If you're like most commercial property owners, you want your landscaping to present a clean, professional image. However, you should also be concerned about potential liability involved with maintaining this type of landscaping. Following are five strategies designed to minimize safety and security issues involved in maintaining your commercial landscaping.
Trip and Fall Hazards
It goes without saying that your commercial property should be kept clear of debris such as trash and other items that may have been left there by careless people. However, these aren't the only types of trip and fall hazards that could potentially land you in court. Exposed tree roots are a prime culprit in trip and fall accidents on commercial property. Fallen branches are another possible problem, so always inspect your property closes after a storm. One of the major problems, however, involves slick leaves in autumn, so make sure your commercial landscaping crew knows to keep property as leaf-free as possible. You also need to be on the lookout for cracks in the sidewalk and assorted pavement heaves. During seasonal cold spells, apply deicer to paved surfaces in order to minimize the risk of trip and fall accidents caused by icy conditions.
Commercial property owners also need to be mindful that their landscaping can enhance or hinder criminal activity in the immediate area. Overgrown trees and shrubs, for instance, may provide cover for criminal activity. Always instruct your landscape professionals to prune and trim trees and shrubs with optimal visibility in mind. Landscape lighting should be brightly lit to discourage miscreants from lingering on the property during the evening and night hours. However, you need to make certain that the lighting is not shining directly into the eyes of passing motorists -- this will bring its own set of risks.
Poisonous Plant Hazards
Many plants commonly used in landscaping are poisonous. Not all are fatal, but many have enough adverse side effects to warrant extreme caution concerning where they are planted. Commercial property owners are advised to err on the side of caution and simply not have any poisonous plants on their property whatsoever. Ask your landscaping professional for a list of all plants currently growing on your property, identify any that may cause liability issues, such as oleander, castor bean, or holly, and schedule replacements for these plants from a list of their nontoxic counterparts.
Landscaping can also pose significant fire hazards. As a general rule of thumb, coniferous evergreen trees are more of a fire danger than their hardwood deciduous counterparts because their wood contains high amounts of flammable resins. Grass that has been allowed to dry out is another serious landscaping fire hazard. You should also ensure that your trees do not overhang roofs of buildings, so that in the event a fire does break out, it can't easily progress from the trees to the buildings. Trees and shrubs planted in masses pose another potential fire danger, especially with junipers and other spreading evergreens that are popular in commercial landscaping because of their low maintenance qualities.
Hardscaping refers to any elements of your landscaping that aren't vegetative, and this includes both decorative aspects such as gazebos and statuary and functional fixtures such as retaining walls and security fences. All hardscaping should be kept in good repair. A rumbling, unstable retaining wall, for instance, could send someone to the hospital, and you could end up with liability for their medical bills. Always consider the worst case scenario as far as hardscaping is concerned and plan your upkeep accordingly.
Please contact a local commercial landscaping company, such as Excel Commercial Maintenance, at your convenience for more helpful advice on maintaining the best possible landscaping on your commercial property.