Landscapes of the Month: Restoring a Tropical Landscape to Health - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Restoring a Tropical Landscape to Health

When the board of directors of a luxury beachfront, high-rise property in Bal Harbour, Florida, decided they wanted their landscape to stand out from the rest of the condos in the area, they chose VisualScape Inc., to manage their landscape. Located on the world-famous Collins Avenue, the landscape needed to be pristine and healthy and live up to the high standards of a demanding board and more than 400 residences.

Photo: VisualScape, Inc.

Ivan Vila, president of VisualScape Inc., says they exceeded the board’s expectations despite the challenging conditions they inherited. Their restoration won VisualScape Inc., a prestigious Gold Award in the 2021 Awards of Excellence, an honor Vila says is a great source of pride for his company.

“The award has been great for us,” Vila says. “It’s such a powerful motivator for our team. We took a total of nine employees to the show where we had the opportunity to meet others in the industry, bond over dinners and be recognized among our peers.”

The customer was thrilled too, and the winning plaque hangs in the office on the property where the board and residents can see it.

“The client feels like it reflects well on their property and is a source of pride for them,” Vila says. “It’s good marketing for the client and for us.”

Restoring the property into award-winning condition came with a lot of challenges.

Much of the landscape is over 30 years old and keeping it looking fresh and new is a continuing challenge. Proper management including pruning, providing nutrients, pest and disease control and irrigation is a must. Managing and explaining this to the customer keeps everyone informed about the ongoing projects.

Photo: VisualScape, Inc.

When Vila first met with the original property manager and eight board members, they were not happy with the condition and health of the property and wanted it up to par immediately.

Due to the beachfront location, the property is highly exposed to salt spray and damaging windstorms creating dry, wind-burned palms and shrubs. In addition, the previous landscape company’s improper land and pest management practices created Bermudagrass and plant deficiencies. Vila says that when they took over the property in March 2020, the Bermuda lawn was 70 percent covered with weeds and over-saturated by water. Also, the Medjool palms were in distress, which required immediate attention.

“Because we have no control over the damaging weather conditions, we take a proactive approach that involves consistently monitoring and treating as needed,” Vila says.

Their process includes applying anti-desiccant during the driest times of the year with the heaviest winds and ensuring the irrigation system is always applying the right amount of water to the rootzone of all plants and lawn areas.

To address the Bermuda lawn, plants and Medjool palm deficiencies they established an effective monthly integrated pest management program that included bud-drenching, fertilizer, soil testing, and insect and herbicide treatments.

The biggest issue was when, after much assessment, they were not able to save one of the Medjool palms and most of the lawn.

Photo: VisualScape, Inc.

The loss of the Medjool palm and most of their lawn areas did not sit easy with the board members. Luckily with proper documentation, VisualScape was able to show that pre-existing conditions made it impossible to salvage these two items.

“We made the removal and replacement process as seamless as possible. Due to pro-active communication, organization, and proper documentation, the customer stayed informed and happy throughout the process,” Vila says.

When a new property manager came with managing new expectations, Vila’s team was up to the challenge.

“They have told us that they are pleased with the quality of work we are providing to them, and the look and quality of the landscaping,” Vila says. “Because of their high-end location where they are competing with nearly 30 beachfront buildings, they have seen an increase in their marketing goals, and we have had referrals from potential customers who see our work on display.”

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your projects by July 11, 2022.