The Quick, Easy Guide to Build a Bat House

When bats are brought up in conversation, most people’s immediate thought is Halloween. The spooky holiday may give these creatures a scary rap when actually they are very beneficial to your commercial landscape property. These furry, flying, nocturnal animals are not only known for being pollinators, they also are great for pest management.

The United States has over 40 species of bats and every one of those is helpful to your property. Bats are amazing for pollination; in fact, they pollinate over 500 species of flowers. In addition to that, they are some of nature’s best form of pest control. Bats are known to consume anywhere from 100 to 600 bugs per hour, which can lead to a decrease in pesticide use and save you money.

To attract these bats to your commercial landscape property one of the best ways is to build a bat house. A bat house simulates their natural habit and encourages a bat to roost on your property. Below are the materials and steps to take to construct a bat house as recommended by hobbyfarms.com:

Materials
  • 26½- by 24-inch piece 1/2-inch AC, BC or T1-11 outdoor-grade plywood (backboard)
  • 5- by 24-inch piece 1/2-inch AC, BC or T1-11 outdoor-grade plywood (landing area)
  • 16½- by 24-inch piece 1/2-inch AC, BC or T1-11 outdoor-grade plywood (front board)
  • 1-pint dark, water-based stain, exterior grade
  • 1 1×2 pine furring strip in 24-inch length
  • 2 1×2 pine furring strips in 20½-inch lengths
  • 1 tube of paintable latex caulk
  • 20 to 30 1-inch exterior-grade screws
  • 1-pint water-based primer, exterior grade
  • 1 quart flat, water-based paint or stain, exterior grade
  • 1×4 board in 28-inch length (optional, but highly recommended for roof)
  • black asphalt shingles or galvanized metal (optional)
  • 6 to 10 7/8-inch roofing nails (if using shingles or metal roofing)
Steps
  1. Roughen inside of backboard and landing area by cutting horizontal grooves with a sharp object or saw. Space grooves 1⁄4 inch to 1⁄2 inch apart, cutting 1⁄32 inch to 1⁄16 inch deep.
  2. Apply two coats of dark, water-based stain to interior surfaces. Do not use paint, as it will fill grooves.
  3. Attach furring strips to inside of backboard using 1-inch screws, caulking first. Start with 24-inch piece at top and space each additional strip at 3/4-inch intervals. This will be the roost chamber.
  4. Starting with the top furring strip, attach front board to furring strips using 1-inch screws (caulk first). Leave 1⁄2-inch vent space between top and bottom front pieces.
  5. Caulk all outside joints to further seal roost chamber.
  6. Attach roof (optional, but highly recommended) with 1-inch screws.
  7. Apply three coats of flat stain or paint to the exterior. Use primer for first coat.
  8. Cover roof with shingles or galvanized metal (optional) using roofing nails.
  9. Mount on building or other structure. South or east sides usually work best.

Winterizing Your Property’s Irrigation

With colder temperatures fast approaching it’s time to think about winterizing your property’s irrigation system. This will prevent water loss and icy walkways. Prepare your irrigation system for winter by performing a system audit to check for potential problems.

Step 1: Check the sprinkler heads

  • Check for missing or broken sprinkler heads and replace any broken sprinkler heads.

  • Remove clogged heads and clean the filter or replace, if necessary.

  • Adjust tilted heads to ensure that they are not spraying in the wrong direction.

  • Replace all leaky valves in the valve box to prevent leaking water and high water costs.

  • Remove and trim back grass, shrubs or other plants that cause misdirected or blocked spray pattern and obstruction of raising the heads.

  • Adjust the sprinkler heads to avoid spraying sidewalks, driveways or other hardscapes. This will not only save money on watering costs, but it will also prevent icy, slippery pedestrian walkways.

Step 2: Consider the watering needs of cool season plants

During colder weather many cool season plants need less water. Turf grasses like St. Augustine and Bermuda grass go dormant during the winter months. You need to adjust the timing and zone settings on your irrigation system to prevent over watering.

