Monday, 31 July 2017

Why Starting A Business Is Like Eating Glass

Eating Glass

I was watching an interview with Elon Musk, the man who brought us Tesla and Space X, and he said that starting a business is painful, like eating glass and staring into the abyss.

I would say that about sums it up.

Why do it then? It’s certainly not even remotely easy. You risk everything — financially, personally and even professionally. The potential for failure is immense and odds are against you even making it one year, let alone five, 15, 20 or 30.

I recently came home from a tough day at work and sent a text to one of my mentors asking if he could talk. He built one of the largest, most successful landscape companies in the region where I live. I talk to him frequently for advice and sometimes just to vent. He sold his company and is now on its board of directors, otherwise he is retired. I told him I was having a rough day and he said, “It never gets easier; things change, you have ups and downs, but business never gets easier.” A bitter pill to swallow, but the truth nonetheless.

So if the founder of one of the most technologically advanced companies in the world and my mentor who ran one of the largest landscape companies in my region both say it’s so hard, why would anyone ever want to start a business? Full disclosure here: I actually did not start my landscape business; my dad did. But I loved running the business, and he liked being the technician, so it just worked for us. Anyway, my dad started the business because his job at United Airlines was being eliminated in the Cleveland office and moved to Chicago. He didn’t want to move to Chicago, so at the age of 46 he started a landscape company. I was 26 at the time and decided it would be a good idea to help him out and we were off to the races, eating glass every day.

My business was essentially started because my dad didn’t want to uproot his family, move to another city and leave all of his friends and family. It’s funny how it all works out; I probably would never have been in this business if it wasn’t for him. I was a full-time musician at the time and that’s what I figured I would be doing forever. I never had a desire to work for someone else or have a 9-to-5 job. I’ve always been drawn to business; even with my music I would handle a lot of the business aspects of dealing with booking agents, club owners and record stores for my band at the time. I was also in charge of the band’s finances and am still doing that now with my business.

Back to the initial question: Why would you want to do it then? I think it’s something that is hardwired into certain people. That’s it. Period. It’s no different than the guy who jumps the Grand Canyon with his motorcycle or those dudes who put on fly suits and jump off mountains. It’s risky as hell, scarier than a horror movie and as stressful as being chased by a mountain lion, but we all do it anyway. Call it hardwired, call it DNA, call it whatever you want … maybe we just like the taste of glass.

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from Mix ID 8230377

5 Favorite Xeric Plants for Many Regions

Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Perpa’ Brakelights® Photo: Monrovia

The palette of plants that can tolerate challenging dry conditions is growing, extending their usefulness from xeric regions to friendlier climes. Our friends at American Nurseryman asked noted plantsman Nicholas Staddon to recommend a few of his favorite selections. These woody and perennial plants that are rugged enough to withstand reduced supplemental water — and are able to provide pleasing forms and delightful colors.

Hesperaloe parviflora red yucca

Herperaloe parvifloria ‘Perpa’ Brakelights® Photo: Monrovia

1. Hesperaloe parviflora

“My first selection is a Hesperaloe parviflora, the red yucca,” Staddon says. “There’s a variety which has been on the market for a couple of years, actually probably about four years, called Brakelights (Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Perpa’ Brakelights® PP# 21729). It’s the result of a breeding program run by Ron Gass, who owns Mountain States Wholesale Nursery, and it is, without a doubt, one of the most floriferous Hesperaloes on the market.”

The species is native to Texas and northern Mexico, so it’s tough as nails and thrives in full sun and reflected heat to Zone 5.

“Brakelights® is a smaller, more compact grower” than the species, Staddon describes. “Hesperaloes over a period of time can get very big and very rambunctious.” This slow-growing selection, however, forms a 2-foot clump of very narrow, blue-green leaves, from which spring extended flower stalks sporting brilliant blooms. “This is the reddest of all the hesperaloes,” Staddon claims. “And she sets little or no seed, so because of that, she has an extended flowering season. She will rebloom on the same stem, which is very unusual. Depending on where you are, the blooming season might change a little bit, but in my garden [in southern California], I’ve had a Brakelights that started blooming in September and the flower is just coming to its end now [early June].”

Monrovia Chilopsis linearis 'Monhews' (Timeless Beauty Desert Willow)

The desert willow. Chilopsis linearis ‘Monhews’ (Timeless Beauty®) Photo: Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

2. Chilopsis linearis

Timeless Beauty® Desert Willow blooms

Close up: Chilopsis linearis ‘Monhews’ Timeless Beauty® Desert Willow. Photo: Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

“This is a smaller tree or large shrub, the desert willow. It’s a plant that is really gaining in popularity, and breeders are doing more work with it,” Staddon claims.

“It’s very versatile; it makes a wonderful single plant in a small garden, and it’s been used along freeways,” he adds. “Chilopsis has been a real foundation of many gardens and landscapes in the Southwest for many years, but more and more people are starting to discover this plant. There are lots of varieties out there; you’ve got the seedling selections, which can go from kind of whitish to soft pink to soft purple. There are other great varieties on the market: There’s one called Warren Jones™, which has more of a soft pink flower with a yellow throat. There’s a pure white called ‘White Storm’, which has wonderful pink buds and then a pure white flower. Timeless Beauty® is one of the better seedless varieties on the market.

“They can get quite large, and they tend to be more multistemmed. They are deciduous, but they provide a profuse season of flowering; great for the pollinators as well,” Staddon concludes.

In general, desert willow is fast growing and can reach to 25 feet tall and wide at maturity in full or part sun. It’s hardy to Zone 6.

Read More from American Nurseryman: 5 Colorful Xeric Plants 

3. Muhlenbergia capillaris

Deer grass — Muhlenbergia capillaris — is becoming more and more popular out West, according to Staddon. “Muhlenbergias are almost a household name in the Southwest,” he states. “Probably one of the best known varieties is Regal Mist®; once again it’s a seedling selection from Mountain States. Rarely do you ever see just one of these. They’re planted en masse, and in mid- to late summer they have this marvelous seed set, where the tops of the plants will get covered with these great purple flowers. And if you plant them where you get an afternoon breeze coming through, the seed heads will actually move with the wind. That alone makes you feel cool.”

Muhlenbergia capillaris 'Lenca' (Regal Mist®) Deer Grass

Deer grass: Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Lenca’ (Regal Mist®) Photo: Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

Staddon says that Regal Mist has “by far the most visual display; real nice pink flowers at the end of the season. She’s evergreen, so she’s going to show in the spring and all year around.

“I think one of the things that people love about them so much is whether they have flowers on them or not, they still look absolutely just fantastic,” he adds.

Regal Mist® reaches about 3 feet tall and wide and has a fast growth rate. It thrives in full sun and locations with reflected heat in Zone 6. According to Mountain States, reseeding has not been an issue.

4. Cupressus sempervirens

Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) is “a plant that has ruled the roost in the Southwest for many years — really, up and down the West Coast,” Staddon says. “It’s just synonymous with that Mediterranean climate out here. It’s used as a wind break, it’s used as an accent plant, it’s used as a container plant.”

