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 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 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.


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

Evaluate and Prioritize your Landscape Projects

Part 2

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 other blog posts in this series:

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:


  • TrimmingThis 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?.

Is Your Property’s Irrigation System Wasting Money?

It’s HOT!  Don’t send money down the drain! Your landscape provider can help you maintain and monitor your property’s automated irrigation system to ensure this is the most efficient way of watering your landscape. Having a properly maintained irrigation system is also one of the best ways to minimize water waste and lower overall watering costs.

Smart scheduling saves water

An irrigation controller can help monitor your system’s watering schedule to fit \ the watering needs of your property.  Here is what your landscape provider is looking to do:

  • Setting the timer for early in the morning or in the evening can minimize water evaporation by up to 30%.
  • irrigationA rain or soil moisture sensor controller to monitor and adjust your watering schedule regularly and based on seasonal weather conditions and other factors. Weather-based controllers automatically adjust the irrigation schedule as weather conditions change.
  • Consider the amount of sun, shade, and wind exposure on the plants and schedule individual zones to be most efficient. The type of soil will also affect how much water can be absorbed without runoff. The landscape provider will evaluate the setting to the irrigation system to run for three or four short intervals, allowing time between each for the water to soak more deeply into the soil.
  • Checking often on the sprinkler heads to ensure they are set properly to avoid watering driveways, sidewalks, or buildings.


Regular irrigation system maintenance saves water.

Like any other mechanical system, the irrigation system also needs regular maintenance to keep it working efficiently. Parts will break or wear out and must be replaced. An older system may not be able to handle the needs of a new landscape design or other changes to your property.

Retrofit the system with a rain or soil moisture sensor to prevent over watering. Rain sensors stop the system from operating when it rains; soil moisture sensors use long metal probes to measure moisture at the root zone and turn the system off when no additional water is needed, this is highly encouraged for water conservation practices.

At Terracare Associates, we recommend performing a regular irrigation system audit. Your irrigation systems should be regularly inspected for leaks, broken sprinkler heads, or other damaged components. During our regular inspections, we evaluate pressure and adjust it as needed so your sprinklers work optimally to distribute the water.

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Free Irrigation Audit

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

What is Sustainable Landscaping?

The term ‘sustainable’ is everywhere, but what does it mean to our landscapes? The common perception is that sustainability in the landscape means drought resistant spaces that require little or no additional water, which are maintained with an unkempt aesthetic and mulched with rock. This is completely inaccurate. Sustainable landscapes get a bad rap because they are often installed improperly, and almost always misunderstood. There is a much more meaningful, and appealing approach to sustainable landscaping that is generally unknown.

So what are the main characteristics of a proper sustainable landscape? Sustainable landscaping

Sustainable landscapes are planned as complex ecosystems. Similar to nature, sustainable landscapes (also called regenerative landscapes) consider even the smallest niches to ensure the health and function of the complete system. These considerations start at the soil, move through the plant canopy and touch everything in between.

While they do generally require less water than a traditional landscape, the reality is more nuanced. They are designed with specific features and species that are able to thrive in the ecosystem in which they are placed. We have all seen soggy spots and dry spots in our own yards. Sustainable landscapes address these features as separate microclimates that require different materials. The soggy spots would house plants that require more water, while the dry spots would be populated with species acclimated to more arid conditions.

Soil Health

Sustainable landscapes place a high priority on soil health. Without healthy soil you cannot have a healthy ecosystem. Regenerative landscapes add organic matter and soil biology to the soil. Critters like bacteria, fungi and other microbial creatures are the most important part of the soil. These creatures and the soil they create are the “immune system” of the planet. Regenerative landscapes passively build soil health as they mature, strengthening the entire system.

NatSustainable landscapingive Plants

Native plant species are another big part of regenerative landscapes. Natives are perfectly adapted to local conditions like precipitation, temperatures, pests and seasonal changes. If natives don’t pack enough punch for your space, many great cultivars have been developed for superior color and foliage displays.


What can sustainable landscapes be?

Sustainable landscapes can be anything. They can carry almost any aesthetic; natural and wild looking, or clean and compartmentalized. -Even with the same plant palette. They can display blocks of color, or show off muted textures. Turf can also be installed and maintained sustainably. Harvard Yard has been doing it that way for years!

The quickest way to build a truly sustainable landscape is to start from the beginning, but with enough foresight and thought, existing landscapes can be transitioned to a regenerative space.

Pockets can be carved out of a commercial landscape to keep the budget under control, or entire campuses can be transitioned to make a bold statement to your clients and your employees.

If you need direction for your regenerative landscape, reach out. Let’s see what Terracare Associates and your organization can build together.


