By Salvatore Sciacca – Chicago Property Services
Now that the winter season is in full swing, it is the right time to look a few months ahead and start considering vendors to handle your 2022 community association landscaping needs. Whether you live in a condo, townhome or HOA association, having the right landscaper is crucial to ensure your association curb appeal is the best it can be within your budgetary constraints.
One of the first questions to ask is what are your landscaping needs as a community association? Do you want basic landscaping maintenance? Do you want maintenance and some annual plantings in the Spring and Fall seasons? Do you want to replace some dead bushes and trees? Or do you want to enhance your landscaping in 2022? Or all the above? Now is the time to figure out your needs as a community association. This might mean calling a meeting of the landscaping committee. Alternatively, it might mean an impromptu townhall meeting with the homeowners to figure out people’s opinions and discuss longer term capital planning for much needed landscaping upgrades.
Once you have determined the landscaping needs of the association, the board can instruct the management company to formulate a bid spec that specifies the association requirements for 2022.
The bid specification otherwise known as an RFP (request for proposal), is a document that the board/management company sends out to vendors requesting a bid for the specified services.
Basic Landscaping Maintenance
In this scenario, the bid spec that is sent out to the vendors might have the following specifications:
Enhancing or Expanding the Association Landscaping
In this scenario, the association might want to consider hiring a landscape architect or designer to provide a professional design for the landscaping improvements. If the association wants to do this, it would be rather difficult to send out an RFP to 3 architects and get a price for their services and the design. In this circumstance, it is best that the association agrees to a budget for landscaping improvements and then approach different landscape architects and see which architect is the best fit for the association. Some landscape architects offer a design/build approach where they provide the entire solution from start to finish. In other words, the landscaping architect will provide the association a layout and design and will also provide the services to implement the design. In this scenario, the association does not have control over who performs the upgrades to the landscaping.
Alternatively, the association can ask their current landscaping company if they offer landscaping design services. Some landscaping companies are full service and can provide the enhancements as well. Associations that are considering upgrades to their landscaping should look at both options and determine which option is the best fit for the association given the budget that is allocated.
Another element that is just as important as landscaping maintenance is tree care or tree maintenance. Many landscape maintenance companies don’t maintain larger association trees. However, some landscaping companies do offer tree pruning services (up to a certain height), but those extensive pruning services are usually not included in the landscaping maintenance contract. As a result, the associations should consider having a professional tree care company handle the maintenance of the trees. This is especially important for associations that have many trees on the property. The benefit of having a professional tree maintenance company is that they can not only maintain the trees by shaping them and trimming them as necessary, but they can also care for them so that they live longer while staying in the best shape and condition as possible. By reactively caring for the association trees, there is a higher risk of trees dying and removing dead trees is very expensive, especially when you include the cost of stump removal.
Having a plan of action for the association landscaping is essential to keeping a high level of community association curb appeal. When a potential buyer comes to the association, one of the first things that they see is the landscaping. The aesthetics of well-maintained association grounds is also essential for homeowners as they want to see their assessments going towards tangible services at the association. In addition, having a proactive landscaping maintenance plan and capital plan for landscaping upgrades can provide homeowners significant visual enjoyment and a soothing environment when they spend time at their home with their family and friends.