Impatient for Summer Color?

ELM’s color team knows that the impatiens, petunias, begonias, and the variegated coleus’ we choose for our customers’ color borders, entry walkways, signage, and other critical focal points are more important than just the bright pop of color they bring; they have meaning beyond their obvious impact.

In fact, research suggests that people feel colors more than they see them. This is why stylists, landscape professionals, garden designers, interior decorators, and real estate marketing experts use color to create different moods or to inspire, energize, or simply to make people happy.

ELM’s color team selects colors so that its collective effect makes small spaces seem larger, attracts attention to showcase areas, and creates a sense of flow.

ELM’s color strategy is generally based on installing warm hues, such as reds, yellows and oranges, front or center; cool colors and taller plant and foliage varieties in darker shades, such as blues and purples, behind; and tapering off into the background with supporting shades and texture to create an illusion of depth. We find that mass plantings of warm colors tend to make landscape areas feel more intimate and that staying within one color group tends to provide a sense of unity. For high impact, we recommend juxtaposing warm and cool colors to provide contrast, drama, and a sense of energy.

For information on seasonal color rotation or to learn how landscape color impacts the perception of your brand, contact professional horticulturist Bruce Moore, Jr., vice president, operations at 203-316-5433.

Charles Andrianus Widens ELM’s Competitive Edge

Eastern Land Management, an award-winning, full-service commercial landscape company located in Stamford, Connecticut, anchors its mission to one thing: trust. “No one is going to buy from a person they don’t trust” is ELM’s guiding principle.

Charles Andrianus, an ELM area manager since 2014, walks the trust talk and has become an expert in the number one rule of trust building: be yourself.

“Everybody has, at some time or another, had a bad experience by someone trying to sell them something,” says Charles. “I know our customers are impatient with spin and it’s important for me to show real integrity so our customers know I’ve got their best interests at heart.”

A Stamford native, Charles is a SUNY Maritime College and Texas A&M Maritime Academy-trained merchant marine, and student of marine transportation and logistics. He also holds a 3rd Mates License from the U.S. Coast Guard, which is helpful, he says, to keep the ship of good service sailing in the right direction.

“Charles’ background in complex problem solving makes him a natural troubleshooter,” said Bruce Moore, Jr., vice president, operations. “Coupled with his positive attitude and willingness to help, he can turn a regular customer experience into an amazing one.” Charles has been on a career trajectory and has sprinted from enhancement crew leader to landscape management field manager to area manager all within two years. In the fall of 2016, Charles obtained supervisory certification to engage in commercial use of pesticides from the State of Connecticut, a responsibility that comes with particular emphasis in health, safety and deployment.

In his free time, Charles cultivates a home garden that is abuzz with pollinators. He shares his love of exotic foliage, forage plants and annual color with ELM customers and offers them this one piece of advice: to appreciate their landscape as a vibrant ecosystem, with workhorse pollinators, food chain plants and soil microorganisms all playing a vital role in the health and importance of daily life.

“Charles’ contributions will help transform ELM for the future,” says Bruce Moore. “We’re pleased to have him on our team and welcome his ability to capitalize on emerging opportunities.”

Buzz Kill: Manage biting insects to prevent, control, and fight spread of vector-borne diseases.

Experts are predicting an over-abundance of ticks and mosquitoes this summer due to an unseasonably warm winter.

Of concern to commercial property and facility managers in the greater Fairfield and Westchester County areas are protective measures to reduce the risk of the diseases they transmit, including the potentially debilitating tick-borne Lyme disease and the mosquito-carried West Nile, Zika, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, among others.

ELM has an established vector management program based on the understanding of the particular insect’s habitat in the landscape and the expertise and confidence of ELM’s well-trained technical team to use safe, environmentally sound, and effective control measures.

“Our main focus is preventative: to eliminate mosquito breeding areas and proactively treat tick habitats,” says Area Manager Charles Andrianus, ELM’s licensed pest control supervisor and director of its pest management program, “This is especially important for businesses serving vulnerable demographics, such as senior living facilities, hospitals and schools,” he added.

ELM offers both chemical repellent products that have been registered and tested for efficacy and human safety, and natural organic solutions to treat mosquitos and ticks, and other biting insects, such as black flies, and parasites, such as fleas.

