The Brian-Kyles “Signature Approach” to grounds management is centered on adding value to the landscape investments under our stewardship. One way to add value is to create and manage an inviting first (read: lasting) impression that attracts tenants and patrons alike, thereby increasing net operating income. Often times referred to as curb appeal, the landscape is more than just attractive flowers and green grass. It is a means to generate revenue for tenants and property managers alike. It is a win-win as property managers will enjoy higher rents and tenants will reap the benefits of frequent patrons.
Property managers and building owners are interested in the ways to maximize revenue through curb appeal as much as they are about the return on these landscape investments. Curb appeal does not have to break the budget if it is accomplished smartly. Start by following these general guidelines that are low cost and high reward:
A landscape with attractive appeal can be traced back to the design process. Curb appeal plantings are generally higher in maintenance, but there are hardy exceptions to the rule that add stunning color when factored into designs. Take cranesbill for example, a hardy flowering perennial that tolerates poor soil conditions, requires little annual maintenance, and offers a range of colors throughout the season. Likewise, consider incorporating a fringe tree, a flowering tree that tolerates urban conditions. Both these plants serve essential functions like keeping buildings cool with shade, preventing erosion along embankments, filtering run-off from paved surfaces, screening noise from high traffic streets, and adding privacy from neighboring properties. Yet they both do so with an attractiveness that is easy to notice and easy to maintain.
Annual flower displays are the quickest and surest way to add splashes of color throughout the property. The best part about annual flowers is that large landscape bed space is not necessarily required. In urban settings, annual displays can be potted in planters or draped from light posts. Here again, annuals do not have to be high maintenance and there are ones that bring considerable bang for the buck. Consider violas, which are a cool season flower that when planted in the fall can be enjoyed when little else is in bloom not just once, but twice. Violas flower in fall and over-winter as dormant, only to flush back out in early spring with surprising vigor. They can even be seen poking through the melting snow as an example of just how early they flower come late winter/early spring.
Routine property maintenance is important for enabling the landscape to thrive under harsh environmental conditions like disease, insects, vandalism, drought, and other stressors. Landscapes are living and breathing things made up of living and breathing plants. They need continual care following proper cultural programs to remain healthy and vibrant. From a curb appeal perspective, a healthy plant is usually an attractive one.
Plants need water to thrive, especially when flowering. Commercially speaking, if there is no irrigation system present, it is difficult to create an inviting space in the dead of summer. Planting annuals without an irrigation system present is the quickest way to waste money or time in subsequent hand watering visits. Turf areas need water to stay green in the hot summer months and green grass is often the biggest impression when everything else is yellow or brown.
More than just keeping the landscape neatly trimmed and presentable, pruning is an important preventative maintenance feature. Plants and trees add value to the property and should never be a liability. Trees should never block building signage and shrubs should not interfere with lighting for instance. As landscapes mature, they need continual pruning to keep from over-crowding other landscape plants, building features, and pedestrian traffic flows. And the best time to prune to rejuvenate a landscape or drastically reduce plant sizes is, you guessed it, in the middle of winter dormancy. So curb appeal can, and should, be a year-round process.
Curb appeal to Brian-Kyles is more than just colorful flowers. It is ultimately about bringing returns on landscape property investments. Landscapes are then noticed by patrons when deciding where to spend their dollars on shopping, dining, and socializing. And they are noticed by tenants when looking for an inviting atmosphere to conduct business. The end result is a win-win, revenue generating tool that is more than the sum of its parts (read: flowers).