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.

A Quick-and-Simple Guide to Xeriscape

Xeriscape landscaping can be the most efficient and effective method for commercial properties, municipal parks, and cities to achieve water use reduction and reduce costs. Xeriscape has been cited as reducing outdoor water use by as much as 70 percent. 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.


What is 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.


Here are the fundamentals of xeriscape.

Plan and Design

Planning and designing the landscape will help ensure the new plants and overall xeriscape will not only survive, but thrive. Talk with your landscape contractor about the function of the landscaped area, sun exposure, and overall goal of the project.

  • Function: What function will the new xeriscaped area serve? For instance, if you need to keep a grass turf area in your park, how do you balance this need while incorporating drought-resistant plants? Your commercial landscape professional can help determine how to incorporate function and new design into your landscape.
  • Sun: Consider how much sun each section of the xeriscape will receive. Will it be morning, afternoon, or all-day sun? The amount and time of sun exposure will affect the types of plants selected.
  • Goal: What’s the overall goal of the project? Do you need to drastically reduce water usage or looking to make the maintenance of the overall property easier and more affordable? Discuss your goals with your landscape provider who will be able to provide appropriate suggestions and tips.



Depending on the soil quality, soil amendments might be necessary before planting. Soil changes can enable the soil to better absorb water. It’s notable though that not all xeric plants will need rich soil. Soil in all areas will need to be loosened before planting.



Xeriscaping utilizes the concept of zones – grouping plants together with similar water needs. Where you are located and how dry your climate and landscape are will dictate which plants will thrive in the landscape. Consult your landscape professional for help with selecting appropriate plants.



Not all areas of your landscape need the same amount of water. Design irrigation zones to fit the needs of the plants within designated zones. Turf areas will need more water compared to low-water-use plants. This approach will help save water and properly care for each plant. Remember to keep irrigation maintained to ensure optimum efficiency. Your landscape professional can help identify how much water is needed for each area and which irrigation methods will be most useful.



As we’ve discussed in our previous post on mulch (How this 1 surprising landscape enhancement can revive your property), mulch is any type of material -usually natural – serving as a cover and is spread over the soil. Not only does it help suppress weeds and improve soil quality, it can help insulate plants and minimize water evaporation and greatly improving water usage.


Contact your landscape professional to assess how to turn the landscape you manage into a xeriscape landscape.

Creating a Community Friendly, LEED Certified Complex in Texas

How do you create a sustainable, welcoming outdoor environment meeting strict LEED certified specifications for both corporate employees and a community to enjoy together?


That’s where Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas found itself in 2010. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas moved their headquarters to the heart of Richardson, Texas, in the greater Dallas-Ft. Worth area. As the 34-acre LEED Silver Certified complex was completed, the company sought to beautify the outdoor spaces, gardens, and trails that would embody the company’s mission of health and wellness for employees and the community while also ensuring the landscaping synced with LEED specifications.

Blue Cross Blue Shield TerraceBlue Cross Blue Shield Pathway








Tackling the Project

Terracare Associates – TCA has been a valuable partner to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas for 18 years providing extensive customized landscape maintenance within budget during long summer months of extreme heat while also complying with local water restrictions. TCA set to work, alongside the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas team, planning and developing ongoing maintenance plans for the property’s landscape, which included manicured flowerbeds, two acres of turf grass, three acres of wildflower beds, and 10 acres of natural grass fields. The landscaped area would require full maintenance services including full service land management, extensive mowing, plant healthcare, integrated pest management, irrigation services, tree and shrub pruning, enhancement and construction projects, and ongoing clean-up and repair. This was a massive project to both undertake and maintain, and that’s what TCA did.

Natural Grass at Blue Cross Blue Shield Texas Blue Cross Blue Shield Tree Walkway





Customized Solutions

TCA worked hard with the team at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas to create a customized maintenance plan and procedures for the entire property, ranging from specific plans and timelines for the individual environments to property-wide systems. Plans and procedures included tailored maintenance outlines for each type of turf grasses, wildflower areas that were reseeded annually, and perennial beds that were monitored for pruning and growth. The TCA team also provided additional dedicated staff to sections of the property that required more attention. For instance, a dedicated irrigation project manager worked to manage and maintain the system – adjusting for environmental changes and plant requirements. TCA also provided ongoing consultation to ensure LEED requirements and documentation were completed and submitted appropriately to maintain LEED certification for the entire complex.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Walkway

Can TCA help your community or city improve your landscape? TCA’s team would love to chat with you about how we can help. Why not consider sending TCA a request for proposal?

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.


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


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: