Saturday, 30 September 2017

Understanding Benefits, Versatility Of Compact Utility Loaders

Good Things Can Come in Small Packages

In the late 1990s, landscape contractors and equipment manufacturers alike identified the need for versatile equipment that could significantly reduce hand labor.

Enter the compact utility loader, which entered the U.S. market in 1995. Many refer to this piece of equipment as the Swiss army knife for the construction and landscape industries because it is multipurpose, utilizing a variety of attachments to tackle a wide range of applications, while also squeezing through a narrow gate.

Currently, there are a number of compact utility loader configurations, including wheeled, tracked, ride-on and walk-behind designs. Though similar in function and versatility, wheeled units are ideally suited for less-challenging terrain. Conversely, tracked models accommodate difficult terrain conditions, such as mud or sand, and can also help to maintain turf integrity.

Photo: Toro

Compact utility loaders versus skid-steers

Because of their versatility and ability to perform some of the same functions as skid-steers in confined areas, compact utility loaders quickly developed the reputation as “mini skid-steers.” Though skid-steers and compact utility loaders share some of these traits, their core strengths and applications are actually quite different. Rather than replacing a skid-steer, a compact utility loader complements it.

Compact utility loaders are designed to utilize hydraulic-powered attachments in confined or sensitive areas. Skid-steers were designed to move soil from point A to point B. By and large, compact utility loaders are used primarily with an attachment other than a bucket. Conversely, the majority of skid-steer activity involves the use of the bucket attachment.

An average skid-steer measures about 65 inches in width, nearly twice the size of a compact utility loader. With widths as narrow as 29.5 inches, compact utility loaders can maneuver through standard gates and door frames and travel and operate in areas where only hand labor could otherwise work. Additionally, ground pressures as low as 3.4 psi enables them to travel across sensitive turf without damaging the surface. This is not the case with skid-steers, which typically present a ground pressure of up to 15 psi, and can cause damage to turf, resulting in costly repair work.

In addition to the maneuverability and low ground pressure, a compact utility loader’s small size also makes transport easier, requiring only a single-axle trailer with up to six attachments included.

Minimizing manual labor, enabling add-on services

In addition to improving crew efficiency by replacing hand labor, compact utility loaders enable small businesses to expand their service offerings from seasonal to year-round with the addition of such attachments as rotary brooms, hydraulic blades and snow throwers. In addition, by adding a compact utility loader to its fleet, a grounds maintenance business can expand into landscape installation with minimal added equipment or labor expenses. Larger businesses with multiple crews benefit from the machine’s ease of operation and ability to perform big machine projects in compact spaces.

Photo: Toro

Intuitive controls

Landscaping operations often have crew members of varying skill and experience levels operating job site equipment. For this reason, ease of operation should be a major factor in selecting a compact utility loader. With a variety of control panel options on the market, the best advice is to choose something that’s well labeled and designed, easy to understand and will offer a comfortable and familiar feel to the operator.

Whether you choose the toggle or T-bar control, you certainly can’t afford to sacrifice safety. An automatic shutoff switch is imperative to any job site equipment — compact utility loaders included. This feature will disengage the machine should the operator release the controls or accidentally lose control, protecting not only the operator but other individuals on the site as well.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in September 2015.

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Friday, 29 September 2017

What Would You Change About Your Business?

What Would You Change If You Could Start Over?

As the common saying goes, “hindsight is 20/20.” Some landscapers shared in a forum on that there are things they would do differently in their business if they had to do it all over again. Here are some of the changes these business owners would have made:

  • I would have started younger and went to school sooner for it.


  • 1. I wouldn’t have hired friends.
    2. I would have been slower to hire and quicker to fire.
    3. I would quit caring about employees issues at home.
    4. I would have gotten into pest control instead of lawn maintenance.
    5. [I would have avoided] lots of small business transactions that turned into disasters or regret, such as selling equipment I should have kept or keeping something I should have sold.
    6. [I would change] not trying harder to become a people person when I was younger.
    —Bunton Guy


  • 1. [Bought a] dump bed on truck from day 1.
    2. Set up Quickbooks and get bookkeeping help.
    3. Hire employees sooner.


  • I would have immediately went after the very high-end market that I am in now first. Screw all those years wasted doing crap work for crap people who didn’t want to pay crap. I lost three years turning my wheels doing that stuff before I got smart.


  • In my opinion, it’s all about the perception of the customer from the first impression. If I were to do it over again, I would get all of my licensing and certifications right at the start for every service I offered before advertising them as options. I would create a professional company image right from the beginning (clean, professional logo, business cards, website listing accreditations, etc.). With those things in place, I believe I could have generated more initial income, steady customer base and allowed for more time to be spent on business development rather than playing catchup with financing routine equipment maintenance, struggling to maintain services/customers and falling back/readjusting all the time.


  • 1. Would not have grown so fast.
    2. Would have done a better job of researching equipment and vehicles before I bought them
    3. Would have stayed smaller — see point number one again!
    4. Relentlessly recruit a good No. 2 employee sooner.
    5. Would have discovered these types of networking opportunities sooner.


  • Hired a CPA from the get go instead of waiting. Screw that extra work.


  • When I first started I was still in high school. So, I started out very small. I would have changed a few things. The biggest things are start your prices off right — do not cut yourself short to start. It will backfire in the long run. I cannot do all the work myself, so I stepped back and hired three full-time mowing guys. I then went to two crews in the middle of last year, and it was the best thing we could have done. My guys were much more efficient and we could take on more work. The business started growing from there. I learned to get rid of any equipment/trucks that cost me an arm and a leg to repair monthly. I learned when your business can afford to buy new equipment it is beneficial to you and your business.


Join the Conversation on LawnSite: If You Had To Do It Over Again

Read more: What Would You Change If You Could Start Over?

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Like A Boss: Making A Move Toward Inbound Marketing

Oasis Turf & Tree

As the chief marketing officer for Oasis Turf & Tree, Adam Zellner has been tasked with advancing the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company’s sales team from a traditional cold calling operation to one that is generating more leads from inbound marketing efforts. The challenge has been to make those changes and move the company in that direction, without losing what made them great in the first place — their ability to make connections with customers and their needs. It has also been a challenge communicating the coming changes with all members of the staff.

The concept behind inbound marketing, which continues to grow in popularity, is to reach customers through helpful content and interactions that have more of a “customer service” flair than the traditional hard sales pitching style that most service businesses have always used. Instead of coming right out and pitching a service, the company might offer advice about that particular service and follow it up with a soft pitch. But that change to the company’s marketing efforts has meant blending old practices with the newly implemented concepts. Cross-training has been a major tool in making a smooth transition.

Zellner admits that it has been a work in process. He says that anyone who has worked with a developed sales team knows that change can be difficult. Patience and repetition are crucial to reaching goals and making it to the finish line.

“Our primary concern is to make sure that as we advance with the times and focus on developing our inbound marketing strategies, that we would still be able to deliver excellent customer service, answer any and all questions and find the right program for our customers,” Zellner says. “While any company will tell you that sales is a primary focus of their company, very few exceed a customer’s expectations at their very first point of contact.”

But that is the goal of Oasis — to start exceeding expectations from that very first point of contact with the customer; a time that was previously used to simply pitch a service. Now it’s being used to show the customer the kind of value that Oasis has to offer. And even if they don’t buy-in right away, the hope is that when a need arises, Oasis will come to the forefront of that customer’s mind.

