By Bob Gourley
If there is any one common element that gets residents talking and thinking about their condominium or HOA, it is landscaping. The state of appearance in any community association is a direct reflection of its residents and the people responsible for maintaining the look and feel of the property. For most associations, that reflection lands directly on the board of directors and the property management firm.
Why is it so important that landscaping be a top priority for community associations? Quite simply, short of X-ray vision, the landscaping and beautification efforts put forth on behalf of a condominium or HOA are the most visible sign that a community is desirable and flourishing.
Put yourself in the position of a visitor or prospective buyer. What is the first thing you will notice while touring the grounds of a community association? Is it the well-managed reserve fund? Is it the money saved from prudent shopping for insurance? No! It’s the verdant landscape, beautiful trees, attractive shrubs, well-maintained walkways, garden trellises and such! Landscaping turns a slab of earth into a desirable piece of real estate.
I have also found that landscaping is a hot topic for residents. After all, they will enjoy or decry the decisions made about the landscaping they will see every day. In my community, we encourage involvement by allowing volunteer gardeners very small plots that they can tend to. They get to choose which flowers are planted (from a pre-approved selection, of course). Not only does this save the community a little money, it creates a sense of civic pride in that the residents are personally invested in the beautification of the property. When residents take ownership of how the property looks, everyone comes out ahead. Nothing makes me happier than seeing residents come together and work on a community project as a community. I have often said that better gardens make for better neighbors.
Finally, having a community-involved landscaping strategy just makes good business sense. I have found future board members from community volunteers whose first act of volunteerism was helping to plant some flowers. Turns out that by having community members involved in our landscaping choices, we weren’t just planting seeds in the garden. We were growing future leaders of our community. And that’s a landscaping project I’m happy to talk about, time and time again!
Bob Gourley is Founder of MyEZCondo, a communications firm that produces newsletter and website content material for condominiums and homeowner associations throughout the USA. He has also served as Board President of his local HOA.