Italian cypress: Cupressus sempervirens 'Monshel' Tiny Tower®

Italian cypress: Cupressus sempervirens ‘Monshel’ Tiny Tower® Photo: Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

The species is slow growing and can reach up to 100 feet or so, but there are two cultivars that Staddon deems worthy of mention:

“One is a Monrovia introduction called Tiny Tower®, and Tiny Tower has probably been out there for 15, 16 years,” he states. “It’s used extensively by homeowners and also by the design community. It’s a much smaller growing flavor of the species — it probably will top out at about 30 to 35 feet [by 3 feet wide], and it maintains a really nice, upright, narrow habit. It tends to do better in the warmer, drier climates, so in the Southeast, even though it might be warm down there, they might get some spider mites.”

Tiny Tower® is said to maintain its narrow, columnar form without pruning, making it an excellent choice for formal plantings or as a container specimen in zones 7 to 10.

“The other variety is called Swane’s Golden,” Staddon says. “Swane’s Golden was created by Mrs. Swane, who was a nursery owner and breeder in New Zealand, and it has been around for absolutely donkey’s years. Again, it’s a smaller grower, very nice upright, compact habit and has a wonderful gold cast to it; it is by far one of the most popular golds of the Italian cypress.

“These plants could be used as hedgerows, they could be used as accent plants in the landscape, and they’re just wonderful for container plants as well,” he adds. “Some people will even shear them into topiary. Because they’re so tight and compact, they make a great spiral. I’ve never seen a plant bigger than 8 to 20 feet high. This is a really interesting plant, because it goes in cycles of fashion; it’ll be fashionable for seven or eight years, and then it’s not fashionable, and then everybody wants it again.”

Swane’s Golden is hardy in zones 7 to 9.

These C. sempervirens selections are very narrow and very columnar. “Both of these varieties are marked improvements; they do maintain a more columnar, upright growth habit. The traditional Italian cypress can get branches that can get large and the plant can open out. But these are good, narrow upright plants,” Staddon explains.

Read More from American Nurseryman: The Basics of Xeric Landscaping

5. Callistemon

The distinctive bottlebrush plant is one that’s not to be missed.

Bottlebrush plant: Callistemon citrinus 'Little John'

Bottlebrush plant: Callistemon citrinus ‘Little John’ Dwarf. Photo: Doreen Wynja for Monrovia

“A plant that really is in vogue in the Southwest and Texas is Callistemon (bottlebrush); they’re very, very popular,” Staddon says. “There’s a new one on the market that’s been out a year or so, which is called Slim™ (Callistemon viminalis ‘CV01’). Slim is a really upright, columnar plant. It comes from a breeding program in Australia called Tuffy Plants, and it’s readily available on the market here. It’s such a unique plant; so different from every other callistemon that’s out there.”

Slim is a prolific bloomer, and in spring to summer — nearly year-round in mild climates — it’s “festooned with flowers, absolutely covered with flowers,” Staddon describes. “Callistemon has these wonderful, bright red flowers that are really favored by pollinators.”

Slim reaches about 8 to 10 feet tall by 3 to 4 feet wide, much narrower than other selections, making it suitable for a variety of uses. “Its primary application is for a hedge, or a triangle of three in the garden to make an architectural statement. I think this plant is going to be an absolute winner,” Staddon claims.

Another favorite of Staddon’s is Little John (Callistemon citrinus ‘Little John’), which has been around for years and “continues to be planted in pretty much every landscape,” he says. “Gardeners use the plant extensively in their own gardens; great for a hedge; great for a triangle of three. It’s an early season, but long season bloomer, it has these wonderful, bright red flowers that are really favored by pollinators. Little John is really fun, because the foliage has a blue cast to it, so you’ve got a bluish-greenish foliage against the red flowers.”

Little John is a slow growing selection, reaching only 3 feet tall by 5 feet wide.

Both bottlebrush choices are hardy in zones 8 to 11.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on Nicholas Staddon is known as “The Plantsman,” consultant and strategic marketing partner for Village Nurseries Wholesale. Staddon previously served as the director of new plants and national spokesperson for Monrovia Growers for over 25 years.

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from Mix ID 8230377

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Get To Know Teresa Watkins

Between weekly airings of her award-winning Central Florida call-in radio show “In Your Backyard,” giving down-to-earth advice in her “Gardening with Soul” blogs, teaching gigs for the University of Florida’s Natural Resource Leadership Institute and taking on dozens of landscape design consulting projects for private clients and HOAs, Teresa Watkins is also wrapping up a six-volume Gardener’s Compendium to be published at the end of this year. And somewhere in her schedule, Watkins also manages to get a little rest.

A recognized leader on water conservation principles and biodiverse landscapes, Watkins, landscape designer and environmental consultant for Sustainable Horticulture Environments in Orlando, designed the landscaping of the first energy and environmentally efficient dream home in the State of Florida certified by the Florida Green Building Coalition. She was the environmental landscaping consultant for the first green builder — Vision House 2008 in Florida. A fellow and past vice president with the University of Florida’s Natural Resource Leadership Institute’s board of directors, Watkins serves on the USGBC-LEED Technical Advisory Group.

Running the gamut from working with individual clients, private nurseries, commercial retail garden centers and homeowner associations, Watkins’ landscape consulting business also assists city, county, public and private water suppliers on water conservation and stormwater pollution education efforts.

Client/service mix: 80% residential, 20% commercial

Business motto: Every garden is unique with a multitude of choices in soils, plants and themes. Finding your garden theme is as easy as seeing what brings a smile to your face.

Proudest moment in business and why: Designing the landscape of the first Vision House for Green Builder magazine for the International Builder Show 2008 in Orlando. It was an opportunity to showcase Florida-friendly landscaping principles of low-water use and low maintenance, yet still be beautiful. Six years later, it’s still a low-water use, low-maintenance landscape — even more beautiful than my clients anticipated.

Biggest business challenge today: Balancing my time. My workweek can range from consulting and designing landscapes for my clients; researching and writing articles; editing my new book; engaging in social media; fulfilling speaking engagements; hosting my weekly radio gardening show; and teaching landscape classes to homeowners and certification courses to municipal employees, government agencies and the University of Florida’s Florida Master Naturalist programs.

Best sources of landscape design/build inspiration: I love being out in nature, smelling moss and decomposing soils; seeing plants growing in their own environment; hiking through primeval forests, swamps, prairies and various other ecosystems; and figuring out what kind of wildflower is blooming as I drive by. But then I clean up, change my shoes and love to visit private gardens, botanical gardens and World Heritage sites to take photographs, find out the history of how a particular garden evolved over time and learn about various cultures in a country.

Monday morning motivation: I just love my life. I love not having to report to an office and work inside from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. I love digging in the dirt, installing landscapes and seeing my clients get so excited about having a garden of their dreams. All this helps pump up my creative genes.

Favorite plant or plant combination: My specialty is themed landscaping. I create gardens for clients with flowers, shrubs and trees that evoke another world — whether it’s the country where they were born, their favorite childhood memory, a special trip or showcasing their favorite collection or hobby. I name each landscape I design to personalize it with unique plant combinations for that one-of-a-kind client.

Business worry that keeps me up at night: I don’t worry about business. What keeps me up at night is my passion. My energy level becomes heightened when I’m designing a new landscape, thinking of a new article to write or researching and editing my book. I’m a night owl, answering emails at 2 a.m. and still getting up at 7 a.m. to install a landscape or drive to a workshop.

Landscape design mentor: I love Piet Oudolf’s design philosophy of perennials and grasses. Also, Gertrude Jekyll’s color schemes and plant combinations. I feel a kindred spirit to Tony Avent’s gardening philosophy, which uses humor. I love his native plant beliefs and quotes, such as “I consider every plant hardy until I have killed it myself — three times.”