“In this cross-training of our sales team we’ll be incorporating more of a customer service role,” Zellner says. “The team is able to help with different tasks such as taking over flow customer service calls throughout the day, calling past due accounts and checking in with customers at the end of the season to make sure they had a positive experience and are excited about the upcoming season. All of these things, while little, add up to a one-of-a-kind experience for our customers and that is what Oasis Turf & Tree is all about.”

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: Making A Move Toward Inbound Marketing appeared first on Turf.

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Thursday, 28 September 2017

How Client Feedback Can Catapult You Into Stardom

How Client Feedback Can Catapult You Into Stardom

Your company and its team have a loyal following. In fact, you get constantly reminded of it through emails, handwritten notes, raving reviews and kind words every day. On tough days it’s just the encouragement you need to keep your head up.

There’s only one problem — you’re realizing not enough people know you. Your lawn care or landscape company’s reputation is almost as obscure as a D-List celebrity. Some people may have heard of you, but most of the public has no clue just how wonderful you are. But with the right representation, you could have a crowd of raving fans ready to follow you anywhere you go, even if they’ve not yet done business with you.

One thing I frequently notice is that extremely talented green industry companies do a poor job of utilizing positive client feedback in their marketing. Yet this kind of proof is what prospects need to become your next clients. Saying you’re the best in your advertising doesn’t matter. Prospects need to hear it from your clients. That’s what it takes to become a rockstar.

From proof to popularity

Without a purposeful strategy and process, you’ll remain in obscurity. It’s important that your whole entourage gets on board with your goal and follows the same procedure, whether they are in sales, answering the phone or performing work on a client’s property. This golden feedback is too valuable to squander.

1. Do as many interviews as possible

Sure you’ll get the unsolicited fan mail. But most clients are busy and won’t let you know how they feel about you, even if they’re thrilled. They need a subtle nudge and you need to make it easy for them. You can’t wait for the opportunities to come to you. You’re going to have to take advantage of every chance you get.

Develop simple ways that happy clients can share their thoughts. You can do this a variety of ways, including:

  • Email surveys — keep it short and easy for them
  • Postcards — give a few multiple choice scoring questions and a few lines for a comment
  • Website forms — great to include on the page after a client submits a payment
  • Online reviews — promote these links on social media platforms or email
  • Conversations — ask them questions that get specific, meaningful answers

Whatever means you use, tell your client it only takes a minute and why it’s important. Make it about them, not you. Let them know that what they say matters and that their feedback will help you do an even better job for them in the future.

2. Record it

Don’t let these responses slip through the cracks or get filed away to be forgotten like one-hit wonders.

Whether it’s in a spreadsheet, document or CRM software, it’s essential that all feedback gets logged in one central location and is easily accessed by your team. Store comments in a manner where anyone from your team can look them up by the client’s full name, related service and the city in which the client is located.

3. Promote it

After formalizing a process for getting and recording client feedback, it’s up to you to put it to use in your marketing. The more you can reveal that it’s coming from a real person, the more credible a testimonial will be. When possible, use first and last names, along with the city or town they are located in. You could even ask them for a picture to include. Here are just a few examples of where to use client feedback:

  • Social media posts: Instead of posting an obvious self-promotion of, “We’re having a shrub trimming special now, so contact us!” you can be more subtle by using a client quote. Think how your followers would respond while reading something like this:
    • “Mike and Jim rock! My shrubs look so much better and this would have taken me several weekends to complete!” –Kay Hoober, San Diego, CA
  • Print media: Whether it’s a magazine ad, billboard, direct mail piece or even the back of your company vehicle, imagine a prospect’s reaction when they see a client testimonial reading:
    • “I absolutely love my new patio and outdoor fireplace! It looks like something out of a magazine!” –Adam Christopher, Orlando, FL
  • Websites: There are multiple places on your website that are perfect for displaying client feedback. Testimonials can be contained in a long list on their own page, even with the capability to sort them by service type. Smaller modules of individual testimonials can be added to a footer, sidebar or within the content of a website page or blog article. Picture your prospect reading your website’s page on landscape design, only to see this great testimonial displayed:
    • “I had no clue of what I wanted for my backyard, but you made the design process easy and fun! You asked me the right questions to create a space that is breathtaking and that my family loves using!” –Shaina Miville, Phoenix, AZ
  • In-depth case studies: There are just those clients who have plenty to say and carry a lot of weight. Maybe they just had a huge design/build project completed or they are a well-known commercial property. You could interview them to include multiple quotes within a detailed written case study. Imagine a facilities director at a local college reading an article with quotes from the staff at a rival school.
  • Video: While it’s always good to display written testimonials, you could also use video to tell the story of the process of the project and communicate the depth of your client’s satisfaction. Your prospect is going to be more apt to reach out for a free consultation after watching a captivating project video, featuring recorded answers from a homeowner’s hassle-free experience with your company.

Become a force to be reckoned with

To be a marketing success, creating and recording client feedback takes a long-term strategy. Over the years, you’ll go through seasons of mediocre, vague responses. But give it your best shot and eventually you’ll uncover client quotes that are sure to get stuck in the heads of your prospects. Keep at it and soon people will recognize the familiar tune of your clients singing your praises.

The post How Client Feedback Can Catapult You Into Stardom appeared first on Turf.

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Yale Replacing Grounds Gear With Electric Alternatives: The Week’s Industry News

Yale University mowers

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.

Yale Replacing Grounds Gear with Electric Alternatives
Yale Landscape and Grounds Management is replacing its gas-fueled and diesel-fueled equipment with electrically powered alternatives. The effort will improve air quality, reduce noise pollution, and help Yale in achieving its greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitment, reports Yale has more than 30 backpack blowers, along with a large quantity of augers, handheld blowers, tractor lawn mowers, push lawn mowers, chainsaws, hedge trimmers, string trimmers, leaf vacuums, and sweepers. To help manage its property of over 1000 acres, Yale also hires contractors. Any equipment that Yale replaces for electric will also need to be replaced by the contractors.

John Deere recalls 25,000 lawn tractors for transmission problem
John Deere is recalling 25,000 lawn tractors and service part transmissions due to a crash hazard. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the transmission can fail, which could lead to a crash. No injuries have been reported to date. The recall involves certain model D105 lawn tractors with serial numbers beginning with 1GXD105. The recalled lawn tractors were sold February 2016 through July 2017. The recalled service transmissions were sold by John Deere authorized dealers from March 2016 through Aug. 2017.

UF/IFAS Offers Tips for Trees Damaged by Hurricane Irma
Michael Orfanedes, a commercial horticulture agent at the UF/IFAS Extension Broward County office, said it’s important to get input from a certified arborist before deciding what to do with trees damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Researchers and Extension faculty suggest resetting uprooted palms and trees only after they have been examined for safety and deemed worthy of replanting. For hardwood trees, if a majority of major anchor roots have been fractured, it is unlikely that such trees will successfully reestablish themselves, and they will likely fail in future storms. Uprooted trees and palms in good condition should be replanted as soon as possible and watered frequently. The full list of the tips shared by Orfanedes is online.

