The desire for comfortable outdoor spaces at commercial properties has grown tremendously in the past decade. Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this trend had already been emerging, but with the new realities we face, the desire for enticing outdoor spaces will only continue to grow. People want to spend more time outside, and will still feel safer outdoors than indoors for many months to follow.
If you operate or manage a commercial property—whether it’s a corporate campus, a school, a hospital, a resort, or a retail center—your tenants, guests, or residents want to be outside. And there’s a growing expectation that these amenities will be available to them. So, creating enticing outdoor areas may not only draw more people to your property but will help keep them there longer.
Here are some ideas about how to create commercial outdoor spaces that people will love.
Outdoor Space Should be Usable
As you think about commercial outdoor areas, consider them in terms of usability. There was a time when the outdoor break area at an office building might have been nothing more than a concrete pad where smokers congregated during their smoke breaks. Maybe, at most, there was a picnic table plunked in the grass where people could take a lunch break outside.
But the idea nowadays is to create something that is enticing and where people will want to spend time. We’re seeing commercial properties adding and enhancing outdoor areas in so many different ways.
There is certainly more interest in creating larger and more functional outdoor spaces than ever before. Spaces where people won’t just take a quick break, but may actually hold an outdoor meeting or get their work done outdoors. It might even become the place where they meet with clients or hold a lunch event.
If you’re managing a hotel or a resort, perhaps you’re finding that more guests want to spend time outside of their rooms. Or, for business travelers, maybe a meeting they’d normally hold in the lobby, they want to take outside (weather permitting).
More recently, we’ve also worked with some churches that are looking to hold outdoor services and/or events. While the pandemic might have inspired some of these changes, we’re believe it’s a trend that’s “here to stay.” People are reconnecting with nature and realizing how much they love spending time outdoors!
Along with all of that, we’re seeing more of a desire for outdoor electricity so that employees, guests, tenants, and others can plug-in mobile devices like cell phones and laptops, and take their work outside. Add in some pergolas for shade, an outdoor friendly conference table and some seating, and you have a fully functioning outdoor conference room.
It’s all about functionality. Commercial properties are paying closer attention to what’s needed for people to spend more time outside - and to make that time just as productive as time spent inside.
Landscaping and Maintenance Enhances Functionality
Of course, to make the outdoors more usable, there might need to be some landscaping changes.
For instance, there could be a need to add a walkway or path to the outdoor meeting area. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive hardscaping. Rather, a nice decomposed granite walkway leading to a new outdoor area could enhance functionality by making it safe and easy to get to. It will also encourage more people to begin using the areas you’ve created.
If part of your outdoor space includes turf areas, maybe you need to make sure they’re mowed more regularly or kept in better shape. Perhaps you’ve added some tables or some benches outside, but if they’re constantly covered in leaves or tree debris, they’re not going to get used.
This is why maintenance is such an important factor in giving people the opportunity to spend more time outside. You have to ensure that the areas are kept looking their best.
Of course, this can present challenges, too. If your employees, tenants, and guests are spending more time outside, this could lead to issues that impact when the landscape maintenance crew is able to come out.
That was the case at the State College of Florida, Bradenton Campus, where the school made a decision to create more functional outdoor spaces where students could take classes outside. But with students being indoors less often, it had an impact on the maintenance schedule for the campus’ landscape. Specifically, we could not mow or work while students were taking classes outdoors. So, Yellowstone Landscape adjusted the schedule to be able to meet their needs.
If you’re looking to enhance usability, it helps to work with a commercial landscape company that has some flexibility and can adapt to your needs. This might not be possible with a small, local company but a national landscaping company may have more adjustability in the schedule.
Enhancements Entice People to Come Outside
Landscaping enhancements also play a role in boosting the usage and enjoyment of outdoor spaces. If you add some beautiful color or some attractive shrubs, you make your outdoor areas so much more enticing. After all, whether you manage a corporate office campus, a hospital, retail center, or really any other type of commercial property, nobody wants to stare at other buildings, a road, or a parking lot.
