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:

Hiring 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.

Preparing 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 bring you a 5 part series on how to easily create your 2018 budget, with the help of your commercial landscape company.

Each week in August (ending with this article) we will send you information and tools to help make this budget season relaxed and easy. Simply watch for Tuesday’s Budget Tips in your inbox, and the 5 part blog will include:

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

Last Minute Checklist for your Landscape Maintenance Services

Part 4

During the month of August, we will bring you a 5 part series on how to easily create your 2018 budget, with the help of your commercial landscape company.
Each week in August (continuing with this article) we will send you information and tools to help make this budget season relaxed and easy. Simply watch for Tuesday’s Budget Tips in your inbox, and the 5 part blog will include:

It seems everyone makes a list of some sort.  Whether you keep it in your head or write it down, a checklist is a way to help prioritize the “do’s” and helps to keep track of your next action item.   While you are planning the budgets for the new year, this is a good time to determine what is important to your property landscape maintenance.  Having a simple checklist will keep everyone on the same page and give you a landscape that will attract tenants (and keep owners happy), worry free.

Establishing a comprehensive landscape program is one of the best ways to increase curb appeal and property value.  Take our 6-minute landscape qualifier assessment to determine the best landscape provider for your property.

This three-part qualifier checklist will assist you with finding the right landscape contractor to help design the best landscape maintenance plan for 2018.  Don’t cut corners, let us help you build a landscape program that best serves your needs and budget.  This last minute budget qualifier includes tips and checklist on:

  • Commercial landscape company qualification
  • Build your commercial Landscape program
  • How to build a Commercial Landscape Budget to get what you want (and need)

Qualifier Check List

Our three previous posts can help you with every step of the process, or simply contact a Terracare Associates account manager.

How can we help?

Evaluate and Prioritize your Landscape Projects

Part 2

During the month of August, we will bring you a 5 part series on how to easily create your 2018 budget, with the help of your commercial landscape company.

Each week in August (continuing with this article) we will send you information and tools to help make this budget season relaxed and easy. Simply watch for Tuesday’s Budget Tips in your inbox, and the 5 part blog will include:

Where to Start

Now that you have considered the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) of your property, this is a great time to decide where your projects fit into your budget. In addition, phasing and scheduling out when each project will occur will help ease and relax your budgeting season.  Most importantly, you have a plan for all of your property’s landscape needs.

Determining Your Costs

As a property manager or owner, you almost certainly are assessing costs, but how do you identify projects, prioritize and offer continual improvements to the surrounding landscape?  To simplify, let’s break it down into two distinct budgets.

Why is this important?  Because some property managers and owners may think adding one installation or simply performing monthly maintenance is enough.  In reality, it is a combination of regular maintenance and planned upgrades that keep your property in pristine condition.  It’s not in the best interest for your property to just submit the same budget as last year.  In the end, carefully reviewing the operating and capital budget with your landscape service company will minimize urgent repairs, protect precious resources and be cost effective.

3-Year Plan

Think long term. We recognize budgets are limited and most properties have multiple goals for improvements.  It can be over-whelming and sometimes seem impossible to get all of the projects complete in one year.  Here is where you can get the advice from your commercial landscape maintenance provider on phasing and scheduling out projects:

 

  • This year – what are some quick fixes you have money to support this year? Is it mulch to spruce up an entrance, fall flowers to plant in planters or additional lawn care for healthy turf.  Consider starting some improvement projects now.
  • The first year is geared toward general maintenance improvements. Improvements may include additional lawn care treatments, plant health care needs, comprehensive pruning and trimming beyond monthly maintenance requirements. This year may be a good time to begin large multi-year projects with phases.
  • The second year is focused on enhancements and major repairs or upgrades.  This may include, irrigation repairs, plant and tree replacement, and drainage upgrades.
  • The third year is focused on multi- year project completions and may include, water conservation strategies or drought tolerant plantings.

Whether you are clear about the commercial property landscape goals or you need help to define a plan, take a moment, and schedule a consultation with your Account Manager at Terracare.  It’s worth the time!

 

Need more budget help?.

