Maintenance vs. Management

Maintenance; the process of maintaining or preserving someone or something, or the state of being maintained.
Management; the process of dealing with or controlling things or people.

So, okay, is it time with the current drought and outdoor water use concerns to change the term for what we call the caring for landscapes and gardens? We have all become very comfortable with the term landscape maintenance for many years and justly so. But is it time to look at that term and really understand what professional landscaping has become?

Terms such as “sustainable”, “green”, “low impact”, “organic” are now common lexicons in describing land use and land care. The State of California Department of Water Resources is directing landscapes and landscaping in the State toward a “New Normal” in design, installation and care. The updated and revised State Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) is oriented towards better water use efficiency and more conservation oriented land usage with a goal of market transformation and to move Californians away from thirsty, high water using landscapes (think lawns) to more climate appropriate ones. The current drought has intensified this process.

In so doing, the definition of maintenance; the process of maintaining or preserving something with regards to gardens seems to be changing and may no longer fit this definition. With the current drought we are no longer able to preserve landscapes in the method we have grown accustom to with over-watering, over manicuring and over fertilizing (as a generality). A new term is needed. One that embraces and better describes the New Normal of more protection of our water sheds.

Here at Gardenworks, we use the term landscape management to describe our landscape and garden care. Management; the process of dealing with or controlling things seems more apropos. We are controlling the amount of water used on our clients landscape by using certified water budgeting techniques. We are controlling pests using Integrated Pest Management with more low impact approaches for control. We use soil testing to determine levels of fertilizer required and then using organic blends in the correct amount. We are using climate appropriate plants and giving them space to grow to their mature size which requires less severe pruning. All of these processes of controlling a landscape make more sense given current and future circumstances. Preserving landscapes is no longer accurate nor appropriate. Managing or controlling inputs into gardens is a better system with water and resource savings on the output side as a net result. Landscape also look better when well managed!