There is a seemingly endless list of things commercial property owners or managers need to anticipate and budget for each year. The landscape maintenance and upkeep may seem like one of the easier costs to check off the list, but are you really thinking about everything that could effect that line item? Unplanned incidents like storms or municipal inspections can result in significant costs. And how can you afford the needed or wanted property improvements and upgrades if they don’t make it into the budget?
Budgeting Missteps to Avoid
Prices for everything increase every year. Whether it’s the coffee you get on the way to the office or the pizza you may grab on the way home, it probably costs more today than it did a year ago. It’s no different for landscaping. Materials, fuel, equipment, even people cost more year to year. You shouldn’t assume that your landscape contract will remain the same year after year after year. When you are preparing your budgets for the upcoming season, ask you contractor if they foresee any pricing changes that could effect the overall cost of your annual contract.
Budgeting Without A Plan
Every property, be it new or mature, should have a landscape master plan. Master plans recommend ideas, upgrades, and improvements to be done over a short or long term time frame to reinvigorate the landscape and enhance the grounds of the property. They can address serious issues like drainage and erosion control and arbor care for mature trees, but they can also specify a preferred property plant palette, color schemes, theme plantings, site furnishings, and amenity selections. When working from master plans, improvements are prioritized and costs for those improvements are summarized making it easy to budget for annual improvements outside of the landscape maintenance contract.
Forgetting to Show off Your Assets
If your target audience doesn’t like how the outside of the complex or community looks, they probably aren’t going to ask for a tour of the inside. Landscaping shapes a prospective tenant or resident’s opinion of what kind of company they will be interacting with should they choose to live, work, shop, or play at a property. It is effectively the “face” of your company and will surely make a lasting first impression on all passersby.
In the residential world, amenity spaces and focal features are worth paying more dollars per square foot in rent to many. Don’t forget to plan for the costs of maintaining and improving those spaces as part of an annual landscaping budget. Forgetting to do so could mean missing out on potential revenues as prospective tenants go down the street to the next community.
On the office and retail side of the market, well maintained accessible parking areas that are well lit and clean are big factors in who rents, shops, or frequents that property. Attractive and easy to read entry signage and landscaping draws people into these types of complexes over their competition.
Not Addressing Safety
Overgrown shrubs in parking areas or close to the buildings could be a safety concern to prospective tenants and current leasers if not addressed and controlled on an annual basis. The same could be said for dark areas, poorly lit walking paths, or uneven hard surfaces. Evaluate the property for safety concerns and allocate adequate funds in the budget to properly address them.
Forgetting that Landscaping is a Living, Breathing Thing
I don’t mean to imply that anyone reading this thinks that landscaping isn’t alive and growing every day. What I mean is that plants and turf don’t thrive forever. Over time, plants decline or die or are removed for one reason or another and when they aren’t replaced, their absence leaves a hole in the once fluid landscape. Plants can also outgrow their spaces and pruning is not always the answer or an option. Sometimes you just need to invest in a redesign to breathe life back into the property or restore lost functionality. When you budget for these types of upgrades, think about what you want your property to look like…then plan for it.
Underestimating the Cost of Winter Weather
Snow and ice treatment can be a costly expense for any commercial property and failing to adequately plan and budget for proper service can result in costly insurance claims for property damage or personal injury. The unpredictability can be daunting, but face the challenge head on. Make pre-treating part of your snow plan and budget – every storm. Reserve the loader when snowfall is anticipated to be more 6″ or more. Anticipate several days of freezing and thawing after the storm has passed and determine what can be handled by your team on site vs. what needs to be outsourced to a professional. For more tips on getting ready to face old man winter, read our blog about the 5 P’s of Snow Preparedness.
Why Budget WITH the Experts
Trying to create a budget for landscape without the input of a commercial landscape professional could be likened to trying to swim the 100 meter butterfly in an empty swimming pool. You couldn’t possibly come out the other end on the winning side because doing one correctly and successfully is dependent on the other being a part of the process. You can’t swim without water – you can’t budget landscaping without expert advice. If you already work with a landscape professional – ask them to give you ideas for where they see that the property needs improvement.
If you don’t work with a professional or just want to get a new perspective on your property’s potential from a fresh set of eyes, call us today.
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