As homeowner associations age, both structures and landscape wear out. And just like those groovy harvest golds and avocado greens of the 70s, landscape tastes have changed. Fortunately, the varieties of plants available have made the options wonderful and numerous. The best news of all is that creative use of these options coupled with the latest irrigation technology can significantly reduce both maintenance and utility costs. That is landscape news every HOA can use: more is less. Here are few pointers to get the landscape renovation process moving:
1. Develop a Landscape Plan. Rather than cruising Walmart looking for plant bargains, hire a landscape architect who will integrate site, irrigation, curb appeal and maintenance needs in a comprehensive plan. This plan will include specific plant selections that are placed appropriately for best impact. The plan can then be bid by a variety of installation contractors so the HOA can get the best value.
2. Convert Turf to Planting Beds. Reduce maintenance and water costs. Bushes have deeper roots than turf and require less water.
3. Tree Thinning and Replacement. Developers are notoriously bad about planting too many trees, the wrong kind or letting the low bid dictate the number or mix. Generally, since new trees come in small calipers, it takes more of them to make the desired marketing impact. What did the job 20 to 30 years ago has now produced an over dense mix of trees that are too close to buildings, roads and walkways. An arborist can evaluate the mix and make removal and replacement recommendations to suit a mature landscape.
4. Modernize the Irrigation System. Recent improvements to irrigation technology now deliver water where and when it’s needed. With more zone control, turf and planting beds receive differing water amounts. Rain override sensors eliminate cycles as needed. Drip irrigation provides steady yet low water flows to planting beds. Buried drip systems apply water directly to the roots, and reduce water loss through evaporation and runoff. Drip systems are coupled with traditional sprinkler systems to deliver water efficiently.
For any homeowner association over 20 years old, the time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things. But few things are more compelling than landscape renovation. Cut costs, lower maintenance, improve curb appeal and up market values…a true plantasy.