Do You Really Need to Fertilize?

Soil Sample BagsBy Deborah Wessner, Hickory Ridge Watershed Advisory Committee

In preparation for the fall fertilizing season, the Watershed Resident Advisory Committee for Hickory Ridge suggests you first determine how much and what type of nutrients your lawn needs.  Much like a blood analysis for a person, a soil analysis can indicate what levels of chemicals and minerals are present in a lawn, and what type of nutrients may need to be added. Your lawn may already be rich in nutrients, so why pay for expensive fertilizer if you don’t need to?

A soil analysis can be provided for your lawn, FOR FREE, thanks to a program provided by Columbia Association. Soil sample collection bags are available at the Hickory Ridge Village Center office and can be returned to the same office once you have collected your samples (a ten minute task!)  Soil samples you collect from your lawn will be analyzed by a recognized laboratory in Delaware , and the results provided back to you by mail or email.  If you are unable to collect samples yourself, please contact the Hickory Ridge Village office at 410-730-7327 and we will ask a watershed volunteer to set up an appointment to collect the sample for you.

Remember, fall is the best time to fertilize but Maryland law requires homeowners to complete any fertilizing by November 15, so get your soil sample submitted today!



Ask Covenant Cat: Put a Cap on It!

Boo Boo wuz hereThis periodic “advice column” addresses common questions about the Hickory Ridge village covenants and other property maintenance concerns. To keep it interesting, your questions are answered by a local feline who is surprisingly well-versed in covenant issues. This cat may or may not be an overweight orange tabby named Boo Boo that lives with the Village Manager. Send your burning questions to


Dear Covenant Cat:

One of the openings to a Howard County water pipe on my property is missing its cap. Who fixes this?

-Mystified on Middlewater


Dear Mystified:

The answer to this question depends on which pipe is missing its cap. If you look carefully, you will find more than one on your purroperty. You should have both a water meter cap (about 12” wide, usually metal) and a ball valve cover (4.5-6” wide, usually plastic). If one of these is missing, Howard County will replace it at no charge. However, the pipe could also be your sewer cleanout. If that cap is missing, it’s the homeowner’s responsibility to replace it. Either way, you can call the Howard County Bureau of Utilities for assistance at 410-313-4900. Someone will come out to your home and identify which cap is missing. If it’s the water meter or ball valve cap, they will replace it for you. If it’s the sewer cleanout cap that is missing, the County can replace it for you for a fee (ranging from $20-45 depending on the part(s) required). They will leave you a note explaining how much it will cost fur the County to replace the sewer cleanout cap before they do the work.

Village-Wide Yard Sale this Saturday, September 13!

This Saturday from 8 am – 12 pm, residents throughout Hickory Ridge will be holding yard sales! Look for RED ribbons on street signs in addition to the typical yard-sale signs. Below is a list of streets that are participating BY NEIGHBORHOOD:


  • Birdsong Pass
  • Blue February Way
  • Blue Flag Way
  • Bridlerein Terrace
  • Flywheel Court
  • Gold Needle Way
  • Harmel Drive
  • Iron Frame Way
  • Little Patuxent Parkway
  • Lonetree Court
  • Morningmist Court
  • New Country Lane
  • Sleepy Horse Lane
  • Watch Chain Way


  • Frostwork Row
  • Harpoon Hill
  • Martin Road
  • Sebring Drive
  • Springing Step
  • Whitewasher Way


  • Bright Plume
  • College Square
  • Cordage Walk
  • Golden Hook
  • Plaited Reed
  • Resting Sea
  • Slender Sky
  • Sunny Spring

Please see below for a map of the village. The yard sale will be held RAIN OR SHINE! Happy bargain hunting!


Map of Hickory Ridge

And don’t come inside until you’ve met someone new!

[In the interest of recycling, this is an edited version of a post written last summer in honor of National Night Out. The 2014 NNO is TONIGHT!]

