Most associations have a robust landscaping budget, but the practical purposes accomplished by good landscaping makes it money well spent.
Landscaping can save money. Substituting perennial ground cover for grass greatly reduces maintenance, and drought-tolerant plants reduce water costs.
Shrubs and trees screen unsightly utility boxes, trash areas or an unfortunate view. They also make effective sound barriers and privacy screens.
Landscaping creates new habitats. Some parts of the grounds can be untended natural areas where small shrubs and saplings grow, thus creating habitats for birds, chipmunks and other small animals.
Landscaping adds color. Flowering trees add color in spring. Purple plum trees, specimen evergreens and other colorful varieties provide color throughout the year.
Landscaping can direct common-area traffic. For example, shrubs planted in strategic locations will funnel pedestrians toward an exit.
Landscaping can stabilize awkward topography. A terraced slope planted with ground cover or small shrubs has a dramatic effect without minimal maintenance issues.
Landscaping provides visual interest, especially when it incorporates architectural elements like fountains, arbors, gazebos or fences.
Landscaping is a long-term investment in the community that rewards individual homeowners and the association as well. So, maintaining common areas is one of the board’s most basic responsibilities. To fulfill that responsibility, boards commonly contract with a professional landscaping company. Before signing the contract, boards will solicit bids from several potential companies, carefully consider the competence and expertise of each company, check references, and compare fees.
These fees may seem like an added—or even unnecessary—expense; but, in the long run, the additional cost will be less than the losses an Association would face without professional help. Consider the advantages:
Professional Expertise: It takes more than a green thumb to maintain attractive and functional landscaping. Contractors employ professional staff and trained labor crews. This expertise translates into a cost-effective and successful landscape maintenance program for your community.
Bulk Purchase Savings: Landscape contractors purchase plants and supplies in bulk quantities at reduced prices and pass the savings along to the Association.
No Equipment to Buy or Maintain: The association doesn’t have to purchase, store, insure, maintain, or buy fuel for equipment.
Improved Plant Survival: Trees, turf, shrubs, and other plantings are costly. Without proper care, they don’t survive, especially immediately after installation. The landscaper guarantees newly planted shrubs and trees, so you don’t have to pay for replacing dead plants.
Reduced Liability: The association’s landscape contractor is properly insured and knowledgeable about—and in compliance with—all local and federal environmental requirements and safety regulations. The contract shifts responsibility to the contractor and reduces the association’s liability.
Landscaping is very important to the community’s quality of life and its image and value. Maintaining it can be very expensive. Is it worth what the association pays for these services? Yes! In fact, failing to invest in professional landscape maintenance is a false economy because curb appeal makes your neighborhood desirable and contributes to the value of individual homes.