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Springtime means focus on cleanup, landscaping and maintenance

Besides being a time for celebrating the end of winter and admiring flowers, green lawns and sunny skies, this time of year is perfect for what homeowner's call “spring cleaning.”

For us at FOURMIDABLE, spring cleaning is a much broader idea focused on what our property managers and owners do to spruce up their communities, whether outside or inside, all while working through plans for routine maintenance.

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has caused many things to stall or be simply put on a back burner as we focused on personal health, medical safety and a commitment to a whole other kind of cleaning.

With things slowly improving across the nation, now is a perfect time to begin or complete projects that need to be taken care of around our communities. So, let’s take a look at some practical ideas for ensuring we use spring as an effective time to refocus on beautification, cleaning, upgrades and improvements.

Start with the outside

No matter the size and shape of your community, spring is a key time to pay attention to the grounds of your property, ramping up fertilizing, trimming, weeding, and, of course, grass-cutting. More importantly, we need to see landscaping as an integral part of our overall beautification, and the desirability of our communities. A well-groomed hedge row, the removal of dead or dying trees, the seeding bare patches of grass and the planting of flowers goes a long way to improving the look and feel of a community for all concerned.

As you work outside, I’d even go so far as to suggest organizing an outdoor activity in your community – if you plan such events during the year. This could be a flower planting day or clean-up day for everyone around the community, maybe even bringing in an extra dumpster and encouraging residents to do a bit of their own interior spring cleaning.

You’ll need to share the information on the date, as well as what people can expect and the resources you might make available to help them get in a cleaning mood. And social distancing may still be the norm, so any event has to be well considered.

Stay focused on exterior needs

So much of the look and feel of our communities begins with first impressions. Staying focused on the outside even after initial work is critical.

If you need to work with rubbish companies for new or refreshed dumpsters or secure a contractor for some simple asphalt work on the roads or sidewalks, now is the time to begin that process. As more construction and renovation work increases with the shadow of COVID-19 slowly falling behind us, landing a good contractor may become a bigger challenge. So, don’t hesitate, especially if you have the budget.

Other outside areas to focus on should include the trees, shrubs and the flower beds, as mentioned before. But don’t forget about your signage in and around the community, lighting and other aspects that bring the grounds to life. If these need cleaning, a new paint job, or even replacing, spring is a good time to figure that out.

Clearly, some of this relates directly to your maintenance budgets and the kind of advance planning that we should all practice not only in our personal homes but in our communities, where each year’s budget should include something for annual upkeep as well as larger maintenance projects.

Structures, infrastructure and getting proposals

There is a fine line between simply cleaning and more intensive maintenance, especially when we’re talking buildings or structures. But it is certainly possible to clean building siding or bricks, especially if they don’t require further work.

Simple things in these areas might mean bringing in streetsweepers to wash your roadways or having your maintenance team pressure wash sidewalks, sides of buildings or other areas that need attention.

Yes, building repairs – new gutters or roofs, for example – also have to be front of mind during the warmer months of spring and summer as well. This goes back to your major maintenance plans and budgets.

Whatever you decide, I urge you to begin gathering and reviewing proposals, whether for landscaping projects like mulching or planting flowers or trees, or for major maintenance such as cracked sidewalks or failing asphalt.

Doing something inside

When it comes to a focus on the interior, I’d suggest things like smoke detector replacements, checking or changing air filters, air conditioners (wall mounted ones) and furnace filters. Painting is another key way to liven up a building.

Getting vacant apartments ready for spring leasing is a regular task of any good management team, so not much needs to be said further about it. Just remember with many leasing experiences still being done remotely, the look and feel of an apartment is more critical than ever in showcasing just how much a property team cares about its community and living spaces.

Share the excitement

There’s always a sense of excitement with the coming of spring. New flowers sprout, our lawns turn from brown to green, we can hear the birds sing again and everyone is ready to get back outside after the drab and cold of winter.

So, create some buzz. Communicate with your entire community. Tell them of your plans and what you are doing in terms of cleanups. Send out e-messages, post flyers, share in your newsletter and get everyone excited about what is in the air.

Remember, expectations are part of perceptions, and if your residents know what to expect, their impressions of your care and concern for them will certainly engage them, make them feel part of the community and allow you to be a good manager at a time of year when everyone feels just a little bit more relaxed – thanks to spring having sprung.