What HOAs Need To Know To Select The Right Landscape Maintenance Partner
Homeowner Associations (HOAs) have to consider many factors when selecting the right maintenance partner. HOA boards know that landscaping tends to be one of the largest budget line items. Because of this they look for ways to save money whenever possible. Sometimes choosing a vendor based on the lowest price ends up costing more money in the long run.
Why Cheapest Isn’t Always Best
We’ve all experienced this dilemma and in many cases the stakes aren’t very high. But when the service happens to be the biggest item on your budget selecting the right vendor warrants thorough and careful consideration.
Low-end landscaping contractors who undercut the competition to get business are often taking shortcuts that harm plants, and that requires more frequent replacement. For example, 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 poor core circulation which results in plant death. Short-term approaches like this 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.
Where To Start
When picking the best 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. You’ll have far fewer communication hassles working with Landscaping vendors that understand the dynamics of HOA Boards and Community Association Managers.
- Licensed, Bonded, and Insured. Be sure you select a Landscaping company that’s 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 maintain regular communication and provide ongoing recommendations. In any partnership the key to success is communication. Here at Landscape East & West we like to meet with HOA boards monthly, or at least quarterly, to ensure the quality of our services remains consistent.
- Stellar references. Landscape East & West is happy to provide current references for 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).
- Full range of services. 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 be better in the long-term over a company with limited service capabilities.
To 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 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.
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 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.
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.
The Added Value of Experience
Many HOA communities here in Portland 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 know how 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, including ROI (return on investment) numbers.
Landscaping is a long-term investment for a property, not a one-time 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 secure beautiful, cost-effective property landscaping. 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.