Specifications: Working for You and Your Landscape, or … Not?


 Find yourself in discussions (or arguments) on how you and landscape services providers “interpret” portions of your spec? Find your site is “settling” for something in-between what you wanted and what the provider bid? When was the last time you updated your landscape maintenance specifications? If it’s been more than four-to-five years – your landscape has been growing and changing, so shouldn’t your spec change too?

Maybe it’s time for a spec review. Here are some tips for a successful process:
  • Make a list and review your spec. Are all the landscape components in? (Think turf, shrub beds, hedges, ground covers, flowerbeds, trees, mulched beds, walkways, and paved areas.)
  • Describe the work to be done and identify the critical factors and the details that determine the job/operation is properly performed to your sites and stakeholders expectations and goals. (Be clear, simple and specific.)
  • Remember, specifications may change in various areas of your site: the formal hedge at the main entry may need to be pruned three-to-four times to always be crisp, while a hedge in the rear of the property may only need to be pruned twice.
  • Avoid the term, “as needed” … or fully clarify. Does “as needed” mean changing the anticipated service from one time per week to two times per week or daily? “As needed”, without further clarity, can be a point of disagreement between owner/manager and vendor. For example, “prune as needed,” can be interpreted as once to one bidder, twice to another and three to someone else.
  • Licensing is important. Ensure the bidders are licensed in turf/tree/shrub applications as well as irrigation.
  • Get a clear definition of “weed free.” Weeds should not be more than one-inch tall and never present; or weeds should never be over a half-inch in height and comprise more than five percent of overall mulched area.

For a spec review and upgrade, consider what has and has not worked, add frequencies, clarity and your expectations and tolerances to re-shape your spec into a clear, working document for managers and service provider.

Need help or a quick review?
ELM sees and writes hundreds of specifications. Let us discuss and share with you how best to meet your expectations, goals and budget for your landscape this season.