March 8, 2021

The Facility Manager’s Ultimate Commercial Landscaping Plan

As a facility manager, you are responsible for ensuring the properties you oversee are in good shape. In addition to the building themselves, this also includes landscaping. As with your other tasks, you don’t have to handle the landscaping yourself. Instead, your best option will be to hire a commercial landscaping service. 

Before you hire a landscaping service, however, there are a few things that you should know. 

What Does a Commercial Landscaping Services Company Offer?

commercial landscaping service company - Branded GroupCommercial landscaping services will vary slightly based on the company offering them and on what you need. In most cases, commercial landscaping services are very similar to residential ones but on a larger scale. There will be services such as lawn maintenance, garden bed maintenance, irrigation, pest control, weed control, and fertilization. There will also be offerings for both landscapes and hardscapes. 

In addition to maintaining the landscape, most of the services will also design a professional landscape for your facilities based on your preferences and budget. Once you agree on a design, they will then develop it for you. 

Depending on the landscaping company, they may also offer snow and ice management, artificial turf, outdoor lighting, and other related services. Some extend their services to a range of tree services, such as trimming and diagnosis. 

Landscapers can also use these various services with specific goals in mind. For example, they may harshen harsh lines in architecture by planting certain greenery. Or they may make a commercial area feel more natural and welcoming with artificial water, such as artificial waterfalls or ponds. 

Essentially, a commercial landscaping service should offer all the services you need to ensure that the land you are responsible for is in good shape. They will make sure it looks nice and professional while maintaining its health. 

How Commercial Landscaping Helps Facility Managers

A commercial landscaping service can help facility managers by making it easy to delegate all the responsibilities related to setting up and maintaining the grounds. Instead of having to delegate or outsource each task individually, you can do so all at once. This essentially turns the landscape management aspect of your facility’s management role into something that only requires a fraction of the time it previously did. These time-saving benefits are even greater for facility managers who manage multiple properties. 

You don’t have to worry about thinking about every single task that is required to make your landscape look great and stay healthy. The commercial service will already have a list of these services to offer you. They will suggest the services that you need. 

What’s Involved in a Commercial Lawn Care Service Plan?

commercial lawn care plan - Branded GroupCreating a commercial lawn care service plan involves a fair amount of discussion between you as the facility manager and the landscaping company you choose to hire. You will let them know what your goals are and if there are any specific services you want. They will let you know what services they offer and which of those are likely ideal for your property. 

Most lawn care service plans will have some tasks that occur regularly, such as mowing or removing fallen leaves weekly. They will also include landscaping tasks that occur less frequently, such as fertilizing plants once or twice a year. 

Commercial landscaping services tend to be highly adaptable as they understand that not every property has the same requirements. They will work with you to determine how to balance the services you need with your budget. 

Routine Grounds Maintenance Services to Consider

As you set up your commercial lawn care service contract, you can expect the landscaping company to offer suggestions on maintenance services to include. However, you can save time by being familiar with them ahead of time. 

The following only shows some of the routine ground maintenance services that you may want to have done. The landscaping company you are considering can go into more detail about these and suggest others. Most of the following services are done for a combination of aesthetic reasons and to promote the health of the plants on your landscape. 

  • Clearing debris. 
  • Weeding. 
  • Mowing the grass. 
  • Mulching trees, shrubs, and flowers. 
  • Pruning trees and shrubs. 
  • Planting flowers and other plants. 
  • Fertilizing plants. 
  • Applying pesticides or other insect control methods.
  • Setting up and maintaining irrigation systems. 

Tips for a Professional Commercial Landscape Design

You want your landscape design to be professional, as this reflects well on the property and business as well as on your management skills. No matter the type of property, when it appears professional, your company is more likely to make a favorable first impression. This is just as true of apartment buildings and warehouses or factories as it is of retail stores. 

The Best Tip: Hire a Professional

The absolute best tip for professional commercial landscape design is to hire a professional with experience. Most commercial landscaping services will offer design services, as well, so you can likely use the same one to design and create your landscape as you do to maintain it in the future. 