Four Smart Tips to Start a Commercial Landscape Budget – It’s SWOT

Part 1

Studies show a beautiful commercial landscape can raise your property value and attractiveness by as much as 20%.  Simply, through careful planning, a well-maintained property can transform into a place people will enjoy year round. This all starts with a budget. During the month of August, we will bring you a 5 part series on how to easily create your 2018 budget, with the help of your commercial landscape company. Each week in August (starting with this article) we will send you information and tools to help make this budget season relaxed and easy. Simply watch for Tuesday’s Budget Tips in your inbox, and the 5 part blog will include:
Commercial Landscape Budget

It’s SWOT

Start with a walk through with your landscape provider. This opens the discussion on four key areas:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats or challenges

 

A SWOT analysis breaks down the property’s features into good or challenging areas and evaluates the property as a whole. Even better, it builds a dialog between you, the property manager, and your landscape account manager on expectations and priorities. Discuss with your Terracare representative the following as you walk the property.

 

 

Strengths

Weaknesses

• What do you like about the property?

• Are the property entrances a focal point and well kept?

• Are there shade trees throughout the property?

• Do you have enough color?

• Do you have irrigation issues?

• Are there quick fixes like mulch you can take care of today to improve quickly?

• Are there any menacing pests that will harm trees or plants?

• Does your turf need more luster?

Opportunities

Threats or challenges

• Think long term.


• What projects would you like to do, if costs were not part of the equations?

• Consider upgrading your irrigation system to be eco-friendly and conserve water usage significantly.

• Plant replacement or converting turf area to more sustainable plants.

• Ask your landscape provider how to help build a 3-year landscape plan and start in stages.

• What limitations do you have on the property?


• Will there be more growth?

• Will foot or car traffic increase in the future?

• Look at areas that are more vulnerable, and if left untreated this might have a costly outcome.

•Do you have defined outdoor areas for future visitors or workforce?

 

What’s next? –  start now, schedule your property walk through with a SWOT in your hand and simplify the decision with this assessment tool.  It’s a smart way to begin your budget process.  See part 2 next week on how to prioritize your landscape projects.

 

Schedule an Appointment.

Tips for Water Wise Landscaping

After an unusually warm and dry winter in many parts of the country, it’s more important than ever to conserve water as summer approaches. What can you do to save your lawn and save money on your monthly water bill? Here are a few easy tips to help you be more water wise with your landscaping.

Prevent water evaporation: Water your lawn early in the morning or in the evening, especially during the hot summer months. Never water on windy days. Use drip irrigation systems for bedded plants, trees, or shrubs and use low-angle sprinklers for lawns. Also, be sure to cover pools and spas to prevent loss of water through evaporation.

One inch of water is enough: Just one inch of water each week will keep most grasses healthy. To determine how long you should run your sprinklers — place straight-edged cans at various distances away from each sprinkler and time how long it takes to fill an average of 1 inch of water in each can.

Mulch… Mulch… Mulch!: Cover all flower beds and planted areas with mulch. It keeps the soil moist and slows down the evaporation of water from the soil, allowing water to infiltrate it efficiently. Maintain at least a 2 to 4 inch layer of mulch in all planted beds and containers.

Maintain your sprinkler system: Repair any broken, missing or misdirected sprinkler heads. You should also install rain and freeze sensors on your sprinkler system and monitor your total water usage.

Terracare Associates can help with any of your landscaping needs from installing a more efficient irrigation system to laying down mulch in your plant beds. Visit our website to see what we can do for you.

Free Irrigation Audit

The Five Best Perennials to Xeriscape a Walkway

A perennial is a plant that persists for many growing seasons, unlike an annual which only lasts one growing season (for more information, check out our blog post on the difference between annuals and perennials). There is such a wide variety of perennial plants that it’s easy to incorporate them into any type of landscape, including a xeriscape. Xeriscaping is the practice of conserving water through landscaping. This trend is growing in popularity not only because it’s good for the environment, it also saves property owners money on water costs and requires less time needed for replanting. Paths and walkways are great places to plant drought-resistant perennials to ensure that everyone who visits your property enjoys beautiful landscaping especially as they enter buildings or along parking areas. Here are five of the best perennials to create a beautiful xeriscaped walkway.

