A Guide for a Successful Commercial Landscape Request for Proposal

Finding the quality commercial landscaping company for you property will have a direct effect on the overall look of your location. When your organization uses a request for proposal or a RFP you will be able to let a potential landscape company know what to expect; from whom you are to what your budget is. Below is your guide to making the most out of your RFP to obtain and sustain a beautiful property.

Why is a RFP important?

Compare the RFP process to hiring an employee at your company. With so many potential employees seeking a position, it can be extremely overwhelming. However, when you look at the resumes you can more clearly filter through to find the stand out applicant.

An RFP allows potential applicants to:

  • Have a better idea who you are and what you’re looking for
  • Understand what kind of budget you have and whether it is fixed or flexible
  • Know what kind of materials are needed to be an effective applicant

Your RFP will identify the commercial landscaping provider that will meet and surpass your needs and expectations.

La JollaDescribe Your Property

An essential step when filling out your RFP is to provide pertinent information regarding your property to the prospective landscaping company. Clearly explaining your goals and expectations is extremely helpful. Whether your property is modest or large in size the more information received will be a real benefit.

Be Clear About Your Selection Criteria

The next focus you will want to address is your standards or criteria for the landscape provider. It’s important to gather specific information about a perspective landscape provider. Of course, cost the cost is at the top of your inquiry, but look for other essentials such as years of service, range of service, number of employees and timeliness can be very important too.

Determine Submission Requirements

The main goal of your RFP will be to have the potential landscape companies respond with the essential information to determine who is best for your budget and commercial landscape property’s needs. A few things to include in your submission guidelines might be:

  • BCBSTXSpecific formatting details, making it easier to compare the applications
  • A deadline for the RFP to be submitted
  • A length of proposed contract
  • References from similar clients
  • Proof of applicant’s fiscal stability
  • Detailed description of services
  • A depiction of the current staff and their expertise

Read RFP Submissions Carefully!

Once you are ready to send the RFP, decide on an appropriate period to get quality responses. Allowing the landscape companies time to a put together a quality proposal is always a good idea.

This level of professionalism in your hiring process will provide you with extra information about a landscape company. If a prospective landscape company cannot stick to the submission guidelines, required RFP format, or make the submission deadline, then you cannot expect them to provide timely, quality services. Their response to the RFP says a lot about the quality of their landscaping installation and maintenance services.

Four Commercial Landscaping Trends for 2018

Every year we look forward to upcoming trends in the commercial landscaping world! This year, we wanted to show off some of the trends that you will be seeing in 2018. Below are four of our recommended trends you may want to try on your commercial landscape property.

Green Roofs

As more commercial properties search to find ways to reduce their carbon foot-print, the trend of green roofs has emerged. Green roofs allow projects in high-density areas to be built with a landscape, by partially or completely covering their rooftops in vegetation and plant life. By taking this green initiative, a property can expect to significantly reduce heat loss, filter out storm water, lower energy consumption, and have improved insulation. In addition to being eco-friendly, other benefits include, allowing residents or employees a chance to relax and escape the day-to-day grind, attract an assortment of wildlife and even serve as farm to table gardens for restaurants.

XeriscapeBark

Xeriscaping is another trend that will continue to take off as we go into the new year. The increased frequencies of droughts and scarcity of water has put a spotlight on the importance of xeriscape. Xeriscape landscaping can be the most efficient method for commercial properties to achieve water use reduction and reduce costs. In fact, xeriscape can reduce outdoor water use by as much as 70 percent. Because of this, your commercial landscape property will reduce your water costs. You will also have a well-maintained, beautiful and appealing landscape. For more information on xeriscaping, click here.

Brush Management

For most of the country, this fall has been very dry and the winter months will offer more of the same. This lack of precipitation is a major issue, especially when it comes to wildfires. In fact, according to WX Shift, “since 1970 the annual average number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres has more than doubled in the western U.S. The typical wildfire season has also stretched by about two and a half months longer over that time”.  Because of this, maintaining the brush on commercial properties is vital to the prevention of wildfires.  On top of this, more and more cities, municipalities and counties have and will continue to establish guidelines and rules for managing brush and reducing fire risk. Click here for tips on how to manage your brush.

