May 15, 2023

Common Landscaping Mistakes: Things That Can Go Wrong For Your Ops Team During Peak Seasons

Common Landscaping Mistakes: Things That Can Go Wrong For Your Ops Team During Peak Seasons

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Murphy’s Law applies to everything. Yes, even outdoor service operations. During the peak season, landscaping companies face a huge surge in demand for their services. With so much work to do, it's easy for things to go wrong. Or for your team to commit common landscaping mistakes.

This blog will discuss 6 of the most common landscaping mistakes that can happen but won’t happen because you’ll be ready.

Avoiding 6 most common landscaping operational pitfalls during peak season

Today, we explore 6 common landscaping mistakes that can derail your operations team (but won't) and offer tips on avoiding them.

  1. Your equipment is faulty
  2. Your misplaced your site documentation
  3. Your crew is at the wrong location (but with all the right equipment)
  4. Your dispatch routes aren't optimized
  5. Your crew forgot to clock in, but the work is complete
  6. When the weather plays spoilsport

Common landscaping mistakes: Your equipment is faulty

First on our list of common landscaping mistakes is faulty equipment. You need reliable and up-to-date equipment for your crew to perform well. This is a no-brainer! We know. 

However, equipment failures can and do happen, especially during the busiest times of the year. Whether it's a broken-down truck or a malfunctioning mower, a piece of faulty equipment can quickly bring your operations to a halt. 

A faulty piece of landscaping equipment lies idle with a yellow out of service tag attached.

Without a proper maintenance plan, equipment downtime can result in missed deadlines, unhappy customers, and lost revenue. Moreover, the cost of repairing broken equipment or purchasing new ones can quickly add up, impacting the bottom line of the business.

As a commercial landscaping business, keeping equipment in good condition can be challenging due to the industry’s seasonal nature. But the crew needs equipment that is safe and ready to use when they arrive at the job site. This is where a proactive maintenance strategy comes into play.

What can help?

Turn to landscape management software

Using landscaping management software or a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) lets managers keep track of the equipment and set preventive maintenance schedules. This way, the crew members will be notified of the upcoming maintenance schedule, which reduces downtime.

But that’s not it! With inventory and historical usage data, fleet managers can track the equipment in real time and predict the maintenance and service requirements of the equipment. 

Implement a regular maintenance schedule

Create a maintenance schedule for all your equipment, including mowers, trucks, trimmers, and other landscaping tools. Regularly inspect and service each piece of equipment to identify any potential issues before they become major problems. 

Train your crew on equipment maintenance

Provide training to your crew members on proper equipment handling and maintenance. Ensure that they know how to perform basic maintenance tasks such as cleaning, lubricating, and inspecting equipment regularly. 

Pro tip

Encourage your crew to report any signs of equipment malfunction or wear and tear immediately so that you can schedule necessary repairs on time.

Keep spare parts and backup equipment

Make it a practice to maintain a stock of commonly needed spare parts for your equipment. This will allow you to quickly replace any faulty parts and minimize downtime. 

Partner with reliable equipment suppliers

Choose reputable equipment suppliers who provide reliable and high-quality products. Work with suppliers who offer warranties and have a good reputation for customer support. 

Track equipment performance and costs

Keep records of equipment performance, maintenance tasks, and associated costs. Use this to identify patterns, such as recurring issues with specific equipment, and make informed decisions about repairs or replacements. With equipment costs tracked, you can budget and plan for future equipment investments more effectively.

Consider outsourcing equipment maintenance

If maintaining equipment in-house is challenging, consider outsourcing equipment maintenance to specialized service providers. They can handle routine maintenance tasks, repairs, and equipment inspections, allowing you to focus on your core landscaping operations. 

Having a proactive maintenance strategy in place is crucial for improving equipment uptime for commercial landscaping businesses. 

This way, you predictability to the maintenance process and ensures that the equipment is in optimal condition when needed.

And you know what that leads to

  • Reduced equipment downtime
  • Extended life of the equipment
  • Reduced need for costly repairs and replacements

With a proactive maintenance strategy, companies can ensure their equipment is ready for use. This, in turn, ensures safe operations for the crew working with the equipment, improves customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, increases their bottom line.

