If a potential tenant showed up for a meeting with dirty hair, ripped or stained clothing, and an unkempt appearance, you would most likely reconsider renting an apartment or storefront to that person.
While you are judging potential tenants based on their appearance, those same tenants are doing the same to your commercial property. An exterior that’s uncared for or a landscape design that’s lacking send the same warning signs to a tenant that dirty hair and torn jeans send to the property owner. After walking by a garden that’s full of weeds and little else or exterior features that are in dire need of a new paint job, a tenant is going to wonder what horrors lurk inside the building.
The effect of landscape on commercial real estate value stretches beyond the economic value of a property. Landscape design can also improve the perceived social value of your business property, as well as the environmental value. If you want to land more tenants — and more high-quality tenants, at that — it’s what’s on the outside of your properties that counts the most.
The Economic Value of Landscape Design
Whether you are the owner of an apartment building, an office building or a retail store, one of your big concerns is your business’s bottom line. So, any decision you make should ideally improve your company from a financial point of view.
Fortunately, commercial real estate landscape value often directly translates into dollars and cents. One study, published in APCBEE Procedia, examined the connection between property value and landscape design. The study not only looked at what features improved the value of a property in the eyes of potential renters, but also the effect attractive landscape design had on a person’s decision to rent or buy a property.
Of the 1000 people included in the study, 682 — or 68.2 percent — stated landscape design did influence their decision to rent or buy. Less than a third of people — 302 respondents — said landscape design did not influence their decision to rent or buy. The answers of 16 respondents were marked as “missing.”
Perhaps even more importantly for rental property owners, more than 90 percent of respondents said adding good landscape design improves the value of a property.
The APCBEE Procedia study’s findings are backed up by other reports. For example, one study from the Nature Conservancy discovered properties with trees experienced a 7 percent price increase compared to properties without trees.
While there is a clear economic connection between rental properties and landscape design, apartment and townhome rentals aren’t the only type of commercial property to get a boost from good landscape design.
Landscaping can also help store owners and local businesses improve their bottom lines. For example, shoppers are more likely to frequent a retail district or central business district that has “natural infrastructure,” such as trees and plantings.
When landscape design is placed at the forefront of a retail district, foot traffic increases by as much as 40 percent. Even more critical, shoppers who visit a retail district with a good tree canopy are likely to spend up to 12 percent more.
For the owners of businesses in well-landscaped business and retail district, the presence of trees and other greenery also translates to more rent. As a building owner, you might see rents that are 22 percent higher in pedestrian-friendly, landscaped retail areas compared to retail districts that depend on car traffic and have few, if any, trees or greenery.
The Social Value of Landscape Design
Attractive, well-planned landscape design doesn’t only boost the economic value of commercial properties, but it also has positive effects on a property’s social value. A visually pleasing, efficiently designed exterior is a place people are likely to want to spend more time in. The design of a landscape can also have a direct effect on people’s health and safety.
Safety and Landscape Design
People want to live in buildings that feel safe and secure — not only inside, but outside, too. The same is true for office buildings, retail centers and other types of commercial property. No one wants to feel nervous while walking to their car at night or moving from one store to another in the early evening.
Here are eight ways landscape design can improve the safety of your property.
Outdoor Lighting Can Prevent Trips and Falls
Falls are among the leading causes of accidental death in the U.S., and almost 32,000 people died as a result of a fall in 2014. Falls can occur in poorly lit outdoor spaces, especially when the walkway is uneven, or if debris collects on it. Keeping walkways clear of fallen branches and leaves will help reduce the risk for falls on your property. Incorporating proper lighting in your landscaping will also help to reduce the risk for falls.
Separate Pedestrian Walkways Can Reduce Traffic Accidents
When pedestrians don’t have a designated place to walk, they are likely to venture into the roadway or parking lot, increasing the risk for accidents. Creating pedestrian walkways gives people a definite place to go. Using landscaping, such as a row of bushes or plantings, between pedestrian pathways and parking lots or roadways creates an additional barrier between cars and people, increasing the safety of your property for foot and automobile traffic.
Gardens and Plantings Can Prevent Flooding and Puddles
If your building is located in an area that sees a fair amount of rain each year, landscaping that helps to absorb rainwater can reduce or prevent puddles on the pavement or in muddy areas. It might also reduce the risk of flooding, as the water has somewhere to go, rather than pooling in a single area.
