When you make a large landscaping investment, you need to protect it. You need meticulous and knowledgeable landscape maintenance that nurtures the garden environment, protects your investment and helps your landscape grow into what it was envisioned to be.
A horticultural approach to landscape maintenance and garden care brings extensive knowledge, specialized skill, and top-notch equipment needed to keep your beloved landscape looking its best.
Why You Need Horticultural Expertise
These are the three most important reasons to work with a landscape company that employs personnel who possess horticultural expertise:
Extensive Knowledge Base
Different plants have different nutrient requirements. In fact, every plant in your landscape has different basic needs in regards to moisture, sun exposure, and soil composition. They may also require unique pruning, specialized care techniques, or have different tolerances against insects and disease.
What this means is that without specific knowledge and expertise, your plants may not maintain good health and display their full potential. For example, if your landscaping crew doesn’t prune or spray at the right time of year or if they wait too long between routine maintenance inspections, they might miss developing issues that could devastate portions of your landscape.
On the other hand, a company with horticultural expertise has extensive knowledge of plants of every type; this means your landscape will always look its best.
Specialized Care and Maintenance
A horticulturist can offer specialized care such as periodic soil testing, which reveals whether the condition of the soil is correct for a particular plant. Soil composition can noticeably affect the health and beauty of your landscape. Since soil composition changes over time, a horticulturist will regularly analyze the soil to see if anything needs to be adjusted in terms of nutrients, pH level, moisture retention, and drainage to best support the plant. There’s a bit of chemistry required for a horticulturist to provide the appropriate soil amendments for the best nutrient uptake.
For example, azaleas like acidic soil. The same goes for hydrangeas. For true blue flowers, hydrangeas need an acidic soil with a pH of 5.5 or less. For pink flowers, neutral or alkaline soils (pH 6.5 or higher) are preferred.
Basically, a horticulturist can play with the pH level in your soil to get you the exact color combinations you want in your garden, and that’s just one example of the specialized care they can provide.
High-quality equipment and tools can make a significant difference in supporting the health and beauty of your landscape. This translates into tools that are sharp so cuts are clean and not partly crushed or torn, which invites disease and insects. It also means that your landscape crew is going to have a variety of different types of equipment at their disposal, and be trained in how best to use each tool for each task.
A simple example of proper equipment use would be a large riding mower: to run that mower on a steep slope could risk gouging the turf if it slipped on the steep grade. There are also different sized pruners required for different plants. Even if some only get used a few times a year, it’s essential to have them on hand to ensure the proper equipment is always available to get the job done effectively and correctly. They will also have reliable backup equipment that is well maintained.
Characteristics of a Landscape Firm with Horticultural Expertise
To differentiate between various landscape firms, here are a few qualities to look for when you speak with a company representative.
Trained, Motivated Personnel
Look for a firm that invests in ongoing training and long-term retention of their employees. Firms that continuously improve themselves through training stay up-to-date with industry best practices and demonstrate a commitment to excellence that you want.
Ask the firm how long their employees have been with them. Employees stay with a company when they feel they are part of a successful team.
Take time to observe the crew in action the first time they come to work on your yard. A crew that moves through a property with purpose and efficiency, instead of racing to get the job done, is the type of crew you want.
Industry certifications or association memberships
Top landscape firms will invest in high-standards for their employees and themselves. This means they will hire certified horticulturists and train staff to become certified landscape technicians. They’ll also be active in industry associations such as the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and a local chapter of the Landscape Contractors Association (LCA). All of these indicate a dedication to high standards and up-to-date practices.
Courtesy & Safety
Your landscape firm will be at your house weekly or bi-weekly—and you want to feel assured that they are looking out for you, your neighbors, and your property. For example, you want to see them stop working for a few seconds (shut off their equipment) when a neighbor strolls by or when you pull into your driveway and get out of your car. In this case, courtesy and safety go hand in hand. When the crew is spreading fertilizer, you’ll want to see that they sweep the excess off of driveways and walkways, and post a notice about what they’ve done.
This sort of courtesy and awareness is a clear example of a top-notch company, and someone you want to work on your landscape.
Your landscape is a growing, living system. It must be managed, maintained, shaped, and taken care of. A landscape firm that’s dedicated to high standards and up-to-date practices will give your gardens and landscape precisely the care they need to thrive. Companies that keep up with industry best practices, and who employ certified horticulturists and landscape technicians can give your landscape the specialty care it needs to look as beautiful as it should.
If you’ve been thinking about investing in a landscape design project, our eBook: Expert Guide to Planning the Landscape Design of Your Dreams, is full of valuable information to help you get started.