Proper landscaping can be integral to the success of your homeowners association. It helps boost property values and keep homeowners satisfied, but it also brings in more potential homeowners. Maintaining landscaping, though, is often tough without the help of the right HOA landscaping companies.
Looking for the Best HOA Landscaping Companies? Here’s How
As a board member, you have a responsibility to maintain the community. But, try as you may, you can’t do it alone. You need help in the form of third-party HOA vendors to carry out various essential services. This includes landscaping, maintenance and upkeep, plumbing, electrical work, and the like.
As with all other services, you naturally want to hire the best HOA landscaping company to maintain your neighborhood’s green spaces. The search and hiring process, though, is often easier said than done. To help you out, here are some of the most crucial steps you shouldn’t miss:
1. Assess Your Community’s Needs
Before looking for a landscaper, you must first evaluate the needs of your community. Are you satisfied with how your current landscaping looks? You can also outline the specific landscaping services you require in the coming year. Are you looking for basic maintenance or something more along the lines of a major project?
Once you have a good understanding of your landscaping needs, you can approach your search process in a more strategic manner. It’s also worth preparing a preliminary scope of work so that landscaping candidates know what to expect from your association.
2. Browse Your Options
There will likely be several HOA landscaping companies you can choose from, especially if you live in a larger area.
Make sure to take the time to do some research on your options. Checking out online reviews and viewing their websites is a great way to get a feel of the company.
If you have an HOA management company, you may also want to ask them for any landscapers they have already vetted. Reaching out to other homeowners associations is also a good way to get referrals. From your research, you should be able to come up with a shortlist consisting of at least five candidates.
3. Request for Proposals and Work Samples
Send out a request for proposal to each of the five HOA landscaping companies on your shortlist. You should also ask them to include samples of their work in their HOA landscape proposal. That way, you can have a general idea of what to expect.
Additionally, ask the candidates for references. Make sure to contact the references they provide so that you can talk to actual clients with whom they have worked in the past. Ask them how the services were and if they were satisfied with the results.
When comparing HOA landscaping bids, it is also important to check out costs. You probably have a budget for landscaping, and it is best to stick to that as much as you can. Of course, that does not mean you should immediately go with the one that offers the cheapest price. Weigh out the cost against the services they offer. This way, you can get the most out of your money.
4. Don’t Forget Your Due Diligence
Board members have a duty to perform due diligence when selecting a landscaping company for HOA communities. As such, make sure to check if your candidates possess the required certifications, licenses, and insurance. You should also make sure they have enough experience in the industry. It is best to ask for proof of these credentials.
Additionally, you should attempt to get to know the company’s personnel and staff members. Find out if they have the right qualifications. This is particularly important if your HOA has a major landscaping project coming up. In that case, go with a company that employs landscaping specialists and horticulturists.
5. Go Through the Contract
Once you receive the contract from your chosen company, don’t just sign it without thought. Make sure to read the contract thoroughly. If you identify any vague stipulations, make sure to clarify them with the company and put them in writing.
Some of the things you need to watch out for are the services you can expect, the fees you need to pay, the cost of any add-ons, the contract duration, and a termination clause. You should also check for an automatic renewal clause. It is best to review the contract with your HOA attorney.
How to Save Money on Landscaping
Hiring a company to take care of HOA landscaping maintenance isn’t exactly cheap. But, since most associations are ill-equipped to do the landscaping work themselves, a professional landscaper or company is necessary. If you’re looking for other ways to reduce landscaping costs without doing away with professional services, it’s worth checking out these tips:
- Divide the Work. If you can’t redo the landscaping for all your green spaces in one go, try dividing the work into sections. Prioritize one section before moving onto the next so that you can make smart use of your budget.
- Try Hardscaping. With hardscaping, you can strategically place gravel, rocks, and bricks to prevent kids and animals from destroying the greenery.
- Choose Quality Plants. Just because some plants are cheap doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for your HOA. Go for native, high-quality plants that last long and don’t require a lot of work to maintain.
- Symmetry Isn’t Better. Although a path with symmetrical landscaping on either side is definitely pleasing to the eyes, it can create problems in the future. If one area gets damaged, you will need to redo both areas to maintain symmetry.
- Location, Location, Location. Place shrubs and other plants some distance from walkways and pathways. This will give them space to grow and buy you some time before you need to have them trimmed again.
- Conserve Water. Consider installing irrigation controller technology to help your association conserve water and, by extension, money. It’s also a good idea to evaluate your watering systems (sprinklers and the like) to see if you’re wasting water via overspray or run-off.
- Recycle. Did you just prune a bunch of trees and now have a ton of scrap material? Try running them through a wood chipper. You can then use the mulch for a garden bed.
All About Eco-Friendly Landscaping
Homeowners associations can benefit from adopting green landscaping practices. Sure, it will need some money to invest in eco-friendly systems, but the results are certainly worth it. With the amount of energy and water you will save, the investment will surely pay off in the long run.
But, what can HOAs do to become more eco-friendly with their landscaping practices?
First of all, it’s important to analyze your current landscaping. Larger green spaces tend to demand more water. If you have smaller green spaces, though, your watering system may be calibrated in such a way that most of the water either hits the pavement (overspray) or eventually makes its way to it (run-off).
You should adjust your watering system to make sure no overspray or run-off takes place. As mentioned in the section above, you can also conserve water by updating your watering system using smart irrigation. This includes evapotranspiration irrigation controller technology and low-volume drip irrigation.
But, even creating a simple watering schedule can do wonders. The best schedule is to water your plants between 4 and 6 in the morning. Remember that plants situated in shady areas tend to require less water than those out in the sun.
The Role of Your HOA Landscape Committee
Assembling a landscape committee is a great way to take away some of the burdens from the HOA board and get residents involved at the same time. But, what responsibilities does this committee actually have?
The landscape committee budgets for all the landscaping-related services the association requires. This can include replacing old trees with new ones, adding proper lighting to landscaped areas, and even irrigation repairs. The committee is also responsible for staying with the landscaping budget and reporting all financial transactions.
Your HOA will likely have rules about landscaping, and the landscape committee is responsible for making sure homeowners remain aware of these rules. Committee members should also know the answers to landscaping questions in case any homeowners want to clarify something.
This committee is also responsible for coming up with ideas that can improve the landscaping in the community. Perhaps one of the common areas could use a little greenery to liven it up. Maybe some of the trees in the playground are growing too old and becoming hazards.
Should you have a landscape committee, they will be in charge of the search process for HOA landscaping companies. The final decision will still, of course, come from the board. But, the committee does most of the search and screening, and it can also give the board a recommendation based on the results.
Once an HOA landscape provider is chosen, it’s the committee’s job to remain in contact with the provider. In essence, the committee or a representative of the committee acts as the middleman of sorts between the vendor and the HOA.
The work does not stop after hiring a landscaper. The committee must also make sure the landscaping company is doing its job right and well. Therefore, it should conduct regular inspections of the landscaping in the community as performed by the provider.
If there are any landscaping maintenance issues plaguing the community, the committee should report them to the HOA board. The committee will usually make these reports on a monthly basis.
A Critical Decision
Landscaping is one of the first things potential buyers see when they enter your community. If your green spaces give off a good impression, people are more likely to want to buy a home and join your HOA.
Well-maintained landscaping can also keep residents happy and property values high. As such, it’s essential to select the best candidate out of a pool of HOA landscaping companies.