So you’ve been tasked with drawing up a budget for your company’s landscaping needs. Where to start?
Of course you want your commercial landscape to look its best. But you also need to be realistic about expenses. Above all, you want to steer clear of any budgeting decisions that may backfire and cause unnecessary expenses or unsatisfactory results.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common mistakes we’ve seen when it comes to commercial landscape budget planning.
Overlooking The Importance Of Safety
Regardless of the size of your property or commercial landscaping budget, pedestrian safety and security should always be your No. 1 priority. Even the most austere commercial landscaping budget should include regular service with an eye to loss prevention.
This includes identifying and addressing trip hazards such as sunken sprinkler heads, heaving pavement, and fallen limbs; dead limb removal; trimming back overgrown areas to maintain visibility and minimize places for would-be assailants to hide; leak prevention; and correcting situations such as erosion and ice formation that could contribute to injury and/or property loss.
Budgeting For A Static Landscape
Unlike many aspects of property maintenance, a landscape is a constantly changing, dynamic system. Anticipating your landscape’s changing needs is critical if you want to create a realistic budget.
For instance, an area of turf that is super strong 3-5 years after installation may be shaded out in 15 years. At that point you can’t maintain the same level of service and expect it to keep looking good.
As time goes by, trees may need thinning and pruning. Shrubs need trimming or replacing. Turf areas need renovation. Sidewalks can get encroached on, windows covered, security cameras obscured.
You should also plan ahead for the unexpected. Ice storms, floods, wild hogs, snow, tornadoes, and other such events are bound to happen, and often result in the need for extra landscaping care.
Always include a place in your budget for clean-up of debris, including cleaning storm drains, unclogging gutters, limb removal, occasional sidewalk deicing, and similar services.
Living In The Past
It’s natural once you’ve occupied your building for a number of years to no longer notice how it looks. You see it every day and there is a tendency to take its appearance for granted.
Never forget that your customers are seeing your building for the first time — and that your landscape is usually their very first impression of your company. It’s also the last thing they see when they leave, and will leave a lasting impression on them.
It’s an undeniable fact that people are visual beings, and do judge first by appearances. Tired old landscaping indicates tired old thought patterns.
Like that old restaurant analogy Mom always used to say: “If the outside looks tired and the bathroom looks dirty you know what the kitchen looks like.”
That green prickly holly hedge you’ve had forever just won’t cut it anymore if you want to align your outer appearance with your brand.
Failing To Upgrade Your Irrigation System
People usually only notice their irrigation system if there’s a problem. But irrigation has advanced so much in the past decade, we’re encouraging people to consider proactively upgrading their irrigation systems.
In many areas now water efficiency is becoming mandated. Even where it’s not, an upgrade will probably save you significant amounts on your water bill.
Innovations like more efficient heads and smart controllers deliver the right amount of water precisely when and where you need it. These systems both save water and allow your plants to thrive instead of just survive. Usually irrigation enhancements deliver a really nice return on investment.
Missing The Big Picture
It’s easy to make budgeting judgements based solely on your P&L statement. But before you do, we encourage you to expand your vision of how your landscape can serve your company.
Take employee comfort, for example. At a minimum, making sure employees have safe access to entrances and parking is critical to employee retention. Providing them a nice place to relax outside can help improve morale and productivity, and even contribute to reduced turnover and increased employee loyalty.
In the same way, consider what’s important to both your employees and your customers when planning your landscaping budget. What are their ethics? People today expect the companies they work for and do business with to ‘walk the walk.’ Sustainability matters — your landscape is a natural place to demonstrate your willingness to take action.
By taking the big picture approach, you can make decisions that make a real difference not just on your P&L statement but on your balance sheet.
Assuming You Can't Afford Nice Landscaping
Small budgets are a reality, especially for small companies and start-ups. However, if your contractor has high level designers on staff, you might be surprised at how far they can help you stretch your budget.
A good design pro will take a real architectural approach to design and do more with less. Minimalist approaches can actually produce stunning results. Consider phasing as well; your landscape professional may be able to give you a better deal on services performed outside the busy season.
For instance, you may be able to get reduced pricing by having planting done in December when landscape companies are struggling to keep their employees busy, rather than in June when crews are working overtime.
If your budget is small you often can have your cake and eat it, too — just not at the same time!
Prioritizing Your Commercial Landscaping Budget
So in conclusion, commercial landscape budget planning should always include:
Safety — be sure to budget for regular inspections and hazard removal.
Routine maintenance — such as mowing, trimming, and pruning.
Renovation — a portion of the budget should be dedicated to landscape, irrigation, and lighting replacement, renovation, and repair.
Emergency services — hold a portion of your budget in reserve for the unexpected.
In addition, you may want to also budget for:
Irrigation system upgrades — if you have an older system, switching to high-efficiency irrigation equipment can pay for itself in short order.
Seasonal enhancements — such as colorful, blooming annuals.
Special events, special sales, charitable events, fun runs and other athletic events, visiting dignitaries and the like — this may require the addition of blooming plants or other enhancements, and/or special cleanup and renovation afterwards.
Still wondering how you’re going to pull together a commercial landscaping budget that makes sense for your company? We’re happy to help. Give us a call at 478-750-7733, or contact us online and one of our commercial landscaping experts will be in touch with you right away.
Images: Pedestrians, Ice damaged tree