The value of properly managed landscapes goes well beyond what meets the eye. While they enhance the natural beauty of the surrounding environment and provide a warm welcome to visitors, proper landscape design and maintenance also play a critical role in ensuring the safety of your property and those who frequent it.
Here are six safety benefits properly managed landscapes can provide:
1. Clear traffic and pedestrian pathways. Shrub lines along walkways, well-placed trees and other landscape features provide directional cues and create clear lines of vision necessary for the safe and efficient flow of traffic and pedestrian movement. In the case of foot traffic, trees and shrubs should always be properly pruned so they don’t obstruct or create tripping hazards on walkways.
2. Crime deterrence. By illuminating what might otherwise be dark areas after nightfall, good outdoor lighting helps reduce criminal activity on and around the property. It also provides the added benefits of increasing visibility on walkways and crosswalks for safe passage by pedestrians, as well as visually accenting landscape features.
3. Fire-hazard reduction. When designed appropriately, landscapes can provide fire breaks and alternative water sources—should they be needed in the event of a fire emergency—as well as drivable green spaces that can allow emergency vehicles to reach parts of the property not readily accessible by paved roads.
4. Privacy and green fencing. Dense landscaping is Mother Nature’s natural fence. Hedges, for example, can be used very practically to keep people away from certain areas such as near first-floor windows or spaces with electrical and telecom boxes.
5. Proper water management. Healthy landscapes absorb unhealthy runoff but, in the event of a storm, a property can be deluged with rain, resulting in pooling water and related hazards. Landscape professionals can create good drainage and runoff options to prevent slippery and wet conditions on walks and drives.
6. Curbing of uninvited guests. While outdoor seating and gathering areas are a great perk for tenants and visitors, if your building is near a bus or shuttle stop, consider incorporating additional benches, tables and chairs in shady areas around the periphery of your property. Providing an outside space where people can wait and get out of the sun—especially in the hot summer months—will mean fewer unknown visitors gathering inside the building to stay cool.
These safety benefits are just some of the many factors to consider in the planning, upkeep and enhancement of a commercial property landscape. While important, think beyond the visual and environmental aspects that are typically top of mind. Be sure to consult a landscape company about how elements within an outdoor space can benefit a commercial property.
Missy Henriksen is vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals. You can learn more at LoveYourLandscape.org.
Image: The Davey Tree Expert Company, a member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals.
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