Building maintenance follows a schedule based on the seasons, each of which presents a unique set of challenges to a co-op or condo. At certain times of the year, it just makes sense to do certain regular maintenance projects: weatherizing, boiler maintenance, winterizing gardens and landscaping in the fall; cleaning, repainting, pruning, and switching off the heating machinery in the spring, and so forth.
But while this seems straightforward, and while it’s true that there are plenty of seasonal tasks that can be done safely, effectively, and economically by in-house staff members, smart boards know when to hire professionals to do a job. When it comes to the delicate, often complex matter of caring for a community’s landscaping elements—be they decades-old trees, extensive flowerbeds, or even just a few planters out front, “The rookie mistake is hiring a rookie,” says David Protell of Chelsea Garden Center in Brooklyn, New York. “What happens is, somebody’s reading Southern Living, and they have no clue what they’re doing, and you end up good-willed, and good-natured, but ill-advised.”
Money may not grow on trees, but neglected trees (and shrubs and flowers) can certainly cost a great deal of money to rehabilitate or replace. That’s why it’s crucial that boards have at least a passing knowledge of seasonal landscape maintenance, and engage the right professionals to support their own in-house staff in holding to a sensible, well-informed schedule.
Spring is when nature emerges from the winter chill, when flowers bloom, when leaves return to the trees, when the birds and the bees and the bugs come out in full force.
Even if you’re not a landscaping pro, “It’s pretty obvious that you want to do most kinds of planting in the spring,” says Christy Webber, president and CEO of Christy Webber Landscapes in Chicago. “Spring is when you want to get any kind of seed down, once the soil temperatures are warm. Seed is about sunshine and warmth of soil. Any time after April… but into June it’s almost too late to try to germinate any seed. You can pay for it, but good luck. With no supplemental spring rain to help you along with your watering, your chances [of successful growth] are slim.”