Best Landscape Improvements to Increase the Value of Your Property.

With spring weather and longer days, pedestrian-friendly outdoor spaces are back in business.

For many properties, landscaped open spaces pulls the business together. Open air verandas, greenways for biking and interconnected systems of nature paths and walkways can often become the heartbeat of your campus.

Our harsh winter, however, may have left your grounds in need of repair. Excess water, from abundant snow melt can lead to drainage problems above and below the surface. Sunken pavers or damaged pavements and cracks in retaining walls are problems that are easy to spot on a walk-through.

Sometimes issues that are minor are more extensive that you might think. We can diagnose potential problems and help you decide what to tackle first.

To keep it simple, we recommend the following list of freshening projects and repair solutions that will deliver the greatest return on your investment. 

Plant more trees: Trees are one of the few plants that continue to add sustainable economic value, long after other plants outlive their peak performance. They absorb pollutants, improve air quality, regulate air temperature, and their root systems add nutrients to the soil and anchor the landscape to reduce rates of erosion.

Reimagine lawns: High performing lawn alternatives include replacing traditional or under-utilized lawn areas with perennial meadows, planting foot-friendly ground covers, and installing wide herbaceous borders planted with ornamental grasses and shrubs to add interest.

Improve outdoor work spaces:  On corporate sites, outdoor rooms, covered patios, terraces, above grade decks, and recreational amenities are shaping the new integrated work space.  Bocce ball and sports courts, roof top gardens, and courtyards encourage employee social interaction and productivity.  Privacy screens using strategic plant material provide quiet work area alternatives and warm weather collaboration space.

Reduce environmental impacts:

Pedestrian friendly is also bike friendly. Bolster the health benefits your stakeholders receive from your property with bike paths, racks and storage areas. Use reclaimed masonry and lumber to refresh built elements; monitor water usage through high tech digital systems; control drainage and erosion problems to protect ground water quality; restore habitat areas to attract pollinators and beneficial insects; and modify streams to protect estuaries, and riparian corridors.

Create accessibility:

ADA-compliant improvements in benches, walkways, ramps, and parking surfaces help corporate properties be inclusive to all individuals. Rehabilitate facades, upgrade signage, walkways and medians, with improved safety lighting will significantly increase market value.

Boost image:

The exterior of your building is the first impression people have. Exterior areas that are inviting, interactive, and vibrant with flowers and trees, and use an interesting mix of building materials, send a message that speaks to the quality and spirit of your brand while complementing the look and feel of your property.

Get LEED® certified:

Landscape improvements can qualify for LEED® by improving soil, addressing water efficiency and drainage, and the strategic use of plants and trees.  Our ecologically sound principles for maintenance, and maintenance practices, which include the proper application and use of nutrients and chemical alternatives to reduce toxicity, are critical to achieving green credits for energy efficiency.

As corporate campuses adapt to changing needs, ELM can help property owners and managers revitalize landscapes and assist in the planning of hardscape improvements to coordinates with other site infrastructure upgrades, as well as implement programs for annual repair and maintenance.

For more information on re-energizing your landscape, support LEED® goals, or simply to offer your employees a thriving integrated outdoor space, contact Bruce Moore Jr., vice president operations at 203.316.5433

Photo caption:  Ecological restoration projects are win-wins that benefit habitat biodiversity and serve corporate sustainability goals.  ELM created a healthier waterway in this stream reclamation project by re-directing the creek’s flow, re-building the stream bed and its banks as part of a drainage swale project for Oracle Corporation in Stamford. © ELM.

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Hard Times for Tulips

Just when we thought spring was finally here, freakish weather hit everyone’s favorite flower and brought with it a late leaf-out of landscape trees and shrubs.

While the damage can be upsetting, all is not lost. In many cases, replacing or pruning out dead or injured plant material is the best course of action, especially if the plants or stems have died back.

If your landscape has experienced late winter trauma, we recommend:

  • Spread nutrient-dense mulch around plants to hold warmth in the soil and protect roots.
  • Assess and prune damaged plants once there is no longer a risk of frost.
  • Aerate lawns, sod or seed bare spots.
  • Set up lawn and plant health care program.
  • Clean up and divide perennial foliage, and thin roots.
  • Prune shrubs damaged by frost before any new growth appears.
    Clean up left over leaves and debris from winter storms to keep landscape free of pathogens, mold and decomposed material.
  • Cut back ornamental grasses to prep for spring growth.
  • Apply pre-emergent herbicide to beds when temps warm and before seeds germinate.
  • Spray susceptible trees and shrubs with non-toxic products to prevent disease and infestation.
  • Assess drainage problems and look for potential ground water issues and fix.
  • Run sprinkler systems to adjust for optimum coverage and inspect for leaks.
  • Check sprinkler heads for damage by weather, equipment, or burrowing animals.
  • Repair broken outdoor lighting that took abuse in the winter.
  • Upgrade outdoor outlets with safety devices.
  • Upgrade obsolete irrigation systems with automatic, Wi-Fi controlled systems and to comply with local water restrictions.

