Take a good hard look at your commercial property – do you see a common area that invites, welcomes, and encourages people to sit, stay, eat, and enjoy? Do you see a beautifully landscaped, well-strategized lounging area that encourages your guests to sit outside and enjoy? Are you missing out on the whole “common area” idea altogether?
If you’re not acing the common area landscape test – and if you don’t have a common area to begin with — fear not, we’re here to help.
First, let’s start by breaking down exactly what a common area is. Think about commercial spaces you see every day that have outside seating areas where people can sit and chat or enjoy their lunch break. A common area is a simple, but welcoming area that you’ve included in your commercial property campus to give people who work for and with you, as well as invited guests, a space to relax, enjoy, and be outside. A common area can be part of a myriad of businesses landscaping plans, from hospitals to apartment complexes, to office spaces. No matter what the common area is used for, it should be landscaped and designed in a way that it invites people in. More than anything, it should be a place that people are drawn to and where they want to spend time.
As landscaping professionals, we’ve developed a few hard and fast rules over the years that are guaranteed to spruce up your common area space. Check out a few of our favorite tips and tricks below.
The Garden of Their Dreams
Adding color, shade, and beautiful green plants to your common area is going to be one of the biggest facets of creating your perfect common area. You’ll want to include a variety of plants and blooms that can last throughout the year (this is much easier in Florida as the weather is pretty similar year-round and we rarely have to worry about freezes). Add in heat-tolerant plants that will catch peoples’ eyes, like Angels Trumpet, Agave, Banana trees, Lantana, Passionflower, Plumbago, and more!
Now, let’s talk patio features. Including a patio in your lush, beautiful garden will no doubt encourage people to relax, have lovely conversation, and enjoy the fresh air and outdoors around them. Use low shrubs to separate areas to give the illusion of privacy, perhaps hang leafy, green plants to give the area some ambience, giant planters with big, beautiful Florida plants, and, if it’s in your budget, consider fire pits or patio tables to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors at all times.
Want to make your garden area even more relaxing and inviting? Consider water features for your garden area. A beautiful fountain, a trickling water feature in the garden – what more could your guests ask for?
Seating is a Must
This should have been first on our list, because it’s one of the most important facets of crafting a beautiful landscaping space. The goal of your common area is to lure people outside to enjoy the sunshine, fresh air, and your gorgeous landscape design, right? Well, if you want people to spend any amount of time in your designated area, you’ll need to provide them with appropriate seating.
While we’re sure there are a few people out there who wouldn’t mind standing outdoors in your common area, the majority of your visitors are certainly going to want to have a place to rest while they soak in the glorious landscape you’ve designed in your common area.
In addition to planting fresh, bright Florida flowers that follow a correct color pattern, you’ll want to include some beautiful benches, perhaps stone seating, and even some covered, shaded picnic tables to give folks a break from the hot, Florida sun. No matter what shrubs, trees, flowers, or other blooms you plan to add to your common area, you’ll want to ensure there’s a balance of seating so that people can sit, relax, and enjoy the beautiful common area you’ve built for them.
Small, Walkable Trails
One of the biggest uses for common areas is to give working folks a brief respite from their busy day, and what better way to do that than give them some beautiful, active distraction? If it’s in your budget, we suggest working in a few small, but absolutely beautiful, walking trails into your common area space.
Not only will it draw people into your common area while they’re on break, but it will help to promote a healthy alternative to sitting on their break (because they’re likely already sitting for a large portion of the day). Now, we know you’re probably thinking that you don’t have the space for walking trails in your common area, but with a few tall hedges and shrubs, well placed palm trees, and some elephant ears planted strategically, you can create the illusion of a secluded, private walking trail.
As far as the footing goes, make sure you’re balancing the nature aspect of your walking trail with an appropriate pathway. Consider adding in things like river rock, cement pavers, bricks, and more to spice up your walkways. This will help cut down on people walking through your turf areas as well as encourage them to follow your pathways toward your walking trails.
Give the People What They Want – Interaction (and a Break)
One of the best reasons to include a common area in your campus’ landscape is to provide children with playscapes galore – and their very tired parents with some serious relief. Adding in a play area for children can be a wonderful addition to your common area, but we suggest ensuring that if you plan to add this, you provide a separate common area space for those who wish to enjoy their time sans children.
When adding in play areas, playscapes, and child-friendly areas, one of the biggest things to consider is the surface they’ll be playing on, especially when determining the economics as well as the safety of the surface. Consider things like poured rubber or synthetic turf – neither require maintenance, they could both incorporate your logo, they facilitate drainage, and they’re shock absorbent (perfect for those frequent falls that children take). If you’d rather go a different route, consider rubber mulch, traditional wood chips, or soft, springy turf.
Did you enjoy our list of tips and tricks? We thought you might! For more information and even more helpful blog articles on a myriad of topics, check out our website here. Want to get in touch with us? We’d love to hear from you. Give our office a call at (727)-446-2598. We hope our guide was helpful and we can’t wait to hear from you!
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