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Landscaping

With 2200 acres of land and facilities to maintain, there are extensive processes followed by the Maintenance Department. Below you can find a deep dive into many of our operations.

Landscaping and Sidewalks

Tree Management & Landscaping

In Lakewood, Trees and Landscaping Maintenance is an important part of our community and to the mission of improving our home values. Lakewood members want the association to remain beautiful and growing while still being fiscally responsible.

However, in 2023 the Maintenance costs increased in this category, and some residents have requested a desire to learn more about the budgeting and management process in this department.

After 50 years of planting and removing common ground trees, we’ve accumulated a great deal of use cases to help us maintain a beautiful environment throughout Landscaping, while making strategic decisions that will help to manage costs responsibly.

To find information about our changing Trees & Landscaping program, as well as the budget implications, please review the following information:

The Recent Expense of Managing Diseased Trees

In recent years, Lakewood has been impacted by a significant epidemic of diseased trees growing across our region of Missouri, and this has caused a giant increase in cost, staff time, and focus of department attention.

These tree infestations are serious, and managing these diseases are currently the largest priority of our tree and landscaping management program in Lakewood.

Emerald Ash Borer (beetles)
Emerald Ash Borer (Beetles):

They have accounted for 80% of the diseased trees in Lakewood this year. These tree pests are causing an epidemic nationwide among forests *The State of Missouri Conservation department has put out a warning statement that within 10 years, all Ash trees in Missouri will be dead.

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Dutch Elm Disease (fungus)
Dutch Elm Disease (fungus):

Dutch elm disease is a wilt disease caused by the fungus, Ceratocystis ulmi. It was first described in Ohio in 1930. By the 1980s, it could be found in most of the U.S. It is a serious and fatal disease of American elms. Even after years of study, there is no effective cure for the disease.

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Oak Wilt Disease (fungus)
Oak Wilt Disease (fungus):

Oak wilt is a systematic disease caused by the fungus, Bretziella fagacearum (formerly Ceratocystis fagacearum). The fungus invades the water-conducting tissues of oak trees.

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These tree infestations are serious, and managing these diseases are currently the largest priority of our tree and landscaping management program in Lakewood.

In a normal year, we budget around $40k for annual tree removal, and we typically contract out about 25-30 large trees for removal. We also budget $10k for planting new trees.

In 2023, due to these sudden infestations, we had to manage the removal of about 130 trees (instead of 25-30). Of these 130 trees, we contracted about half (the larger trees) to outside tree companies, and did the other half (smaller trees) in-house with our maintenance staff.

To do this, we had to request an extra $50k for our budget. By the end of fiscal year 2023 the additional 50K was spent and the trees on the removal list had been completed. Upon review of common area trees in late spring and early summer of 2024 an assessment will be made as to whether additional funds will be needed for tree removal in 2024.

It should be noted, in addition to the infestations, we have also been experiencing a drought, so even the strongest trees have been made weaker and are more susceptible to the diseases due to lack of sufficient water in the environment.


Case Study: How are other local communities coping with these infestations?

Recently the Winterset community also experienced an infestation of the Emerald Ash Borers. They took a bold stance, and contracted to proactively cut down every ash tree in their neighborhood in one fell swoop.

Then, they have begun replanting, and have made the decision to rotate planting of about 3-4 different species of trees in a row. This way, in the future, if there’s a particular disease that affects a whole species, the remaining trees can stay strong and it won’t wipe out their entire landscaping with one infestation.

The Impact of Invasive Species

In the forest ecosystem, there are certain species that become invasive, spread rapidly, and cause damage to the local environment.

Japanese Honeysuckle
Japanese Honeysuckle

“You might enjoy its fragrance, but don’t kid yourself about this invasive, exotic vine — Japanese honeysuckle is an aggressive colonizer that shades out native plants and harms natural communities.”

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Bradford Pears
Bradford Pears

“Callery/Bradford pear and other invasive plants destroy habitat and compete with native plants and animals…. They tend to produce heavy limbs with narrow branch unions that may fail and split under an ice or wind load. In spring, Callery pears are covered with white blossoms. Many people find the scent of blooming Callery pears revolting, likening it to the stench of rotting fish or a dirty dumpster…. A single tree can spread quickly, forming dense thickets.”

