There's no way around it. Short-term thinking kills landscape budgets, costs you time and effort and, in the end, zaps you right in your curb appeal.
Properties with a beautiful curbside manner generate higher rents per foot and retain higher occupancies. However, an investment made to create an appealing curbside can be an expensive drain if it does nor employ multi-year strategies and long-term landscape planning. Long-term planning need not be difficult. It can be as easy as partnering with a landscape maintenance company that understands your business as thoroughly as it understands the business of plants.
Use a planning period to get to know the landscape company you have hired. Pay attention to the questions they ask or don't ask about your business, and make sure the result is a controlled plan for landscape spending that rakes into account both the short- and long-term needs of your property.
Plan Before Planting
Landscape planning (for existing landscapes, as well as new installations) should begin with your vision for the property and the look and feel you believe will add the most value to your customers. What are your high traffic areas and what should they look like? Where do you need to install windbreaks or landscape areas for safety?
The keys to good planning are priorities and sequence--you can't do everything at once. You may want to invest in everything, but with a systematic review of your options, you can make a lot more progress than you might expect. Distribute your expenses toward high-visibility spaces, such as entryways, signage, public and open areas and walkways, and away from low-priority areas. Some managers want their entrances to be living billboards that increase traffic to their buildings and differentiate them from their competitors' locations.
Property managers with multiple locations may wish to establish a common brand image for each site, tying each property to the next with similar colors and designs. All of these are high-visibility projects that should fully repay your investment. Non-essential areas, on the other hand, should have the barest of budget dollars expended to simply keep them neat and safe. You will want to have a multi-year plan and each year a very specific annual plan that should be embedded in your overall budget.
Timing is also a critical element of long-term landscape planning. For fiscal reasons, your...