Remember the good old days of summer? When our parents kicked us outside and told us we couldn’t come in until dinnertime? Or better yet, the long lazy days of summer when we went BACK outside after dinner and stayed out playing flashlight tag and catching fireflies until our parents hollered for us (using our middle names) to come in and take a bath?

These days, our lives are so busy and we are so “plugged in” to phones, computers, TVs, and the like that the idea of going outside at night seems strange. Plus, it could be dangerous. Who else might be out there? Creepy people? Criminals?

Guess what — the creeps won’t hang around if you and your neighbors are outside. If neighbors are talking regularly, looking out for each other, and making it clear that they care about their street, crime drops. That’s the idea behind National Night Out. National Night Out (NNO) is designed to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

This year, National Night Out is TONIGHT, Tuesday, August 5. It may be too late to plan a full-on block party for tonight, but don’t let that stop you from getting outside with your neighbors.

NNO events can be as simple as everyone sitting in lawn chairs at the cul-de-sac (use the KISS principle), or could include an ice cream social or even a cookout (if you’re the Martha Stewart type). If you’re already using, it’s as easy as a quick post announcing a BYOP (Bring your own popsicle) gathering at the playground! It’s up to you – the important thing is that neighbors get outside and talk to each other on August 5! And don’t come back inside until you’ve met someone new!

What We Did in FY2014 (May 2013-April 2014) — aka The Annual Report

Every year, the village staff produces an Annual Report that is shared with the Village Board and with residents. This report lets our residents know what we have been up to in the past  year, and the many ways that we work to keep Hickory Ridge looking good and running smoothly. Here is the report that was published in the July 31, 2014 LOG newsletter. Enjoy!


FY14 Annual Report

Our fiscal year ended April 30, 2014. During that year, our village’s Representative to the Columbia Board of Directors was Gregg Schwind. The members of our Village Board of Directors were:

  • Miles Coffman, Chair
  • Tom Louden, Vice-Chair
  • Jerry Lioi
  • Linda Hitzelberger
  • Michelle Wood



Village Board Projects

The Village Board worked on the following issues this past fiscal year:

  • Hickory Ridge Village Center Park development plan
  • Redesign of the Sixpence/Buglenote Tot Lot
  • Inner Arbor Plan for Symphony Woods
  • Negotiation of CA Management Contract
  • Funding for a new Wilde Lake Middle School
  • Ash tree removal by Howard County
  • Hawthorn Park usage by soccer clubs
  • Street parking on Sunny Spring
  • Monument Sign(s) at the Hickory Ridge Village Center
  • Street parking around Atholton High School
  • External Financial Audit of the Association
  • Columbia Retail Market Study
  • Route 32/Cedar Lane Intersection improvements
  • Various building projects in and around Hickory Ridge
  • Joint meeting of Hickory Ridge’s smaller homeowners’ associations


Covenant Work

This year the Resident Architectural Committee reviewed 215 Exterior Alteration Applications, approving 188 through the regular process, and 27 with Fast Track. The RAC denied 6 applications. Serving on the RAC this past fiscal year were:

  • Dianne Earley, Chair
  • Linda Loesch, Vice-Chair
  • Debbie Cline
  • Barbara Condron
  • Kathy Mardaga
  • Skye Anderson

Appeals are heard by the Architectural Committee, composed of three Village Board members and two RAC members. One appeal was heard in FY2014. This past year Tom Louden chaired the AC, joined by Michelle Wood, Miles Coffman, Dianne Earley and Linda Loesch.

During this period, the covenant advisor handled 160 new covenant violation cases and issued 126 Letters of Compliance. A total of 180 covenant cases were resolved in FY2014, 6 cases were sent to Columbia Association for legal action, and 15 cases carried over into FY2015.