Favorite business or landscape design book: I’m an avid reader and researcher. My home office is a library with four walls of books and two entire walls (and extra shelves) for more than 400 gardening books. I have books from the early 1900s to this year’s best sellers. My research books include the “Encyclopedia of Ferns,” “Complete Guide to Orchids” and “Mushrooms of North America.” My favorites include: Billy Goodnick’s “Yards: Turn Any Outdoor Space Into the Garden of Your Dreams” (for DIY fans) and Tom MacCubbin’s “Month by Month Gardening in Florida.”

Describe one landscape design project you’ve worked on that makes you smile every time you drive past it: My “Cosecha Por Del Lago” (Harvest By The Lake), a beautiful Spanish-tiled home with a landscape of edible plants, shrubs and trees. Roses, figs, plum and nectarine espaliers for fences; an arbor with four types of grapes; citrus; apples; avocados; bananas; blueberries; moringa; peaches; pears; pomegranates; star fruits; olives; strawberry trees; lemon grass; raised beds; and pollinator-attracting flowers like African Blue Basil. Their backyard is a lakefront paradise with a beautiful fragrant border garden providing privacy, and an exquisite view of the dock house and lake framed by Phoenix robellini palms, queen palms on one side and Senegal date palms on the other. My clients are devout organic gardening enthusiasts, and my design and installation helped them live their dreams.

Describe your business in five years: I will be traveling more, designing more and writing more garden books.

Connect with Teresa Watkins & Sustainable Horticulture Environments:

Facebook: TeresaWatkinsFL

LinkedIn: Teresa Watkins


Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2014 and has been updated.

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from Mix ID 8230377

I Am A Landscaper: Ben Collinsworth

Ben Collinsworth

Ben Collinsworth, owner and founder of Native Land Design in Austin, Texas, has built his man-and-a-mower business into one that exceeds $10 million in annual sales and employs 200 people from the community. Even when he’s not working, Collinsworth says he is very “production oriented” and doesn’t spend much time sitting around. He goes to the gym regularly and always finds projects around the house that need to be done. Of course, with three young kids — all under the age of 11 — Collinsworth says he stays very busy spending time with his family. We recently caught up with Collinsworth to find out a bit more about what makes him tick.

When I get a chance to travel, I enjoy meeting up with other landscape friends around the country. Our peer group does it every quarter. We used to just travel to one another’s offices, but now we try to pick a location where we all meet up. We’ve been to Montana and did some fly fishing; to Los Cabos, which we linked with a National Association of Landscape Professionals event; and to Colorado to mountain bike. We try to mix business with a little bit of down time to relax.

I constantly get asked how I am doing this as a professional career when it’s something the guy down the street is doing, too. It’s up to us individually to present ourselves professionally and change the perception. When most people think of landscaping, they think of the guy that charges $25 to cut their grass. They don’t think of the company that manages large projects or huge HOAs.

It doesn’t matter where you’re going; it’s the people that define the experience. Our peer group is a great group and that helps me get a lot out of our trips. I also travel with my family four or five times a year, even if it’s just a short getaway.

Fast cars are my guilty pleasure. I’ve done all the car experiences and had the opportunity to drive some incredible cars. Austin is a really cool town for cars. We have Circuit of the Americas here, which is the only race track for Formula One Cars. It’s also a beautiful place that you can rent cars at for a driver experience.

I’ve got a couple Shelby Mustangs that can go pretty darn fast. Here in Texas we have the fastest posted speed limit road, which is 85 mph, and it just so happens to run between my house and the airport.

We’re creating jobs in our community and putting out a good payroll. In fact, we’re the third largest payroll producer in our city, but people are absolutely shocked to find that out. They simply can’t wrap their head around the idea of a landscaper being that large.

At the end of the day, if people don’t get it, I’m OK with that. I used to constantly fight it, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that some people just don’t get it. Whether they understand the level of professionalism or not, I’m proud to be lumped in with the blue collar, hardworking professionals out there who are “just cutting the grass.” I started out as the guy who cut neighbors’ lawns, and I’m proud that those are my roots. It’s a good, honest living based on hard work.

The post I Am A Landscaper: Ben Collinsworth appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Determining The Time For An Irrigation System Upgrade

Time for an Upgrade?

Like anything else, irrigation systems wear out over time. Sprinklers stop turning, arcs stop being adjustable, valves fail to open or close and controllers stop functioning. Additionally, new technologies and better equipment are on the market that improve efficiencies and save water and money for customers. For any of these reasons, an irrigation system will at some point need upgrading, but how do you determine when?

Why upgrade?

There are many ways in which an irrigation system can signal that it needs to be upgraded. For example, the water use may have escalated or the landscape appearance may have deteriorated. Another sign is that the number of service calls has increased or the cost to maintain the system has become excessive.

Newer spray heads and rotors are designed to apply water more evenly when properly spaced. PHOTO: RAIN BIRD

A system may also need to be upgraded due to changes in regulations. In Orlando, ordinances have been passed that do not allow water to be thrown over or across a sidewalk. If an existing system within the city of Orlando does that, it has to be upgraded to eliminate overthrowing the walk. In California, you can be fined for irrigation water running off of your property. In order to prevent that from continuing, the system most likely will need to be upgraded with a new sprinkler configuration, nozzles and/or controller.

Lastly, time may have just passed and the system is just plain old.

Upgrading options

There are many options available to upgrading a system. Upgrading means just that: upgrading. It does not mean the whole irrigation system has to be abandoned and replaced. An upgrade could consist of just something as simple as changing the sprinklers. The existing sprinklers could have stopped turning, don’t pop up high enough or distribute water poorly and it’s time to be more water efficient.

An upgrade could also include replacing the valves because they are no longer opening or are stuck open or maybe additional features such as flow control or pressure regulation are needed. Additionally, the diaphragms could be worn, cracked or dried out or the solenoids past there life cycle. Wiring could be bad due to construction damage or years of being under water, especially if waterproof connections were not used when the system was originally installed. An upgrade could consist of just replacing the controller. This could be desirable to provide more flexibility in scheduling, to change to a smart controller to be more sustainable, by reducing overall irrigation water use or because the controller just quit working.


Irrigation system lifespan

The length of time the complete irrigation system lasts can be a short time to a very long time. Normally, the system doesn’t wear out; just the various components do. There are two things that wear on the irrigation system: location and number of cycles. The two are usually, but not always, directly related. An irrigation system in Phoenix is going to operate more often than an irrigation system in Minneapolis. Whereas the Phoenix system is operable and running on some type of schedule year round, the system in Minneapolis is off from November through mid-April. The system in Phoenix is operating at least twice as much as the system in Minneapolis, and because evapotranspiration (ET) rates are higher in Phoenix than in Minneapolis it is also operating longer each cycle. Therefore, a system in Phoenix would not be expected to last as long as a system installed in Minneapolis. It all comes down to cycles. The more often the system goes on and off, the more wear there will be. If you have a system that you use cycle and soak on — water a little, let it soak in and then water some more — that system will turn on and off more and the components will also wear faster.

Upgrades may also be required due to the maturing landscape. As the landscape grows it may interfere with the irrigation system sprinklers’ water distribution or require more water as trees and other landscape materials grow. This is especially true with point source systems, which need to be adjusted for the amount of water applied as the landscape grows and matures. The maturing landscape can require sprinklers to be moved or alter the type of irrigation necessary.


