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commercial landscaping enhancementsI recently had meetings with a senior level property manager, an asset manager and a property owner. Although it different market segments, I noticed a common need amongst the three of them. I’d verbalize like this: “I want my property to look its absolute best but do not want to spend a fortune maintaining or doing multiple projects every year”. Sound familiar?

In my 20 years in the landscape industry this need has not changed and probably never will. Most property owners want a fantastic looking landscape, but often times they simply don’t have the funds to make it a reality.

Believe it or not there are many things that commercial property owners and managers can do to save money and still have high impact on their properties. Let’s take a look at five of these.

Turf selection and reduction

This is really dependent on what stage you are in. If you are in the property development stage, it would be wise to research the right turf for your property. In existing properties it would be worth studying the costs of converting your turf over time to determine the return on your investment.

Warm season turf

Know better as Bermuda, zoysia, or centipede grass. These grasses do extremely well in the Atlanta area. The pros out way the cons with respect to maintenance costs. The cost to water this class of turf is half that of the second class of “cool season” grasses.

Cool season turf

Most of us know this as Fescue which is a beautiful turf in the cooler months, hence the name. However, it does go dormant in summer and will not look as good as the warm season grasses. It also requires approximately twice the water as its counterpart, although it requires a significantly less amount of chemicals, fertilizers, mowing and does not need to be over-seeded every year where as fescue does.

Root competition

In areas where tree roots are winning the “battle of the elements” eliminate the turf and install either ground cover, mulch, stone or a mix of perennials. So why would perennials or ground cover do better than turf? The roots are more aggressive and hold up better with less water which the trees rob from the turf. A landscape expert should assess these areas and provide the best solution for your commercial site.

Seasonal color and perennials

Most property managers love seasonal color but some cannot afford the extra maintenance costs. There are two resolutions for this:

  1. Identify where your current seasonal color is located. Is it truly providing your property the impact you need? For example, is it in the back of the property in a courtyard with low-visibility when it could be in the front or closer to an area that needs to be leased?
  2. Are you using more annuals than you really need? In some cases perennials can take the place of seasonal color and can cohesively provide you with similar results. Perennials will also require half the water, fertilizer, chemicals and regular maintenance compared to annuals.

High impact adaptive plant material

As HighGrove looks to evolve with our clients needs, we are pushing our vendors to do the same. Over the years, our vendors have developed some incredible species of plant material that are not only adaptive to our area but provide a very high impact regarding foliage color and/or blooming period. These plants are also considered drought tolerant and do well in the metro-Atlanta area. Here are just a few examples:

  • Knockout Roses – vibrant red blooms with dark green foliage providing color from early spring to late fall or second or third frost. 
  • Burgundy Loropetalum – dark burgundy foliage with a pink spring bloom
  • Shi Shi Gashira Camellias – Dark Green foliage with blooms in fall of pink, red or white.
  • Creeping Jenny or Acorus – a chartreuse ground cover that compliments any landscape year round

Healthy trees

You may not realize this but trees can significantly impact your heating and cooling costs. We recommend working with your commercial landscape contractor to implement a plan for placing trees that will reduce your cooling costs and also provide a better overall environment inside and out.

Look at the trees on your property as an investment. Collectively your trees, depending on their age, can be valued into the millions of dollars. A tree health care program will ensure the survivability of your investment and improve the overall health of the trees. Protect the health of your trees as you would the rest of the plantings on your commercial property.

Smart water management

This is actually the biggest area with the most quantifiable ROI. With simple additions or eliminations to your existing irrigation system you will see a significant return on your investment and in some cases within one year or less. Consider these five changes:

  • Pressure reduction – evaluate existing pressure and install a pressure reducing valve if needed
  • Rain sensor – by law you are required to have this if you have an irrigation system. This component will not allow the system to come on during a rain event and could save up to 30 percent of your irrigated water use.
  • Efficient Irrigation heads – Most irrigation heads that are currently on properties are over 15 years old. There are many advances in technology in irrigation heads that simulate more of a rain effect than a spray. This is more efficient and better for the plants
  • Drip irrigation – This is a system of components that disperse water directly into the soil instead of on the plants. Estimates are a 50% reduction in water use and less chance for disease and sun scald to foliage.
  • Smart Controller – The technology in irrigation controllers continues to advance rapidly. Evaluate your system so the absolute best controller can be selected for your property. Potential savings are up to 50% in water use.

You should be looking at your property holistically. In long term and short term planning, HighGrove Partners has helped many property owners and managers save money without reducing impact to the property. It is imperative that these things be considered when planning your budget or considering a landscaping project for your commercial site. It’s not only good stewardship, but these suggestions can actually save you money.

If you’re a property owner or manager in metro-Atlanta and want a little more bang for your buck, let HighGrove Partners conduct a complimentary Property Assessment for you. We’ll offer you some real solutions for creating more impact on your commercial property. Get started by clicking on the image below.

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image credit: aka Jens Rost

This post was written by Jason Gaglione, HighGrove Partners senior client relations manager.

Last modified: June 28, 2013