How To Select The Right Landscape Maintenance Partner For Your HOA
Homeowners associations (HOAs) are tasked with protecting property values by ensuring certain aesthetics are upheld, and common spaces and amenities are well maintained. Whether the HOA serves a neighborhood, condominium complex, or other planned community, landscape maintenance is a critical component to success. It also tends to be the largest budget item and HOA boards looking to cut costs may be tempted to go with the lowest bidder. While price is a valid consideration, there are other equally, if not more, important factors.
Here are the questions you need to ask when selecting a landscape maintenance partner for your HOA:
- Are they licensed, bonded, and insured? Any contractor you hire should be licensed, bonded, and insured. This will reduce the HOA’s liability.
- Do they have experience working with HOAs? You want to partner with a landscape maintenance professional familiar with how HOA Boards and Community Association Managers operate and the unique dynamics of each. This will save you unnecessary headaches and communication hassles.
- Do they offer a full range of services? A full-service firm (irrigation, lawn, and plant care, hardscaping, water features, irrigation services, etc.) will be better in the long-term over a company with limited service capabilities. You want a landscaper who can not only handle all of the standard monthly services but is also able to provide enhancements and upgrades necessary to maintain the preferred level of excellence. (We discuss this further below.)
- How do they approach planting, pruning, and overall landscape care? Your landscaper should be thinking long-term as trees and bushes can take years or even decades to reach their full size. A long-term approach will help ensure the desired aesthetic is maintained as the landscape matures, and that money is not wasted on plant removal and/or replacement due to short-sighted planning.
- What is their communication style? In any partnership the key to success is communication. Your landscape maintenance partner should maintain regular communication and provide ongoing recommendations to ensure the quality of service remains consistent and that all needs are met. At the very minimum, your landscape company should be responsive when the unexpected arises and be willing to meet with your board on a quarterly basis, if not monthly.
- How strong are their references? Hire an experienced professional with stellar references. Ask for past and current HOA references and ask if you can tour the communities they are currently managing.
- How well do they fit your needs? Lastly, ask yourself and your fellow board members if the landscape maintenance professional you are considering feels like a good fit. This goes beyond their qualifications and the services they provide and comes down to personality and communication style. Will you be comfortable communicating with them when issues come up? If the answer is yes, and all of the previously mentioned questions have been answered satisfactorily, then you likely have a good match.
But what about cost?
We intentionally left questions related to pricing and cost out of the key factors to consider. Yes, you need to be mindful of your budget, but there are pitfalls to taking a price-first approach to selecting a landscape maintenance partner for your HOA. More often than not, low-end landscaping contractors who undercut the competition to get business are taking shortcuts that harm plants. When shortcuts harm plants, HOAs are forced to spend far more, in the long run, to get the landscaping back up to par.
Here is what your HOA needs to know about landscape maintenance costs:
Standard services are those that are ongoing and required to preserve your property’s current landscaping. The costs will 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 plant species has its own maintenance requirements that will impact standard service costs. Roses, for example, require regular pruning to look good year-round. Blossoming trees look gorgeous in the spring, but they may also dump petals that require clean-up. Experienced landscaping companies can provide long-term advice on which plants to pick that best suit your budget and your property.
To give you an example, here is what Landscape East & West’s standard HOA Landscaping Services package includes:
- Turf maintenance: mowing the lawn, edging, fertilization, etc.
- Sweeping the grounds for weed removal, picking up trash, etc.
- Plant care to keep 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.
Enhancements & Upgrades
Upgrades and enhancements are additional services that can provide cost savings in the long-term while creating beautiful grounds that please current residents and attract new ones. 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.
Landscaping is a long-term investment for a property, not a one-time project. What appears to be the least expensive option upfront 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 secure beautiful, cost-effective property landscaping.
Landscape East & West has decades of experience working with HOAs in the greater Portland Metro area. Contact Landscape East & West today to discuss how we can help your HOA save money, increase overall property value, and provide a stunning environment for your residents.