Step 3: Use weather-based smart controllers

Weather-based controllers are designed to adjust your irrigation schedules based on weather conditions. These climate-based systems gather local weather information and factor in your exact landscape to make irrigation run-time adjustments so your landscape receives the appropriate amount of water.

Step 4 Install rain/freeze sensors

Contact the irrigation system specialists at Terracare Associates to ensure your property is ready for winter.

Quick Landscape Enhancement Projects to do this Fall

Part 5

During the month of August, we will provide you a 5 part series on how to easily create your 2018 budget, with the help of your commercial landscape company. Below are the links to the previous blog posts in this series:

Many enhancement projects to a commercial landscape property are not only a quick and easy way to add curb appeal, but are also a great way to add value to a commercial landscape property. Enhancements serve as a reinvestment in the property’s existing features, upgrading sections of your landscape to improve the overall appeal. This autumn is the perfect time to complete these enhancements and have the property in pristine condition. Here are four great recommendations of enhancements projects to start this Fall:

Mulch

Mulch is any type of material – usually natural – serving as a cover and is spread over the soil. It can take many forms including bark, compost, grass clippings, shredded leaves, and straw. Mulch creates insulation helping reduce water from evaporating off soil thus reducing the need to water plants frequently. In addition, when thoroughly applied to an area, mulch is very effective in minimizing the growth of weeds.  Mulch also adds a sensational pop to the property.

Sustainable landscaping

Xeriscape

Xeriscape is a set of water-wise landscaping and water conservation principles. It’s the idea of maintaining both an appealing landscape through introducing low-water-use plants. With the increase of droughts and water scarcity, xeriscaping has become a very popular enhancement. In fact, in a recent report some xeriscape conversations reduce outdoor water use by as much as 70%.  There’s no better time than the Fall to have a landscape provider identify small areas that can benefit by water-wise planting.

Xeriscape

Planting Perennials

A perennial is a plant that grows for many seasons, unlike an annual which only lasts one season. This enhancement is growing in popularity not only because it’s good for the environment, it also saves money on water costs and requires less time needed for replanting. A great place to incorporate perennials are paths and walkways to ensure that guests enjoy their beauty. Interested in finding out more about perennials options? Click below:

Planting Perennials

Shade Trees

Choosing trees that are known for providing shade and planting them strategically around a property near buildings can save you up to 30% on your heating and cooling costs. In addition, these shade trees can increase the overall attractiveness of the property and allow for an increase foot traffic. To learn more about your shade tree options, click below:

Shade Trees

Is Your Property’s Irrigation System Wasting Money?

It’s HOT!  Don’t send money down the drain! Your landscape provider can help you maintain and monitor your property’s automated irrigation system to ensure this is the most efficient way of watering your landscape. Having a properly maintained irrigation system is also one of the best ways to minimize water waste and lower overall watering costs.

Smart scheduling saves water

An irrigation controller can help monitor your system’s watering schedule to fit \ the watering needs of your property.  Here is what your landscape provider is looking to do:

  • Setting the timer for early in the morning or in the evening can minimize water evaporation by up to 30%.
  • A rain or soil moisture sensor controller to monitor and adjust your watering schedule regularly and based on seasonal weather conditions and other factors. Weather-based controllers automatically adjust the irrigation schedule as weather conditions change.
  • Consider the amount of sun, shade, and wind exposure on the plants and schedule individual zones to be most efficient. The type of soil will also affect how much water can be absorbed without runoff. The landscape provider will evaluate the setting to the irrigation system to run for three or four short intervals, allowing time between each for the water to soak more deeply into the soil.
  • Checking often on the sprinkler heads to ensure they are set properly to avoid watering driveways, sidewalks, or buildings.

 

Regular irrigation system maintenance saves water.

Like any other mechanical system, the irrigation system also needs regular maintenance to keep it working efficiently. Parts will break or wear out and must be replaced. An older system may not be able to handle the needs of a new landscape design or other changes to your property.

Retrofit the system with a rain or soil moisture sensor to prevent over watering. Rain sensors stop the system from operating when it rains; soil moisture sensors use long metal probes to measure moisture at the root zone and turn the system off when no additional water is needed, this is highly encouraged for water conservation practices.

