Curb appeal for facilities

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Ken Hutcheson
Ken Hutcheson
In today's economy, it is important for facility owners and managers to keep in mind the importance of first impressions. A well-designed facility landscape can help lead to higher occupancy, resident retention and asset values. 

While prospective resident may not sign a lease based exclusively on a well-landscaped facility property, it does help draw them to the facility. By maintaining a healthy landscape, the facility's maximum value will be preserved and long-run savings generated. Having an increased awareness and understanding of your landscape and partnering with the right commercial landscape management professional are keys to achieving these desired results. 

Two components that can assist in the maintenance of a beautiful landscape without breaking your bank are proper irrigation and the addition of annual color.

The current trends of water and energy conservation, carbon emissions reduction and the protection of local ecosystems make responsible water use and planning necessary for any commercial property owner or manager. Though hydration is essential for maintaining healthy property landscapes, over-watering can be both harmful to the landscape as well as an unnecessary expense. There have been significant developments in irrigation technology which allow landscape professionals to design custom-tailored systems that are specific to the needs of a particular facility's property and can result in decreased water usage and lower ongoing maintenance expenses.

The most technologically advanced development in water conservation available today is the “smart” controller. Regardless of how efficient an irrigation controller's watering schedule is, it needs to take into account the constantly changing weather conditions – specifically evapotranspiration (ET) and rainfall, in order to protect the landscape's health and gain maximum efficiencies.  ET is the amount of water lost from the soil through evaporation plus the plant's water loss (known as transpiration), both of which are dramatically affected by weather conditions. A smart controller uses current weather information and ET to water your landscape only when necessary. These systems work with virtually any controller, converting a conventional irrigation system into a weather-smart one that self-adjusts according to accurate real-time weather data. The smart controller receives weather updates automatically every hour and only allows the controller to water when needed leading to significant water savings and a healthier landscape. An irrigation system retro-fitted with a smart controller can provide significant cost savings that will pay for the initial purchase and installation costs in less than three years.

For dramatic change that has instant impact on a facility's curb appeal, consider using annual color. Annual color provides simple aesthetic changes to any property's landscape and will go a long way in making your facility stand out. Color is an essential element of landscape design which promotes an enjoyable atmosphere. Landscape professionals can help with the creative design most appropriate for the landscape environment and assist in determining the best color and materials that best complement a facility's grounds. After installation, the correct maintenance is needed on a consistent basis by a landscape professional to ensure a long period of bloom and health for your annuals.

Maintaining a healthy and attractive landscape creates a pleasant environment that assists facility owners and managers in maximizing the value of their properties. Designing a landscape that works for every season takes time and consideration but results in a property looking its best even as the landscape matures.  

Ken Hutcheson is the president of U.S. Lawns. He can be reached at KHutcheson@uslawns.com.  

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