How Weather Data is Transforming Landscape and Snow Service Decisions

Bad weather can be bad for business. For property managers, winter storms in particular can significantly impact operations and affect revenue.

To help productivity and improve safety, ELM has invested in emerging weather research to provide you with weather planning as a strategic piece of your overall landscape budget.

“Being able to collect and apply information locally has opened up opportunities for us to improve communications and service timelines as we apply what we learn to be proactive about potential impacts,” said Bruce Moore Sr., who leads the ELM’s hazard and risk planning initiative.  “We know we can’t manage the weather but we can manage the financial implications of what weather can do if we’re not prepared for it,” he added.

Being responsible for the safety of commercial landscape and outdoor environments is mission-critical for ELM’s front line team who ensure that your business is taken care of while your workforce, tenants or campus remains safe.

“ELM’s hazard planning minimizes the disruption of our customer’s business, reduces insurance claims made by injured employees and customers, lowers exposure and increases the safety of everyone,” noted Bruce.

Technology has improved accuracy in predicting extreme weather and is providing exponentially more benefits to property managers looking to address emergency preparedness and site safety. Whether it’s the next generation of radar, new mobile applications, remote weather sensors that manage water conservation, or using forecasts to save money, more accurate predictions makes running a commercial landscape asset easier all year long.
ELM is committed to creating safer communities by protecting life and property, and managing risk.  To learn more about ELM’s weather service, contact Bruce Moore, Sr., Founder & CEO at 203-316-5433.


Photo: The Connecticut River photographed from Conard weather balloon, a student-driven project of the Frederick U. Conard School’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program. ELM applauds students throughout Connecticut for the work they are doing in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.


Understanding Your Investment in Landscape Maintenance

Today’s technology makes it relatively easy to assess property landscape needs in order to determine plant counts, water usage, turf square footage, etc.  Unfortunately, the most common way property managers determine their maintenance budgets involves using formulas that may be outdated.

Let’s look at some factors that help determine landscape maintenance costs:

Labor:  the single largest cost of landscape maintenance is labor.  A significant piece of the budget is taken up by the work itself. Therefore, to keep overall budget costs down, it is imperative that labor and its associated costs be allocated strategically.

For example, turf.  Turf is generally the largest total area in the landscape.  If the turf contains sweeping contours and few obstacles, such as trees, boulders, light fixtures, signage, or architectural elements, then faster mowing equipment can be used to maintain it and keep labor costs low.

Plant needs:  Overplanting requires more frequent pruning; fast-growing plants require more frequent pruning, and planting pest and disease-prone plants increases the cost of protecting them with costly control materials.  Extensive annual color requires a lot of fine detail work, also resulting in higher costs.

The solution is balance.  A good plant palette, including perennials and ornamental grasses, and use of meadows and sustainable alternatives, will balance low with high maintenance areas.  For instance, a maintenance plan should include removing excess plants as they age. And interplant fast and slow-growing plants to create a seamless transition during plant lifecycles.

Irrigation:  Another factor overlooked in maintenance budgeting is the cost of water and irrigation management.  This is particularly important as water availability decreases and water costs increase.  Irrigation costs are best controlled by utilizing less thirsty plant material and by the installation of new ‘smart’ technologies and water delivery systems.

In general, turf requires the greatest amount of water in the landscape.  For mature landscapes, retrofitting outdated irrigation systems with more efficient equipment and/or redesigning the landscape to utilize more water-efficient plant material can be bottom line friendly. The pay back varies but by auditing water use, future savings scenarios can be projected with great accuracy.

Refurbishing:  When planning a maintenance budget, designate an amount to cover normal wear and tear, seasonal weather stress, and the cost of replacement and repair. All landscapes require remedial and corrective work to maintain their best appearance.  We find that most commercial customers with successful landscapes spend approximately 25-30% of their yearly landscape maintenance budget on freshening.  By replacing items on a regular basis, you can avoid incurring large capital expenditures for major cost overhaul.

With labor and water costs high, it is becoming increasingly important for property managers to be aware of strategies that pay off in the long run.  Establishing a close working relationship with your landscape contractor and starting the conversation at the planning and budgeting stage, will ensure that your property and landscape will receive optimum care and a proactive approach all year long.

