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 for 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 (look out for Part 2 of this article, “Executing Your Landscape Budget Planning” 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 much 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 for emergency clean-up so that you can address any damage. When you don’t need to use this money, put it into savings instead of relocating it. 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 essential to consider how your property will look 5 or 10 years down the road and the immediate impact. Then, budget according to your strategy.
Packing a bunch of large trees or bushes in a small area won’t work a few years down the line. Planting saplings next to buildings without considering the species root structure could result in structural damage. Knowing the average life span for specific 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 a long time.
4. Think Sustainably
Take into account your local climate. 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 modify 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. Look for Part 2 of this article, “Executing Your Landscape Budget Planning” in the coming weeks.