Native Plants

Reed GrassThere has been a great interest in finding methods to aid in sustainability and at the same time reduce the property owner’s costs. Due to these needs, the trend of planting native foliage has emerged in the commercial landscape world. One of the main factors leading to native plants becoming such popular alternatives is their ability to thrive without much human intervention. The word “native” means that the plant is indigenous to a certain area. Since native plants are already adapted to the local environment, less water is required as well as a reduction of fertilizers and other lawn care treatments. For a few suggestions of native plants in your area, contact Terracare Associates today. If you are interested in native plants, click here.

 

Tips for Driving Safely with Snowplows

Winter is just around the corner. Municipalities, cities, DOTs, and others are gearing up for the winter by preparing their snowplow crews and equipment. We can all learn valuable lessons from these agencies by preparing our vehicles and ourselves for the upcoming season.

Snowplows serve to make the community and roads passable during the worst winter weather. Snowplows are fitted with heavy, wide plows on the front of the truck to clear as much snow and ice from the road as possible – this means sometimes they may cross the center line, shoulder of the road or make other moves in their effort to provide a driving surface the general public can navigate. If you encounter a plow, slow down and give them the space they need to perform their task. Your best chance to arrive at your destination safely is to stay behind the plow as the worst of the conditions are in front of the plow. It’s important that everyone, from individual drivers to plow operators, stay safe on the road to get home safely so here are some tips.

Prepare your vehicle

It is good practice to maintain your vehicle year round, however it is especially important to winterize your vehicle to avoid the dangers of frigid winter weather.

Check the following before snow begins to fall:

  • Wiper blades and windshield washer fluid
  • Battery
  • Ignition system
  • Antifreeze
  • Brakes
  • Electrical system
  • Tires
  • Heater and defrost system

Additionally, it’s recommended to carry blankets, booster cable, a flashlight and extra batteries, snow scraper and shovel.

When driving:

  • snowplowGive snowplows room to do their job. It’s best practice to not tailgate or try to pass a snowplow while it’s in working.
  • As a general rule, stay at least 200 feet behind a snowplow.
  • Plows pushing snow can create a cloud which can blind drivers who are following too closely.
  • These are large, heavy vehicles and the drivers are intent on their task at hand, don’t be another distraction to the plow driver. They cannot stop in a short distance.
  • There may be spreaders on trucks to distribute salt or sand on the road, these can cause damage to cars if driving too close, stay back to protect your car and you.
  • Always turn on your headlights, and have plenty of fuel and wiper fluid (carrying an extra gallon is a good idea) and have appropriate tires for winter driving conditions.
  • Don’t over estimate your braking capabilities, many 4 X 4 vehicles are heavier than normal, thus the braking distance is greater. Your traction is determined by weight and tire tread. Sand or cat litter in your trunk will add weight and can be used if you do need help with traction.
  • Leave extra space between you and the vehicles in front and behind you.
  • Bridge decks freeze first so take extra caution when driving on these.
  • Remember to always buckle up!
  • Ignore the phone and email until you get to your destination. There are other people on the road that deserve your attention.
  • Most importantly, SLOW DOWN!
It is not too late to get help with your snow removal needs. Send us a note or give us a call, we’ll get back to you with a proposal and estimate for how we can help you.

What the Farmer’s Almanac predicts for this Winter

It’s almost time to say goodbye to fall, are you ready? By doing the research for your region’s weather predictions now, you will be able to adjust and prepare for any potential surprises that could be heading towards your commercial landscape property. For these forecasts we chose to use The Farmer’s Almanac. The Farmer’s Almanac has been around for about 200 years. It also claims that the forecasts it provides are 80 to 85 percent accurate.

Colorado:

cc winter branches by Shandi-lee CoxColorado’s winter weather predictions state that it will be a cold winter with moderate amounts of snowfall. However, the winter will not be as harsh as usual. On top of that, The Farmer’s Almanac states that “our forecasts are pointing to a return to more normal winter conditions in regard to both temperatures and precipitation.” That’s not to say there won’t be the sporadic heavy winter storm coming in from the Pacific or pushing south from western Canada. These storms should be “balanced out by spells of dry and mild weather,” the forecast says.

Northern California:

The Farmer’s Almanac predicts that Northern California will be cooler than normal with rainfall above normal. The coldest periods for Northern California will take place in late November into early December and as well as early February.

Southern California:

For Southern California, The Farmer’s Almanac states that it will be a very average winter for the area. The Farmer’s Almanac states that it will be mild and that you shouldn’t expect anything out of the ordinary for the area. Additionally, Southern California should anticipate average precipitation throughout the winter months.

