How this surprising landscape enhancement can revive your property

You’ve likely seen this enhancement right in front of your eyes, yet perhaps never noticed it. It’s an easy, cost efficient enhancement offering a significant impact on protecting your landscape and water bill. The enhancement is mulch. It is a great addition to help your trees and landscape thrive throughout the year. It especially plays a vital role during the hot summer months and during times of drought. So what is mulch and how can adding it improve your property’s landscape?


What is mulch?

Mulch is any type of material – natural or synthetic – serving as a cover and is spread over the surface of soil. It can take many forms including bark, compost, grass clippings, shredded leaves, and straw. Ideally it is economical, easy to apply and remove, stable, supplies organic matter to the soil, and free of weeds, insects, and diseases.


How it can help.

  • Creates insulation. Mulch helps reduce water from evaporating off soil thus reducing the need to water plants frequently. It also helps keep plant roots cooler during the hot months.
  • Suppresses weeds. Mulch is most effective in minimizing the growth of weeds when thoroughly applied to an area. Areas with low or bare spots are prone to weed growth.
  • Improves soil quality. No matter the consistency of the soil you’re dealing with, mulch can help. In sandy soil, it provides nutrients and improves the soil’s ability to hold water. In soil containing clay, it helps break up the clay allowing better air and water movement through the soil.


As Donald A. Rakow noted on Cornell University’s website, “When water droplets land on bare soil, the impact causes soil particles to fly in all directions, resulting in soil crusting and slow water infiltration. Most mulches break the impact of the droplets, reducing soil erosion and crusting and increasing the penetration of water into the soil.”


Where you should use it.

Different types of mulch should be used around different areas on your property. In flower beds, consider using bark mulch to curb weed growth, improve soil quality, and water absorption. Around trees, remove the grass around the trees and replace it with mulch. This minimizes competition from water and nutrients. It again helps keep the roots moist and reduces damage from lawn mowers. Your landscape professional can help identify other areas where mulch can be added to your property.


TCA’s San Francisco Bay Area-based Enhancements Manager, Quinton Guenther sums it up, “Installing bark mulch on your property will instantly add curb appeal making your planter beds look crisp and clean. Additional benefits are water retention, pesticide reduction (less weeds) and help naturally build up the soil quality as the organic material breaks down over time.”


Are you considering adding enhancements to your property this summer or fall? Our experts are happy to meet with you to help with enhancement projects you’re looking to work on. Why not drop us an email so we can help you make your property its best?

3 Reasons Enhancements Improve Your Property

A commercial property, municipal park, or other landscaped areas need ongoing improvements, but it is not always easy to justify the expense. When evaluating your landscape enhancement needs you may be looking at projects such as:

  • Adding a bed of perennial flowers near a parking lot
  • Sprucing up an entrance with trees for shade and protection
  • Installing a state-of-the-art water efficient sprinkler system to save money
  • Creating a patio area for visitors to use and beautify the area


You likely realize enhancement projects add to your property’s curb appeal, but do you know how else they can help your property? Here are a few ways.


Reduce water costs

Think long-term when it comes to your property’s landscape. Enhancements can reduce your water costs and usage. A few examples of enhancements that can help cut water use:

  1. Upgrade to new water-efficient smart controllers for your water system will cut water usage and costs.
  2. Invest in turf conversion in areas that grass is not used for recreation or relaxation.
  3. Install drought-resistant plants and grasses can help reduce water usage and overall maintenance.


Increase desirability of property

Think about the last time you were on a property that was appealing and comfortable. Now think about what landscape features that property exhibited. Was it a nice water feature or vibrant flower bed? Any of these enhancements can often conjure positive feedback and attraction for visitors and employees who are on the property. It increases the property’s desirability and has proven to help raise occupancy rates or visitors, increase overall value of the property, and most importantly, those living or working in the area, have an increased desire to stay.