ELM’s customer support team cares deeply about the success of your landscape and is at the forefront of making sure your spring starts off on the right foot.

If you have any questions about the health and well-being of your landscape, contact ELM operations vice president

5 Reasons Property & Facility Managers Find Increased Value with ELM

It’s a question every building manager and buyer of landscape services asks: “am I getting my money’s worth?”

We know that there are lots of reasons a customer might choose to partner with us, but what we’ve found in over 40 years doing what we do best, the reason is essentially this:  exceptional service, competitive pricing, and quality work.

All things being equal, most good landscape contractors do the same things.  Like us, they invest in the right tools, continuous training, and substantive programs to stay ahead of the curve on problems and solutions.  But here’s where we think we’re different and why we think this matters in a way that helps you and your property perform at its best.

The difference between good and great

Our goal to become a great company means that we are always moving forward.  We know greatness is not easily achieved but the process of becoming great is something everyone at ELM works at. Even better, every one of our team members can tell you how we define greatness and what they do to help drive it. To us, having fun as a team, helping people advance their careers, serving our communities, and volunteering for causes we believe in, makes us feel like we’re the luckiest company in the world. It’s this sense of gratitude that we bring to our relationships with every individual we are lucky enough to work with and for.

Dedicated and personal service

Going beyond is more than a tagline, it means that we understand your businesses, your strategic goals, and we work to help you get where you need to be.  We also know that you’re busy. This means we don’t waste a lot of time and money on unnecessary tasks. We respect what’s on your plate, and believe that great service requires a give AND take, not give or take.

A history of forward thinking, proactivity

As a privately-held, family-owned business, we are independent and nimble and believe that agility has kept us relevant in periods of uncertainty. Our ability to adapt and deliver value at all times is part of who we are. It is a mindset that helps us meet your needs in an ever-changing market and prepares us to stay out in front of trends in our own industry, as well.

Knowledge-based solutions

Our experience matters. We view our role as more than being just your service partner. As a curator of your most important asset, our smarter workflow will enable a better return on your investment, deliver better results, and we’ll always be on the lookout for opportunities to improve your outdoor environment as a healthier place to live, work and play.

Safety first risk management

Working with heavy equipment and seasonal weather patterns means that your landscape and grounds can suffer if risk management is not properly addressed. Optimizing safety, reducing liability, and managing risk is what our teams train for.  In fact, the health and well-being of our customers’ properties, their employees, tenants and guests, is our top priority.  We recognize that risk is an inherent component of all outdoor work, so we place a priority making sure safety is always first.  This includes having a highly-trained winter crew, experienced emergency, storm and blizzard responders, and on-call seasonal support.

Stamford, CT.-based Eastern Land Management offers a full range of commercial landscape, grounds and winter services to the northern market of New York City, Connecticut’s Fairfield County and New York’s Westchester County.

As part of ELM’s commitment to serve the growing needs of its Fairfield customers, as well as deliver unmatched asset value advantage for property and facility managers, and school and university campuses alike, ELM is scheduled to open a conveniently-located new service hub in Monroe, CT, in June, 2018.

To learn more about large scale landscape contracting or to just talk about a long-overdue upgrade, contact Bruce Moore, Jr., vice president of operations, 203-316-5433.

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Why Prune in Winter?

One of the easiest and most effective ways to promote your property’s value is to put your deciduous shrubs and small trees on a seasonal care program that includes structural pruning in winter.

Structural pruning, or pruning designed to ensure a sound structure and aesthetic form, is done during a plant’s dormancy for a number of reasons.  It gets young shrubs and trees off to a good start, removes dead or stressed wood, encourages healthy flowering and foliage in the spring, and improves their ability to survive storms.

Pruning in early winter will protect your trees and shrubs from the toll that heavy ice and snow can take when the weight of snow on branches can break limbs and cause damage to your landscape or liability and safety concerns.