Greenery Can Prevent the Spread of Fire
While no building owner wants to think about their building catching fire, it is a possibility. Green areas, such as grassy lawns or gardens, can serve as a block for fires, preventing them from spreading to neighboring buildings.
Tree-Covered Areas Can Reduce Loitering
Loitering might seem like it’s more of a quality of life issue, but it can be a safety problem, as well. If groups of people, such as residents or shoppers, don’t have designated, comfortable places to hang out while visiting your property, they are likely to congregate in certain areas, such as the lobby of your building or on the steps leading up to an entrance. Those groups of people can make it difficult for others to enter or leave the building. Incorporating benches and other sitting areas under tree-covered areas or near greenery provides people with a relaxing place to linger, not loiter.
Greenery Can Serve as an Attractive Barrier
There may be areas of your property you want to keep people out of, such as the electric control boxes or the maintenance building. Instead of putting up a chain-link fence, you can use landscape design to create a green barrier to keep people out.
Ice and Snow Removal Can Improve Access and Reduce Falls
Although you might think of plants and hardscaping when you think of landscape design, don’t forget that caring for the exterior of your building is a year-round project. In the winter, proper ice and snow removal is necessary to prevent slips and falls and make sure visitors and residents can get to and from the building with ease.
Maintenance Can Prevent Injury
Keeping your building’s landscape well-maintained is also a must when it comes to improving its safety. Regular pruning of tree branches will reduce the chances of a limb breaking off and falling on something — or someone — during a storm. Keeping shrubs and flowering plants well-pruned also reduces the risk that someone will trip and fall on a wayward branch or stem.
Health and Landscape Design
Along with keeping people safe, landscape design can affect the health and well-being of anyone who visits your commercial property. Landscape design can have a direct influence on whether people decide to walk or use a more sedentary and passive form of transportation. Landscaping can also influence how frequently people exercise and enjoy time outdoors.
For example, an apartment building with a playground encourages young children and their parents to get outside on a day off or after school. The children can run around and interact with other kids their age, while the parents can enjoy some fresh air and socialization with their neighbors.
Along with giving people more chances to exercise and enjoy the great outdoors, landscape design can reduce stress levels by providing a space for people to sit in peace. A quiet garden near an office building or next to an apartment building can provide a respite to people after — or during — a long, stressful day.
Other Social Aspects of Landscape Design
Landscape design can have an impact on your commercial property in other ways, aside from improving its safety and improving the health of those who use it. Certain landscape features can help to make people feel more invested in their community.
For example, if there is a picnic or lounge area on the grounds of an apartment building, residents might be more likely to spend time there, relaxing and getting to know their neighbors. The time they spend together can increase overall goodwill and make them more likely to look out for and care about each other.
Landscape design can also be viewed as an amenity — a feature that makes a building stand out from the rest and encourages potential tenants to rent your unit, instead of one a few streets away.
The Environmental Value of Landscape Design
Don’t forget about the environmental benefits and value of landscape design. The ecological benefits of landscaping not only help the earth, but also your wallet.
When you make eco-friendly investments in your property, it typically means you’ll be spending less money on maintaining it. For example, planting trees on a property can reduce your energy use in several ways. One study found that planting 11 additional trees in the Washington D.C. area lowered ambient temperatures by 1.9 degrees.
Trees also provide shade cover, which reduces a building’s need for air conditioning. Trees can also serve as windbreaks, preventing hot winds from reaching a building in the summer and reducing the chilling effect of cold winds in the winter. These effects all contribute to you using less heating or cooling energy to maintain the right temperature inside your building.
Certain types of landscaping are explicitly designed with their environmental value in mind. For example, rain gardens are designed to collect water runoff from roofs and streets. Usually planted with species that are native to an area, rain gardens provide a filter for stormwater and prevent flooding of the sewer system after a period of heavy rainfall.
Preventing flooding and puddling after heavy rains not only helps to protect the environment around your commercial property, but it also improves the experience your residents and visitors have on your property. For instance, if you have a rain garden installed in the parking lot or along one edge of the parking lot, you are likely to see less puddles in the lot when it rains.
That means people pulling into your parking lot to go shopping will be less likely to step into puddles as they get out of their car. Avoiding those puddles will create a more enjoyable experience for them, making them more likely to return to your establishment, or renew their lease when it’s up.