Protects existing landscape investments

You’ve already invested time, manpower, and money into developing and maintaining your property. Now is a good time to consider protecting these landscape assets with enhancements. Examples of enhancements that will help protect and maintain your landscape:

-Drainage: Ensure plants and trees have adequate drainage and excess water is flowing into the correct areas.

-Mulch: Mulch can reduce evaporation from soil, stabilize soil moisture, and more.

-Arbor services: You’ve invested in trees. Now make certain those trees thrive through pruning and proper fertilization.


Interested in learning more about how enhancements can improve your property? Reach out to Terracare Associates and we’ll happily answer your questions and work with you to identify which enhancements are best for your property.


Reducing water usage in Napa Valley — A Case Study

With a state of California mandate to reduce water usage by 25 percent, many communities and homeowners association agree reducing water usage helps cut costs and protects this precious commodity. However, there are varying opinions on how to best achieve water efficiency while protecting the plants during hot climates. How do you build consensus, keep a property aesthetically pleasing for residences, and conserve water?

Silverado Springs-29

Nestled in the beautiful, world-renown Napa Valley, Silverado Springs, a quaint upscale neighborhood was facing this dilemma. The community boosts lush greenbelts, lakes, tennis courts, a swimming pool and spa, and a variety of open spaces. It provides residents high-end, low maintenance living in the heart of wine country. For more than 20 years, Terracare Associates — TCA has grown to be a trusted partner to the community and homeowners association by supplying high-quality recommendations, expertise, and landscape services.

Silverado Springs-34


The Situation

In 2012, before the statewide mandate, Terracare Associates (TCA) was actively consulting with the Siverado on water management enhancement to prepare for higher water prices and expanded water restrictions in the region, the homeowners’ association was eager to become better environmental stewards too. They wanted to overhaul the community’s look from a lush landscape to a more regionally appropriate xeriscaped environment with drought-resistant plants. While the community and homeowners association at large agreed they needed to reduce water usage and cut costs – there were varying opinions on how to best irrigate and achieve water efficiency. They turned to TCA to educate the community while developing a solution and long-term plan to lower water usage and costs. It became a partnership with the goal to dramatically reduce usage while keeping property value and desirability high.


Over several months of TCA employees attending board meetings and forums, TCA was able to hear and address residents’ and the homeowners’ association’s concerns, explain best water conservation practices, and build consensus among residents and the homeowners association on how to best tackle the problem. TCA recommended and completed a project that included:

  • Installing new upgraded Smart Controllers, which adjust to optimal sprinkler run time based on the local weather conditions.
  • Converting large areas of the communities turf to drought resistant plants.
  • Updating more efficient MP nozzles on the turf that remained in the community. Replace all community medians holding turf with mulch and xeriscape.
  • Upgrading all current water nozzles to ensure efficiency.
  • Continuing to educate the community and HOA on other initiatives to further decrease water consumption.

Silverado Springs-18Silverado Springs-26








Making an Impact

The project has been wildly successful and popular with the community. Residents have loved the transformation and new look. The homeowners association has been highly satisfied with the service quality and changes TCA recommended and provided. From 2012 to 2014, the community reduced water usage by 23.5% allowing the 2014 annual water expenses to come in more than $15,000 under budget. This initiative took place prior to California’s restrictions. The community was prepared for mandate and was able to maintain their desired aesthetics.


With ongoing maintenance, continued monitoring, adapting to a new norm of water usage, Silverado Springs has transformed to an eco-friendly and sustainable neighborhood.


Can TCA help your community or city improve your public service, or commercial and landscaping services? TCA would love to help you find out. Why not send TCA a request for proposal?

How to Save Water And Money – A Case Study

A Denver-area HOA partnered with Terracare Associates to save water and money for the community. 


Water, our precious commodity. When it rains, we may not think of the need to reduce water usage. Many commercial properties managers and communities in the western United States are engaging in tough conversations around water usage. Years of water restrictions and droughts are becoming more common. Conserving water and creating sustainable and environmentally friendly water features – even during rainier years – is a growing priority.


