Keep Facility Grounds Safe And Sound

Here are 10 tips for landscape maintenance from lighting and hardscapes to rain, trees, and snow.

By Missy Henriksen
From the October 2019 Issue

Safety is a top priority for commercial landscape management to ensure occupants don’t encounter hazards on their properties. From tree care to snow removal, the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) has tips to make sure facility executives are keeping their properties safe and accessible throughout the year.

1. Check The Property Lights

landscape management
At this facility, a water feature collects rainwater and excess irrigation, and then feeds into a 1,200 gallon water storage tank that recirculates back into the irrigation system. (Photo: Clean Scapes)

Proper lighting is essential in making sure pathways, parking lots, and entrances are visible in all weather conditions and at all times of day. When analyzing property lights, aim to have lighting strategically placed near obstacles such as curbs and doors or to highlight an elevation change in any walkway. Lighting is also a great way to help decrease crime by increasing visibility on the property.

2. Repair Hardscape

It’s important to properly install and repair damaged hardscaping on the property. Cracked sidewalks and pathways are a liability to property owners if someone were to get hurt, so regular maintenance to ensure hardscaping is sturdy is important. Regular checks on hardscapes should be made in high traffic areas as well as after seasonal changes. Ongoing maintenance of hardscaping will increase its longevity and result in fewer safety hazards.

3. Take Care Of The Trees

Trees of all sizes can frame and shape the property beautifully, but unhealthy trees cause a safety risks to occupants, cars, and buildings. Arborists can examine the overall health of trees to ensure they are strong and sturdy to prevent any damage. Regularly pruning trees can decrease the chance of branches falling or interfering in walkways. Lightning protection measures are also something worth considering to help minimize the risk of damage a strike can cause.

4. Clear Walkways

Have a plan to keep walkways on the property clear of all debris. Regular walkway cleanings should be scheduled for times of year that are prone to increase obstructions, like fall and winter, but clearing should also be done on a regular basis to ensure safe travel around the property.

5. Analyze Drainage And Runoff Flows

Rain is inevitable. Appropriate drainage planning is important to keep high traffic areas from pooling or causing dangerous runoff. Lawns and landscaped areas naturally absorb and slow down run off caused by storms. Proper drainage planning with a landscape professional will help the facility handle water appropriately.

6. Direct Foot Traffic

People will always look for the shortest route to get to a destination. Creating direct pathways will prevent potential trips and falls from pedestrians cutting through landscape features as well as keeping property repairs to a minimum. Pay attention to areas of dead grass next to entrances or walkways; this is where people are most likely creating their own paths and eroding the grass.

7. Plan For Snow And Ice

landscape maintenance
Landscape teams should focus on keeping walkways safe for people during snow and ice events. (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Wintertime snow and ice can pose many property hazards, but with proper planning winter problems can be easily avoided. Observing the landscape during months of heavy snow and ice helps facility executives keep note of where ice and snow are more prone to build up and cause obstructions. In the warmer months, plan with professionals the best areas to pile snow and discuss if it should be removed instead. The focus should be placed on making sure walkways and parking lots remain free of ice and snow to ensure safe and easy passage.

8. Create And Maintain Waiting Areas

Creating waiting areas where people can sit outside or wait for transportation will eliminate people congregating in unsafe places on the property. Having these areas helps in maintaining the overall premises, because pedestrians are more likely to gather there. It is beneficial for facilities to add features like lighting and seating and to ensure the areas are clear of debris.

9. Clearly Edge Grass And Pathways

Clearly differentiate edges of pathways and grass on the property with distinct contrasting colors or by adding barriers like shrubs to avoid tripping and falling. Mulching in a contrasting color or adding shrubs to edges not only make the paths clearer but also adds a crisp, clean look to a facility.

10. Walk Through The Land

This commercial landscape is an example of well-done edging, a seating area, and well-kept trees. (Photo: Monarch Landscape)

Take the time to do a walkthrough of the property with your landscape team to assess what works best for the facility. This can help set a plan for the year of what needs more attention and make it easy to find any potential problem areas that can be solved.

Safe Groundskeeping Year-Round

A well-maintained landscape showcases a property and can add anywhere from 15% to 20% or more to its overall value—which makes your facility not only safe for your guests, but also a safer investment. Whether you have an in-house team, hire an outside company or companies, or work with a mix of both, professional expertise will help improve the health and appearance of your property’s grounds. Depending on the need, call on landscape planners, architects, designers, arborists, lawn care technicians, agronomists, and irrigation specialists to help ensure the facility is functional, beautiful, and most of all, safe all year long.

landscape maintenanceHenriksen is the vice president of public affairs for the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). NALP represents an industry that employs nearly one million landscape, lawn care, irrigation, and tree care professionals. Facility management professionals can learn more by visiting

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