Pesticide License CEUs Available at New England GROWS
At New England GROWS attendees learn from the top experts in a broad variety of fields and earn continuing education credit from organizations that include: the National Association of Landscape Professionals, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the International Society of Arboriculture, the Association of Professional Landscape Designers, the Northeast Organic Farming Association, the Snow and Ice Management Association as well as state and regional pesticide licensing boards. Pesticide CEUs are available for the six New England states as well as New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A variety of education seminars, all taught by leading practitioners and approved for pesticide license recertification credit, will be taught at New England GROWS, November 29-December 1.

Ray Rueda, Alejandro Romo Join NHLA Board
The National Hispanic Landscape Alliance announced that Ray Rueda of Nature’s Dream Landscape, Inc., in Pinecrest, Florida and Alejandro Romo of Green and Clean Landscaping in Greensboro, North Carolina, have joined its board of directors for the 2017-2019 term. Also elected to new two-year terms are returning directors Mari Medrano, CoCal Landscaping in Denver, Colorado, Raul Berrios of Rulyscapes, Inc. in Centreville, Virginia; Josh Denison, Denison Landscaping, Inc.; Fort Washington, Maryland; Ivan Giraldo, Clean Scapes Landscaping, Austin, Texas; Rafael Gonzalez Arnau, GALA Services, Inc., Escondido, California; Wilmer Ventura, Yellowstone Landscape, Atlanta, Georgia; and Ken Taylor, John Deere, Cary, North Carolina.

Anuvia Partners with Ferti Technologies, Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply
Anuvia Plant Nutrients announces an agreement with Ferti Technologies, based in Quebec, Canada to market Anuvia’s GreenTRX to its golf and turf customers. The agreement with Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply is to distribute Anuvia’s GreenTRX to its landscape and lawn care customers. GreenTRX is an enhanced-efficiency, multi-nutrient, slow-release specialty fertilizer that delivers fast deep greening to turf. GreenTRX, a unique plant nutrient product provides targeted plant feeding using a novel slow-release mechanism. It delivers plant nutrition when plants need it most — releasing 65 percent of its nutrients in the first two to three weeks and the balance providing feeding for up to eight weeks. It also provides quick deep greening that lasts.

OnTerra Systems Releases Route Planning Software Buying Guide
OnTerra System, the makers of RouteSavvy route planning software, today introduced a new, free route planning software buying guide for managers of small to mid-sized fleets. This new, free buyer’s guide is available for download online. This new route planner buying guide covers the most important information business and non-profit fleet managers need to make the right purchasing decision when shopping for route planning software tools.

Arborjet Welcomes Kevin Brewer to the Team as New England Territory Technical Manager
Arborjet Inc. announced that Kevin Brewer has joined the company as New England Territory Technical Manager. In this role, Brewer will be responsible for identifying and securing new business in the New England territory and maintaining existing accounts with distributors, municipalities, landscape companies, arborists and universities. Prior to his role at Arborjet, Brewer worked as general manager at Kaiser Tree Preservation Co., managing plant health care and the diagnosis and prescription of treatment for trees and shrubs. He is a Certified Arborist and ISA Qualified Tree Risk Assessor.

TruGreen Picks Up Lawn Dawg, Major New England Lawn Care Provider
Lawn Dawg, headquartered here, informed its customers this week that it has been acquired by TruGreen. Lawn care veteran Jim Campanella founded Lawn Dawg in 1997 and had grown it to 10 branches in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New York prior to the sale. Lawn Dawg had more than 100 employees and posted more than $14 million in 2016 revenue. TruGreen is the largest lawn care provider in the world, reporting 2016 revenues of $1.3 billion.

LANDSCAPES 2017 Offers Leadership Session, Account Manager Workshop
The National Association of Landscape Professionals is partnering with industry experts Jeffrey Scott to present Effective CEO/COO (GM) Partnerships: The Power of Collaborative Leadership, on Tuesday, October 17; and Ken Thomas and Ben Gandy of Envisor Consulting, Inc. to present the day-long Account Manager Workshop on Wednesday, October 18 at LANDSCAPES 2017 during the GIE+EXPO.

AMVAC Chemical Corporation Acquiring OHP, Inc.
American Vanguard Corporation’s wholly owned subsidiary AMVAC Chemical Corporation is acquiring OHP, Inc., a provider of technology based pesticide solutions specifically packaged and labeled for greenhouse and nursery production applications. Products are marketed utilizing a network of distribution partners throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. The parties expect that the transaction will close on October 2, 2017.

GIE+EXPO Offers Mobile App for 2017 Trade Show
GIE+EXPO attendees now have access to all things pertaining to the 2017 trade show through the Go EXPO free smartphone app, available now in the iTunes and Google Play stores. The mobile app, sponsored by TurfMutt, provides easy access to event schedules, the floor plan, exhibitor information, show announcements and social media posts. Users can search for exhibitors, locate booths, find and rate education sessions, view social media updates and recieve updates from show management.

Bayer Appoints Mark Schneid to Head of Environmental Science North America
Environmental Science, a business unit of Crop Science, a division of Bayer, today announced that Mark Schneid, former Chief Marketing Officer of the Environmental Science business unit, has been appointed Head of Environmental Science North America. In this new role, Schneid will be responsible for leading the business unit in the United States and Canada with a vision focused squarely on the needs of customers in the markets it serves, including: Turf & Ornamentals, Vegetation Management, Professional Pest Management and Vector Control. In his 15 years at Bayer, Schneid has excelled in several leadership roles, most recently serving as Chief Marketing Officer for the Environmental Science business unit as well as Global Market Manager for the Turf & Ornamentals segment.

Project Evergreen Launches Second Annual Green Space Contestt
Project EverGreen, in partnership with Exmark Manufacturing, the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) and The Foundation for Safer Athletic Fields for Everyone (SAFE), launches its second annual “Our Winning Green Space” contest. The contest runs from Oct. 1 through Dec. 15, 2017. Municipal parks and recreation departments, public works departments and non-profit agencies can enter the contest to have a chance at winning a top-of-the-line Exmark commercial mower package including Lazer Z X-Series zero-turn and Commercial 30 walk-behind mowers – valued at approximately $15,000 – as well as a “Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.” renovation project for their city. Last year’s winner was In Memory of Community Garden and the Warrendale Community Organization in Detroit, Michigan.

Blue Thumb acquires LiquidArt Fountains
Blue Thumb has announced the acquisition of LiquidArt Fountains, a manufacturer of boulder fountains. LiquidArt pioneered the manufacturing of bubbling boulder fountains when it first introduced its products in 2004. Blue Thumb is in the process of moving all production & inventories from LiquidArt to their corporate headquarters in Saginaw, Michigan. The ability to ship LiquidArt fountains together with pond kits, pond-less waterfall kits, and other fountain equipment will provide an overall lower delivered cost for customers and an expedited and efficient ordering process.

LandOpt To Host Landscape Speaker Series This Fall
LandOpt will be hosting a landscaping speaker series called EVOLVE, this fall. Key note speaker Dan Stearns, Professor Emeritus of Landscape Contracting at Penn State University, will introduce components to help the landscape business owner measure preparedness and plan for the future within the framework of milestones, trends, and the current state of the industry. The series is designed exclusively for green industry business owners striving to be leaders in the marketplace and navigate the uncertainty a rapidly changing industry brings. There are three dates available to attend: October 5, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; November 9, Baltimore, Maryland; and December 5, Fairfax, Virginia.

