Great design and welcoming, healthy landscapes are key components of a property’s curb appeal. So many times I have driven by properties that I am sure have consciously invested in their landscapes only to find they fall short in curb appeal. A great plant in the wrong location can be a costly mistake and a missed opportunity for the wow factor. And isn’t the wow factor what it’s all about when attracting discerning tenants?
Landscaping for curb appeal needs to be well thought-out. It must first and foremost consider the goals of the property managers or owners. What do you want the landscape to do for you? Is it to be welcoming and inviting or is it designed for safety and protection…or perhaps both?
A landscape designer or architect should be able to help you identify your goals and create a plan that will offer aesthetic interest, responsible plant selection, maintenance ease and year-round curb appeal—which is where many properties fall short.
How many times have you seen a spectacular landscape that is spectacular only for a few weeks each year? In all probability the plant material that was selected was blooming at the time of purchase, and thought was not given to what the scene would look like the remaining 11 months. This is a costly mistake and a competitive disadvantage. To avoid this, layer your landscape with a variety of evergreen and deciduous plant materials and give special consideration to the timing of flowering blooms, type of foliage, color and even winter interest.
And what garden would be complete without a bench? Benches in public spaces make great gathering spots and are welcoming to those entering your property and their front door.
New thinking in multi-housing landscaping includes vertical or wall gardening, roof gardens and rain gardens to maximize storm water retention and other environmental benefits. Using native plants reduces maintenance and water resources. Finding cool and cutting edge designs doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Spring flower shows throughout the country are a great source for new ideas and plant combinations. Not only do they boost the winter spirit, they allow experts to share their knowledge and showcase their latest products and services. But beware, combinations of flowers and shrubs that have been “forced” to bloom at the show may not necessarily bloom in that sequence in the real world.
Another reliable resource for the latest thinking in plant selection, maintenance and pest management is the Master Gardener program, which is associated with cooperative extension service offices and land grant universities. Their services are free, and their staff is eager to provide direction and guidance.
Great landscape design is an intriguing puzzle which requires knowledge of plant material, plant maintenance, intended use of the space and the location on the property. Getting it right is well worth the investment and resulting outcome. Whether it’s a long, gracious drive or a 10-by-20 foot plot surrounded by concrete, a well thought out landscape will add beauty, financial and environmental value and important curb appeal to a setting your tenants will be eager to call home.
The Brickman Group
Based in Gaithersburg, Md., the 70-year-old Brickman Group has operations in over 160 locations in 29 states. Designed to meet the needs of local, regional and national clients, the company offers services in design/build and installation, landscape maintenance and enhancement, snow and ice management, water management, tree care, sports turf and sustainability. The Brickman Group has built its reputation on providing superior landscape management services while striving to be the low-cost provider. The company is “committed to reducing our footprint on the earth and only enhancing our environment with responsible operations, including environmentally sensitive landscape practices, environmentally sensitive operations and responsible resource and waste management” (www.brickmangroup.com).
Yellowstone Landscape Group
Yellowstone Landscape Group includes three distinct subsidiaries: BIO Landscape & Maintenance, headquartered in Houston, Texas, Piedmont Landscape of Chamblee, Ga. and Austin Outdoor of Bunnell, Fla. with operations serving Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and the Bahamas. The company offers consulting and services for the commercial, municipal, institutional, governmental, hospitality, resort, multi-family, sports, and HOA and estate markets. United under the Yellowstone Landscape Group, the company offers “a vast network of shared resources, expertise and local knowledge, highly individualized customer service and a strong commitment to the communities in which we operate.” Yellowstone is one of the largest full-service professional landscape groups in the United States (www.yellowstonelandscapegroup.com).
LTR Products offers innovative solutions for recycled rubber products. Its rubber mulch is designed for playgrounds, landscaping, equestrian areas and other uses and is sold online and in retail outlets under the Pinnacle Rubber Mulch brand name. According to the company, “when compared to wood mulch, rubber mulch is safer, more cost-effective, durable, environmentally-friendly and offers lower-maintenance. Plus, rubber mulch is clean—minimizing airborne dust and particles.” LTR Products’ rubber mulch is available in seven fade-resistant colors. A subsidiary of Liberty Tire Recycling, the company reclaims more than 33 percent of the nation’s discarded tires and annually transforms more than 110 million tires into raw materials for other uses. Liberty Tire Recycling is headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA (www.ltrproducts.com).
US Lawns operates in all 48 contiguous states through a network of 240 franchises. It has built its commercial landscape management network based on a theme of “national strength, local commitment. “The company provides full service maintenance, fertilization and pest control, irrigation management, seasonal design and installation, select services, arbor care and snow and ice management. U.S. Lawns continues to expand at a fast clip, adding 31 new franchises since summer 2010. This places the company among the country’s fastest-growing franchises overall, according to Entrepreneur magazine. It also ranked No. 9 on Lawn & Landscape’s Top 100 list this year (www.uslawns.com)
Signature Landscape Services
Signature Landscape Services, based in Redmond, Wash., provides full-service landscape maintenance for commercial, multifamily, industrial and municipal properties. This also includes sustainable landscape maintenance, design and renovation, turf renovation, mulch, irrigation, drainage/storm water management, seasonal color and containers, wetlands/native area maintenance and arbor care.
Approaching the care of the landscape from a comprehensive, long-term perspective, the company’s thorough property review process covers all aspects of the landscape including irrigation efficiency, plant health, turf care, design issues and renovation needs. The company “continues to look for new technologies, new ways to conserve water for our customers and provide sustainable materials & procedures whenever possible. We believe in protecting our environment and have achieved a 4 Star Envirostar rating from King County” (www.signaturels.com).
Susan Keithler is a writer with interest in landscape and interior design. She is a Master Gardener.