I have noticed a number of new ground maintenance start up businesses around Glasgow this season, as always happens at the start of a new growing season.
2013 must be a particularly difficult year to try and start such a company though due to the late start of the real growing spurt that has usually kicked off by now. Cold nights and dry weather in many areas has slowed down any new growth of grass, weeds (not such a bad thing!) and shrubs. Clients are reluctant to start paying for maintenance again for the year as they feel their gardens look ok for the time being. But what does this mean for gardeners and maintenance contractors?
Well, it makes it more difficult to get a garden under control to begin with. Typically March would be a time for a real gutting out of borders, under shrubs and hedges, clearing up all leaves lying around and edging/scraping/sweeping all the unwanted debris that gathers, cultivating and hoeing. The clear-up would move on to April where lawn treatments form a large part of the work. Moss treatment and scarifying take a couple of weeks between visits and are ideally carried out in dry conditions but with a wet forecast to water things after the vigorous process that involves raking moss out of lawns.
Where clients postpone the commencement of gardening work this sets off a delay that can last months in some cases. Weather conditions might not be suitable for certain work and getting a late start to lawn preparation will make getitng perfect results more difficult.
For this reason I prefer to take management of grounds and gardens where a client is happy to allow me to choose when and how to carry out the work that best suits their garden's needs. An annual garden care agreement won't work out any more expensive than pay-per-visit, it allows payments to be spread out over 12 months of the year rather than 9 and gives me the flexibility to make visits as I see a need for them. This invariably results in a nicer-looking garden for 12 months a year, rather than a mad rush in spring after 4 months of looking out at a messy area covered in leaves.
So those new businesses that start up might find things difficult if they only stick to what some clients feel is the 'gardening season'. Those that can adapt, offer extra value and take control of gardens are the ones who I feel will make a greater success of their businesses.