Common landscaping mistake: You misplaced your site audit notes

Site audits are an important part of any landscaping project. They help you understand the site's unique features and plan your work accordingly. You know that. But let us paint you a picture.

When you are out on the site with your customer or a favoring prospect, you have one job- give your undivided attention to them. As you are reviewing the site conditions, you need to:

  1. Identify upselling opportunities by pinpointing areas where additional work or enhancements may be required for bettering the overall look and functionality of the space. Doing so can help increase your project's profitability.
  2. Note down the site conditions that your crew will be working with. For example, suppose your crew is slated to work on a snow removal job. In that case, they must be aware in advance of any potential hazards such as uneven terrain or obstacles, potholes, excavation trenches, slippery slopes, etc. As a result,  your crew will know to take the necessary precautions.
  3. Document exactly what your customer envisioned so that your crew gets the details right on-site.

However, a simple error can throw a wrench in your plans. Imagine if you misplace your site audit notes; you may find yourself unprepared and scrambling to catch up.

Plus, to be honest, a bunch of sheets passed around was probably anyway not the best way to communicate on-site information. But it’s one of the most common landscaping mistakes.

What can help?

Here, having a site documentation app like Attentive OnSite can help. How? It’s like having an on-site assistant that helps you:

  • Show up prepared on-site with accurate sitemaps
  • Note customer requirements by geotagging site data
  • Help your ops team plan better with real-time site data job documentation
  • Equip the ops manager, crew leader, and crew with accurate job site intelligence

Common landscaping mistakes: Your crew has the right equipment but is at the wrong location 

Next on our list of common landscaping mistakes is one of landscaping business owners’ worst nightmares.

Your team closed the deal. The ops manager has the maintenance schedule locked in. The day arrives. 

Your crew operations team is set to tackle a full day of outdoor service work. They have all the equipment needed for the job, from mowers to leaf blowers and everything in between. But as the day goes on, you start receiving calls from frustrated customers complaining that the crew hasn't shown up. But they left on time and with the right equipment!

A landscaping crew at work in the park in full swing.

You check your GPS tracker and realize they're at the wrong location.

Eventually, you manage to get in touch with them and find out they went to the wrong address due to a miscommunication. This means that not only are they behind schedule for the day, but also the team that was scheduled to work at that site is now unable to do so, causing further delays and inconvenience for customers.

Definitely sounds like one of the worst possible scenarios. We understand. Miscommunication and confusion can lead to crews arriving at the wrong site, throwing off your entire schedule. 

What can help?

Enter crew tracking apps. Exit: your crew tracking woes. Here’s how.

Real-time visibility

With a crew tracking app, you can see where all your crews are at any given time. Hence, you can quickly identify if they're at the wrong location and redirect them if needed.

Automatic timekeeping

Many crew tracking apps have built-in timekeeping features that can help you track your crew's hours and ensure that they're being paid accurately.

Efficient scheduling

You can use the app to schedule crews to specific locations in advance, reducing the risk of miscommunication and confusion.

Improved communication

The app can facilitate better communication between your office and field staff. This way, you can quickly convey any changes or updates to schedules or job details.

Say goodbye to your crew tracking challenges with the implementation of a crew tracking app, providing real-time visibility, automatic timekeeping, efficient scheduling, and improved communication, ensuring smooth operations and effective management of your landscaping crew.

Common landscaping mistakes: Your dispatch routes aren't optimized

Dispatching is a complex process that involves balancing workloads, assigning crews, and optimizing routes. During the peak season, when you have more jobs than usual, it's easy to get bogged down in the details and lose sight of the big picture. 

Unoptimized dispatch routes means: 

  • Reduced crew productivity
  • Longer travel times
  • Increased fuel costs

What can help?

Here, having a robust dispatch management process helps. Using end-to-end landscaping business management software for dispatch management, you can 

  • Track crew locations, equipment, and schedules, allowing for quick changes to be made when necessary.
  • Help reduce unnecessary driving time and boost overall crew productivity
  • Help with the timely assignment of tasks based on crew availability and location, ensuring that the right crew is always assigned to the right job at the right time
  • Enjoy a clear overview of all your jobs, enabling you to prioritize them in an order that ensures they are completed in the most efficient way possible

Common landscaping mistakes: Your crew forgot to clock in, but the work is done

Finally, one of the most frustrating things that can happen during the peak season is having your crews forget to clock in. While unfortunate, this happens, especially when the crew is packed with tasks lined up for them.

