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Good property maintenance practices from the Home Owner Association (HOA) can keep a community vibrant and livable. Autumn Glen is a 52-acre community in Stephens City comprised primarily of senior citizens who prefer a lawn care contractor to handle their lawn and snow removal needs. The owners also tasked President Joan Callahan and the HOA Board of Directors with maintaining their reputation as the finest community in Stephens City.

The frequently mown lawns along Sadi Court constantly add to the appeal of Autumn Glen. Courtesy of a cut above.

“The goal of every HOA is to protect property values, and one way to do that is to invest in quality landscaping and lawn care,” Callahan said. Attractive design and lush vegetation can have a huge influence on the overall appeal of a neighborhood. And with increased appeal, property values ​​are enhanced. “Our HOA beautification committees work with the lawn care service provider to protect property value and create enjoyable living spaces for Autumn Glen homeowners,” she said. A greener community provides an overall higher level of positivity and vibrancy.

A Cut Above Landscaping and Lawncare located in Winchester has been maintaining the common grounds, clubhouse and 169 residences at Autumn Glen HOA for 5 years now. “The contract runs year-round to provide a wide range of services including lawn care, landscaping and snow removal services,” said A Cut Above Vice President Travis Streit.


A separate-drive aerator helps reduce downtime, by allowing the operator to steer the machine without lifting the tines off the ground. Courtesy of a cut above.

As spring quickly approaches, lush with hints of natural greens, A Cut Above is working diligently to prepare HOA properties for the growing season by removing sticks/debris and any residual leaves that have fallen from the trees since their previous clearing of the trees. ‘fall. They continue lawn maintenance throughout the spring, summer and fall on a weekly basis so the property always remains pristine. According to turf manager Brian Tavenner, trained spray technicians are constantly working to fertilize lawns to promote healthy root development throughout the growing season. “An application of balanced granular fertilizer with pre-emergent crabgrass control is applied before soil temperatures reach 55 degrees. The next cycle is liquid broadleaf weed control with pre-emergence, to help to mitigate unwanted weeds during the spring and summer months Grub and tick control is applied in conjunction with fertilizers, to control the influx of evasive pests such as Japanese beetles in early to mid-season. July,” Tavenner said.

During the summer months, spray technicians apply another round of balanced granular fertilizer to promote better overall turf health. “We adjust our services (depending on the weather) to avoid any damage to the lawn or the landscape. When conditions are relatively dry, we tend to increase the height of cut and reduce the frequency of cut to allow the turf enough time to recover between cuts. If we have had a significant amount of rainfall, we always proceed with caution or wait for the property to dry out,” said Frankie Dunlap, Lawn Division Manager and Safety Coordinator. Duties of the Dunlap Safety Coordinator include providing appropriate personal protective equipment (chainsaw chaps, safety glasses, closed-toed shoes, etc. worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause injury on the job ), documentation of incident reports and monthly safety meetings.

In October, core aeration removes soil compaction, allowing air, water and fertilizer to better reach the root zone. Overseeding freshly dug soil allows seeds to fall into the holes and help thicken the grass stand. Thickening the existing turf stand will naturally prevent weeds from surviving, as it creates a naturally shaded soil bed where the seed is smothered before it ever has a chance to survive.

Case International 235 tractor with a weighted pull aerator works at the back of Spanish Oak Road. Aeration/overseeding is a critical step in producing a good grass stand, as it helps reduce soil compaction and allows for better air exchange between the soil and the atmosphere. Courtesy of Mark Gunderman.

An additional cycle of Winterizer fertilizer is applied in late fall, to promote root development. This nitrogen-based application allows the roots to absorb and store nutrients during the dormant winter months; in turn, the lawn will be noticeably more colorful as spring approaches. A granular liming application is applied during the winter (weather permitting) to help restore soil levels to a neutral or slightly acidic PH balance. Fall Glen Tall Fescue lawns prefer this soil PH to thrive.

Brian Tavenner knows the importance of employing experienced spray technicians. Each employee of A Cut Above who applies fertilizers and pesticides to the lawn must obtain a Registered Spray Technician license which includes documentation of 20 hours of Basic Manual training on the correct application of pesticides and 20 hours of training in the field on the safe and proper application of pesticides under on-site supervision of a certified commercial applicator. The permit is required because technicians must adjust commercial mix ratios so that an ecological approach based on the life cycle and habitat of the pest is provided. “Spray technicians are required to complete an approved category-specific recertification course every 2 years,” Tavenner said.

The Z Spray Spreader-Sprayer precisely distributes seed over freshly dug soil and provides better seed-to-soil contact across the entire lawn. Courtesy of a cut above.

Fall is such a beautiful time of year, bringing another patchwork of colors. However, when the leaves begin to fall, it can create an unpleasant sight for most homeowners. A Cut Above bulk leaf collection system removes all leaves from landscaped beds, lawns, and all hard surfaces. Using backpack blowers, rakes and tarps, virtually all leaves are collected in an area where they are either vacuumed using a bagging system in the back of a beam vehicle commercial-sized zero-turn truck or using a leaf vacuum along the street. sidewalk to sweep and shred those unwanted leaves. The owners of Autumn Glen say leaf removal is one of the most popular services offered. All common ground and front yard perennials are trimmed and the final landscape border is completed; this allows the community to maintain a neat and pristine appearance throughout the dormant season.

Snow removal is a major concern during the winter months for seniors. The goal during any snowstorm is to keep driveways, driveways and parking lots around the house as clear and safe as possible. Autumn Glen regulations require that three inches of snow accumulate before requesting A Cut Above services. Since the streets of Autumn Glen are VDOT property, the Autumn Glen Board of Directors is waiting for VDOT to clear the streets before contacting A Cut Above to clear the driveways and clubhouse parking lot. Once VDOT completes its first sweep, A Cut Above has multiple crews committed to working in unison to remove snow and allow safe entry/exit for homeowners throughout the snowy event.

The JCB 270T crawler loader prepares a lawn to efficiently lay the yard for turf. Courtesy of a cut above.

Snow removal personnel shovel snow 10-15 feet from the owner’s garage doors to allow equipment to pull into the driveway and push snow back onto the street. Staff drive trucks, tractors, skid steer loaders, etc. to push the snow to specific places. Using ATVs, A Cut Above quickly and efficiently clears sidewalks and house driveways throughout the community. “There’s nothing better than waking up after a blizzard, opening your garage door and seeing a freshly plowed driveway,” said Mary Sturm, chair of the review and clauses committee. architectural.

The Autumn Glen HOA Board of Directors is responsible for developing and managing the business and performance of the service providers they employ. The primary goal is to build a strong relationship that motivates service providers to deliver excellent maintenance throughout the life of the contract. The HOA Board of Directors worked closely with A Cut Above on the property management and snow removal services proposal to identify clear and concise provisions regarding the work schedule, scope of work, and how the work must be carried out. This made Autumn Glen and A Cut Above aware of their respective obligations to each other. “The job is much easier when you have good collaboration between HOA and the service provider,” Callahan said. Likewise, the A Cut Above VP thinks the feeling is mutual. “It is imperative that the management staff of A Cut Above work in unison with the Autumn Glen landscape committee to ensure that we are all on the same page with realistic expectations and accountability from both parties” , said Streit.


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