Grounds Maintenance Explained: What Does It Cover?

grounds maintenance

A well-maintained property doesn’t only mean having clean facilities and working building systems. The space outside of the building itself has to also be subjected to regular maintenance. 

This is where grounds maintenance comes into play to ensure the property surrounding the facilities is functional and leaves a good first impression.

If you continue reading this article, you will learn:

  • what does ground maintenance covers
  • which organizations need it the most
  • what is the core of a grounds maintenance team
  • and where to find grounds maintenance services

What does grounds maintenance cover?

There are many types of outdoor spaces. As such, grounds maintenance covers a wide variety of different services which includes a lot of seasonal work and has 3 main purposes:

  1. create a pleasant outdoor environment
  2. ensure a functional outdoor environment
  3. preserve property value
Here is an extensive list of tasks that are performed as a part of ground maintenance:

  • lawn maintenance (grass cutting, scarifying, edging…)
  • hedge cutting and maintenance
  • tree works (tree planting, felling, surgery…)
  • planting artificial grass
  • fencing
  • gutter clearance
  • pruning, weeding, and cultivation of shrub beds
  • gardening and pest control
  • irrigation system maintenance and repair
  • snow clearance and grit application
  • cleansing of open spaces (picking up litter, emptying bins, etc.)
  • maintenance of hard surfaces (like basketball and tennis courts)
scope of ground maintenance
It is a big list, but there aren’t any surprises here. One thing that wasn’t mentioned but could technically be on this list is interior landscape maintenance. It sounds fancy, but it basically refers to the installation and maintenance of indoor gardens.

Organizations that need ground maintenance

Every organization that owns a facility will need some form of ground maintenance. That being said, if you own a building that is in the city core, it is likely that you do not have a lot of outside property that needs to be maintained. The little you do is covered by your building maintenance team.

What we’re going to focus on here are businesses and organizations that have a greater need for grounds maintenance. Since they are so many of them, we will try to roughly split them into the following groups:

  • organizations with a lot of space outside of their facility (schools, college campuses, select fitness facilities, resorts…) 
  • places where appearance is very important (apartment complexes, shopping centers, theme parks, hotels, zoos, botanical gardens…)
  • sports fields (golf courses, football stadiums, and other similar sports locations)
  • different public properties (like public parks, cemeteries, memorial gardens…)
This is by no means an all-encompassing list. However, it gives a good feel for locations that need a strong grounds maintenance strategy.

Types of ground maintenance workers 

In general, ground maintenance workers do not require any formal education as they are trained on the job. That being said, some employers might ask for certifications or formal education in areas such as horticulture or landscape design.

Here are some common types of grounds maintenance workers:

  • Groundskeepers: groundskeeping workers are responsible for mowing the lawn, caring for plants and trees, snow removal, lawn care, upkeep of sidewalks, parking lots, fountains, fences, groundskeeping equipment, and similar.
  • Greenskeepers: are groundskeepers of golf courses; they do everything stated above plus some specialized golf course-related tasks like relocating holes and repairing tee markers.
  • Landscaping workers: plant flowers, trees, and shrubs; fertilize, mulch, and trim all plants; can help with installing systems like lighting and sprinklers.
  • Pesticide handlers, sprayers, and applicators: they work on preventing or controlling weeds, insect infestations, and diseases by applying herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides; they can also work with fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals to stimulate growth and solve other lawn problems.
  • Tree trimmers and pruners (a.k.a. arborists): use chain saws, chippers, stump grinders, and power pruners to clear dead/excess branches from trees and shrubs to clear utility lines, roads, and sidewalks; might specialize in diagnosing and treating tree diseases or creating ornamental trees and shrubs. 
All of these grounds maintenance jobs come in many variations with a lot of overlapping responsibilities. For instance, here is a screenshot from RaiseMe that lists out common careers for grounds maintenance workers:

types of grounds maintenance workers
If you have an in-house ground maintenance team, you obviously won’t hire 20 different people so each can perform one specialized task. Depending on the size of the property that needs to be maintained and the scope of the tasks that need to be covered, you will hire an appropriate amount of people that will have diverse responsibilities. 

At the end of the day, nobody is stopping you to occasionally hire a third-party contractor to execute a specialized task that is outside of the expertise of your internal team.

Those that do not want to go through the trouble of managing an internal team will look to hire a professional grounds maintenance company. 

Both are completely viable approaches that come with their own set of pros and cons. We recently wrote about property maintenance where we discussed the pros and cons of building an internal maintenance team and outsourcing everything to a vendor. Since used points translate well into the context of grounds maintenance, here’s that comparison table:

Commercial property maintenance vs in-house team
In essence, the main difference is that when you have an internal team, you can use a CMMS or other maintenance platforms to have detailed insight into performed work and its costs. With outsourcing, you have less control, but more time to focus on other important tasks. 

Where to find grounds maintenance services

Facilities that have a lot of ground to cover might find it easier to just outsource everything. While there are some platforms out there like Thumbtack that could help you find local ground maintenance professionals, your best bet is to google grounds maintenance companies in your city and review those that leave the best impression. If you have business partners or friends that might be already using such services, reach out and see if they have anyone to recommend. 

Finding a trusted company will ensure that the grounds are routinely maintained and get the attention they deserve.

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