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Managing a Master Planned Community Landscape: Summerwood in Houston, TX

8 Minute Read

When residents at Summerwood, a Master Planned Community located right off the beltway in Houston, Texas, say their community has it all, they really mean it. From a McDonald’s to a pharmacy, to their own elementary, middle, and high schools, everything you want or need can be found in Summerwood.

With its endless amenities, the board at Summerwood has their hands full. “It’s not easy to live in [and manage] a community of this size. It’s quite a task to make sure things are kept up. When you are in a large community like this you have to work together. It takes everyone working together, contractors, board, and homeowners. We’ve seen a time when everyone wasn’t rowing in the same direction, now we are in a time where we have landscaping contractors that want to do really well,” says board member Rhonda Geddis.

Let’s explore how the experts at Monarch Landscape Management partnered with the board at Summerwood to turn around the landscape of this beautiful community.

Making a Change

With over 3,200 homes, 8 parks, 2 pools, 3 clubhouses, 3 man made lakes, exercise facilities, and more, managing the landscape at Summerwood is more like caring for a small town. “People love it here. One of our board members has been here 26 years, and we still have folks who are living in the first houses that were built 30 years ago. We have a very welcoming community, and it’s a place where many people come and stay,” says Geddis.

Because of the sheer size of Summerwood, it takes a landscape management company that really knows what they are doing. This community not only needs expert-level staff members but a large amount of equipment and team members that are dedicated only to the Summerwood property.

Unlike other landscape management companies that typically overload their account managers with large properties to juggle, account manager Leonard Garcia only manages Summerwood.

Geddis shared “Two years ago we went through a whole big process [of trying to find a new landscape management company] and got proposals from thirteen contractors. We narrowed it to four to interview in person, and we awarded the contract to Monarch Landscape Management.” Summerwood knew that it needed a unique landscape management company to cater to the needs of such a large and multifaceted community.

account manager and board member talk about property

After years of the landscape being neglected, Monarch was chosen for many reasons, “They showed us great references of other communities like ours they did a huge turnaround in. We knew they would systematically go through and correct some of the problems we were having,” said Geddis.

The Monarch management team selected Leonard Garcia to manage the property because of his years of experience with large accounts. An entire crew was then dedicated solely to Summerwood, with an additional second crew also visiting a few times a week.

A Clear Plan of Action

Monarch began, as they do with any new contract, with a clear plan of action. A Property Improvement Plan (PIP) was developed and presented, highlighting many areas that need attention.

stone sign with seasonal plantings

Geddis commented about the plan for improvement stating, “Monarch provided us with status reports and suggestions. The board went from there and chose what to concentrate on, such as the main beds and the East pool replanting project. We prioritized what was the most important to us.”

Geddis also shared, “They are an easy company to work with. They listen. Not everything on the PIP was something we wanted to do, and they were willing to listen and willing to follow board directions.” The board and Monarch team worked together to decide where to begin reviving the landscape at Summerwood.

The Work Begins

The experts at Monarch first began with tackling the irrigation system, as irrigation plays a major role in the success of plantings and turf. Many issues that the property was having were a direct result of an irrigation system that was not functioning well.

Monarch Account Manager for Summerwood, Leonard Garcia said, “When we arrived in 2020, we found lots of neglected irrigation and offline zones. Thankfully, we have experienced irrigators, so we inventoried and prioritized all the problems. We put over 60 valves in the community back online. It was quite a surprise to the board on how much irrigation was being neglected.”

irrigation along walkway in HOA community

Garcia even joked, “We had community members out on their morning walks surprised with irrigation turning on and getting them wet that never worked before. We made sure to adjust timing in these areas so that the needs of the residents were met.”

Geddis echoed this stating, “We found out we had major irrigation issues. You can imagine in a community 30 years old, things are aging and starting to fall apart. We learned there were sections that completely did not work and some that need repairs.”

Along with irrigation services, Monarch provides seasonal planting rotations three times a year, mowing, weeding, fertilization, property clean-ups, and landscape enhancements.

lawn care team trims lawn near pool

Geddis shared, “We had flower beds that needed to be brought back to vibrancy, limbs that needed to be cut back and picked up. We needed general cleanup like hauling away trash from around the lake and picking up trash around the whole community. We wanted to make sure areas look gorgeous when you drive in on the main drag.”

Updating an Aging Landscape

As the Summerwood community itself has grown, so has its landscape. Geddis reflected “I’ve learned developers have a grand idea [in relation to landscaping]. They plant a million flower gardens and trees and it looks really nice in the now. No one is thinking about what happens 30 years from now.”

