Got water? Landscaper finds profitability with fee-for-service watering

Updated Jun 10, 2024
Level Green crew
Fee-for-service watering is often desirable at busy town centers and outlets.
Level Green Landscaping

While many of your clients might already have an irrigation system that handles their watering needs, there’s a good chance you have potential clients that could benefit from fee-for-service watering. This add-on service has been a unique niche for Level Green Landscaping in the DC Metro area.

By investing in a fleet of water trucks, they’ve added a profitable service that their clients really appreciate.

According to Brad Sarno, Level Green’s operations manager for their DC Branch, the company has a number of commercial clients who have a handful of plant beds or maybe some containers and don’t need a full-blown irrigation system but do require someone to come out and hand water.

“A lot of times it’s a retail shopping center or a town center where they have various containers out in public areas, but they don’t have someone who can keep up with regular watering,” Sarno explains. “We can do it one of two ways. We can use the building’s own spigot and water in which case we’d just charge the labor rate. Or we can bring the water truck and bill at a rate that also includes the water usage.”

The service logistics

level green landscaping watering plantsFee-for-service watering typically means an autonomous crew of one who handles a route for the water truck.Level Green Landscaping

According to Sarno, this service is typically a one-man job. The driver of the water truck handles his or her own route and all of the watering.

There just isn’t a need for more than one person on a crew for work like this.

“The time of day that the watering is performed is important,” Sarno adds. “We start very early because morning is the best time to water. The wind is generally calmer. We’re trying to prevent water from evaporating before it can reach the plant roots.”

Sarno says that some of their clients for this service include HOAs that have limited landscaping at the front of their property and don’t require a full irrigation system, office complexes, universities, and town centers. He adds that the biggest challenge they have faced with this service is parking.

“Because so many of our clients are in the city, parking the water truck can be a real issue,” Sarno explains. “Much of the city has no-curb parking. And oftentimes, we do have to park a little further than we want to and drag hoses through crowded areas. It’s not always easy. We have lots of warning signs to prevent trips and falls and are always very careful about what’s around us.”

Training for safety and success

flowers in plant bedProper watering is essential to protecting the investment in plant material.Level Green Landscaping

Sarno says that they do lots of training to keep this service safe—but also to ensure that the fee-for-service watering crews are watering properly.

“They don’t always understand just how long it takes to get a really good soaking in these plant beds and containers,” Sarno explains. “But we have tables and guides that we use to educate. We’ll show that if a plant bed is x number of feet deep, this is how much time you should spend watering it. We obviously want to make sure that our clients are getting the most out of this service.”

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