At Terracare Associates, we recommend performing a regular irrigation system audit. Your irrigation systems should be regularly inspected for leaks, broken sprinkler heads, or other damaged components. During our regular inspections, we evaluate pressure and adjust it as needed so your sprinklers work optimally to distribute the water.

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Free Irrigation Audit

Five Perfect Shade Trees for Your Property

Planting trees on your commercial property is a great way to make your landscape more attractive, but did you know it can also save you money in the long run? Choosing trees that are known for providing shade and planting them strategically around a property near buildings can save you up to 30% on your heating and cooling costs. Here are five trees that are perfect for adding shade to your property this summer and for many years to come.

Hybrid Poplar

The hybrid poplar tree is a popular shade tree because of its fast growth rate of up to 8 feet per year. The triangular leaves on the hybrid poplar reach 3-6 inches long and 4-5 inches wide with rounded teeth. Because of this the hybrid poplar provides plenty of protection from the sun. This tree is a cottonless hybrid so it will not create a mess on your property come spring. When it reaches maturity, the Hybrid Poplar stands 40-50 feet tall with a 30-foot spread.

Sawtooth Oak

The sawtooth oak is a great shade tree for any property because it adapts to a wide range of soil and climate conditions. It has a spreading canopy of leaves that provide ample shade and beauty, opening a beautiful yellow color in the spring and turning green in the summer before transitioning to golden brown in the fall. The sawtooth oak reaches a height of 40 to 60 feet tall when mature with a spread of 40 to 60 feet. This tree has the added bonus of producing acorns which will attract a variety of wildlife to your property.

Hornbeam

This tree is a more compact shade tree that is perfect for smaller properties. When it reaches maturity it stands 20-40 feet tall with a 20-30-foot spread. The hornbeam will put on a show in the fall as its leaves turn yellow, orange and crimson.

Zelkova

The zelkova is a great shade tree for properties located in urban areas because it is tolerant to drought and air pollution. It is known for its beautiful shape, attractive bark and resistance to Dutch elm disease, making it the perfect low-maintenance eye-catching addition to any property. The zelkova grows to be 50-80 feet tall. It also has a similar spread if planted in full sun.

Tulip Tree

A beautiful shade tree is the tulip tree. It produces tulip-shaped flowers 1-2 inches in diameter that bloom in May and Junealong with a spreading canopy of leaves that block sunlight. This tree has a mature height of 60-90 feet and a spread of 30-50 feet. Contact the experts at Terracare Associates to learn more about which trees are best for your commercial property.

 

Planting the right tree in the right place is a decision you should discuss with your landscape provider.  Some of the above suggestions of trees grow better in certain geographic areas, while others need proper positioning on the property to ensure strong growth.  Contact Terracare Associates landscape management team for advice on best shade trees for your commercial property.

 

 

 

What is the Difference Between Perennials and Annuals?

What exactly is the difference between perennials and annuals? The dictionary defines them as:

Perennial: lasting or existing for a long or apparently infinite time; enduring or continually recurring.

Annual: occurring once every year.

Flowers

Perennial flowers continue to grow year after year by remaining dormant through the winter. Annual flowers are planted in the spring and summer and die once the season is over.

Both types of flower have their advantages and disadvantages. Annuals are typically cheaper than perennials so they can be added for a beautiful display of color throughout the spring and summer seasons at a lower cost upfront. Perennials are sustainable; they last for years and withstand a variety of weather conditions. They require less maintenance than annuals since they don’t need to be replanted each year and they can even be divided to make more flowers after several growing seasons.

Terracare Associates recommends planting a combination of annuals and perennials to create the most beautiful landscapes. Attractive landscaping can add significant value to your property, so contact us today to make sure your property is in top shape for spring.

The Three Biggest Landscaping Trends for 2017

Environmentally friendly landscaping practices have been growing in popularity for many years, and 2017 is no exception. The biggest landscaping trends this year focus on protecting the environment and preserving local resources.

