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Landscape Maintenance Services (conventional landscaping)

Navigation: Minimum Sustainable Recommendations | What are the Issues? | What are the options?

Did you know...Native landscapes require only about 25% of the effort, resources, and cost to maintain after establishment making them a much more sustainable alternative (Creating Sustainable Landscapes,2013).

Minimum Sustainable Recommendations

Request contractor to provide landscape maintenance services supporting sustainability and accessibility principles including the following:

Qualifications and General Requirements

  • Landscape maintenance personnel shall have access to support from an experienced horticulturist holding a recognized horticultural diploma or degree, a Canadian Certified Horticultural Technician (CCHT) and/or have completed a certificate of apprenticeship. In addition, any personnel providing tree care (e.g. pruning) to maintain the landscape must have a valid Manitoba Arborists licence.
  • The contractor must conform to the requirements set out in the Pesticide and Fertilizer Control Act (P40), the Pesticide and Fertilizer License Regulation (216/87R), and the Nutrient Management Regulation under the Water Protection Act (W65).
  • The landscape must be maintained using responsible practices to minimize runoff containing nutrients (including phosphorous) and chemicals from entering the storm sewer system.
  • Maintenance should be conducted in a manner that minimizes harm to all pollinators through the selection of appropriate plant stock, maintaining pollinator habitat and proper weed, insect and disease control methods.
  • In support of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, landscape features must not create accessibility barriers. This includes maintaining vegetation and trees in a manner that does not obstruct walkways and sidewalks. 

Plant Stock Selection

  • If applicable, all plant materials selected for the landscape must follow the existing landscape plan and plant specification list for the property.  Any new trees, shrubs, perennial flowers and annual flowers required for the landscape shall focus on selections that are hardy and drought tolerant.
  • The contractor should select plants that are locally adapted and non-invasive that protect natural areas, create wildlife habitat and be used to reduce building heating and cooling loads. In addition, plant selection should support improved storm water management.
  • The plant quality and source must comply with the Guide Specifications for Nursery Stock, latest edition of Canadian Nursery Trades Association (CNTA), referring to the size and development of plant material and root-ball.

Plant Stock Warranty and Replacement

  • The contractor should select plant stock free of disease, and perennials, shrubs and trees that are hardy and vigorous.  All plant stock shall come with a minimum one year warranty and the Contractor shall closely monitor the health of all new landscape plant stock.

Fertilizer Application

  • The contractor shall adhere to the fertilizer requirements described under the Water Protection Act in the Nutrient Management Regulation which is intended to minimize the amount of fertilizer necessary to produce a healthy and attractive landscape. The contractor shall take soil samples in a variety of locations to determine the need for soil/plant nutrients before applying fertilizer.  Fertilizer should only be applied, if the soil is without adequate nutrients for plant vigor.  The intent is to reduce overall fertilizer application to keep salt build-up in the soil low and to minimize excessive plant growth that requires more maintenance time, water and fertilization. 
  • Preference shall be given to organic fertilizers.  Prohibit fertilizers under the Organic Urban Land Care’s Organic Land Care Standard, Fourth Edition, 2007 List 1.  Regular upgrading of the soil resource should be accomplished using compost materials to not only increase soil fertility but to enhance soil moisture retention.

Weed Control

  • The contractor is responsible for keeping all areas free of weeds. The contractor is required to control weeds by: 1) the use of organic mulches; 2) manual labour; and 3) herbicide controls, in that order.

Insect and Disease Control

  • The contractor shall minimize the potential of insect infestations and disease through proper plant and material selection, appropriate site preparation and careful maintenance.  The contractor shall have the ability to diagnose and treat insect problems and diseases. Use species specific pesticides when possible.  Use only pesticides with low mammalian toxicity.  Strictly follow manufacturers written instructions.
  • Preference shall be given to the use of: 1) biological controls; 2) organic insecticide/pesticides/fungicides; and 3) the least toxic chemical controls, in that order.

Landscape Waste Clean-Up

  • In the Fall, care should be taken to leave an adequate amount of vegetative material (leaves and dead plants) in the flower beds to support the overwintering of pollinators and other insects.
  • Excessive vegetative material must be collected, removed from the site and composted via the contractor’s resources.  The contractor shall ensure beds are free of garbage. 


