HOA Tips: Choosing Your Portland Landscape Maintenance Partner, by Austin Wiesner

May 2014

 HOA-Portland-Landscaping-MaintenanceLandscaping tends to be one of the largest line items in an HOA budget. As such, HOA boards are eager to find ways to save money on landscape maintenance. Selecting the right Portland landscaper is key in this quest. Choose a lackluster vendor and you could end up spending more money in the long term.

A common slip-up: Choosing a vendor based on the lowest price. This may result in cost savings in the short term, but it will be more costly in the long run. Why? Because low-end landscaping contractors tend to take shortcuts that harm plants, and that requires more frequent replacement. For instance, it’s not uncommon for the cheapest option to be an outfit that “shaves off” the outside of shrubs and small trees, rather than pruning selectively. Removing the outer edge of all branches in this way eventually leads to plant death, due to poor core circulation. Such short-term approaches will look fine at first, but as time goes by the plants will begin to yellow and die. When shortcuts harm plants, HOAs are forced to spend far more to get the landscaping back up to par.

To pick the right Portland landscape maintenance partner for your property, spend some time vetting local options. Get multiple quotes for your property—we recommend a minimum of three proposals. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Experience working with HOAs. This ensures the landscaping vendor will understand the dynamics of HOA Boards and Community Association Managers, so that you’ll face fewer communication hassles.
  • Landscaping companies that are licensed bonded and insured, to reduce the HOA’s liability.
  • A long-term approach. Trees and bushes can take years or even decades to reach their full size, so make sure your landscaping partner is thinking in this timescale.
  • A good “feel.” What does your gut instinct tell you about each potential landscaping maintenance firm? You want to be comfortable communicating with the company you choose.
  • Willingness to provide ongoing recommendations to the HOA board. For instance, here at Landscape East & West, we like to meet monthly (or at least quarterly) with HOA boards.
  • Stellar references. Landscape East & West offers references of current HOAs we service, so potential new clients can tour the communities we manage (assuming we have the prior approval from the HOA board/property owner to do so).

Also ask each landscaping firm to list their full range of services. A full-service firm (irrigation, lawn and plant care, hardscaping, water features, irrigation services, etc.) will serve you better in the long-term over a limited services company.

HOA Portland Landscaping MaintenanceTo keep the property at your preferred level of excellence, expect to pay for standardized costs as well as a few enhancements and upgrades. Standard services are those that are required to preserve your property’s current landscaping; enhancements and upgrades will improve the landscape and/or its support systems.

Standard service costs depend on the size and style of the property. Large grounds will obviously cost more to maintain than compact properties. The style of your landscaping also has a big impact on how much you will pay to keep it up. Each species has its own maintenance requirements that will impact your standard services costs. Roses, for instance, require regular pruning to look good year-round. Blossoming trees look gorgeous in the spring, but they may also dump petals that demand clean up. Experienced landscaping companies can provide long-term advice on which plants to pick for your budget and property.

Landscape East & West’s standard package includes:

  • Turf maintenance: Mowing the lawn, edging, fertilization, etc.
  • Sweeping the grounds for weed removal, picking up trash, and so forth.
  • Plant health care: Keeping existing species healthy.
  • Pruning and shearing of shrubs and small trees.
  • Fall leaf clean up.
  • Irrigation system management, if there is an irrigation system in place.

We invite you to learn more about our HOA landscaping services.

HOA Portland Landscaping MaintenanceUpgrades and enhancements are “above and beyond” services that can provide cost savings in the long-term, while creating gorgeous grounds that will attract new residents. Whatever your starting budget is, expect to spend 25% to 50% more on enhancements and upgrades that you choose. A masterful landscaping company can help you add long-term value and stability.

For instance, here in Portland, many HOA communities feature Rhododendrons, including azaleas. These stunning plants look great year-round—unless they’re infested with lace bugs, which turn glossy green Rhododendron leaves nearly white, with unsightly black spots of fecal matter. If their Rhododendrons become infested with Lace Bugs, HOA boards have two options: Spray insecticides or replace Rhododendron plants. Let’s assume spraying costs $1,000, while replacing all Rhododendrons with hardier plants would cost $3,000. An exceptional landscaping firm like Landscape East & West can help you navigate this tricky decision. We are happy to analyze long-term management options in terms that matter to HOA boards. For instance, we can provide a cost-benefit analysis for each option, and include ROI (return on investment) numbers.

Landscaping is a long-term investment for a property, not a one-off project. What appears to be the least expensive option up front will often turn out to be much more costly down the road. By “doing your homework” when choosing a landscaping partner, your HOA board can manifest stunning, cost-effective property landscaping. Contact Landscape East & West today to discuss how we can help your HOA save money as well as increase your overall property value.

Austin Wiesner is an Account Manager at Landscape East & West and has been working in the industry since 1994. Austin has worked with numerous HOAs and provided them with expert landscaping solutions that saved both money and valuable time. Austin prides himself on providing environmentally responsible and aesthetically pleasing landscaping solutions for homeowners and HOAs.

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