Understanding Snow and Ice Removal Contracts

Budgeting for snow and ice removal can be challenging. Some winters are one snowstorm after another, while others can be extremely dry. Because of the fluctuating amounts of precipitation each winter, it may seem hard to make the best decision for your snow and ice removal needs. Terracare understands these challenges and has the right contract for your needs. We offer three unique contracts that allow our clients to select the best fee structure that meets both their needs and budget. Below is a description of these snow and ice contracts to simplify the process.

Lump Sum Price

A lump sum price is usually the safest contract to decide upon. It allows the client to pay a fixed amount per month and no matter how much or how little it snows, our crews will be there. Many clients love having a fixed amount because they do not have to worry about the price fluctuating throughout the season. The bill is always the same. In addition, another beneficial aspect is that we will have crews on-site at the property. Whenever it snows you can feel at ease knowing the snow will be cleared without delay.

Snow PlowPay Per-Push

This type of contract is for property managers that just want to pay for when it does snow. If there is no accumulation then the clients are not billed. However, when it does snow our crews will be on-call and will be dispatched accordingly. This contract also allows the client to set a fixed amount of snow whether it be any snow at all or a couple of inches before we send our crews out. The benefit of this contract is that if the client believes the winter is going to be particularly dry than they save the money that would have been spent on a fixed contract. The risk of pay per-push is if there is large amount of accumulation then you will be paying for each snowstorm that year. There also is a delay because the crews are on-call instead on on-site.

Hybrid

The last contract that we offer is a combination of the first two. A hybrid contract allows the client to set a base limit of hours that they pay for up front and then after that limit is reached they switch to the pay per-push contract. This contract is valuable to clients that want to make sure they have our crews on-site and available in case a storm does happens. Clients that usually utilize this contract are larger such as cities or municipalities.

What’s next?

Take time now to plan and be prepared. Let Terracare do the rest. Our snow and ice removal experts at Terracare have a vast amount of knowledge and experience. If you have any other, questions about snow and ice removal or want more information on which contract best fits your needs feel free to reach out to us.

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5 Steps for Handling Snow Damaged Trees

For many of us, snowy conditions can lead to potentially hazardous situations. One of the harmful conditions that commercial landscape property owners constantly have to deal with is snow-damaged trees. Snowstorms often create wet, heavy snow and the snow’s weight can cause considerable damage to a property’s trees and shrubs. Knowing how to react or prepare, can help minimize damages. Here are five tips for handling snow damaged trees and shrubs:

Assess the area.

Before clearing branches, make sure the surrounding area is safe. Broken tree branches often affect and damage utility lines. Be sure to take the proper steps to ensure the situation is safe – this could mean cutting the power to those lines until clean up can be handled.

Check the damage.

Trees and shrubs that bend under the weight of the snow will recover. If a tree is overall healthy and possess its main branch, most of its major limbs, and 50 percent or more of its crown (top branches), then the tree has good chances of making a full recovery.

Be patient.

During a snowstorm, or the days immediately following, there is little that you can do to help a tree. Remove any hazards and broken branches, but save major decisions for later. Concentrate on how to save the tree rather than making an impulse decision to chop it down.

Do not over prune.

Remove and prune the damaged parts of the tree. The tree might look uneven for a time however know that new foliage will soon cover up the bare areas.

Seek help.

If the job requires a chainsaw or ladder or is just too much to handle, contact an insured, certified, commercial company. They will be better equipped to access the situation and help with the cleanup.

It is not too late to get help with your snow removal needs. Send us a note or give us a call and we will get back to you with a proposal and estimate for how we can help you.
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5 Plants to Brighten Up Your Property This Winter

For many of us there is no avoiding the upcoming snow and ice this season. Because of this, choosing lively plants that can thrive through the winter months is a great way to bring some life to your commercial landscape property. Below are five of our recommendations:

 

dogwoodRed Twig Dogwood

The fire red colors of this fun shrub provides a unique pop to any commercial landscape property, especially through the winter. During these months, the Red Twig Dogwood drops it’s leaves which in turn exposes the shrubs incredible, bright red bark. Red Twig Dogwood are exceptionally adaptable and are known to thrive both in the cold and hot extremes.

Spruce
Colorado Blue Spruce

A popular evergreen tree, the Colorado Blue Spruce, gives off a silvery- blue hue and is a perfect way to add a lush feel during these cold, snowy months. Colorado Blue Spruce trees can grow to about 30 to 50 feet high, however they only are 10 to 20 feet wide. In addition to that, birds love these kinds of trees! That being said more color will be added as the birds fly in and out of your commercial landscape property.

Juniper
Golden Pacific Juniper

This low growing evergreen juniper grows to 10 to 15 inches tall and is great for any ground cover or for cascading over a wall. Golden Pacific Juniper stands out in the winter months by giving a yellowish, golden look that really comes through. On top of that it is a very low maintenance, durable plant, being both resistant to deer and insects.

Camellia
Winter Camellia

Adding a Winter Camellia might be just what your property needs for that extra spark during the dull winter months. Known for being a winter bloomer, this beautiful shrub surely is a treat for any commercial landscape property. The Winter Camellia produces flowers that range in color from pure white to soft pink to a dark red.

Reed grass
Feather Reed Grass

This persistent grouping of ornamental grass, holds its grain heads well into the winter. Feather Reed Grass grows to be 3 to 5 feet tall and the grain heads at the top will add a golden hue to your property. An added perk is that Feather Reed Grass is an extremely versatile plant. Due to that, it can be found in many locations in the U.S.

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.

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

SnowWeather-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.

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.

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.

 

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 including 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 so 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 which 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 including 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 and 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.