Let’s face it, Covid-19 has redefined “health and safety” means. Businesses have adopted protocols like masking and social distancing—not to mention bringing in an abundance of plexiglass to protect guests and workers. Some of us have started using technologies we never used before, while others have expanded the way we “meet” virtually. If you’re not focused on health and safety these days—well, you’re not in business.
This raises an important point for property managers who are planning landscape enhancements and maintenance for the coming season, and beyond.
Covid-19 or not, what essential landscape maintenance must take place for you to assure guests, employees, residents or anyone stepping on to your commercial site that they are safe?
We have five ideas.
Stopping the Spread—Outdoors, Included
First, let’s tackle the obvious that simply cannot be ignored in the New Normal. Anyone working on your property, inside or out, should be following CDC protocols. The crews that mow your lawn, prune shrubs, spread mulch or perform any bit of maintenance on your New York, New Jersey or Connecticut commercial landscape should be socially distanced, wearing masks, and sanitizing/cleaning all trucks, tools and equipment frequently. You should have the option to meet virtually with an account manager and participate in video walk-throughs of your property to discuss enhancements or issues.
>>The Take-Away: Ask your landscape service provider for a copy of their Covid-19 response protocols, in writing.
Prevent Slip-and-Fall Accidents
Winter in the Northeast means slippery conditions, and falls are a serious liability for property owners. There are more than 30,000 slip and fall accidents related to snow each year. You can’t control whether guests walk with caution or sport proper footwear for the weather. But you can do snow and ice management by partnering with a professional that is responsive and provides a comprehensive strategy for keeping your sidewalks, walkways, driveways and parking lots clear.
>>The Take-Away: Ask your snow and ice contractor if the company is an insured member of the Accredited Snow Contractors Association and ISO 9001 / SN 9001 certified. This is an indication of high standards for safety and professionalism.
As we move closer to spring, before trees bloom and shrubs bare new growth is the time to perform pruning landscape plants to remove branches that block views or could create a hazard. For example, dead, dying and diseased branches are more likely to snap, fall and cause property damage—or worse, hurt someone.
>>The Take-Away: Enlist in a professional to evaluate your trees and shrubs to determine whether formative pruning or crown reduction is necessary.
Expand Outdoor Gathering Spaces
The way we shop, dine, work and gather with friends and family has changed—and we think many of the new best practices could be here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. Commercial properties that want to stay open and attract guests or tenants need to take into consideration landscaping for social distancing. For some sites, this means re-configuring entrances and common areas so they are still welcoming and functional, yet adhere to protocols. For example, this may require opening up a cramped entryway or common area to allow for more open-air space for guests.
It can also include incorporating plants and landscape features as a way to set aesthetically pleasing boundaries such as dividing up an outdoor dining space with “green walls.” Does your commercial property lack outdoor space for guests? Most of us feel more comfortable dining or gathering outdoors, if given the option. Plan now for spring and the warmer weather ahead.
>>The Take-Away: As you plan landscape enhancements for the coming season, take stock of how your property functions for guests, employees and tenants. Does it allow for safe social distancing? Could you be attracting more business to your commercial property with more outdoor spaces that give people peace of mind?
Extend Your Hours Outdoors
Weather can be a deterrent for outdoor gathering in the Northeast, but there are ways to make your outside spaces more comfortable for guests. You don’t necessarily need the enclosed igloos or greenhouse-like structures to keep outdoor gathering spaces well-lit and warm. Property enhancements like a gas fire pit are inviting, can serve as a focal point of an outdoor “room” on your commercial property, and they emit heat that can take the chill out of cooler evenings.
>>The Take-Away: Features that make guests feel at home on your commercial property like fire pits are multi-functional because they look appealing while offering warmth and additional lighting.
Property Safety Has a Whole New Meaning
We’re not just talking about lighting your parking lot, trimming dead branches and de-icing sidewalks. Now, safety also involves how we work on your property as professionals and how guests can safely visit and enjoy your commercial site, whether it’s a retail center, office park or HOA. Ask us for a free site assessment and we’ll help you plan for essential landscape maintenance and enhancements so you can do business successfully in our New Normal and beyond.