No one ever said being a commercial property manager in Greater Chicago was easy. You have a lot on your plate – inside your buildings, as well as outside. But there’s so much going on, it can be easy to forget about those outside maintenance needs.

Start by taking a moment to walk through your commercial landscape. What do you see from the perspective of a visitor to your site?

You want to see a neat, tidy landscape with a lush, green lawn; healthy, blooming trees, shrubs, and plants; and no unsafe areas that could hinder guests from getting where they need to go.

And this is crucial because your property’s appearance can make a huge impact on how many people come to your location on a regular basis, as well as recruitment and retention efforts, business sales, and community reputation and perception.

If only you had a list of common commercial landscaping problems and solutions you could check to ensure all your Ts are crossed and Is are dotted. You’re in luck! KD Landscape brings you a guide to common commercial landscaping problems and ways you can best manage them with practical tactics.

Let’s dive into how you can make your job easier and your property safer and more beautiful, boosting business and making a positive impact to everyone who steps foot on your facility.

Table of Contents

Understanding Landscape Maintenance: An Overview
Common Landscaping Problems and Their Solutions
Enhancing Landscape Aesthetics and Functionality
Sustainable Landscaping Practices
Working with a Commercial Landscaping Company in Greater Chicago

Understanding Landscape Maintenance: An Overview

A well-planned commercial landscape incorporates a great mix of perennials, trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, and lawn areas that add colors and textures to your industrial facility, office park, retail center, health care facility, educational campus, homeowners’ association, or other property type.

commercial maintenance technician weeding a planting bed

But a great-looking facility can’t survive and thrive without regular commercial landscape maintenance. Similar to how vehicles need tune-ups, you wouldn’t neglect changing your oil if you knew your car needed it or else you’d risk your car or truck not working when you need it.

Your commercial landscape works the same way. Imagine the tasks that you are responsible for throughout the year, and the pain of battling a contractor who can't:

  • trim your trees
  • mow your lawn
  • tend to your shrubs and perennials
  • properly start-up and shut down your irrigation system
  • plow your snow
  • salt your driveways and walkways
  • pick up trash
  • stay ahead of safety concerns

Without those routine tasks being handled correctly, your property can fall into disrepair, looking messy and unkempt.

commercial maintenance technicians mowing near a monument at a commercial property

Not only does this negatively impact your aesthetics, it also can harm your property in the following ways:

  • Decreased curb appeal and property values.
  • Reduced safety and security.
  • More headaches and stress dealing with continuing landscape failures, repairs, and issues.
  • Increased repair costs.
  • Never meeting your facility’s goals.
  • Lower tenant satisfaction.
  • Decreased business revenue and profit.
  • Fewer shoppers, guests, visitors, tenants, and customers.

Hiring a full-service commercial landscape company to take care of your property management landscaping can help you deliver some long-lasting benefits that do quite a bit for not only the curb appeal and reputation of your property in the Greater Chicago community, but also your budget.

Common Landscaping Problems and Their Solutions

Your commercial facility can face quite a bit of challenging commercial landscaping problems during its lifetime. Part of properly caring for your site is staying ahead of these issues and coming up with professional landscaping solutions.

From your many concrete and hardscape areas to your vast expanses of lawn to the multiple plants, trees, and shrubs you must maintain to the constant foot and vehicle traffic that can beat your property down, your outdoor areas can certainly go through a lot over the course of a year.

Read Our Guide to Year-Round Commercial Landscaping

To help you focus your efforts on some key commercial landscaping problems and solutions, let’s look at challenges you must stay ahead of to ensure your Greater Chicago facility stays in tip top shape, reaping all of the benefits a well-maintained landscape brings.

Problem 1: Inadequate Lawn Health

Your commercial lawn areas make up a considerable portion of the greenspaces on your property. This is why commercial lawn care is an essential component of your commercial grounds management program.

Like any area of your site, turf can suffer without proper maintenance.