Technological advances = better irrigation

As time passes, equipment ages but technology continues to advance. Advances in technologies are good for irrigation. Technology provides ways to better manage an irrigation system, enhances the system’s operation and makes the system operate more efficiently. As such, technology improvements alone may be a reason to upgrade the system. This has been especially true with the introduction of smart controllers and soil moisture sensors.

Smart controllers circumvent the “set it and forget it” mentality of irrigation system operators, whether it be the landscaper, homeowner or property manager, and as such can save substantial amounts of water when properly installed, programmed and tweaked.

Smart controllers are either climate-based or soil moisture sensor-based. A smart controller is programmed with site characteristics that a conventional controller does not have, such as plant type, precipitation rate, root zone depth and soil type. These parameters are used to set up a base schedule and then the climate data, normally ET or the soil moisture sensor readings are used to adjust the base schedule to apply the amount of water needed based on the existing weather or soil moisture conditions.

The controller doesn’t just come on the same day at the same time and apply the same amount of water. Upgrading the sprinklers, if they are more than five years old, will alone improve the uniformity of the water being applied. In the last decade, manufacturers of irrigation sprinklers have greatly improved the sprinklers ability to apply water uniformly, as well as the reliability of the sprinklers. When possible, upgrading just the sprinkler nozzles will then improve water distribution. Upgrading both the sprinklers and the nozzles will improve both the uniformity and the reliability.

Upgrading old sprinklers and nozzles can improve uniformity and reliability. PHOTO: IRRIGATION CONSULTING

Newer sprinklers are designed and manufactured to apply water more evenly when properly nozzled and spaced. However, just replacing the sprinklers on their existing spacing with more up-to-date models will provide some benefits in uniformity.

Upgrading a system to a smart controller or changing the sprinklers does not guarantee results. If the core irrigation system is poorly installed or has other issues, such as poor pressure, a smart controller or sprinkler change is not going to miraculously make the system better.

Minor upgrades or major overhaul?

So, how do you tell the difference between when a system just needs minor upgrades versus knowing when the system needs a complete overhaul/replacement? The simplest way is to log the service calls and make sure you document what the service call was for: pipe break, bad splice, broken sprinkler, bad solenoid, etc. That way you can look at trends.

If the trending is showing frequent component failures are occurring, the easier it will be to make the decision as to whether to continue to repair the system versus replace the system. For example, how many pipe breaks have there been and were they on the mainline before the valve or on the lateral after the valve? Are the breaks always in the same place or are they spread out throughout the system?

Pipe breaks are a sign of major issues with the system, such as high pressure or excessive velocities. High pressures may not break the system like high velocities, but they will prematurely wear the components and make the system less efficient. If pipe failures cannot be determined and continue to occur, that means piping replacement or a major overhaul.


An irrigation system is a mechanical system buried in the harsh environment of the ground. Just like your car, it will not last forever, needs maintenance to keep running and does not like to sit idle. Systems that have not operated for several years will most likely need replacement sooner when compared to an operating system. Sprinklers like to pop up and down and valves to open and close. When that does not occur over several years, the system will be in very poor condition.

Making irrigation systems last

The life of an irrigation system is dependent on not only when it was installed but also how it was installed. Old systems (more than 20-plus years old) wear out as the equipment used does not have the lifespan of today’s precisely manufactured equipment. Repair parts for older equipment are also no longer made.

Installation is the key, however. Poor installation will cause a system to not last as long as it should or not operate properly from the very beginning. For example, poor solvent weld cementing or clamping, not using waterproof connections, under sizing wire or pipe and oversizing zones will cause the system to operate poorly and not last its normal life cycle.

Initial installation will also be a large factor in how long the system will last. A well-installed system will, needless to say, last longer than a poorly installed system.

When you think about it, irrigation systems gained popularity in the early 1980s, so most systems are really not that old. But just like baby boomers, as these systems age they will require more maintenance and upgrades whether it is just replacing components or the whole system. Upgrades are a business opportunity that will not go away. Remember, when upgrading a system it is important to use proper installation techniques and follow best management practices such as those published by the Irrigation Association. That way the system will not be in need of another upgrade for some time.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated.

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Friday, 28 July 2017

Like A Boss: Using Peer Groups For Business Growth


John Puryear, president of Puryear Farms

John Puryear, president of Puryear Farms

When running a business, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to get a glimpse into the future?  It would certainly help with decision making and problem solving in the present time. Though he didn’t uncover any magical powers, John Puryear, president of Puryear Farms in Gallatin, Tennessee, says he may have found something that’s a close second. Since joining a peer group, he’s been able to bounce ideas off of colleagues and make better-educated decisions based on their experience and their recommendations. It’s something he says he wishes he had done sooner as it would have given him a way to help “predict the future.”

Like most business owners, Puryear had been making it on his own for quite some time before deciding to connect with peers. It’s a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know,” says Puryear, adding that he never could have imagined just how helpful a peer group could be — until he was in one.

“Had I joined a peer group 20 years ago, I would probably be a lot further ahead from where I am now,” Puryear admits. “I might have made different decisions and as a result my business would probably look different than it does now.”

One thing that Puryear has learned is the value of connecting with peers who are “more advanced.” He says that finding similar companies to yours — but who are a bit ahead of you in terms of growth — will help “push you forward” as it did for him.

“By connecting with companies who have already gotten to where I want to be, I find that they’re helping push me in that direction,” Puryear says. “It’s also the best glimpse I have into the future. If I have a big decision ahead of me I can bounce it off them because they’ve already been there.”

Whether it’s a company that is more technologically advanced, has grown in numbers, or has expanded their service offerings, finding that peer that is “where you want to be” will help you get there, Puryear says.

And don’t let pride stand in your way. Too often companies fail to connect with their peers because they believe they can do it all on their own. But Puryear says there should be no shame in consulting with businesses that have achieved some of the goals you’ve set forth for yourself. Whenever you talk to the best businesses out there, you find that they have also relied on the advice of others.

It benefits everyone when we can grow as an industry, Puryear adds. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Our Like a Boss series highlights some common business challenges landscape professionals face and how they conquer them. Discuss your biggest business challenges on LawnSite’s Business Management forum.

The post Like A Boss: Using Peer Groups For Business Growth appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Irrigation Certification Puts You In Excellent Company

water drop

When you hand your business cards to clients will they recognize the initials CIT, CIC, CLIA, CID and CLWM behind your name? Will they consider them significant? Relatedly (and perhaps the most important question on our mind), will they contribute to your reputation as an excellent landscape irrigation provider and to the financial success of your business?

These are legitimate questions given the expense, time and effort required of you to gain the knowledge leading to these professional certifications.

The answer to every one of these questions, of course, is that it is up to each of you in the irrigation business to what extent you reap their full benefits.

You as a professional landscape water manager establish the value of these acronyms to prospects and clients based on the quality of the service you provide and the clarity of your message.

We’re referring, of course, to the certifications that the Irrigation Association promotes and offers to landscape professionals. The Fairfax, Virginia-based association, in its 68th year, now offers seven different green industry certification programs for green industry professionals — six for contractors and one for golf.