  • Pruning of shrubs and trees shall be done on an as needed basis by a Licenced Arborist. Employ clean sharp tools.  Prune trees only to remove damaged, miss-shaped or hazardous branches.  Ensure cuts are flush with main branch, smooth and sloping to prevent water accumulation.  Severe pruning should not be conducted unless the plant poses a safety hazard.

Lawn Maintenance

  • Conduct grass-cycling (leaving the clippings on the turf) for at least 50% of all mowing. Preference is for electric lawn mowers. Use mulching mowers to significantly reduce yard waste.  Fescue mixes should be selected for top seeding.


  • If watering is required as part of landscape maintenance services, irrigation should only be conducted to supplement rainfall and to maintain optimum conditions. The soil should be adequately dry between watering to prevent oversaturation. If available, soil moisture and rain sensors should be used to determine irrigation needs.


  • Landscape features must not create accessibility barriers. This includes planting and maintaining vegetation and trees in a manner that does not obstruct walkways and sidewalks:
    • ensure ground surfaces are firm, stable and slip-resistant;
    • provide adequate drainage to prevent water accumulation;
    • ensure headroom clearance is not less than 2100 mm;
    • ensure landscape maintenance debris is promptly managed

Other things to consider

Adherence to ecologically appropriate landscape maintenance procedures may contribute to green building certifications such as BOMA BESt and LEED® for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance (LEED EBOM).

LEED® EBOM is a certification program that provides a framework for property owners and building managers to maximize the operational efficiency while minimizing environmental impacts of existing buildings. LEED® EBOM includes grounds-keeping requirements such as implementing a low-impact green building exterior management plan that addresses site management practices for chemical use, fertilizer use, landscape waste management and pest management. Under LEED EBOM, the landscape maintenance practitioner must also have access to a LEED professional to support landscape requirements.


What are the issues?

Landscape maintenance practices strive to provide for esthetically pleasing outdoor green space, but can also result in a host of harmful environmental impacts. This is true regardless if maintaining an existing landscape that was originally designed by clearing the natural habitat (conventional) or if maintaining a “natural landscape”.

Improper landscape maintenance practices exacerbate the existing problems of a conventional landscape. This includes extensive requirements for use of polluting mechanical equipment, over consumption of limited natural resources such as water, large applications of fertilizers and pesticides and the generation of landscape solid waste. 

Poor maintenance of a conventional landscape can further undermine the effectiveness of the landscape to mitigate a number of urbanization issues such as site drainage (storm water management), heat island effect and reduced building heating and cooling loads.  Furthermore, the selection of non- climatically adapted plants for any landscape significantly increases water and chemical requirements and landscape maintenance costs.

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act and its related standards require entities to identify and prevent barriers to accessibility in operations. For a person who has a physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment, a barrier is anything that interacts with that impairment in a way that may hinder the person's full and effective participation on an equal basis. Ensuring that goods and services we procure do not create new accessibility barriers is therefore important.

From an accessibility perspective, the main issue is the maintenance of walkways and sidewalks within the landscape. These must be maintained in a manner that allows access to all. For example, low overhanging tree branches must be trimmed if obstructing a walkway to ensure persons with mobility and vision impairments can easily walk through the landscape.


What are the options?

In Manitoba, a number of legislative requirements help support sustainable landscape maintenance practices.  These include the Pesticide and Fertilizer Control Act (P40) and the Pesticide and Fertilizer License Regulation (216/87R) which prescribe training and licensing requirements for applying herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and vertebrate pest control products to manage landscape problems. As well, The Nutrient Management Regulation under The Water Protection Act (W65) outlines requirements for responsible nutrient application in urban areas.  

Many landscape maintenance contractors dealing with a conventional landscape are knowledgeable about incorporating ecologically sound practices such as integrated pest management, landscape waste management and beneficial plant selections that are native, hardy and drought tolerant. This produces a more efficient landscape. 

Requesting ecologically sound landscape maintenance services can help reduce your impact on the environment, and may result in significant cost savings.  These savings can include reduced maintenance labour, reduced consumption of irrigation water, less fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide treatments, and the overall cost for landscaping maintenance. 

Many of the accessibility features of the landscape are incorporated during the landscape design phase. Therefore, it is important for landscape maintenance personnel to maintain these features as well as mitigate accessibility barriers associated with obstructions that can arise due to plant growth, land shifting and the replacement and/or upgrading of walkway materials as needed.


Last updated: January 2019


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