With ever tightening purse strings in South Florida HOAs, landscaping can become one of the first amenities that is reduced. Trees have a tendency to fall during hurricanes, and take a long time to become established. Flowers may look pretty during the slightly cooler winter and spring, but during the summer, they are just dried out weeds.
In the Summit Run HOA, for example, landscaping is one of the largest expenditures in the budget. Most of the money spent is used to trim trees, mow the grass, and maintain the irrigation system. Given the recent history of South Florida, with water shortages and restrictions, maybe it is time to start utilizing more environmentally friendly landscape techniques.
Water has finally become too precious a commodity to use for making grass grow, unless you are willing to pay the ever increasing utility and maintenance costs. Increased water rates and maintenance costs are forcing businesses, property owners and managers to re-assess their landscape and irrigation budgets.
Whether faced with design and development decisions for raw land, or renovation of existing landscape and irrigation systems, with reduced or limited budgets, owners and managers are increasingly making their own design, contracting and maintenance decisions. Property owners and managers must sort through a confusing array of landscape architects, landscape contractors, landscape maintenance companies, gardeners, and even handymen when trying to design, contract, renovate or maintain their property. With limited budget, managers and HOAs are eliminating design and contracting professionals and going it alone on many decisions.
Jeremy Rappoport, President and founder of Rappoport Development Consulting Services LLC, published an article called “Why You Should Consider Horticultural Design” which provides valuable insight for property owners, businesses, property managers and those trying to make intelligent, informed landscape and horticultural design and construction decisions. Horticultural design, a term coined by Rappoport, matches plant’s cultural requirements with the specific environmental conditions of the site, a completely different process than the traditional landscape plans and themes produced by landscape architects. Mr. Rappoport contends selecting a plant palette compatible with specific site and environmental conditions optimizes plant establishment, vitality and vigor, while minimizing excess water consumption, disease and insect problems and maintenance costs.
In the article Mr. Rappoport describes his ideas about landscaping. “In response to questions from friends and clients, the following provide an alternative to the traditional landscape design process by simplifying landscape planting and design decisions during the planning stage, utilizing a process called horticultural design.
The term horticultural design is the process of creating a plant palette based on the compatibility of plant’s cultural requirements with the site environment. Don’t select a theme then try to force plants to work in an environment they are not adapted or suited to. Knowing plants cultural requirements is fundamental for horticultural design and plant selection. “
In South Florida, the water management district has listed nine principles of Florida friendly landscaping that can be used in maintaining not only the community as a whole, but your owns small section of it in particular.
- Right plant, right place
- Water efficiently
- Fertilize appropriately
- Attract wildlife
- Manage yard pests responsibly
- Reduce stormwater runoff
- Protect the waterfront
To learn more about these principles, and learn more about Florida Friendly Landscaping, visit the South Florida Water Management district website.
Having visited Southern California, I have seen the modern landscaping now being employed there. It may be pleasant to see grass growing in front of every house, but grass is not natural to all environments, and is very labor intensive, and costly. Minimizing lawns may not be an option for most HOAs, but by using smarter principles, we can make the environment a little better.
Some information from this story was obtained from PRLog.org, a free press release website.