Lavender Hidcote Lavender

Lavender Hidcote is a tall, purple flower known for its wonderful fragrance and its tendency to attract butterflies. It prefers hot, sunny and dry air and well-drained soil, making it the perfect choice for western climates. Lavender Hidcote does not require regular watering and will thrive on just 9-12 inches of rain per year. You can expect to see this plant bloom in mid to late summer.

 

YarrowYarrow

Yarrow consists of flower heads full of small, tightly packed flowers and aromatic leaves. This plant blooms from mid-summer to fall and typically grows to be two to four feet tall. It grows best when planted in well-drained soil with full sun. Yarrow is known for being durable and tolerating dry spell, so it is a perfect low-maintenance yet beautiful addition to any walkway.

 

EchinaceaConeflower

Echinacea, better known as coneflowers, are colorful daisy-like flowers that bloom from mid-summer to early fall and can grow up to five feet tall. They thrive in areas with full sun and poor soil. These plants are drought resistant and do not require fertilization. You will see beautiful flowers return year after year with very little work if you choose this plant for your property.

 

Hens and Chicks Hens and Chicks

Hens and Chicks are succulent plants that get their name from their rosette shape and their ability to produce multiple offspring. They come in a range of colors from green to beautiful pinks and reds. Hens and Chicks are best grown in poor soil with full sun and require very little water. Since these plants thrive in rocky soils, they are perfect for planting in the cracks of stone walkways. Just be sure you stepping stones are raised as these plants will not tolerate much foot traffic.

 

Lady’s MantleLady's mantle

Lady’s Mantle is a clumping perennial that forms green foliage made up of soft, scallop-shaped leaves and yellow-green flowers which bloom in late spring to early summer. It makes for the perfect ground cover to define the boundaries of a walkway or outdoor path. Lady’s Mantle can tolerate full shade or full sun. It does not need to be watered often unless it is planted in full sun or during high temperatures, making it a relatively low-maintenance option.

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 centerline, 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
  • Brakes
  • Electrical system
  • Tires
  • Antifreeze
  • Heater and defrost system

 

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

 

When driving:

  • Give 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.

The Autumn Landscape Checklist

Just in time for winter, autumn is an ideal time to prepare your landscape

Autumn months are optimal times for improving, preparing and caring for your landscape and property. Every region of the country experiences different winter weather so while property managers need to prepare accordingly to their region, there are a few tasks that are applicable to every landscape.

Mark Slicker, Business Development Manager in Dallas / Fort Worth, shared a few of these general tips for property managers:
  • Change out any summer seasonal color for winter seasonal color. Install a variety of flowers which will handle the winter months such as Pansy, Viola, Dianthus, Cabbage, Kale and Dusty Miller.
  • Prune. This is the time to prune trees and shrubs to minimize any possible damage which might occur during ice and snow storms. We recommend pruning magnolias, live oaks and wax myrtles.
  • Reshape trees. Conduct major re-shaping of shade trees (oaks, aspens, poplars, elms and birches) as needed after the first freeze when plants go dormant. This is a good time to remove dead or excess plant materials that stands out on bare limbs.
  • Install new plant material. Plant roots grow anytime the soil temperature are 40 degrees or higher – this is typical during the fall. Cooler temperatures and more moisture means newly sowed plants can focus on establishing heartier root systems.  If a root system is established in the fall, then when spring arrives, this expanded root system can support and take advantage of the full surge of spring growth. It also means it is more likely to survive during the summer heat.
  • Divide and replant perennials. The great part about perennials is once the plant is established and healthy, these plants can easily be divided and replanted in other areas of the property. Now is a good time to do this task. Perennial flowers such as iris, day lily, coneflower, coreopsis, and lavender are great examples.
  • Control weeds. Weeds are just like other plants in your landscape. They are saving the last bits of sunlight, water and nutrients to survive through the winter. Now is the time to apply weed killing compounds as the plant will take this with everything else it’s gathering to survive and transports it directly to the growing point of the plant.
  • Aerate. No matter the style of aeration, the fall is the best time to aerate the green spaces and grassy areas on your property. Aeration opens the soil and promotes a better environment for grass roots

  

Need help cleaning and preparing your property this fall? Contact us for a free assessment on how and where to best work with you to exceed your property’s needs.

 

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.

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 5.17.11 PM

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.