Preparing for landscaping this spring.
By Scott Milnes
As snow continues to fall in many areas at a record-setting pace, it seems that spring is a hopeless anticipation. Although the green season may seem distant to some of us, it truly is just around the corner. As the snow begins to melt, the damage caused by winter weather will become apparent in your landscaping.
The hectic holiday rush is over and now you must focus on those New Year’s resolutions you have set, as well as implementing your master plan. In addition to store displays and marketing plans, you have a myriad of other concerns to be fully prepared for the spring season. Among the most important is to ensure that your exterior services are under control.
Why is this so crucial? Study after study has shown that the first step in attracting customers is to ensure that your facility presents eye-catching curb appeal that is distinct from your competition. In addition, the last thing you want is to lose customers because of aesthetic issues. The winter holidays may be over but the spring season represents a significant portion of your sales. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, President’s Day or Easter, you need to ensure that you are drawing the customer to your location.
How do the exteriors of your facilities look? Do your exteriors present an appealing draw to customers? If not, there is much to do in the spring season to set your location apart from the competition. If your locations are like most, there are improvements and enhancements needed to guarantee appealing storefronts. Winter has taken a toll on most exteriors or they have simply been neglected due to the demands of the “back to school” rush through holiday season. In addition to repairing winter damage, there are typically concerns with the overall grounds and irrigation activation.
The attention needed by your exteriors is referred to as a spring cleanup. There are a number of items that will usually need to be addressed in the spring to ensure proper curb appeal.
• Winter Damage: In northern climates, the effects of winter can be devastating to a store’s exterior. Ice damage to trees, frost heaving and the weathered look of the landscape can significantly diminish your curb appeal. Corrective pruning will often be needed along with possible plant replacement.
• Mulch Replenishment: If your facility uses organic mulch in the landscape, it is likely weathered and no longer presents an attractive appearance. Mulch replenishment is usually completed in the spring for maximum aesthetic benefit and to ensure the best value to the facility.
• Plant Replacement & Enhancement: An overview of your landscape is a good idea to make sure all is in order. Now is the time to correct any deficiencies like plant replacement and make any planned enhancements to increase your curb appeal.
• Power Washing & Parking Lots: In addition to mulch replenishment and enhancements, a careful eye should be placed upon your building exterior and parking areas. Are they safe? Do they present a clean, appealing look? Now is the time to address these issues. Parking lots should also be evaluated for damage that might have occurred from snow plowing over the winter.
• Irrigation Activation: This is perhaps the most important step and is often the most forgotten. Unfortunately, damage to your irrigation system may go unnoticed — causing additional headaches further into the spring as the moisture in the soil disappears and your curb appeal rapidly deteriorates without proper irrigation. This spring, be sure to have your irrigation system inspected and repaired in order to ensure a green landscape as spring turns to summer and soil moisture reduces. To ensure curb appeal, it is important to get off on the right foot. A functional and working irrigation system ensures that your plant life is healthy and in good condition. Damage to an irrigation system will likely occur during the winter and a complete diagnosis is recommended to ensure the system is running properly.
Water is Key
Depending on the weather in your area, the optimal time to begin inspecting and repairing your irrigation system is at the first sign of spring and the ground temperatures allow for it. Regions with an increased risk of damage as a result of heavy snowfall and freezes should begin the process as soon as possible, since repairing severe damage to the system may take additional time. The same holds true for any system that may have been winterized improperly or not at all.
Inspecting for winter damage is best handled by a professional with the proper knowledge and experience to recognize problems in the system. Here are the basic steps an expert will perform in the re-activation process:
• Inspection of motors, engines and control boxes for wiring damage.
• Removal of end caps to flush system of debris, insects or small animals that may have accumulated during the winter and could potentially clog sprinkler heads.
• Replenishment of water into irrigation system.
• Examination of sprinklers for signs of leakage in pipes and drains.
• Replacement or repair of any needed accessible parts.
• System adjustment for proper coverage and time.
• Pressure assessment.
• Final inspection for breaks or leaks and lubrication of all specified areas.
Once the inspection process is completed and necessary repairs are made, your irrigation system should be equipped to handle all your irrigation needs until you winterize next fall.
If at any point, you feel there may be a problem with your irrigation system, contact a professional immediately. As with most complications, small trouble areas can intensify when left unattended, causing additional time, money and headaches when finally addressed. Your irrigation system is the backbone of your landscape and your curb appeal. Without proper care, your exteriors — and your bottom line — may suffer the consequences.
— Scott Milnes is the president of DENTCO®, the nation’s first Exterior Services Management® company. Milnes’ career includes more than 20 years in hospitality management.