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A Residential Landscape Design For An HOA

I have designed several subdivisions for developers and builders. Here I basically followed the Architect’s guidelines. This means the type of trees, plants, gravel or granite, grasses, lighting etc. have already been predetermined for the subdivision.

Now, what happens five or six years down the road? What do you do when some plants and grass areas have died? How do you deal with the trees were planted too close to the lawn area? Now the surface roots along with the shade they have created do not allow for the grass to grow. After five years or more of different landscape maintenance companies inflicting their perception of how to trim plants, you begin to wonder how you arrived here.
Everything seems to look clean and neat but there is something about this residential landscape design, that “Ah Ha” factor is missing. You know what I am talking about. Let me tell you about my experiences when HOA’s call me with this dilemma.

They have usually already been disappointed by their maintenance company’s suggestions. They then begin brain storming about who else to call, another landscaper, an architect, a nursery or landscape designer. Each will lead your residential landscape design in a different direction. How much should we spend is always looming in the air. The first hurdle is money and this starts even before I enter the picture.

Now I will go into my experiences with residential landscape designs for HOAs.  This is the usual turn of events when they choose to have me revamp the subdivisions common areas.

I first try to see what the original theme was, meaning lush tropical, xeriscape, grassy park areas etc. I then ask what the board has been thinking about. I also look to find out what issues they have encountered from their current landscape.

The next step is preparing an as built plan which is basically a plan that shows the residential landscape design as it is today. The next step is taking that plan and showing what plants will be removed and added. I like to do this on the same plan but on different layers so I can turn them on and off when printing.

I may have jumped ahead a bit here. Before I actually draw the residential landscape design I would have discussed with HOA board about what plants I want to remove and add. I generally want to give them an idea of the direction I plan to go.

The next step is doing the revisions and having the Board approve the plan.

The final step is finding someone to implement the work. Now that you have a plan, you need someone that can read plans. I know this may sound strange, but not all landscapers can read landscape plans and even fewer landscape maintenance companies can read plans.

Your best bet is to have a landscape construction company do the installation. Maintenance companies usually have no clue about design they are in the business of maintaining an existing residential landscape design not designing it.

I am getting ready to start an HO a reveg in the next few weeks. The property is about twelve years old and the last time something was done was a few years ago.

Keep in mind they have let their maintenance company take care of the reveg in the past. The original Architectural plans called for Mesquite and Palo Brea trees as the street theme tree. The Cul de sac trees were Sweat Acacia and Mesquite.

The maintenance company has added Palo Blanco, Yellow Oleander and Desert Emerald to the street theme trees. They also added Palo Blanco, Shoe String Acacia and Texas Ebony to the Cul de Sac theme. The owner of the maintenance company also suggested adding Australian Willows to the Cul De Sacs.

You need to develop a theme, not just pick out a bunch of plants.

I will keep you updated on that one.


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