Lawn discoloration, diseases, pest and weed infestations, and bare patches can all result from poor lawn health from inadequate care.

commercial lawn care technician spraying a lawn space for weed control

A proper fertilization program, in addition to correct mowing and watering, ensures a thriving, thick lawn that can better repel weeds, insects, and diseases. The right commercial landscaping company in Greater Chicago can ensure your lawn receives adequate care.

Additionally, since there is a lot of traffic on any commercial site, lawn compaction can become an issue. This challenge can be remediated with annual aeration and overseeding each fall to encourage proper airflow, as well as uptake of oxygen and nutrients. This can also keep you from having to make expensive turf repairs later on.

Problem 2: Pest and Disease Management

Trees, shrubs, and turf amplify commercial landscape aesthetics.

But they can only do this when they are healthy and well-maintained. This means they can’t be riddled with pests and diseases that can cause discoloration, defoliation, stunted growth, impacted blooms, and even dying plants.

Professional landscaping solutions here include carrying for plants properly throughout the year, staying ahead of and on top of pest management strategies, and planting disease-resistant varieties to help prevent common local problems.

Problem 3: Landscape Water Management Issues

It’s no big surprise that water-related commercial landscaping problems would become an issue. Water can create problems in multiple ways.

First, proper watering on a commercial property is crucial to maintaining plant health and keeping costs in check. Using smart irrigation systems and ensuring you hire a commercial grounds maintenance professional who includes irrigation system checks, maintenance, repairs, and audits as part of its services can ensure watering accuracy.

retention pond on a commercial HOA landscape

Standing water is another issue that can crop up. Frequent standing water can signal a drainage problem, but water that stands for even only a few days can lead to increased mosquito populations. Water can also drag mud along with it onto walkways and into buildings. These areas basically become unsafe and unusable.

Standing water issues can start small and lead to larger problems if ignored. Landscaping ideas for drainage problems can include proper grading or correct water flow management techniques and installations, such as french drains, rain gardens, or detention ponds.

Erosion is another water-related commercial landscaping problem. If there is a hilly spot that isn’t graded properly or a retaining wall that wasn’t built properly or is no longer doing its job, mud and debris can continue to move past these points and leak onto walkways, creating additional issues. These include trip-and-fall hazards and unappealing aesthetics.

Here, the professional landscaping solution is to evaluate the cause of the issue and fix it before it becomes a bigger – and costlier – problem.

Problem 4: Seasonal Landscaping Challenges

As the seasons change, there are specific commercial landscaping problems that can erupt for property managers who aren't carefully paying attention to the fluctuating weather conditions and issues the different seasons can bring.

Chicago springs start in mid-March. At this time of year, temperatures can range from from 30 degrees Fahrenheit to the high 50s or 60s. Rain comes and goes as temperatures fluctuate, but color emerges in spring bulbs and early-blooming trees and plants.

By mid-June, summer arrives with temperatures averaging in the high 80s and humidity surging. Fall emerges in mid-September when temperatures drop to between 40 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit and plants change into rich, vibrant shades before dropping their leaves for winter.

Chicago winter can arrive as early as the start of December when temperatures can sink to below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This cold comes with snow, ice, and wind chills. And if your commercial business is located by Lake Michigan, the cool lake breezes can make summers milder and snow heavier.

During each season, you have specific tasks that can help you navigate these specific times of year. Here are some key seasonal landscaping problems and solutions:

