Now is the time to Spring into Action! IKO Community Management would like to remind HOAs that the time has come to prepare for the spring season. Planting season is just around the corner! Caring for the grounds in a community association is something that needs to be done year-round—but when the harsh weather and cold temperatures of winter begin to fade, there’s a lot of work to be done to get things prepared for spring. Here's a HOA Community landscaping checklist to help get you started!
- The snow, ice and wind of winter make it by far the toughest season of the year in terms of wear-and-tear on landscape and grounds. Rain, snow and cold temperatures invariably take their toll on everything and it’s important that managers have a plan in place for dealing with the problems and getting their grounds looking both beautiful and healthy for residents wanting to take a stroll on the nice days ahead.
- It is usually up to the manager to make the initial steps in arranging for proper grounds care. Creating a list of specifications and what the job entails such as weekly cuttings, weeding, use of chemicals, weed control, shrub pruning, and flower plantings, are some of the items which the board will have to agree upon. Once this is done, it is now time to go out and get bids from usually two or three landscaping companies and contracts should be drawn up.
- Most managers will do a walk-through of the property in February or early March, weather permitting, and make a checklist for themselves so they will know what will need to be done. Items such as which plants have survived the winter season and which haven’t, and accessing the condition of the common areas for landscaping makes it easier to discuss with the landscaper later.
- Once the weather breaks, landscapers can begin the initial clean-up starting with collecting small branches lying on the ground and clearing out leaves that didn’t get cleaned up in the fall. Perhaps some patching in lawns, pruning trees and shrubs, and putting down weed control can be done at this time. Storm drains should also be checked and cleaned. These early days are not the time for planting yet due to the threat of possible snow still in March.
- April begins the planting season. Now is a good time to replace any shrubs or trees that did not survive the winter. Topsoil may need added to flower beds or lawns that may have been damaged from snow plows or excessive water from melting snows lying in low areas. Flowers, trees and shrubs should be appropriately chosen depending on the type of climate and location. Planting in early spring is best because of spring rains and cooler temperatures.
- With colorful flowering annuals you will want to wait until the frost season is over. There are many annuals that are hardy such as pansies for early spring color that can survive the cooler weather. Once it does warm up, these can then be replaced by summer, heat hardy, annuals. To clarify, annuals die every year and must be replaced but flower all summer. Perennials die off in the winter months but come back in the Spring, however, they usually have a shorter flowering period.
- Trees are one of a community’s biggest assets and should be inspected every few years by an arborist. If your landscape contractor only contracts to do maintenance pruning, having an arborist checking will ensure the trees are free of diseases, bugs, and fungi. Trees often are damaged in the winter months from ice storm, winter winds, and snow plows. Making sure they are properly maintained after winter will have your community looking its best and providing much needed shade during those hot summer months.
- Don’t forget the sprinkler system! Walk the common area landscaping with your landscape contractor. For landscapers, the sprinkler system is a major concern. They have to be opened up and made sure to be in proper order. Check the sprinkler system for broken pipes, missing or broken heads, and clogged valves. Turn on any outside water and hook up hoses to inspect for cracks and leaks. Remember to replace old washers. Splash blocks can be added where downspouts dump into landscaped areas. Look for wet, spongy areas in the lawn indicative of drainage problems. If severe enough, the landscaper can install drain tile pipe to dry the area out. Check for bare spots or pests in the lawn and ground cover.
- And while you inspect the grounds, have a look at any fencing in community common areas. Now is a good time to repair before planting season begins. This will make it much easier now than trying to replace after the planting and mulching is done. Check the posts to ensure they are solid and replace any that have dry rot or insect infestation. Using metal, redwood, cedar or pressure treated posts are the best. Look for signs of sprinkler overspray on fences and adjust spray heads accordingly. Repair broken fence boards and paint or seal them as needed.
IKO Community Management hopes putting these things in motion will help your homeowners association hit the ground running. Spring is also the time to finalize plans and contracts for large projects that will be executed in the summertime. Having a long-range plan in place to get your grounds looking their best is very important for any manager and board so that when spring comes around, they can concentrate on the immediate task at hand. Bring on Spring!