8 Minute Read
At the intersection of two major roads in Katy, Texas sits the unique Silver Ranch community. “Our community takes up three sides of the intersection; we have major roads that go through our subdivision and it is not an encompassed square, so it’s very different from your typical HOA property,” says Corey Zollinger, who sits on the board of the Silver Ranch HOA.
Featuring a clubhouse, two pool areas, a splash pad, tennis court, walking trails, and a park with a playground, the Silver Ranch community has so much to offer its residents. All of these amenities mean several contractors are needed to properly maintain them. After the landscaping was turned over by the property developer a few years ago, the community kept the same landscape maintenance contractor.
The board decided to start interviewing new companies after it became clear the previous landscaper was not meeting the needs of the property. After interviewing several landscapers, Zollinger mentioned “It was clear Monarch provided a higher level of consulting and would give us advice from experts. After meeting with them, we felt like we could trust them more than the current company.”
The board decided to start with Monarch by hiring them on for a large tree trimming project, and the team at Monarch has since picked up the remaining landscape maintenance and enhancement services at Silver Ranch.
Zollinger says, “We started a landscape committee around the same time we started with Monarch, and it has been great working with them. Our committee chair is working directly with them and the communication is phenomenal. They do a great job of keeping everyone informed of what is going on”
Let’s look at how the HOA board at Silver Ranch and the team at Monarch have partnered to turn around the landscape for this unique and beautiful community.
After negative experiences in the past with landscaping contractors, the board at Silver Ranch wanted to test out the services Monarch provides before fully signing on. They decided to begin with a project that desperately needed to be completed, tree trimming.
Jodi Josephs, landscape designer, and account manager, estimated, “The property had around 1,100 trees planted including Pines, Oaks, Elms, Wax Myrtles, and more. These trees had never been trimmed before, so some looked like shrubs instead of trees.”
In any type of commercial property, one of the largest investments is its trees. They provide lasting beauty and benefits to their surroundings when properly cared for. When they are not well cared for, they can become a safety issue and a large expense.
“The first thing we did was inventory and evaluate all the trees. We provided a proposal to go through and lift and trim all these trees, just to give them some structural stability. It would also improve the property’s aesthetic,” said Josephs. After the board signed the proposal, the Monarch team quickly got to work on this enormous project, and the result made an immediate impact. Josephs commented, “The value of the tree trimming was huge for the community, just the investment the board made on that alone made a big difference.”
The residents and board at Silver Ranch agreed, “All the trees and bushes looked really nice after they were done. The community has been really happy with them [Monarch] because they deliver on what they say they are going to do,” says Zollinger.
After completion of the tree trimming project, the Silver Ranch community decided to sign on with Monarch for additional landscape maintenance services. With over 1,350 homes in this traditional west Houston suburb, there is more landscaping than usual to maintain.
“The biggest thing for us [Silver Ranch residents] is we have a lot of grass because of the layout of the subdivision. Our setbacks are further back than the typical street, so our lawns are deeper, which means a lot more to maintain,” says Zollinger, “there are many medians and plantings, pool entrances, and more entrances to the subdivision than normal because of our unique location.”
While landscape maintenance at any homeowner association community tends to require a large investment of time, the larger turf areas and additional entrances at Silver Ranch keep the landscape maintenance team at Monarch busy. They handle all landscape maintenance services on the property including plant health care, turf care, fertilization, irrigation, and several landscape enhancement projects.
In order to effectively onboard the Silver Ranch community, the team at Monarch began by creating a property improvement plan (PIP). The goal of a PIP is to assess the current property as a whole. Property improvement plans take every piece of landscaping into consideration, from plantings to the irrigation system. Monarch takes a deep dive to ensure they are educated on what is working well at the property and what is not. These plans provide a sort of menu of landscape items that could be completed and include investment ranges, photos, designs, and more.
Monarch suggested a PIP to the Silver Ranch HOA board to assess the health and functionality of the large community. After feeling like they had few short or long-term planning goals, with their previous contractor, the HOA board was excited about this idea, and Zolllinger commented “We loved this [PIP] as a consulting thing. They were advising us, they are the experts giving us advice on how to make it better.” After extensively researching and interviewing potential landscaping contractors, it felt like a relief to the board to have the landscaping experts providing suggestions and ideas instead of the board themselves having to dig into the issues.