Toyota’s new North American campus gets highest level of LEED certification
Toyota’s newly completed North American campus in Plano, Texas has reached the highest level of LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council months after the Japanese automaker opened the Plano campus. Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz received the sought-after platinum award from the Texas chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. By 2050, Toyota North America, a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corp. hopes to create a net positive impact on the planet through its energy efficiency and sustainability methods, which includes the largest array of solar panels on a corporate campus in Texas. The panels are affixed to the parking garage rooftops on the campus.

Other attributes considered for the LEED certification include: The campus produces up to 33 percent of the daily electric needs of the headquarters. It creates enough energy to power 1,200 average U.S. homes each year. The rooftop design helps manage rainwater, reduces heat and insulates the buildings. The solar panels produce up to 8.79 megawatts of power and is managed by SunPower Corp. Toyota North America has the ability to preserve and resell excess power generation back to the grid. It also uses Texas wind farm renewable energy credits to offset its grid energy. The campus has a cistern water storage with the capacity to hold 400,000 gallons of harvested rain water.

Ruppert Landscape hires David Roles as Frederick, MD Branch Manager
Ruppert Landscape has announced the addition of David Roles as branch manager in the company’s Frederick, Maryland landscape management branch. Roles holds a degree in landscape management from the University of Maryland’s Institute of Applied Agriculture and is a Landscape Industry Certified Technician (CLT) and Maryland Licensed Pesticide Applicator. He has over 20 years of industry experience, having held positions including account manager, operations manager, supervisor, and most recently as branch manager for other leading landscaping companies. As branch manager in Ruppert’s Frederick landscape management branch, he will be responsible for the overall welfare of the branch, including the safety and development of his team, strategic planning and budgeting, training, and day-to-day operations.

SiteOne Landscape Supply Acquires Marshall Stone
SiteOne Landscape Supply, Inc. has announced the acquisition of Marshall Stone. Started in 2006, Marshall Stone has two locations in the greater Greensboro, North Carolina and Roanoke, Virginia markets, and is a leader in the distribution of natural stone and hardscape material.

CLCA Water Management Certification Program Receives National Recognition
The California Landscape Contractors Association’s Water Management Certification Program has received a prestigious “Power of A” Silver Award from the American Society of Association Executives. The national awards, the association industry’s highest honor, recognize a select number of organizations annually for innovative and effective programs that have a positive impact. The Water Management Certification Program, which launched in 2007, is the only performance-based certification program dedicated to saving California’s most precious resource: water. ASAE created the “Power of A” Awards to showcase how associations leverage their unique resources to solve problems, advance industry/professional performance, kickstart innovation and improve world conditions.

Kim Chadwick Joins Central Turf & Irrigation Supply
Central Turf & Irrigation Supply, a North American wholesale distributor of irrigation, landscape, lighting and equipment supplies, has appointed Kim Chadwick Vice President of Operations. Chadwick comes to Central with over 20 years of industry experience with high growth private and public industry companies including McGinnis Farms, John Deere Landscapes and most recently SiteOne Landscape Supply where she was Vice President, Human Resources. Chadwick’s primary focus at Central will be enhancing current processes to support the field in areas including recruiting, onboarding, and talent development.

Read last week’s industry news roundup: CASE Begins Heavy Equipment Operations for Hurricane Harvey Recovery

The post Yale Replacing Grounds Gear With Electric Alternatives: The Week’s Industry News appeared first on Turf.

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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Are You Charging Design/Change Fees?

Are You Charging Design/Change Fees?

Green industry business advisor Jerry Gaeta has consulted on successful estimating for landscape construction and business projects for years. As someone who ran his own landscape, irrigation and landscape maintenance business for 28 years before selling it, he knows the industry inside and out. Here’s what he has to say about charging design and/or change fees.

Do you think a design fee should be charged? Why?
I think it should be charged; it’s something the industry has talked about for years, and it’s a hard thing to sell in certain areas. The reason is to establish a worth of your time — there is no such thing as a free estimate. A lot of people look at the design as a free estimate, so I feel there should be a design fee. I’m hearing in the market in this economy … there’s not enough labor to keep up with the demand, so it’s a great screening tool to have a design fee.

What does a design fee communicate to the client?
The majority of companies in the U.S. don’t charge for design fees. But explain why you set yourself apart — talented staff, been in the business X amount of years, etc. Give them a reason why you’re charging and others aren’t. An architect or lawyer charges a fee — we’re professionals, too, and that is the real difference.

How can the fee be charged or given back to the client as added value?
It can be retained by the contractor, prorated back to the client depending on the size of project, or some rebate it back immediately. My firm used it as a bargaining chip — if [the client] wanted to negotiate on price … we had the option to rebate the fee to them and give it back.

What is a good amount to charge, and what is the fee paying for?
The entire design staff is already an overhead [cost] so it’s put into the marks of the estimate. I believe it needs to be a reasonable amount of money if you’re a design/build firm with an architect on staff. I’ve heard $50 to $75 to $100 an hour, and be upfront about how long it will take, have a design agreement and state what you’re going to do.

How does a design fee protect someone in the landscape design/build industry?
It helps with screening people, especially in spring, who want to get four or five different estimates. The worst thing is when they competitively design because they’re never charging apples to apples. And nowadays clients can copy and scan the design and then shop your plan. The clientele aren’t used to design fees — they don’t like it, but if you’re a good company, you’re selling your expertise, and for us it locked the client in and got rid of the people who aren’t serious.

Do you have any warnings about charging design fees?
The negative is the client would then own the design, and they’re not required to use your company to build it out. So, you have to be careful you don’t become a designer for another company. Draw a schematic that’s vague — that’s hard for the client to shop it around and buy supplies.

What about revisions to a design — when can that be done for free or when should the client be charged?
Change fees depend on how good your designers are and how well they listened to the client. A lot of people don’t listen to the client and go with what they want, so they have to listen to the client. If a change fee is because the designer wouldn’t listen — you wouldn’t feel comfortably ethically to charge. But many companies allow an extra revision or two and after that will start charging. Listen and ask enough questions and get as close as you can to what they want. If you’re going back two or three times, you’re either not listening or giving clients too many options. Clients can go online now and see too many options. So, I believe it’s our job to steer them with minimum plant options and get to that point. Don’t give them 55 different colors; maybe give them two choices.

What’s your final word on charging design fees?
People have stepped away from design fees in past years, but now that the demand is there, they’re very busy, so this a great way to screen. It scares a lot of people, and I also feel it forces your designer to commit, and you’re going to go in and offer a design and set up a return visit to present the design and price it.

I would recommend that anyone does it, spring and fall when you’re busy, the designer has the option to charge. But there’s always an option not to charge — in summer when work slows down it can be relaxed. So, it’s not set in stone; base it on your workload. And don’t get discouraged: Start at a lower price, and if you’re not confident, then you can bend it back.

Every contractor needs to do two things right now based on lack of employees and volume of work: Charge a design fee to screen clients and raise your price. Especially if you’re slammed and booked out, think about incrementally creeping it up — we never know where the market is; we’re always told we’re too cheap and too expensive. So, you have to test it.

