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Legacy West Wins NALP Award of Excellence for Commercial Landscape Maintenance

Legacy West, which opened in 2017, sits on 240 acres of multi-use land. The area is surrounded with hotels, corporate campuses, offices, and high-end multifamily residences. Our focus for landscape management is a 0.4 mile stretch along the center strip. The main road is lined with upscale shops such as Tiffany’s and Louis Vuitton and several restaurants including Del Frisco’s Steakhouse. Our maintenance plan requires special attention to 302 seasonal color beds and planters and overseeded turf. This small area creates its own microclimate with heat from car traffic, high winds, shade from tall buildings and mature trees, and lots of pedestrian traffic that lack respect for the plants.

The newest section of the property was completed in 2020 and includes high-end tenants and clients. The customer requested seasonal color for this newest section to be denser than the rest of the center with greater plant diversity. We plant on 4” centers. We use non-traditional seasonal choices for this section which might include shrubs and other specialty plants not typically used in our hardiness zone. Examples include variegated ginger, juniper trees and elephant ears. We grow the plants specifically for this section. Due to the size, need and specificity, we plan 6 months in advance and contract grow and source through local nurseries.

This site is a high traffic, highly visible property with daily visitors. The management of the center will host an average of 4-5 tours a month for other owners, investors, managers, and developers from around the world. Due to the tenant and client demographics, regular tours, last minute tours, and management expectations, this property must be in pristine condition every day. We manage daily expectations with two porters that work 8 hours, 5 days a week. The porters will manage bed debris, weeding, and dead heading color. They meet the immediate need of any hand watering. They report any larger requests immediately. Some of the larger challenges are broken planters from being run over, plants that are stolen, and irrigation not working.

This site has constant high winds, particularly in the south end. Heat from window reflections, shade from mature live oaks, and tall buildings. This produces challenges in establishing plants and keeping it perfectly irrigated-no fungal growth or over drying. The irrigation challenge means we schedule multiple run times for cycle soak during non-peak hours. We make sure we have proper soil prep and fertilizer ratio when color is installed. Micro sprays are used to help as well. Consistent and detailed irrigation reports and repairs help meet the challenge too.

Color occupies the largest percentage of bed space and a top priority for management. For this reason, this site is a draw for social media features, social media pictures, and special occasion photography. For all areas, except the newest retail section, we plant 6” spacing and average 1,143 one gallons, 82 three gallons, and over 1,100 flats of premium color every seasonal change. One color change requires 6 months of planning with on-site meetings, color sequencing maps, and spreadsheets. We have color grown just for this site and time the bloom rate to be the same time. We must stage the color install with daily color deliveries that works best around the constant foot traffic. We fertilize the color five times a year. The complete property color install will take 30 days.

During any given time of year, there is construction due to a new store installation. During this time, a construction wall is put up enclosing the entire sidewalk, including color planters. When construction is complete, the color planters in front of the new area must be reconnected to irrigation and matched to other planter color. To reconnect the planters, we lift sidewalk tiles, rewire, and reconnect all irrigation to the planters. Temporary irrigation is put in place until the entire irrigation can be done correctly.

This is an example of our color staging. One of the challenges is positioning plant materials close enough to that day’s workspace for optimal crew efficiency, while not impeding the high volume of pedestrian traffic. With our strong relationship with our growers, we stay in constant communication of install dates to ensure plants are at maximum bloom rate when planted. With the planting process of 4 weeks, we have varying install times that the grower works with to determine initial seed dates.

One of the most recent enhancements included refreshing a large section of tired beds on the south end of the property. After 6 months of planning, we timed all deliveries around the busy time of the shops and restaurants, and several rain days. Design consideration included adding a large number of plants that would be evergreen while incorporating perennial blooms to add yearly returning color. We installed over 200 evergreen shrubs including variety of Abelia, Loropetalum, and Holly. We planted over 100, one-gallon perennial Rock Roses. We also added 11 tons of New Mexico River Rock to create a more contemporary look. Doing this installation helped add color through perennials and save the high maintenance of flowers.

Pots line the streets and in order to keep them full we use plants of different textures, sizes, and heights to give a nice aesthetic. The centerpiece Azaleas require special high acidic fertilization and attention to prevent and treat any insect damage. The shown centerpiece Azalea’s received damage from the 2021 ice storm but re-flushed nicely for the Spring color. They have since been pulled and replaced as part of the summer color installation. They were replaced with Cordyline, Variegated Tapioca, Flax Lilies, and Elephant Ears. As part of the pot maintenance, we check for insects, fungal disease, and remove spend bloom

Some of the challenges of the multiple roadway planters include parking along side the planters and heavy foot traffic. On a daily basis we find various debris in the planters. The debris includes cigarettes, wine glasses, and footprints from social media influencers. Our improved irrigation system helps with the constant heat from cars and window glare.

During this install it was of utmost importance to keep a clean working environment. We achieved this with the help of shovels, wheelbarrows, trowel, and blowers. This is a restaurant patio, so guests would begin consuming food and drinks within hours of our install. Our challenge was to work around tables, chairs, and planters that would not move. The customer goal was not to have seasonal color changeouts but rather create the desired visual utilizing a variety of colors and textures. Due to the shade of the patio and Live Oaks, we chose our palette from shade loving plants.

Since we started two years ago, the beds have seen significant improvement in soil quality and optimal irrigation. To help improve the soil, we have an incredibly detailed process with each color change. We start by removing prior season color. We pull back all current drip irrigation. We till in large quantities of professional compost and shale soil which continuingly improves the nutrient content of the soil. Once that is complete, we rake the soil, re-establish all drip irrigation, pin the drip irrigation, and install planting. This detailed process is why color install for the entire property takes 30 days. To improve the irrigation, we added hydrazones, drip stake emitters, and wireless controllers throughout the property.

Part of our rigorous training ensures our onsite crew presents the most professional appearance possible while staying safe. Our crews are provided pants because we have a higher end dress code of “no jeans allowed.” High visibility vests and hats, with company logo, are another requirement due to the high traffic in the area. When the crew feels safe, they can focus on their work better. The vest and hat also identify who we are while working.

This main entry island is the start of the Legacy West micro-climate and the most challenging. The location is hard to work around because it has the most vehicle traffic on the property. To meet the microclimate challenge, our crew and porters have to constantly monitor this area for weeds, fungal growth, or dryness. Another challenge is the install. The crew has to do soil prep and install all inside the fencing. We make sure we wear our bright color safety vest and use traffic cones to draw attention to the workers and keep them safe.