Starting out in 1968 as a part time maintenance gardener/part time horticultural laboratory technician, I have worked in many private gardens, designed and built around two hundred gardens across the UK in the domestic sector, and learned the skills required to design, build and maintain projects.
In many ways, designing and building are the easiest part, as one can gain great enjoyment out of ‘inventing’ and constructing a unique set of horticultural and gardenesque features all combined into one place, using spatial awareness and building skills to create something especially for a customer.
However, I believe that the greatest satisfaction is gained from maintaining, nurturing and establishing a garden from season to season, watching and helping nature to complete the whole scheme to its’ best advantage, teasing each element into its’ bounds as the designer envisaged.
I have maintained many gardens in the private sector, and completed many large scale ‘commercial’ style sites, mainly in the South of England. These include several Stately Home houses, with many acres and a substantial number of staff. Between 2001 and 2007 I was Head Gardener to Goodwood House, with a brief to oversee the construction of the new Rolls Royce factory, checking the very substantial landscaping works on behalf of the Estate, as well as restoring the Historic Gardens, at least, as far as was possible given the centuries of horticultural neglect that had taken place since they were in their prime.
There are two distinct types of Garden Maintenance Contract; the first involving firms and individuals who maintain gardens using all of their own tools and equipment, supplying labour, transport, products and materials as required (e.g. fertilisers) and remove all waste from site. The second involves those firms and individuals who use only the owners tools and equipment, leaving all rubbish on site.
There are some firms who carry out elements of both types of contract, and therefore it is important to segregate and remove those Terms that do not relate to your business BUT remain aware that they may need to be added back in for some clients. As long as your Terms are progressive i.e. that you do not miss any one of the items out without sound reason (or include them at a later date) to interrupt the overall flow of the Terms & Conditions, they will remain a solid base on which to conduct your business
In essence, these Terms and Conditions are a combined chain. Coming across a Term that you have seen elsewhere and like the sound of it, by adding it to the progressive chain you may negate some part, or all of the rest of document by repetition or contradiction without being aware of that matter.
T & Cs are a statement of how you sell your services, skills and time. How much money per hour/day/visit/project/mile etc and when and how payments should be made and to whom. They are the structure under which you are prepared to offer those things. Keep everything as simple as possible so that the client can clearly understand your offer.
Standard Terms and Conditions for Garden Maintenance Contractors
Address of Site
Client Site Number
- The term ‘The Client’ shall mean…………………………………………………………….who will be responsible for all payments to the Contractor unless otherwise notified in writing prior to commencement of the works. Unless otherwise stated in writing, the Client shall be deemed to be the rightful owner of the property as per the address shown above. All payments as set out in the Works Schedule are payable in a timely manner as defined by that Schedule, otherwise subject to a Late Payment surcharge of 2.5% per month accumulative on all outstanding sums until payment is made in full.
- The Term ‘The Contractor’ shall mean……………………………………………………..…who will be responsible to the Client for the works described in the Contract attached.
- Nothing in these Terms shall affect the Client’s statutory rights as a Consumer
- The Client shall provide proper access to the site at all times during normal working hours – 08.00 – 17.00 Monday to Friday. Proper access shall be defined as reasonable passage into the site, both front and rear gardens as may be required by the works schedule, to allow for tools and equipment to pass without undue difficulty.
- The Contractor shall maintain in force all necessary insurances, licences, certificates and other legally required documents and disclose them to the Client when reasonably called upon to do so.
- The Contractor shall supply and provide all tools and equipment necessary to carry out those tasks as set out in the Maintenance Schedule, including all fuels, oils and other lubricants as may be required. All machinery shall be in good order of repair and be in safe condition, and not hazardous to the operative or any other person on site. (The Contractor shall not, at any time, use any tools and equipment belonging to the Client without express permission given at the time of use. The Contractor shall be liable for any damage caused to that article and not returned unless in good order)
- The Contractor shall provide all personnel with adequate suitable personal protective equipment, and carry adequate first aid and other items to ensure the safety of those working on site.
- All operatives working on site must be properly trained in the tasks they are set, and show due diligence in their working practices. These diligences include the wearing of protective equipment as required by their tasks.
- Any and all additional products, materials, etc including fertilisers, weedkillers, seeds, composts, and other perishable or non-perishable goods requested by the Client or included in the schedule of works shall be properly charged for and shown on the invoice as extras over and above the rates.
- The Client to ensure that the site is clear of all obstructions including but not restricted to toys, furniture (unless the site precludes such operations), dog and cat faecal matter, prior to the Contractor commencing the works programme.
