I let one of my serviceberries grow as multi-stemmed and keep the other to a single trunk. While there are some standard husbandry things to do for some plants, those are a narrow part of the total - e.g. you want to remove the root suckers from fruit trees but you can then let the tree grow to it's full size - or you can espalier it. To create a maintenance list that would cover every husbandry standard would also be a rather large document that would be unworkable to administer. Which is why I mentioned that mandated maintenance would result in the need for contractors with greater horticultural knowlege and the issue of the wide range of knowledge of homeowers too. Ideally, of course, you want both homeowners and contractors to increase their knowledge and interest in the process of growing and maintaining the plants. My suggestion to promote active involvement in something like an America in Bloom competition was to give an incentive for people to move along the knowledge spectrum. A little competition and recognition for results is good incentive for most people. The bottom line though is some people just aren't interested and won't care, no matter what you do.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2010 at 8:17PM
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Dimond, at this particular tough economic time I doubt that your local government will be interested in passing legislation of the type you are espousing. All municipalites are treading water, cutting budgets as malls, businesses and foreclosures affect the tax base and planning. Struggling business have to make cost cutting decisions and one of the first to go is keeping landscapes up to snuff. To enforce a community Landscape Maintenance Plan is another cost and headache government probably will not shoulder right now. They are busy writing grants trying to capture some of the Federal stimulus money just to keep their intrastructure repaired; sewers, roads, bridges, water lines.

Your heart is in the right place. The economic situation is working against you. The other day I visited the Jackson & Perkins, Park Seed outlet center in Greenwood, SC. They sell Park seeds there and all the vegetable seeds were sold out. This forecasts the coming growing season. They will restock soon but these are expected to fly off the shelves.

Don't give up your quest but expect resistance.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 10:27AM
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"To look as intended in future years" is a tall order for a typical landscape maintenance company to follow. Because who will communicate how it's intended to look?

The typical maintenance is edging, removing/re-laying new mulch, annual pruning, mowing, and removing of maintenace debris/clippings. Specifying what's to be pruned and at what height is possible, but it'll cost yeah more.

The designer's vision is not necessarily that of others, escpecially the trigger pullers.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 12:49PM
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I disagree.
... when municipal employees don't have a lot of projects to review, they love this stuff because it makes them look busy and needed. They'll be all over it!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 12:52PM
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tibs(5/6 OH)

Most cities do not enforce the regulations thay have on the books. If they did, towns and landscaping would look if not better, at least tidy. Seems a waste of time to add more rules when exisitng ones aren't enforced. And there is the problem. Who is going to make sure these regs are followed? You hire a zoning inspector who got the job because someone's nephew, cousin or whatever needed a job, not becuase they know anything about plants. Then you have to get the police to write up a citation. Not high on their priority list. Then finally, you have to get a judge that will follow thru. We can't even get the judges to do anything about non operating septic systems, a real environmental and health hazard, much less triming the lilac correctly. Ah, the joys of living in a rural area. And Nandina is correct, the timing is bad, cities are having trouble making ends meet on the basics - water, sewer, garbage pick-up, pothole repair and snow plowing. I wonder how many cities in the mid Atlantic area are going to be broke after the big blizzard clean up.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2010 at 5:41PM
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