Special Events

Our Special Events Coordinator, Joan Lancos, planned the following events this past year:

  • 4 Family Bingo Nights
  • Family Pool Party
  • Village Yard Sales
  • Wine Tasting
  • Landscaping Programs
  • Volunteer Party
  • Family Holiday Event
  • Holiday Craft Show
  • Ice Cream Social
  • Searching for Spring
  • 3 Shredding & E-cycle Events
  • Village Election
  • Ladies Night Out
  • Columbia Home Tour
  • School’s Out Lunches (2)
  • Duct Tape Purse Class
  • Cardmaking Event
  • Open Space Crew Lunch
  • 50+ Lunches (2)


Services Offered at the Village Office

  • Free Notary Public
  • Postage stamps
  • Free classified ads
  • Block Party Grants
  • Faxing, photocopying
  • Mowers list
  • Maps & schedules
  • Cul-de-sac Grants
  • Snow Shovelers List
  • Laminating


FY14 Budget

The village association brought in $359,688 income. Expenses were $352,331. The village reserve account (savings) totals $45,283. $248,898 of our income is our share of the CA special assessment that all Columbia residents pay yearly. Here is a breakdown of the budget:



CA Assessment Share          $248,898
Rentals                                       $  98,807
Interest                                      $       123
Special Events                         $    3,851
Fees                                             $       921
Miscellaneous                         $    7,088


Total                                         $359,688




Staff Salaries & Benefits        $203,876
Payroll Taxes                           $  13,947
Contract Labor                        $           0
Janitorial Expenses               $  25,717
Fees                                              $  13,607
Operating Expenses               $  13,001
Taxes/Insurance                    $    5,866
Advertising                               $    1,949
Newsletter                                 $  31,992
Contributions                           $       502
Special Events                          $  10,469
Utilities                                       $  14,764
Maintenance                             $    4,810
Furniture & Fixtures             $    4,141
Depreciation                             $    4,362


Total                                          $352,331


If you’re still awake after reading all this, please feel free to call the village office with any questions you may have.

What’s the Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer? Buddy the Elf knows.

The movie Elf, starring Will Ferrell, is quickly becoming a holiday cult classic. I would venture to say that it is/will be “A Christmas Story” for Gen-X, Gen-Y, and Millenials. It certainly is a must-see for anyone who loves Will Ferrell’s unique brand of innocent, bumbling oaf style of physical comedy.


The great thing about this movie (as opposed to other Ferrell films) is that it’s family-friendly. Another plus – it has a a great message about the spirit of Christmas. And did I mention that you will laugh your socks off?

Whether you have seen this movie multiple times or you have no idea what the four main elf food groups are, (candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup of course!) we can guarantee that you will be an expert on elf culture by the time you leave our Elf Family Movie Night. And you don’t even have to pass through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and walk through the Lincoln Tunnel to do it — we’re right down the street!


From 7 – 9 pm on Friday, December 13, you can enjoy a screening of Elf at The Hawthorn Center while making your own paper snowflakes (Buddy would approve) and jingle bell necklaces, sampling treats from 3 of the 4 elf food groups (sorry, but syrup is too messy), and enjoying photo ops for your holiday card or scrapbook. All of this can be yours for only $5 per person!

Tickets must be purchased in advance – you can get them in person at the village office, or online at Take a chance on a unique holiday event this year, and we guarantee you will be smiling from ear to elfin ear afterwards.


Let it Rain!

Rain GardenAt their August 5 meeting, the Hickory Ridge Village Board approved an architectural guideline for the installation of rain gardens in our village. If you have a rain garden on your property, you already know how helpful they can be in eliminating damp spots in your yard after rainstorms, and minimizing the flow of water across your property. If you don’t have a rain garden, or don’t know what a rain garden is, visit to find out more about Columbia Association‘s rain garden program. Thanks to our new guideline, applications for rain gardens being built through CA‘s grant program are eligible for our Fast Track process. This means your rain garden could be approved in less than one week.

Make sure you follow the instructions on the application completely, including obtaining the signatures of two visually affected neighbors. Bring the completed application to the village office by noon on a Monday to start the Fast Track process. And then you can let it rain!