Don’t leave value on the table. To learn more about collaborating with ELM to implement innovation, understand how landscape products, equipment and technologies are used to improve cost and efficiency, and what the best priorities are to pursue in the face of changes in water management, contact Bruce Moore at 203-316-5433.

Breaking News: Irrigation and Water Use Mandate

Eastern Land Management is proactively monitoring and addressing water needs for the upcoming spring and summer landscape season due to the drought situation in lower Fairfield County.

Despite the heavy, late winter storms, our area has received 14 inches less rain than in the past twelve months and reservoir levels remain below normal. As a result, the towns of Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan and Stamford will be under an “irrigation ban.”

On Monday, March 6, 2017, ELM met with our city leaders and executives from Aquarion Water Company to discuss the ban, landscape watering options, and what water restrictions mean for business owners and commercial landscapes.

ELM will be providing critical information regarding new regulations for all irrigation systems, including 1) the status of the drought, 2) how reductions in water use will affect plants and trees during peak growing season, and 3) solutions that optimize drought management planning for commercial and institutional property landscapes.

If you have questions about how water restrictions affect your property, or would like to discuss drought management and irrigation issues, please contact Bruce Moore Jr. at 203.316.5433.

On behalf of the landscape and irrigation professionals at ELM, we look forward to being your strategic partner for water smart landscapes, improving your environmental impact, and helping you become more competitive with your bottom line.

Bruce Moore Jr., Vice President, ELM Operations

Think Outside the Building

How ELM drives value in $900-million industry……

Connecticut’s independent and private schools are not only among the finest in the nation but part of an historical institutional legacy going back hundreds of years. And for forty of those years, Eastern Land Management (ELM) has been their landscape services and grounds management partner.

According to the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, this segment is a $931-million-plus piece of the American economy. That’s impressive when considering that the independent school experience is a deliberate investment. And parents, who invest in their child’s education, are holding schools accountable not only to academic standards, but also to the value-added benefit of it being an exceptional facility – inside and out.

This pressure for private and independent schools to compete has more schools embracing a greener footprint as an economic growth factor. To address this, ELM has put together a best practices checklist that provides campus decision makers with guidelines for optimizing the environmental health of the campus landscape; this includes enhancing the vitality of its turf and trees, improving plant performance, protecting and conserving resources, and maintaining fields and open spaces in ways that do minimal harm to the surrounding environment, while also saving on long-term operating costs.
Measuring value.

This guide is designed to help school facility managers understand why and how to develop, implement, and evaluate a landscape maintenance plan and how to collaborate with a landscape contracting team for the most effective return on your capital investment. This checklist is also relevant to heads of school, trustees, financial officers and other members of the school’s governance committees who are entrusted with the prudent stewardship of school funds.

Preventive Maintenance

“Pay me now or pay me later.” If you spend a few dollars now to change the filter in your car, you avoid more expensive repairs in the future. In other words, performing regular inspections and maintenance, and proactive repairs and upgrades, whether for your automobile or your landscape, prevents future big-ticket costs and prolongs the functional lifetime of your asset.

Because your school landscape is a living thing, the unexpected is inevitable. ELM landscape professionals identify inevitabilities and implement a plan for dealing with them. This proactive approach to protecting and preserving your core campus asset is proven to have a long-range positive fiscal impact on the school’s operating budget.

Site Evaluation

Landscape maintenance plans must not only meet legal standards with regard to safety, operations and the environment, but also strive to meet the long-term needs of the organization. One of its most important elements is the need for emergency preparedness, contingency planning and storm response with an eye to ensuring that the landscape and grounds are safe and protected for all members of the school community throughout the year.
Frequently asked questions.

What should be in my landscape plan, does it address the following?

1. Responsibly managed chemical use and safety.
2. Responsibly managed watering and sprinkler systems, the use of recycled water/gray water for irrigating sports fields and peripheral areas, if relevant.
3. Responsibly managed and upgraded irrigation and drainage systems.
4. Responsibly managed seasonal impacts and weather events.
5. Responsibly managed costs and benefits of seasonal color, perennials, garden areas, green belts and open spaces, lawns, signature trees, signage areas, entries, and focal points.
6. Responsibly managed grounds as safe outdoor field laboratories.
7. Responsibly provided and communicated work order systems, scheduling systems, work flow, best practice systems, procedures, and identified needs assessment for landscape enhancements.
8. Responsibly managed wetlands, watershed, streams, estuaries, groundwater, and wildlife and pollinator habitats.
9. Responsibly managed approaches to stewardship and conservation to drive the school’s green objectives.
10. Responsibly and proactively managed winter risk management, safety and liability.

