As our economy gradually re-opens in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there are a number of new rules that business and retail property owners must follow to create safe spaces. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines social distancing as staying at least 6 feet away from others, and avoiding gatherings in private or public places. So, we are seeing shops and stores place stickers on the ground to guide guests. Hand sanitizer is strategically placed. In New York City, face mask vending machines are cropping up, and it is possible we will see this convenience move to suburban communities.
Reopening is critical to restore the economy. But to do so, property managers must follow the CDC’s guidelines. The good news is, you can promote social distancing with landscape enhancements and outdoor improvements that allow people to enjoy your space. In fact, there is no better place for social distance than the outside, and property managers that leverage their outdoor spaces could attract more business.
Here are five landscaping ideas with social distancing in mind to consider for your commercial New York, Connecticut or New Jersey property.
#1 Measure 6-Foot Social Distance with Planters
Many retailers have set limits for how many shoppers can enter their stores at one time. Everyone else must wait their turn outside—and they are encouraged to maintain the safe, 6-foot social distance. Rather than cluttering your walkways with tape Xs or stringing line to create a makeshift cue—both of which degrade curb appeal—why not use container plantings as guides?
Try setting larger containers every 12 feet. You can place a small chalk hash mark in between or simply note the larger distance. Since most of us understand the 6-foot rule, visitors will recognize where it is appropriate to stand in between or at the container markings. If you happen to have a landscape bed running along an entrance, plant annuals at a 6-foot distance and place a professional sign to explain. Why not be creative and say something like “Grow healthier, stay 6 feet apart.”
#2 Enhance Signage in the Landscape
Businesses and retailers are posting social distancing guidelines so everyone understands what is expected. But signage doesn’t have to be an eyesore that detracts from the overall appearance of your commercial property. Instead, look into painted wood signs that can be visibly placed yet blend with the natural environment. Landscape around the sign by incorporating anchor plans like evergreens or ornamental grasses, along with perennials that bloom in phases so there’s a constant stream of color. Landscape lighting will illuminate important messages after dusk.
#3 Space Out Patio Seating
Restaurants and lifestyle centers that offer comfortable seating to relax also can assure that these sitting spots are safe places to gather while social distancing. Again, spacing is the key with that 6-foot rule in mind. If your seating is mostly communal or involves benches and love-seat sized furniture, consider incorporating more single chairs that are arranged in a group to promote a healthy get-together. Another way to establish separate spaces is to place cantilever umbrellas over seating areas that are appropriately placed. This will show guests some parameters for their social circle.
#4 Establish Natural Walls
Trellises with climbing plants create natural walls that can separate seating areas, so guests feel a sense of privacy and peace of mind as we begin to get out into the world more following stay-at-home orders. Another option is cubicle style partitions with potted plants. Or, place large containers with tall evergreen or ornamental grasses in between seating spaces. These can serve as a natural barrier that is airy yet lets guests know the boundaries.
#5 Enhance Hand Sanitizer Stations
Hand sanitizer is an essential for businesses, retailers and restaurants that are re-opening. Since you must provide this for employees and guests, why not find a way to do it in an attractive way that will not spoil the look of your landscape and property? Improve the appearance of hand sanitizer stations by incorporating seasonal color in pots placed by the stand. You might decide to build permanent stations that blend with patio furniture or surrounding landscape features. If you provide hand sanitizer by seating areas, treat it like a table setting and garnish a tray with the sanitizer in a pleasing pump along with a vibrant flower arrangement.
Re-Open Your Great Outdoors with Enhanced Safe Spaces
We’re in this together, and we’re working closely with our commercial clients to help them follow CDC protocols in their outdoor spaces. Let’s talk about how you can improve the appearance of your property while giving guests a way to social distance.
The same services you enjoy from Neave Landscape Management are still available as we emerge from the pandemic. Our staff has adopted necessary protocols to keep you safe and healthy. If you’re new to Neave, ask us about a free property assessment. Existing clients, we look forward to continuing to service your property.