Adding some beauty makes these areas so much more fun!
Plus, landscaping can play a valuable role in creating privacy and blocking out these other views. Some evergreen trees can help close it in and make it feel more like a true “outdoor room.” It can also block the sight line of others who might be looking in from building windows or nearby roads.
Of course, landscaping enhancements need not only be flowers or greenery. When looking to boost aesthetics of an area, decorative rock and stone can achieve this, too. Boulders or decomposed granite can help to fill in the landscaping without adding to your maintenance load in any way. They are attractive additions that help the landscape to look “finished” and “welcoming,” much in the same way that plant material can. A combination of both can help create a more complete landscape design.
These kinds of thoughtful enhancement projects not only keep current residents, guests, and tenants happy, they can also play a big role in attracting new business to your property as well. When people have so many choices in where they’re going to lease an office building, or which retail center they prefer to visit, these types of improvement projects really do get noticed.
Don’t Forget About Recreational Fun
Up until this point, we’ve largely discussed meeting and working spaces. But we’re also seeing a big trend toward the addition of recreational space. These spaces might be considered a given at a resort or a multi-family apartment community. However, it’s still a new trend for corporate campuses and places where people work.
We have one large commercial client who specifically wanted a well-maintained grassy area at their corporate campus for a volleyball court. They also have an outdoor basketball court and amphitheater for larger scale outdoor gatherings. These become areas where people play a pick-up game and have some fun on their breaks or even after work! As we see more and more interest in this type of fun space, we believe it’s a trend that’s here to stay. And as more people care about their health and wellness, they’re naturally more inclined to spend their free time outside, doing something active.
We also find that people want to find ways to socialize outdoors and these types of additions allow for just that.
This might also mean that walking trails around your campus or commercial property could be a nice addition. Studies show that people are walking more than ever (gotta get those 10,000 steps in sometime) and they’ll appreciate that they can do this on your property rather than having to leave and walk somewhere else. You might consider benches or other rest areas along a path, with some attractive landscape additions around them.
Of course, creating designated areas for fun and socialization can also mean a place to eat. But again, think outside of the box. Don’t just plop a picnic table or two outside the back door. How can you make these spaces more enticing so that people really do want to take their lunch or snack breaks outside?
Shade is an important element, as we mentioned earlier. Nobody wants to eat with the sun blazing down on them. Whether it’s achieved with a structure, like a pergola, or it’s achieved with strategically placed evergreen trees, canvas sails, or umbrellas, the incorporation of shade will make your space more enjoyable.
We’re also seeing commercial properties get more creative and fun with the type of furniture that they’re adding. Your options are so much more varied than picnic tables these days and the furniture choices that you make can definitely play a role in being the essential finishing touch that draws people to your gorgeous outdoor areas to enjoy meals outside.
Partnering with a Commercial Landscaping Company for Your Commercial Property’s Needs
Whether it’s an enhancement project, ongoing maintenance, or both, partnering with the best commercial landscaping company is going to help you achieve your wants and needs so that you can make your property more appealing.
Making a wise choice comes down to finding a company that fully understands your needs and expectations so that you end up with a finished result that actually entices people to spend more time outside.
At Yellowstone Landscape, we care deeply about the partnerships that we develop with property managers and other professionals involved in the enhancement and ongoing upkeep of commercial properties. We understand that our role in helping to transform and maintain these spaces has a direct impact on how much they are used and enjoyed. In turn, we realize that has a direct impact on you and your reputation.
We don’t take that lightly.
That’s why we’re committed to being a true partner in the process. We’ll bring ideas and experience to the table and also work with the concepts and ideas that you might already have in mind. We’re committed to being a reliable and trustworthy resource in your ongoing efforts to keep your outdoor spaces looking their best. In the end, it can mean inspiring more people to spend time outside - and we think that’s a wonderful thing!
Are you looking to partner with a commercial landscape company that can help you create outdoor spaces where people want to spend time? Request a consultation today. We’ll meet to learn more about your property and its challenges and come up with a comprehensive plan to take care of all of the details for you.