Fact Sheet

Landscape and Exterior Lighting

Landscaping and lighting can add beauty and value to commercial property. More importantly from a safety viewpoint, if lighting is used properly, it can add security for both the property and the people who work in the building. Landscaping and lighting when improperly used can create a safety hazard.


Landscaping is used in many commercial properties to improve the appearance of the facility and to create a professional atmosphere. Landscaping can create a number of safety-related problems if not properly installed and maintained. These include:

Trees and bushes near a building must be kept trimmed and the ground under these trees and bushes kept clean. Overgrown bushes can damage the exterior structure of a building, provide breeding places for unwanted pests such as rats and insects, and provide hiding places for people who would break into the facility or harm the people working in the building.

Trees must be professionally maintained. Trees that get out of control can cause a hazard in high winds. The roots of trees can cause a great deal of damage to structures, roads and walkways. Additionally, falling limbs and debris can be hazardous to people, and to vehicles.

Leaves from trees must be removed from walkways and steps to prevent slipping hazards.

Watering systems for landscaping must be maintained properly. A broken water system can cause flooding and damage to structures in the area.

Exterior Lighting

Lighting can be both decorative and functional. The proper use of lighting can create a safer place to work. Some essentials of good lighting include:

Lighting must be properly installed and maintained. As the lighting circuits are outdoors and exposed to weather, cabling and connections designed for exterior use must be installed. "Ground fault" switches should be used, and all switches, connections and fixtures should be checked on a regular basis to verify they are in good repair.


Landscaping and exterior lighting are an important part of the beauty and functionality of a building. However, both require regular and careful maintenance. Landscaping must be properly maintained. Trees must be kept trimmed. Leaves must be removed. Lighting systems must be maintained.


Oliver, Barbara B., Managing Facility Risk: 10 Steps to Safety, Nonprofit Risk Management Center, Washington, DC, 2004.

Landscaping and Exterior Lighting Checklist