Homeowners Associations Tree Care Best Practices
If you operate, work for or volunteer with a Homeowners Association (HOA), chances are that you will have to learn a bit about trees and their proper care. After all, the HOA is responsible for the maintenance of all community areas. That includes the care or removal of trees in community areas, near roads, on parkways and on any other public land within the HOA development. Typically, the HOA is responsible for the total upkeep and maintenance of these open community spaces, and trees often play an important role in keeping those spaces healthy and inviting.
Trees Take Work but Offer Many Benefits
While trees take some work to maintain, they also offer a number of benefits to your community. Some benefits of having trees in your neighborhood include:
- Aesthetics and beauty of your environment
- Shade and natural protection from the elements
- Oxygen and fresh air
- Reduce air pollution
- Increases the value of your home and your property
Pick the Right Trees for Your Location
Like all living things, trees need to live in a climate that suits their disposition. They need sunlight, food and water. Choosing the right kind of tree for your climate, elevation and soil type can help make tree maintenance that much simpler. Planting a variety of tree species suited to your location can create a diverse and thriving arboreal space on HOA land. Planting more than one kind of tree is often critical to the success of a planting. A monoculture of trees is more likely to attract pests, like damaging insects or a blight. If one kind fails, you will have others to rely on until you can plant more.
Planting and transplanting should be carefully handled and planned. Will the tree have enough sun as it grows? Is the soil in the area the right pH and drainage? Is there a nearby water source capable of sustaining the tree as it puts down roots? Consider the possibility that you may need to offer supplemental waterings in the first year or so during periods of drought. Once the trees have established roots, they should tolerate regional droughts better.
Find an Arborist You Can Work With
The best way to pick the right trees and locations and to promote healthy tree growth is to work with a certified local arborist. These professionals have experience and education that focuses on trees and their care. An arborist can help you address issues like insect infestations, parasitic fungi or sudden leaf drop in seemingly healthy trees. From testing the soil for nutrient issues to helping develop a care plan for the healthy growth of your trees, an arborist can offer a host of benefits to your HOA. Ideally, you will consult with an arborist before investing in trees to plant or removing any trees presenting issues.
Create a Plan for Tree Care
As an HOA, you should have standard practices for tree care. This can be shared with all the area homeowners, maintenance people and managers. Some of those best practices should include:
- Fertilization annually with compost or fertilizer that corrects nutrient deficiencies in your soil
- Supplemental water during the first two years and during extreme droughts
- Careful trimming or pruning of trees only in the second year after transplant
- Monitoring for pests, especially those known to cause substantial damage
- Triage practices to address pest issues that do not include immediate removal of trees
- Contacting a trusted local arborist for serious issues
With a little work and investment, your HOA can create a space filled with healthy trees and happy people. Planting and caring for the right trees can help make your HOA more attractive to prospective buyers and can offer the homeowners benefits from shade to reduced pollution.
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