Even landscaping designs that don’t have a specific eco-friendly claim can still be valuable when it comes to protecting and preserving the environment. For example, flower gardens provide a source of food to pollinator insects and other animals. While they might absorb as much carbon dioxide from the area as a large, established tree, planting flowers and other annuals can also reduce the CO2 in the air.
Landscape Design Options for Your Commercial Property
The type of landscape design that works for your commercial property will depend on a few factors. One thing to consider is the size of your property. Another is how your property is used. For example, a swimming pool that’s surrounded by seating and lounging areas makes sense for an apartment complex but doesn’t fit in at an office building. However, outdoor seating areas with vegetation would work at both office spaces and residential properties.
Working with a commercial landscape design company will allow you to make the right choices for your building’s landscape, helping you to get the most significant economic, social and environmental value from whatever you choose.
Here are three of the more popular landscape design options for commercial properties.
If you don’t have a green thumb, you might not realize that not all plants are the same. In fact, when you work with a landscaping company, you’ll often have several diverse types of plantings to choose from. It’s usually a promising idea to work with a mixture of plants to keep the exterior of your building looking as attractive as possible throughout the year.
Here are a few popular plant options:
- Deciduous Trees: Deciduous trees are those that lose their leaves in the fall and grow new ones in the spring. Some also flower in the springtime, such as the cherry trees Washington, D.C., is famous for. Trees can be expensive to plant at first, but they continue to grow and thrive for many years.
- Evergreen Trees: Evergreen trees don’t lose their leaves in the fall or winter but stay “green” throughout the entire year. Adding evergreens to your landscape design allows your residents and visitors to enjoy some greenery, even in the dead of winter.
- Perennial Plants: Perennial plants might not live forever, but they do tend to return year after year, as long as they are being cared for. Some perennials stay green throughout the winter, while others will die back to the soil level, only to come back to life in the spring. It’s also worth noting not every perennial plant is a perennial in every area. Some can’t survive the freezing temperatures in the northern U.S., while others aren’t cut out for the heat of summer, especially in the southern half of the country.
- Annual Plants: Unlike perennials, annuals last for a year, then die. They might self-seed, meaning their seeds fall into the soil and surprise “volunteer” plants pop up the next year. Occasionally, plants that would be a perennial in one part of the world are grown as annuals in areas that get too hot or too cold.
- Groundcovers: Groundcover plants can be either perennial or annual. The plants lie low, seeming to creep along the surface of the soil. They’re a good option for areas where nothing seems to grow, such as hillsides. They also work well when you have a lot of space to cover and want something low-maintenance.
- Vining Plants: Like groundcover plants, vining plants can be either annuals or perennials. The difference is that while groundcovers creep, vines climb. Vines can be trained to climb up trellises or gazebos, creating a peaceful, greenery-covered area in the middle of a commercial property.
- Bulbs: Often among the first flowers to bloom in the spring, bulbs are usually planted the fall before. If they’re properly cared for, they will return year after year. Bulbs include popular springtime flowers such as tulips and daffodils.
While “landscaping” typically refers to the living elements of landscape design, such as the trees and other plants, hardscaping refers to the non-living elements of landscape design. Although it would seem lovely to have a landscape design purely made up of plants, the reality is that you need some hardscaping elements for your space to be functional and usable.
- Patios and included furnishings, such as benches, tables and grills
- Walkways and footpaths
- Water features, including fountains and pools
- Retaining walls
- Dog parks
- Planters and plant installation
The materials used in hardscaping vary, but can often include metal, wood and stone. Usually, materials that can withstand the elements and continue to look good year after year are ideal for hardscaping in commercial landscape design.
Other Elements of Landscape Design
You might not think about snow and ice removal as a part of landscape design, but it is. Ice removal from walkways will ensure people can safely get from their cars to the door of your buildings without slipping. Removing snow from parking lots and walkways means people can easily enter and exit your property.
Another essential but often overlooked element of landscape design is lighting. While having a well-light walkway and exterior is necessary for safety, lighting also plays an aesthetic role. For example, the right lighting can make a patio or seating area look downright dazzling at night.
If you’re ready to take advantage of the benefits of landscape design for your commercial property, but aren’t sure where to begin, Complete Landscaping Service is here to help. We provide premium landscaping design services to businesses in Maryland, northern Virginia and Washington D.C. at competitive prices.
To learn more about how landscape design can increase the value of your rentals or get more customers in the door, contact us today.