The IA offers the following irrigation certifications for contractors specializing in turf and landscape irrigation:

  • Certified Irrigation Technicians (CIT) are entry-level technicians who install, maintain and repair irrigation systems.
  • Certified Irrigation Contractors (CIC) are experienced business owners who execute irrigation projects to install, maintain and repair irrigation systems.
  • Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditors (CLIA) gather irrigation water-use data and test landscape irrigation systems.
  • Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditors-Drip (CLIA) gather irrigation water-use data and test drip or low-volume landscape irrigation systems.
  • Certified Irrigation Designers (CID) establish specifications and design drawings for landscape irrigation projects. The IA certifies irrigation designers in three landscape specialties: commercial, golf course and residential irrigation.
  • Certified Landscape Water Managers (CLWM) evaluate, operate, manage and improve landscape irrigation systems to achieve the highest possible level of water conservation.

Clover Beliz, IA’s professional development director, says today there are about 2,500 individuals holding at least one IA landscape irrigation certification; the newest is the 3-year-old CIT. Since some irrigation professionals have earned more than one certification, the IA estimates about 3,500 industry certifications in total.

While these numbers may seem large to the public, it is relatively small given the tens of thousands of U.S. contractors offering irrigation services. Earning an IA certification is obviously no slam-dunk. If you are an IA-certified irrigator, count yourself among the best in the industry.

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from Mix ID 8230377

Thursday, 27 July 2017

John Deere Turf Care Facility Celebrates 20 Years of Manufacturing: This Week’s Industry News

John Deere Turf Care Facility Celebrates 20 Years of Manufacturing

Want to keep up with the latest news in lawn care and landscaping? Check back every Thursday for a quick recap of recent happenings in the green industry.

John Deere Turf Care Facility Celebrates 20 Years of Manufacturing
John Deere celebrated the achievements of the team at the Turf Care manufacturing facility last week, as it commemorated its 20-year anniversary. Located in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., the 335,000-square-foot Turf Care facility first opened in 1997, producing Light Weight Fairway Mowers (LWFM). Over the next 20 years the facility would introduce several new commercial and golf mowing innovations, becoming an important manufacturing hub for John Deere commercial-grade production. The Turf Care facility, which also operates a 320,000-square-foot distribution warehouse in Benson, North Carolina, is not only heralded for its production records, but also for its dedication to employee safety and giving back to the local community. With this 20-year anniversary, John Deere honored 19 employees who have worked at the facility since the doors opened in 1997.

Since the production of the first LWFM, the Turf Care facility has introduced more than 15 products into production, and celebrated significant milestones along the way:

  • July 1997: Manufactured the first unit at the Turf Care facility
  • 1999: Introduced multiple equipment offerings, including LWFMs, Riding Greens Mowers, 2653 Trim and Surrounds Mowers, ProGator Utility Vehicles for the Golf business, 700 Series Front Mowers and Decks, Gas ZTrak Mowers and Wide Area Mowers for the Commercial business
  • 2000: Began production of the 1400 Series Front Mowers and Decks
  • 2007: Transferred production of the Z997 Diesel ZTrak Mowers to Turf Care, where it continues to be built to the present day
  • March 2015: Turf Care Produced its 500,000th unit
  • April 2015: Relocated production of QuikTrak Mowers to Turf Care

IA Brings Irrigation Curriculum to Elementary Schools
The Irrigation Association’s first elementary school lesson plan got its initial rollout. The IA distributed the curriculum to more than 10,000 schools in four states: California, Florida, Texas and Nebraska. Focusing on grades three through five, the curriculum’s activities take the student on a journey through the history and benefits of irrigation, including both agriculture and landscape. The IA collaborated with Young Minds Inspired to develop the curriculum, relying on the IA for irrigation-related information and YMI for translating irrigation facts and benefits to rewarding and educational activities for elementary school students.

TruGreen Names Brian Hamm CFO; David Martin Takes New Role
TruGreen announced on July 25 that Brian Hamm will be joining the company as chief financial officer.  Hamm joins TruGreen from Energizer Holdings, where he served as executive vice president and chief financial officers. Hamm brings a wealth of experience defining, developing and executing successful financial strategies for a number of global companies including Energizer, PepsiAmericas and Price Waterhouse, said a news release from TruGreen. David Martin, TruGreen’s current chief financial officer, will move into the new role of vice president of sourcing and accounting. 

International Landscaping Grows Electric Maintenance Division
Building off a strong launch season in 2016, International Landscaping’s electric maintenance division, launched in 2016, has grown to cover some 500 acres each week. Recently the electric division — utilizing solar and battery-powered mowers, blowers and trimmers — added the Hewlett Packard head office in Mississauga to its maintenance portfolio.

New Toro Digital Brochure Showcases Commercial Engine Line
Toro offers a new digital brochure highlighting its commercial engine lineup for the zero-turn mower, walk-behind mower and snowblower categories. The digital brochure provides in-depth details on the features and benefits of the proprietary Toro engine family. Toro offers a number of engine options, including a single-cylinder overhead valve design, a commercial V-Twin option with self-cleaning air filter housing, and a TXP OHV with AutoChoke to ensure consistent, simple starting. Each engine is tested under load and checked for power levels and governor response before leaving the assembly line, and components are held to tight tolerances to ensure consistent production

CASE, CNH Support Milwaukee Victory Garden Blitz
CASE Construction Equipment and CNH Industrial donated the use of a skid steer to the 9th Annual Victory Garden Blitz, located in the Greater Milwaukee area. This year, more than 300 volunteers installed 514 gardens – achieving a grand total of more than 3,500 gardens for communities throughout Milwaukee since the project’s inception in 2009. CASE and CNH Industrial are one of many partners of the Victory Garden BLITZ. In addition to financial sponsorship of the Initiative, the manufacturer donated the use of an SV300 skid steer for the event.

Aspen to Review Irrigation Design Plans on New Projects
Aspen City Council has approved a new ordinance that regulates outdoor water and requires landscape architects working on new projects to go through a design review with the parks department. The ordinance limits summer irrigation to 7.5 gallons per square foot. At least in its pilot year, the city is only requiring efficient design. Areas of lush green grass will need to be offset with plantings of native, drought-resistant plants and grasses. It also means installing so-called “smart” irrigation systems that react to real-time weather. Some landscape architects in the region feel the ordinance is just another another unneeded regulation.

Read last week’s industry news roundup: DHS Increases Number of H-2B Visas by 15,000

The post John Deere Turf Care Facility Celebrates 20 Years of Manufacturing: This Week’s Industry News appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Story Of A Landscape: New Materials Bring A Modern Spin To Deck Project

Earthscape pergola and deck

“Sleek” isn’t a word that’s often associated with landscape projects, but in the case of a residential upgrade the Elmira, Ontario-based Earthscape did for a local homeowner that incorporates some cutting-edge materials, the same old descriptive phrases just don’t seem to fit.

Sure, the job features a timber-framed fir pergola and plenty of natural and man-made stone products, but it also utilizes clear acrylic plastic inserts to protect pergola users from the elements, glass railings, a composite deck and perhaps the most unconventional element: a polycarbonate roofing material to let plenty of sunlight in without overheating the space.

Not only did the project win recognition from the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association for a residential project from $100,000-$250,000, but it’s a marked upgrade from what the homeowners originally proposed doing.

Sam Bauman, co-owner of Earthscape and the company’s operations manager, explains the original contact with the owners came because of a project the firm was doing in the neighborhood.

Earthscape pergola

Photo: Earthscape

“At that point, they were interested in having us re-lay an existing interlock patio,” Bauman explains. “We had given them a quote and then never heard a response until the next season, at which point what they wanted had drastically changed.”

