With spring just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about getting your commercial landscape in tip-top shape. As more people begin returning to the office or venturing out more often, these outdoor spaces are likely to have more eyes on them than ever. Don’t wait too long to make lawn or landscaping efforts that will help get your commercial property in optimal condition—and set you apart from the crowd.
According to Kevin Hazelgrove, region manager for Ruppert Landscape, which is headquartered in Laytonsville, Maryland but has branches nationwide, this is the time of year when they’re focused on getting customers’ properties cleaned up and ready for spring. This includes a number of important tasks including re-edging and cleaning beds of debris; pruning or cutting back existing material such as perennials, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and trees; and treating turf and beds with pre-emergent controls to provide a protective barrier that prevents weeds from germinating.
Hazelgrove emphasizes the importance of getting pre-emergent controls down within the proper timeframe. After weeds begin to germinate, they will no longer be effective, and you’ll have missed the window.
“Once all of the beds have been prepped, mulching is another key task,” he adds. “It gives the property a fresh, clean look for visitors. In later spring, damaged turf areas can be re-seeded or large areas can be overseeded with fertilizer applied.”
Joseph Barnes, marketing director for Yellowstone Landscape, a commercial landscaping company with locations across the United States adds that now is also a good time to think about transplanting trees or shrubs that have outgrown their current location. Transplanting now can help ensure viability as the temperatures begin to rise and plants begin to require more water.
In early spring, it’s also important to start thinking about prepping turf to become the lush, green carpet you desire. Barnes says that as new growth begins to emerge, be sure to rake up dead grass throughout the lawn. This allows the new growth to surface while allowing for better nutrient and water penetration.
Bob Grover, president of Pacific Landscape Management in Portland, Oregon, and president-elect of the National Association of Landscape Professionals says that in wetter climates, it’s not uncommon for moss to develop over the wet season. Treating in the early spring will help control this growth and allow the lawn to grow healthier and thicker, he says.
“As cold weather subsidies, activating, cleaning, and adjusting irrigation systems is important to be prepared for the drier weather later in the spring,” he adds.
Ultimately, all of these efforts can help to get your landscape off on the right foot as the growing season begins. While winter can take a toll, the sooner you begin some of these spring preparation tasks, the better off you’ll be. Once your property’s landscaping and turf begin to grow, it’s even more essential to keep up.
Enhancing Outdoor Spaces
While interest in functional outdoor space has already been growing, the COVID-19 pandemic has created more of a need than ever. People are looking at using outdoor spaces not only for the occasional lunch break but for potential outdoor meetings or even workspaces. Properties with enticing outdoor spaces will be more appealing to potential tenants, guests, or visitors than properties that do not have such areas.
“For at least the last decade, the use of outdoor space and modifying the landscape to encourage more outdoor use has been a big focus in commercial real estate,” says Pacific Landscape Management’s Grover. “We believe that the post-COVID mentality will push this to even greater lengths.”
Yellowstone Landscape has also seen a tremendous amount of interest in enhancing and modifying outdoor landscaping space as well. “We’re seeing more interest in outdoor space that is not only attractive but fully usable,” says Barnes. “Plopping a picnic table outside of an office building is no longer enough. There’s more interest in amenities like electric to plug in work devices, pergolas and pavilions for shade, and walkways to get to these areas.”
And it’s not just about working outdoors. Many commercial properties are looking to add recreational space, too, says Barnes. “We’ve had some commercial clients who want recreation spaces where their employees can socialize after work,” he says. “These spaces have included a volleyball area, a basketball court, and landscaped dining areas.”
Barnes says that they’ve even seen this trend carry into higher education, where more institutions are looking t hold classes or school events outdoors.
Ruppert’s Hazelgrove is seeing similar trends. “Where possible, creating outdoor areas where people can comfortably gather, communicate, and engage,” he says. “Expand your building’s square footage and value with outdoor areas that can be multi-purposed as conference areas, eating areas, and spaces to work and relax. Add a patio if that’s in your budget—or enhance existing outdoor areas with furniture. If feasible, you could even consider adding power outlets to these areas.”
Hazelgrove says that spring is also a great time to start thinking about potential property enhancements. “Create a plan and timeline with your landscape contractor that sets goals, factors in ideas, resolves existing challenges, and creates more impactful focal points,” he suggests. “By continually improving your site’s overall appearance, you will increase your tenant, employee, or client experience and help your property remain competitive in an ever-changing real estate market.”
As more people begin to come back to these spaces, Hazelgrove says it’s a great opportunity to welcome people back. “As more people return to offices, a nice touch may be to actually plan a welcome back event,” he says. “If it’s not in your budget, ask for support from any vendors you use and consider showcasing your rejuvenated or newly created outdoor spaces. Be sure to include pre-packaged snacks that people can pick up and move around with, and even music to create a nice welcoming vibe.”
Lindsey Getz is a freelance writer and a National Association of Landscape Professionals content contributor.
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