The post Are You Charging Design/Change Fees? appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Story Of A Landscape: Project Takes On Runoff And Wins

A good landscape is both practical and beautiful, and the design/build Falling Waters Landscape, Inc., did for a residence on Leora Lane in the Encinitas beach community of Leucadia offers both — in spades.

The project’s marriage of redwood, concrete and steel provides the good looks and is probably responsible for the fact that it was honored with the 2016 Sweepstakes Award from the California Landscape Contractors Association San Diego chapter.

However, it’s practicality is no doubt the reason behind its selection for the WaterSmart Landscape Construction (large) award sponsored by the San Diego County Water Authority. Designer Ryan Prange believes a big part of the technology behind the award is the way he chose to deal with the distinctly unglamorous issue of runoff.

Photo: Falling Waters Landscape

Or, as he says, “A lot of people get hung up on drought-tolerant plants and smart irrigation techniques. That’s important, but the bigger issue is the runoff and what’s happening with pollution.”

Prange’s not even sure how the clients chose Falling Waters. However, when he met with them, they were looking for many of the things most clients want. Heading the list was a place for their young children to play. Other items on their wish list included a place to entertain and eat, an in-ground spa-type tub, and space from which to enjoy an ocean view.

“They were very easy clients in that they didn’t have super high demands, other than a place for their kids to play,” he says. “They had just recently done a remodel to the back of the house, and they wanted a landscape that mimics and complements that.”

Photo: Falling Waters Landscape

He adds that there was plenty of space in which to work — he estimates about 5,000 square feet. And, the area needed a lot of help.

“It was mostly tumbleweeds,” Prange says. “They had a little bit of concrete off the back sliders, which was required for them to finish their building permit. There wasn’t even a fence.”

It’s probably not surprising that the job took almost five months to complete, with anywhere from five to 10 men onsite most days.

An important early component of the job was what Prange calls, “a decent amount of grading.” He explains that there’s a gentle slope from the house toward the backyard fence and the grading was done mainly to create the raised deck while keeping the elevations in line with the adjacent lots.

Photo: Falling Waters Landscape

“To engage the upper deck area, we sort of drew a straight line from the deck to the fence line,” Prange explains. “There’s a somewhat deceptive elevation change so that when you’re on the deck you have a nice view of the ocean. If everything had been at ground level, you couldn’t really take advantage of that.”

The area off the back of the house is really in three levels, with the walkout area approximately 300 square feet of redwood decking. Down a couple steps is the outdoor entertainment area, with a galley style barbecue and countertop. The spa is also built up from that level so the top is even with the redwood deck.

Off the dining area and down a couple more steps is another seating area with seating wall and concrete fire pit.

Photo: Falling Waters Landscape

“The kitchen area is really just a grill head with some storage,” Prange says. “They didn’t want a full kitchen with a refrigerator and side burners. What we did give them is an elongated countertop so when they’re entertaining they have plenty of space to put things. It’s almost like a buffet area, and we do that on most of our jobs.”

Covering the kitchen area is an overhead steel structure with four steel posts supporting a wooden frame. Within that frame are steel louvres that are set at an angle to provide the maximum amount of sun protection on the west-facing site.

Photo: Falling Waters Landscape

It’s that feature that makes Prange smile when thinking about the project, but he adds it was also the greatest challenge on the job. The problem: initially the design was over-engineered, and he had to make changes to it and alter some of the connections to make it work from a cost standpoint.

“Even though it was a pain, I love the scale and how it fits on the project,” he says. “Everything works very well, it complements the space very well and it accomplishes exactly what we set out to accomplish with it.”

Photo: Falling Waters Landscape

The area is also fully lighted, with many of the lights being flush-mounted to hide them during the day while providing the proper illumination at night.

Off the opposite side of the redwood deck are stairs leading to the children’s play area: approximately 1,500 square feet of UC Verde buffalo grass. Prange says he asked if the clients were willing to go out on a limb and try the grass rather than installing a conventional lawn, and while it wasn’t a tough sell, it did take some convincing.

Photo: Falling Waters Landscape

“It was the largest installation of buffalo grass we had done to that time,” Prange says. “It’s planted in 2” plugs and fills in slowly, but it only needs a tenth of the water a regular fescue lawn does, and you mow it as you wish. If you have kids or a dog playing on it, it’s also pretty hardy.”

The remainder of the landscape is planted in a mix of mostly California natives and what Prange calls “naturalized native species” including some grasses and succulents.

Photo: Falling Waters Landscape

“We kept a stand of yucca in the corner near the fire pit because they were established and nice,” he says. “We just cleaned them up. The yard was good-enough sized that we could use some things that normally we wouldn’t use on a smaller residential lot because they’d get too big.”

Irrigation is on an automatic system and most of it is drip, with the lawn area on MP Rotator Sprinkler Stream Nozzles. The entire area is fenced with western red cedar set horizontally on galvanized steel posts painted black.

Photo: Falling Waters Landscape

And, then there’s the matter of runoff. Prange says Encinitas has a lot of requirements on how water leaves a property, and property owners are required to capture runoff from any hardscape and roof areas.

“What we’ve done is a bmp (best management practice) where the water spills into an area that’s filled with varying grades of gravel and engineered soil,” he says. “The idea is that as it goes down in there it percolates and infiltrates back into the soil. And, if by some miracle the bmp would overflow, there’s an overflow drain that leads down to a city installed storm drain.”

Photo: Falling Waters Landscape

Prange adds it’s an approach that cities along the Pacific have been slow to adopt. In Encinitas, the system installed by Falling Waters has become something of a standard, which leaves the designer feeling particularly proud.

“We were told by the inspectors that it was one of the best they’d seen, and they’ve started taking pictures of it and showing it to other contractors as a standard,” he says. “It works, and now we do something like it on most of our jobs.

“This was a really fun project and we’re proud of it.”

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from Mix ID 8230377

How To Handle Client Schedules

How To Handle Client Schedules

Keeping a good route and schedule is a main part of having an efficient and successful lawn mowing business. What happens when you finish a property early? Do you visit properties that you would typically mow the next day and finish them ahead of schedule? This LawnSite member lost a customer after adjusting his route schedule without giving any notice. How should he handle making schedule adjustments in the future?

Florida.: When you run your routes, if you’re moving fast, do you add any from tomorrow’s routes onto the list? After buying out another company’s accounts, my schedule went super chaotic. I was in the same neighborhoods daily, it was very expensive and not productive. I reorganized everything and made a route from south up north with different zones. It’s very efficient, and we are getting houses done a lot faster and more completed daily due to the tight routes. So, I started pushing houses from the next day onto the current day’s work, and I got fired for being early at one house. Do any of you work like this? Or do you all say, “Monday is your only day. I’ll be here every Monday and that’s it?” I’m really enjoying my new system; as soon as the list is done we start it over.

Todd73: Nope. If I’m scheduled on Wednesday, I don’t show up Tuesday. I show up on my scheduled day unless I have already communicated the schedule change in advance. I expect my customers to have the yards ready to mow on their scheduled day: dog crap cleaned up, fences unlocked, hoses put away, etc. If I show up early, how can they do that? What if they’ve scheduled a party or cookout and I just show up? Or they’re out of town and are having someone unlock the gate, but I show up a day early? I can go on and on, but the point is, I stick to the scheduled day.

knox gsl: I try to stick to a schedule and not go earlier just to not deal with irrigation.

wbw: We only vary at holidays. If you want to change, communication is the key. Also, I would try to change my existing customers and not the new ones.

