In Focus: Reshaping the Landscape of Commercial Facilities
You might think landscaping an industrial property is fairly simple — a few shrubs here, a tree or two there. In reality, professional landscaping for Class A buildings is an art and science that requires careful planning, correct installation, and strict maintenance. That’s because landscaping can do more than just enhance a building’s exterior. If done right, landscaping can also improve energy efficiency and make the environment more pleasant for workers and visitors. The economic rewards are not bad either; good landscaping can boost a property’s value by up to 15 percent.
Kelli Delozier, VP of Real Estate Management, IDI (Q2 / Spring 2013)

{{RELATEDLINKS}} Essential Elements
A comprehensive landscaping plan has many elements, each with its own visual and functional purposes. The three primary elements are vegetation, landforms, and water features.

Vegetation consists of trees, shrubs, ground covers, annuals, perennials, vines, and turf. Strategically placed, they can add visual interest, deflect wind, control erosion, and reduce noise around the building. The shade vegetation provides can lower temperatures, which reduces the demand on air-conditioning systems. Foliage and shade also soften glare and reflection from man-made materials. Finally, vegetation naturally removes dust and pollutants from the air and provides habitats for wildlife nesting, shelter, and food.

Landforms are elements such as earth berms, terracing, and retaining walls. When designed in harmony with the site’s natural topography and architecture, they can create spatial enclosures, screen undesirable areas from view, and reinforce architectural forms and features. These structures can create useable areas on slopes, which preserves vegetation, minimizes grading requirements, and offers visual interest in strategic sites on the property.

Water features include ponds, lakes, fountains, and pools located along green space corridors or in plazas. Aesthetically pleasing water features provide visual enjoyment and create focal points in the landscape. Functional benefits include masking vehicle and equipment noises, providing a localized cooling effect, providing onsite storm water retention and detention facilities, and reducing the demand for potable water resources.

What To Consider
Quality, low-maintenance landscaping is very market-specific and site-specific. Among the variables that must factor into landscaping plans are local and state regulations affecting everything from irrigation to the percentage of native plants required in various locations. Other issues to consider when choosing vegetation and other elements include:

Landscaping should not be an afterthought, but rather a part of your facility’s blueprint.