In the Greater Chicago area, there’s a big difference between your commercial landscape in the bright, warm summer months and your commercial landscape during those bitter, cold winter months covered in snow and ice.
As your landscape goes through these cycles, it experiences quite a bit – a surge of growth, warm and dry days, transitions, freezes and thaws, and dormancy.
Your job as a facility manager is to keep your commercial property looking sharp each and every month – and we know some months seem easier than others. If you manage a healthcare facility, you can’t risk heightened safety issues if you don’t manage stray branches and clean up trip hazards. If you run a retail facility, you can’t risk looking unkempt during busy shopping seasons. If you oversee an office park or industrial property, those businesses want to look good, and a messy and overgrown landscape isn't acceptable. If you take care of an educational facility, you can’t risk elevated security risks or complaints due to poor aesthetics.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t help the matter by making seasonal transitions more challenging. Managing each month of commercial landscaping takes preparation and planning. What you need is a commercial landscape maintenance checklist to ensure your to-do list is right in front of you and you know what you need to accomplish to stay on track.
The Ideal Commercial Landscaping Maintenance Checklist for Greater Chicago
Preventing problems early on and staying ahead of emerging issues is how you maintain the best commercial property you can get – one that looks professional, reflects a positive image, and stands out from the competition.
As a living, breathing thing, your landscape will always be growing and reacting to weather conditions. Tackling issues while giving it the proper attention will ensure your property never falls into decline.
Here are key items you should never leave off of your landscape maintenance checklist.
March - April
In March, commercial property landscaping begins to kick into higher gear after winter.
It starts with winter repairs. Your commercial landscape professional is looking for branch breakage on trees and shrubs from heavy snow and ice to trim off, as well as winter burn on plants.
Your service expert will remove any plow stakes and look for snow mold potential where the lawn looks matted down. These areas trap moisture and can easily result in disease. Most lawns will recover, but raking out the worst spots can help dry them out, encouraging airflow to get rid of snow mold.
Any turf repair can be done now, too. This usually happens at your lawn edges.
Your commercial landscape professional will also be checking for any salt damage from winter. While salt is essential in helping melt ice, occasionally it can burn your lawn leaving you with some brown spots. The lawn will usually bounce back in spring but a gypsum application can help to balance the soil pH in these areas and help your lawn recover.
Additionally, your landscape service provider will remove leaves and sticks that have littered the ground over winter. They’ll also pick up trash or other debris that was blown into your landscape areas and buried under winter snowfall after things have thawed.
Your cleanup also involves landscape bed preparation. This includes edging the plant beds and applying a pre-emergent herbicide application to tackle those weeds that are best controlled before they burst through your soil. This landscape bed preparation provides an instant makeover on your facility grounds. A mulch application of roughly 2 inches of double-shredded hardwood mulch can suppress weeds, keep your soil temperature even and moist, and improve your soil, as well as adding additional polish to your landscape.
For additional interest and variety, adding annuals for seasonal color can kick off in spring and blend with your bulbs for a fresh, bright spring look.
May - June
Mowing will kick into high gear now with weekly trims.
Pre-emergent herbicides are commonly applied to commercial lawns in the spring to help control those sneaky weeds. This landscape maintenance checklist item provides an extended period of weed control, acting as a safety blanket of sorts.
July - August
Mowing may start to slow down a bit during the hotter summer months.
Now is the time for post-emergent herbicide applications to tackle stubborn weeds that escaped pre-emergent control or broke through on bare lawn areas in commercial lawns. This time of year is also when we watch out for any insect issues.
We’ll also adjust your irrigation system accordingly to ensure it’s working properly and watering your commercial property landscaping adequately.
In summer, your seasonal color can become brighter and more vibrant with blooms that can withstand the heat.
September - October
It’s fall! Now it’s time for fall fertilization on your commercial lawn, as well as leading up to the last few mows. During the final mow, your commercial property landscaping pro cut it just a bit shorter to prevent winter snow mold.
Since your lawn can become compacted from foot and mower traffic and stop absorbing nutrients over time, this is also the perfect time of year for aeration to break up the soil and give your commercial lawn a chance to breathe. If you notice any barren patches or areas where your lawn needs filled in, aeration also creates that perfect environment for overseeding. The cooler fall temperatures are great for growing a lawn, so seeding at this time is ideal.
Fall is also the final time to do a comprehensive weed control using a post-emergent herbicide for cool-season weeds.
Leaf cleanup can feel very overwhelming during the autumn months, especially if you have a lot of trees on your commercial property. But removing leaves from the grass is super important for the health of the grass underneath. That’s why this commercial property landscape maintenance task shouldn’t be ignored. Raking up the leaves or blowing them into piles and removing them helps your lawn not only look fresh, but it also better prepares it for winter slumber.
Your commercial landscape perennials also need maintenance so they can do their job again the next year. Fall is the perfect time to cut back perennials and ornamental grasses so they remain neat through fall and winter and are ready for the coming spring.
Now is the time for richer seasonal color with chrysanthemums, ornamental kale, and sweet potato vine, which can bring the perfect fall accents to your commercial property.
Autumn is also a good time to consider planting bulbs to ensure your property is one of the first to erupt into color after the long winter is over.
In the fall, shutting down your irrigation system properly, blowing out any remaining water, and winterizing the system is an essential pre-winter preparation step to avoid leftover water that can freeze and damage pipes or flood facility buildings when it thaws.
November - February
Make sure you have a snow removal contract in place prior to these months in Greater Chicago as part of your commercial property landscape maintenance. You don’t want to encounter a rough snowstorm and not have the support you need to clear that snow and ice from your property promptly.
Your snow removal professional will then assess your site. Some areas that accumulate large drifts may require some snow fencing. Some of your trees may also need to be wrapped with burlap to avoid winter burn.
This is also the time of year for dormant pruning of your trees.
And never underestimate the impact you can make on your property with proper planning. Maybe you want to increase the functionality of your space. These months are a great time to talk to your commercial landscape professional about ways you can use your budget for some improvements or upgrades like a playground or baseball shelter for your educational facility or an outdoor eating area for an office park.
Check These Important To-Dos Off of Your Commercial Landscaping Maintenance Checklist
The best Greater Chicago commercial landscapes will preventively address landscape and turf problems to ensure a pristine, attractive site that is safe and secure.
If this monthly landscape maintenance checklist looks extensive to you, remember you’re not alone. We know you have a lot on your facility manager plate, and these to-dos may be too much for you to take on. Let KD Landscape help. We have extensive experience in making commercial properties look good. We have refined our commercial landscaping checklist to ensure nothing gets forgotten or ignored, and your property looks great as a result.
Want to learn more about our commercial maintenance services for your Greater Chicago industrial site? Get started today with a free quote. We’ll review your options together so you can make a great choice.