I have been the member of a strata for the past seven years and I have always taken an interest in gardening and fortunately for me, that didn’t have to stop when my wife and I purchased our strata town home. It has been my impression that having attractive grounds matters to almost everyone in a strata and is in everybody’s best interest. Here are a few tips I wish to share:
1. Have your strata council appoint one of the council members to be responsible for gardening activities in your complex. This enhances communication as well as helping prepare a budget.
2. Setup a gardening committee with the designated council member as chairperson. Make the gardening committee open to anyone in your strata with an interest in gardening. Ideally a group of 4-5 individuals works best.
3. The chair of your gardening committee, who is the council member, should be the sole official liaison with the gardener. All special requests for the services of the gardener should go through them. This is to avoid people at random contacting the gardener for their own pet projects and distracting them from their duties to entire strata.
4. It is beneficial for the chair of the gardening committee to meet regularly during the gardening season with the gardener. I have found brief on-site weekly meetings to be very helpful in setting priorities for the day, week, month, or year ahead. This must be a joint process. I find touching base with the gardener for even 5 minutes while they are on-site useful to keep communication open and clarify expectations.
5. Remember that you are hiring a professional gardener who will notice things that you may not. Actively solicit their input on what they think your property would benefit from. Not only will they appreciate this, but you will be getting better grounds out of it! In almost all cases, they will have expertise that you do not. That’s why you hired them!
6. Encourage strata members to make their gardening requests to the chair of the gardening committee. These could anything from requests for extra weeding and pruning to pest control.
7. Make sure the gardener hears about the positive comments that strata members are making. Once you have a good gardener, you want to keep them!
8. Request written feedback especially if negative, encouraging individuals to be specific and to offer solutions where possible.
9. I have found having work parties to take on special projects to be extremely useful. Not only do they assist the gardener and help them use their time efficiently, but they act as a community builder. I arrange them for short periods of time, 2-3 hours, and take advantage of people’s skills and passions.
10. Communicate regularly with your strata about your gardening program. Small things matter. Inform your strata community about what days your gardener is on-site, what they may be doing on a particular day (spraying, fertilising, pruning, etc). Send out regular emails to update everyone.
11. In our strata, we encourage individuality in people’s gardens, but we also encourage them to speak with to the Gardening Chair if they wish to make any significant changes which might require strata approval.
12. We are so fortunate to live in the area we do, with gardening possibilities almost all year round. It is good to make the most of it!