Keeping Native Vegetation and Improved Landscaping in Harmony

By:
Kevin Koether, POA General Manager

Cordillera Ranch is a place of great natural beauty, representing an outstanding example of the best of the Texas Hill Country. That statement is the first sentence in the Cordillera Ranch Design Guidelines. It, and the paragraph that follows, truly embodies the ideals of Cordillera Ranch, and sets objectives for Property Owners and Builders alike. While building a custom home comes with a plethora of decisions, one of the most critical stages of design, yet one that is often short-changed, is the landscaping stage. Landscaping can complement high quality architecture, feature an arrival, create a beautiful oasis in a backyard and highlight distinct features of a custom home. 

Landscaping also has a positive effect on individual property value which in turn impacts overall property value within Cordillera Ranch. The Cordillera Ranch Architectural Review Committee (ARC) strives to work with Property Owners to ensure complementary, native and indigenous plants are utilized within Cordillera Ranch. Per the USDA and U.S. Forest Service, Cordillera Ranch falls within Plant Hardiness Zone 8b. The Hardiness Zone is the standard by which many gardeners, growers, and landscapers determine which plants are most likely to thrive in a specific location. While there are many other factors involved in the health of plants such as soil quality, sunlight, and access to water, understanding the Hardiness Zone is imperative. Use the following URL to access the map online https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/.

Cordillera Ranch requires initial landscaping plans be submitted for review by the ARC. Landscaping plans must be drafted by a landscape architect or designer and all irrigation plans must be designed by a licensed irrigator. Plans must be submitted for review 30 days prior to substantial completion of the residence and must be installed within 60 days of substantial completion. The POA recommends submitting landscaping and irrigation plans sooner rather than later to allow time for thorough review by the ARC. 

One of the main focuses during the landscape review by the ARC is the preservation of the Native Vegetation Preserve (NVP), existing vegetation and other natural features of the property. The combined areas of NVP, parks, trails and other open areas will account for Cordillera Ranch remaining 75-80% in its native state, even after being fully developed and homes built on all properties. 

Cordillera Ranch requires all trees greater than 6-inches in diameter be protected. They may not be removed without prior written approval of the ARC, regardless of location on the Lot. The ARC is diligent in its protection of existing oaks, elms, and other hardwoods throughout the Ranch. Removing dead trees and pruning dead limbs is permitted, so long as the specific requirements while trimming Oak trees are followed. It’s also important to note that even cedar trees and any native vegetation are prohibited from being removed in the NVP without the prior written approval from the POA.  The Design Guidelines outline the minimum requirements when pruning Oak trees as well as the timeline when pruning is highly discouraged (from February 1 to June 15). 

Landscaping within Cordillera Ranch is meant to be a well-designed balance of mature trees, shrubs, and lawn grass around a narrow perimeter of each home. The ARC requires minimum 5-gallon plants along the foundation that must screen most of the exposed foundation as well as exterior mechanical equipment such as HVAC compressors, pool equipment, utility interfaces and tankless water heaters. Masonry and metal walls are becoming more necessary to shield visibility of mechanicals from neighbors, streets and the golf course. The ARC also believes that balance requires a mixed variety of species of vegetation. Exhibit D in the Design Guidelines gives Property Owners and Landscape Architects alike a starting point for selecting plants on the Ranch. The ARC welcomes additional vegetative proposals so long as they are Texas Hill Country native, Plant Hardiness Zone 8b or the ARC believes will complement the property. 

Landscaping lighting is also another major factor the ARC considers during the review process. The ARC strives to ensure light pollution of the night sky is kept to a minimum as well as limiting disturbance to neighboring properties. As Cordillera Ranch continues to evolve, we look to technology advances such as LED lighting and determine how to correctly integrate said advances onto the Ranch. The ARC asks for the specifications on wattage, lumens and kelvin temperatures when landscape lighting is submitted for review. Lighting can enhance the dramatic effect of landscaping as well as highlight key features of the home.

Overall, landscaping is considered an essential and critical phase in the construction process. Landscaping should complement, enhance and balance the exterior expression of the beautiful homes here within Cordillera Ranch. 

Natural Vegetation Preserve

One of the most important elements of our landscape is an area on each lot known as the Natural Vegetation Preserve (NVP). The NVP is an area on each side lot line as well as the front and rear of the lot (see graphic). The purpose of the NVP is to create visual and auditory buffers between homes, aid in water conservation, and to provide a continuous habitat for wildlife and a corridor for their movement throughout Cordillera Ranch. The NVP is viewed as a Preserve, is aptly named so, and should be protected as such. The Design Guidelines state “The NVP cannot be disturbed or disrupted in any way, except to construct the driveway or to provide for underground utilities, without prior written consent by the ARC.” Removal of dead limbs, trees, or underbrush within the NVP can only be done by hand, and Bobcats or other tractor like equipment is not allowed to work within the NVP without approval from the POA. The NVP may not be mowed.

The ARC limits driveways to a maximum width of 12’ when crossing through the NVP. During construction, the ARC requires construction fencing to be installed by the builder to ensure protection is given to not just the NVP but also to diminish the overall disturbance to the Lot. 

Upon completion of the final landscaping, the NVP must be satisfactorily restored, utilizing Cordillera Ranch seed blend. We highly recommend installation of the seed blend using the hydro-mulch seeding method as we have seen the seed not only grows faster, but it also grows in much thicker than hand seeding. Temporary irrigation is required for NVP restoration to achieve timely grow-in. Be sure to share the Design Guideline expectations related to the NVP with your landscape architect and installer. During final inspection of new construction, the NVP revegetation is examined. 

The NVP allows for our native wildlife to migrate through the Ranch, helps to conserve water and helps to maintain ecological balance on the Ranch overall. We, like many of you have seen the whitetail and axis deer, rafters of turkeys, foxes, porcupines, as well as many of the other species of wildlife utilizing the NVP. The Ranch is a better place because of our respect for nature. These areas will continue to be given protection from disturbance. 

If you have questions about the NVP on your property, please contact the Cordillera Ranch Property Owners Association at crpoa@cordilleraranch.com or call us at 830-336-3501.

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