Zac Wolochatiuk, Earthscape’s design manager, says at that point, the company looked upon the client’s backyard as pretty much a blank slate. Although the home had an existing deck and a paver patio off to one side, the decision was made to start from scratch with its new design.

As with many clients, these homeowners had recently remodeled their interior and were looking for an outdoor upgrade that would allow them to easily entertain guests and well as provide a pleasant space for the family to relax.

Earthscape outdoor kitchen

Photo: Earthscape

“There was some discussion early on about trying to use some of the existing framing for the deck – which was at the same elevation as the deck we built,” Wolochatiuk says. “But after trying to work with it, we realized it wasn’t built to our standard so we just demolished the entire thing.”

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the project is the deck-based pergola. Both men say in trying to meet the needs of the clients it expanded their own horizons.

Originally, Bauman says Earthscape envisioned a traditionally roofed pergola. However, because it would be against the back of the house, the homeowners were concerned they’d be losing natural light in the adjacent interior rooms. The answer arrived only after the company began digging into less-traditional alternatives.


“We found a polycarbonate roofing, which is plastic with a frosted membrane on it,” Wolochatiuk says. “It allows 90 percent of the light in, but reflects 90 percent of the UV and heat. When you’re under it, even on a hot, sunny day, the temperature feels as if you’re in the shade.

“It really gave us a modern spin on a timber-framed structure.”

As with any roof in an area prone to winter snowfalls, the design did have to be turned over to an engineer to set the final specs in terms of framing and the size and spacing of the beams, however.

Earthscape night tv hot tub

Photo: Earthscape

Frosted plastic inserts for the pergola’s roof and the glass deck railings not only continue with the sleek modern look of the project, but also serve the clients’ desires, Wolochatiuk says.

“They really didn’t want any visual barriers to their backyard,” he says. “The property backs up on a golf course, and it’s a really nice setting. Whether inside the house or sitting on the deck, they wanted to keep those nice views without any obstructions.”

In much the same way, the composite deck provides them with easy convenience with little maintenance, he adds. As a further modern touch, the pergola includes a drop-down projector screen.

Earthscape pergola and deck

Photo: Earthscape

Off the deck and adjacent to the pergola is a lower gathering area. A double-sided glass fireplace from Napoleon at the pergola end of the deck divides the two spaces, but provides a focal area for both.

Not that plastic and glass are the only materials used in the project. The lower area is created with travertine slabs banded with Techo-Bloc’s Borealis wood-look product for contrast.

A curved seating wall also provides an additional space for guests to gather.

The outdoor kitchen, located on the deck but outside the pergola, includes a barbecue grill, sink and refrigerator faced with an Eldorado Stone veneer. The granite countertop for the kitchen island was sourced by the homeowners.

Earthscape grill

Photo: Earthscape

Off the lower seating area is also the clients’ hot tub, which is partially hidden by a wood and glass privacy fence. Jumbo stone steppers with granite pebbles in between them encourage access to the lower part of the lawn, which includes a basketball court.

As part of the approximately $175,000 project, Earthscape also planted low-maintenance garden areas.

The four-week job that involved eight company employees, plus gas, electrical and irrigation subs, was a learning experience for the Earthscape crew, Bauman says.

“Our clients and designers always push us to do things we haven’t done, which is a great thing,” he says. “The roofing material, the frosted glass panels and the topless glass railing were all components we had very little experience with at the time.”

It’s the roofing material that really makes Bauman smile.

Earthscape fire feature and tv

Photo: Earthscape

“We’re glad we went ahead with the polycarbonate material that lets the light through but blocks the UV,” he says. “We’ve been using this material quite a bit since this installation.”

He adds that he’s proud that this project has led the company into more outdoor-living-type projects where they’ve been able to use the same materials and design principals.

Still Bauman says it was tying the timber structure into the house that proved to be the job’s biggest challenge.

“Fortunately, we have great carpenters and engineers,” he says. “Overall, it went quite well.”

The clients agree. Not only are they allowing Earthscape to use the award-winning project as a reference, but there may be more in the offing.

“The family has thought about adding a pool in the back of the property,” Bauman says. “But, we won’t push that!”

The post Story Of A Landscape: New Materials Bring A Modern Spin To Deck Project appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

How To Wire Additional Reverse Lights For Your Plow Truck

How to Properly Wire Additional Reverse Lights

Snowstorms hit at any time of day. Sometimes that means it’s the middle of the night or early morning and completely dark. Being able to see when backing up the truck while pushing snow is crucial. These PlowSite members discuss how to wire on more lights for your plow truck.

DeereFarmer: I’ve done a ton of searches on this topic. It is a very common topic, but I’m a little confused. First, my ’02 GMC has the factory plow prep package and towing package with the 7-round plug. I also have the factory AUX light switch. What I want to do is mount two reverse lights under the bumper for added rear lighting. My windows are tinted from the previous owner, so it’s hard to see to begin with. What is the proper way to add these lights? I don’t really want to wire a switch so they are on when I want. I just need them on when the truck is in reverse. Can I just wire them directly into the stock reverse wires with a relay? Do I wire them into the trailer backup lights on the 7 way? I don’t have any trailers with backup lights. Is there an easy way to add them into the AUX switch? That’d be pretty cool. What would you guys do?

BigLou80: I have the same truck and use my AUX switch for my strobes. Just pull off the side panel behind the driver’s seat and you will find the relay. Sorry I can’t be of too much help on how to wire the backup lights, although I would just find the wire for the trailer and add a relay.

basher: If you use the reverse wire from the trailer towing package, you shouldn’t need a relay unless the lights have a very high amp draw. Look on the driver’s side frame between the cab and bed, there could be an accessory harness there for gooseneck/fifth wheel applications. This is normal for any general 3/4 ton with a tow package. You could splice a longer one onto that with a good crimp fastener. I suggest a low-temp solder-filled heat shrink connector.

Yard5864: I just spliced into the 7-pin trailer connector with two tractor lights under the bumper and it works great with no problems.

Photo: PlowSite member yard5864

basher: The 2002 Chevy will have a U.S. car connector. While it and the plug you show are the same from the trailer side, the U.S. car is a molded two-piece part and has no accessible terminals. But the reverse will go to the center.

ChevKid03: I just put a set on the back of my ’03 2500HD because of the same reason. I have blacked-out windows that are extremely difficult to see out of at night when backing up. I ended up purchasing a set of reverse lights from the local parts store. If you have a test light, you can find the reverse light wire and wire the hot one from the new store-bought lights to this. Then run a ground anywhere on the frame.

B&B: Just a tip here for you guys running hi-amp backup lights. Do not direct-wire lights into the stock reverse light circuit if they draw more than 10 amps max without using a relay. The stock reverse light circuit is not externally relayed in these trucks, and it travels directly through the reverse light switch as well as the body control module – neither of which are designed to handle more than a 10-amp additional load in addition to the stock reverse bulbs on that circuit. Use a relay.

Famouslee99gt: I know you said you didn’t want to hook them up on their own switch, but I did this on my ’99 Z71 and I love it. I like to leave them on when plowing. They are also useful when hooking up trailers or wagons at night, and they’ll stay on when you are in park hooking up the trailer. I personally just like having them on their own switch.

DeereFarmer: B&B, could you give me a quick lesson on relays? What do I need to buy as far as relays go? How do I wire them up? Also, how much harder would it be to run them to a switch? I just don’t want to drill a switch into my dash and run a wire through the firewall all the way back.

