Drought Conditions? Try Xeriscaping

As a commercial property owner, you are always striving to keep your landscape in immaculate condition despite the circumstances. With projected drought conditions for much of the western United States, this will be a struggle. However, the idea of xeriscaping, which is, the practice of conserving water through strategic landscaping, may be your solution. While not a new concept, the increased frequencies of droughts and water scarcity has put a spotlight on the importance of xeriscape and its capabilities of reducing water while maintaining a beautiful and appealing landscape. Here are some of the benefits you can gain by incorporating xeriscaping practices into your property.

10NorthCityReclamationPlant_previewLessens Water Usage

When drought conditions are present, the main concern for any commercial landscape owner will be cutting back the usage of water. Property owners that chose to xeriscape will be able to reduce water usage as much as 70 percent. To make this reduction possible, begin with careful planning and designing of your landscape. This ensures that not only water efficiency is achieved, but also maximizes the survival of carefully chosen plants. It is also important to include correct mulch, rocks, and composted soil into your landscape plan. These steps will help reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation, which then limits water usage. Another vital xeriscape procedure is to choose plants that require low amounts of water. These plants can range from native plants to non-invasive plants that are well adapted to our local region’s climate. To learn more about native plant options click here.

Increases Property Value

One of the foremost concerns that will often arise when drought conditions are present is being able maintain an appealing landscape. The dryness and lack of water from the drought will unfortunately turn your property into dried out shades of yellow or brown. When the health and beauty of your landscape suffers, it can reflect poorly and may decrease the value of the property. However, a xeriscaped commercial property will offer a beautiful landscape year round.

What’s next?

Are you a commercial property owner in need of more information of xeriscaping or transitioning your landscape? Contact your Terracare expert for all your xeriscaping needs.

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The 6 Step Quick Guide to Brush Management

According to WX Shift, “since 1970 the annual average number of wildfires larger than 1,000 acres has more than double in the western U.S. The typical wildfire season has also stretched by about two and a half months longer over that time.” With years of drought and hotter temperatures stretching into the fall months throughout most of the western U.S., vegetation flammability has increased making wildfires a concern for many municipalities, HOAs and commercial properties. To help curb these concerns, brush management should be an integral part of every landscaping plan.

 

The USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service defines brush management as “the management or removal of woody (non herbaceous or succulent) plants including those that are invasive or noxious.” Brush management is applied to accomplish many results including reducing fire hazards around structures, helping firefights protect life and property when fires breakout, restoring natural vegetation cover to protect from erosion and more. In the west, many cities, municipalities and counties have established guidelines and rules for managing brush and reducing fire risk. Here are steps to follow when examining and executing brush management:

 

Step 1: Plan and identify what plants, trees and areas need brush management.

Step 2: Clear as much loose dead wood and invasive species as you can within the area. This will help you see what other plants and trees need care and pruning.

Step 3: Thin the plants and trees in the area. Start by trimming down plants over two feet in height to a height of six inches. This ensures two aspects: the roots remain intact to help minimize soil erosion. Depending on where you are in the country, thinning can be prioritized differently so check with your local county to learn what thinning should be done.

Step 4: Prune all plants or groups of plants that remain after the thinning process. Depending on the type of plant, the “umbrella” shape should be applied where possible. This means pruning lower branches to create umbrella-shaped canopies.

Step 5: Dispose of the cuttings and dead wood properly by either chipping wood to return to your property or by carting it to a landfill.

Step 6: Continue to monitor plants, thinning and pruning annually since plants grow back.

 

Need help making sure your property is ready for fire season? Send us a note and we’ll work to help you find a custom solution for your property.

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.

Mulch

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?

5 Tips for Fighting Weeds

Keep grass healthy and weed-free by mowing regularly.
Keep grass healthy and weed-free by mowing regularly.

Spring brings warmer weather, more sunshine, longer days, and the start of the growing season for plants. Unfortunately, plants also include weeds. Weeds tend to be the most resilient and prolific of all plants. Each weed type has its own unique growth and seed cycle that occur at various times during the year. The unpredictability of the weed cycle and vast root system, plus the constant seeding cycle, is why weeds continue to exist. Removing the whole root is the right approach, however close to impossible to achieve without destroying of the root system of the entire area. Any part of a weed root system will eventually lead to the re-establishment of the weed.

 

Inevitably there is one commercial property, city park, or highway medium that has a perfect lawn – super green and mysteriously, no evidence of weeds. What are they doing, that you aren’t?

 

Here are five tips for fighting weeds that will deliver healthy and attractive parks and landscapes.

  1. Rake the yard. Once the snow has disappeared from a property, don’t instantly go wild with chemicals. Over the winter, plant matter may have accumulated on top of the grass shading the soil and root structure. Wake up and stimulate growth through light raking.
  2. Stomp out seeds. As temperatures reach 50-65oF apply a pre-emergent type herbicide to combat the seeds (we highly recommend seeking expert landscape advice). This treatment creates a barrier in the soil, when seeds germinate they either grow down or up to the barrier and die off.  Once this has been applied, water to start the treatment but don’t over water and allow the product to work undisturbed.
  3. Fertilizer. Once temperatures are consistently warm, there are a variety of fertilizers that can help. Your outdoor maintenance provider can assist in finding the best mix. In fact, Terracare Associates offers a custom blend that helps with water absorption and fertilization. It is important to have three specific nutrients in the mixture.
    1. Nitrogen (N): Nitrogen will help green the plant
    2. Phosphate (P): Phosphorous helps promote root growth
    3. Potassium (K). Potassium promotes overall plant health (i.e. a good “winterizer” will have a high Potassium number)

    Fertilizing throughout the season improves grass health and stimulates growth so there is no available space for weeds to try to compete.