ELM’s mosquito and tick service begins in June for existing landscape maintenance customers. It is also available as a stand-alone or enhanced service for property and facility managers interested in securing an extra layer of protection. The service consists of three treatments at one-month intervals. Landscape and habitat modifications that can diminish vector habitats are recommended in cases where it can maximize protection and are delivered separately.

Mosquito Prevention Basics:
• Ensure adequate protection during times of day when mosquitoes are most active.
• Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
• Keep properties debris-free. 
• Identify areas that might develop and harbor mosquitoes and treat. 
• Address both larval and adult mosquito control.
• Use approved, safe, and safely-applied diverse control measures to reduce mosquito populations.
• Modify landscape plantings to introduce beneficial insects and mosquito-repelling plants, such as marigolds and ageratum.

Tick Prevention Basics:
• Introduce deer-resistant plants such as sages and ornamental salvias, and tick resistant plants, such as rosemary and citronella.
• Select the least toxic chemical control applications and apply along wood lines and walking trails.
• Make landscape modifications in areas adjacent to woods, stonewalls, or ornamental plantings to create a tick-free zone.
• Design buffer areas using gravel to deter ticks from crossing onto lawns from wooded areas.
• Alter landscape’s shady areas to increase sunlight.
• Change landscape practices to create areas less hospitable to ticks.
• Identify areas that might develop and harbor ticks and treat.
• Cut back the wood lines to create a wider buffer zone between plant material ticks hide in and public pedestrian areas.
• Keep brush piles and tall grass cleaned-up and mowed.
• Stay on marked, walking trails; never follow a deer trail.
• Shower and wash thoroughly if you’ve been hiking and check for ticks.
• Wear adequate protection and clothing with insect repellents that utilize DEET, or alternative organic products, such as botanical oil-based products, such as cedar, which is lethal to ticks, or organic neem oil.
 
Mosquitos and ticks are more than a summer nuisance. The diseases they can carry are serious. General protective and control measures work.

For more information on ELM’s pest control program and mosquito and tick treatment services, contact Bruce Moore, Jr., vice president, operations, at 203-316-5433.

Follow us on Facebook

(Photo: CDC © Aedes aegypti mosquito, carrier of Zika virus).

Branch Manager Scott Distasio Delivers Continued Growth & Exceptional Service

Under the executive leadership of ELM Branch Manager, Scott Distasio, operational excellence and positive customer approval ratings are critical front-line touchpoints.

“Scott’s strong, relevant leadership improves the success of our whole organization,” said Bruce Moore, Jr., vice president, ELM operations. “He helps us align quality and systems, and leverages new technologies and ideas to keep our services and approaches fresh.”

Scott joined ELM in 2014, with progressive technical and management experience in all major landscape disciplines, including design-build, horticulture, tree care, and advanced snow/ice management.

A Connecticut native, Scott began his landscape career with a local garden center when he was in high school. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Landscape Development from the State University of New York at Cobleskill, Scott worked in landscape services industry for fifteen years prior to joining ELM in 2014. When not overseeing landscape projects and making service more meaningful for customers, Scott spends his off hours renovating his home and garden.

When asked what one piece of advice he would give customers, Scott said the secret to lasting landscape success and return on investment is multi-year planning. “It all boils down to understanding what’s affecting value and providing an actionable plan to deliver it,” he noted.

“Scott is ambidextrous,” said Bruce Moore. “He can manage the branch organization while simultaneously making sure that our customers are better off for having invested their money with us. We’re proud to have him on our team.”

Understanding Landscape Lifecycle

Like all living things, your landscape has a life cycle. With proper care and maintenance, horticulturists can extend its life. But ultimately, all plants will reach the end of their life cycle and decline.

Grasses, trees and shrubs have separate and distinct life cycles. For example, annual flowers have a life expectancy of approximately one year; perennial plants live for several growing seasons. Many keep their leaves year-round and make attractive borders, groundcovers and meadow plantings. Perennials common in the northeast are cold hardy enough to survive winter temperatures. Some perennials, such as forage grasses, die back each winter but revive in the spring.

How landscape lifecycle affects cost:

1) Budget – Replacing plant material can be expensive, especially if large quantities of landscape materials are on the same life cycle and need to be replaced at the same time.

2) Schedule – Scheduling can be difficult in terms of ordering lead times and finding material that is the right size and variety. Scheduling seasonal upgrades, replanting, freshening and improvements to existing areas is critical, especially when the landscape is an important part of the property’s overall marketability, such as on commercial and educational sites.

3) Maintenance – A good landscape management program can ensure that the plant material gets the horticultural care it needs. The right level of care and best management practice will promote the plant’s proper growth and development of the landscape, and prevent damage or early decline. When the landscape ages and begins to lose its luster, we believe it’s often better and cheaper to replace plants in decline than to artificially extend their life using products that might cause potential harm to groundwater, beneficial insects, and sensitive habitats, or result in unnecessary cost to the owner.

4) Function – Plants have three roles to play: aesthetic, structural and utilitarian. They can be visually pleasing, organize and define space, create barriers for privacy and safety, and create comfort by modifying light, temperature and humidity. How plants are used, and to what extent they contribute to site habitat or microclimate, or how they are used for security or energy efficiency, is essential when considering how long each of these plants, trees and shrubs will be able to do its job.

5) Trends – Commercial landscaping reflects the needs of the environment as much as it follows consumer trends. If you want your property value to stay ahead of the curve, it’s a good idea to take stock of your landscape to stay relevant and appealing. Overall, landscapes are more sustainably focused. Traditional lawn areas are being re-imagined, natural materials are in demand, and digital technologies that control landscape and irrigation systems are fueling an opportunity for enhanced next-generation resource management.

6) Water – As Connecticut enters year three of a statewide drought, irrigation becomes a matter of water management. Property owners and managers concerned about the impact of restricted watering on their plants and trees are justifiably concerned. Options for keeping landscapes healthy as the weather heats up include turf aeration, to improve water and nutrient absorption; soil amendments, to improve soil health; mulching, to improve hydration and moisture retention; converting underutilized turf or tired borders to perennial meadows or less thirsty plantings; and retrofitting outdated sprinkler systems with water conserving technologies.

How can ELM help?

ELM’s team of professional horticulturists are knowledgeable about which plants, flowers, grasses and trees are right for the site; how they will perform over time, and how their unique characteristics will contribute to the overall health, longevity, and value of the landscape.

We provide both short- and long-term cost analysis, maintenance priorities, water and resource conservation strategies, and, more importantly, as all-season service provides, make sure that every site we care for is safe and hazard-free, even in winter.

For more information on optimizing your landscape life cycle and creating a landscape management strategy that begins with the end in mind, contact Bruce Moore at 203-316-5433.

The Benefits of Mulch

Mulches are the Swiss Army Knife of landscape applications. They come in many forms and serve many functions: covering bare ground in shrub beds, around annuals, and in tree wells, and working behind the scenes to make the soil and the plants it serves healthier and better able to withstand stress.

As our region heads into watering restrictions and year three of a statewide drought, mulch will play a critical role in conserving water.

Here’s how:

1) Retaining moisture – Mulches reduce evaporation by placing an insulating cover over bare soil, which keeps roots hydrated. Mulches also save water by reducing weeds and their competition for moisture and nutrients. Mulch is an important tool for landscape health during periods of drought-based watering restrictions as it helps the soil hold water longer.

2) Preventing run-off and erosion – Mulches help soil absorb irrigation water and heavy rainfall, preventing run-off and allowing penetration of water into the soil.

3) Regulating soil temperature – Mulches moderate soil temperature fluctuations. During hot weather, mulches reflect heat and keep soil cool. This helps reduce summer heat-stress on plants. During cold weather, mulches help the soil retain warmth, reducing the chance of winter root injury.

4) Preventing weeds – Mulch, when applied thick enough to prevent light from reaching the soil surface, prevents weed seeds from germinating. Weed seeds that do germinate, are inhibited from penetrating the mulch cover.

There are two broad categories of mulch: organic and inorganic. Inorganic, or mineral, mulches are materials such as gravel, rock or stones. These can be decorative and can help supply some of the functional benefits of mulch but lack the insulating and nourishing properties of organic mulch.

Although synthetic mulch products are available, organic mulch, derived from natural substances, have the added benefit of contributing nutrients to the soil as the mulch decomposes. Natural mulches come in many grades and textures, including quality bark and wood shavings, wood chips, and pine straw.

Mulch beds should be freshened once a year. When mulching an existing bed, we recommend mulch depth of 1 ½ to 2: thick. While mulch is a significant contributor to plant health, too much mulch can be too much of a good thing. If there is already a significant depth of mulch, additional mulch could suffocate roots and stress existing plants.

