Part of the job of a condo board is to keep your association’s grounds or lawn looking healthy and attractive. After all, curb appeal can do wonders when it comes to appraisals and even the morale of your community members. But most condo boards—whether their urban or suburban—are populated with volunteers, few of whom are likely to be professional landscapers or horticulturalists.
That being the case, they’ll probably depend on a professional landscaper to maintain and beautify the grounds. We polled landscapers throughout New Jersey to figure out what you need to be asking the landscaper before you hand over the keys to your green space. Here are their top 10 questions, in no particular order:
Do you perform organic maintenance and practices? The New Jersey Pesticide control code requires that all pesticides used in New Jersey be registered with the Department of Environmental Protection prior to use and additional laws that are equally tough on pesticides are in the pipeline. Pesticide applications to lawn and turf is becoming a big no-no, says Susan Cohan, a landscape and garden designer in Chatham. “The state of New Jersey is making it more and more difficult to apply chemical based pesticides or fertilizers so organic maintenance is very popular right now,” says Cohan. “People who are employing organic lawn care are beginning to experience a lot more business because you can’t apply certain fertilizers anymore, you can actually be fined. A co-op board or association should certainly ask their lawncare professional about their organic practices.”
What type of post disaster or extreme weather cleanup do you offer?2011 snowfall totals reached record breaking numbers across New Jersey last year so Garden State residents should know what type of postdisaster maintenace their lawn care professionals offer, says Cohan. “New Jersey gets a lot of extreme weather like snow, sleet, ice and flooding. The winter of 2011 was particularly harsh,” says Cohan “Every place is different. Sometimes snow removal is included in the contract and it’s a flat rate. Some companies have an inch limit on snow cleanup. It’s important to know what the company’s threshold is and how you will be charged once it is reached.” Arkansas has tornadoes, New Orleans has floods and California has fires and New Jersey has snow, every region has a potential natural disater to contend with and you should have a cleanup plan in place, says Cohan.
Can I see a copy of the landscape audit? A landscape audit is a site assessment that gives you the information you need to transition to a sustainable landscape. It includes detailed inventory and analysis of the landscape surrounding your property and provides guidance on the how’s and why’s of creating sustainability on your site. “I like to put a 3- to 5-year plan together,” says Goldman. “As things mature, you need to identify problem areas, things that need to be changed, how things should be pruned, when they should be pruned. Because horticulturally, it all wraps up together. If the trees wrap up the lawn, you are not getting proper moisture or sunlight. When that happens most people try to overcompensate by throwing more fertilizer down—when that is the case, maybe just pruning the trees will help.” An audit doesn’t need to be done more than once every five years. It is just a plan to put everything together so that you know what is there and how everything is working, says Goldman.