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Mr. Hutcheson

Maintenance

Spring Your Hotel's Landscape into Bloom with These Easy Maintenance Tips

By Ken Hutcheson, President, U.S. Lawns

With spring right around the corner, now is a great time to determine what needs to be done around a hotel's property to make it ready to blossom. It is essential that the irrigation and drainage systems are working properly, that pruning and mulching are done correctly and the best suited perennials for the property are in place to provide a burst of seasonal color. Below are some key tips to remember when it comes to ensuring the property is ready for spring.

Check the Irrigation System Thoroughly

It is necessary for the irrigation system to undergo proper maintenance so as to ensure that water is being used most efficiently. A poorly maintained irrigation system can lead to a significant amount of water never reaching its intended target by being lost to runoff, evaporation, and deep watering below the root zone. A properly maintained irrigation system will decrease pollution from over-irrigation and run-off as well as reduce water waste. It will also improve the landscape's health by ensuring the correct amount of water is applied.

Proper hydration is essential to the health and appearance of the hotel's landscape. Both under-watering and over-watering can destroy plants, resulting in unnecessary expense. With the current trends in water and energy conservation, the protection of local ecosystems, and carbon emissions reduction, proper irrigation is crucial to effective grounds maintenance. A landscape contractor will be able to suggest a watering plan that is appropriate for a hotel's property, and may also recommend adjustments to any irrigation and watering systems already in place.

In addition, irrigation systems should be monitored on a weekly basis in addition to undergoing a monthly full system check, as this can lead to the discovery of potential issues before significant damage can occur. Since watering is often done during off-peak hours, irrigation systems can develop numerous problems that may go undetected if monitoring is not done regularly, resulting in significant water waste and potentially increasing damage to parts. Having a monthly system check performed on the irrigation system will ensure all moisture sensors are programmed correctly, that rain sensors are functioning properly, that all filters have been inspected and cleaned and are free of sediment, and that timers are checked and fully functioning in order to ensure the landscape is watered on schedule and without waste. Failure to properly maintain these individual pieces of the irrigation system can result in increased operational costs due to excess amounts of water being used.

It is also important to ensure all nozzle heads pop up completely and fully retract when the water is turned off as this will help with uniform water coverage. Also, verify that sprinklers are vertical and flush with the soil grade, and check for steady water pressure. Non-professionals can also regularly inspect sprinklers to make sure they are not blocked by grass, plants or other obstacles, and when necessary, clean or replace clogged heads and ensure sure all heads direct water to landscaped areas and not to impervious surfaces such as pavement. Constant vigilance is the best way to determine whether there are ongoing issues with water pressure. If any of these issues are discovered, they should be inspected immediately by an irrigation specialist.

Mulching and Pruning Are Also Essential

Mulching and pruning are essential components to maintaining a healthy landscape and should be included in every landscape plan. Perhaps one of the most crucial steps in maintaining a healthy garden is fertilization. Proper fertilization is an important element that will ensure any landscape flourishes in all seasons. Properly mulched flowerbeds and borders will help protect the soil from harmful chemicals and will help prevent run-off. Also, with the constant replanting of seasonal flowers and long-term occupation of soil space by shrubs and trees, soil can be depleted of nutrients like nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Amending soil with restorative materials and organic matter such as compost can lessen the need for annual fertilization.

Pruning shrubs and trees helps maintain garden health by generating airflow which wards off fungal diseases. Trees and shrubs can reach and maintain their best flowering or fruiting potential with proper pruning. In most cases, pruning by hand is preferable to sheering to help the plant maintain its natural beauty, although there are some instances where sheering will augment a more formal garden.

De-thatching lawns is also necessary as it removes organic debris and assists in maintaining a healthy landscape. De-thatching also creates an environment more advantageous to new growth by opening the ground area up to allow for grass to absorb more sunlight. In order to prevent harm to plants, it is important that your landscaper considers the specific needs of the property as well as the desired image when it comes to pruning and de-thatching.