To learn more about the benefits mulch brings to your landscape and its strategic role in water conservation, contact Bruce Moore at 203-316-5433.

Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford Begin Twice-Weekly Watering May 1st

Local water agency and municipal officials have mandated that all outdoor watering with in-ground and above-ground landscape sprinklers will be restricted to two days a week, effective May 1. Drip irrigation, soaker hoses and hand-held watering will continue to be allowed.

Towns impacted by the water conservation ordinance are Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford. Watering restrictions previously imposed on the town of Norwalk have been lifted.

ELM’s water conservation team recommends managing commercial landscapes for consistent water savings, reducing watering needs by strategic plant practices (mulching, soil amendments, hydrogels, and proactively managing moisture-stress symptoms), converting underutilized turf areas to meadows, and exploring alternative technologies for irrigating overall.

Aquarion Water Company customers with new lawns or plantings, or with large properties, may apply for a variance to the restrictions beginning May 1.

To file a variance for your property, learn more about how twice-weekly watering affects your property, or have a discussion with our irrigation specialists on water-saving practices for your landscape, please contact ELM Vice President, Operations, Bruce Moore, Jr. at 203-316-5433, bmoorejr@easternland.com.

Are Perennials Breaking New Ground?

For commercial property owners and managers looking for non-traditional landscape approaches to take their office, mall, business park, school, or health care facility up a notch, look no further than transitioning high maintenance and underutilized turf and lawn areas to a perennial meadow.

Perennials are versatile plants that offer an infinite number of creative combinations when it comes to color, form, and texture. “The more species you include in your plant mix, the healthier it is,” said Bruce Moore, Jr., ELMs Vice President of Operations and a second-generation horticulturist. “While turf and lawn areas are typically made up of a single type grass, a cohesive palette of natural vegetation, ornamental grasses and flowering groundcovers improves the health of the soil and can act as a living mulch.”

In addition to emerging as a growing landscape and green design trend, meadow approaches are providing important ecological benefits well beyond aesthetics, attracting pollinators, songbirds, and beneficial insects. With less maintenance required overall, meadow plantings can offer cost savings over traditional sod.

According to Moore, the first three years of a meadow planting require time to fully develop. Once established, however, the plants become cost efficient (from reduced maintenance, reduced water, fertilizer and extra care turf might require), and the return on investment can be realized in less than half that time.

ELMs advocacy for re-imagined lawn alternatives has taken on new relevancy as ongoing drought concerns impact greater Fairfield County, Connecticut and parts of New York, an area ELM has served for more than 40 years.

Careful planning will ensure that the perennials and grasses integrate and compete well with other landscaped areas. “One of the best applications for this naturalistic aesthetic is in its power to transform parking lots,” said Moore.

“Parking lot renovations that incorporate sustainable characteristics and easy-care perennials overtime offer significant environmental and cost improvements. In winter, we’re finding that parking lots planted with both hardy natives and other appropriate plants suffer less damage when equipment is clearing away snow and ice.”

For more information on green infrastructure and sustainable landscape maintenance for commercial properties (bioswales, bioretention areas, turf, meadows, landscape and tree plant palettes), contact Bruce Moore @ 203-316-5433.

© Photo credit: Masshort.org

Strict Irrigation Mandates Encourage School Athletic Field Managers to Use Water Differently

New water restrictions are spurring Fairfield and Westchester Counties independent school facility managers to take a closer look at sports turf health as Connecticut and New York enter year three of drought concerns and declines in historic reservoir levels.

“Basically, we want to educate people to use only as much water as necessary to achieve healthy, natural turf playing fields,” said Bruce Moore, Jr., ELM’s vice president of operations and second-generation horticulturist who has taken the lead in ELM’s conservation advocacy efforts. “Our customers will be asked to cut watering by half. As a result, we’re taking a look at every aspect of how school sports fields are used, how to keep surface ball bounce and player footing, and how our landscape team can keep turf hydrated and healthy for all forms of student activity, including band practice, summer camps and student athletics.”

In the coming months, ELM will be working with campus managers to evaluate the performance of heavy use playing fields and review options for achieving healthy turf using less water. This includes considerations for the installation of high efficiency irrigation systems, course correcting existing systems, and implementing new ways to care for performance grass in order to reduce water usage.