Learn More

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Japanese Honeysuckle

In Lakewood, this was not controlled for years. In the last several years, we have dedicated enormous time and effort to eradicating this, which entails spraying, cutting, spraying, and cutting, extensively. We have reduced it by about 90%, and will continue to work towards complete eradication, to protect our natural environment. If residents have this species in the private yard we ask that you remove these trees and buses so that as a team we can limit the spread of this species.


Bradford Pears

Bradford Pears were planted on Lakewood Boulevard and they’ve been problematic. In the past, Bradford Pear trees were planted throughout the midwest due to the trees’ cheap cost and beautiful flowers that are produced in the springtime. Even Lakewood planted these trees in common areas and in the parkways. As noted above, federal, state and local agencies are asking that these trees be removed to stop the spread of this invasive species.

Do you have Bradford Pears in your Yard?

Lakewood is not able to remove trees directly from your private property. But you can participate in a Missouri Bradford Pear Buyback program! There are programs that provide assistance in replanting. When you cut down a Bradford Pear, they’ll give you a native tree in a 3 gallon pot to replant:

    • Callery Pear BuybackJackson County
      April 27th, 2024 10 AM – 2 PM
      In partnership with GaleHart Communities
      Callery Pear Buyback Event – Jackson Co., MO
      Metropolitan Community College, Longview Campus
      500 SW Longview Rd., Lee’s Summit, MO
    • Missouri Plant Council – Bradford Pear Buyback Program
      This program may be reinstated again in 2024, stay tuned!
    • Google for additional programs.

Do you have sprouting Bradford Pears in Common Ground areas you’d like to report?

If there are Bradford Pears nearby in Common Ground that you’d like to have removed, please submit a Work Request to Lakewood, and we’ll add it to our removal list.

Lakewood Tree Removal Guidelines

When submitting a Work Request to request tree removal from Common Ground, please note our Lakewood Tree Removal Guidelines.

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All common ground tree removal requests are based on the following factors:

    1. Safety – If the tree is presenting a safety hazard to the community or personal property.
    2. Health – Is the tree dead or in a declining state of health. Tree must be at least 50% dead or dying for removal consideration. Determination of percentage is made by LPOA maintenance staff.

Trees will not be removed for the sole reason that they are blocking your view.

If a resident wishes to have approval to remove a tree on common ground that does not fall under the guidelines stated above, they will have to request approval from the GM or the BOD.

Understanding Common Ground vs. City Property

The basis for understanding our tree and maintenance program is by understanding the difference between what Lakewood is responsible for, and what the City of Lee’s Summit is responsible for.

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The City of LS is Responsible for:

    • The sidewalks down the parkways, in the Right of Way, and the space in between sidewalks and the street.
    • Repaving roads
    • The metal guard rails along the dams and bridges
    • Street lights
    • Street signs, traffic signs, road bumps

Lakewood is Responsible for all Common Ground, which includes:

    • All sidewalks that are behind homes or extend to the lake
    • All of our stone monuments, amenities, and parking lots. *See parcel declarations for individual parcel common element maintenance responsibilities.

Differences in East Lake and West Lake Common Ground

These differences are due to the plans of the original developers

    • East Lake – No Common Ground except for plated access ways that typically go to the docks. Most all waterfronts are private.
    • West Lake – Extensive common ground – many rows of homes have common ground between them; the shoreline has an easement around the perimeter of West Lake that is common ground ranging from 0’- 250’ easements.

Expenses of Sidewalk Destruction Caused by Planting Trees Incorrectly

During March 2023, the Maintenance Department did a thorough review of the Private Sidewalk Repairs in Lakewood.

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Lakewood manages the following:

    • Almost 30,000 feet of sidewalk – 5.5 miles of length
    • Almost $2 million of sidewalks
    • There’s approximately $250k in immediate repairs needed

There is significant damage to our sidewalks from the following categories:

    • Damage caused by tree roots lifting the sidewalk
    • Stormwater Erosion Damage
    • Damage caused by heavy equipment traveling over the sidewalks

Normally the City of LS would be responsible for all sidewalks on the streets and parkways. But when we create damage by planting trees too close to the public sidewalks, we end up being responsible for their replacement.