TPendagast: No one is promised a specific day. That’s ridiculous. I haven’t missed mowing someone in the same week in 16 years. But a day late or day early. My flexibility of routing and management is part of the price. The less flexible I can be, the higher the price.

GRANTSKI: Well, you mention Monday, is that just an example? Because almost no one wants mowing that early in the week. Most people pay to have their lawn mowed so they can enjoy their weekend and their only day or two off in their yard. Only people that get Monday or Tuesday on my route are homes that are for sale. Monday and Tuesday are all commercial. All of my commercial contracts I write say: Approximately every seven days depending on weather and grass conditions. I try and do the same day each week for residential, but nobody is guaranteed a specific day of week. I don’t have written contracts with residential but they are told the same thing. Approximately every seven days depending on conditions.

oqueoque: We also provide a day when they would normally be mowed and tell the customers that we may come one day earlier if a lot of rain is predicted late in the week to avoid cutting soaked lawns if at all possible. How can you promise a day, if on that day it pours all day long? We also work four 10-hour days, which provides flexibility. We never cut on Monday. Monday and/or Tuesday is used for mulch, pruning, installs, etc. The problem with leaving Friday for mowing is what if it rains Thursday or Friday? Then you’re automatically into Saturday. We have a residential route on Thursday. If it rains Monday-Thursday, they get done on Friday and they don’t mind. They prefer Thursday. And my crews prefer to have Saturday and Sunday off.

North Idaho Dream: All I have say is, “Inconsistency is the breeding ground for confusion.” The only time we are behind a day is because of rain. Any “special” request will be considered and priced accordingly if it is out of the way.

Grant11: Customers that need special accommodations are not worth having. You will not make money mowing grass until you realize that.

S-205: I agree, you can’t allow customers to put too many restrictions on your business. Of course, there will be some. Our Monday cuts are commercial, and the low-end residential that don’t pay enough to have a say. Tuesday is more commercial and small residential. Thursday is a picky condo complex that requested that day because their garbage pickup is earlier in the week and it suits them. It kind of sucks for us and is out of the way but we do it because they pay. Then we do six large, high-end residential properties that also pay enough that we will do whatever they want on whatever day they want it. Money and loyalty rules the show – for us anyway. Good customers who we have a relationship with, and who pay constantly, and those that pay well, are the ones that you should be tailoring to.

Grassmonkey0311: We try to stick to the schedule and not jump ahead. I can see why customers could potentially be upset – that’s why we don’t do it. There is, of course, breakdowns, employees, Mother Nature, etc. Our customers know if they usually see us Monday, but don’t on a certain week, that we will most likely be there Tuesday.

rippinryno: A customer likely will think that you’re trying to get more cuts in than agreed upon. If they’re paying per cut, they don’t want more than weekly or whatever is designated.

Skol: In this business, there are a lot of variables that can change a schedule (for better, or worse). I might come a day early on a property if the weather is going to be a factor the following day. I’ve come to know that most of my clients actually appreciate you trying to fit them in before the rain. I’ve had a couple people think I’m trying to get more money out of them, but if you return to the regularly scheduled day the next week, there is no financial benefit to the business.

Kemco: When we schedule ours, we tell them it may be a day before or a day after, however we try to aim for their specified day. We have a few that tell us due to dogs having to be in the house all day, etc., we will prioritize those.

La Chandler: I suppose a fixed service day depends on how you and the customer agree on your objectives. Are you a mowing service or a property manager? If you are a property manager (say for a church or cemetery) your job is to maintain the property within agreed upon standards. So, the day of service is both irrelevant and meaningless. A mowing service is a different animal.

Dawson: I’m very schedule-oriented. I do the same yards on the same day in the same order every week if at all possible. When I pick up a new yard, one of the most common reasons I hear for them firing the old service is inconsistent cut days. Not so much time of day, but a lot of people want to know what day you’re going to be there each week. I do good work, not the best work, but I’m always there when I say I will be. And that’s as important to many people as the quality of the work.

The post How To Handle Client Schedules appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Complexities Of Forecasting The Upcoming Winter

Major Storms and What's Next

If making an accurate 10-day forecast has become more difficult, think of the complexities of forecasting how the entire winter season might play out, months in advance. But this type of long-range forecasting — which doesn’t try to predict the dates of specific storms, but looks more at general weather patterns — is essential when it comes to planning and budgeting for winter snow and ice management operations.

“We ordinarily start thinking about snow in the last week of July,” says Ken Elliott, meteorologist and IT coordinator with WeatherWorks, a Hackettstown, New Jersey-based meteorological firm that provides services to clients in the snow and ice management industry. It usually takes that long to reach the point when until El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) weather patterns are established enough to have a sense of how the winter might play out in different parts of the country.

This type of long-range forecast is based on which pattern is developing (either warming with El Niño, cooling with La Niña, or neutral), where the forecasters think things will go and historical data for the winter weather that has resulted when these patterns were present in prior years.

Elliott says that a preliminary weather-pattern analysis, performed by James Sullivan and Cody Hewitt at WeatherWorks in early July, indicates a neutral phase of ENSO this winter — neither El Niño or La Niña.

“It more than likely will be what we call a ‘warm neutral’ season,” he explains. “Since El Niño is represented by warm waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, it’s likely that the waters will be a bit warmer than average, but not enough so to be classified as an El Niño.”

From a long-range forecasting perspective, a neutral pattern like this is the most difficult scenario, Elliott says; things are a little easier to predict when there’s a pronounced El Niño or La Niña pattern. “Unfortunately, this overall neutrality means other forecast factors, which are harder to forecast at long lead times, will probably have greater-than-normal influences this winter,” he says.

Still, the WeatherWorks team analyzed data from six prior years that had this same scenario and was able to identify some patterns in how the winters played out in those years. “Some are obviously better fits than others, but it’s a starting point,” Elliott says. Some of the trends from those past winters are:

  • The eastern U.S. was seasonable to mild early on, with a much colder pattern for February and March.
  • The central U.S. experienced conditions similar to the eastern U.S., but the transition to colder/snowier weather seems to have occurred a bit sooner.
  • The western U.S. was more changeable, with occasional cold periods, especially during December, January and March.
  • Despite some variability (one or two of these six years saw lean snowfall), the overall pattern was for average to above-normal snowfall distribution for a good portion of the country.

And just as a fun, shot-in-the-dark prediction, WeatherWorks says there is a small — but not insignificant — chance that the Southern Plains region could be in for a snowy winter.

With such generalized patterns, it’s impossible to say exactly how much snow any given area will receive this winter. “A single winter storm can throw off the entire winter’s forecast,” Elliott warns. That having been said, Brian Clavier and the team at WeatherWorks assembled data from 15 cities across the U.S. and determined their average snowfalls in the six seasons that seem comparable to our current weather patterns.

“We took that a bit further and created a weighted average, giving a bit more credence to the winters we felt had the best chance to look like 2017/18,” Elliott explains.

In general, Elliott says average snowfalls in the U.S. have been ticking up, and that is a trend that he expects to continue. In many cases, that is due to larger storm events and other anomalies (such as storms in places that don’t often get snow, for example). It’s just another challenge for weather forecasters to contend with.

