(HINT: Most HOA landscaping problems come from INSIDE the association!)
Almost summertime, and living is…okay well it’s HOA landscaping season so it might be a little chaotic. Water is getting turned back on any day now, pools are reopening in just a few short weeks, and a parade of new faces (landscapers and other assorted grounds maintenance folk) are about to start making weekly appearances. This is going to stress out your fellow homeowners, and if you don’t have a strong management team to handle your community’s summer needs, you’re going to have some headaches of your own.
1. Check your HOA Landscaping Contract
Ideally, you’ll have already wrapped up the vendor selection for your community’s landscaping, and any other grounds maintenance you may need. But if you haven’t done that yet, you’ll want to hit the ground running and start soliciting bids from local vendors. When you do, remember to take seasonal tasks into consideration, and keep in mind the timing of these tasks as well. The following outlines sample terms for a 28-week landscaping contract for a Utah HOA:
Example Landscaping Contract Terms
- Pre-emergent fertilization (to promote growth)
- Weekly lawn care – Mowing, trimming, edging, blowing, weeding
April to Oct
- Weekly lawn care
- Weekly irrigation system and sprinkler maintenance
- Regular weeding (depending on your community’s needs)
- Fertilization x2
- Pruning x2
Late Oct to Nov
- Fall Cleanup
- Winterizing irrigation system
- Final fertilization
Any vendor you solicit bids from should be happy to detail out a specialized plan for your community’s specific landscaping needs, or at the very least a detailed plan that has proven effective with your area’s plant life. Your community may also benefit from soil aeration, or hiring an arborist or other specialized vendor depending on the amount and quality of foliage in the neighborhood.
2. Set Expectations with Homeowners
All of this care and maintenance of the community areas may stir up some frustration in your homeowners. When new people show up and start doing a lot of work all at once, it can be an abrupt and confusing change. Your homeowners don’t know what is being contracted, and that can make them feel like they’re out of the loop when it comes to their own neighborhood.
Sending an informative email is a great way to ready your homeowners for the “new normal” they’ll encounter during landscaping season. Be sure to include information about what the vendors have been hired to do as well, to let homeowners know what is expected and what might need to be reported to the community manager.
Also remember that they may start to question what exactly it is their dues pay for–and it’s an understandable sentiment. Seeing all of the work that it takes to keep the community looking sharp may cause residents to wonder if they’re paying for a nicety, rather than a necessity. Consider including in your email a reminder that landscaping is more than just keeping your curbs pretty, it’s a long-term solution. Proper irrigation, fresh fertilizer, and winter preparation all ensure the future health of the community landscape, and avoid costly repairs like laying entirely new sod.
You can also reassure them that while the dues they pay do contribute to seasonal landscaping, they also cover far more, and that one season’s workload isn’t reflective of the entirety of what their dues support.
3. Provide a Method to Report HOA Landscaping Issues
That said, homeowners might start calling in with serious concerns. It’s worthwhile to remind the community of what should and should not be reported about vendor interactions:
- Damages to landscape such as grass torn up by large vehicles
- Broken sprinkler heads or irrigation repairs
- Possible damage to building or personal property due to rocks occasionally being flung from the mowers
- Non-contracted (and therefore unpaid) courtesies, such as wiping down a vinyl fence after mowing or edging
- Cutting down large and high to reach limbs or trees
Your email about the contracted responsibilities vendors will have will be a tremendous help in gently letting homeowners know what does and doesn’t qualify as something to report.
4. Choose the Right Partner to Manage HOA Landscaping Problems
Overall, landscaping season is going to have a lot of challenges to face. Let HOA Strategies shoulder that burden for you.
With over 600+ vendors in our extensive network, we have the support your community needs to thrive. And communities managed by HOA Strategies give homeowners access to the owner portal, making logging a service request for issues such as a broken sprinkler heads simple. Owners can then track when it was sent and when it will be expected to be done, alleviating the headache of constant phone calls about report status and other similar calls.