  • Repair winter damage, including dealing with impacts of heavy snow and ice buildup, and pruning dead or dying branches from trees and shrubs.
  • Tidy up after winter by removing trash and debris.
  • Install mulch for polish and its many benefits, including weed suppression, temperature regulation, and the addition of organic matter.
  • Fertilize your lawn and embrace proper mowing practices for  clean, healthy turf.
  • Add seasonal color in the form of spring annuals or early-blooming bulbs planted the previous fall.
  • Continue proper mowing techniques during this intense growing season.
  • Provide your lawn with 1 to 1.5 inches of water weekly.
  • Add summer seasonal color to boost property aesthetics and draw attention to high-visibility areas like entryways, near signage, and near common areas.
  • Remove fall leaves from turf regularly to prevent snow mold or other turf issues.
  • Cut back perennials and ornamental grasses.
  • Don’t neglect fall fertilization and pruning.
  • Incorporate seasonal color like chrysanthemums, ornamental kale, sweet potato vines, pansies, and violas.
  • Winterize your commercial irrigation system.
  • Prepare for snow and ice ahead of time.

Problem 5: Landscaping Budget Constraints

Whether the economy is impacting business and keeping budgets tight or your dollars are being pulled in different directions, keeping your commercial landscape maintenance costs in check is important.

Having a service provider ally that can help you stick to your budget is crucial in this process. They can offer good ideas for meeting your aesthetics goals, while also saving money.

commercial landscape account manager and property manager reviewing a contract

Some cost-effective landscaping practices include:

  • Prioritize seasonal maintenance tasks to ensure you don’t incur unnecessary repair costs or plant replacement costs.
  • Cultivate or turn mulch if you have enough of a layer to make it last a little bit longer before it needs replenished.
  • Plant perennials instead of annuals to add variety and color. Perennials may cost more up front but they don’t need to be replaced each year like annuals do, so they provide repeat color and texture, saving money each additional year they come back.

Commercial landscape providers can also install native plants, trees and shrubs, which require less maintenance and are less susceptible to swings in weather and pest and disease damage.

Enhancing Landscape Aesthetics and Functionality

A Greater Chicago commercial property’s appearance plays a much greater role than you think in its overall value. An improved and attractive landscape can better welcome guests and make your business look more polished and professional.

When your commercial property looks good, people are more likely to want to visit your property, shoppers are more likely to buy, tenants are more likely to rent, employees are more productive, and your industrial facility operates more smoothly. But when your property is not well-maintained, it can reflect negatively on your business.

commercial landscape planting bed annuals perennials trees

Strategic and well-planned property management landscaping can reduce energy costs, improve drainage and save you money.

Focusing on these types of features can enhance your property with the aesthetics and functionality you need.

  • Add seasonal color. Annual flower rotations elevate your facility’s appearance throughout the year. Start with spring bulbs, so your property is one of the first to showcase bits of color as the winter recedes. Then summer blooms engage visitors with eye-popping color. Fall displays bring rich hues and unique textures with plants like ornamental kale. Use And holly berries, red-twig dogwood branches, eucalyptus, and evergreen branches in winter to create cold-hardy displays. Place color in highly visible locations like entryways and near signage for maximum impact.
  • Add hardscapes that boost commercial property curb appeal. For instance, adding a fountain sculpture to a courtyard can create drama and a meeting or resting spot for visitors. Urns can elegantly mark entryways. Full planting beds installed around signage draw people in. Landscaping lighting can highlight special and commonly used areas, as well as increase safety on your site.
  • Choose native plants that are best suited for the local climate and its extreme conditions. Native trees, shrubs, and plants add interest, texture, and variety to a commercial space, while also attracting pollinators like birds, bees, and butterflies.

Native plants are also more resistant to pests and diseases and are easier to grow and maintain than non-native plant species.

Sustainable Landscaping Practices

Sustainable landscaping practices usually serve two important purposes on a commercial property in Greater Chicago.

First, they improve the environment. Designed and maintained attractively, a sustainable initiative should benefit the local environment.

Second, a sustainable initiative should cut down on maintenance costs. Sustainable landscape management uses practices that minimize resources to reduce any negative environmental impact.

commercial maintenance technician pruning an evergreen tree

A commercial property manager can incorporate sustainable landscaping by installing wildflower or butterfly gardens, adding native plants, minimizing water waste with detention ponds, and using dormant pruning practices.