  1. NaturescapingNaturescaping

Naturescaping is a landscape concept that involves selecting plants for your property that grow naturally in the area.  Since these types of plants are already evolved to grow under local conditions, the landscaping does not need to be drastically changed to suit them. Not only is this type of landscaping low maintenance, it is environmentally friendly because it requires less watering, less pesticide use and less fertilizer.

  1. Water conservation

Regulating water use is a top priority during drought conditions, but water conservation tends to slip people’s minds when precipitation levels return to normal. However, water regulations are becoming the new norm year-round due to unpredictable weather conditions across the United States. Choosing drought-resistant plants for your property can drastically reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation. Drip irrigation is another great way to accomplish this. Drip irrigation drips water slowly onto the roots of a plant through a system of pipes and valves, rather than saturating plants with a sprinkler system. This minimizes nutrient loss and greatly increases the efficiency of watering. The simplest way to conserve water is to reduce unnecessary water usage before it happens by regularly checking irrigation equipment for leaks and cracks.

 

  1. Technical advances in irrigation

New technology is constantly being developed to help landscapers and property owners more easily and effectively manage irrigation on their properties. One of the most popular innovations is wireless irrigation controllers that run on Wi-Fi. These are used in conjunction with rain sensors, so they can track weather trends in the area and soil moisture levels to detect how much water needs to be dispensed on your property.

Visit our website website to learn how Terracare Associates can help you and your properties keep up with the latest landscaping trends.

What is Sustainable Landscaping?

The term ‘sustainable’ is everywhere, but what does it mean to our landscapes? The common perception is that sustainability in the landscape means drought resistant spaces that require little or no additional water, which are maintained with an unkempt aesthetic and mulched with rock. This is completely inaccurate. Sustainable landscapes get a bad rap because they are often installed improperly, and almost always misunderstood. There is a much more meaningful, and appealing approach to sustainable landscaping that is generally unknown.

So what are the main characteristics of a proper sustainable landscape? Sustainable landscaping

Sustainable landscapes are planned as complex ecosystems. Similar to nature, sustainable landscapes (also called regenerative landscapes) consider even the smallest niches to ensure the health and function of the complete system. These considerations start at the soil, move through the plant canopy and touch everything in between.

While they do generally require less water than a traditional landscape, the reality is more nuanced. They are designed with specific features and species that are able to thrive in the ecosystem in which they are placed. We have all seen soggy spots and dry spots in our own yards. Sustainable landscapes address these features as separate microclimates that require different materials. The soggy spots would house plants that require more water, while the dry spots would be populated with species acclimated to more arid conditions.

Soil Health

Sustainable landscapes place a high priority on soil health. Without healthy soil you cannot have a healthy ecosystem. Regenerative landscapes add organic matter and soil biology to the soil. Critters like bacteria, fungi and other microbial creatures are the most important part of the soil. These creatures and the soil they create are the “immune system” of the planet. Regenerative landscapes passively build soil health as they mature, strengthening the entire system.

NatSustainable landscapingive Plants

Native plant species are another big part of regenerative landscapes. Natives are perfectly adapted to local conditions like precipitation, temperatures, pests and seasonal changes. If natives don’t pack enough punch for your space, many great cultivars have been developed for superior color and foliage displays.

 

What can sustainable landscapes be?

Sustainable landscapes can be anything. They can carry almost any aesthetic; natural and wild looking, or clean and compartmentalized. -Even with the same plant palette. They can display blocks of color, or show off muted textures. Turf can also be installed and maintained sustainably. Harvard Yard has been doing it that way for years!

The quickest way to build a truly sustainable landscape is to start from the beginning, but with enough foresight and thought, existing landscapes can be transitioned to a regenerative space.

Pockets can be carved out of a commercial landscape to keep the budget under control, or entire campuses can be transitioned to make a bold statement to your clients and your employees.

If you need direction for your regenerative landscape, reach out. Let’s see what Terracare Associates and your organization can build together.

 

Commercial Property Management: Why Parking Lots Are Crucial In Making a Great First Impression

As a business or property owner, your parking lot is a crucial aspect of your business, contributing to your business’ overall value and appearance. A freshly sealed parking lot with new striping gives a more mature, complete and professional feel to a business. Incorporating the best preventative and corrective maintenance plans of action into your overall property management and budget will help your business make a solid first impression.