ELM believes that proper pruning is an essential part of an overall commitment to the health of your landscape, a best practice that includes a regular program of soil nutrition, root zone conditioning, smart watering, insect and disease prevention, and plant health care.

Depending on which species of small trees and shrubs on your property, ELM’s pruning team will be identifying which plants on your property will make the cut and why.

If there are holly trees and shrubs on your site, you’re in luck. Cutting hollies back in December means the plant gets a new shape and the clipped branches make jolly holiday decorations.  Just ask. We’ll save some trimmings for you.

ELM’s dormant pruning principles:

  1. Supports disease management
  2. Creates a healthy canopy for spring
  3. Delivers more aesthetic results
  4. Improves spring growth, flowering and foliage
  5. Improves ability to withstand weather events and storms
  6. Proactively supports safety and liability by removing weak branches

For questions on landscape health in winter, or to schedule dormant pruning, please contact Bruce Moore, Jr., vice president, operations at 203-316-5433.

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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.

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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.

 

We Don’t Wait for Weather to Happen: How ELM’s Emergency Response Platform Protects Your Property All Year Long

Each September, in conjunction with FEMA’s National Preparedness Month, ELM reviews its response and safety training initiative to strengthen its capabilities and reputation as the go-to emergency landscape and grounds response team throughout southern Connecticut.

ELM’s 5-point emergency response platform

  • To ensure that the security and safety of our customers’ grounds and landscapes remain a top priority and concern.
  • To devote and invest considerable resources to meet and exceed property and facility managers’ risk assessment needs.
  • To apply and provide incident/weather event/emergency response, preparedness planning, protocols, and best practices across all segments of our market.
  • To train and certify our response crew and storm team to deliver disciplined teamwork, accountability, and exemplary safety, security, and incident prevention behaviors.
  • To provide our response crew and storm team with the best tools and options they need to execute response efforts at the highest level.

Storm Team Strength

ELM is an active member of professional snow management associations, SIMA (Snow & Ice Management Association) and ASCA (Accredited Snow Contractors of America). ELM trains with these organizations throughout the year to focus on critical elements in executing first class storm response.  ELM invests in certification programs to ensure that each of ELM’s response crew leaders are Certified Snow Professionals and Advanced Snow Management experts and have the capability and capacity to lead in a weather crisis.

Data You Can Trust

ELM uses real time forecasting resources, tools, and hyper-local weather data alerts for comprehensive information to prepare for the unexpected in each of the communities ELM serves.  This allows our response crew and storm team to mobilize up to 48 hours in advance of advisories, warnings, and threats to property safety and by sharing this data with our customers, allows us to collaborate as a team to proactively address and triage priority response efforts.

ELM is prepared to organize and dispatch its crews at a moment’s notice

To learn more about ELM’s emergency command center, storm response program, large scale snow removal, and proactive weather event management services, contact Bruce Moore, Jr., vice president, operations at 203-316-5433.  Or go to: http://www.easternland.com/our-services/snow-services/

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Improve Turf Quality with Aeration and Overseeding

Turfgrass, with its extensive below ground root system and its above-ground network of plant material, offers under-appreciated environmental benefits, such as removing dust and pollutants, reducing soil erosion, and filtering water.

When turf and commercial lawns are new, maintenance is basic: mowing, fertilizing, and irrigation, with little need for weed control or other management practices. However, as turf areas age, growth patterns change and roots from maturing trees encroach on lawn areas, competing for available water and nutrients.  Heavily-used areas become compacted, leading to thin turf and exposed soil.

To counteract the effects that compaction, insufficient water, heat, and age have on the health of turf and commercial lawns, ELM recommends core aeration, a process performed in early fall, followed by overseeding – broadcasting new grass seed throughout the turf with a spreader – and fertilization. This 3-step protocol will improve soil, bring in air, water and micro-nutrients, allow turf seed to germinate during cooler weather, and boost root growth for healthier landscapes overall.

Step One:  Aeration.

ELM uses specialized equipment to add air and space in your lawn.  The aerator pulls out plugs of soil (cores) from the turf, approximately ¾ inches in diameter and up to 4 inches deep, about 2-3 inches apart across the turf area treated.

Aerating, double aerating – even triple aerating – in different directions opens up clumps of grass, which creates an explosion in growth at the crown and introduces oxygen, water, and fertilizer straight into the root zone via a core aeration. The plugs will breakdown naturally and the holes will start to fill in with new roots, indicating that soil and root health is already improving.

