Whether a community is surrounded by suburbs or big-city high-rises, a little greenery can go a long way in adding visual appeal – and value. In fact, given the lack of space and the challenge of keeping plants healthy and thriving, urban gardening is perhaps even more valuable.
Many community associations tend garden plots of varying shapes and sizes, whether they are on roofs, in backyards, or dispersed throughout sprawling townhome developments. And while it may seem simple to plant a few shrubs and leave it at that, the cultivation of a garden actually requires the participation of several different factions who must band together to reach an aesthetic consensus and plan how to take care of the project throughout the year, in good weather and bad. If your association is considering a garden project – or just looking for tips on how to maintain an existing one – management professionals across several regions offer some sage advice that may be helpful.
An early step in any community garden project is deciding who will assume the responsibility for organizing and planning. Like any project, this will likely depend on the shape and size of the association.
“With smaller buildings, the board typically handles the logistics,” says Bart Steele, a portfolio manager with Barkan Management Company, Inc., in Boston. “In the larger buildings that I’ve managed, there are separate committees that often handle the gardening decisions.”
Management should also be heavily involved. “In my experience, landscaping is often left to the managers,” says Janice Avery, a property manager with FirstService Residential in Chicago. “Sometimes there are committees or board members who chime in and help with some decisions, but that interest can wane, leaving the manager with the responsibility. In my current community, I’m fortunate that the board takes a very active interest in the planning, decision making, and maintenance of the property’s appearance. Our community has won awards for beautification, and passers-by often stop to take pictures with our lush landscaping. Landscaping is not an inexpensive budget item, and the more the community is involved, the better maintained the property.”