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Landscape Enhancement for Self-Storage Facilities: Regulations and More


By Rick Freeland

Developing a self-storage facility is an intensive undertaking. Your main goal is to obtain as much rentable square footage from your property as possible. To accomplish this, you'll need to maximize site coverage. If this is the ideal, then why worry about landscaping?

In most cases, you won't have a choice. Certain landscaping is required by local, state and sometimes federal regulations. But you'll also want to consider installing supplemental landscaping that can benefit you in various ways.

Required by Regulation

From the feds to your local jurisdiction, it seems everyone has a say in how a property is developed. Regulations on landscaping might include:

  • Buffers for state waters: States require you to leave 25 feet of undisturbed vegetative buffer next to streams, wetlands or other waters that cross your property as protection from sediment infiltration during construction. Some jurisdictions tack on another 25 feet for even more protection.
  • Zoning buffers: You may need to leave undisturbed buffers between your development and areas zoned for residential use. If natural vegetation within the buffer area is sparse, you'll more than likely have to enhance it with native or naturalized plants.
  • Landscape strips: Most regulations require that 10 feet or wider dedicated landscape strips at front, side and rear setbacks be planted in a mixture of trees and shrubs.
  • Parking-lot plantings: Regulations sometimes require that planting islands and other landscape areas be provided within parking lots.
  • Erosion control: This includes temporary and/or permanent grassing and planting of constructed slopes and graded areas as protection against erosion.
  • Tree replacement and protection: This means replacing trees removed during development by planting new trees onsite, through offsite mitigation or by paying a fee.

Supplemental Landscaping

Once you've met your regulatory obligations, additional landscaping should provide substantial benefits. How can your project benefit through a thoughtful landscape design?

Aton's Self Storage in Columbus, Ind.Aesthetics. How your community perceives your project will depend in part on how it looks. Use plants that complement your architecture. A simple, uncluttered planting scheme of three to five plant types is enough. Concentrate on your site's entrance experience by installing plantings at the base of any monument signage, along with color beds at your driveway entrance. Think all-season interest with a mixture of small deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs as well as perennials. Use accent plants or container gardens at your office entrance to welcome visitors with style.

Storm-water detention and water quality. Using bio-retention ponds, grassed swales, rain gardens or constructed wetlands planted with filtering vegetation in tandem with more conventional storm-water controls can save you money in infrastructure.

Environmental awareness. Low-maintenance natives grow well together to predictable sizes. They also don’t need much water except during establishment, don't require chemical fertilizers or commercial biocides, and are adapted to local conditions and bugs. Their leaves act as soil builders, weed suppressors and natural fertilizers.

Using suitable plants makes for less work, so you spend less on landscaping crews. Also, consider planting species that attract pollinators such as butterflies, hummingbirds and native bees. Avoid invasive species, such as nandina and Bradford pear.

Maintenance. Planting species native to your area where possible and using the right plants in the right place will cut down on the need for pruning, fertilization and watering, and substantially reduce your maintenance costs. If planting natives, you'll just need to supply water during the establishment period. This can be done economically using a drip-irrigation system outfitted with a smart controller.

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