For many businesses located in regions that experience seasonal extremes, such as New England, landscape design for commercial properties can present a particularly vexing challenge. What’s the best way to design and maintain a landscape that can not only provide a vibrant, colorful environment during the summer months but also easily handle the snow loads and bleak conditions of winter that most commercial properties experience?
The most efficient strategy includes utilizing herbaceous plants (like groundcovers, perennials, and even annuals) that will die back in winter, enabling safe snow storage without fear of damaging sensitive branching that is trying to survive, while exposed to harsh conditions. Choose plants that enable landscape areas to undergo a vibrant transformation come springtime, emerging green and colorful when winter’s snow piles have melted. Ideally, the plants will also provide transitional color in the fall as they ready themselves for winter.
Mulching a bed of ornamental grasses in early spring after the area was used as snow storage all winter.
Tips to prepare your commercial landscape for the summer months
The biggest problem facing commercial landscapes in the summer is keeping the land looking fresh and lush when drought sets in. Often times commercial landscapes have amplified heat due to the use of so much asphalt. By choosing herbaceous plants, like ornamental grasses, that will handle hot, dry conditions around parking lot areas with minimal irrigation, commercial sites can mitigate the "heat island" effect and keep the property looking healthy and vibrant even when it is super hot. This solution also ensures that there is room for snow loads on the opposite side of the year.
A bed of Panicum virgatum 'Shenandoah' that line the riverway and fill what used to be a snow storage area in the winter.
Tips to prepare your commercial landscape for the winter months
The biggest problem facing commercial landscapes is what to do with all the snow that must be plowed off parking lots and shoveled off sidewalks. Big piles of snow, break branches and crush shrubs while salt and sand damage or even kill sensitive plants and lawn areas leaving a dirty and ugly mess.
Shenanadoah Switch Grass in its fall expression one month before being cut down to make room for snow storage