As spring’s warmer weather sets in, many companies direct their attention toward sprucing up the landscaping—perhaps with new plantings or just reviving the existing plant material surrounding the building. Although planting and maintaining the exterior landscape can add to the overall aesthetics of a building, it’s not without challenges. Often at the top of the list is adhering to local watering restrictions or irrigation rules set by property management.
With the proper research, and by selecting the appropriate plants and an effective irrigation system, it’s possible to accomplish what many consider to be conflicting goals—a beautiful landscape and reduced water usage. Choosing regionally appropriate landscaping materials may require a bit more effort initially; but, can greatly reduce the long-term cost of maintaining the landscape and ensure proper water requirements.
Chose the appropriate plants for your local environment and water conditions
When selecting plant material, it’s best to stick with what thrives in your local climate zone. In other words, think twice about planting exotics, like palm trees, in an area outside of Florida or Southern California. The plants may grow initially, but if they are outside of their hardiness zone, they could soon begin to fail, and will require far more maintenance to stay healthy. Unfortunately, they will inevitably fail, creating more work and additional cost in replacement plant materials and labor.
Once a list of native plants has been narrowed down based on “grow zone”, select the plants that require the least amount of watering, which will significantly reduce long-term maintenance costs.
See if xeriscaping is an option
Xeriscaping, or landscaping with elements that require little to no watering, has become a popular alternative to traditional landscaping methods in many parts of the country. Although it represents a major change in landscape appearance, xeriscaping will absolutely reduce water consumption. There are several methods of xeriscaping, many of which involve replacing turf with landscaping pebbles (rocks). If you can get past the lack of green in the yard, the impact on water cost will be substantial. However, you should consult with your property’s management association to verify that proposed landscaping changes do not violate any rules.
Research the latest irrigation system technology
Planting new landscaping may be a one-time expense, but its watering and maintenance will be an ongoing expenditure. It may be worthwhile to research efficient irrigation systems that measure soil moisture levels and provide water based on need rather than on a prescribed schedule.
Moisture-sensing irrigation systems rely on sensors that are placed at a specific depth below the surface of the soil throughout a property and can be set at a specific / desired moisture level. When the soil moisture dips below the set level, it will activate the sprinkler system. Since these systems provide water only when needed (as opposed to watering on a daily or weekly timer) they can significantly reduce water usage - often by more than 40 percent. An added benefit of systems which operate on soil moisture is that they are often exempt from local watering restrictions. (Always check with local water management authorities to confirm if you will still need to manage watering on specific days. If your area does not exempt soil monitoring systems, most systems also provide daily restrictions to allow you to comply with local regulations.) The initial investment in a moisture-sensing irrigation system is not substantial, and can typically be recouped within 12 to 18 months.
Landscaping any commercial property can be a major endeavor. But, the benefits of a properly designed and carefully selected landscape are both aesthetic and financial. While region-appropriate plant materials—when properly planted and combined with water-conserving irrigation systems—may cost a bit more initially, the result can be a significant reduction in long-term maintenance cost and water usage. If you select the proper plants for your climate and utilize efficient watering methods, your employees can enjoy the foliage for many seasons to come.