Monarch’s second big task in taking over Summerwood was to tackle all the overgrown plantings, which were the heart of the issue noticed by the board.

plant care team trims trees

Garcia shared, “We found we were trimming up lots of overgrown foliage around park benches and lighting, areas that are a liability and a safety concern. We spent a lot of time trying to get all the plantings up to par, where it was all easy on the eyes. Some areas were so overgrown we had to separate and remove shrubs and perennials.”

Geddis states, “We had some major cleanup to do, it looked great back then, but now we had to deal with the overgrowth and thinning things out. Monarch has taken the original vision the developers had and made it a reality in the current age.”

grasses and seasonal plantings near sign

One large enhancement project that the residents selected to tackle first was the landscape near the East pool. This area contains a volleyball court, pool, clubhouse, and park area. Board Member Geddis said, “The plants had died out as trees were an overgrowth issue. This area was not getting what it needed. Monarch added grass and plantings to bring things back very systematically. They worked with our budget and what we felt was a priority.”

Consistency and Communication

As you can imagine, caring for the entire Summerwood property is an enormous undertaking. So much so, that Monarch teams are at the property every day of the week.

Account manager Garcia said, “I am out here [at Summerwood] every day. We have a large crew here Monday through Friday doing the maintenance for the common areas, parks, swimming pools, splash pads, and recreation areas. An additional crew visits the property multiple days a week managing and improving the common areas as well as the 2.5 miles of pipelines.”

landscape maintenance team mows lawn

The board members at Summerwood appreciate the special attention and care they see every day from Garcia. Board Member Geddis stated, “We often ride along with Leonard and look through the community. He listens to what the board wants to do going forward. It is so nice to constantly have that kind of interaction. He is here a ton and knows who is on site and what they are doing. He has been a wealth of information.”

In order to keep everything running smoothly at Summerwood, Garcia has to be very organized, “I have a running spreadsheet and I keep the board informed. They ask about different areas when I drive around with them weekly. I have worked diligently to build a great partnership with them and have a great rapport with the board. They all know me by name.”

landscape maintenance team uses blower to clean up grass

Garcia also acknowledged that there are sometimes concerns in a partnership and property this size. “If we have a complaint or a request to change something, I don’t make excuses. We listen then provide solutions on what we are going to do and update everyone on what is coming next to fix the problem.”

The Monarch Difference

“I want to work with someone who wants to partner with us. I have been here for 18 years and I am here because I want to be. I have a passion for this community, and I want a partner, someone with the same attitude,” says Geddis, “Leonard calls it [Summerwood] ‘our’ community. I am proud of the work we are doing, and I know Leonard has a passion for what we are doing in the community.”

In order to successfully manage a property like Summerwood, the board and landscape team have to be willing to work hand-in-hand. They need to hold a similar vision for the property and create a clear path for the execution of that vision.

summerwood sign with fountains and plantings

Account manager Garcia has accomplished exactly that, “I love this property. I call it [Summerwood] my baby. When we drive around now, I have people stopping and thanking me. The property looks 100% better than it did. And that’s not me, that’s my team.”

From Garcia’s remarks, it’s obvious that the excellent work produced by the team at Monarch comes from great leadership. Geddis echoed this sentiment when talking about owner, Jason Mathers, “It is not uncommon for Jason to come out and work with his crews. He visits at least twice a month, and he is working with his guys. He is hands-on. You can tell from a customer service perspective he wants to know what is going on. Jason was here every day, in the beginning, working through things. That’s impressive.”

The difference in the community of Summerwood since Monarch took over landscaping services has been notable to both residents and visitors.

neatly maintained landscape along road

Geddis shared, “A friend of mine came to visit me and hadn’t been in the community for about ten years. She mentioned that it looks wonderful and just as good as it did ten years ago. She was so surprised it didn’t look like it was aging.”

Geddis finished with this to say about the Monarch team, “They show up not just physically. They are here and they want to be here. They are productive. We constantly get feedback from homeowners that the community looks great.”

Together, with a whole lot of teamwork, communication, and dedication, the experts at Monarch have turned around the unique and beautiful community of Summerwood. Finding a landscaping company that will truly partner with you is certainly not easy, but in the end, is worth it.

Are you ready to transform your community’s landscaping? Getting started is simple. Consult our team of experts, meet to discuss solutions, and allow our experts to implement all the details of your improvement plan!

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Written By: Monarch Landscape Management

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