According to the Town of Greenwich Water Commission and the Southwest Region Drought Group of the Connecticut Irrigation Contractors Association, new watering guidelines are expected to potentially cut irrigation run times by an estimated 50%, or more.

To ensure school playing fields remain resilient and use whatever level of water is allowed more efficiently, ELM suggests the following:

• Implement regular water uniformity tests (audits) to correct system inefficiencies.
• Ensure that the existing irrigation equipment and system is operating correctly.
• Use soil probes or soil moisture measuring devices to fine-tune irrigation.
• Work with facility managers to plan deficit irrigation strategies.
• Retrofit irrigation systems or install systems that offer greater uniformity, such as drip or other alternative
• Alter mowing approach, maintain at the tallest allowable height for the turf type; mowing goal to create root density (thereby more drought resistant) and tight canopy to reduce EVT and improve moisture retention.
• Alter fertilization practices to avoid excessive top growth and produce greatest rooting.
• Apply wetting agents and turf ‘sunscreen’ products that cut out UVB rays and protect against evaporation.
• Aerate to reduce soil compaction and thatch, and improve water infiltration rate and water use efficiency.
• Avoid runoff by ensuring that water application is not greater than the soil’s ability to absorb it.
• Repair systems to increase uniformity and reduce overlap.
• Identify water drainage deficits and drain lines and repair.
• Re-contour, prep, and re-sod the field as needed to correct performance inefficiencies, prevent sloping, puddling, and oversaturation.

ELM’s natural sports turf management program considers:
• Type of playing surface, performance criteria, and sport-specific use patterns.
• Local municipal compliance codes and evolving water agency regulations.
• Value-add, long-term strategies to save on all-in costs.
• Ongoing management and maintenance of soil health.
• Requirements for safe, non-toxic, organic fertilizers and soil amendments.
• Options for computer-driven technologies, weather based, precipitation sensors, and real-time remote-controlled irrigation systems.
• Site-specific irrigation equipment (in-ground systems, traveling systems, sub-surface micro options).
• The knowledge and expertise of a highly-specialized team of landscape and irrigation/water management professionals.

Moving forward, conversations about water conservation will grow from uncertainty to action as large commercial and institutional properties and schools understand that landscape drought response is not just for this year, but looking ahead at longer-term planning horizons. With wild swings in precipitation, with an exceptionally wet winter, and still low reservoir levels, the discussion about water will be focused on its efficiency.

To learn more about ELM’s sports turf program, water management action plan, and reducing your landscape’s vulnerability to drought, contact Bruce Moore at 203-316-5433.

(Photo: Tall fescue, a multi-tasking and durable turf grass commonly used as a playing surface in Connecticut independent schools).

ELMs Six-Point Approach to Using Less Water

With the onset of spring and reports of lower than normal area reservoir levels, ELM is rolling out its six-point action plan to help customers conserve water and improve irrigation efficiency.

1) Make sure irrigation is part of your operation’s financial dashboard system. Include water management as a metric for efficiency; measure and track performance.

2) Install weather-based sensors and smart controllers to manage water distribution, gauge irrigation requirements, and save cost. Update and repair out-of-date components which could lead to leaks, malfunctions, and wasted water. Invest in new technology and cloud-based digital systems that can save time, improve usage, and save money.

3) Use strategic mulching, mowing and fertilizing, which all greatly impact the health of the landscape, as well as the landscape’s ability to survive reduced irrigation.

4) Conduct a water audit and irrigation assessment to determine a prudent water plan for your property. The larger a property the more complex the microclimate and ecology, with sun, wind and shade impacting hydration requirements. Develop a water budget in context with local mandates, which determine a certain number of inches per year, gallons per square foot or percentage reduction of water use.

5) Use proper irrigation methods to improve system efficiencies. Install pressure-regulating devices, which apply water directly to plants, and high-efficiency nozzles or other devices such as drip system alternatives as conservation measures.

6) Maximize the use of native plant material and low-water use plants and trees. New England native plants provide good wildlife habitat and forage, and invite pollinators, such as migrating hummingbirds, bees, and beneficial insects, which benefit and enhance your landscape’s park-like beauty and sustainability, and make your property, and our communities, a better place to live, work and play.

Water conservation is an economically smart property management tactic. Contact Bruce Moore at 203.316.5433 to improve your approach to water management, identify sustainable alternatives to thirsty landscapes, and develop strategies for dealing with water use restrictions.

Follow us on Facebook