- The Works Schedule, as set out in the Letter of Quotation, includes all operations, tasks and practices to carry out those items. Other works may be carried out on an ad hoc basis provided that due notice is given to the Contractor (e.g. clearance of unexpected storm damage) which may take priority over the scheduled works and prevent the scheduled works from taking place. These tasks need not affect the rates unless additional expense is incurred for matters such as Waste Disposal.
- Waste Disposal may take place by removing vegetative matter off site and carting to a Licensed Waste Disposal Depot and charged at the rate shown in the Letter of Quotation or left on site in an area designated and agreed by the Client.
- The Contractor to maintain and leave on site, a Day Book, in which will be recorded those tasks and operations carried out during a visit. This Day Book to be left in an agreed position, which should also act as a messaging service for the Client to leave instructions and requests for the Contractor in the event of absence by the Client.
- The Contractor cannot be held liable for any damage to, or costs involved in, any underground hazards, hidden cables, obstructions or services not made known in writing prior to works commencing.
- The Contractor shall leave the site in a clean and tidy condition after completion of the works for the session.
- If, for any reason, the Contractor deems the site unfit for working in a safe manner e.g. heavy frost, waterlogging, snow and/or ice, or the ground is not clear of excess animal waste, the Client shall be notified, and an entry made in the Day Book to record the problem. In a likewise manner, the Client may cancel or postpone a visit by giving at least 24 hours notice, and a new date re-scheduled.
- If the site is closed, and works access forbidden by National Law or edict, the Client and the Contractor agree to abide by that notice and neither Party shall be held liable for any costs involved in that hiatus, including and especially Breach of Contract.
NOTES REFERENCE TERMS AND CONDITIONS
- It is vital to identify the person or person you are working for. If more than one person is involved i.e. husband and wife, both must be included and named. In the case of a Company, the Director responsible must be identified and named.
- Your practice and name must be shown in full including status e.g. Limited Company
- Legal Statement included to prove that you understand the need for legal documentation
- Access to site is paramount to efficiency. If you have to clear a pathway down a side alleyway to get into the site, this may take ten minutes or more. Your working day is important, and you cannot allow clients to cause you any delays by locking you out from site.
- This item is important, as it proves your bone fide credentials and shows you are a qualified and properly dedicated business.
- This may be subject to your business model. This term may need to be adapted to reflect your style of approach. You may find it helpful to produce your own version of this Term. Some customers may have all of their own tools, others have none.
- An important professional statement. Your staff are equipped with all appropriate personal protective equipment including First Aid.
- Another important statement of your professionalism. It may be useful to introduce everyone working on the site and provide the Client with their personal accreditations prior to beginning a contract programme.
- All materials that are not included in a Maintenance Contract, usually perishables or seasonal goods must be paid for as you go along.
- Self evident. You do not want to have to clear dogs mess and a pile of toys before you start mowing and strimming. You may also include animals and children in that statement if you are not content that they are safe.
- The Works Schedule should be as shown in your Letter of Quotation. What works are to be carried out, how much, how many, what type, where the rubbish is to go, seasonal jobs e.g. pruning, planting, watering etc – as long a list of jobs as may be required on a site by site basis. For this reason, it is not possible to include these Work Schedules as part of the Terms and Conditions.
- Waste disposal must be included in your Working Schedule. Allowance should be made for extra quantities of rubbish in neglected sites, before your attendances reduce the volume once you have the garden under control. Neglected and overgrown gardens may require additional time of visits in the early days to bring them into a manageable condition and should be charged for accordingly.
- A Site Day Book or diary is an important part of a Maintenance Contract, as the existence of such a two way communication method between you and the Client reduces any risks of misunderstanding and complaint. Requests for additional works may be recorded and that document will stay with the garden and may be referred to at a later day.
- Self explanatory.
- Self explanatory. If possible, a photograph or two of the site as seen when you left is invaluable if you have the technology!
- This Term is included to prevent Clients from demanding works when the site will be at risk of damage if you do so. Obviously, each site is different, and this Term may not be required for all sites. However, it gives the Contractor some control regarding horticultural sound practices.
- This may be described as Force majoure or Act of God. It seems a sensible precaution given the coronavirus to consider inserting a Term that allows you to withdraw your services without penalty in case of National Emergency.
(Note; TERMS AND CONDITIONS for Landscape Contractors and Garden Designers may be found elsewhere in The Landscape Library.