On 11/23/2020 I had a chance to talk with our contact at US Lawns, Justin. Justin and I talked for about 10 minutes about the state of the landscaping in Almond Glen, plans for the coming weeks and some goals for the community. Here are my notes from that conversation:
Aeration and Seeding – This was done throughout the areas that are fescue a few weeks ago. Areas that are fescue get aeration and seed each year. After that US Lawns stays off of the areas they aerated to allow the seed to begin to take hold. Once germination starts, they begin mowing again (this last week was the first mow since aeration).
Areas that are primarily Bermuda are not aerated or seeded. US Lawns has not seen evidence of better results when Bermuda is aerated. Bermuda does not generally need reseeding because of the way it grows and takes over areas. Instead, Bermuda growth is encouraged via proper mowing and fertilization. This is common for all of US Lawns properties.
Fertilizer and Weeds– One more winter fertilization for the fescue areas and one more winter fertilizer and pre-emergent application for the Bermuda areas will happen in a few weeks.
Watering – For our area, US Lawns is not overly concerned about watering. Bermuda is mixed in with a lot of the grass throughout our community and will continue its steady takeover as time goes by. The fescue that was put down has begun to take hold and should be fine going into the winter thanks to the applications of fertilizer and weed preventers.
Pine straw – This hasn’t been done yet due to the leaves. The goal is to do a few more leave cleanups around the townhomes prior to the pine straw going in. US Lawns plans to have the leaves gone and the pine straw down, tucked and rolled in by Christmas.
Fire Ant treatments – Justin’s plan for the property is to do one large granular application for fire ants in the summer when people tend to be out in the grass more often. We can discuss this more as spring comes in and we see a need. In the meantime, Justin was shown the Facebook posts complaining about ants, and he agrees there is a problem. During the months when ants are active prior to and after the large granular applications, Justin will have the crews spot treat mounds as they pop up. Justin mentioned having a crew out later today (11/23/2020) spot treating mounds in an effort to get them under control. I brought up the areas around the backs of the townhomes where patios are in addition to along sidewalks and front porches. Justin also stated they tend to see mounds pop up faster after rain in the summer when the soil is sticky and easier to build with.
Weed Treatments – Pre-emergent and post-emergent winter sprays go in at the end of the fall and prior to the March and April timeframe (Still one pre-emergent treatment to go for 2020). Beds and hotspots around the neighborhood will be addressed as they are noticed and should improve greatly as US Lawns gets a chance to regularly treat the problems throughout the neighborhood. Justin plans to have his crew working on the “hotspots” over the next few visits.
Final thoughts – Once the grass is asleep for the winter and the leaves are up, the neighborhood should slow down a bit as far as landscaping goes. Justin said they focused on some pruning (bushes) when they first got into the neighborhood and will do some touch ups as the winter sets in. The sprinklers will be shut off and winterized in the coming weeks, so they don’t freeze. Then, a full check of the system will be performed in the spring when they are turned on. US Lawns is contracted to keep trees trimmed up to the 8-10 foot range as well. They will trim up the limbs in December or January.
I would like to point out the recent announcement that we are increasing the townhome dues has been met with a common statement, “The board isn’t listening to us (the townhome owners).”
Nothing could be further from the truth. On August 12, 2019, members of the board of directors met with several neighbors, including townhome owners. We walked the property, to include the townhomes, and discussed the landscaping in detail. Owners pointed out concerns and discussed a need for better landscaping. Armed with that information, the board increased the landscaping budget and brought in a new company to bring the standards up. Unfortunately, the company we hired had some internal issues which led to poor performance. We were forced to start from scratch and met with 5 new landscapers. On September 11, 2020 the new contact with US Lawns was signed. We are now 73 days into the new contract and US Lawns has accomplished a good amount of work. It’s not fair to look at a lawncare company 73 days into a contract and expect amazing results, especially when they take over a neglected property. It’s also difficult to blame two separate boards (2019-2020 and 2020-2021 boards) for the issues when they have shown a desire to resolve the landscaping issues. Since taking over the neighborhood the boards have done the following:
2013-2014 – Examined the budget and worked to lower costs by organizing the neighborhood flower planting day.
2014-2015 – Assigned a former board member to be the landscaping liaison. This greatly improved the day to day work in the community.
2015-2016 – Multiple landscaping improvement projects to include the traffic circle in the townhomes, the townhome entrance island improvement and the hillsides on Almond Glen. Extension of the irrigation to cover the hills along Almond Glen.
2016-2017 – New landscaping contact assigned. Irrigation system repairs.
2017-2018 – New irrigation company brought in for repairs. All 3 systems checked and operational. New landscaping company hired.
2018-2019 – New landscaping company hired after the 2018 company fell short of expectations. Budget almost doubled based on community walk through with board and members.
2019-2020 – Landscaping company hired in 2019 failed to complete all tasks. Company terminated in September 2020. 5 new companies asked to bring bids to the board. Board members met with each of the companies. Budget remained at the 2019 $55k-$60k threshold. US Lawns contract signed.
Over the years one thing has remained constant, a need for a solid contract with a solid landscaping company. Each board has made changes and worked within the budget to try and find solutions. No doubt landscaping will continue to improve; however, we will need to work as a community to obtain the results we all want.
Almond Glen Owners Association, Inc.