If your homeowners association finally has some room in the HOA budget to commit to landscaping efforts, summer is the best time to get started on re-doing those common areas.
IKO Community Management’s experts get into the weeds about how to handle plant design, what kind of edging to consider, which fertilizer to use, and so much more:
- Clean it up. After a stormy spring and hot summer, your common areas need a little TLC. Rake leaves in mid fall, power wash the builder’s exterior, and manicure the hedges.
- Get a tarp. Use a tarp to move lightweight bulky leaves, weeds, and brush. Use it to hold soil when digging a hole (to keep the grass clean) and to cover plants in the back of the truck when driving to and from the nursery.
- Use weed fabric strategically. Landscape fabric is most useful under gravel or mulch walkways to keep the material from sinking into the soil. Skip the weed barrier fabric in planted areas, as it only provides a short-term solution until weeds grow in the mulch on top of the fabric.
- Maintain focal points. Your community’s common area is for all to see and experience, so put most of your efforts there. Find something different that engages people like a texture or color.
- Create an edge. Instead of buying plastic or metal edging, hire a professional landscaping company to create a natural edge around beds for easier long-term maintenance and more flexibility for changes.
IKO Tip: Many professionals suggest edging in curves instead of straight lines to create appeal and character. Go with it!
- Use starter fertilizer. Starter fertilizers with low nitrogen, more phosphorus, and mycorrhizae-beneficial fungi provide a boost to new plantings by increasing the soil area from which plant roots draw their sustenance.
- Avoid formal landscapes. According to Dr. Pat Lindsey, a landscape design professor at North Carolina State University, symmetry is very expensive to upkeep. If you have identical evergreens on either side of the pool house and one dies, your HOA will have to replace both to keep the look. This adds an extra expense.
- Choose between bulk and bagged mulch. Buy bulk when it can be dumped on the spot where it’ll be spread. Buy bagged if it must be moved again after delivery.
- Consolidate annuals in pots or beds at high-visibility locations, like near the community pool or by playgrounds, to receive maximum impact and lower the cost.
- Make mowing common areas easier. Group plants into well-mulched beds and islands to avoid mowing and trimming around each individual plant.
- Add a sitting area. Who said landscaping had to be au natural? For a modern (and maybe necessary) touch to your common areas, add a metal bench or fun patio chairs.
- Keep the leaves. Mow small quantities into common area lawns to provide a light dose of grass fertilizer and food for earthworms. You can also use a bagging mower or leaf-shredding blower to grind up fall leaves to use as mulch or compost pile additions.
- Recycle grass clippings. "Use a mulching mower instead of bagging and dumping grass clippings to cut fertilizer requirements by 30 percent," according to HGTV.
- Consider hardscaping. Because your neighborhood has a pet policy and children roam in the grass, it’s a good time to consider hardscaping, which is the practice of strategically using pebbles, gravel, and bricks among greenery.
- Work from a plan. Because HOAs have limited budgets and resources, partner with a local company to create a master plan for your community. Think about future needs, work in phases, stick to the budget, and focus on small projects first.
- Have a maintenance checklist. Some HOA boards would rather hire a landscaping company for year-round maintenance. However, if your budget won’t budge past the initial work, consider downloading IKO Community Management’s Landscaping Checklist by clicking on the button below: