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.

A Site Manager’s Guide to Hardscape

Compliance with building and safety codes, duty to maintenance and repairs, and minimizing risk and liability are among the top five responsibilities of commercial landlords, property managers, and facility engineers.

Upgrades in landscape budgets that address these objectives may often seem daunting, but hardscape projects – structural elements in the landscape such as pavements, pathways, retaining walls, drainage systems, and other architectural features – are important safety and outdoor infrastructure priorities.

For institutions and commercial properties seeking LEED® certification or working to be greener, repairs and renovation to landscape enhancements that add to the site’s sustainability, and enhance functionality and curb appeal can also contribute to the site as a more profitable and environmentally-responsible asset value.

For its part, ELM considers landscape budgeting to be a collaborative process and works with property and facility managers to plan for contingencies, like winter, extreme weather and drought.

ELM recommends looking several years ahead to address capital investment goals for long-term and long-overdue projects, such as environmental compliance, addressing site-specific continuity, and optimizing functionality.

Shorter-term priorities should address improving the look and feel of the landscape, creating a safer property environment that benefits tenants, implementing conservation-based upgrades to optimize water and eliminate waste, addressing standards of care and environmental safety, and updating outdated structural elements.

A strategic option to offset drought concerns would be to substitute rock slabs, stepping stones, decorative gravel, or porous alternatives on pathways to direct rainfall and irrigation water back into the ground, constructing bioswales and drainage systems, and converting underutilized turf to perennial alternatives.

All ELM landscape projects incorporate sustainable practices, low impact development strategies and opportunities for utilization of green practices.

To learn more about making profitable landscape improvements, managing soil erosion, increasing storm water efficiency, and improving the long-term health and viability of your site, contact Bruce Moore, Jr., Vice President, Operations at 203-316-5433.

Photo: ELM’s hardscape solution for a storm water retention basin at Stamford Hospital, Stamford, CN combined quality materials and design-driven construction with careful consideration of technical and sustainable requirements. The drainage improvement project will carry runoff and improve water quality by infiltrating storm flow. The project was completed end of June, 2017. ©ELM2017

Joe Claps Increases the Value of Commercial Properties Through Landscape Asset Enhancements

Eastern Land Management, an award-winning, full-service commercial landscape company located in Stamford, Connecticut, officially welcomes Joe Claps as enhancement field manager, effective January 2017.

Joe joins ELM with a background in business administration and finance, and six years’ experience in landscape sales, maintenance and construction.

Joe’s business training gives him a unique perspective on enhancing bottom line advantages for commercial property/facility managers and HOA boards looking to increase value. This includes high return on investment improvements such as masonry, walking trails and paths, turf-to-meadow conversions, plant rotations, structural elements, or modifications for water conservation.

Joe says he’s found that over the years, when multiple people are involved in decision-making, the more you can communicate the scope of work and the value it adds, the more likely the outcome is a win-win.

“Making the case for continuous landscape improvement requires an ability to think strategically. Joe understands how our customers’ landscapes are expected to conform to their brand and property image standards and he ties what we do to what our customers are focused on improving,” said Bruce Moore, Jr., vice president operations.

Old Greenwich, Connecticut born and raised, Joe considers himself an outdoorsman who believes in a prudent use of natural resources. His passion for sports, skiing and boating led him to landscaping where he discovered an equal passion for creating healthy outdoor environments that stand the test of time.

“We look forward to Joe being part of a team that is committed to the very best in customer service, quality work, and fresh thinking. He never ceases to impress us with his exceptional ability to support our customers with respect, trust, and sustainable solutions,” added Bruce.

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.

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.

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