Photo 13985610 © Christian Delbert |
Avoid these 10 potential pitfalls with your commercial landscaping.

10 Commercial Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

May 20, 2024
Dodging these potential pitfalls with your landscaping isn’t just a luxury—it’s a strategic necessity to set your facility apart.

As of 2023, there are a total of 296,477 property management businesses in the USA. It is a $99.5 billion-dollar industry that is growing increasingly competitive. Finding ways to set your commercial facility apart is essential. Whether it’s a corporate campus, a retail center or an apartment complex, avoiding these 10 common commercial landscaping mistakes is not just a luxury, but a strategic necessity.

1. Not Having a Designed Purpose Behind the Landscaping

A designed purpose behind every aspect of commercial landscaping is paramount to creating a functional outdoor space. One critical aspect to consider is traffic flow. Design parking lots and pathways so they are clear, intuitive and lead visitors seamlessly to their destinations.

Emphasizing the right areas, such as the main entrance, with bold landscaping features not only enhances curb appeal, but also establishes a strong first impression. Additionally, design for employee and visitor attractions. Incorporate amenities like comfortable seating areas and shaded spots for relaxation or outdoor meetings.

By thoughtfully considering every element of the landscape design, from plant selection to seating placement, businesses can create environments that enhance the experience of those who frequent the space.

2. Planting the Wrong Plants or At the Wrong Depth

Choose plants that suit their environment. This can help to prevent overcrowding and ensure proper growth. There is a huge push right now for native and sustainable landscaping. Planning ahead to ensure your plants don’t grow to block landscape lights or impede a walkway can also be very helpful. Even knowing what types of animals and insects certain plants will attract is important. You don’t want bees swarming the outdoor lunch area.

Additionally, plant at the correct depth to promote healthy root development and stability. If a tree is planted at the wrong depth, it may take a few years, but it will yield negative results eventually. Thoughtful planning and execution of planting schemes create visually appealing and functional landscapes.

3. Not Adding Color for All Seasons

It’s easy to get excited about the vibrant colors of spring, summer and fall. Don’t forget to cultivate a diverse plant palette that offers year-round interest. Incorporating a mix of deciduous and evergreen plants ensures a dynamic landscape that remains vibrant even during the dreary months.

Strategic plant selection can provide bursts of color throughout the seasons, from the delicate blooms of spring to the fiery foliage of autumn. Integrating elements such as flowering shrubs, ornamental grasses and seasonal annuals adds visual diversity and maintains the allure of outdoor spaces regardless of the time of year.

4. Incorrect Mowing and Fertilizing Patterns

The maintenance side of landscaping is where a lot of property managers can go wrong. Mowing grass too short can weaken its root system, making it more susceptible to pests, diseases and drought stress. Consistently mowing in the same direction can lead to soil compaction and a lawn that looks worn out from leaning. Mowing right after rainfall can result in uneven cuts and clumping, detracting from the overall appearance.

Applying the correct amount of fertilizer ensures that plants receive essential nutrients without risking over-fertilization. Too much fertilizer can lead to environmental harm and nutrient runoff and leave you with a burnt lawn. Equally crucial is timing; fertilizing at the right time of year corresponds with plants’ natural growth cycles, maximizing their uptake of nutrients and promoting robust growth. By adhering to a tailored fertilization schedule based on the specific needs of plants and local climate conditions, property managers can nurture thriving landscapes that leave a lasting impression on visitors and tenants alike.

5. Incorrect Watering

Under-watering can lead to stressed, parched plants, while overwatering can suffocate roots and promote diseases like root rot. Finding the right balance is key, considering factors such as soil type, weather conditions, and plant species’ water requirements. Implementing efficient irrigation systems and monitoring soil moisture levels regularly can help property managers avoid both scenarios, ensuring optimal hydration for lush and thriving landscapes.

6. Improper Pruning

Cutting too much or at the wrong time can weaken plants, disrupt their natural growth patterns and leave them vulnerable to diseases and pests. Conversely, neglecting to prune can result in overgrown, unkempt foliage that detracts from the overall appearance of the property. Proper pruning techniques promote air circulation and shaping of the plants to encourage healthy growth.

7. Improper Drainage Design and Maintenance

Improper drainage design and maintenance can lead to a host of issues, from waterlogged soil to erosion and structural damage. Inadequate drainage can result in standing water, which can drown plant roots and create breeding grounds for pests and diseases.

Poor drainage can also compromise the stability of hardscape features and lead to costly repairs. Regular maintenance, like clearing debris from drains and ensuring they are free-flowing, is essential for preventing blockages and maintaining effective drainage. Investing in proper grading and drainage systems during landscape design can help mitigate potential drainage problems before they arise. Additionally, it’s important to winterize the irrigation system every year.

8. Neglecting Safety Hazards

Uneven sidewalks, potholes and standing water spots can pose serious risks to both pedestrians and property integrity. Uneven surfaces increase the likelihood of trips and falls, leading to potential injuries and liability concerns for property owners. Potholes not only endanger pedestrians but also damage vehicles and compromise the overall aesthetics of the property.

Standing water spots not only create slip hazards but also contribute to soil erosion and potential water damage to nearby structures. Regular inspections and prompt repairs are essential to address these safety hazards before they escalate.

9. Not Making the Entrance the Focal Point

The entrance serves as the gateway to the property, setting the tone for visitors and creating the first impression. Failing to prioritize its design and maintenance can result in a lackluster welcome that fails to captivate and engage visitors. By contrast, strategically enhancing the entrance with inviting features such as landscaping, signage, lighting and architectural elements can elevate its prominence and draw attention.

This focal point not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of the property but also reinforces its identity and brand image. Property managers should recognize the significance of the entrance and invest in its design and upkeep to leave a lasting impression on visitors and tenants alike.

10. Failure to Do Locate Requests

Failure to perform locate requests is a critical oversight that can have serious consequences for commercial landscaping projects. Before digging or excavating on a property, it’s essential to submit locate requests to utility companies to identify the location of underground utilities such as gas lines, water pipes, and electrical cables.

Neglecting this crucial step can lead to accidental damage to utility infrastructure, resulting in service disruptions, safety hazards, and costly repairs. It can potentially lead to legal liabilities and regulatory fines as well.

From prioritizing safety and proper maintenance to strategic design choices that enhance functionality and aesthetics, every decision plays a crucial role in shaping the overall appeal of a property. If you opt to use a landscaping company, make sure they are diligent to avoid these common mistakes.

By recognizing the importance of proactive measures, property managers can create environments that not only stand out but also prioritize the well-being and satisfaction of visitors and tenants.

About the Author

Tom Marsan

Tom Marsan is a certified snow professional who has been in the landscaping and snow removal industry for about two decades. He is an active member of ILCA and SIMA and is currently the General Manager at Beverly Companies in Chicagoland.

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