Professionals will have the experience and industry knowledge to guide your landscape design. This is important because it allows them to create a design that is practical on your property, accounting for factors like climate, soil type, and the amount of space. For example, they are unlikely to suggest plants that require a lot of water if the property is in a dry climate. 

By ensuring your landscape design works for your property, you will get better results and likely have reduced costs. After all, you are less likely to have to buy new plants and trees if the original ones don’t die due to having the wrong climate for their needs. 

Check Their Past Commercial Landscaping Work

Before you choose the professional you want to hire for your landscape design, consider all of the factors. In addition to costs, pay close attention to their past work. Ideally, they will have designed landscapes for properties that are similar to the ones you manage. At the very least, they will hopefully have experience in a range of landscape types. This will make them more adaptable even if they haven’t previously worked on a landscape quite like yours. 

Even if you let your commercial landscaping service mostly handle the design process, understanding a few tips that professionals use can help you better understand the process. It will also give you the knowledge you need to make useful contributions to the design. 

Have a List of Needs and Wants 

Even if you leave all of the landscape design to the professionals, they will want to know what you want from the landscaping. This involves creating a list of landscape elements you want and those that you feel are necessary. You may also want to make another list of those that you do not want. 

Consider where various landscaping elements, such as shade trees, fruit-bearing trees, flowers, open grassy areas, seating, and fountains, fit on these lists. 

Consider the Location and Natural Elements

As you think about the landscape design, consider how the property layout and nature will affect things. For example, you don’t want to put a landscaping element that needs lots of direct sunlight under an overhang on the building. Or you may not want to place an outdoor seating area somewhere that would have direct sunlight. It would be extremely hot at lunchtime. 

Choose a Focal Point

Although not essential, the most professional-looking landscape designs will have a focal point or several smaller focal points. Examples can be a particularly gorgeous tree, a sculpture, a fountain, or a seating area. 

Be Flexible

One of the most important tips for a professional landscape design is to be flexible. Sometimes, things will not go as planned, and you will have to adapt the design. This is natural and should be expected. It is yet another reason that you should let professionals handle the landscape design; they will be better equipped to adapt the plans if necessary. 

Does Your Commercial Landscape Also Need Snow and Ice Removal?

snow and ice removal - Branded GroupWhen discussing the various commercial landscaping services for facility managers, we mentioned that many companies offer snow and ice removal. Some properties will want to take advantage of this service, while others will not. 

Snow Fall in Your Area

The first and most important consideration to help you decide if you need snow and ice removal will be the weather in your area. If your properties are all in temperate climates that never experience snow, then you can obviously skip this service. 

In the event that you are somewhere with heavy snowfalls for most of the winter, it is wise to consider it. Even if your area only gets occasional snowfalls, you still want to consider it. After all, areas that see snow less often are notorious for being worse at dealing with it. You will have to evaluate how often it snows in your area and how much of an impact the snowfall tends to have on the area. 

The Area to Be Cleared

The other major consideration is how much space you have that you will need to be cleared. If you have a large parking lot, then it is almost essential that you have a snow and ice removal service. 

On the other hand, what if the property you manage is in a shopping center or commercial center that already hires a plow service? Would you have anything to clear? Would it just be a few feet of sidewalk? You need to weigh the pros and cons of hiring a service to clear the space you need. 

Can You or Your Team Members Handle It? 

Whether your team can handle the snow and ice removal goes hand in hand with the size of the area. If you only have to clear a few feet of sidewalk, would it be worth it to have a maintenance employee spend a few minutes shoveling it? Or would it be worth investing in a snowblower to have them clear it quickly? 

If you manage a larger property with vast parking lots, would it make more sense to get a snowplow attachment for a truck and assign someone from the existing team to plow? 

In most cases, it will be smarter just to let your team focus on their existing tasks unless the area that would need to be cleared is particularly small. 

Access to the Property

As you consider the above factors, you want to think about the overarching theme of ensuring the property is accessible. No matter the type of property you manage, you do not want to delay snow and ice removal, as that can make it impossible to access the property, causing issues. Retail stores can lose clients who won’t want to wade through a snow-covered path to buy things. Apartment managers can have complaints from residents who can’t get out of the building to go shopping or go to work. Factories can’t operate if workers can’t get inside. 

