As you may have heard from customers, retail therapy is surprisingly hard work.
Between navigating a parking lot, following foot traffic, and standing in long lines, customers have a lot of opportunity to become agitated while shopping.
In “The Fall of the Mall,” Pamela Danziger notes that convenience may be behind the growing popularity of outdoor malls, “where customers can drive up and park near the store they want to go to, get what they want, then spend the rest of their time strolling the center to discover and explore other things and experiences.”
As the manager of a retail center or a shopping mall, you have an opportunity to put visitors in a buying mood and encourage longer stays — and you can do this with the help of smart landscape design.
What Landscape Ideas Work Best for Shopping Centers in Western Washington?
In Whatcom, Skagit, and Snohomish Counties, we are surrounded by nature; it’s one of the biggest draws of the area. We also have spacious outdoor malls and shopping centers.
Since residents in Western Washington are so comforted by parks, mountains, and trees, it makes sense to bring this same comfort to the retail experience.
So, what does it take to build a vibrant shopping atmosphere with lush greenery and colorful, eye-catching features?
Here is a rundown of winning landscaping ideas for retail centers and shopping malls in the Pacific Northwest.
Commercial Landscape Design Ideas that Inspire Buyers
In Bellingham, Everett, Mount Vernon, and the surrounding areas, our customers value nature. The best commercial landscaping will align with your customer’s values. Here are a few ideas for incorporating nature into your shopping mall design.
Install seating and tables with plant life
Refresh weary shoppers indoors and outdoors with benches and tables that intermingle with plant life. Consider installing benches with built-in planters so that your seating blends in with nature.
To convey to customers your shared passion for the outdoors, you can develop themed seating to complement your landscaping.
Natural wood meshes well with plant life and offsets pavement.
For an example of themed seating, check out these “rocks” in a shopping center in Belgium:
This photo of Wijnegem Shopping Center is courtesy of TripAdvisor
If your landscape contractor installs particularly interesting foliage on your property, customers may post pictures of your shopping center on TripAdvisor or on social media.
Word-of-mouth advertising can position your shopping center as a destination, which will help bring in even more curious customers.
Install corners of ecology indoors and out
Nothing breaks up the drab color of metal and concrete like curated corners of lush greenery. Help shoppers forget they’re in a shopping center while freshening the air with familiar trees, shrubs, and flowers native to the Pacific Northwest.
Sections of plant life can soften your shopping center and create an upscale feel. Washington-inspired landscaping ideas include rain-absorbing gardens (in your parking lot, in dining areas, and along the walls of your building). These types of installations are useful here, where we get a lot of rainfall.
Ideas for indoor landscaping include shrubbery islands and mini gardens beneath escalators.
While native plant life is a safe bet for creating a sense of comfortable familiarity with customers, you might consider an alternative approach: bringing in exotic plants to differentiate your brand.
Embrace exotic plant life
Exotic plants are a dramatic way to differentiate your shopping center from the competition. They provide new and memorable experiences for first-time visitors and a distinct look for your brand.
Just be sure to hire a commercial landscape contractor who knows how to install (and care for) exotic plants. A knowledgable landscaper can advise you on which plants will survive in the Pacific Northwest — after all, there’s often a reason these plants are exotic.
Go for festive splashes of color
Include seasonal specks of color in your retail center’s landscape; it will help keep your location interesting and build a festive mood with customers. Consider red flowers during the winter holidays. Or try spring-friendly purple violets in March and April.
Native plants by dominant color include:
Red: Clustered Wild Rose (Rosa pisocarpa), Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
Yellow: Oregon Sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum)
Purple: Davidson’s Penstemon (Penstemon davidsonii), Western Dog Violet (Viola adunca)
White: Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)
Install running water features
It’s no secret that most people living in Western Washington love natural flowing water. We find it calming and relaxing.
Provide a place for shoppers to re-energize (encouraging longer stays) by installing natural water features like fountains, water walls, and waterfalls.
P.S. Don’t forget outdoor lighting
Obviously, safety comes first. Highlight your walkways and illuminate your parking lot with strategically placed commercial lighting. Your lighting can fit with your theme, too. And you can add festive lights seasonally to get customers into a gift-giving spirit.
What to Ask Your Commercial Landscaper
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