B&B: A relay is nothing more than a remotely activated hi-amp toggle switch that can be remotely activated with a low-amp circuit, such as a small toggle switch with a light-gauge wire, or in the case of reverse lights, the factory reverse light switch. Its purpose is to carry the hi-amp load from the power source to the accessory that you want to operate without needing the hi-amp power run through your tripping mechanism (reverse light switch in this case). Relays can be wired dozens of different ways depending on what you’re using them for.

basher: You will be able to find all the wires required to use a relay with in the goose harness. The power supply, the signal and the ground are all there and readily available. Use a diode if you plan to use both a dash switch and shifter to energize them.

mkwl: I did this (no relay) with mine. I guess they draw less than 10A because I’ve had them on there for almost a year with no problems — knock on wood. They are cheap $19 ones, but they work well.

DeereFarmer: OK, so I’ve read a lot on this subject and think I have it down. I’m going with a relay for sure. Let me make sure I have this correct. There are four prongs to a relay. One is a hot lead from the battery, one is a ground (more than likely I’ll run this from the battery as well just to be safe), one is a trigger (in this case probably run from the stock backup light, correct?), and the final one goes to the load (new backup lights). Now, here are a few more questions I have:

  • To power a pair of 55-watt lights do I need two relays or just one?
  • What gauge wire should use?
  • On a standard relay, how can you tell what prong goes to what function? Most relays I’ve seen aren’t marked or anything.

I’m pretty sure I’m ready to tackle this project. I’ve done a lot of trailer wiring and wiring for trailer hitches so I do have some experience on the subject. Just don’t want to screw up my truck. Thanks, guys.

B&B: You’ve got it. A single relay is plenty for two 55-watt lights. Most generic relays will handle 30 amps each. Use 14 gauge for the battery power wire as well as the wires to the lights from the relay. The ground and trigger wires can be much smaller since they carry little current, 18 gauge is more than enough. Make sure to fuse the toggle switch power wire (5 amp is plenty) as well as the power wire to the battery (15 amp will do it). If you look on the underside, most generic relays are marked with the corresponding pin locations.

Cet: I know you said you didn’t want to use a switch, but when I put my lights on my truck I used an on-off-on switch through a relay. I can have them on all the time, every time I put the truck in reverse or not on at all. I didn’t want them on when I didn’t need them, and I also wasn’t sure how much power they were going to use. If my truck started to get low on power, then I wouldn’t use them at all. That’s never happened though.

DeereFarmer: What if I want to go way overboard and wire up four lights? I have two 35W tractor lights for under the bumper and also two 55W CAT lights that I was thinking of maybe mounting on the top of the bumper right under the stock light housings. It might be overkill, but I’m just thinking. Want to get it all planned out before I start tomorrow. Is there a relay out there that can handle 60 amps?

B&B: Just add a second relay if you want and use your toggle (or whatever tripping method your using) to trip them both. Most Bosch-style generic relays like we’re discussing here are 30 amp, some are 40. There are relays that will handle hundreds of amps, but they’re under the solenoid classification like a snow plow under hood solenoid (which is just a large relay) and would be way overkill for your intended application. A single 30-amp relay will actually support over 300 watts, but they tend to melt the wire terminals when running too many wires off each pin on the relay.

Bruce’sEx: I’ve got mine on a switch at the moment, but I’m upgrading to the on-off-on system. I like the idea, and it is more flexible for what I need and when.

Read more on PlowSite: How To Properly Wire Additional Reverse Lights?

Visit for more forums on equipment, business management and technical information. Join the conversation in the largest community of snow and ice business professionals.

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from Mix ID 8230377

Inspiration From Topiaries At Busch Gardens

Flowering Creations

Most people probably go to Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, for the fun rides and games and yummy theme park treats, but during the annual Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association meeting held in the city in May, there was one attraction on the agenda: topiaries. The massive topiaries created by the staff at Busch Gardens take months to complete.

The largest topiary at the park, called “Spirit of Spring,” includes more than 160,000 individual plants and weighs over 34 tons to create the head and hair of a woman. At 18 feet tall, the topiary took two months to complete with a full-time team of 10 employees.

The octopus is made up of 65,000 individual plants that were put in to plugs on the display the size of shot glasses. It took a total of two months to finish this piece.

The post Inspiration From Topiaries At Busch Gardens appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Industry Service A Hallmark Of This Small Ohio Firm

Industry Service a Hallmark of This Small Ohio Firm

John Newlin, CIC, CIT, CLIA, brought many different educational and work experiences to the table in starting his career in the green industry.

However, since making that choice in 1992 and founding Quality Services he’s never looked back. His company, headquartered 25 miles west of Cleveland, is now one of the most respected landscape irrigation companies in northern Ohio.

Newlin was introduced to the green industry when he helped a lifelong friend with installations. He says he enjoyed the work and saw an opportunity to practice many of the skills he had accumulated in his previous work life.

Even so, he realized that beyond his agriculture and mechanical background and expertise, he had many educational gaps to fill if he wanted to own and run a successful irrigation company. (He had attended The Ohio State University ATI, the Agriculture Short Course at Purdue and the Ohio Diesel Technical Institute prior to joining the green industry.)

Newlin credits a discussion with Scott Knowles, president of Wolf Creek Co. Distribution, for setting him on the path he’s now on.

Knowles directed him to Brent Mecham at the Irrigation Association, citing Mecham as a great source for IA’s many educational offerings.

Newlin followed that advice and has since been one of the IA’s (and the industry’s) strongest proponents for training and ongoing education. He maintains an active membership in both the IA, serving as a director, and as the 2017 secretary for the Ohio Irrigation Association.

“In this business education is key – for your employees, your sales, your customers and for management,” Newlin points out. “I’m either always going to some sort of class or school, or I’m reading or attending a webinar.”

Newlin does “almost all of the sales” for his company’s installations, which account for about one-third of its revenue. The other two-thirds are divided pretty equally between irrigation services and lawn fertilization.

The last three years have been incredibly busy for his company with business “almost doubling.”

The owner’s dedication to ongoing education and training resonates with the employees in his small company, from the back-office folks, office manager Diahann Keyser and customer care manager Katy Hargate to lawn health manager Bryant Levis and irrigation manager Brian Lance, CIC, CLT, CIT, EPA Water Sense Partner.

Lance, also active as an educator in the Irrigation Association, has been with Quality Services since 1998.

“Brian’s extensive experience with commercial and residential irrigation systems allows him to come up with a practical, common-sense solution for property managers and homeowners,” shares Newlin.

The post Industry Service A Hallmark Of This Small Ohio Firm appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

TruGreen’s Dominance Remains Unchallenged

How dominant is TruGreen in the U.S. lawn application market? A recent article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal touting the company’s importance to the city lays it out in black and white.

The article is based on an interview with TruGreen president and CEO David Alexander, who was hired as president in late 2012 to turn TruGreen around. The company had been bleeding customers and had lost $5 million in the year previous to his hiring. In 2014, TruGreen was spun out of ServiceMaster to become an independent company.

TruGreen is a giant in the chemical lawn care business. For 2016, it reported sales of $1.4 billion, amounting to 34 percent of the U.S. lawn market. To put TruGreen’s size in perspective, the next largest U.S. lawn care companies reporting sales for 2016 are Weed Man at $148 and Lawn Doctor at $108 million respectively, according to published reports. Using TruGreen’s numbers, the total lawn care market is about $4.1 billion.