SnowTexas:

According to The Farmer’s Almanac, Texas will have a winter that is colder than normal. The region should also expect above- normal precipitation.  The coldest parts of the winter season will be from late November into early December, from late December into early January, and in early February. Snowfall in Texas’ region will be near to above normal. Most snow will come in late December and early to mid-February.

 

It is not too late to get help with your snow removal needs. Send us a note or give us a call, we’ll get back to you with a proposal and estimate for how we can help you.

Benefits of Native Grass on Commercial Properties

As a property owner, the sustainability of the landscape is essential in not only saving money, but also providing a lasting impact on the environment. One factor that you might not have considered when thinking about sustainability is planting native grass. The word “native” means that the plant is indigenous to the area and can thrive without human contributions such as fertilizers and other lawn care treatments. Along with that native grass has many other benefits to a commercial landscape property, below are a few of those benefits.

  1. Reduces heat

    Lawns reduce environmental heating through cooling evaporation. On sunny days, air temperatures over lawns stay 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than air over asphalt or concrete. The resulting cooler air temperature means lower cooling costs for your building.

  2. Curb appeal

    Native grassGreen spaces make your property more attractive and increase its value. On average, buyers are willing to pay 11 percent more than asking price for a well-landscaped property. On top of that, customers spend more time and money when businesses have attractive landscaping. Adding grass to your property not only attracts customers, it also makes a commercial landscape property more attractive to potential employers and decreases turnover.

  3. Stress reduction

    Many studies prove that exposure to natural greenery reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, reduces muscle tension, improves attention and increases feelings of happiness. People who work in an environment with a view of nature have been found to recover from stress more quickly and experience less job pressure and greater job satisfaction. Exposure to nature has even been shown to increase work productivity. An investment in green space is a positive investment in your company.

  4. Reduces soil erosion

    To protect against wind and water, grass has an extensive root system that locks soil in place. A single grass plant can have up to 300 miles of erosion-controlling roots. Gardens and other types on landscapes can experience up to 600 times more erosion than natural lawns, meaning more money shelled out by property owner’s for maintenance.

  5. Purifies air and improves air quality

    Approximately 12 million tons of impurities are absorbed from the air by turf grass each year. One these impurities is the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. U.S. lawns alone capture an estimated 5% of the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide annually. Grass absorbs these impurities and moves them to the root zone where soil microbes help break down pollutants. Growing natural grass on your commercial property is a great way to decrease your business’s carbon footprint.

  6. Produces oxygen

    Grass is a living organism, meaning it takes in carbon dioxide and releases oxygen into the atmosphere. A lawn measuring 2,500 square feet generates enough oxygen to meet the daily needs of a family of four.

Contact the experts at Terracare Associates for your commercial landscaping needs today.

Scary bugs- or are they?

Most commercial landscape property owners are concerned about the effects that insects and other pests might have on the plants and trees on your property. Web worms in your trees, chinch bugs in your St. Augustine grass, and other insects can cause severe damage. But not all insects are detrimental to your landscaping. There are several “good bugs” that beneficial to the plants and trees on your property.

Scary Bugs

To understand why some bugs are beneficial to have on your commercial landscape property, you must first learn which bugs are harmful.

Aphids: This small insect, with its piercing and sucking mouth, is a common pest to many species of roses. Aphids suck the sap from plants, causing dried and damaged leaves. You will most often find aphids on roses, crepe myrtles, and pecan trees.

Chinch bugs: Another type of sucking insects that feed on turf grass, especially St. Augustine. They inject the grass with their toxic saliva, which causes the turf grass to wilt and die.

CaterpillarCaterpillars: Caterpillars also include hornworm and spring cankerworm. While they are not considered to be harmful to most plants, their feeding on the leaves and flowers of your plants will mar the look of your landscaping.

Grub worms: These fat white worms are most prevalent in hot summer months. They feed on the roots of turf grass. Dead patches in your St. Augustine, Bermuda, zoysia, or buffalo grass might be evidence of the presence of grub worms.

Good Bugs

There is an army of insects in the soil and flying around your property that can help with the control of harmful pests. By feeding on harmful pests like aphids, caterpillars, grubs, and soft-bodied insects, these bugs are nature’s own pest control system.

How are some insects beneficial? Honeybees and other insects are a vital part of the pollination of many species of flowers and plants. Predatory insects like lady bugs and soldier bugs feed on many species of harmful pests. Parasitic insects like spiders lay their eggs inside or on top of pests, including insects and grubs, using them as food for their larvae.

ladybugLadybugs: Adults ladybug beetles and their larvae love aphids, especially the aphids that often infest roses. They also feed on the scale insects, mealy bugs, mites and powdery mildew that can damage your plants.

