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Community Landscape and Design Guidelines

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Forest Hills Community

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This information is intended to codify the policy of the Association with regards to the repair, maintenance and design of the Forest Hills landscape, and to provide general guidance for the conduct of the Association's Landscaping and Tree Maintenance programs.

The Importance of Landscaping

The significance of landscaping in a residential community cannot be overestimated. Landscaping should serve not only the aesthetic purpose in a community's design, but also functional purposes such as architectural, engineering and climate control. Architecturally, landscaping can articulate spatial relationships, provide privacy, screen an unpleasant view or reveal and frame unique vistas. Landscaping for engineering purposes can reduce the glare of lights, define circulation, attenuate noise and control erosion.

In addition, landscaping for climate control can decrease local wind velocity and alter direction, reduce the impact of precipitation, and reduce the heat absorption of paving. Further, through the use of deciduous trees, a well drawn landscape design screens the hot summer sun while in winter permitting the sun to penetrate and warm.

The many contributions of the Landscape Design goes well beyond the service it provides to the community in terms of aesthetics and function; it's greatest contribution is to the creation of a unique and special sense of place, and a community which beautifies as it matures.

Policy Statement

As required by the By Laws, the Forest Hills Community Association will provide landscaping and tree maintenance services to maintain the Common Area. It is the intent of the association that those services will be provided in priority to ensure:
1) Safety, 2) Compliance with law and regulation, 3) Tree health, and 4) Community appearance.

Landscape and Tree Maintenance Programs

Both efforts are designed to be continuous, not one-time activities. As such, the priorities cited in paragraph 3 above take precedence. The Grounds Maintenance Contract Specifications and the Annual Tree Maintenance Plan are maintained by the Chair, Grounds Maintenance Committee. These documents define the requirements from which the near-term and mid-term planning is developed in support of the Landscape Design. Budget affordability is a major consideration in this process.

Landscape Program

The Landscaping Program has been in effect since the Association was established and utilizes a professional grounds maintenance contractor to provide the services required by the Association. As a minimum, and in accordance with the currently approved specifications, the Landscape Program will provide:

  • Care for all lawn areas in private and common properties, to include fertilizing, mowing, weed and pest control.
  • Leaf removal three times a year.
  • Pruning of foundation plants and shrubs, to Association standards, unless a specific request for a different care standard is made by the homeowner.
  • Turf and shrubbery replacements in the common area only.
  • Removal of storm debris from private and common properties. The Association will not be responsible for replacement of damaged or downed trees in the private properties.
  • Maintenance, repair, and replacement when necessary, of the irrigation system in common areas only. The Association will be responsible for watering of common areas not serviced by the irrigation system.

Tree Maintenance Program

The Tree Maintenance Program was initiated in 1997 and is to be maintained current through the Annual Tree Plan, a structured multi-year approach to tree maintenance, which will be published in March of each year. Within budgetary limitations, the program will provide:

  • Tree maintenance (fertilizing, pest control, pruning and cabling) of trees in both the common and private areas.
  • Removal of trees in the common areas only.
  • Replacement of trees in the common area only.

Rights and Responsibilities

This section sets forth, in so far as they relate to the Landscape Tree Maintenance programs, the rights and responsibilities of the Association and Homeowners.

The Association will:

  • Maintain the Forest Hills Common Area and private grounds, shrubbery, trees, and Common Area irrigation system to a standard that will assure a uniform, aesthetically pleasing, and quality neighborhood appearance.
  • Publish an annual Tree Maintenance Plan in the March time period of each year. Prune, trim or remove trees or other planting in the Common Area in accordance with the Tree Maintenance Plan.

Homeowners may, and are encouraged to:

  • Suggest, nominate and report on tree problems and pruning needs for trees and planting in both Common Areas and private property.
  • Anually provide instructions for the landscape maintenance to include pruning of shrubbery on their private grounds.
  • Prune, trim or remove trees on their private property, at their own expense. Those trees planted within the property lines of the individual lots in Forest Hills are the property of the homeowners, but the Association will maintain those trees, if the homeowner desires. However, it remains the homeowners' responsibility to remove dead or dying trees within their property lines. Coordination with the Architectural Control Committee is required for the removal of trees with a diameter at ground level of more than four inches.

Supplement the Association landscaping in the Common Areas, with the approval of the Architectural Control Committee since those plantings or changes impact the landscape design and maintenance requirements of the Association.

Association/Homeowner Property Delineation

As can be seen from the above guidelines, the scope of the Association's responsibility has been expanded over the years to service both Common Area and individual properties. At the same time Homeowners have been encouraged to take the initiative to beautify and maintain their own property and, with the approval of the Association, expand their efforts into the Common Areas. In order to determine precisely the delineation between Common and private properties, it is necessary to refer to the individual property Plat, or House Location Survey. This survey is a part of the property documents which accompany a sale or refinance transaction. Private property boundaries are clearly defined on the individual plat: all other property indicated on the plat and within the Forest Hill property boundaries is Common Area. Arlington County has an easement for streets and sidewalks and is responsible for their maintenance and repair. If a Homeowner has questions about whether or not a given tree or plot of ground is on common or private property, the Homeowner should provide a copy of the Plat to the ACC, so that the question may be clarified.


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