Parking Lot Design: How Can I Enhance My Parking Lot Islands?

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practical parking lot design is perfect for parking lot islandsThe parking lot islands on your Kauai commercial property are compact parcels of opportunity — if you select sustainable turf, slow-growing plants and landscape materials that can handle foot traffic.

We always talk about microclimates, and in many ways your islands are small microclimates within your property. The soil quality is likely different than in areas surrounding your buildings. The exposure to wind might also be greater, since the patch of land is surrounded by wide, open parking space. And, let’s not forget fluctuating soil temperatures, thanks to a hard surface that transfers sun and warmth to the ground.

A parking lot island can be a rugged environment, but there are smart commercial landscaping solutions that you can implement to turn these spots into focal points that improve the look of your parking lot.

Here are some practical parking lot enhancements that will, quite literally, boost your Kauai commercial property’s curb appeal.

Plant Sustainable Turf

We’re talking about parking lot islands, so you’d think the traffic we’d be most concerned about would be from vehicles. But actually, it’s foot traffic that can be a big problem on your islands, and this is a real killer for groundcover.

Think about your commercial property: When people open their car doors and step out of their vehicles, where do their feet land? If they secured the spot right next to the island, they’re likely walking on that ground. So, the plants and turf that exist on the parking lot island must be sustainable and hardy, low-maintenance and versatile.

We advise against groundcover, which will inevitably get stomped on and does not have the comeback capability that a solid turf such as El Toro Zoysiagrass. Also, parking lot islands tend to attract debris, and raking grass is much easier than picking garbage out of groundcover. The easiest, least expensive way to enhance your parking lot island is to simply plant grass that will handle the challenging soil conditions.

Choose A Compact, Showy Tree

Harpullia pendulla is a good tree for parking lot islandsSelect a tree for the parking lot island to draw the eye up. This will provide a nice balance considering the otherwise horizontal surroundings of the parking lot’s hard surface.

We’d like to emphasize choosing a tree—as in one. Resist the temptation to plant a robust bed within a parking lot island because the soil’s nutrients must support the plants growing there. Maintaining the spot will require more resources if you over-plant the space. So, keep it simple. Choose a tree.

We have a suggestion: Try Harpullia Pendulla, also known as Tulipwood. The small tree has a narrow trunk yet provides a nice canopy, delivering shade to the parking lot. (Who doesn’t want to park in a shaded spot?) Also, this compact tree will not obstruct views. The last thing you want is to create visibility issues for drivers.

Another option is a single palm, not of the clumping variety. Keep in mind that coconut palm trees are not an ideal choice for parking lot islands because of the risk of falling objects—the fruit. Along those lines, trees that shed seeds are a maintenance headache.

Practical Parking Lot Design For Your Parking Lot Islands

We wish we could include a slide show of parking lot island don’ts, because we see these mistakes so often: palm trees with falling coconuts or seed-producing plants, groundcover that traps debris and suffers because of pedestrian traffic, turf that can’t stand the exposure to constant sun and wind, intricate flower beds that get trampled on. (You get the picture.) These are scenarios you want to avoid in a parking lot island landscape.

The keys to enhancing your islands are to keep the landscape simple, practical and sustainable. Select a single tree as a focal point and surround it with hardy turf. This arrangement provides shade and punctuates the parking lot with a green statement.

Let’s talk more about landscaping solutions for challenging spaces on your Kauai commercial property. Call us any time at (808) 335-5887, or fill out our simple contact form and we’ll get in touch with you.


Image: Harpullia pendula

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