As featured in the Summer 2019 issue of The Executive, an online magazine featuring members of Gwinnett Chamber’s Chairman’s Club.
With the arrival of summer heat, businesses may be noticing that their landscaping is looking somewhat lacking. A good landscape draws the eye to signage, entrances and other important architectural features but doesn’t distract from the business itself, while an unkempt or plain landscape can negatively impact customers’ first impressions. A professional landscape crew can help businesses take their landscape from boring to beautiful.
“Curb appeal is a first impression that can impact that value of a property by 15-20%,” said Teddy Russell, CEO of Russell Landscape Group, a commercial property landscape company headquartered in Sugar Hill. “Landscape is a living thing; it’s dynamic and always changing. If it’s not professionally maintained, it can get away from you.”
Making significant improvements to your landscape can be an expensive endeavor, so Russell encourages his clients to start with what they have. “If you have a landscape that’s 20-25 years old, it might be as simple as bringing up the canopy of trees or lowering shrub height,” he said. “I like to call it bringing in open air. It’s much less expensive than a total renovation and it can make a big difference.”
Russell Landscape Group serves the southeastern United States and has offered commercial landscape maintenance and design, hardscape construction, enhancements, seasonal color, turf maintenance, and irrigation as well as REIT/rental maintenance and government landscape services for 32 years. If a customer is after a new look, Russell said, “We like to work with the environment, rather than against it. We work with a theme that works with the current landscape and create a three- to five-year plan so everything looks like it goes together as it grows in.”
If a total landscape renovation isn’t in your budget, another less expensive improvement is using annual warm-weather plants to add color to commercial properties. “We’re adding more pops of seasonal plantings to our customers’ properties now, which is the easiest way to bring color in for the summer,” said Shawn Lesko, COO of 4 Seasons.
For more than 15 years, 4 Seasons Landscape Group, headquartered in Norcross, has offered landscaping, maintenance, design and installation, hardscapes, irrigation, parking lot sweeping, day porter, pressure washing and tree services to the metro Atlanta area and specializes in working with homeowners’ associations (HOAs).
“The specific type of flowers and plants for pops of color can change year-to-year based on market availability, but tend to be the most popular way to accent areas property owners want to highlight like neighborhood entrances and signs,” said Bruce Bryde, President and CEO of 4 Seasons. “We’ve also seen a lot more use of landscaping in tiers so it brings your eye upward, and use of natural structural materials like Mexican beach pebbles and large boulders. Anything that’s eye-catching when you’re driving by.”
Unlike vibrantly colored plants and flowers lining a walkway, a healthy expanse of green grass can easily be overlooked as an asset on commercial property. But if that lawn turns brown or patchy, it can immediately draw unwanted attention. Bryde said one of the best ways to keep grass healthy is to make sure it stays on a regular professional fertilization program. “People like to do it themselves, but it doesn’t look as good as when it’s done professionally,” he said. “It’s easy to miss chemical rounds if you do it yourself and if so, you will see the effects as soon as three months down the road.”
A common problem HOAs and private residences have with their turf is compacted lawns brought on by heavy foot traffic. “Aeration can help your lawn grow stronger roots and let the turf breathe,” Lesko said. He recommends aerating once a year in the early summer for warm season grass, like Bermuda or zoysia and in late September or early October for cold season turf, like fescue.
Another common problem for any lawn owner is overwatering. “One good soaking once a week is all a healthy lawn needs,” Lesko said. “If you properly water from the beginning, you will train your turf to root down far enough to get the natural water.”
Luckily there is a slew of new technology available to help businesses with their irrigation issues. Irrigation systems often have rain sensors to stop unneeded watering, but newer smart water systems can recommend a watering schedule based on the weather forecast. These smart water systems can also come with smart clocks that connect to your phone so you can remotely control your watering. These smart clocks can also be retrofitted to older systems.
Another trend these companies are seeing is customers creatively using hardscape to create more useable and connective outdoor space. “People want to be outside,” Russell said. “We’re seeing more walking trails, outdoor work areas, sitting areas and outdoor classrooms.” Previously ignored places, like alleyways, are being spruced up using slate chips, pots of flowers or synthetic turf to turn them into nooks where employees can eat lunch, read or play a hole of putt-putt golf. “Offices, rather than building a gym, are giving their employees memberships to nearby gyms and building trails connecting to them,” Russell said.
Whether building outdoor space for employees and customers, planting pops of summer color or staying on top of lawn, tree and shrub care, a professional landscape company can develop a weekly maintenance plan that will help ensure the health and beauty of a business’s landscape this summer and for years into the future.