Repairs, Maintenance and Renovations

October, 6 2023 Published by London and Area Chapter - By Trish Kaplan

A Corporation Asset—Protecting Our Trees

From the CCI Review 2023/2024-1 August 2023 issue of the CCI London Chapter

A board of directors shall manage the affairs of the corporation (Section 27). Directors must act n the best interests of the corporation and are legally bound to do so in good faith. A reserve fund is an account that corporations maintain solely for major repairs and replacements of the common elements and assets. As shareholders, every owner also has responsibilities to care for the community property.

The protection of trees and landscapes should be a priority during times of extreme temperatures and storms and all year long. It’s a team effort to share in the task of ensuring our trees and landscapes thrive.

Sadly, with all that has to be taken care of in a day, many of us take our tree benefits for granted even though they are extensive, especially in these days of climate change (whether or not you believe that is happening). We have acknowledged that trees provide many benefits, including privacy, shade/energy reduction, clean the soil; control noise pollution; slow storm water runoff; act as carbon storage areas; remove air pollution; lower air temperature reducing the need for air conditioning in the summer and lower heating costs in the winter by acting as windbreaks; fight soil erosion; and perhaps the more importantly to most is that they increase property values. The importance of looking after our trees is real.

Curb Appeal is the First Introduction to Potential Buyers

While the inside of the unit may have the WOW factor, buyers will want to see that their outside surroundings will be as enjoyable to use as the unit itself.

Trees and landscaping, are likely within the responsibility of the board, with some inclusions for owners (review the Rules relating to landscaping in the community).

Older properties are finding out that tree planting may not have been planned out well in the early days. Smaller trees when they were planted became big ones, with equally large root zones, and the spaces they were in caused challenges and expenses to the corporation. Sidewalks and driveways were uplifted by large roots; foundations were damaged as a result of rooting systems. Tree maintenance was not always considered a priority even though trees have a life span. In some corporations, tree maintenance/ replacement was not included in their Reserve Fund Study Plans. Time and other threats have created a shortfall where funds are now needed to ensure safety on the property.

Caring for Trees, Landscape

The corporation’s governing documents will outline the repair and maintenance responsibilities of owners versus the condominium corporation for the trees and landscaping.

In many corporations, trees closest to the unit, both in front and at the rear, are the responsibility of the individual residents to water. Getting everyone organized to make sure all trees are watered appropriately is recommended. A Tree Watering Notice to owners with instructions can be very helpful.

Trees do not require much water – only about 2.5 cm/one inch of water per week and rain water does count.

Owners can check on the city’s watering restrictions during the summer months. Optimal use of water through conservation practices can be carried out by watering in the morning or evening to reduce evaporation loss.

When watering trees, it is important to saturate the soil around trees continuing out to the outer branches to disperse water down to the roots. To reach the full root system of a tree water in a circle area that extends from the trunk base to the outermost branches. Frequent shallow watering that doesn't soak deeply into the soil encourages tree roots to remain near the soil surface where they're prone to drying out; may cause injury to the tree and a safety issue.

An easy way to deep water is to turn a hose on very low and leave it at the base of the tree for an hour or so, or use a soaker hose coiled around the “drip line” of the tree. Another way is to drill holes in the least 12 inches or more is recommended.

Where there is an irrigation system in place on the property, it is recommended that direct delivery to the root systems of plants and trees as the best practice. Not only will this minimize water waste but be more effective for plant health and growth. Set timers to water during the cooler hours of the day.

No water is a threat to a tree – especially for those that are newly planted (within a 2 to 3-year period). A young tree will cost less than a quarter to water per week (perhaps a bit more with inflation and lack of rain). If someone from every unit attends to the trees in and around their own unit all of the trees will thrive over the heat of summer.

Caution: Remember that water coming out of the hose that has been out in the sun can be very hot when first turned on, hot enough to damage plant leaves. Let the hot water run onto bare ground or a mulched area until it cools off before sprinkling plants.

Fall and Winter Plan of Action to Protect Trees, Shrubs and Landscape

Even as we approach the autumn months, tree watering continues to be needed. Keep watering trees on a regular schedule through the fall and until the ground begins to freeze (usually late October or November). Once the ground freezes, continue to monitor weather conditions throughout the winter months.

Care of trees and landscapes are not exclusive to spring and summer. At a time during the spring/summer and fall/winter seasons it is recommended to discuss the plans for action for upcoming seasons with your landscaper.

Tree Risk Assessment

Even more than watering, ongoing maintenance is critical to good tree health and risk management. Selecting just the right tree for your property is important. Proper mulching; pruning and trimming; watering; fertilizing; watching for signs of pests or disease; removing invasive plants from around the root collar; choose the right specialist to review the trees on the property on a regular basis to protect them. Neglecting or postponing tree maintenance by qualified specialists can result in higher maintenance costs over time and a risk to safety on the property. It’s the responsibility of the board to manage risks posed by trees, comply with the legal obligations and follow industry guidance to maintain your duty of care. Review Municipal Tree Protection By-laws prior to planting and/or removing trees on the property.

A certified arborist will do a visual assessment of a tree’s health and determine the likelihood of branch failures or an entire tree failing, especially as storms and the winds that come with them are increasingly threatening where a tree could potentially pose an immediate threat to persons or property. To protect a community’s tree resources, many municipal by-laws for the protection of trees and landscapes will require a tree assessment before tree removal permits will be issued.

The tree damage risk due to rising winds can be substantial – 90 km/h can uproot entire trees and can bring power lines down with them in some cases. Corporations should know their responsibilities if power lines are privately owned.

It’s also not beyond our imagination that the cost involved in repair/replacement of damage that could occur as a result of high winds or a tornado to the corporation and to owners. Added to that, when damage covers a large municipal area, we also have to consider the time and materials needed to carry out repairs.

Trees, Landscapes and Gardens for Mental Health

It’s also not beyond our imagination that the cost involved in repair/ replacement of damage that could occur as a result of high winds or a tornado to the corporation and to owners. Added to that, when damage covers a large municipal area, we also have to consider the time and materials needed to carry out repairs.

Stepping outside to soak up the sun, enjoy the trees and landscape and perhaps work in a garden will encourage socialization and outdoor activities Even the more simple way to enjoy gardening like containers filled with beautiful plants on your patio or walkway can create a peacefulness for your well-being. A short walk through the gardens (in whatever manner you have provided for yourself) several times a day can add a sense of beauty and relaxation from the stresses and anxiety of a day. Regular gardening has been shown to enhance overall life satisfaction, general well-being, cognitive function, and community engagement.

There are Rules relating to planting on Common Elements, so please make sure you review them so you may enjoy the best of what it can be for yourself.

Everyone needs even short periods of peace and mood change in those busy days of being overwhelmed. Gardening has been shown to provide that.

So the questions you might ask include:

What does your corporation have in place to protect trees, landscape and threats to persons and assets on the property and to create a haven of peacefulness as well as safety?

What do YOU in your capacity as a condominium owner do to create a peaceful area to enjoy?

Enjoy these last weeks, perhaps months (if we are fortunate) of your garden pleasures.

Trish Kaplan, CCI (Hon’s) is the parttime Administrator of the Chapter; having served in the position from April 2003 to September 2010. She received the CCI Distinguished Service Award from CCI National in November 2006. Trish served as a director on the chapter board from 2010-2015 and was subsequently returned to the position of Administrator.

Trish is a condominium owner, served as a director in the corporation she resides in for a time and is a retired condominium manager.

Her experience in different areas of condominium continues to be a benefit to the chapter and its members.

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