Kukui Grove — Reviving Kauai’s Largest Retail Center
As the Island of Kauai’s largest retail center and only regional mall, Kukui Grove Center never takes a day off. It can’t.
From island residents to vacationing tourists, this 50-acre regional mall has to look it’s best sun up to sun down, day in and day out. And it relies on its landscaping to help make that happen.
“Landscaping is such an integral part of creating a productive retail environment,” says Wade Lord, Asset Manager, Kukui Grove Center. “If consumers are going to spend money, they need to feel good about where they are shopping.”
A few years back, however, Kukui Grove Center was a property that presented a number of landscaping and maintenance challenges:
The entryway had been neglected and needed a makeover to reflect the shopping center’s status in the community.
The sloped land required special plant material consideration and erosion-control measures.
Age-old Norfolk pine trees on the land had been severely damaged by a hurricane that swept through the island nearly two decades ago. The trees never recovered.
The concrete areas within the shopping confines were monotonous and lacked functional seating for visitors.
In working closely with Kukui Grove’s management team, this property symbolized a place where No Ka Oi could make a difference.
Abby and Frank Santos, No Ka Oi Landscape Services owners, challenged their team to restore and re-energize the landscape of this important Kauai commercial property, focusing on proper techniques for landscaping on a slope and creating powerful curb appeal for this retail landmark.
Focusing On The First Impression
Before No Ka Oi’s landscape renovation, Kukui Grove Center lacked an impressive “first impression” type of entryway consumers have come to expect from prominent retail properties.
According to Abby and Frank, Kukui Grove’s curb appeal was not conducive to attracting retail stores, or creating a memorable impression with visitors, whether locals or tourists. So creating an entryway that reflected its prominence in the community was a priority for the commercial landscape contractor.
“We made it our personal mission to design a landscape entryway that shows people all this property has to offer,” Abby says. This was especially important as the property increased occupancy rates and attracted national stores that include: Pier One, Sports Authority and Macy’s.
Proper Plant Selection For Erosion Control
The steep slope entryway to Kukui Grove needed to be managed so the property could maintain its integrity — by preventing a gradual landslide.
“On a large, landscaped property like Kukui Grove, soil erosion is always on your mind,” Lord says. “You can’t have dirt and mud running across public walkways and public driveways every time it rains.”
With an average annual rainfall of 40 inches in Lihue, erosion is a major concern. No Ka Oi addressed this with terracing, a solid solution for preventing erosion and creating a visually appealing landscape.
The terracing on Kukui Grove was created by using stone boulders, which No Ka Oi’s team and its equipment painstakingly placed on the slope.
Water rolls down a slope, leaving the top of the grade thirsty and the bottom saturated. Knowing this, No Ka Oi selected drought-tolerant plant material for the top of the sloped area, and plants that prefer wet conditions for the base of the property.
The slope in itself presented microclimates because of soil conditions and wind exposure. This is where native landscape experts play a critical role in creating a landscape that truly works with the Kauai terrain.
Improving Safety And Aesthetics At The Same Time
Norfolk pine trees on the Kukui Grove property had been damaged by a hurricane that hit Kauai nearly two decades ago. The mature trees never truly recovered and presented a true safety hazard to the property. Not to mention, they detracted from the appearance of the grounds. No Ka Oi removed the trees — no small task — which opened up sightlines to the entrance of the retail center.
"We had legitimate safety concerns," Lord says about the trees in question. "No Ka Oi created an attractive, tropical look by replacing the pine trees with several large planters. It's a beautiful design and they timed the project in a way that it was done very quickly."
Raised Planters Turned Guest Seating
Whenever an element in your landscaping can serve more than a single purpose, the more valuable the feature becomes to you and your guests. The raised planters throughout the shopping confines of Kukui Grove Center are a perfect example of that.
Short walls with smooth tops set at a sitting-appropriate height encompass the planters. This amenity gives Kukui Grove visitors another opportunity to sit down, rest and spend more time on site.
These seasonal and colorfully functional planters also excel at breaking up the monotony of hardscape and concrete areas — common on many commercial properties.
From Kukui Grove's entryway renovation to seasonal planters that double as guest seating, Lord is very happy with the quality and overall look of the retail center's landscaping since No Ka Oi over the site's landscaping needs in 2012.
"One thing I really like about No Ka Oi is they spend a great deal of time coming up with ideas and suggestions," he says. "It’s a partnership in that regard. Where, it’s not a top down kind of relationship where we have to come up with the ideas and they execute. It's a collaboration where ideas are shared and encouraged."
Commercial landscaping is an investment that requires upgrades and continued maintenance. Contact No Ka Oi any time at 808.335.5887, or fill out this simple contact form and we’ll get in touch with you. Let’s start a conversation about your Kauai property — and discuss the updates and grounds management care that can take your landscape to the next level.
Erosion control for sloped landscape
Mature, damaged tree replacement
Raised planters that double as wall seating
One thing I really like about No Ka Oi is they spend a great deal of time coming up with ideas and suggestions. It’s a partnership in that regard. It’s not a top down kind of relationship where we have to come up with the ideas and they execute. It's a collaboration where ideas are shared and encouraged.