Alexander credited TruGreen’s turnaround from 2012 sales of $979 to $1.4 billion in 2016 to several factors, including the adoption of an operating system that took into account the vagaries of weather and other complications unique to a route-based outdoor services company.

Other factors cited for the turnaround of TruGreen’s fortunes include the purchase of a 70 percent stake in Scotts Lawn Care in 2016 (with recorded record sales of $289 million for 2015) and a reinvigorated and reengaged base of 14,000 employees.

From its founding in central Michigan in the mid 1970s, TruGreen has always been regarded as powerful marketing machine. For decades TruGreen relied on telemarketing to drive sales. In June 2003, with the passage of the federal do-not-call registry, it had to shift its marketing efforts. In recent years it has relied on a huge spring dose of television advertising and millions of pieces of direct mail.

This past season, TruGreen devoted about 6 percent of its revenue – more than $80 million – to marketing, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal article.

Organized in 21 regions spread over 48 states, TruGreen services 2.4 million homes and businesses from 250 branches and 50 franchise locations. The company’s operating income grew from $85 million in 2015 to $152 million in 2016, according to the article.

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from Mix ID 8230377

Community Engagement That Builds Loyalty

Good, creative solutions can cut through the clutter and serve as the heart of your brand. When combined with good strategy, they can generate your unique “personality waves” consistently across the necessary channels.

Potential clients are bombarded with commercials and messaging about snow and ice removal, so deploying quality, meaningful, creative marketing solutions as part of print, digital and social campaigns is a must.

There are no better users of these unique marketing tactics in the snow removal arena than Lawns by Yorkshire, Men in Kilts and BOSS Snowplows. Let’s take a look at what makes their marketing solutions so effective.

Think outside of the marketing box for new and engaging ways to get your brand in front of an audience. Lawns By Yorkshire gets brand visibility every time the New Jersey Devils hockey team brings out the Zamboni to resurface the ice.

The Zamboni Zoom

Northern New Jersey-based Lawns By Yorkshire (LBY) has raised its visibility by teaming up with the local professional ice hockey team, the New Jersey Devils. As part of a marketing communications partnership, a specially branded Zamboni with LBY’s logo and advertising message cleans up the ice during timeouts. After every game, LBY gets megahits on its YouTube channel, which features special time-lapse videos of the innovative brand design and wrapping process.

Additional components of LBY’s integrated sports marketing program with the Devils include its branded shovels and ice buckets, public address announcements, and energy-efficient LED ring and center-hung signage.

“Aligning our brand with a master sports brand like the New Jersey Devils, in a world-class real-estate venue like the Prudential Center, is an outstanding opportunity for us,” said LBY CEO Steven Jomides. “We are committed to aligning ourselves with market leaders and we have certainly accomplished that through this relationship.”

Power Push in Plaid

Since the winter of 2014, the popular home maintenance franchise Men in Kilts (MIK) — known originally as window washers — recently stepped off the ladder and onto the icy sidewalks by offering snow-removal services. MIK was started in 2002 by Nicholas Brand, a Scotsman who fashioned a handsewn kilt to increase the visibility of the otherwise unremarkable window washers — and more recently, snow plow crews.

Now, the Vancouver-based company has branches in Boston, Seattle and the Jersey Shore, supplying those markets with kiltwearing snow technicians wielding plows and shovels.

All MIK crew members don the renowned green plaid kilts (with warm wool tights, of course) when out plowing and shoveling.

“In the social media world we live in, MIK is something people love to talk about,” said co-owner Chris Carrier. MIK currently has 10 franchises in Canada and nine in the U.S., with plans to grow to 300 across North America.

Community Building Blogs

Blogging can be used to generate leads and convert them into customers, as well as keep existing customers smiling. The BOSS Snowplow company, based in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, is known in the social media world as the blogosphere’s Triple Crown winner:

  • Some content provides general safety tips for snow plowing after lead capture,
  • Some content dishes up interesting information about BOSS Snowplow products for its customers, and
  • Some content generates warm smiles through its exclusive sponsorship of SnowCare for Troops by Project EverGreen.

SnowCare for Troops, now in its seventh year, has had more than 5,000 military families and 1,500 snow-removal contractor volunteers across the country register to either receive or provide services.

“We’re very grateful for the commitment of our dedicated volunteers and the continued support from BOSS Snowplow,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen.

“The leadership they have demonstrated in support of military families goes above and beyond the call of duty.”

Mark Klossner, director of marketing for BOSS Snowplow, knows that this key marketing partnership with Project EverGreen has positioned his company well within the snow-removal industry. It brands the company as warm and woolly — one that embraces and builds community volunteer services. The Department of Defense presented the Seven Seals Award to the company in recognition of the extraordinary support of its employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.

Visit for more forums on equipment, business management and technical information. Join the conversation in the largest community of snow and ice business professionals.

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4 Landscaping Trends For Summer And Beyond

Brighten Your Bottom Line

Most clients want their landscape to look top notch for the entire summer and into next summer, too. It’s your job to deliver long-lasting, cutting-edge trends for their yard or property. Here are some of the top landscaping trends that homeowners are requesting this summer, according to

1. Sustainability

Our Sustainable Message Goes Beyond the Obvious

Photo: iStock

As the largest trend for outdoor areas, sustainability can be implemented in all aspects of a landscape installation. Interest in incorporating native plants has seen a big increase in the past two years, according to the 2017 Houzz Landscape Trends survey. Landscapers have an ever-growing role in enhancing the environmental benefits in our urban landscapes as well as restoring habitats damaged by industry or commerce back to their natural states, says Ron Hall, editor-at-large of Turf.

Read more: Sustainable Hardscaping

2. Colors

Color It Up!

Photo: iStock

It can be fairly easy to bring color into clients’ landscapes with plants. But understanding how colors work together and how to combine them to their best advantage can make your jobsites shine. Seasonal color beautifies properties. Homeowners and property managers want their properties to look good, and there’s nothing like color in the right places to make their landscapes stand out. Not only can you use plants to bring color, but try to incorporate vibrant colors with containers and in outdoor living elements, such as hardscape colors and textures as well as unique lighting, to help liven up a landscape.

Read more: Introducing Fall Color to Clients’ Landscapes

3. Edible Landscapes

Photo: iStock

Designing an edible landscape is not much different than planning a traditional landscape, except that edibles are substituted for nonedible plants. An edible landscape combines trees that produce fruit or nuts with berry bushes, herbs, vegetables, edible flowers and ornamental plants. Introducing a garden into a client’s yard can be a risky suggestion, especially since, according to, many people are seeking low-maintenance landscaping. Container gardening with edibles can be a unique alternative to a full blown garden.

Read more: Offer These 6 Edible Container Plants

4. Smart LED Lighting

Photo: iStock

Not only does LED lighting bring energy efficiency to a client’s landscape, smart options are also available. According to results from the 2017 U.S. Houzz Landscaping Trends Study, nearly half of homeowners are updating lighting with an outdoor renovation, with 73 percent choosing LEDs. “Smart” lighting can even be controlled with the client’s mobile device or computer.

Read more: LED Lights Up Landscape Lighting

What are the top trends or requests in your area? Let us know in the comments below.

The post 4 Landscaping Trends For Summer And Beyond appeared first on Turf.

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