What should I look for when hiring an outside contractor?

1. Is your landscape service team experienced in serving the unique needs of schools and demonstrating subject matter expertise about your key issues?
2. Does the landscape services company understand school cultural norms and expectations of behavior, such as privacy, discretion, discipline, integrity, accountability and reputation?
3. How often will senior members of your landscape services team visit your campus to observe and monitor the quality of work, verify overall improvements and ongoing progress?
4. To what extent will discretion be optimized and disruption minimized?
5. Will results be well documented, reported and archived?
6. Will there be a punch list to identify and fix safety issues, plant health, hardscape irregularities, and seasonal concerns, such as summer pests and winter weather?
7. What kind of documentation will be provided to support risk and liability?
8. Is a corner-to-corner property needs assessment provided so all areas of the property can be evaluated, prioritized and cared for according to campus master planning goals, budgeting, and phase objectives?
9. Are areas of concern, such as playing fields, tree health, and environmentally sensitive areas addressed in context?
10. Will your service team have an ongoing commitment to training and professional development?
11. Is the landscape company active in major professional organizations, such as the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and snow associations? Are their seasonal managers Advanced Snow Management (ASM)-certified by SIMA (Snow & Ice Management Association) and Certified Snow Professionals?
12. Is your service team active in or affiliated with the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools and/or engaged in learning about your trends, issues, and needs?

Finding the right fit for your landscape services

There are numerous reasons why schools outsource their landscape and winter maintenance operations. Often in-house operations – with labor costs, supply costs, costs of benefits, and overhead – gets too expensive to fund. Outsourcing integrated landscape and snow management services to a single source provider will allow you to enjoy the cost advantages offered by economies of scale that drives down cost, increases accountability, and supports critical process quality.

Direct Savings

1. Decreased equipment and operating expenses.
2. Decreased need for special skills, services or tools/equipment.
3. Decreased personnel and hiring costs.
4. Decreased insurance costs/focus on risk management.
5. Decreased renovation costs due to proactivity.
6. Decreased overhead costs because of system, time and scheduling, efficiency.
7. Decreased supply costs.
8. Recovery of costs through sale of campus landscape equipment assets available to invest in, and redirect to, core school improvement priorities.

Indirect Benefits

1. Improved quality, cleanliness, orderliness and safety of the facility.
2. Beautified campus grounds that enhance student and school self-image.
3. Improved impact of the facility on learning and student performance.
4. Improved admissions and student and faculty retention.
5. Positive contributions to the environment.
6. Optimized lifecycle cost of your landscape.
7. Increased property values.
8. Improved risk and liability management.

ELM has demonstrably reduced costs to school operating budgets by 15-35%. To learn more about ELMs landscape program for independent and private schools, go to:
Or contact Bruce Moore @ 203.316.5433.

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Your opinion matters

ELM recently conducted a survey to better understand your perception of our performance and we are pleased at the solid results our team received when it comes to meeting and exceeding your expectations.

Really listening to what you tell us about our service and quality drives ELMs culture of continuous improvement. It’s what we call “crawling behind our customers’ eyes” – or seeking to understand and improve our business from your point of view.

According to the results, we learned that you appreciate how we care for your landscape and that we are easy to work with. That’s a tribute to our terrific team of employees who are dedicated to our core values and dedicated to the customers who are at the center of all we do.

We also learned that ELM is a “solid, reputable organization with great values and people,” and that we have a “great staff, forward thinking strategies and very professional service!”

However, as pleasing as those results are, we know that there is plenty of room for us to do better.

All of us on the ELM leadership team know that you, our customers, are integral to our continued success.  We have cared about what you think for more than 40 years and will continue to care for at least 40 more.

Thank you for participating in our survey and helping us stay out in front of the issues that matter most.

To learn more, go to: or contact Bruce Moore @ 203.316.5433.

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