Winter Gritting & Grounds Maintenance

The most useful landscape seasonal planner you will see all year!

December 18, 2017

Taking the mystery out of seasonal GM planning for Facilities Managers - part 1 


If it weren’t for seasons life would certainly be much simpler for busy FMs. Grounds Maintenance (GM) commitments add an added dimension of long term planning to managing sites with outdoor spaces, but as ever, planning and preparation is the key to year round success.


While you don’t need to become an expert horticulturalist, it does pay to have some appreciation of the basics of what is happening within the grounds at each phase of the year. For example, there’s little point planning a change in hedging at a time when birds are still nesting. Planning your GM in line with seasonal changes is as much about understanding the environment you are responsible for managing - and the ability to plan ahead of time will make the job a lot more straightforward.

 Soft Landscaping Planner.jpg


To help with your planning process, it is worth mapping out the year, and identifying milestones and tasks appropriate to times across the seasons. As a start, we have created two planners that can be adapted to your own sites and requirements. In this blog we feature the Soft Landscaping planner to help you understand the optimum times to make improvements or changes, such as extending beds, creating more naturalistic areas or planting.


Our upcoming blog will feature the Grounds Maintenance planner. Together the planners are also a useful reference for tracking your teams’ or contractor’s current work and service reports and what you can expect in the upcoming months.


Even at a summary level our planner shows that there can be considerably more to grounds maintenance than simply cutting the grass! One can appreciate why some organisations have tried their best to limit the workload by simplifying their grounds – producing dreary monocultures of lawn, evergreen and bark chips. Gladly there are signs that the trend is changing, however. A growing awareness of the social and environmental importance of diverse landscaping – as well as a desire to maximise the value of a site – is encouraging more creative planting and useful spaces.


In many cases more creative approaches may not actually require a higher level of investment or ongoing maintenance, for example, the creation of wildflower meadows - but realising such plans demands better year round planning, and a structured approach when specifying and benchmarking the activity of in-house GM teams or contractors.


If you decide to bring external contractors on board, the seasonal nature of grounds maintenance can also determine the best times for the tendering process.

Diary dates for specifying and managing GM contracts


August to October                           Review landscape assets

September to November                 Create specification

November to February                    Tender works

January to February                        Appoint contractor

February to March                           Mobilise contract


GM priorities for managers in the seasons ahead


Although now in winter, we thought we would share the priorities for Autumn so you can evaluate where you stand with your plans.



  • This was the time to review your management and maintenance plans and specifications. It’s also a good time to review the previous year and consider how your grounds are actually used, how you can improve upon next year’s service and opportunities to better meet the organisation’s policies.  
  • Consider collaborating with a landscape expert to develop a comprehensive set of output specifications. This should focus on achieving your desired standards rather than the frequency of visits. Ask your GM provider to show how they can support your organisation’s environmental policy and contribute to workplace wellbeing, while supporting the wider environment.
  • Remember to review and release PQQ and tender documentation early if procuring for larger contracts.
  • In terms of the physical site, now is the time to schedule site improvement works such as planting, tree surgery and arboriculture activity. 



  • As we head into the winter months ensure that any programmes and schedules for improvement works are all in place and that there are plenty of contingency plans for adverse weather events as these may delay jobs.
  • Ensure that you have carefully selected your GM provider in a thorough procurement process well in advance of the summer months so they are in place by February at the latest.
  • Continue to monitor KPIs for winter tasks and, if you manage an in-house team, ensure your staff training needs have been identified and training providers booked.
  • Make sure any of your own machinery has been fully serviced and additional resource requirements have been identified and ordered prior to mobilising in spring.


We’ve set out a very basic introduction to some of things you should be currently be thinking about. A key consideration is to give yourself enough time now to think of improvements and opportunities to make more of your assets. This applies equally whether you are using you own staff or external contractors.

Further advice on refreshing your grounds specification



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