The various responsibilities that an HOA must take on are sometimes overlooked because once everything is running right, homeowners see it as the norm. Sure, when it's time to handle complaints or deal with maintenance, the HOA will be at the front of everyone's mind, but what about everything that goes on behind the scenes?

For example, some board members work on having the skills necessary to manage the environment. To this end, there may be ongoing efforts to achieve HOA board member certification for HOA, Condo, Co-op, etc.

There's the treasurer who has to do everything to ensure that the community meets the requirements for accessing acceptable community homeowners association insurance policies and managing the use of HOA dues.

Landscape maintenance is another that may be overlooked. However, the management team can't drop the ball since they must make sure the community is aesthetically appealing. Let's talk about landscaping rules, their importance, and even some cost-saving ideas!

What Makes HOA Landscaping Essential?

If you think about why every HOA exists, a part of it is to protect property values in the community. Of course, many things feed into that but one of the more important ones is going to be ensuring that landscape maintenance is taken care of as expected when expected.

The community garden, for example, shouldn't look like a place in the wild where animals roam free. There needs to be that visual of lush greenery. This will allow the existing homeowners to take pride in where they've made their purchase while appealing to a whole new set of homeowners who may have some interest.

Note that while all HOA communities will have standards, these are different from one to the next. Landscaping services may or may not be covered, and this will be determined by what the governing documents outline. Additionally, some may only cover shared spaces in the HOA community while others may take on individual homeowner properties.

It May be Good to Have a Committee for the HOA Landscape

We spoke about all the competing responsibilities of the HOA above and that will often mean that managing areas such as landscaping policies may not be feasible. Therefore, we would recommend that a landscaping committee be delegated to take care of such affairs as doing so can get pretty cumbersome. Here are some of the tasks that such a group would be taking on.

RFP Preparation

Naturally, the association would want the best company working on the project, and this will mean sending out requests for proposals (RFPs) to different firms that there may be interest in. There may be a list of approved companies to work with. The request should include the expectations, needs, and project budget.

This is also a good time to indicate that proposals should come complete with references and photos. It's a good idea to establish an acceptable proposal format to ensure the best results.


That pre-approved budget that is being indicated as a part of the RFP process doesn't come out of thin air. Additionally, it can be a substantial figure. Truthfully, the kind of transformation that a landscaping company can bring to the table can shape the future of the community in a positive light.

It stands to reason then that this is going to be one of the most expensive parts of the budget. For reference, it's not unheard of for landscaping to cost as much as $60,000 annually.

Of course, there are factors such as the extent of space, how long the work goes on, quality of work, etc. that will affect what the price will look like.

Selecting the Winning Bid

The expectation is that the RFPs will be responded to and this means that there will be competing proposals received. The committee will now need to select a winning bid for the project. It's recommended to take a good look at all the submissions to avoid any hasty decisions.

Consider the benefits and drawbacks that come with each, before making the final recommendation to the board. Remember that the one that costs the least is not the one that will necessarily deliver the best value. The reverse also applies. Expensive doesn't mean excellent work will be provided by the company.

Room for Improvements

The committee is also not expected to settle into a routine or keep expectations stagnant. There may be improvements that can be made to the community. For example, maybe it may want to remove an element of a shared space that's an eyesore. In fact, it would also be good for the HOA landscaping policies to be reviewed from time to time so continued relevance can be ensured.

What Are Some Common HOA Landscaping Guidelines

Now that you understand the importance of landscaping and what a committee is expected to do, it's a good time to talk about what you should expect in a typical landscaping policy.

Furniture and Sculptures

It's pretty common to find policies that will regulate the types and number of lawn furniture that are accepted in the community. This is not specific to shared areas as it's also a mandate that applies to what owners can do within their property boundary lines.

The reason behind this falls under the umbrella of uniformity. As you can imagine, the fewer pieces of equipment and furniture on lawns, the better and neater things will look. Therefore, if a rule can result in greater aesthetic appeal, then you can bet that an HOA board is going to be interested in going in that direction.

Additionally, the rules may also speak to where owners are allowed to place those pieces of furniture. Typically, the concern is for areas that can easily be seen. Therefore, homeowners tend to have free reign over how they choose to treat their backyards, but will be limited in front yard placement.

Limits on Personal Gardens

Personal gardens may be a passion project or something used as a form of beautification. However, in many cases, what homeowners may want to do will conflict with what the association board is trying to achieve.