Now, you know your crew did the job, the customers are happy, and you landed a renewal deal. However, you also know that forgetting to clock in can lead to inaccurate timekeeping and payroll errors, which can ultimately harm the profitability of your business. 

But wait, another issue can crop up: ghost clock-ins or false clock-ins. These are instances where your crew intentionally or accidentally manipulates the clock-in system, resulting in incorrect records of their working hours. And let me tell you, it can cause a lot of trouble. You end up with inflated labor costs, payroll mistakes, and potential conflicts with employees over their actual hours worked.

What can help?

You need accurate time tracking to pay your team members fairly and bill your clients correctly. Let’s see what ops managers can do to counter common landscaping mistakes related to irregularities in clocking in and out.

  • Implement face recognition where only authorized employees can clock in, providing a reliable and secure way to track attendance, preventing ghost clock-ins
  • Provide crew members with clear instructions on how to clock in and out of their work shifts, and remind them regularly.
  • Consider using a crew tracking app that allows them to clock in and out remotely from their mobile device.
  • Use automated time tracking systems to detect when a crew member is on a job site and automatically clock them in.
  • Implement a system for double-checking clock-in records to ensure all hours are accounted for and accurately recorded.
  • Reward your crew for consistently clocking in on time and accurately by offering incentives or bonuses. 

Still reading? Well, that deserves a bonus point.

Common landscaping mistakes: When the weather plays spoilsport

While you can plan everything to the last detail, there’s one thing you have no (read: lesser) control over– the weather. Hence, when scheduling your crew's jobs, you must consider the impact of unpredictable or extreme weather conditions. 

An unexpected hailstorm strikes and brings the roads to a halt. The road is covered with a flimsy layer of snow.

For instance, during a blizzard, it may not be safe or practical for your crew to perform certain outdoor tasks, such as mowing lawns or trimming trees. However, they may still be able to complete other relatively indoorsy tasks, such as clearing snow from parking lots. 

What can help?

By anticipating potential weather-related challenges and adjusting your crew's schedule accordingly, you can ensure their safety and maximize their productivity. 

Besides keeping an eye on the weather, here are some things you can do to ensure to deal with common landscaping mistakes related to unpredictable weather.

  • Conduct training sessions for your crew on how to handle weather-related emergencies. 
  • Ensure that they know the hazards associated with different weather conditions and how to stay safe during such events.
  • Develop an emergency response plan that outlines what to do in case of extreme weather events, such as blizzards or hurricanes. 
  • During weather disruptions, keep communication channels open with your crew members. 
  • Let them know of any changes in the schedule and that they have a way to communicate with you in case of an emergency.

Summing up

As you can see, for smooth operations during the busiest seasons, it's important to be aware of common landscaping mistakes that can throw a wrench in your plans. By taking steps to avoid these pitfalls and implementing effective strategies, you will keep your business running like a well-oiled machine. 

From careful planning and clear communication to incorporating technology into your workflows, success in the landscaping industry is within reach. 

And fingers crossed, we hope you’re never faced with these common landscaping mistakes. But it doesn’t hurt to be ready and set to take on these challenges.

So, take action to mitigate risk, improve operations, and drive growth!


What happens during landscaping peak season?

During the peak season, landscaping operations experience a surge in demand for services, with increased workload and tight schedules. It's a time when clients require various services, such as lawn maintenance, garden installations, and landscape renovations.

How can landscaping ops teams prepare for peak season?

Landscaping ops teams can prepare for the peak season by planning thoroughly, including hiring and training additional staff, optimizing schedules, and ensuring equipment readiness. Avoiding common landscaping mistakes, implementing efficient communication channels, and having a contingency plan can also help manage the increased workload effectively.

How can extreme weather conditions during the peak season impact landscaping operations?

Extreme weather conditions like heavy rain, heat waves, or storms can disrupt landscaping operations. They can lead to delays in outdoor work, damage to plants and structures, safety hazards, and scheduling conflicts. Landscaping teams need to monitor weather forecasts, adapt schedules accordingly, and take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their crew and clients' properties.