Now we have to start thinking about winter, and what that means for us Calgarians, and while this transition is by no means a surprise, it seems to come way too quickly. But what does that mean for all of us who reside in condominiums? What can we do to make this transition easier, and the winter shorter? (quit laughing…I can hear you). What about easier? And no, I’m not suggesting moving south….sorry, I drifted off there…the sun, the sand…No, I’m thinking about what we as residents, managers and board members can do to prepare ourselves and the properties in which we reside. So let’s start with the obvious and start this discussion with our landscaping.

Landscaping…boring, not really sexy, but quite a major component when it comes to quality of life for us condominium dwellers. Imagine a bare ground outside your window and you’ll know what I mean. So when I say major, I’m not exaggerating. So what encompasses landscaping? It is much more than just lawn and trees, and while these are the most visible areas, they are by no means the only items that fall into this category. Now, I do know of a few condominium properties that care for their own landscaping needs, but by far it is a contractor, hired by the board of directors who is responsible, with guidance from the board and the property manager.

So how do you, as a resident, help with preparing the landscape for the upcoming winter? If you have a good, responsive landscape contractor, chances are that these issues are dealt with in a timely manner, but for argument sake, let’s say you have one of those contractors who was able to hoodwink your board into believing low bidder is best. Now what?

Let’s begin with irrigation. Not that its the most important, its just the first thing that came to my mind. Has the irrigation been shut down? Most newer properties are irrigated, and quite a few of the older ones are upgrading to at least partial irrigation. As we all know, cold air settles, and valve boxes are almost without fail inset into the ground, and while there is residual heat within the ground, the valves within these boxes are particularly vulnerable to freezing temperatures.

As I look out the window I see snow on the ground…FOR THE SECOND TIME THIS FALL…enough already….are there any broken branches on the trees or shrubs? There are still quite a few leaves left attached, and this totally unnecessary snowfall is weighing them down. Is a cleanup of the property needed to mitigate further damages to the trees/shrubs?

Now a pet peeve of mine…fallen leaves. There must be some government branch or body out there that’s responsible for ensuring only my leaves fall on my property, and heaven forbid that the wind blows and brings additional leaves!!! We must organize a protest and have the government set up a committee to study the feasibility of drafting a new set of rules and regulations requiring….I’ve set my coffee aside, and I think I’ll go for a walk…
OK, my blood pressure is lowered, but seriously, it is one of my favourite fall peeves…the landscaper that just leaves the leaves (ok, that made me laugh…not sure why, but it did) and hopes it just blows away. Then in the spring we’re left with a rotting mess to deal with. But that’s not the only reason to have the leaves raked up. I cannot tell you how often we get complaints about rodents moving into units in the fall and we arrive to find a very nice build up of leaves all along the foundation of the building…a perfect runway/cover for the movement of these pesky varmints (he said in a Yosemite Sam voice).

Sidewalks. Two of the most common legitimate (yes..I said it – legitimate) complaints during the winter dealing with sidewalks are 1 – low areas freezing over due to warm spells creating runoff and settling into these areas, and 2 – landscapers breaking shovels by hitting uneven areas between different sections of sidewalk. You’re laughing envisioning this, but I broke my sternum by this very same thing happening to me, so stop laughing at my memories of agony. I think I lost a few points from my score with the Big Guy upstairs once I caught my breath.

Still on sidewalks, but a slightly different take as this may include roadways, is preparing for the inevitable ice which will be coming. If there are gravel boxes on site, have they been refilled? If they’re filled with pickle (a mixture of sand/gravel and salt), were the boxes subjected to water infiltration over the summer? And if so, has the mix clumped? (I have to look this word up. Can clump be singular and plural? I’ll leave as is and see how many comments I get. Be gentle..)

There’s more, but I think this is plenty for now. I think next post I should talk about what to do for the buildings.
This is a conversation, so I look forward to your comments. Tell me where I’m wrong, where I’ve missed a much more important item than what I’ve listed above. Tell me your stories. I’ll bet you a beer you can’t surprise me with anything I haven’t already seen (no, not a beer, it’s time for some wine…a nice Malbec perhaps…).

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