The following post originally appeared on the LinkedIn page of our company Vice President, Kyle Maurer.
Add Value and Reduce Costs with Preventative Property Maintenance: Commercial landscape management is more than just cutting grass and trimming plants. Rather, it is an integral form of preventative property maintenance. Preventative maintenance is akin to washing a car. Sure we want it to look pristine, but we also want to prevent corrosion from harmful substances like rock salt. Similarly, preventative maintenance is changing an air filter on your furnace at home to keep it running at peak efficiency, thereby reducing monthly utility expenses. In the above examples, preventative maintenance strategies are performed at nominal expenses in order to avoid much larger expenses when major problems arise.
The goal of preventative maintenance is to keep something of value in proper functioning condition, be it a piece of equipment or a piece of property. Of course the landscaping needs to look good, but it also needs to serve a functional, or practical, purpose. In this case, a landscape that offers great curb appeal is also more likely to be a landscape that is efficient, healthy and functional. A properly pruned shrub not only looks presentable, but also wards disease and insects better than a neglected one. Turf grass maintained according to proper cultural standards looks lush, but it also has a higher tolerance to drought, disease and insects. It bears repeating: commercial landscape management is more than just grass cutting and bush trimming.
In a recent commentary in Properties Magazine, Brant Smith of NEO Realty Group described the true value of preventative maintenance. According to Mr. Smith, preventative maintenance positively impacts both direct (measurable savings) and indirect (tenant goodwill) costs of commercial property management. A well maintained property reduces long-term expenses and attracts higher rents, Mr. Smith explains, which ultimately makes a property more sustainable financially and environmentally. As such, preventative maintenance should be considered a property management best practice in order to help realize an increased net operating income.
So, to maximize property values, profits, rents, tenant satisfaction, and desirability, consider these five commercial landscape management strategies:
A sustainable landscape is created with pencils, not shovels. When designing a commercial landscape, a range of environmental and design factors should be analyzed. Everything from the type, use and placement of each species should be well crafted. Annual maintenance requirements like watering, pruning and fertilizing can be reduced through the use of native species. Even something as simple as the proper placement of trees and plants can significantly reduce future site maintenance. Put the landscape to work in order to 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. In other words, it is not just about curb appeal and pretty flowers, but designing a landscape that works to meet sustainability goals and serve essential functions.
…to ensure that everything is in sync, from watering schedules, to fertility programs. As mentioned previously, a healthy landscape is one that can more efficiently ward off damage from disease and insects in addition to stress from drought, heat, and other environmental hardships. Following industry best practices when planting, mowing, pruning, irrigating, fertilizing, and other routine maintenance services can avoid long-term problems with hefty price tags.
…by using the right type of products in the right applications at the right time. Our urban waterways are polluted by the use of synthetic fertilizers rich in phosphorus and rock salt (chloride). Using better products is one step, but applying those products at the right application rates is just as important. An analysis of the soil will reveal nutrient deficiencies in order to provide more targeted treatments. Moreover, since landscapes are living ecosystems, timing matters too. Insecticide applications should be timed appropriately given a particular pest’s lifestyle in order to maximize its effectiveness. More harm than good can come from an ill-timed treatment.
No other service provider is on a commercial property as much as a landscape management firm. We’re there weekly from April to November. We go to all corners of the property to mow, underground to service the irrigation system, on our hands and knees in the landscape beds to mulch, and high up in trees to prune. As a result, a proactive landscape management partner can and should focus on things like gutters, eaves, downspouts, manhole covers, curbs, windows, lights, and other structural elements to proactively point out any concerns or defects. A simple heads-up that something is amiss could prove to be a game changer in preventing serious damage.
…a landscape management partner plays a key role in proactively solving problems before they arise. Preventative insecticide and fungicide applications can protect an entire plant species from being lost to pests. Proper pruning can also prevent plants from being replaced, either because they outgrow their space or because they succumb to disease. Water can be saved from efficiently managing the irrigation system. Mulch can add essential organic matter and help retain soil moisture in order to prolong plant life. Recycling grass clippings can do the same thing in turf areas. By focusing on the basic, routine and mundane tasks, responsible landscape stewards reduce long-term costs and prevent major expenses associated with deferred maintenance.
Commercial landscape management plays a major role in preparing for the worst (read: neglect) with the best (read: preventative maintenance) and should be integrated into the larger framework of a successful property management strategy. The team at Brian-Kyles incorporates these essential features of preventative maintenance into our signature approach to commercial grounds management. Resting on the tenants of Professionalism, Stewardship, Partnership and Sustainability, our signature approach seeks to add value, reduce costs, and build a lasting partnership.