Commercial site managers, and municipalities and special districts are faced with tough decisions including property or area aesthetics, costs, and technology. It’s important to find the right balance between incorporating sustainable plants while also identifying and determining the most efficient and effective irrigation system technology. The irrigation system has to work effectively and instantly to make sure the landscape remains beautiful and pristine while only using water when needed.

Water cascading into a pond at Arapahoe Lakes

The goal?

Cut water use costs, lower the amount of water used, and create a more sustainable landscape.


The Arapahoe Lakes community and homeowners association (HOA) was faced with this dilemma. Situated in the South Metro Denver area of Colorado, the community encompasses a couple hundred family homes, a lake, a playground and a several miles of greenbelt walkways.


In 2009, the Arapahoe Lakes community and HOA wanted to take a proactive approach to being more responsible stewards of water – the community wanted to reduce water and cut costs. Arapahoe Lakes HOA turned to Terracare Associates – TCA, who had been a trusted and credible partner to Arapahoe Lake’s board members for more than 15 years, to help troubleshoot a solution.


The Solution

The solution included three players – Terracare Associates, Arapahoe Lakes HOA, and Denver Water. As Terracare Associates and Arapahoe Lakes HOA worked to develop an efficient and effective solution, Denver Water was also running a rebate incentive at the same time. Denver Water’s rebate program, the Irrigation Efficiency Agreement, provided payments to customers for water savings achieved as a result of making irrigation efficiency upgrades and/or landscape changes. Terracare Associates and Arapahoe Lakes HOA decided to maximize financial savings through both water usage and the rebate program. Arapahoe Lakes HOA received financial incentives on material costs associated with upgrading the irrigation system to include smart irrigation controllers and commercial irrigation high-efficiency or rotary nozzles.


The Results

Over five years, from 2010 to 2014, the Arapahoe Lakes HOA saved more than 9.3 million gallons in water, at a savings of more than $106,000. That’s huge!


Interested in learning more about how Terracare Associates can help you and your team manage your property? Drop us a note.


3 Reasons You Should Consider Turf Reduction Conversion

Silverado Springs-33From California to the Southwest, the drought conditions continue. As we suffer through yet another year of harsh climate, property managers will find it a challenge to keep turf grass green and healthy. In addition, higher water costs and frequent water restrictions have us reevaluating landscape maintenance options.

With no end to the drought in sight, we have to think more proactively of ways to landscape with less water. What can you do to: Continue reading “3 Reasons You Should Consider Turf Reduction Conversion”

Smart Irrigation Controllers – What Property Managers need to know

Property and facility managers have a lot to think about.  Finding innovative irrigation solutions that make business sense and at the same time help our environment can be a challenge.  Water, one of the increasingly precious resources is top of the list.  Continue reading “Smart Irrigation Controllers – What Property Managers need to know”

Five Steps to Maximize Water Efficiency

Sprinkler with run off“Drought” is the scary word for municipalities, property and facility managers, especially in the Western United States due to its severity and the multi-year impact on regions.

The challenge is to create an aesthetically beautiful landscape while working with significant water restrictions and maximizing water efficiency. In 2014, California’s Governor Brown declared a statewide drought emergency asking all Californians to reduce their water use by 20%. Similar drought situations plagued Colorado and Utah in 2002 and 2012. Continue reading “Five Steps to Maximize Water Efficiency”

Stormwater Management: It’s our responsibility and more…

Water to drainWhy should we care about stormwater management? Originally, stormwater management involved primarily quantity of flow and now equally important is quality of water runoff. Since 1970’s, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is responsible for managing runoffs in the United States.

The EPA utilize computerized mapping and models to best manage water runoff, erosion and pollution problems resulting from weather or other fresh water flow. Because of these regulations, municipalities, counties,  and the private sector strive to achieve compliance and more. Continue reading “Stormwater Management: It’s our responsibility and more…”