While the summer may have you thinking of different ways to beat the heat, it’s important to start preparing for the cold weather now, too. In fact, the change in seasons brings a variety of landscaping and maintenance issues you’ll want to get a jump-start on before that first cold snap.
“Whether your HOA is self-managed or professionally managed, getting started on your fall and winter prep will help keep your operations running smoothly as the seasons and temperatures change – and that will keep your residents happy as well,” says Barbara Jaquett, executive director at FirstService Residential.
So with the quickly approaching autumn season in mind, here are a few points you’ll want to focus on.
1. Give your landscaping some love.
The fall presents a great opportunity to keep your landscaping looking lush once the cold weather passes. Take the time to spray for pests and weeds. Aerate your turf, and look for those patchy spots so you can re-seed them. Fall is also the time when your trees will benefit from some deep root fertilization.

Since some of your systems have gotten a real workout during the summer months, take a look at your watering clocks and irrigation systems to make sure everything is in top working order. The last thing you want to do is try to make a repair in cold winter weather. And as cooler temperatures approach, remember to disconnect hoses from hose bibs and clear out all the leaves that have collected under bushes and in your drainage areas. These may be tasks that your maintenance crew can handle, or if the job requires extra support, look to a good community association management company to refer you to a quality landscaping expert.
2. Winterize your pools and spas.
As Labor Day approaches, it will soon be time to shut down your outdoor pool and spa. Take another look at all motors and pumps, and give your filters a final clean and replacement. Check for leaks and corrosion in your pipes – these small problems can become huge headaches in winter. Remember to backwash the filter and drain all the water from the filter tank. And as a final step, be sure to clear out all of the filter baskets and give your pump motor and bearings a good coat of grease.

Store the pool equipment in a place that is safe and dry for the winter. And throughout the cold season, stay vigilant for any issues that may cause a safety or maintenance hazard. A dedicated pool maintenance vendor can help you with all of this, and your community association management company can help you find a reliable service provider if you don’t already have one.
3. Keep your community on the bright side.
With shorter days comes a greater need for reliable lighting throughout your building or community. Replace spent bulbs and any fixtures that have broken. Make sure your emergency lighting systems are in good working order.
If you’re looking to save money, consider converting all of your lighting to energy-efficient LEDs. You may qualify for utility rebates if you choose to go this route – your community association management company will have the latest information on what’s being offered.

4. Get storm-ready.
Tropical storm and hurricane season is in full-swing and officially runs through November 1, so well into autumn. National weather forecasters are predicting the most active season in the past three years. That’s because the recent seasons featured below-normal activity, and the upcoming outlook calls for a return to normal storm frequency. The culprit is La Niña, the weather phenomenon where waters in the Pacific become cooler than what’s typical, which tends to increase storm activity in the Atlantic. Download our Hurricane Preparedness Guide to make sure your New Jersey community is equipped.
It’s important to take preparation steps before a storm threatens, such as securing outdoor items, developing a communications plan, and, if your community is in an evacuation zone, encouraging residents to make a “go-kit” of supplies (medicine, valuables that can’t be replaced, clothing, food, water, important papers, cash, phones with chargers, and a first aid kit for starters). A good management company can be invaluable when it comes to developing a community-wide emergency plan. Some of the most forward-thinking companies even offer communication technologies that can be critical during disasters, such as FirstService Residential’s Resident Alert, which keeps residents informed via email and phone in emergency situations.

5. Don’t let the holidays sneak up on you.
If your association decorates for the holidays, it’s a good time to start formalizing those plans with your management and staff. Once the holidays are here, everyone will be busy enough as it is, so get a jump start on things right now. Will you hire a company to help you string lights? Start the RFP process with prospective vendors immediately – you’ll be in a better negotiating position if your need isn’t so urgent. Just remember, when decorating deciduous trees, trim them back before you light them so you can minimize the risk of fire. 
While it still feels like summer, fall will be here before you know it. Take advantage of the tips you’ve learned here and you and your residents will be able to enjoy all the benefits of autumn... without the headaches. For more information, contact FirstService Residential, New Jersey’s leading community association management company.
Tuesday August 09, 2016