After trash/recycling pick-up and snow plowing, landscaping is probably the next biggest area of importance to our community, even if we don’t think of it as an immediate and personal benefit as we might with trash pick-up and plowed streets when it snows. In budget terms, landscaping costs are, by far, our largest expense. While we’re probably all aware of the common area mowing conducted by our contractor, Environmental Enhancements, Inc. (EE) – 24 times per year, and leaf removal, conducted three times late each autumn, we may be less aware of more than a dozen other “one-of-a-kind” services they provide – fertilizing, mulching, weed control, aeration & reseeding each autumn, etc. We think that all of these services contribute to the very attractive appearance of the community and hopefully to the “curb appeal”, and hence, to the value of our properties. We believe our landscape expenses are as much of an “investment” as they are an expense.
For 2018 our “investment” via EE is $43,391 for our basic landscape maintenance contract – the same as it was last year.
In addition to the basic maintenance contract, the 2018 MPHOA budget includes $26,000 for “one-of-a-kind” investments, including tree cutting and tree pruning expenses. Although much of the tree cutting and pruning is unplanned – mostly due to storm damage and to a few larger and older trees dying, we can pretty much count on significant “unplanned” tree work each year. For the past few years we have spent more than $10,000 per year just for tree services.
One last landscape investment comes from our Capital Reserves – planting new trees. At this point we have no specific plans for new plantings in 2018, but that may change if we lose any of our larger trees due to storm damage or disease.
What can we expect for 2018 as far as landscaping? One big item on the planning horizon is the remediation of one or more sections of Burke’s Spring Branch, the small intermittent stream that runs inside the woods along the eastern edge of our property. Several areas of the stream bank are eroding the common area at an unacceptable rate and undercutting trees and tree roots – a potential safety issue. The Landscape Committee and Board are looking at options to address the problem(s). We currently have two proposals to do the research, planning, design, and permit processing for this work. Both proposals are approximately $25,000 with another $5,000 in probable costs – and this is only for the pre-construction/engineering phase. We hope to complete planning and design in 2018, along with remediation of one “hot spot” (bank erosion and undercutting) with the bulk of the construction in 2019.
All of the above is coordinated by our Landscape Committee (LC). The LC is a group of volunteers that help plan and shape how our landscape budget is spent on our common areas. The LC meets at 7:30 PM, the 2nd Wednesday of each month at Longfellow School, Room 118. Meetings are open to all members of the community. Look for signs announcing our meetings – they are posted each month at the two entrances to the community. Easy entry to the school is via Entrance #4 (rear/south side).
The LC is looking for new members that have an interest in the maintenance and enhancement of the common areas, especially those who would like to help with some of our hands-on, do-it-yourself projects. It’s good exercise and a good way to meet your neighbors in the community. For more information, contact Steve Smith, Chairman of the LC: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 703-405-8292.