RE: Landscaping, work,$
From: Rowenahc (
Date: Tue, 17 Jul 2001 21:45:13 -0600 (MDT)

I've searched the archives, but found nothing on these aspects of
handling landscaping- we're wondering how others handle this.

Who does the work?
CambridgeCohousing is an urban development, which means very little private
open space.  We have a fair amount of common lawn area, play areas, veggie
gardens and several areas for flowers and herbs.   Because we were and are
concerned with keeping costs down the work is done by residents - actually a
fairly small group do most of it, assisted by others from time to time on
major projects.  We started with a wasteland - a former industrial site
which had been cleared for construction - the only work that was done before
move in was a thin layer of topsoil and seeding with grass!  Since then we
have had some trees professionally planted but everything else has been done
by volunteers, including moving several hundred yards of composted loam into
the veggie garden.  After three years we are still chipping away in various
areas.  For instance, we are turning a neglected patch of sad grass into an
attractive shade garden.  This spring we got a good start, ordering loam and
digging in amendments, building retaining walls and planting some shrubs and
perennials and this fall we will put in more shrubs, etc and maybe get to
laying a small patio.  Next year we want to put up a pergola over the patio
in front of the dining room sliders with big planters for shady vines.

Who decides how much landscaping is needed, desired, affordable,

We have  Grounds Committee which discusses what needs to be done and now
establishes an annual budget, then we bring it to General Meeting for
approval.  After that the committee coordinator approves expenditures.

In Spring we have a sign up sheet which identifies various areas or beds and
asks individuals or small groups to volunteer to be caretakers of one or
more spots. Some are very small, such as the boxes around street trees on
the city sidewalks; some are large, such as the vegetable garden; there is a
lawn crew, which limes, fertilizes and mows; and so on.  Last year we had a
very dry summer and watering was a major problem; not so bad this year.

We are trying to make things more easily maintained by planting mostly
perennials, buying loads of mulch, including mulch hay for the veggies, and
(the latest push) installing soaker hoses.  However, there will always be a
need for regular workers, especially where you have an all-organic garden.

I think the secret is to attack a manageable task or two at a time and not
try to get everything done at once.  And don't sweat the weeds too much!
One of the nice things about gardening is that very little is fixed - if it
doesn't work, you just pull it out and try something different.

How is it financed?  three sources: from condo association fees; from our
unofficial "community fund"; from individuals.

Do individuals pay for any of the costs?

 Initially we gave residents the opportunity (!) to purchase a tree or large
shrub.  A number did so, often in memory of a loved one or significant
event. The gardeners among us came with a surprising variety of perennials
from their former homes either in pots (some of us were homeless for up to
six months!) or dug up with permission of the new owners.  We also begged
from friends.  When all else failed we went and bought stuff with our own
money.  We have now established a budget and have enough of the basics to
cover the ground and can use the budget for additional expensive shrubs and
so on.  In fact we are to the point where we are going to be tearing stuff
out - I wouldn't have believed it two years ago!  However, individuals still
fall in love with stuff in the nurseries and buy it out of their own pocket,
especially annual flowers!

The thing about gardening is that those who love to do it will take on an
amazing amount of work without feeling put upon.  And most people much
prefer the look of these personalized efforts than the sterile neatness of
"landscaped" surroundings. And because people really enjoy the grounds they
are usually willing to turn out when we need a bunch of strong backs.  We
can also ensure that no nasty chemicals get sprayed around and limit the
type of fertilizers we use to help preserve the water supplies.

I hope this helps

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