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Category: Grounds Maintenance

Commercial Landscape Maintenance for the New Year

The winter months are, by far, the most demanding time of year for commercial grounds and landscapes. The wet, cold conditions can take their toll if you let them, but even the most expensive and complex commercial enterprise can keep on top of their winter maintenance with a bit of know-how.

In this article, we’re looking at some of the key considerations to take into account ahead of the new year, ensuring your commercial grounds are looked after and fully prepared.

Think about your budgets and plan ahead

Some of the work that’ll need to be done around your grounds will be the same as the year before,

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Winter Grounds Maintenance Checks

Winter poses the harshest challenge for our green environment – as well as the wildlife which inhabits it. Often, the aftermath of wintry conditions can be tough to recover from, but there are plenty of ways for you to look after your outdoor space during the winter, minimising the cleanup work you’ll need to do in the spring.

In this article, we’re looking at some of the essential winter grounds maintenance checks you can perform to keep your grounds in good condition and your green fingers busy in the snow.

General gardening tasks:

Pruning

With the leaves fallen and your trees looking bare,

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Three Peakers Ride Again

Six years ago I took part in the UK 3 Peaks 24 hour challenge to raise funds for Greenfingers. We were a group of landscape professionals coming together for a very good cause. Three years later I re-joined the group, this time we decided to go back and climb the 3 highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales but cycle from the foot of each mountain to the foot of the next in just 5 days. It was a massive challenge for some of us! But the bonus was raising over £26,000 for our industry charity.

This September on Sunday 18th,

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Apprenticeship Levy Are we ready?

There has been lots written in the press about the new apprenticeship levy, that is being introduced in April 2017. I believe it will change how we view and run apprenticeships beyond recognition. There will certainly be an increase of cash in the system. In the Horticultural Industry our new trailblazer standard has been approved and is now ready to be used as the framework for training operatives and supervisors. The whole principle of the trailblazers are to have good quality apprenticeship programmes that are employer led. If the reforms work as expected the whole process should be very straightforward from start to finish and this should have an impact on the skills gap.

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Young Enterprise Company Programme

I had a really enjoyable couple of days with teams from the Hertfordshire Young Enterprise this weekend. I had been asked to join the Mayor of Welwyn Hatfield District Council (WHDC) Cllr Lynne Sparks and Rachel Walsh also of WHDC to judge a mini competition linked to the youth company programme. Sixteen enterprising school student companies had been invited to come and set up trade stands to test their entrepreneurial and business skills.

The teams have been learning how to run real a real company that they have set up themselves, with help and advice from local business volunteers.

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Neil Cain Operations Director wins National Apprenticeship Award

Huge congratulations to Neil Cain, our Operations Director who was last night named the City & Guilds Apprentice Champion of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards at an exclusive ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House. This was one of the most coveted awards and Neil fought off competition from hundreds of other apprentices around England to be awarded the top prize.

The Awards, are run by the National Apprenticeship Service and recognise excellence in two areas: businesses that grow their own talent with apprentices and apprentices who have made a significant contribution to their workplaces.

Neil was chosen as the winner in recognition of the outstanding contribution he has made to apprenticeships since starting as one in 1980 in the Sunderland Parks Department.

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BALI Spreads the Word

Recently in my role as director for BALI I was asked to give a presentation at the grounds maintenance conference hosted by The Northern Housing Consortium. The conference was aimed at anyone in the housing sector who procures delivers grounds maintenance or GM services. The main purpose of the day was to consider how will the industry continue to deliver a quality service to customers under a back drop of the need to make efficiency savings. A question that does not have an easy answer.

BALI had been specifically requested to comment on the current trends, pressures and opportunities.

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A new role to help nurture and grow apprenticeships in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire

I’m really pleased to announce that I have agreed to become an Apprenticeship Ambassador for the Hertfordshire and South Cambridgeshire Ambassador Network.

This network has recently been set up to help spread the word about the value that apprentices can bring to organisations.

There’s a lot of research to suggest that one of the best ways to get new employers involved with apprenticeship schemes is for peer groups to spread the word. The avowed aims of the network are to:

Champion apprenticeships to employers of all sizes, with the aim of increasing the number of apprenticeship opportunities offered across Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire,

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Our apprentices make a bit of history at Ally Pally

I’ll keep saying it – apprenticeship schemes are just so important in our industry. This was brought home to me just a couple of weeks ago when The Royal Parks Guild, of which we are a member, invited us down the iconic Alexandra Palace and Gardens for a special 150 year anniversary celebration.

The building, constructed in 1873 as ‘The People’s Palace’, is surrounded by 196 acres of North London parkland, and offers fantastic views of the city. When you are there, soaking up its Victorian splendour, you’re instantly aware of just what a treasure this place is.

How lucky for me and our team of apprentices that we had the opportunity to play a small part in its ongoing story.

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3 Peaks Extreme

At last 3 Peaks Challenge is behind me. Give me a few months and I’ll be able to walk again. Seriously, it wasn’t quite as torturous as I thought it was going to be. Not quite, but close!

I’ve got to admit that last week I was far from certain I’d be saying these three words to you now, but, well – ‘I did it’!

Actually it’s fairer to say we did it, because I know for a fact that I could not have got through the whole thing if it hadn’t been for the support of all the other guys around me and our support team.

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