Master Gardening: The Cordillera Ranch POA Invests in Employees

Kevin Koether, CRPOA General Manager

Driving through the rolling terrain of Cordillera Ranch, colors change, adapting to the season, and native landscapes merge with manicured beds that remain vibrant and healthy throughout the year. And you can thank the POA Maintenance team, very often seen at work, incorporating their knowledge of native landscaping and best practices to ensure that your view is scenic along the way.

It’s about to get better — and smarter. Encouraged by POA Maintenance Manager Roy Sorenson, who is the onsite horticulturist and landscape designer, and a Master Gardener himself, Jeff Cluff and Shawn Holliman have recently become certified Master Gardeners as well. The course required six weeks of classroom instruction and an additional 50 volunteer hours. 

As the Ranch continues to grow, we have focused on ensuring the POA Maintenance team is accurately staffed and effectively trained to deliver on what Cordillera Ranch needs to look like. Over the past three years, we have made investments in equipment, extra personnel and training. The POA Maintenance department is divided into specialized teams with a current roster of 28 employees who man four crews: Bedding, Mowing, Irrigation and Mechanical. But when needed, it’s all hands-on deck. By sending these guys to classes, we are creating experts in these teams that can disseminate knowledge to the new staff, which makes them more valuable to the Ranch and more valuable to themselves as well. We have been sending team management to various training. For instance, our Mechanical team was trained on gate repairs, and our Mow team leader was sent to a turf class. We are investing back into our employees in ways that truly help them become experts.

Shawn, marking his 10th anniversary in June, added, “We have a growing staff and we’ll have a better grasp of basics as our entire operation gets bigger. We will be able to share our knowledge to the new recruits and hopefully it will help us retain them longer. We are also able to make more contributions to our local community and advise as residents ask us questions.”

The comprehensive horticultural education covered topics like soils composition, plant biology, flowers, shrubs, ornamentals and turf grasses, vegetables and herbs, correct pruning of trees and shrubs, planting zones, integrated pest management, pesticide and herbicide applications, diseases of plants, best water management practices, drip and sprinkler irrigation, fire-wise landscaping and brush control.

Put to practical use, these new techniques will be integrated into the team’s existing program. For our temperamental USDA Zone 8b, which sees temps ranging from below freezing to 100°+ and often extreme drought conditions, water conservation is always a priority. “We are learning about ways to maximize efficiency of our irrigation systems. A lot of that involves putting like plants that have similar water needs together. In many places, drip irrigation works better and reduces water consumption drastically. All the mulch we install helps hold all the moisture in the ground for these plants and allows us to water less,” explained Shawn. 

“Also, we are focusing on native and adaptive plants, which use less water and are more tolerable to heat. Tours of area gardens have introduced a wide variety of plantings that will provide more diversity in our beds, but we always remain budget-conscious. Roy propagates and purchases plants in flats that he nurtures to healthy, thriving five-gallon plants that are then used. We currently have about 700 plants waiting to go out now,” added Jeff, a six-year POA team member.

Jeff and Shawn both said they are thankful for the opportunity provided by Cordillera Ranch, and are excited to implement and share everything they have learned, saying, “We are preparing ourselves for the future of what Cordillera Ranch will become.”

Kevin Koether is the Cordillera Ranch Property Owners Association General Manager. He can be reached at 830.336.3501 and

Pictured above: Jeff Cluff and Shawn Holliman

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