Spring Renewal: Navigating Essential Property Plans and Grounds Maintenance

As the cold clutch of winter finally releases its grip, Vermont’s scenery undergoes a rebirth, exposing the scars left by the harsh season. For Vermont associations, spring’s arrival signals a vital period to tackle the damage inflicted on community properties over the winter months – from soil erosion, storm drainage systems, retaining walls, pavement, walkways, lawns, trees, shrubs, and of course the very buildings that we huddled in to stay dry and warm. Having a complete property plan and well-funded upkeep strategy is key to ensuring the community’s long­ standing health and value.


July 2023’s great flood overwhelmed countless stormwater management systems in Vermont. I don’t need to spend time here describing the damage -you lived through it, Vermont Strong, only for another flood event at the end of the year. I’m sure condominium unit owners are inquiring with their boards about what to do with all of this stormwater in the future. The answer is not a simple one. As Robert Burns wrote in 1785, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” The challenge here is how far you can stretch the budget to plan for every worst-case scenario.

The answer? Very strategically. Start by documenting all the property damage due to winter and flooding. Walk around the property and attempt to determine the root cause for the damage – a local engineer familiar with your area may provide valuable assistance. Prioritize the list by severity of damage and community disruption. Hire experts to provide options for mitigating the most pressing areas of concern. These experts can often provide estimated costs for implementing repairs. And finally, plan. What will your budget allow you to do now and in the future, possibly over a few years?

In the meantime, you must continue maintaining what you have. One of the main concerns for Vermont associations after winter is the condition of retention and detention areas. These important water management features playa huge role in preventing flooding, erosion, and preserving overall stability. The focus is to remove silt and vegetative debris, and clear pipes to ensure everything flows as originally designed.


Ground erosion can silently threaten Vermont communities and is made worse by winter weather. Melting snow mixed with freezing and tl1awingcan lead to soil erosion, affecting landscape stability and maybe even building foundations. Spring isa good time for associations to put in place erosion control. This might be strategic ground cover planting, installing erosion blankets, or reinforcing vulnerable areas with retain­ing walls. Addressing ground erosion promptly can protect the community’s long-term property value and make the whole neighborhood look better.


The weight of snow and ice plus strong winds can do a number on trees. Broken branches and damaged limbs aren’t just ugly but also dangerous. The association needs to prioritize assessing and pruning trees after winter to eliminate risks.

A nice-looking lawn is something any community takes pride in, and spring is a perfect time to fix things up. Schedule aerating, fertilizing, and overseeding to help lawns recover from winter stress. Bushes should also get checked for win­ter damage, with any necessary pruning or replacement done to keep the com­ munity looking its best. Curb appeal increases market value and should not be taken for granted.

Retaining walls, built to hold back earth and prevent erosion, can suffer harm from freeze-thaw cycles. It’s vital to perform detailed evaluations, fixing any cracks or signs of weakening in these structures. Ignore them, and the costs to repair them in the future may skyrocket due to catastrophic failure.


The winter months subject building envelopes to harsh conditions, testing tl1e durability of roofs, siding, and other exterior components. It is imperative to conduct thorough inspections to identify and address any issues arising from snow accumulation, ice clams, and freezing temperatures.

Roof inspections should encompass an examination of chimneys, shingles, flashing, roof penetrations, and gutters. Promptly repair or replace to prevent water infiltration and potential interior damage. Siding may also require attention, with any cracks or gaps sealed to maintain energy efficiency and protect against the elements.


The freeze-thaw cycle takes a toll on road surfaces, leading to the formation of potholes and pavement cracks. Pot­ holes not only detract from the overall aesthetic of a community but also pose a threat to safety. Associations should prioritize road repairs, filling potholes and sealing pavement cracks to ensure smooth and safe passage for residents. Sealing cracks in pavements is crucial for preventing water infiltration, which can lead to further damage and compromise the structural integrity of roads. Investing in quality pavement maintenance enhances the community’s appearance while extending the lifespan of its infrastructure.


After a long, cold Vermont winter, and some very unfortunate flooding events, association boards are challenged more than ever in keeping their communities looking good. Evaluating damage, finding root causes, prioritizing repairs, and making a budget-friendly plan is hard work, but you don’t have to go it alone – hire experts when needed.

Written by Andrew Dudka, president of Criterium L&D Engineers & Criterium Dudka Engineers

Published in Condo Media