Reserve Blurb

Reserving for changing landscape is a huge issue throughout Southern California. What can be done through reserves to convert to drought-tolerant landscape?

We love a nice green lawn, but these days, it’s just not practical. First, let’s define landscape and irrigation reserve components. We refer to landscape as softscape, meaning plants, trees, turf, etc. Irrigation then refers to the equipment or hardscape, including backflow valves and controllers.

Next, we evaluate if these are reservable expenses. Landscape, yes! Irrigation, yes! (Criteria in another Reserve Blurb to come!) So, is this a one-time expense, or will it recur? The landscape would likely benefit from another major renovation in 8 to 20 years, depending on the association’s needs. Many irrigation projects, on the other hand, are more often considered one-time expenses. When you remove that water-guzzling turf for drought-tolerant plants, there isn’t nearly as much to water. The existing water lines will need to be rerouted and adjusted to fit the new landscape. Sayonara spray sprinklers! Hello drip lines! Make sure to use the latest technology when upgrading equipment, such as smart irrigation controllers and research for any available rebates.

How much you need to set aside for turf conversion or landscape renovation of any sort depends on the needs and wants of the Association and the Board. We suggest talking with your landscape business partner (if you don’t have one, the CAI Directory is a great place to start!) to begin a plan and priority list. Together with your reserve professional, you can then put a phasing plan together in your reserve study. The plan can be to go full force for one year, spread it out over a few years, or plan to fit your budget—whatever best fits your community. Putting a plan together minimizes mistakes—you wouldn’t want to start a landscape project in the center of the community a few months after your beautiful black asphalt was sealed.