HOA landscaping plays a critical role in improving curb appeal and has a direct impact on property values. As such, it is imperative for every homeowners association to invest in quality landscaping.
In this article:
The Importance of HOA Landscaping
The goal of every homeowners association is to protect property values, and one way of doing so is through proper landscaping. Attractive design and lush greenery can have a huge influence on the overall appeal of a neighborhood. And, with increased appeal comes enhanced property values. Moreover, an aesthetically pleasing environment can work to attract potential homeowners.
Does HOA cover landscaping? This is where it gets tricky. Not all homeowners associations are created equal. Each one has its own set of governing documents and its own set of rules. Some associations do cover landscaping as part of their services, while others do not. The extent of this coverage may also vary — some limit it to common areas, whereas others include individual homeowner yards as well.
Generally, single-family home HOAs offer individual property landscaping along with common area landscaping. On the other hand, townhome communities usually only provide the latter.
HOA Landscaping Committee Guidelines
Although each HOA has a set of board members to run the community, many boards lack the time and capacity to oversee every little detail. Therefore, a lot of HOA boards assemble a landscaping committee to handle all landscaping-related concerns.
What does a landscape committee do? In the context of an HOA, a landscaping committee prepares the budget for landscaping, sends out requests for proposals (RFPs), evaluates the bids, and makes recommendations to the board. In essence, they are in charge of overseeing the community’s landscaping efforts.
Proper landscaping can transform even the dreariest of neighborhoods into vibrant ones. Seeing how landscaping can make a world of difference, it will naturally be one of the most expensive line items in any HOA’s budget.
You may wonder, “How much should I budget for landscaping?” It depends on a number of factors. On average, though, landscaping can cost anywhere between $45,000 to $60,000 per year for a typical community.
Some of the factors that can drive up the cost of professional landscaping include the level of services, the output quality, and the extent of your space. Generally speaking, the price of landscaping goes up as the area does. And, when it comes down to it, you must remember that landscaping is a type of service. Therefore, the more time a project demands, the higher the HOA landscaping cost will be.
Many landscaping companies also offer an added service called an HOA landscape survey. This survey analyzes your current landscaping and watering systems. It will identify landscape areas that require a lot of water, areas where a lot of water is being wasted, areas with faulty irrigation systems, and so on. The main advantage of having such a study is that the association will be able to find ways to reduce water usage.
2. Sending Out RFPs
The landscaping committee is also responsible for sending out RFPs to HOA landscaping companies. This request should include your needs and expectations as well as your budget for the project.
You should also ask for references and accompanying photos if they have them. Providing candidates with a clear format will help you streamline the evaluation process and eliminate any misunderstandings.
3. Choosing a Winner
After sending out your RFPs, you can expect bids to come in with all the details you have asked for. Look at every proposal carefully, making sure to note each one’s pros and cons.
From these HOA landscaping bids, your committee can narrow down your options and make a recommendation to the HOA board. Although you may feel tempted to go with the least expensive option, keep in mind that cheap does not always give you great results and prompt service.
4. Suggesting Improvements
Recommending landscaping enhancements is another responsibility that a landscaping committee shoulders. Everyone wants to live in a nice neighborhood, and such improvements can certainly elevate the community’s appeal. Example suggestions include planting shrubs and trees that go with the neighborhood’s aesthetic, replacing an old fountain in the park, and installing a fire pit in a common area.
How to Cut HOA Landscaping Costs
Landscaping is definitely one of the pricier HOA expenses out there, but that does not mean you can’t do anything to cut back on these costs. Here are some of the ways you can save money when it comes to landscaping:
1. Prioritize Sections
If your association can’t swing a huge cost, consider approaching landscaping in sections. Place more importance on areas that are immediately visible such as entryways and walkways. Work on landscaping in batches to space out your expenses instead of paying for it in one go.
2. Pick the Right Plants
The key to cost-efficient HOA landscaping maintenance is to choose the right plants to use. Go with plants that don’t demand a lot of care and attention or plants that last for a very long time.
Avoid exotic plants — those tend to fetch a higher price both at purchase and for maintenance. Evergreen bushes and shrubs are great options, too.
3. Skip Symmetrical Designs
While pleasing to the eyes, symmetrical landscaping does not always benefit the HOA. For instance, if you use identical shrubs to frame the outside of your clubhouse, you will need to replace them all should a few die off to maintain the design.
4. Place Plantings Wisely
Plants and shrubs that are positioned too close to walkways, sidewalks, and driveways tend to die off earlier. This is because people step on them more often. Careful positioning also gives plants room to grow, which means you don’t need to spend too much on regular trimming.
5. Try Hardscaping
Children and pets running around can deal irreversible damage to HOA landscaping. For such areas, consider using pebbles, bricks, and gravel (also known as hardscaping). By placing these items carefully and strategically, you can discourage kids and pets from walking all over the landscaping. As a result, you can save money on having to maintain or repair the area more often.
6. Partner With Other HOAs
It might sound like a strange idea to some, but forming a coalition of sorts with other associations can save you a lot of money. This can especially work in your favor if you have a smaller community with fewer properties. Landscaping companies are more inclined to give a discount to a 500-unit contract than a 50-unit one. Think of it like buying in bulk.
7. Get Professional Help
A common point of contention among many HOAs is whether or not it is even necessary to hire professional landscaping services. While it may cost a lot, professional landscapers have the experience, knowledge, and tools necessary to achieve the best results for your association.
Homeowners Association Landscaping Restrictions
Whether your homeowners association covers individual property landscaping or not, it likely has certain HOA landscaping rules that members must obey. HOA yard maintenance rules can vary from community to community, but they typically include the following:
- How high shrubs and bushes can be
- What kinds of trees, shrubs, and flowers you can plant
- What color of flowers or mulch you can use
- How often you mow the lawn, mulch the beds, water the lawn, and spray pesticides
- What garden ornaments you can display
- How high your fence can be (considering a fence is even permitted)
It is the HOA board or landscaping committee’s duty to keep homeowners informed of these rules. If there are any new rules or changes to existing ones, you must disseminate the information promptly. This is to avoid possible disputes and violations.
Communication channels you can use include email, text messages, an HOA website, social media, and newsletters. It is also a good idea to go over the new rules at meetings (even if you have already communicated it through other mediums). Dedicate time to answer questions from homeowners, too.
Many homeowners might feel that such HOA lawn maintenance guidelines are too restrictive. While that may be so, the board or landscaping committee must explain to homeowners why these HOA landscaping guidelines exist in the first place. In many cases, it all comes down to uniformity or consistency.
Neighborhoods that boast a consistently neat and pleasing appearance tend to attract more potential homeowners. And it goes without saying that properties in beautiful communities usually command a higher selling price as well.
The Benefits of HOA Landscaping
HOA landscaping is important to community associations of any size. A greener community provides a higher overall level of positivity and vibrance, not to mention attracts new homeowners to the area.
Additionally, a consistently decorated and lush neighborhood also improves curb appeal, thereby protecting and even increasing property values.
It is not always easy to find the right HOA landscaping company for your community. This is where HOA Management comes in.