Loudoun HOA communities share and discover practical steps for healthier landscaping

The second Homeowners Association (HOA) forum, “Common Space for the Greater Good,” was held on October 11, 2018 and attended by nearly 100 guests representing 33 HOA communities.

“Practical Steps for Healthier Landscapes” was the second installment of Loudoun HOA programs organized by The Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) and partners. This forum was co-hosted by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy (LWC), the Northern Virginia Partnership for Invasive Species Management (NoVA PRISM), and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries‘ Habitat Partners© Program (VDGIF).

“We were pleased to bring communities together and share information on more environmentally and economically sustainable landscaping practices,” said Gem Bingol, a field representative for PEC, who started the program in 2016.

Ann Garvey, volunteer leader of Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy’s Audubon at Home Program said, “We visit communities and homeowners to provide specific guidance on the use of appropriate native plants to improve habitat. The forum gave us the opportunity to connect and follow-up with interested community leaders and residents.”

The event began with clips from the documentary film, “Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home.” Carol Heiser, the VDGIF Habitat Education Coordinator, said, “We encourage people to share this movie with their friends and neighbors because it clearly explains how native plants in our communities and yards help to sustain nature, not just in wild places.”

Two presentations on the problems caused by invasive non-native species were offered by NoVA Prism and the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF).

Alex Sanders, NoVA PRISM Project Leader said, “Our partners range from local governments and agencies to homeowners associations and non-profits for the purpose of creating community awareness and on-the-ground projects to remove invasives and substitute native plantings.”

Connecting communities to share and learn from their experiences was a major objective of this year’s program, according to Bingol. A panel of five HOA representatives from Cascades, Broadlands, River Creek, Sycamore Hill and Willowsford discussed projects they have completed or are currently working on in their communities.

Panelist Matt Durham, President of the Cascades Board of Directors said, “We created a master plan and analyzed our common open space for problem areas and potential cost savings. Native plants help address those issues and make our landscape more sustainable and resilient, adding value to our community and our quality of life. Participating in this forum connected us with additional resources as well as other communities and was a good experience.”

Kim Spiegel, the manager at Sycamore Hill in Leesburg said, “I was inspired by the first forum two years ago and we installed native plants at our community center. Residents have become engaged with the Monarch butterflies that have completed their life cycle in the garden and want the plants on their own properties.”

HOA Boards, managers, local landscapers and residents received practical information, resources and connections to start or continue with their own projects.”We look forward to hosting future programs for Loudoun HOAs with new information and ways they can help create a healthier, more resilient future,” said Gem Bingol.

Presentations and resource materials from the forum are available below:

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