Your Hotel Garden: Going Native
By Ken Hutcheson President, U.S. Lawns | July 15, 2012
When it comes to curb appeal, the importance of first impressions cannot be overstated. However, given the state of today’s economy, some property managers are faced with changing the way they landscape their properties. For the hotel industry, one of the biggest challenges they face when it comes to property maintenance is the balance between being aesthetically pleasing, environmentally friendly and staying within their budget.
To ensure all three objectives are met, speak with your landscape professional about the possibility of converting parts of a large property to include some native plants. Native landscaping uses plants, shrubs and trees indigenous to the region in which you are planting, to create a lower-maintenance landscape. The plants and trees that are used in native landscaping are acclimated to local weather conditions, so they typically require less chemicals and watering to maintain.
Transitioning towards a native landscape can seem like a daunting task, especially considering how instrumental a beautiful landscape can be in drawing guests to your hotel. However, there are a number of ways you can make this change without compromising aesthetics. Installing a native landscape does not mean you must remove all grasses, flowers and trees, and let the weeds grow wild, and vines overgrow, leaving your property with the air of neglect. The biggest misconception in regards to native landscaping is that it leaves your property looking messy or barren. That is far from the truth. In fact, some large resorts and properties actually embrace their “wild areas,” and are a destination because of that, whether in the woodlands, the grasslands or in the desert. But these are not the only options when it comes to native landscaping. Each geographical region has numerous plants and trees that are indigenous to the area, with a variety of colors and options from which to choose.
While there could possibly be higher costs at the initial onset of the transition, depending on how your property is currently designed, long-term benefits of making the change usually include lower water bills and less maintenance, which could mean significantly reduced annual operating costs. In addition, fewer pesticides and fertilizers are required for a natural landscape, which means you have a healthier environment.
Native plants provide diverse food and habitat for birds and small mammals. In heavily developed urban areas, even small patches of natural landscape can be critical in maintaining populations of native fauna and flora.
If you make the decision to convert parts of your property to a native landscape, it is important to plan carefully with your landscape professional when designing the new landscape. In areas that require irrigation, it’s imperative that the proper irrigation system is installed. Consider installing a “smart” controller, which is a computerized system that automatically adjusts watering times and amounts based on local weather conditions. For some areas, drip irrigation may be installed, which drips water slowly onto or at the base of the plant.
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