Grounds Maintenance

In this guide, we explore grounds maintenance. How does it differ from other types of maintenance, and what are grounds maintenance best practices?

What is grounds maintenance?

What if there were a way to lower energy costs, improve business and sales, and create a more positive feeling about locations for customers? Grounds maintenance can help and all it takes is a little digging on the topic to maximize the green in more ways than one.

Grounds maintenance is the process that maintains outdoor and green indoor areas. It can include everything from planting trees and pest control to mowing lawns and keeping a sidewalk free of snow. The main goal of grounds maintenance is to maintain property value and ensure that landscaped areas retain functionality and remain pleasant.

Keeping these areas clean, organized, and aesthetically pleasing cannot be underestimated. A study from the University of Vermont found that landscaping and groundskeeping can add up to 14% to the resale value of a building and grounds.

Who uses grounds maintenance?

Most facilities depend on grounds maintenance in some form. Organizations find value and cost savings by modifying grounds maintenance strategies to match their green spaces or landscaping needs.

Residential Facilities

Residential facilities like apartment and condominium complexes usually use a grounds maintenance department for watering, pruning, weeding plants, and removing snow. This helps them continue to be a preferable choice for renters and buyers.

Commercial Properties

Commercial properties like shopping centers, malls, hotels, or restaurants use grounds maintenance to attract customers, retain aesthetic value and ensure the safety of visitors and employees. Well-groomed grounds will also keep and attract franchisees, businesses, room renters and maintain ratings and rankings.

Schools and Institutions of Higher Education

Schools and institutions of higher education perform grounds maintenance to ensure student and faculty safety and promote “green” learning by allowing horticulture students to carry out the duties as part of their course studies. Elementary school, high school, special education, and university campuses benefit.

Cemeteries

Cemeteries rely on grounds maintenance to maintain their peaceful surroundings and dedication to preserving the memory of loved ones who have departed too soon.

Theme Parks and Zoos

Grounds maintenance is essential to theme parks and zoos. Again, its strategies are used to keep visitors safe. It also adds to the user experience and encourages return visits.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Almost all facilities including public works use grounds maintenance to manage crews, grounds maintenance equipment, and grounds maintenance tools.

What types of maintenance do grounds maintenance crews use?

There are four main types of maintenance that groundskeepers and crews use to maintain the areas entrusted to their care. Most practice a combination of the following.

Planned maintenance

Planned maintenance is a maintenance strategy based on regularly scheduled maintenance tasks. Its focus is to extend an asset’s life, end downtime, and reduce costs. An example of grounds planned maintenance is scheduled plant watering, grounds equipment oil changes, or administering fertilizer.

Corrective maintenance

Corrective maintenance is a type of maintenance strategy that goes into effect after an unplanned failure has occurred. Its focus is to fix or return an asset to its original state quickly. Examples of grounds corrective maintenance are irrigation pipe fixes after a water main burst, changing the blade of lawn equipment after striking a rock, or charging a dead golf cart battery.

Condition-based maintenance

Condition-based maintenance is a type of maintenance strategy that monitors equipment performance during inspections and with sensor alerts. It focuses on proactively servicing critical grounds equipment after identifying a sign of poor asset health or anticipated failure. An example of grounds condition-based maintenance is maintaining greenhouse humidity after a falling hygrometer reading, replacing a water pump in an irrigation system when a decrease in water pressure is present, or removing certain plants or mulch when rot or infection is detected.

Predictive maintenance

Predictive maintenance is an elevated version of preventive maintenance that relies on sensors and advanced algorithms to predict equipment breakdowns and grounds maintenance needs. Its focus is the same as preventive maintenance but focuses on identifying errors before they occur. Examples of grounds predictive maintenance are greenskeepers using weather detecting sensors to anticipate changes to golf course greens, or greenhouses scheduling sprinklers to turn on after low moisture is detected on soil moisture meters.

How can facilities management software help in ground maintenance?

Facilities management software goes a long way in organizing, assigning, and tracking any of the above maintenance tasks. Preventive maintenance and repetitive work orders are tackled using only a few easy clicks.

Budgeting and accountability become transparent by allowing facilities management software to track everything, including crew hours and inventory used to perform a task. Seasonal grounds maintenance planning can easily be performed, proved, and plotted with a complete overview of reports to boards, stakeholders, and groundskeeping teams.

Certain facilities maintenance software like FMX can also provide better details to field crews by delivering maps, instructions, and checklists attached to a work order. When knowledge of where an asset is and what needs doing is readily available, jobs are completed more efficiently.

Types of grounds maintenance workers

The tasks of grounds maintenance workers are many and vast. Most require a specialized skill set to ensure that the grounds of commercial, residential, and other facilities remain manicured, neat, and healthy. Medium pay for a member of a grounds department is $32,220 per year. Some of the job titles are:

Groundskeepers or Grounds Managers – Groundskeepers or grounds managers typically have the horticultural and technical education to head a grounds maintenance team or department. They are the top-of-funnel leaders responsible for general grounds maintenance like snow removal, grass mowing, leaf raking, shrub and tree trimming, and grounds maintenance equipment and tools. They have a complete working knowledge of maintenance procedures.

Arborists – Arborists are contractors with specialized training in the care and maintenance of trees. Their study has made them acutely astute in maintaining, pruning, shaping, and treating trees for longevity and beauty. Arborists will know which kind of trees to plant around a building to increase shade and help save on summer cooling costs, or which may provide better cover and protection from winter’s frozen grasp and the soaring heating costs it brings.

Landscapers or Grounds Technician – Landscapers and grounds technicians are the backbones of the grounds maintenance staff. They are the ones directed to perform all necessary work from a groundskeeper. Work can include but is not limited to planting trees and flower beds, trimming shrubs, weeding, keeping walkways free of snow and ice, and general outdoor maintenance.

Contractors –Groundskeepers may also have outside contractors on staff. These contractors may perform the grounds maintenance duties of arborists or landscapers including tree trimming and planting flowers.

Again, this is not an all-encompassing list. Groundskeepers may need the services of a certified pesticide sprayer, tree trimmer, tree surgeon, lawn care specialist, or more.

Grounds maintenance worker training

Although formal training isn’t necessary to become an entry-level landscaper, there are several ways grounds maintenance staff can advance through certification and other educational programs.

The Professional Grounds Management Society is a nationally recognized organization that offers grounds manager and grounds technician certification programs. They also provide a school for grounds management.

Most universities also offer horticultural classes that can lead to a horticulture degree. More information can be found on the Horticultural Research Institute’s website.

Summary

Grounds maintenance is a necessary part of facility maintenance. Properly maintained grounds can increase property value, cut energy costs, and enhance the user experience. A certified grounds manager or groundskeeper can use facility management software to supplement their knowledge and organization skills. Advanced training is available to those searching to advance their grounds maintenance career.

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