Therefore, you may find that approved plant types are not uncommon. While no hard and fast rule applies across every HOA, it's normal to find that small herb gardens are generally accepted while large vegetable and fruit gardens are not allowed.

In this case, it's not all about the look that such things will give off. There's also the concern that pests and rodents will become a problem as they usually do in farming ventures. If you do want to focus on the aesthetic though, these gardens do create another problem.

Remember that many fruit trees are seasonal and you will sometimes see fruit all over the ground after they have become ripe.

Plant Palette Requirements

This is an offshoot of the previous point, where a list may be provided to residents on what they can and cannot plant as members of the community. This will apply whether the homeowners choose to do the planting themselves or hire a professional company to get it done.

Here, the goal is more on the consistency visually. What the board doesn't want is a bunch of plants and trees that do nothing to complement each other. Additionally, some plants can be pretty invasive, which is not desirable for obvious reasons. The last thing anyone wants is some plant to run wild and start creeping its way everywhere.

Thankfully, this is one of those groupings of rules that homeowners tend not to have too much of a problem with abiding by.

Fencing Limits

Depending on the HOA, it's possible that fencing will also fall under the umbrella of the landscaping rules. Of course, the visual element is present here. However, there is also the consideration of ensuring that everyone stays within their property lines.

Typically when there is a fencing committee, it's best to submit any kinds of intended fencing projects to be submitted for approval before proceeding with them.

Tree Removal Limits

Trees may need to be removed for different reasons. For example, a tree may be sick or it may be a blockage to an important place. However, there are other cases where the reason is not so good or non-existent. This can be especially problematic when the tree in question has a lot of aesthetic value for the community.

A case-by-case review process for tree removals is recommended here to ensure that everyone is aligned in the decision to remove the tree.

This Isn't an Exhaustive List

We just want to take the time to indicate that what we have provided here is not an exhaustive list of the policies that may be put in place where landscaping is concerned. However, this list does address the ones that you can typically expect to see.

For example, you may find that there are associations out there that will cover fertilization, irrigation, water conservation rules, maintenance requirements, and more that apply to homeowner properties.

It's up to the discretion of the HOA what is included in the policy so long as none of the provisions violate state or federal law.

Consider The Following to Cut HOA Landscaping Costs

As indicated before, an HOA may find that landscaping costs are among the highest in the budget. Therefore, there will be a vested interest in what can be done to translate to savings. Here are some of the ideas that you may want to consider to this end.

Plant Choices

Choosing the right plants is one of the non-negotiables of cost optimization in the landscaping world. A good idea is to choose plants that do not have great maintenance requirements and those that will last a long time.

While exotic plants can be incredibly attractive, they will cost more to buy, and caring for them will also require notable spending.

Section Prioritization

Some homeowners associations cannot go ahead and get all of the work they want done in one go, and there's nothing wrong with that. If this is the case, a recommendation is to use a section-based approach to get the work done.

Prioritize the more visible locations and handle the expenses in sections, which will eventually lead to everything being covered.

No Symmetrical Designs

Keeping things symmetrical can provide a great look, but it may not be financially wise. Imagine if the group dies at the same time. The cost to replace all that will be a problem.

Placement Considerations

Don't plant too close to walkways or sidewalks since that will mean the plants die faster. Additionally, better positioning means better growth.

Lean on an HOA Landscaping Company for Assistance

HOA landscaping companies may cost a pretty penny to work with, but it's worth it for the outcomes that knowledge, experience, and proper tools will provide.

Did You Know HOA Software Can Make Managing the Community a Lot Easier?

There's enough to worry about outside of landscaping, but thankfully, managing it doesn't need to be a chore. DoorLoop has an impressive HOA management solution that will provide the following benefits:

  • Free website per property or community with a tenant portal included
  • Automated payments for Homeowners association fees, rent, maintenance, amenities, etc.
  • Full accounting suite with shareable AR/AP reports
  • QuickBooks/bank account integration
  • ARC and maintenance request handling
  • Unlimited administrative users
  • Communication by phone, text, email, and portal messages.

The Bottom Line

Landscaping rules go a long way in establishing the aesthetic and functional standards of greenery in HOAs, which helps to improve and maintain property values.

Don't forget our HOA software solution to make the load of management easier. Schedule a free demo today to see what we have to offer!

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David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!

Legal Disclaimer

The information on this website is from public sources, for informational purposes only and not intended for legal or accounting advice. DoorLoop does not guarantee its accuracy and is not liable for any damages or inaccuracies.