Landscape Update
Posted on Jan 19th, 2022

The reality of being a “High Plains Grassland” is setting in. Our dry climate is issuing challenges. We have risen to these challenges by paying close attention to the efficiency of our common area sprinkler system by replacing old heads and adjusting the running times of the zones. As you know, our water rates have been placed on a tiered allotment pricing scale and it is more important than ever to pay attention to usage in terms of volume. Back in 2012 when our landscape renovation was completed, we transitioned from all bluegrass slopes to a combination of native grass and bluegrass, along with shrubs and perennials. Dotted of course with mature trees which had been planted by Mission Viejo at Highlands Ranch’s inception in the 1980’s along with the defining perimeter of a wood fence. Since the renovation, we have been watering and occasionally cutting the native grass, unbeknownst to residents and board members, that practices such as those are not intended for native grass species. They are best left “native”, not manicured as bluegrass is. Their roots can reach 3 feet, creating strong plants which can choke out invading weeds if given a chance to propagate their seed heads and thicken their habitat in a natural life cycle. Constant cutting reduces seed production and thins out the crop, allowing weeds to invade. It is for good reason and very timely given our atmospheric conditions, that we have decided to water the native grasses only in extreme drought conditions and to cease mowing the native.
Our bluegrass turf areas will continue to satisfy our desire to see some form of manicured green grass to which many of us are accustomed, having relocated from moist climates. As drought conditions continue and water rates rise, bluegrass is presenting challenges in our semi-arid climate in Colorado. In those turf areas of bluegrass, we have bare patches which need reseeding. We will work on those areas this year.
Also this year you will see the renovation of the planting areas located at each of the two main entrance monuments at University and Green Meadows and Dad Clark and Maplewood. We have hired Sustainable Landscapes Colorado for that project. Their work can be seen locally at the Streets at Southglenn.
Our native grasses have a healthy crop of weeds which have decided to take up root. We have hired Weed Wranglers to help mitigate that infestation, which will encourage the native grass to begin to reclaim its rightful place. Weed Wranglers also manages weed mitigation at Back Country in Highlands Ranch. Weed management in the native will take a few years as we play catch up in encouraging the growth of the native grasses. Those native grasses need the introduction of a variety of new grass species to help with visual interest and strength of the ‘field’ but we will work on that in future growing seasons.
With a three year contract with LCS coming to an end March 30, 2022 and a decision to hire a different maintenance company, we have interviewed three landscape companies who could perform our routine maintenance work in the common landscape areas and are currently in the process of completing the contract process with one whom we have chosen. That company name will be shared with you upon completion of the hiring process.
Preservation Tree Care is currently pruning the crabapple trees which must be done during the dormant season. They have completed delivering water containing essential nutrients to all of our trees. You may see them in the neighborhood from time to time as they care for our valuable 650+ trees with expertise.
As portions of our landscape mature and other parts have died off, we are in need of reassessing removal and replacement of plants and the introduction of more xeriscaping into our thought process. To keep the unique look of our sloped landscapes healthy and robust, a large bulk of our budget goes toward landscaping and tree care. Mission Viejo advertised this area years ago as a premier neighborhood with the positioning of the sloped lots. Indeed, we are a unique and desirable place in which to live. With seasoned residents and the addition of new neighbors, ours is a vision to work on together. Please help wherever you can and stay informed on the developments around you by accessing our Stratton Ridge website, the Advance HOA website, and reading the email blasts sent out by our management company. Thank you.
Tere Isaak
SRHOA President and Landscape Committee chair