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

Fall Fertilization: One Size Does Not Fit All


Like politics, all lawn care in America is local — well, let’s make that regional. But you get the point. Consider the differences in turfgrass growing conditions from Cleveland to Miami to Oklahoma City. Each region is markedly different in seasonal temperatures, precipitation levels, soil types and the dominant turfgrass species most suited to their unique conditions.

In other words, when it comes to fall fertilization, one size does not fit all. Lawn fertility regimes that benefit turfgrass in one region are wasteful and may even harm lawns in another. Also, soils in different regions of the country (even soils within a single region or market) may differ in terms of soil pH and plant-available nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium.

Don’t guess. If you don’t know what’s in the soil, how can you accurately prescribe a fertility program that’s most beneficial to the turfgrass it supports? When in doubt rely on soil tests to show you the way, especially for new or struggling properties coming under your care. Personnel at your county extension office can help you with advice and soil tests. In many cases their services are free.

Read more: Understanding a Soil Test Analysis Report

Now’s the time to fertilize

Let’s start with the birthplace of modern lawn care, the Northeast and Midwest where cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue dominate residential and commercial properties.

If you can only fertilize these cool-season grasses once a year, do it in September. Turfgrass is recovering from July and August’s high soil temperatures and it’s beginning to store carbohydrate reserves, which help it to resist winter injury and disease, and serve as a source of energy for root and shoot growth the following spring.

Many professional application companies offer two late-season fertilizations. They apply one pound of quick-release nitrogen in late summer or early September and another application of N in late October or November. The mid- to late-fall application delivers better winter color, enhances spring green up and increases plant rooting.

Research at The Ohio State University has shown that root growth of cool-season turfgrass species occurs during the fall after shoot growth has slowed or ceased. This is because roots grow quite well when soil temperatures are between 40 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit, while shoot growth favors temperatures in the 60-75 F degree range. Some root growth will continue as long as the soil remains unfrozen, that research showed.

Look before you treat

Heed the following caveats when making fall applications of fertilizers. If the turfgrass is obviously not growing and likely dead, don’t waste your fall fertilizer. It’s not going to bring the grass back to health. Reseed or sod instead.

Also, don’t apply fertilizer just before you are expecting heavy rains or when the ground is frozen (either in the winter or early spring). Again, you will be wasting money. While most fertilizers require water to infiltrate the soil, a heavy rain can wash away the fertilizer before it enters the soil. When the ground is frozen, granular or liquid fertilizers cannot permeate the soil. Fertilizer will find its way into storm drains or other waterways adding nitrogen and potassium to the water. This can lead to algae blooms and have other negative affects.

Finally, you may encounter lawns with large shady areas where one of several varieties of fine fescue predominates. There are many different cultivars of fescues. You can cut back on the amount of nitrogen fescues receive to perhaps half of what you use on Kentucky bluegrass. Applying no more than 0.50 pound of nitrogen in mid fall is recommended for fine fescues.

Transition zone blues

Maintaining green, lush lawns in the so-called transition zone is a bigger challenge than it is in climates farther north and south. The zone extends through the central part of the country – from northern Maryland westward through the Ohio Valley to Kansas and the Texas Panhandle with its southern boundary dissecting Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. This region of the country is cold enough in the winter to make it difficult to maintain warm-season species and warm enough in the summer to severely stress cool-season species. No one species is well adapted in this region.

Cool-season species such as bluegrass, fescues and ryegrasses are common in the northern half of the zone, so you can, making adjustments for local conditions, fertilize these lawns as previously suggested.

Tall fescue in particular is common on any residential and commercial properties in the transition zone. Fescues require a medium-level of nitrogen fertility per growing month, but generally respond well to applications of one pound of nitrogen in both September and again in November.

Fertilize only during growth

Warm-season grasses such as bermudagrass, buffalograss and zoysiagrass are found in the more southerly parts of this region.

Bermudagrass is the most common lawn grass in many regions of the Mid-South. It is popular because it is durable and recovers rapidly from wear. Fertilize bermudagrass when it is actively growing from May through August, although applying no more than 0.50 pound N per 1,000 square feet in September four to six months before the first expected frost is beneficial, as well, suggests University of Arkansas extension.

Zoysiagrass grows by both stolons and rhizomes. It goes dormant with the first frost. Do not apply nitrogen to zoysiagrass after the end of August, advises Clemson cooperative extension. By contrast, says that while fertilizer requirements are generally lower for zoysia than many other lawn grasses, they do benefit from a fall application.

Fertilize buffalograss in summer when it is actively growing, one to two pounds annually, suggests Kansas State University. Do not fertilize it in the fall or spring when it is dormant. The grass will not respond and you will be wasting fertilizer.

Centipedegrass is another warm-season grass found on lawns in the South. Like buffalograss it does not require very much fertilizer — one to two pounds N annually while it is actively growing, starting with a half-pound in the spring, reports Clemson extension.

Timing always matters

We come to Florida and the warm coastal regions of the Southeast and Texas where St. Augustine lawns grace residential and commercial properties. Fall fertilization gets tricky depending upon where the St. Augustine lawns are.  Winters in north Florida and other more northerly regions where the grass grows are much colder than south Florida and coastal far southeast Texas that typically have near-tropical winters. Consequently, timing the last fertilization of the season while the grass is still actively growing and before it goes dormant depends on local conditions.

Finally, Florida law prohibits applying more than one pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet for any application. Also, many local and regional jurisdictions in the state have strict rules about when and how much fertilizer can be applied to turfgrass. Follow the rules.

America is a land of incredible diversity in terms of geography and climate. Consequently, many different species of turfgrass, each adapted to a particular region, require our care. When it comes to lawn fertilization, and fall fertilization in particular, one size does not fit all.

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from Mix ID 8230377

Monday, 25 September 2017

5 Landscape Trends For Fall 2017

Fall landscaping

Fall is officially in full swing – regardless of what the weather feels like. This fall season has been warmer than usual for most parts of the country meaning that homeowners will be spending more time outside enjoying their landscapes. Looking to extend their summer entertaining season, homeowners will look for an adaptable landscape no matter the weather. The National Association of Landscape Professionals says your clients will be interested in the following trends this fall.

1. Fire Features

Hardscape Fireplace and Pizza Oven, Colorado

PHOTO: Lindgren Landscape & Irrigation Inc.

Fall is the most popular time for clients to request fire features, like outdoor fire pits, fireplaces and fire tables, according to the NALP. Many current fire features can be controlled remotely by smartphones, or programmed to turn on or off at specific times. They help bring ambience and warmth to your client’s outdoor living area.

2. Fall Plants

Falling for Color


Chrysanthemums, boxwood and maples are hallmarks of fall landscapes, according to the NALP. Some of those classic plants have been engineered to be more hardy, longer lasting and require less water. This fall, try arranging the classic fall and winter plants in a modern style with contemporary groupings, clean lines and simple sophistication.

3. Landscape Lighting

Fireplace lighting

Photo: Brian Larsen, County Wide Landscapeing

More landscape designs are incorporating lighting so the outdoor areas can be enjoyed safely at any time of day. “Proper landscape lighting is especially important during the shorter fall and winter days, ensuring outdoor play areas are well-lit and walkways are easily accessible through the evening and nighttime hours,” the NALP says.

