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“The Best Defense is Offense”

There’s a certain four letter “S” word that rings disgust and outright contempt by many here in Northeast Ohio. Kids love to say it, but most adults shutter at the thought. However, it does not do any good to avoid talking about it. So let’s break the taboo and get it off our chests: “SNOW, SNOW, SNOW!”

Now, for those of you who have kept reading, thank you! We will now explore the ways property managers, building owners, and tenants can embrace the onset of winter. Make adequate and simple preparations in the short-term that pay long-term dividends well beyond the bitter cold of Northeast Ohio winters. The same way you would service the car before taking a family trip, now is the time to get the landscape ready for winter. And these suggestions go beyond the typical fall clean-up type work, which are nonetheless important as well.

Detailed below are three simple investments that yield the largest return on commercial properties. Taking these preventative maintenance steps now could save time, talent and treasure.

  1. Top 20 snowiest citiesWeather Damage: Mother Nature can be tough, to say the least, this time of year. Too much snow can cause trees and plants to topple over or break, especially those planted as hedges. Excessive cold can damage flowering plants to the point of no return, such as zone fragile plants like Buddleia (butterfly bush). Cold winds can desiccate evergreen trees and shrubs that then become eye sores and expensive replacements. In light of these perils, wrap susceptible plants with burlap to shield them from wind, snow, salt and cold. Make sure roofs and gutters are equipped to deal with falling and/or melting snow, especially metal ones. Also, snow fencing installed along open areas can protect nearby trees and plants by bearing the brunt of drifting and piling snow.
  1. Salt & Plow Damage: Similarly, consider temporary fencing and/or landscape wrap to protect evergreen trees and shrubs from salt and plow damage. The most susceptible areas are ingress/egress areas, parking lot islands, and landscapes planted along curbs. A measure of soil salinity in these areas should be taken annually. The results could be revealing. Salinity negatively impacts plants; a fact that could probably go without stating. But it also impacts replacement plants. So much contaminated soil has to be excavated and replaced with new organic matter before plants should be replaced that the cost well exceeds the price of the plants themselves. If not, replacement plants will die or struggle with time and need replaced yet again. Similarly, pushing snow into the landscape when plowing does the same thing as excessive or incidental salt spray. Not to mention of course the potential for plow damage. Lastly, consider other strategies too when it comes to decreasing salt use, like liquids.
  1. Structural Damage: This goes well beyond the proper (and typical) marking of hazards like curbs, parking blocks, drain covers and the like. Consider sealing concreate surfaces to protect from the corrosive qualities of salt, ice melt and other chemical products. Along the same lines, pressure wash façade stone, brick and decorative stone material before and after winter to prevent damage. Here too the cost for replacement well exceeds the simple act of pressure washing. And again, consider liquid products to limit the amount of granular chemical products streaked through tenant floors. This last step could even save on janitorial needs while at the same time increasing tenant good will.

So, as is evident above, the best defensive in the face of that dreaded “S” word is to go on the offensive now, rather than waiting, or worse, hiding. The returns on investment go well beyond the landscape and well beyond the winter months. As a full-service commercial grounds management firm that seeks to add value across the calendar year, the professionals at Brian-Kyles think beyond just plowing snow.

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