Landscapes of the Month: Restoring a Headquarters' Neglected Landscape - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Restoring a Headquarters’ Neglected Landscape

Photo: Monarch Landscape Management, LLC

The Phillips 66 World Headquarters in Houston, Texas, achieved LEED Platinum status when the campus was built. They believe in maintaining a sustainable landscape environment, but in three years, the property had deteriorated due to gross neglect from the previous landscape contractor. After securing a new landscape maintenance company, the decision was made to renovate the entire campus.

A before picture of the condition of the plantings before Monarch renovated.
Photo: Monarch Landscape Management, LLC

Monarch Landscape Management, LLC, based in Houston, Texas, was referred to the facilities manager by an employee that knew Monarch.

“We were called in for a series of interviews prior to being awarded the project,” says Jason Mathers, president of Monarch. “During the interviews, they saw how our safety culture aligned with their core values and also understood how our vision for the property could be realized.”   

Monarch’s renovation work on the headquarters earned them a Gold Award in the 2021 Awards of Excellence.

“Our vision at Monarch Landscape Management is ‘To be the Premiere Landscape company in the Greater Houston Market,’” Mathers says. “Receiving this national recognition from NALP helps to validate our vision becoming a reality. Our purpose of consistently delivering the highest horticultural standard for our clients is a key area of focus for our team. To bring a landscape that was in need of a complete makeover to this level of quality and while solving our client’s concerns is truly gratifying.  Their employees and visitors now have a welcoming landscape to enjoy. I am so grateful to have such a great team here at Monarch Landscape Management who truly have the passion needed to become a premiere organization.”

The client wasn’t sure what they wanted to see with the renovations other than a beautiful landscape.

Photo: Monarch Landscape Management, LLC

“The landscape and turf had been overwatered for years, leading to many plants dying and having to be removed,” Mathers says. “The landscape that survived had also become overgrown and the existing turf had developed a deep thatch and was inundated with weeds.”

Monarch had to win the trust of the client due to the bad experience with the past landscape contractor.

“The client was eager to work with a new vendor that could turn around their dire situation,” Mathers says. “Monarch gives each client a dedicated account manager as a chief point of contact and communication for the entire team to eliminate confusion. Once the design, budget and timeline were approved, daily communication with management was key. We also routinely walked the project with the client, providing visual progress updates.”   

One of the major challenges of the job was the heavy security and site logistics.

Photo: Monarch Landscape Management, LLC

“Being the world headquarters of a major company, safety and security is a priority,” Mathers says. “Every Monarch employee sent to the job had to undergo a 30-minute safety orientation before being allowed to enter and work on the property. Daily, each employee had to present ID, check-in with security and sign in and out on a roster sheet. Each crew also had to follow the site-specific guidelines, policies, fill out a job detail and safety protocol sheet.”

Additionally, work on the project started at the height of COVID-19 so temperatures were taken daily at arrival at Monarch’s office and again at the jobsite by security personnel.

The renovation of the campus was split into three phases. Phase I started in spring 2020 and was completed in summer 2020. Phase I accounts for about one-third of the total campus landscaped area.  

Almost all of the plant material was replaced and the turf expanded during the landscape renovation with most of the original trees remaining. Most of the existing Bermuda turf was kept and had intense weed removal and fertilization rehabilitation. An additional 1,250 yards of Bermuda sod was installed.

Part of the project was addressing and evaluating the 35-zone irrigation system in place as the existing irrigation system was in disrepair. The drip zone piping had to be repaired from existing leaks and cuts.

Photo: Monarch Landscape Management, LLC

The owner wanted to change underperforming landscape areas near the building entry into cobbled areas that matched a special blend of cobble that was no longer available. Monarch had to improvise and blend five different color cobbles separately.

The 14-acre campus has 15- and 13-story buildings with an 8-story parking garage so attention to detail was critical so the views of the landscape were perfect, even from above.  

A total of 8,500 1-gallon plants and 725 3-gallon plants were installed during the landscape renovation project. Even though the previous plantings had failed primarily from overwatering, the existing soil fertility was found to be excellent.

Very little annual color was incorporated in the landscape renovation design as there is a tremendous amount of blooming perennials, such as lantana, coreopsis and coneflowers.

Photo: Monarch Landscape Management, LLC

The client had several dozen milkweed plants on campus and was committed to maintaining them to support the monarch butterfly population. An additional 300 milkweed plants along with other pollinator and structure plants needed by the monarch butterfly were included in the new landscape renovation project at select locations. The Phillips 66 World Headquarters is certified and registered by Monarch Watch as an official Monarch Waystation #28872.

The client was so pleased with Monarch’s work renovating the campus, they approved phase II, which is set to start in 2022 with the third phase to follow.

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your project when entries open in February 2022. 

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.