Operating Costs, balanced with Design intent, underscore the importance of a Planned Community’s (or Single-Family Homeowner’s) initiative when discussing a renovation to landscape and irrigation systems. Today’s Market is extremely competitive, so the balance must exude the ‘Sense of Place,’ evoking the reaction, ‘This is where I want to be!’ Recent conditions in Southwest Florida, both climatic and market-driven, have affected a neighborhood’s Image.
First, the cold snaps enacted damage to plants that may be out of their ideal USDA Planting Zones, inefficiencies in irrigation distribution may have contributed to the ‘after effects,’ as well, so that desiccating plants did not receive the proper amount of water after such a freeze (either too much or too little). The second market condition, foreclosures and short sales continue to work through the system and increased competition thereby tends to fall on the collective image or First Impression…’Is this really where I want to live?’ This question is asked well-before the initiation of finances to get an idea of ‘running costs’ in the form of HOA dues, Maintenance fees, and the like. A third condition, tends to rest firmly on the shoulders of the Landscape Maintenance Company that oversees ‘The grounds,’ Landscape material and the Irrigation system. ‘Mow, Blow, and Go,’ is not responsive to Image or Irrigation. A fourth condition is ‘evolution of the landscape,’ described as the maturing of vegetation: Trees and Palms, the overstory, introduce more shade, out-competing sod, hindering a full-sun shrub’s vigor, and potentially disturb adjacent Hardscape through encroaching roots. A successful plan will evaluate individual microclimates for landscape and irrigation element renovations and investigate the need for Hardscape adjustments (i.e., decrease the square footage, root barriers, or re-design ‘outdoor rooms’?), further planning for future growth and maturity (an approach for sustainability).
One of our recent Clients was happy to hear that our initial investigation found that irrigation, as an isolated cost, was two to three times what they should be spending. Systemically, the wetter conditions contributed to higher applications of fungicides, pesticides, and herbicides, all over-and-above the normal fees associated with the Landscape Maintenance Contract (not to mention the additional chemical compounds required). With this in mind, and a small budget, we have a Design Path that is conscious of ‘over-manicuring,’ ‘over-exorbitance,’ and ‘over-intensive.’ An evaluation of Hardscape disturbance was not required; however, responsible allocation of resources continued to marry cost with stewardship, so that existing tree and palm health is considered for the future.
The lesson here, as may be the case in your own yard, is to consider a ‘big picture’ and develop the details with the future in mind – it’s good for the economy, our resources, and your pocketbook!