By Linda Day Harrison, theBrokerList, Chicago, IL
As a property manager, you hire landscapers or onsite staff to care for your grounds because proper greenery can really increase the property’s value. But how much do you know about plants and how much time do you spend learning how to incorporate plants into your property? Here is a list of things every property manager needs to know about plants, along with some inspiring thoughts to save money and create community spirit!
Annuals – Plants that grow for one single season.
Perennials – Plants that will return year after year.
Ground cover – A plant that is low growing and generally prolific (i.e., it spreads). Ground cover is great for the base of other plants as an accent. Also, depending on the area of the property, it can hide ugly areas or hard-to-grow spaces. Grass is one of the most successful ground covers, especially if you want a tall grass look. Grass comes in a ton of varieties, so do a little research on what you want before you lay the seed.
Zones – A zone refers to your climatic region; you need to know your zone when shopping for plants, shrubs, and trees. Each region has a number, and that number is vital to understanding what plants will work in your zone and what plants won’t. For example, if you live in an area with harsh winters and you want your plants to return the following year, you may want your plants to be covered for Zone 5a/5b. Check out your zone number here.
Water – Caring for your plants should be as low maintenance as possible, but obviously plants need water to become established and in times of drought. Don’t throw money away by installing a new plant and then forgetting about it. That is wasteful to your property owner! Water new plants diligently the first year. That way the plant will come back and require little to no water the following year (subject to your climate). If a drought occurs, do the best you can to remember the plants, even if some areas have water restrictions.
Exposure – If you’ve put a plant in a certain location on your property and it’s not doing well, more than likely it is due to poor placement. Time after time I find plants placed in areas with tons of shade, when in fact they should be in areas that receive a massive amount of sun. If you are not sure about the best location for a plant, look to the Internet for a quick answer. Every variety has a detailed description on what exposure is best. Follow what the plant description describes and simply relocate the plant. If the plant is struggling, consider moving it to a container and giving it some tender loving care for a while. Once it regains its strength, move it to the new location and water, water, water! The last thing anyone wants to see on a property is a dead or struggling plant!
Money Saving & Community Building Tips:
Grow Your Own – There are beautiful plants that spread so prolifically that you can literally place a single plant in a certain area of the property and use that spot as an incubator to grow more plants each year for future areas, thus saving your property money on future plant expenses. Examples include plants such as hostas, coneflowers, lamiums, daylilies, salvia varieties, wildflower varieties, tall grasses, and sedums. Not only do these plants save you money outside, around your property’s grounds, but these prolific plants can also save money on decorative plants used inside, in lobbies and other common areas.
Seeds – If your property has no money for plantings or landscapers on a grand scale, consider buying seeds. Creating a beautiful landscape when money is tight can be done with seeds. I always like to plant the seeds in small pots and watch the little sprouts very closely. If you live in an active community, it’s easy to get your residents involved. Find volunteers to help watch the sprouts and water them. Once grown, move them to larger pots until the little plants are established and strong enough to be put into the ground. You can also find custodians and other staff members to get involved to help nurture the plants. You will be surprised by how many folks who live or work on your properties have a green thumb. Before you know it, for a few dollars you will have large, full-grown plants!
Flower or Vegetable Gardens – If you have a property with land to spare, consider organizing a community garden. Give the residents the space and a community storage shed or closet to store tools and supplies. Let everyone get involved and create a garden for everyone to share. Grow plants or vegetables for the property or a nearby homeless shelter. This is a great way to grow more plants for the property, and it’s also a great resident activity.
Plants can really bring a property to life. Properly kept grounds can make your property very inviting to new and existing residents. It also shows owners that you take the extra initiative to make their properties look as attractive as possible, which only makes you look more marketable to other potential owners. Plants can be a property manager’s best friends!