Managing Your Exterior’s Winter Damage
Heal the winter weather wounds inflicted on your property’s exterior assets
As the winter’s snowfall melts away, it may become apparent that Old Man Winter’s weather left your property’s landscape, irrigation system and parking lot in disarray. The trees may be damaged, plant material may be dead, turf damage from snow removal may be present, and your parking lots could likely be in need of repair. The good news is that with proper planning and a little diligence, you can reclaim you exterior assets with a well-prepared and well-executed plan for spring rejuvenation. The onset of spring and summer is still weeks away and there is time for you to act and achieve an aesthetic and functional exterior that will not only attract your customer, but keep them coming back as well. A high percentage of customers note that exterior appeal is often a determining factor in their choice of businesses to patronize and affects their decision to be a repeat customer. Ensuring a positive perception is achieved is important to the company, as well as those responsible for facilities. Here are some solutions that will ensure your exterior assets are retuned to their pre-winter splendor and your property’s curb appeal keeps customers coming back.
The most frequent form of winter damage is broken limbs, branches, and root systems killed by severe temperatures and heavy amounts of snow and ice. Improper removal of snow and ice can drastically increase the amount of damage to trees and shrubs. These preventative measures can reduce the risk of lasting winter damage, help restore your landscape’s aesthetic appeal and ensure a healthy landscape through the seasons.
- Avoid pruning browned, burned areas from evergreen trees and shrubs in the early spring since these branches may still have viable buds that will produce new foliage when growth resumes.
- When spring finally arrives and plants begin to resume growth, provide adequate moisture and balanced fertilization to ensure maximum bloom and vigor from your landscape’s bed and ornamental areas.
- If branch breakage occurs on a tree, prune back the damaged limb to the main branch or trunk.
- When heavy, wet snow accumulates on evergreens, gently shake the snow from the branches or carefully brush it off with a broom.
- When removing sidewalk snow, avoid throwing heavy, wet snow or ice onto shrubs or small trees.
- Always plant tender or less than hardy shrubs in protected areas around the building to shield from wind and snow.
- Inspect all turf areas for any potential frost heaving or soil splits from winter freezes and check all trees on site for dead or diseased limbs. Not only can these areas be unsightly, but they can pose a serious liability to your patrons.
Irrigation System Damage
The winter weather can take a toll on your irrigation system, which is the backbone of your landscape and curb appeal. Small amounts of water left in pipes, valves or heads can cause damage that will need to be repaired come spring. Deep freezes can cause cracking and shifting regardless of precautions taken. Additionally, in areas prone to heavy snowfall, snowplows can potentially damage irrigation heads that are typically located along edges of hard surface areas they are clearing. The company responsible for your snow plowing is often separate from the company that manages your irrigation system; therefore, plow operators may not exercise caution in your system’s vicinity. This problem can potentially be avoided by consulting an accomplished Exterior Services Management (ESM) company, who employs trained experts in each area of exterior services, guaranteeing responsible performance of facility maintenance.
There is a very narrow window between winter’s end and green start-up to prepare irrigations systems for the new season. Depending on the weather in your area, the optimal time to begin inspecting and repairing your irrigation system is at the first sign of spring, but regions with an increased risk of damage due to heavy snowfall and freezes should begin the process as soon as possible.
Inspecting for winter damage is best handled by a professional with the proper knowledge and experience to recognize problems in the system. An expert will perform these basic steps during the re-activation process:
- Inspection of motors, engines and control boxes for wiring damage
- Removal of end caps to flush system of debris, insects or small animals that may have accumulated during the winter and could potentially clog sprinkler heads
- Replenishment of water into irrigation system
- Examination of sprinklers for signs of leakage in pipes and drains
- Replacement or repair of any needed accessible parts
- System adjustment for proper coverage and time
- Pressure assessment
- Final inspection for breaks or leaks
Once the inspection process is completed and necessary repairs are made, your irrigation system should be equipped to handle all your irrigation needs until you winterize next fall.
Parking Lot, Façade & Sidewalk Damage
Winter can often have a very detrimental effect on asphalt and concrete hard surfaces, which are a crucial part of your curb appeal. Be sure these surface areas are inspected as part of your spring start-up.
- If you have facilities in the Snow Belt, the first priority is checking for plow damage. Two important steps to plow damage monitoring are a before-season inspection and an after-season inspection, using a digital camera to record your findings.
- Typical plow damage will include broken curb lines and gouged asphalt surfaces. It is also wise to check the corners of structures for truck or plow impacts.
- Asphalt parking lots will inevitably suffer from pitting, pothole development and cracking over winter periods. Cold patch may be sufficient for a quick fix but proper cut out; hot application and roll are the best long-term solution. Cracks can be addressed through the use of hot rubber sealants.
- If your parking lot is really starting to show its age, it may require roto-milling and an overlay. If its overall condition is fair, a simple sealcoat and striping will suffice.
- Is all your public address lettering and ADA usage in good repair? Inspect your fire lanes, handicap spaces, arrows, and ADA accesses whether concrete or asphalt to ensure that they are in acceptable condition.
An ESM Company Keeps the Green Coming and Helps You Stay in the Black!
As the spring season approaches, the site level and regional level facilities team has much to consider when evaluating your property’s exterior assets. Keep in mind, damage caused by snow removal equipment to turf, irrigation, planting beds, trees, curbs, parking bumpers, or fences should be identified and repaired by your snow removal company. Without proper care, your exteriors, and your bottom line, may suffer the consequences. By entrusting your exteriors to a tried and tested professional ESM company, you can focus on interior core competencies and appeal. Good winter maintenance, founded by proactive summer planning and implemented by an effective ESM company, offers the following benefits:
- Reduced overall maintenance costs
- Reduced sweeping costs
- Decreased frequency and severity of accidents
- Raised levels of service
- Increased equipment life
- Overall reduced material use
- Environmental impact lessened