As far as your crew problems go I too have struggled with this for many years. For us the spring is crazy busy, late July and August gets a little slow then things pick up again in September once all the kids go back to school. There is no two ways about it, landscaping is a seasonal business.
Here is what we have done to deal with these issues:
When we are super busy in the spring and work is so easy to sell we bring in part time help. As long as we have it understood upfront that the position will only last through June or whenever it is there is nothing wrong with that. As an added bonous, every once in a while we come across a great worker that we retain on a permanent bases.
When things do get slow we lay off the temp help and keep the core staff. I know its hard to lay people off but remember that was the original agreement. Even with this we almost always have a slow period in August when our core staff goes from 5 to 4 day work week.
Things always pick up in September and by late October we are crazy busy again with leaf cleanup. That means more part time help.
Hope this helps. It has worked great for us.