Green Thumb: Starting Landscape Committees

All communities strive for beautiful and inspiring grounds. Not only do pleasant surroundings add to the property value of a condo community, they enhance the quality of life. Larger condo complexes often have a landscaper in house and/or under contract to care for the lawns, flowers, greenery and other plantings around the property. Smaller associations, however, do not have this luxury – which is why it is important for more green-thumbed condo owners to take the reins.

There are a variety of ways to start a garden or landscaping committee. For instance, just having a resident who enjoys gardening or having a small group form who examine ways to improve and replace decades-old and overgrown landscaping encroaching upon the building and entrances.

If residents are interested in forming a landscape committee they should outline the duties and share the relevant financial information. They should also be clear about any timing expectations, for example if a project is to be extended over a multi-year period or if it needs to be completed by a certain date when proposals are to be presented to the board for a vote,” says Christine E. Evans, CMCA, PCAM and the Florida regional vice president of Associa. “There are so many benefits of having a landscape committee, but the biggest one is that it fosters volunteerism.”

Landscape committees often want to do much more than the budget allows,” says Evans. “Another drawback is that the board doesn’t support major changes that they want to make, both of which can be resolved by creating a committee charter that clearly outlines the parameters for the committee and set straightforward budgetary restraints.”

Jeremy Wehby, president of Grounds Group Landscaping in Fort Lauderdale agrees with Evans on the importance of a landscape committee agreeing on a budget as the first order of business. “Landscape committees should iron out a budget and agree on a direction and look they want to go in before contacting a landscaper,” says Wehby. “Landscape committees are very popular, but sometimes you will have five residents on the landscaping committee and one will say ‘I want all palms,’ and another one will say ‘I want all flowers,’ and another will say ‘I want a manicured look,’ and someone else will say ‘I want a more tropical look.’ So it’s extremely important to get a solid understanding of what direction you want to go in before contacting me. It also saves a lot of time.”

“I’ve worked with many landscape committees,” says Wehby. “When we come in at the beginning we’ll get a set of plans from a landscape architect and then meet with the committee to make sure that the plan meets their expectations. Sometimes we will come in and just do renovations and other times we will come in and just do improvements.”

Landscaping creates increased property values and fosters community building. What could be better?