4. Unique Hardscape Materials

porcelain pavers

Photo: Belgard

More durable, low-maintenance materials, such as porcelain tiles for patios, decks and walkways, are rising in popularity. They mimic the look of real wood and natural stone, but have less maintenance, don’t cause splinters and are less likely to wear out over time or be damaged from weather. Also on trend: faux finishes and materials on outdoor furniture, such as synthetics that look like real leather.

5. Interiorscapes

Living wall

Photo: iStock

Indoor landscapes, known as interiorscapes, become more popular in the fall and winter as temperatures drop and homeowners begin to spend more time indoors. Living walls and container gardens help bring the outdoors in and can even create dramatic focal points as living decorations.

The post 5 Landscape Trends For Fall 2017 appeared first on Turf.

from Mix ID 8230377

2017 Product Roundup: Aeration And Overseeding Equipment

Billy Goat
OS 901
The OS 901 self-propelled hydrostatic overseeder features forward and reverse operator controls. The blade design reduces thatch and improves blade life due to its sharpened leading edge, attack angle and height adjustment for more blade depth. The unit is 22 inches wide with an 11-blade slicing reel and comes standard with a 30-pound seed box.
Graham Spray Equipment
GSE Trident
Our coring-type hand aerator is constructed from rugged steel and includes a foam handle for extra comfort. The GSE Trident aerator gets into those tight spots where a full-sized aerator can’t go. Its three prongs penetrate even dense, heavily compacted soil, removing 3- to 4-inch plugs and letting air, water and nutrients travel deep down to the roots.

The GA-24 aerator features a 9-horsepower Briggs & Stratton Vanguard engine. The unit has four tine sizes for varying soil conditions. The light weight and maneuverability allows for tight turns without causing turf damage. It creates a 2-inch-by-2-inch aeration pattern.
LT Rich Products
The redesigned Z-Plug stand-on, zero-turn aerator has improved ergonomics and a shorter wheelbase designed to provide better maneuverability. The commercial V-Twin engine now has easier access to its components for maintenance and repair. The machine has a maximum ground speed of 8 mph and can aerate over 100,000 square feet per hour.

The 1275 overseeder from Redexim buries the seed up to 0.78 inches into the ground. The close spacing results in a quicker fill time and eliminates waste with the accurate seeding system. The machine can be pulled with a utility vehicle.
Lawnaire ZTS
The new Lawnaire ZTS stand-on aerator can cover 2.25 acres per hours at speeds up to 7 mph. The machine features a shock-absorbing platform, a rapid hydraulic tine lift, an automatic chain-tensioning system and hassle-free access panels. It produces consistent aeration depth from 2 to 5 inches in half-inch increments.

The 30-inch stand-on aerator from Toro features ground speeds up to 7.5 mph and the ability to adjust plug length on the go. The floating operator platform isolates vibrations, reducing operator fatigue, according to the company.
TurnAer XT8
The new TurnAer XT8 stand-on aerator has speeds up to 7 mph and can cover 92,000 square feet per hour. The unit has raised ground clearance and zero-turn agility. The patent-pending Auto-Depth Control allows operators to set a tine depth for consistency.



Have a new product? Submit entries using our Product Form for Turf, Turf Design Build and PLOW, a supplement to Turf.

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from Mix ID 8230377

Acoustics Of Red Rocks Park

Red Rocks Park

Red Rocks Park with its very large red sandstone outcrops, has been an inspiration in Colorado since the early 1900s.

This mountain park in Jefferson County, Colorado, is owned and maintained by the city of Denver as part of the Denver Mountain Parks system. The red sandstone found throughout Red Rocks Park is geologically identified as belonging to the Fountain Formation, which means these rocks are considered to be between 290 and 296 million years old. The rock formations at Red Rocks even have names — from the mushroom-shaped Seat of Pluto to the inclined Cave of the Seven Ladders to the most visited rocks around the amphitheater, which are Creation Rock to the north, Ship Rock to the south and State Rock to the east.

Within the park boundaries is the Red Rocks Amphitheater, a world famous and award-winning venue for hosting concerts and events that’s a favorite among many performers because of its near-perfect acoustic surroundings. In fact, after being awarded Pollstar magazine’s Best Small Outdoor Venue 11 years in a row, the magazine named the award after the venue, taking it out of the running.


And, this year, the park and amphitheater are adding to their status after being named a national historic landmark, along with Mount Morrison Civilian Conservation Corps Camp, the spot where workers stayed while they built the park’s famed amphitheater in the 1930s.

“The outstanding architecture and landscape architecture of Red Rocks Park and Mount Morrison Civilian Conservation Corps Camp illustrate the principles and practices of New Deal-era naturalistic park design and master planning in a metropolitan park, as well as the use of Civilian Conservation Corps labor to develop such a park,” the National Park Service said in a news release.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper agrees. Red Rocks is “renowned as the only naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world, and the diverse landscape attracts thousands of outdoor enthusiasts and even dinosaur fans,” he says. “The Mount Morrison CCC camp is another historical treasure in the park, and one of the few surviving camps in the nation.”

Red Rocks is the 25th national historic landmark in Colorado.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in September 2015.

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from Mix ID 8230377

Green Spaces Make Memorable Cities

New York Central Park

Have you visited New York City? What about this bustling city stands out to you? What about Washington, D.C.? What’s the No. 1 thing that comes to mind when you think about your visit to the nation’s capitol? How about San Francisco? What is your fondest memory of this West Coast hub?

I’m going to bet that some of your most memorable and meaningful experiences in these iconic major metropolitan areas revolve around the outdoors. Think Central Park in New York City, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, or the cherry blossoms blooming in Washington, D.C.

Studies consistently show people tend to live healthier and happier lives in areas where they have access to nature, particularly urban areas that dedicate land to green spaces.

And the more space devoted to nature a city has, the more memorable that place becomes for residents and visitors.

Washington, D.C., devotes one-fifth of its land to parks. Green spaces account for almost 18 percent of San Francisco. In fact, the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department spends $140 per each of its more than 800,000 residents on the park system. The money certainly goes to good use with nearly all of the residents being within a 10-minute walk to a park. And New York City boasts more than 38,000 square acres of park, which accounts for almost 20 percent of the city area.

I’ve been to all three of these major metropolitan cities more than once. And I can tell you I have very clear memories of strolling through Central Park, watching the fog hang low over the Golden Gate Bridge and enjoying the gorgeous cherry blossoms blooming around the Tidal Basin and welcoming spring in D.C.

Recent high-profile projects like Millennium Park have captured public attention for the landscape architects designing them. Since outdoor spaces are some of the least expensive to create, paying some of the highest returns on investment, and more people are returning to urban areas, continuing to invest in these green spaces makes sense.

“Landscape architects understand the natural environment, the built environment and the interface between them,” explains Kirt Martin, vice president of design and marketing at Landscape Forms. “And they are ideally prepared to take leadership in shaping outdoor spaces and framing public awareness about them.”

But buildings and their interiors continue to receive much more attention and financial support than their exteriors. “We have not made a strong business case for designed outdoor spaces,” Martin says. “I believe the design and innovation in public and privately owned outdoor spaces is lagging• — and the first step to address that challenge is to better leverage the skills and talents of landscape architects, the professionals best prepared to design them.”

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in September 2015.

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