Designer Jodi Josephs completed the improvement plan for the Silver Ranch community in 30 days, instead of the usual 90, after they signed Monarch for landscape management services. “The plan altogether ended up being thirty-two pages long, with five sections per page. I went through every bed, every intersection and evaluated what needed to be done from both a design and planting perspective and presented it to them,” Josephs said, “it was a significant investment just to simply rehabilitate the existing landscape.”
The HOA board at Silver Ranch was impressed, to say the least. “The PIP started us out on the right foot, everyone sees the roadmap for the future. We could talk about it and decide together. It was very helpful in terms of planning and budgeting,” says Zollinger.
If the irrigation system is not functioning well at any property in Texas, it likely means the landscape overall will be suffering. This was certainly the case at Silver Ranch.
“Other than the trees, the irrigation system has been a big challenge. It was in really bad shape and had not been properly maintained at all. We have been trying to work through all the areas that didn’t work,” says Josephs. After carefully inspecting the entire system, work began to repair the system and adjust coverage so that all plants and grass areas were being effectively watered.
From leaks to broken parts, Josephs explains, “There was a smart irrigation system already installed, but it was not grounded or working properly. There were issues with decoders and many shorts. We found major coverage issues as well.”
Due to the dire state of the irrigation system, the Municipal Water District partnered with Silver Ranch to take on part of the repair investment. Once repairs are completed, it will save the community thousands in plant and turf replacements as well as cut back significantly on water waste.
“They came in and investigated the irrigation, digging deep into it to fix it and advise us. They are performing monthly irrigation checks, which help find problems. Monarch is following through with what they promised in their contract, and the irrigation is already making everything look better,” said Zollinger.
As irrigation was not properly functioning, many plantings on the property were struggling. Landscape Designer for over 25 years and referred to by those at Silver Ranch as the ‘walking plant encyclopedia’, Jodi Josephs took the lead in redesigning the existing landscape beds.
“In my redesign, I tried to incorporate a lot of different colors and textures. I used perennials like Salvia, Lantana, and Roses,” says Josephs. As a part of the property improvement plan, the reworking of several flower beds impacts the entire community. Improved landscape beds at the several entrances to Silver Ranch can help improve curb appeal as the development is a high-traffic area.
Adding some variety and uniqueness to the already existing plant palette has the potential to change the overall aesthetic. “The plantings have really transformed the space. It is a night and day difference after the installation,” Josephs mentioned.
As with any HOA community, great communication is a necessity. Monarch routinely meets with the committee chair to report progress on all projects. “They provide quality control inspection reports, and irrigation inspection reports, and routinely communicate via email or text,” says Zollinger.
Josephs adds, “I frequently communicate with Silver Ranch through Zoom calls, phone calls, e-mail, and texts. I am sure to answer any questions, verify plant material, and explain the why behind what I have chosen. We talk about the short and long-term outcome of the landscaping decisions the board makes.”
With so many opinions and voices in a large HOA community, the landscape contractor needs to respond quickly and with transparency. “With the monthly quality control checks, property improvement plans, and communication I know they [Monarch] are looking at it so I don’t have to. I trust them to be there, making sure plants haven’t died and need to be replaced, making sure it is all properly taken care of. With our previous contractor, I had to take my time to go do inspections, it just added on one more thing for me to do as a volunteer,” Zollinger says, “it’s nice to have people do their jobs.”
Finding a landscaping maintenance contractor that will follow through on their promises, communicate well, and set the property up for sustainability is not easy. It takes the right type of partnership.
While the board at Silver Ranch acknowledges that Monarch wasn’t necessarily the cheapest option when searching for a landscaper to manage their property, they were looking for more than just someone to show up, mow the lawn, and leave. They desired a true partner and advisor. Zollinger says, “I trust them and I like working with them because they are a consultant. They don’t just tell us what we want to hear. They are an affordable company too, and they do great work.”
With experts on staff like Licensed Irrigators and Technicians, Certified Arborists, and Certified Nursery and Landscape Professionals, Monarch prides itself on providing more than just average weekly landscape services. “We’ve been really happy. It’s been one heck of a project, but they are great. I wish I could find other management companies that match their level of professionalism and expertise to manage the rest of the property,” Zollinger commented.
When asked what he would tell other commercial property managers or HOA board members about Monarch, Zollinger had this to say, “Invest in and work with them [Monarch]. You will appreciate it. If you are looking for a company that is going to ensure quality, that things get done, and are managed properly, from both a professional and consultation manner, they are the ones to go with.”
Are you ready to transform your commercial property’s landscape? Get started with Monarch Landscape Management today.
Written By: Monarch Landscape Management