Landscapes of the Month: Managing a Manicured HOA - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Landscapes of the Month: Managing a Manicured HOA

About 20 miles outside Chicago is a luxury townhome community that sits next to a championship golf course. Like many golf course communities, Tower Crossing has a beautiful landscape that retains a cohesive look, tying the residences together.

Since 2019, Moore Landscapes, LLC has worked with the HOA to maintain these high-quality properties. Their impressive attention to detail has earned them a Gold Award in the 2022 Awards of Excellence.

Tower Crossing consists of 154 elegant brick townhomes that surround a shopping center with restaurants and a movie theater, adding to the hub of activity in the area. For each property, the HOA desires a landscape with a symmetrical and manicured appearance.

The entire property is divided into north and south sections with a central courtyard allowing a diverse selection of plants. In addition to Moore Landscapes, the HOA works with separate contractors to provide landscape maintenance, irrigation, mulch application, and pruning for large trees.

Photo: Moore Landscapes, LLC

Plant selection is critical since the condos have a curved layout, creating numerous microclimates affecting the plants selected for each site. Moore Landscapes spends extensive time trimming various shrubs, including privet, lilacs, viburnum, yew, arborvitae, hydrangea, and boxwood. These shrubs are carefully monitored and pruned to remain within specific height requirements.

Maintaining this landscape has plenty of challenges, as Tower Crossing was designed using a new urbanism concept that keeps the homes within walking distance of shops and other amenities. This layout is excellent for the residents but can make it harder to perform on-site maintenance, like mowing, weeding, and pruning. The compact site requires trucks and trailers to be parked at a shopping center adjacent to the complex, which results in extra walking for the landscape crews and contractors.

Each week, Moore Landscapes sends a maintenance crew and a separate enhancement crew. Tasks for the maintenance crew involve mowing the 90,000 square feet of turf and caring for the 443 deciduous, ornamental, and evergreen trees in the complex.

Photo: Moore Landscapes, LLC

The team prunes trees under 15′ tall, while a separate contractor handles anything above 15′. In addition to pruning, Moore Landscapes provides plant health through deep root feeding, fungicides, and insecticide applications. Other tasks involve removing large amounts of trash that blow in from the nearby retail center. This task usually takes 1-2 hours each week with a three-person crew. Weeding is also essential as the contractor applies mulch every other year, limiting the weed suppression from the mulch.

The bluegrass turf is well maintained and receives three fertilizations each year and a pre-and post-emergent application.

The enhancement crew is primarily responsible for installing seasonal displays, larger pruning tasks, and other detailed work in the 80,500 square feet of planting beds. These displays include spring bulbs, summer annuals, fall mums, and other holiday décor to provide year-round color. Residents can create their own plantings in their private spaces as long as they comply with the HOA standards. Moore Landscapes also monitors moisture levels provided by the irrigation system and reports any issues to the property manager so he can notify the contractor.

Tower Crossing was built on the former site of an air base. As a result, the existing soil is compact and contains gravel from the base of the runways. To minimize this issue, Moore Landscapes adds soil amendments during annual, perennial, and woody plant installations.

Photo: Moore Landscapes, LLC

Winter is always challenging, as the complex has limited space for piling snow during snow removal. If more than two feet of snow falls within a few weeks, the snow is relocated to an off-site location. Crews must be attentive not to pile up snow along the sidewalks or roadways where the heavy snow or salt can damage shrubs. Snow removal occurs if 2″ of snow is received, and the snow crew at Moore Landscapes is responsible for all sidewalks, individual driveways in the complex, and front and back steps.

The suburbs are not immune to wildlife problems, as animals often cause damage to the landscapes. One example is a skunk that tore up 200 square feet of turf, which needed to be replaced. Invasive species, like yellow nutsedge, have also crept into areas of the property, requiring each crew to be vigilant in managing these aggressive species.

The HOA and property manager are price-conscious, so Moore Landscapes closely communicates with the HOA president to gather input and make decisions throughout the year. In spring and fall, an extensive walkthrough is conducted to evaluate the current plantings and develop plans for winter and the following year. They set priorities that include everything from snow removal to deciding what plants need replacing in the future.

Likewise, Moore Landscapes communicates with the other contractors through the property manager to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible. The number of moving parts sometimes creates delays, but overall, the property looks its best for the residents and community.

Interested in participating in the Awards of Excellence? Be sure to enter your projects when entries open in February 2024.

Matt Olson

Matt Olson is a freelancer for NALP.