8 Tips for Landscaping a Parking Lot
While landscaping your commercial parking lot might seem like a secondary need, since your core business is inside the building, a well-manicured green space can actually have a considerable impact on your business.
Customers don’t spend much time in the parking lot but the state of your outdoor space will likely leave a lasting impression on everyone who uses it, whether it's conscious or not, which will affect whether they return or take their business elsewhere.
The first step to creating a parking lot that is pleasantly memorable is carefully planning and designing it with the help of a commercial landscaper. People notice and appreciate nature, including rocks, flowers, shrubs, trees, and other types of natural elements in an otherwise artificial setting.
To make your parking lot stand out from the surrounding properties, incorporate greenery and other natural elements in the design, with consideration of the size, type of soil, adjacent properties, street pattern, vehicle capacity, hours of use, and so on.
Here are a few tips for landscaping your parking lot:
1. Plant trees where possible
Trees are arguably the most important form of greenery for landscaping a parking lot. They not only screen and provide shade for cars, but also guide traffic and frame views. Trees also require minimal maintenance compared to other greenery like shrubs, plus they collect less trash and create better air quality. Trees should be planted anywhere you can spare some space.
Trees have a small initial cost yet their benefits are long-term, including the fact that they increase the value of the real estate. Any trees that grow accidentally in the parking lot should be encouraged unless they are a hindrance.
2. Use shrubs instead of fences
Small trees, shrubs, and vines can help to ensure that your lot is in compliance with city ordinances that require fences, walls, or compact hedges between lots and adjacent institutional or residential areas. In addition, an attractive hedge barrier will help to guide the flow of traffic by blocking off some sections and sending it in the right direction.
3. Use flowers-beds for protection
Consider planting shrubs, ground cover, or a bed of flowers within a 6-inch concrete curb to fill free space in the corner of a lot, protect tree trunks, create room for snow removal, mark angle parking, and add visual interest. This setup can be designed in the form of a peninsula at the entrance to break up the parking area and direct traffic.
4. Choose resilient plants
Choose hardy and resilient but decorative greenery for an urban parking lot, as they can withstand the soot and gas fumes with little care. Make sure you also choose the right greenery for the acidity and composition of the soil at the site. Ideally, use native plants that are proved to withstand your region’s harsh climate.
Where possible, select trees and shrubs that are disease resistant. They should be capable of growing with normal rainfall once they establish — i.e. without irrigation — and are not attractive to insects. Trees should also have a reasonable growth rate, long life, and have attractive foliage in both shape and colour.
5. Give roots space
Space the tree-planting strips at a minimum of five-feet to give the roots adequate space to spread without heaving the paved areas. Curbs help to protect tree trunks and other vegetation from vehicles backing into them.
6. Create green vertical spaces
If there’s limited space for ground landscaping, consider using fences, walls, and special plant materials. For instance, you can hang flower pots on walls and fences, as well as on the less attractive sides of buildings that were not meant to be exposed to the public. Consider using vines on fences as they provide shade, visual screening, and noise and glare reduction
The best trees for screening buildings with a couple of stories measure three and one-half to a four-inch diameter. For high buildings, consider getting trees that grow 30 to 40 feet high. Choose trees that grow fast, or have grown quite a bit in the nursery, and will be large enough within the first year to produce results.
7. Small details count
If you’re looking to convert the space behind your building into an informal parking lot, you can pace the ground, apply a fresh coat of paint or whitewash the back of the buildings, and add a few flower boxes to increase the property’s value while improving its appearance and usefulness.
You can use hardy ground covers, besides grass, to create interesting texture variation. Some varieties require less maintenance than grass and stay green year-round.
8. Plan for easy maintenance
Only include flowers in your landscaping if you can provide the needed care. Though they may require more maintenance than greenery, well-tended flower beds or boxes can have a great impact when placed near the entrance.
Prepare a maintenance schedule to keep the parking lot at its best. The typical maintenance activities include mending fences, caring for greenery, eliminating any litter from the lot, placing trash bins at strategic points and emptying them often, clearing the drainage system especially from leaves and twigs, and snow removal during winter. Keep in mind that it’s easier to maintain the greenery when there’s a clear division such as stone, curb, wood, or metal strip separating the greenery from materials.
Things to Avoid When Landscaping a Parking Lot
- Never plant trees under overhead service wires
- Don’t plant trees with low-growing branches that may scrape the vehicles, with moisture or gum that may drip on the vehicles, or with seeds, blossoms, or pods that may clog the drainage or clutter the area
- Avoid planting trees or shrubs with thorns, especially if your patrons include children or young families
When planning the landscaping of your parking lot, it’s important that you engage the services of a commercial landscaper. While your choice of trees and other greenery may be biased towards attractive features like colour or flowers, a professional landscape architect will take more important factors into consideration to select the best tree for each spot. These factors include:
- The shape of the tree that’s required for a particular spot
- Its potential full height and foliage characteristics
- The shape of branches when the leaves have shed
- Summer contour
- Bark texture and colour
- Effects of flowers and fruits
Working with a professional will ensure that you select trees and greenery that sets off or complements the architecture of nearby buildings. Make sure that the aesthetics of the fences or barriers match your landscaping.
Whether it consists of fencing, planting, or both, make sure they’re well designed and properly maintained to serve their purpose: direct vehicles and pedestrians, muffle sounds, screen vehicles from sight, and protect vehicles from vandalism.
For more information about landscaping your parking lot, call Peel Exterior Maintenance at (905) 873-8988 or contact us here.