Homeowners associations (HOAs) can make it tough for actual homeowners to get creative, especially when it comes to landscaping.
Surviving an HOA’s approval process demands plenty of patience, excellent planning and enough fortitude to sort through and decipher all the rules and regulations in place.
But sometimes avoiding the complicated process altogether is the path of least resistance, which is why the landscaping of so many homes in private communities have a tendency to look and feel very similar.
Jim and Ann Barri weren’t okay with that.
“We didn’t want our new home to look like everybody else’s in the Burnt Pine community,” Jim says. “We wanted it to be unique because it was a unique lot.” Burnt Pine homes are located in a prestigious gated golfing community within the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort.
Interested in making their newly constructed home stand out from the crowd, the Barris turned to GreenEarth Landscape Services.
The Benefits Of A Well-Connected Landscape Contractor
Nearly seven years ago, the Barri’s relationship with GreenEarth began when the couple needed routine landscape maintenance performed on another residential property of theirs.
This time around, the Barri’s new construction in Burnt Pine had a landscape that was nothing more than a blank canvas.
“To build their new house, the Barris — who were an existing client of ours — contracted out with one of the builders we have an excellent relationship with,” says Justin McDaniels, GreenEarth Project Manager. “Being that we had great relationships with the builder, the landscape architect involved and the Barris, they contracted us to do the landscape install for the brand new property.”
According to Justin, having these long-term, professional business relationships with well-respected local contractors prevents unnecessary conflicts during installation and gives clients like the Barris peace of mind.
“Construction sites can have their fair share of timing issues, but since we all know each other and are familiar with how we approach a job, it makes it easier for everyone to work around each other,” he adds.
Taking The Stress Out Of The HOA Process
Before Justin and his GreenEarth team could get their hands dirty, the landscape design plans for the Barris new home had to be submitted by the landscape architect for review. Once the Sandestin Owners Association (SOA) and the Architectural Review Board (ARB) issued their approval, GreenEarth could break ground in Burnt Pine.
Sounds simple, right? Not so much.
“Every HOA is a little different,” Justin says. “We make it a priority to stay on top of the rules and regulations for every HOA we deal with.” From canopy tree coverage to the maximum allotment of turf on your yard to installing plants only native to Northwest Florida, landscaping guidelines vary from HOA to HOA.
Ignore or misunderstand these guidelines and you run the risk of fines and costly revisions.
“It’s our goal to take the burden off of the homeowner,” he says. GreenEarth gathers the necessary information from the HOA prior to meeting with a homeowner. “When we meet with the homeowner, we’ll make the HOA rules and regulations clear to them and also let them know what may be expected of them by the HOA.”
In dealing with the SOA and the ARB, Jim adds, “GreenEarth and the landscape architect did a lot of the frontrunning for us and that was very helpful.”
Burnt Pine’s Most Established Landscape
During the landscape design planning stage, the Barris were very involved. And before reaching out to GreenEarth, Jim and Ann had already begun design talks with a local and highly sought after landscape architect.
“We also have a great relationship with the landscape architect the Barris hired,” Justin says. “On this project, she used us as subject matter experts to determine how plants would function throughout the Barris new landscape — what would look nice and also perform well.”
Once the design was in place (and approved), Justin and his GreenEarth crew went to work installing the hardscaping, landscaping and irrigation system.
English Garden Meets Florida Panhandle
“We went away from a traditional tropical Florida look and went more toward that English garden style,” Justin explains. “When you pull up and see this house, it’s not like every other house on the street.”
Jim adds, “The goal is to be different. The rest of the community really relies heavily on palm trees and magnolias. We have no palm trees. If you were to drive up to our property and look at our landscaping, you’d think we’ve been living here for a very long time.”
GreenEarth achieved this established look through their use of large, mature plant material.
“When it comes to major projects like building a home or adding a landscape from the ground up, there’s a tendency to be frugal or save as much as you can upfront,” Jim says. “But why not spend more upfront to get it done right the first time?”
Innovative Hardscaping Creates Unexpected Parking Space
Another feature of the landscape is an innovative greenspace that doubles as additional parking for guests of the Barris.
“We absolutely love that,” Ann says. “It adds parking but doesn’t have that plain concrete look.”
Justin explains, “Because they were only allowed to have so much hardscape at the house, we installed a grassy paver area that’s actually turf laid over a plastic honeycomb with gravel and drainage underneath. You can drive on it and park on it.”
Marking the corners of this space are four pillars topped with flower pots full of seasonal color and connected to the home’s irrigation system for automatic watering. GreenEarth designs and changes out the planters seasonally.
They also added LED lighting to the paver driveway to accent it in the evening.
Strength In (Phone) Numbers
Whether you’re seeking HOA approval or are smack dab in middle of a project-delaying downpour, “It’s much better to deal with one person than having to deal with 20 people,” Justin says. “My hands are on a project at all phases and walk the customer through the whole process, start to finish.”
Justin says it’s imperative that when the homeowner has a problem or needs a question answered, the only phone number they should ever have to dial is that of the landscape project manager.
“They communicated with us all the time and never left us in the dark. That’s one of their greatest strengths. If something unexpected came up like bad weather or if there was a supply issue, we’d always get a call or text, which kept us in the loop," Jim says.
“The best contractor we had to deal with was GreenEarth.”
Landscape and hardscape design, installation and maintenance are all services GreenEarth specializes in. To give your home a landscape that stands out and is uniquely yours, contact GreenEarth today.
Give GreenEarth a call at the Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or the Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out this online form to schedule a consultation.
Want to see more photos of this beautiful landscape? Check out our Houzz featured project.