At an Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO) meeting, Allan Kling of Urban Garden presented a forward thinking perspective on condo landscaping.
Mr. Kling believes that condo corporations can provide nicer and more practical landscapes which require less maintenance and reduced cost by limiting the amount of grass. He sees the purpose of condo landscaping as being to enhance the value of the overall investment and to increase enjoyment of the property.
Unfortunately, too many condo boards and managers see condo landscaping as a costly budget item without consideration of the overall or long term benefits. Mr. Kling cites the example of one building where the grass area was reduced by 50%. This was achieved by creating an interlock courtyard with seating. Garden beds and planting were placed around this area.
Improved seating made the area more usable for residents and drew them to the courtyard. Such areas are more appealing to younger condo owners and children. This can change the area into a more practical usable space for more people. It also makes the area more suitable for adding amenities such as BBQs, seating and play areas.
Grass is expensive. In addition to its initial cost grass must be installed, mowed, watered and replaced. A primarily non-turf area may be costlier to install but requires less ongoing maintenance.
Another way to reduce costs is to give more thought to plantings. Mr. Kling identifies the cost of annuals as leading to increased use of perennials. Unfortunately, perennials are less colourful and bloom for a shorter period of time. Nevertheless, use of perennials can result in a pleasing display that is less costly to maintain. Effective use of annuals plus perennials can result in bright and appealing summer colours along with some fall foliage colour.