And these additions come with a number of key benefits.

  • Sustainable landscaping practices draw in pollinators like butterflies and bees through biodiversity. Not only are pollinators beneficial for the plants, but they are also great for reducing undesirable pests like mosquitoes.
  • Sustainable initiatives like incorporating native plants means reduced costs. Native plants are better adapted to the local climate, weather fluctuations, soil conditions, and environment, so they more naturally need fewer inputs. This means less irrigation, fertilization, pesticides, and overall maintenance.
  • You can artfully design a sustainable landscape the same way you would an unsustainable one, but with many more benefits.

Understanding plant location best practices based on sun, soil, and water conditions will help you create a great low-maintenance commercial landscape that looks great, naturally.

Working with a Commercial Landscaping Company in Greater Chicago

No matter what type of commercial property you manage in Greater Chicago, you want to keep your landscape looking professional, aesthetically pleasing, and functioning in a way that suits your needs.

But sometimes commercial landscape maintenance can fall off of your priority list with all of your indoor responsibilities taking precedence. Your crews may even lack the time and experience to give your commercial landscape the polish it needs, leading to commercial landscaping problems.

commercial landscape crew reviewing a project before mowing

What you need to help you provide professional landscaping solutions is the right commercial landscaping company in Greater Chicago to ensure the best looking landscape that meets your goals and budgetary needs.

Here are some things to look for as you choose a landscape company that will work as part of your team.

  • Experience in Areas That Matter to You. When you hire a commercial landscape company that fits your needs best, they will talk to you about your specific goals. This can include everything from snow removal to seasonal color to creating inviting outdoor environments. They make sure to include everything you need on a regular basis so your facility looks good all year long. To achieve these goals, they have experts on their team with experience in the areas that matter most to you. This trained team and specialized knowledge ensures your current and future goals are met.
  • Service and Scope. Depending on the size of your commercial landscape, you may opt to hire a commercial landscaping company to tend to your site weekly or you may require a dedicated crew that is on your property full-time every day of the week. You want a team that can do what you need for your property. To find this service partner, you need to understand their full service offerings, how often crews will be on your property, and how they work. The right commercial landscape partner for you will be transparent and open about the services they provide, how they conduct business, and their strategies for special requests. They should be able to answer all of your questions and detail your needs in their contract.
  • References. When you choose a commercial landscaping company in Greater Chicago, you want one that can provide you with references and examples of their work so you know what they can do and can do your research prior to hiring them.
  • A Safety Focus. Commercial properties are public businesses that encounter traffic at all times of day and, in some cases, night. This makes safety and security a key part of a facility manager’s priorities. Your commercial grounds management partner should be able to address these needs as part of their service scope.
  • Good Communication. You want to be comfortable with the amount of communication you receive from your commercial landscape service provider. Brief monthly meetings, in addition to quarterly or at least biannual meetings, can help maintain an ongoing dialogue.

This regular interaction and communication helps you address needs on a  regular basis and build trust between you and your service provider.


Being proactive is the name of the game when it comes to addressing common commercial landscaping problems on Greater Chicago commercial properties.

Understanding seasonal needs, tackling issues before they become bigger and more expensive, and incorporating cost-saving sustainable strategies are all ways property managers can ensure a smooth, functional, beautiful corporate property.

We know you have property issues and operations tasks that need your immediate attention 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Your commercial landscape shouldn’t be a burden on your time, attention, and budget. You seek to form a healthy partnership with a great team so you can maintain your focus and keep your property running smoothly.

We hope these tactics help you create professional landscaping solutions that can address common problemsand never feel caught off-guard. KD Landscape can help you stay on top of these challenges and keep your facility growing.

We’d love to help you with your commercial property needs in Greater Chicago and make your property management job easier. Get in touch with KD Landscape today so we can be that landscape partner that helps you improve your facility’s curb appeal and achieve your property management goals.

Guide to Hiring the Right Commercial Landscaping Company

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