 

Evaluation

Since parking lots are big part of your property, they require timely and appropriate maintenance. Parking lots sporting many potholes can leave a poor impression on visitors. As a property owner or manager, you should evaluate your entire parking lot and note the types of distress and the severity of those deficient areas. Here is a high-level list of what to look for:

  • Number of potholes
  • Approximate square footage of damage and severity of the holes (low, moderate, severe)
  • Cracking, the amount of square footage and the severity (how wide is the cracking, etc)

 

Plan of Action

After the evaluation, which can be conducted individually or with the assistance of a professional, a plan of action should be developed for maintenance and incorporated into the facility budget. The maintenance plan should be split into two areas, preventive and corrective. Remember deferred maintenance is often more expensive and larger in scope because of the neglect. Pavement technologies change rapidly, which means plans and costs can change too.

  • Preventive maintenance is a proactive approach addressing the needs of normal wear and tear. We recommend developing annual, five year and ten year plans. Annual programs should include sweeping, crack sealing and a periodic check for any areas that might show the need for patching before it turns into a full blown pothole or worse. Many of these can be repaired fairly quickly by the use of an Infra-red machine. Next create a detailed five-year plan. It would include the yearly maintenance plan along with a seal coat to renew the asphalt surface and seal the surface from the possible penetration of water. A seal stops water from entering the ground under asphalt, which would allow the expansion and contraction by seasonal temperatures. Projecting out to a ten-year plan, you would include the annual maintenance and add a slurry seal, which would replace some of the thickness that may have worn away and fill ion minor ruts and cracking.

 

  • Corrective is the type of work involving removal and replacement of material — think of potholes as a general rule here. Corrective care often involves cutting the area(s) and removing the material, replacing it with fresh asphalt and compacting the asphalt to the level of the existing surface. If the area is large, you now have equipment removing large areas of failed asphalt (or concrete), then re-compaction of the afflicted area and new asphalt laid — a very expensive procedure. Worth noting, irrigation is a common culprit of asphalt failure. Water will find into the weak point in a paved surface and will work its way to the sub-surface where the strength and stability will degrade. This often results in the start of a pothole.

 

 

Proper and regular maintenance of parking lots are often susceptible to tight budgets. Try to protect this line item and you will reap the rewards later when you do not have to invest heavily in major repairs. A professional company can help with recommended repairs and the timeline for future maintenance.

 

3 Reasons to Install Hardscape Enhancements This Year

There are a variety of enhancements property managers, municipalities, and cities can invest in to improve the look, feel and safety of their landscape and property.  Implementing a few easy hardscape enhancement can result in  benefits to tenants, neighborhoods or citizens.   The right blend of landscape and hardscape enhancements can drive visitors to your property through style and attention to detail. We recently highlighted three simple enhancements worth investing in.

Hardscapes can level and shape the look of your commercial property. Hardscapes refer to hard landscape materials which are incorporated into a landscape. Hardscapes include paved areas, retaining walls, amphitheaters, sleeper walls, walkways, picnic or bench areas, and any other landscaping composed of materials such as wood, stone, concrete, etc. which are included in a landscape.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Terrace

Hardscapes have several benefits:

  • Create new spaces. build areas for people to gather. Think patios, walkways and other similar hardscapes provide places for groups to meet, eat lunch, and relax. The right installation is welcoming, safe, integrated into the space properly, and increases overall satisfaction for visitors to the property.
  • Focus on low maintenance. Hardscapes, such as patios and retaining walls, require little maintenance (think time and money) as they help reduce landscaping needs and costs while providing additional ways people can enjoy the space.
  • Sustainability rules. Consider adding a large rock slab walkway (i.e. flagstone) or permeable pavers to allow water to run off into the surrounding ground. These two options are more environmentally-friendly as they are designed to let rain and other precipitation penetrate the ground directly to nourish plants and replenish groundwater supplies.

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Ready to take your commercial property to the next level? Contact us for a free assessment on how and where to best implement these enhancements into your property.