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  • Writer's pictureCharles Rodriguez

A day in the life of grounds maintenance

Charles Rodriguez
Charles Rodriguez is owner and head gardener at Garden Thyme

My brother and I have a slight difference of opinion about which jobs we like the most. I like jobs we take on that need a lot of sorting, I love a challenge. I love to see a garden develop through our plant care and formative pruning. Into the mix, I also enjoy managing the grounds around new build developments, I think we do this really well. It helps that we can read and interpret conveyance plans and can anticipate issues before they arise. Plus we enjoy getting to know the residents!

We have our own unwritten and fluid philosophies in our daily work. In my head as I work, sometimes I have the following thoughts...

A beautiful garden takes time and consideration

There are no quick fixes. Some jobs we've been doing for at least ten years, and some twenty! You really can tell the difference. Years of maintenance gives a certain depth, look and feel to a green space. It takes a full 12 months to get under the skin of a job to see what really needs doing and to see what should have been done last Winter/Spring/Summer etc.

Keep the noise down!

While everybody likes their space to be tidy, we all like a bit of peace and quiet. We don't really use the leaf blower to the extent some outfits do. Sometimes you can hear a leaf blower, maybe on an adjacent job, and you wonder why they can't use a brush or be doing something better with their time. It's the bigger picture that we are interested in, creating a pleasant environment for residents, not the gardening alone.

A tidy garden

Often it's the little things that make a difference, like managing unruly ivy. In one location, I keep the ivy to a certain brick joint below a capping stone! These are small jobs that only take ten minutes but we like to pay attention to the details too. It may take a short time but it helps the garden look cared for and loved.

Good coffee and gardening!

My brother Justin and I love good coffee. So much so, that when we take our break in the van we get out the cafetiere! Sometimes we get funny looks, but there's nothing like the smell of fresh coffee on a cold winter's day.

Keeping a gardening record

We keep records for a variety of reasons. After all if you don't record what you've done, you can't measure the results and vice versa. And we like to let our clients know what we've been up to. Plus our ISO accreditation requires us to keep extra records. While it's another thing to do, it's good to measure the success of what we've done, and also to measure performance and safeguarding should issues crop up at a later date.

Invisible jobs

Then there's the 'invisible' work. These are the tasks we do that nobody notices (although they would notice if we hadn't done them!) For instance, weed killing. When you apply weedkiller, it looks just the same. But a month later the weed is no longer there and no one notices, but left untreated it would be six inches tall (and so would its mates!) and the area would look neglected. And last year when we applied fertiliser to a client's grass, everybody said it was the best it had ever looked!

Forming relationships

It's not only about hands on work. Forming relationships in our work is important too. We want managers to know that Garden Thyme is not only managing their garden but also working to keep residents happy too. One resident gave me the nickname of 'Safe hands' because he trusted that were doing a good job.

One thing you may not know about me is that I speak other languages. I love saying hello to residents in their respective languages - Buenos Dias! Buon Giorno! Kalimera! One resident had lived in France for some time, so now when I see her we converse in french, she was very happy with the communal gardens around her house and last winter she even gave me a bottle of wine to say thank you. Job done!

A simple mantra

A couple of times when I was working at 'The Royal Star and Garter' on Richmond Hill, I saw Simon Weston (British Army veteran that fought in the Falklands War). He once said in an interview 'The key to why we are all here is to make a difference' - and I like to think that, in my own way, I am making a difference in my daily work as a gardener.

If you're interested in grounds maintenance for your business or organisation then I'd love to hear from you. You can use our Enquiry page to get in touch.



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