Safety and Liability 

Two of the most common reasons that facility managers hire snow and ice removal professionals are safety and liability. Simply put, if there are snow and ice that you could have reasonably cleared or had cleared, someone may slip and injure themselves. This could put the property at risk of a slip-and-fall lawsuit. 

That would be a major financial blow to the property, and it would reflect very poorly on your facility management skills. If the facility owner feels that you could have prevented the incident through other actions, you may be out of a job and find it hard to get a new role. 

The Common Types of Snow and Ice Removal Contracts

Once you have decided that you do need snow and ice removal services, you will have to choose from various contract types. There are three main options, although you will likely only want to consider two of them. 

The third is a “Time and Material Contract.” It is the most budget-friendly, as you only pay for the actual snow removal. Plus, you don’t have to make advance purchases. However, it makes budgeting incredibly challenging, as you will not have a good quote. Most importantly, there is no incentive for your snow removal service to get to your property quickly. This can leave you with the previously mentioned issues of access, safety, and liability. 

As to the other two options, you will want to decide what makes the most sense based on your budget and location: 

  • Pay per Event or Push: This type of contract only has you pay for the times that the snow removal service has to come out. The pricing also commonly depends on how deep of a snowfall you get. 

It works well for areas that rarely see snowfall, as you don’t have to pay a seasonal contract only to have the property cleared once or twice. However, if you live in an area with heavy and frequent snowfalls, it can get very expensive very quickly. 

  • Seasonal Contracts: This type of snow removal contract has you pay a set price every year or season no matter how many times the property has to be cleared. You pay the same whether there is just one snowfall or dozens of them. There are even multiyear versions of these contracts that provide even better value, as the number of snowfalls tends to average out. 

This type of snow removal contract is ideal from a budget standpoint, especially if the facilities you manage are somewhere with frequent or at least moderate snowfalls. They also make it much easier to budget, as you know exactly what you will pay for snow removal, as it doesn’t depend on how much snow falls. 

A 12-Month Sample Commercial Landscaping Service Guide

commercial landscaping service guide - Branded GroupSome facility managers find it easier to look at an example guide to commercial landscaping services instead of the written information above. The following provides an example of the type of maintenance you may expect in your landscaping service. 

  • Spring and Summer: 
    • Mowing weekly.
    • Blowing away debris weekly.
    • Edging curbs monthly or weekly.
    • Pruning trees monthly. 
    • Tree inspections for disease and pests monthly. 
    • Confirming placement of tree stakes. 
    • Watering twice weekly. 
    • Weeding weekly.
    • Preparing planting beds. 
    • Planting flowers.
    • Deadheading every other week. 
    • Irrigation efficiency checks monthly. 
    • Checking hardscapes for cracks. 
    • Applying fertilizer (and potentially pesticides).
  • Fall: 
    • Winterization of irrigation system.
    • Pre-winter cleanup, including bed edging, grass dividing, seasonal perennial trims, and mulch raking. 
    • Leaf removal weekly. 
  • Winter: 
    • Snow removal after each snowstorm. 
    • Post-winter inspection and cleanup. 
    • Restarting the irrigation system (at the end of winter).
    • Seasonal displays for the holidays. 
  • Year-Round: 
    • Inspecting outdoor lighting. 

Remember that every landscaping company is different, as is every facility. The services that you need will vary from the above sample. Luckily, your landscaping service will be happy to work with you to create a checklist and contract to fit your needs. 

Branded Group can help you find the right commercial landscaping service

Branded Group’s comprehensive facility management services can significantly ease your responsibilities as a facility manager, especially when it comes to landscaping. With our expertise, you can confidently connect with the perfect commercial landscaping service tailored to your specific needs and budget. Our team will collaborate closely with you to understand your requirements, ensuring seamless adaptation and optimal services for your property or properties. Schedule a consultation with Branded Group to enhance your outdoor spaces, making the planning process smoother than ever.

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