We have a history of misplanting many trees that have led to the damage of city property:

    • In the 1970-80s, 72 trees were planted on Lake Drive by the Association.
    • These trees were also planted In City of LS Right of Way
    • These trees have grown and have lifted the sidewalks in numerous locations therefore creating trip hazards
    • Current LS guidelines prohibit the planting of trees in the right of way.
    • Tree roots impact data lines, cable, sewer, sanitary, water, phone, cable lines, fiber optic and gas.
    • Now Lakewood is responsible for all damaged concrete sidewalks and curbs.
      Ultimately, to correct this situation these trees should be removed so that future damage does not occur.

Mature trees also exist in many areas of common ground near Association owned sidewalks:

    • Mainly on West Lake common ground areas.
    • Due to these trees, extensive common ground sidewalk repair is needed

We will continue to navigate this ongoing problem, as we monitor our $2 million worth of sidewalks in Lakewood. We urge residents to refrain from planting trees within 15’ of sidewalks.

How We Contract for Tree Removal

Typically our LPOA staff is able to remove most small trees under 30 feet in height.

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However, when larger trees in confined common ground areas need to be cut down, we bring in contractors who are equipped with larger machinery and equipment.

An example of particularly difficult trees to remove would include 80 foot oaks, with properties around it.

We have a variety of contractors that we can go to with bids. We typically bid when we have a large volume of work, which allows a cost savings to us.

Simplifying Landscaping Beds for Annual Savings

The Maintenance Department has recently overhauled our landscaping beds to reduce expenses and streamline maintenance.

Lakewood Maintenance Department is responsible for all the common ground landscaping beds, including seasonal maintenance of our flowerbeds, shrubbery, and grass.

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The Maintenance Department is striving to reduce costs and unnecessary expenses where possible. In order to do this, we have worked to simplify our landscaping process.

In the past, our landscaping beds changed frequently, and were unpredictable in size and expense. They required frequent maintenance throughout the year based on the types of flowers and bushes that were installed.

Currently our landscaping plan that has been designed to:

    • Reduce overall maintenance
    • Enhance the ease and effectiveness of maintenance
    • Protect capital investment of monuments and stone (keep them from harboring moisture, during freezes/thaws),
    • Increase predictability of costs associated with the annual spring planting

Here are some of the processes we’ve implemented that are moving us toward a more sustainable and less expensive program:

    • Clean up and organize the landscaping beds
    • Remove clay in our planting area and install quality soil to ensure the success of our annual planting investment
    • Changed out mulch to rock in flower beds
      • This reduces maintenance cost and provides for a cleaner appearance
    • Organize the size and location of flowerbeds inside the landscaping areas
      • This allows the maintenance department to care for the flowers and water the flowers more efficiently as most of our beds do not have irrigation
    • Install flower and shrubbery that are suitable for our environment
      • Install flowers that are not desirable to wildlife grazing
      • Install flowers and shrubbery that do not need high levels of moisture
      • Install flowers and shrubbery that thrive in the midwest climate

The overall impact of these changes will help to ensure future staff can predict time, investment, and reduce staff hours while keeping the landscaping beautiful and well maintained.

New Tree Planting

The budget for tree planting:

    • There is a $10K budget earmarked in the LIP Budget for new tree planting
    • These funds haven’t been released because of the difficulty related to the drought

More Info

We are working to generate a long term tree planting program, that would include the following considerations:

    • Trees need to be planted in common ground areas where water can be delivered reliably.
    • Trees need to be planted in areas where the soil depth and type allows for trees to live and grow.
    • Specific tree species need to be determined that have characteristics that agree with our environment and location.
    • Trees need to be located so that they do not interfere upon another residents wishes.

When an official plan has been developed, updates will be provided.

Resources

Finances for the Maintenance Department

Under the Operating Budget, the Maintenance Department is responsible for managing the following budgets:

    • Pools (040)
    • Maintenance (045)
    • Lake Management (050)
    • Marinas (055)

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