Horticulture is as much art as it is science. Commercial landscaping is a natural extension of horticulture that incorporates the planning, design, installation and long-term maintenance of a landscape into a finished product that reflects a business’s personality and values, and makes both economic and aesthetic sense. If you’re wondering how to achieve those results as a property manager or owner, here are ten key things you should know about your commercial landscape:
- Commercial landscaping is an important investment. It is the first thing your customers, partners, and employees see. An unattractive or poorly maintained landscape will make a negative impression. But an attractive landscape, on the other hand, will have a positive impact on potential clients and increase your property’s value, improve workers' productivity, display your eco-friendly values, and make your property stand out. If you agree that those are worthwhile benefits, keep reading!
- Understand the business of landscaping. Commercial landscaping starts with a vision, continues with planning, design, and installation, but doesn’t stop there. Take the time to discuss installation warranty, maintenance, and all that it entails. Maintenance includes all aspects of landscape management from mowing, trimming, and fertilizing to irrigating, weeding, plant bed maintenance and tree care. The activities may change with the seasons, but they don’t stop in the winter.
- Look beyond services. When choosing a commercial landscaper, you’re committing to a long-term business relationship. Beyond services and price, it’s wise to choose a company that’s transparent, communicates well, and is proactive about identifying landscape improvement opportunities and potential issues.
- Sustainability. Water-wise irrigation, prudent use of fertilizers and chemicals, and proper handling of “green waste” are consistent with “Best Management Practices” that are friendly to the environment. As environmental safety and protection becomes a growing concern, companies are looking for sustainable alternatives, and so should you. Choosing the “right plants for the right places” can have a huge positive impact on the environment and landscape aesthetics.
- Cheaper doesn’t equal better. Costs and your budget are essential aspects to balance when embarking on a commercial landscape project. But a cheaper alternative isn’t necessarily the better one. Outstanding landscaping involves a diverse team of professionals that includes a landscape designer, technical personnel, crew leaders, service workers, a production manager, all coordinated by an account manager. They work together to create the finished product. The services selected, their frequency and the hours per service translate to visible results on your property.
- Weather and climate considerations. Every region is different in terms of season length, rainfall, soil types and temperature ranges. And within any region, there are also “micro-climates” to consider. Discuss possible soil amendments with your commercial landscaper and choose species of plants, trees, and shrubs that work best in your conditions. Native plants are most likely to resist environmental challenges, compared to non-native plants.
- Don’t minimize landscape maintenance. If maintenance is done right, commercial landscaping can be a long-term, cost-effective investment. Don’t forget to discuss turf maintenance, including mowing and fertilization, pest and weed control, overseeding, and soil aeration, but also include shrub and tree trimming, and irrigation system maintenance. Your annual maintenance budget should reflect a percentage of your total landscape investment. Proper maintenance is considerably less expensive than plant replacement!
- Pay attention to contractual terms and conditions. So you’re ready to shake hands with a commercial landscaper. Before you do that, discuss maintenance expectations and your service agreement in detail. Agree on specific timelines, service details, and a schedule that caters to your landscaping needs. A well-written contract should require that the landscaper carries comprehensive insurance coverage, as well as a mechanism for resolving any issues that arise. Paying careful attention to all of this now will save you lots of headaches in the future, so take the time to analyze and review the contract terms and conditions in detail with your account manager.
- Seasonality. Landscaping is a year-round job, and each season has specific requirements. A lush, well-manicured landscape is planned long before the warm season and usually starts in winter. The fall months are for cleaning up, removing fallen leaves, and preparing the landscape for cold weather. Snow is nature’s blanket that gives your plants a chance to rest. Late winter is the time for cutbacks of certain plant material; rejuvenation pruning is more efficient and cost-effective than replacing the shrubs and plants altogether and will prepare the plants for healthy spring bloom. Spring requires another cleanup, fertilization, weed control, and proper irrigation.
- Don’t overlook functionality. The role of commercial landscaping goes beyond pure aesthetics. Done right, it will bring a vibrant and attractive feel to the architecture and overall space, enticing prospective clients and employees, but also serve a functional purpose. A spectacular commercial landscape will accentuate the architecture, make building access straightforward, reveal clear walkways, frame a well-defined front entrance, and buffer designated parking areas.
From making a visual statement and creating a cutting edge differentiator from neighboring properties, to increasing your property value and moving toward an eco-friendly environment, professional commercial landscaping will help your business make a statement.
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