Lessons Learned & Presentations from the 2016 Loudoun HOA Forum

On the evening of March 10, 2016 more than 150 individuals attended a forum in eastern Loudoun focused on improving landscaping practices for stream health, water quality and the environment. Hosted by The Piedmont Environmental Council in partnership with Loudoun County, Common Space for the Greater Good presented solutions for Home Owners Associations and residents to restore streams, reduce pollution and attract birds, bees and butterflies – and provided real-life examples that have been adopted by many communities in Loudoun and elsewhere.

The event was supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Fairfax Water as part of PEC’s partnership projects with Loudoun Home Owners’ Associations. As PEC’s Gem Bingol pointed out in her introductory remarks, HOAs hold the key to improving Loudoun’s environment. Loudoun is one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S., and more than 60 percent of its 360,000+ residents live in HOA communities. HOAs have a large say over how their common areas are managed and can also influence how individual homeowners manage their properties.

The presentations from the evening are all embedded and linked to below!

During the past five years, PEC has organized more than 12 workshops on stream-friendly landscaping and managed native habitat plantings and stormwater improvement projects in four different communities. Common Space for the Greater Good brought together residents, HOA leaders, landscape contractors and other individuals to share their experiences and ideas, learn from expert speakers and get inspired about landscaping practices focused on native habitat restoration.

The keynote speaker, landscape designer Kelly Gutshall of LandStudies Inc., provided numerous examples of communities that have converted turfed areas to wildflower fields and restored floodplains to manage stormwater more cost-effectively. These projects have had the added benefit of providing more vibrant landscapes that connect residents and build community.

There were also presentations by Janet Davis of Hill House Nursery, John Magee of MageeDesign and a presentation by Loudoun County government.

Among the 150 attendees were representatives of 32 different HOAs. Many participants were property managers or leaders on HOA grounds committees directly involved in planting and landscaping decisions on common grounds.

Participants left both excited about the possibilities, and more aware of the challenges. At breakout groups and in their written responses to PEC’s post-forum survey, many participants asked for support in making the case to their boards and landscape contractors. As one participant remarked, “I feel confident, [but] it will be tougher to implement.” PEC will be working with our HOA partners to support this growing network of Loudoun residents and civic leaders.

Thank you again to the sponsors of the evening!

For more information about working with HOAs and native gardens in Loudoun County, contact Gem Bingol at gbingol@pecva.org