It's important to keep your retirement village's grounds and communal areas in good shape. These outdoor areas affect your residents' health, wellbeing and safety around the village. These areas also help your community's brand. Well-kept gardens, lawns, pavements and roads look attractive to potential new residents.

Choosing the right landscape maintenance company is key. What should you look for before you hire a new contractor?

1. Experience and Capacity

It's important to choose a contractor with experience of working on large-scale or commercial projects. If you can find one who has successfully maintained a retirement village in the past, then so much the better.

A good contractor will be reliable and will have enough staff to do the job. Consistency is important here. You have to rely on the company coming in to do the work to your set schedule. At some points during the year, you may need them to come in to do additional jobs like planting, removing leaves and clearing snow, for example. So, they need some flexibility in their schedule as well.

This isn't just about keeping your lawns and flowerbeds tidy and looking good. While well-kept outdoor areas keep your residents happy, your contractor also helps keep them safe. It's vital to keep paths and roads clear and clean to avoid accidents.

2. Design Expertise

You can hire a maintenance company and tell them to just keep things as they are. They can mow your lawns, tend your flower beds and prune your trees and bushes.

However, your outdoor areas may start to look and feel a little jaded to your residents if they stay the same all the time. They will appreciate it if you change things around periodically. For example, planting different flowers in different areas every year or adding fruit trees to a garden makes things more interesting.

Look for a landscape contractor who will also work with you — and your residents — to suggest, plan and implement future changes. Contractors with design expertise as well as maintenance skills could keep your outdoor areas looking fresh.

3. Friendly Staff

Anyone who works in your village needs good people skills. Some of your residents will chat to your maintenance crew about gardening; some will want to work with them on smaller jobs. Some might even give your maintenance staff a hard time if they think they don't know what they are doing.

A good contractor will employ friendly staff who are happy to engage with your residents and build relationships with them. They'll be patient and helpful.

To start the shortlisting process, contact local landscape maintenance contractors and ask about their services.