Other aspects of hotel gardening that should not be overlooked are aerating and weeding. Air circulation and increased access to sunlight are two essential factors which impact healthy plant growth. Aerating often is the simplest, most effective way to bring air circulation to lawns. Aerating can also help relieve any soil compaction from foot traffic which aids in the flow of water through the soil. Consistent weeding can be nearly as effective in bringing air and water circulation to any garden as it alleviates plant crowding. Maintaining a properly weeded landscape is essential in keeping an attractive and manicured garden that is healthy.

Proper plant and lawn care is essential for preserving a healthy and colorful landscape, and in order to prevent harm to plants, it is important to select a landscape contractor who considers the specific needs of the property.

Don't Shy Away From Seasonal Color

One of the elements of landscape design with the most impact is color. Plain and ordinary landscapes can be transformed with simple changes. For example, a simple way to increase aesthetic appeal is to replace non-flowering plants with blooming varieties. Infusing the property with a range of colors, species and sizes, and the ability to thrive in the shade or sun, annual flowers can revitalize the look and feel of the landscape. Using colors that complement the exterior building and interior colors create a unifying effect that will bring a sense of cohesion to the property as a whole.

Deciding which elements to incorporate is essential to ensuring consistency throughout any landscape. Gardens can be regional or hotel-image specific, and can include features such as color-specific plants which showcase the hotel's brand colors or the natural flora of the hotel's region. Annual flowers can be planted almost anywhere, including in flower beds or in rock gardens, or as ground covers, allowing splashes of color where needed. They also allow for tailored color schemes, designed to conjure certain emotions-feelings of relaxation and peace can be induced by using cooler colors such as greens, blues, and purples. To create energy and excitement around the property, consider using warmer colors like orange, red, or yellow. It is important to remember to use colors in the same families for a traditional look or pair complementary colors to add interest and tasteful contrast.

Another way to showcase a garden in the most favorable fashion is to combine a variety of fauna that are both robust and vibrant. Mixing evergreens with seasonal flowers creates a continuously bright and floral garden throughout the year. Keeping perennials in a garden bed is practical and budget-friendly as they bloom for years without needing to be replaced. In addition, it is helpful to select plants that are native to the environment that will require less care and watering than other varieties. Native plants are less susceptible to seasonal climate changes and inclement weather and selecting indigenous varieties creates a natural and authentic looking landscape. Using a variety of plant types, forms, and colors is a clever way to bring depth to the property's landscape. These differences can help create texture in a garden while providing a more interesting presentation.

After specific elements are chosen, a landscape professional can help incorporate those elements to highlight certain areas, plants, or features and create layers in the finished product. Consider highlighting pathways, fountains, seating areas, or any other guest access area. Also, adding landscape elements such as flower beds or planters can lend a finished look and provide a sense of tranquility. It is important when planting along pathways to choose plants that won't hinder access or create hazards, such as low-lying branches or thorns.

Not only can a beautiful garden showcase your property but it can also be a simple and cost-effective way to differentiate your hotel from the competition. Cost-savings can come from many sources in plant selection and garden maintenance and add both short- and long-term benefits to the hotel property. There are often many appropriate varieties that are colorful, tasteful, and professional, and a rotation of seasonal or perennial flowers can round out the aesthetic, leaving the landscape with a consistently updated and well-maintained appearance.

A healthy and attractive landscape can create a pleasant and welcoming environment sure to attract guests and will help hotel owners maximize the value of their properties. A landscape contractor can help decide which varieties best complement the climate and style of the property, as well as offer advice on the best colors and designs to highlight the property.

Ken Hutcheson is President of U.S. Lawns. He joined the company in 1995 and has grown the organization from a regional 18-franchise network to a national network of over 250-franchises in all 48 contiguous states. U.S. Lawns is nourished by the values and passion of family-owned and operated franchise businesses. Mr. Hutcheson champions an entrepreneurial spirit and a teamwork culture. He’s skilled at developing employee, franchisee and customer bases that are anchored on a commitment to long-term relationships. His focus on the company’s Franchise Development and Support is central to the company’s steady national expansion and consistently high rankings on industry lists. Mr. Hutcheson can be contacted at 407-246-1630 or khutcheson@uslawns.com Please visit https://uslawns.com/ for more information. Extended Bio...

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