  4. Mow regularly. Mowing is a key component of the annual process. Each type of grass has an ideal cutting height for health and growth. Mowing at the proper height is an effective weed control practice and will help with the health of your lawn plant. Depending on the weather and time of year, mowing should occur every 4-5 days or every week. Our company often uses mulching mowers; this reduces the amount of matter sent to the landfill and returns the finely clipped grass to the soil as a fertilizer itself.
    • Expert tip: Ask your landscape professional what type of turf is best for your property. You may have a grass that is not ideal material for your landscape.
  5. Spot spraying. Larger properties tend to have sporadic weeds throughout the turf. Terracare’s best practices include spot spray instead of a wholesale treatment. The “down- stream” concerns of run-off can be hazardous to the environment.  Be cognizant of when and how chemicals are washed out into storm drains.

 

Sticking to these steps will help curb weeds on your property and make it a healthy, beautiful, and sustainable landscape for years to come.

 

Bill Winfield serves as Director of Operations for Terracare Associates overseeing all public infrastructure operations. Currently, he is the lead project manager on the largest public private partnership contract in the country between City of Centennial, Colorado, and CH2MHill. In addition, he supervises operations of the public works departments for Northwest Parkway and Lone Tree, Colorado, and Cottonwood Heights, Utah, and is responsible for an additional 23 infrastructure contracts and projects. He is a graduate of the University of Wyoming.

 

Landscape Preservation: What Is Integrated Pest Management?

integrated pest management plants

What is the value of the trees and shrubs on your property? What about the other plants and turf? No doubt there is not much room in your landscaping budget to spend thousands of dollars to replace dead or damaged plants and tree. That is why Terracare Associations has created our Landscape Preservation Program.

What is Landscape Preservation?

Landscape Preservation refers to the landscape care and health of important outdoor assets such as trees, shrubs, and turf on your commercial property.  Replacing high dollar landscape assets can be avoided with ongoing, year-round TLC.  A common way to refer to preserving your landscape assets is,  Integrated Pest Management.  According to the EPA (Environment Protection Agency) “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common-sense practices.”

Landscape Preservation and plant health care (PHC) use current, comprehensive information on the life cycles of pests and plants to create a fine-tuned program for your property. This program, in combination with available pest control methods, is used to keep your plants and trees healthy as well as manage pest damage with the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

The Three Key Benefits of Landscape Preservation

The goal of Landscape Preservation is to keep your plants and trees healthy. We believe that healthy tree is a happy tree. The same goes for shrubs and other plants.

Healthy plants are better able to fight off insects, disease and other pests. By regularly inspecting plants and trees on your property, we are able to take the needed steps to keep your trees and plants healthy.

Proper feeding and watering throughout the year eliminates many pest problems. By strengthening and stabilizing the landscape, we can create the proper balance of conditions that are more favorable for plants than for pests.

At TCA, we often recommend this program to larger commercial properties, especially those who are concerned with LEED Certification and an eco-friendly approach to pest management.

  • On large, commercial properties, where hand-pulling weeds is neither practical nor cost efficient.
  • By monitoring, preventing and controlling damaging pests you can reduce your use of chemicals that can harm the environment and save money.
  • Landscape Preservation gives you greater knowledge of pest activity on your property.

Creating a Customized Landscape Preservation Program

  1. Inspecting and Monitoring

A trained landscape professional will regularly monitor your property for signs of harmful pest infestation. While insects are a common problem, they are not the only problem that should be monitored. We watch for early signs of plant/tree diseases and weeds in turf areas and floral beds.

The sighting of a few insects does not necessarily pose a threat to the plants on your property. Keep in mind, not all insects require control. Many are not harmful, in fact, some are even beneficial. For instance, lady bugs eat aphids and certain wasp species that feed on web worms. These are just a few of the insects you should welcome.

Each Landscape Preservation Program is customized for a specific property. This is not a one size fits all program. We understand that plant care and pests control varies from region to region.

What is needed in North Texas can be different even in other parts of the state. The same is true in California, Utah, and Colorado, That is why we take a personalized view of each property. To fully understand the needs of your property, we may need to take soil samples or examine the water table.

2. Prevention

Implementing proper maintenance and plant care techniques will go a long way in preventing many of the pests common to your area.

Mowing turf areas at the highest setting for your grass type promotes deeper roots, preventing water loss. Taller grass also cools the soil and reduces heat stress in summer. Proper watering will ensure that the grass stays healthy. Frequent watering encourages shallow and weak root systems.

Performing a soil test to determine its pH levels will help prevent you from overusing fertilizer. Improper use of fertilizer promotes weed growth and makes plants more susceptible to disease.

3. Control

Landscape Preservation emphasizes non-chemical and biological methods of plant health and pest control. However, when chemical control is called for, it is important to choose the least toxic methods.

Various methods are used to control pest problems. Cultural control methods, such as mulching beds and other areas, help to control weeds. Mechanical control employs the use of devices, such as traps for rodents and insects.

Is your property ready for winter? Contact Terracare Associates to find out how you can protect and preservation the beauty and health of the plants on your property.

This is part 3 of a 3 part series on the benefits of winterizing and preserving your landscape:

Part 1: The Importance of Winterizing Your Landscape

Part 2: Why Your Property Need a Winter Watering Program

Part 3: Landscape Preservation: How Integrated Pest Management Can Save You Money

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Terracare Associates [TCA] is a recognized leader in outdoor maintenance in the Western United States – with 30 years of experience. During all seasons, our certified and experienced staff improves landscapes, parks, roadways and infrastructure for beautiful, safe and sustainable outdoor environments.

For more information about Integrated Pest Management: