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Landscaping is a fertile subject at MOD Virtual Town Hall

Trees and pest control among topics addressed

by Sam Richards

Staff Writer


Wednesday, May 8 (12:00 p.m.): It was clear after the most recent GRF Virtual Town Hall program that Rossmoor residents take their landscaping and local flora seriously. Also, they don’t like “lollipopping.”

More than half of the questions brought up at the April 29 online meeting with GRF General Manager Jeff Matheson and three managers with the Mutual Operation Department (MOD) were directed to John Tawastajerna, GRF’s landscape manager, who answered questions dealing mostly with what kinds of trees should and shouldn’t be planted in Rossmoor; what kinds of pest control are best used; and how decisions about plantings, and pest control, are made.

“Every Mutual is making its own decisions, but the majority of these Mutuals’ decisions are in line with each other’s,” Tawastajerna said during the 55-minute program. Approximately 45 people tuned in on Zoom.

There are decisions to be made not only by the Mutuals but by MOD, too, in what to plant, Tawastajerna said, including making the correct choices on which plants and trees to install. That, he said, should result in allowing the plants to grow more naturally.

“We can pick better plants in the future to help keep (the need to trim them) from happening,” he said. And that’s where “lollipopping” comes in. That term is slang for trimming of a tree, hedge or other plant that, in the most extreme cases, can leave the plant in a circular or other highly non-natural, too-perfect shape. While it’s likely that no one in Rossmoor likes such drastic trimming and pruning, Tawastajerna said it’s still sometimes necessary with foliage close to structures to help reduce the fire hazard.

In a related item, he said the bulk of the grass cutting around buildings will likely start this month, when soils dry out to the point that the grass simply won’t just grow back.

At the April 25 GRF Board meeting, Tawastajerna presented a partial list of trees growing in Rossmoor, and their relative desirability (or non-desirability), and told April 29’s audience that he hopes to have a more exhaustive list compiled in the near future. His April 25 PowerPoint to the Board can be seen here: The landscape manager also took some questions about pesticide and herbicide use. He said it’s largely up to the Mutuals to decide what chemicals to use or not use, and he did say that the herbicide Roundup is not used near any GRF clubhouse buildings. Not all the questions were directed at Tawastajerna. Todd Arterburn, Rossmoor’s newly appointed chief financial officer, was asked about the late Mutual audits. He said he hopes they will be completed by mid-May, and that the audit process should improve from here on out.

“Our Mutuals are our customers, and we owe our best practices to them,” Arterburn said.

Sofia Genove, MOD’s business operations manager, said some resident work orders called in to MOD are paid for by the Mutual, and some require a fee paid by the resident. Also, upgraded appliances inside most Rossmoor homes are not eligible for Mutuals’ insurance coverage, while the older original appliances mostly are eligible.

And speaking of insurance, Genove said that although there are few mortgage loans being approved for prospective Rossmoor home purchases, some lenders are still approving such loans. But most recent home purchases in Rossmoor, she added, have indeed been with cash.

The April 29 Virtual Town Hall Zoom meeting can be viewed on Rossmoor’s YouTube channel at any time. The next two such gatherings, which also will run from 1 to 2 p.m., are Monday, May 20, when Matheson and Public Safety Manager Tom Cashion will discuss public safety, emergency preparedness, fire exits and front gate access; and Monday, June 24, when Matheson and Director of Communications Ann Peterson will focus on the Rossmoor websites ( and, the Rossmoor News and Rossmoor TV.