Step Two: Overseeding.

ELM uses region-friendly, cool season grass blends that contain tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass and other fine and chewing fescues, depending on soil and light conditions.

Advancements in turf science allow us to provide our customers with good options. Tall fescue is by far the most durable grass type on the market especially with the different cultivars they have created over the years. It is a deep rooting turf grass with very good insect resistance and drought tolerance. Some of the newer cultivars that we are experimenting with contain endophytes in their roots which actually help with relieve grub damage. An annual overseeding with ELMs premium grass seed blend custom spec’d and ordered will allow roots to establish before next summer.

Step Three: Top Dressing.

ELM uses a wide array of soil amendments, fertilizers, and soil conditioners, to soil improve turf health and growth. The right mix will improve soil structure, balance soil pH, supply nutrients, and reinvigorate root health. ELM’s compost and organic matter used as a top dressing will also increase beneficial microbial activity. Gypsum, a naturally occurring mineral, and a source of calcium and sulfur, is often added when soil stability and improved filtration is needed, and is excellent for root growth and a healthier soil profile. Synthetic fertilizers kill off the soil flora and can create more problems down the road.

Scheduling:

ELM recommends aerating turf once a year, in the fall, although depending on soil health and use patterns, turf may need more or less frequent aeration. The service is typically performed early morning before commercial properties begin their business day in order to minimize any disruption.

For information on repairing turf areas suffering from summer stress or how this program can provide value to your property, contact your Area Manager or ELM’s Turf Care Specialist, Charles Andrianus at 203-316-5433.

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Photo:  Mill River Park, a 12-acre urban park located in Stamford, CN and a habitat restoration project of the Mill River Collaborative, was awarded a 2015 Design Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects for OLIN Studios. ELM considers it an honor and a privilege to care for this urban sanctuary and all of its riparian plantings. The park’s heavily used lawn is annually aerated and overseeded by ELM to keep the turf healthy and hearty for the public to enjoy all year long

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.

Meet Third-Generation Landscaper, Greg Gross

With two grandfathers in the green industry, ELM Area Manager, Greg Gross, learned more than “old school” work ethic during summer vacations spent helping out.

As a child, Greg learned to repair landscape equipment from men, Greg said, who knew how stuff worked. In fact, it was his grandfathers’ example-setting that taught him the value of hard work and good character, and to push the boundaries of what’s possible.

Greg joined ELM in 2016, after working on a golf course in high school put him through the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge School of Agriculture, where he received a degree in Landscape Contracting. Greg also holds a Commercial Supervisory Certificate for Turf & Ornamental from the State of Connecticut.

Greg is an avid New York Yankees and New York Giants fan and when not rooting for his favorite team, works on his golf game, and his boating and beach-loving skills.

Greg’s one piece of advice for transforming commercial landscapes is to go for the “wow” factor. Instead of over-complicating the objective, the secret, he says, is to keep your landscape simple, coherent, and invest in high-impact ROI options that continue to increase the property’s value.

“Greg is a born leader,” said Bruce Moore, Jr., ELM’s vice president of operations. “His commitment to delivering best in class in all aspects of the work we do, and in building and sustaining relationships that embody trust and accountability, exemplifies what ELM is all about.”

ELM’s Field Manager Chris Smith Makes the Case for Greener Landscapes

Darien, Connecticut-native Chris Smith said he feels like he was born into the green industry. As one of ELM’s Field Mangers, Chris gets to do what he says he loves most—working with customers and with skilled project teams who engineer and maintain commercial landscapes throughout the Fairfield and Westchester County areas ELM serves.

“We’re excited to have Chris on our operations team,” said Bruce Moore, Jr., ELM’s vice president of operations. “Our company is growing and he contributes a wealth of knowledge and passion to the work we do and to our mission to be the legacy landscape services company of choice.”

Chris has experience both on the front lines and at the technical level, and holds a Pesticide Applicator’s License from the State of Connecticut’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. Prior to joining ELM, Chris served with the Darien Board of Education’s grounds crew.

Chris’ affinity for sustainable approaches supports ELM’s own competitive stance on green practices as a competitive differentiator. According to Chris, commercial building owners and managers that invest in more energy-efficient landscapes and other key technologies, and correct potential issues as part of a longer-term performance and design plan, will see results in improved financial performance.

In his off-hours, Chris hikes, skis, and camps throughout the Northeast and uses that time to reflect on how he can deliver the beauty of nature to the properties and customers he serves.