Lacewings: Also known as aphid lions, these tiny insects with delicate wings feed on aphids, mealy bugs, scale and mites. Just one lacewing larva can eat more than 100 insects in a single day.

Braconid wasps: These non-stinging wasps feed on web worms, horn worms, caterpillars and other grubs.

spiderSpiders: It may be hard to believe, but most of the 3,000 species of North American spiders are actually helpful to your landscape. Spiders are predatory insects and feed on aphids, other spiders, beetles, mites and even fire ants.

Contact Terracare Associates to find out how to control harmful landscape pests on your property.

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:

Materialsbat house
  • 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.

Fall Tree Pruning and Planting

Fall is a great time to plant and prune your trees. The months of cool fall and winter temperatures give newly planted trees and shrubs time to establish their roots before the hot summer weather returns.

Fall Tree Pruning

The goal of fall tree pruning is to improve the growing conditions for the next year’s growing season. After the spring and summer growing seasons, overgrown branches and limbs can cause damage to your property. Removing damaged or diseased limbs will not only contribute to the overall health of the tree, it will also help prevent falling tree limbs. Trees should be pruned to allow “room” for sunlight and breezes to naturally flow through. When done properly, pruning allows more light to shine through the branches and reduces the need for pesticides.

Fall Tree Planting

Did you know that tree roots will grow when the temperature is above 40 degrees? That means tree roots can continue growing during the milder fall and winter weather. This gives them the time to gain the strength they need to deal with hot summers.

Choosing the Right Tree for Your Property

TreeConsult with a professional landscaper before deciding which trees and shrubs to plant. A knowledgeable landscape professional can help you select the right plants for your property by helping you answer these questions:

  • What type of tree do you want or need?

  • Do you want an ornamental tree with colorful flowers and foliage or would a shade tree be a better fit for your property?

  • What size tree will fit in the desired area? Consider the mature height and width of the tree and if it will work in your landscape.

  • Pay specific attention to the soil conditions, light and water requirements of the tree or shrub.

Terracare Associates specializes in landscape maintenance for commercial properties throughout the western United States. We manage the landscapes of hundreds of retail sites, homeowner associations, multi-family complexes, industrial projects, hotels, municipalities and commercial office campuses.

Snow season is coming, we’re preparing

At Terracare Associates, we like to prepare. As fall weather settles in and gives way to cooler temperatures, we are preparing our company, teams and equipment to handle colder, nastier weather conditions. This weather can include freezing rain, blizzards and ice storms in the communities we operate in. Preparation now is essential; it allows us to perform timely, accurate and thorough work when winter conditions and weather hits quickly. Here is what we are currently doing to prepare our teams and clients for the upcoming winter season:

Snow plowHiring Staff

These team members are essential to keeping the communities we operate in safe and their roads clear. Staff is typically on-call from October through mid-May. While you stay warm at home, these dedicated team members are in trucks, on ATVs, even out shoveling. This allows the community has access to as safe of conditions as possible. (Looking for extra work? Check out our careers page and apply!)

Training

Training is an on-going process at Terracare Associates. Once staff is hired on, we do conduct an “All Staff” orientation in early October. This orientation includes video training, necessary paperwork, equipment training and a driving test with a snow plow. Depending on our contracts with clients, we create curriculum and training around individual routes so our drivers are familiar with the routes before they are deployed to these routes during bad weather conditions.

Setting expectations

Our managers have thorough discussions with property managers and owners, and municipality staff to clarify the expectations of service delivery expected for each snow event. We work with property managers to plan and prepare for a variety of conditions and weather. This can include managing tree and property damage from early season storms, huge storms that may disable an area for a while and more.

Snow plowPreparing vehicles

Currently, our full-time personnel have started the process of changing over our vehicles from summer work to the winter outfitting of snow plows and sanders. They are running through safety and equipment checklists that include examining and checking tires and conducting preventive maintenance.

De-icing materials

Our team is in the process of gathering, cataloging and preparing materials to combat snowy and icy conditions on the roads. We’ve placed orders on ice melt material orders for most of our municipal contracts. We will soon be ordering those same materials for the properties we currently partner with and serve.

If you have not made arrangements for snow removal this season, give us a call or send us a request for proposal and a manager will be in touch to address your needs.

Drive safely and stay warm.

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

Path

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