a green lawn in front of a well kept home

Lawn Care: How to Help Residents Stay Compliant

Have you ever lived on a street and you drive by the house after house, and the lawn is brown, overgrown and full of junk? And then you see this immaculate yard, and you wonder “why can’t everyone else have yards that look like this?” You might even pass a judgmental thought through your mind that sounds something like this “Bet a darn tenant living in that home. They NEVER take care of the home as a homeowner does.”

After 30+ years in the property management business and leasing out and rehabbing over 10,000 homes, managing thousands of homes, and issuing hundreds of violations to residents for not properly maintaining their yards, we decided to start rewarding those that do maintain their yards.

This year we implemented a program titled “Bob: Best on the Block.”

Residents who are recipients of the “BOB” award are featured in our monthly resident newsletter, on our website, and receive a $25 Starbucks Gift Card! We reward them for taking care of the landscaping.  Who doesn’t love free Coffee!  Besides personal gratification of course. We want our Residents to know that we do appreciate their efforts and love when they take care of the property as their own.

The Why?

Over the years we found two main reasons why the residents let the grass die off.

1. They don’t know how to operate the sprinkler timer. Thus they water at the wrong times of the day.

2. They don’t have the time to mow the lawn and don’t want to pay anyone to do it for them.

Sprinklers, love-hate relationship

We encourage our residents not to touch the sprinkler timers. Often, they don’t know how to properly set the timer, resulting in either overwatering or underwatering the lawn. It is best to leave the timer setting to the professionals. If a landscaper is at the property, they will set the timer at the appropriate time. If a landscaper is unavailable, our inspectors will set the timer in most cases when they are at the property.

There is a misnomer flying around that by reducing the time the sprinklers are on that it will save you “tons of money.” We experimented with reducing the watering times and the result was shocking. The total saved was $10.00.

Not much savings, compared to the amount of damage to the grass and what it cost to restore the said grass.

What happens to those turn off the water?

Residents adjust the sprinklers incorrectly which ends up killing the grass, now what? Well, they are responsible for bringing the grass back to life, which includes the cost of water, grass seed, and covering the seed by raking it into the yard, not to mention the violation fees. Take a look at how fast the fees add up:

  • $50 for the first violation
  • $100 2nd violation if they fail to bring the grass back
  • $200 3rd violation if they fail to act in bringing the yard back
  • Then a covenant for being in breach of contract which gives them three days to correct or quit the matter. Ultimately, this can result in an eviction.

As you can see, we whole heartily believe in the importance of maintaining the landscaping at your property.

How can they bring back the grass once it’s gone? Through some hard work, TLC, and the proper materials, the resident can bring the grass back. We educate the resident on what materials to use depending on the time of year. We also encourage residents to “seed and cover” twice a year to ensure a “green” yard all-year-long.

We allow the residents to be reimbursed up to $50 a month for the “seed and cover”, providing they didn’t kill the grass in the first place. We are finding that allowing the reimbursement along with rewarding the residents that are actively maintaining their yards;  creates more green yards. Thus we are issuing fewer violations. Just the results, we were looking for when we created “BOB.”

Check out this great article on “Why it’s important to landscape your yard.


It comes down to educating the resident on the importance of lawn care. Setting the expectations when the lease is signed in hopes of having more “BOB’s” than “ugh’s” in our inventory. We want to hand out more Starbucks Gift cards (this is on use by the way) than violations. It’s just as important to bring attention to the ones doing it correctly than always talking about the negative. Wouldn’t you agree?

Discover in this related article what else besides yards requires ongoing maintenance in your home. Get informed about the concept of Deferred Maintenance.

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