Have you set aside enough money in your annual budget for landscaping? Creating a long term landscaping plan is important for your organization to adequately address your short term needs, achieve your long term goals, and anticipate any surprises that might pop up along the way. A new landscape can change drastically over time, which can have real consequences to your organization if you’re not prepared to address challenges head on.
Bushes need to be replaced, trees can quickly grow out of space, and plants spread, regrow and die over time. Planning for the future is just as important as making an immediate impact.
Creating a long term plan will preserve the visual appeal of your landscape, while keeping your budget on track (read Part 2: Executing Your Landscape Budget for tips to help you stick with your budget). Keep your turf green and your budget in the black with these landscape planning tips.
1. Budgets don’t grow on trees
As a property owner or management company you have a lot on your plate. Juggling responsibilities is no easy task, and doesn’t always leave a lot of time for long term planning. But without a long term landscaping plan you’ll find yourself hit with unexpected costs, and diminishing appeal to tenants. Weather events like droughts, floods and storms can seriously damage a property’s landscape (learn more about what the 2013 ice storm did to Toronto’s budget). Each year, set aside money to emergency clean up so that you can address any damage. When you don’t need to use this money, instead of relocating it simply put it into savings. When the time comes to need it (and it eventually will) you’ll be happy to have it.
Creating a long term plan doesn’t mean that you won’t have any flexibility, it just means that instead of dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars on complete overhauls every five years, you can spend a fraction of that annually and enjoy better landscaping (and all the benefits that go along with it) every year. Landscaping plans don’t make themselves, so in addition to your landscaping provider you’ll have to coordinate with tenants, owners and in some cases your municipality to create a comprehensive multi-year plan. This approach may take some time, but it will pay off with more green in your budget and on your property.
2. Take natural development into account
Plants grow older, bigger, and then die. It is part of nature and unavoidable. Some plants can be pruned to stay the same size, but nothing can prevent them from eventually dying when they’ve reached the end of their life cycle. When planning landscape maintenance and landscaping projects it’s important to consider how your property will look 5 or 10 years down the road as well as the immediate impact. Then, budget according to your strategy.
Packing a bunch of large trees or bushes in a small area simply won’t work a few years down the line. Planting saplings next to buildings without taking into account the species root structure could result in structural damage. Knowing the average life span for certain species will allow you to accurately budget to replace them when the time comes. There is nothing worse than having to rip out trees and shrubs without the funds to replace them.
3. Commit to regular maintenance
Committing to regular maintenance keeps your property in top shape year after year. Waiting until something goes wrong, or only budgeting for major overhauls will cost more in the long run. Regular maintenance also allows for continuous improvements. Rather than making a massive change every few years, regular maintenance makes it possible to make incremental changes that keep your property looking trimmed and professional in the short term, while transforming it slowly over the long term.
4. Think sustainably
Take into account your local climate. Here in Southern Ontario long term planning means thinking about the effects of the harsh winter months, whereas in hotter climates drought is a serious concern.
It’s also important to stay on top of any government grants or tax breaks for companies committed to sustainable landscaping practices. Ensure your landscape plan leaves room in the budget to make modifications to your property to meet the requirements of future tax or grant programs. It’s important to schedule some time to sit down with your landscape management company to set a realistic short and long term budget that will guide your landscape strategy now and in the future. Doing so will save you money and keep your property looking great year after year. Next: Find out how to stick to your budget, even when nature’s natural disasters throw you a curveball.
Written by Paul Lammers
Paul Lammers is the vice-president of operations with Garden Grove Landscaping. Garden Grove provides Commercial Landscape Management Services across the Golden Horseshoe, GTA and Southwestern Ontario. Paul may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-996-1099.