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Opinion: How to integrate landscaping in construction projects

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For commercial construction, the emphasis frequently leans toward structural elements.

However, as industry professionals, we understand that effective landscaping is not merely an aesthetic addition – it’s a strategic component that can profoundly influence a project’s long-term success and the tenant’s satisfaction.

Beyond beautification
Landscaping goes beyond mere beautification.

It’s about optimizing spaces for both form and function. Whether it’s creating effective privacy barriers, facilitating pedestrian movement or ensuring shade in strategic areas, the design should fulfill tangible purposes aligned with the project’s objectives.

Make a plan
A good site plan should include:

  1. Privacy and screening. Use hedges, trees and shrubs to shield unsightly areas like dumpsters, storage units or utility boxes, and to create privacy barriers between adjacent properties or public areas.
  2. Temperature regulation. Plant trees and shrubs strategically to provide shade, reducing the heat island effect that causes increased temperatures in urban areas, as well as cooling building exteriors, which can lead to energy savings inside.
  3. Traffic guidance. Design pathways and plant borders and other landscape features to direct foot traffic and guide visitors to entrances or other focal points.
  4. Noise reduction. Use thick shrubs, trees and earth berms to act as natural sound barriers, dampening traffic noise or sounds from neighboring properties.
  5. Stormwater management. Incorporate rain gardens, permeable paving and swales to manage runoff, reduce flooding and promote groundwater recharge.
  6. Windbreaks. Plant rows of trees or shrubs to shield against strong winds, which can reduce heating costs in colder months.
  7. Parking shade. Use trees in parking lots to provide shade, reducing the heat absorbed by asphalt and keeping parked vehicles cooler.
  8. Safety and security. Strategically place plants and lighting to eliminate hiding spots and improve visibility, deterring potential intruders and helping staff to feel safe.
  9. Erosion control. Use groundcovers, grasses and other plants on slopes to hold soil in place and prevent erosion.
  10. Zoning and regulation compliance. Design landscapes that meet local green space requirements, buffer mandates or other zoning regulations.
  11. Employee well-being. Create green relaxation zones or outdoor break areas, which can boost employee morale and productivity.
  12. Branding and image. Design landscapes that align with a company’s brand or image, making a statement about environmental responsibility or aesthetic values.
  13. Wildlife habitat. Incorporate native plants and features like ponds to support local wildlife, promoting biodiversity.
  14. Sustainable resource management. Implement xeriscaping or other water-saving techniques to conserve resources, especially in drought-prone areas.

Budget constraints
While we’d all love unlimited resources, budget constraints are a reality. Engaging with experienced landscape professionals early on provides a realistic cost framework.

If budgetary limitations arise, a phased approach that prioritizes core elements can be a pragmatic solution.

Functional aspect
As we navigate Springfield’s dynamic construction sector, it’s clear that landscaping is more than just an add-on.

It’s an integral component that, when executed strategically, elevates the overall value and functionality of our projects.

Kevin Runyon owns Custom Creations Landscaping & Lawn LLC. He can be reached at kevin@customcreations417.com.

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