Your Turf Is Hungry!

Pic for Fall Fert

Now that spring is here, landscapes throughout Westchester and Fairfield counties are waking up.  The largest component of most commercial properties frequently is the turf.  Facility and property managers know when the turf looks good, a critical part of your landscape presentation is working for you.

After a record long cold spell along with spring’s wake up call, your turf is hungry!  Spring fertilization is the key to building up your turf’s fertility level in preparation for the hot summer ahead.  This is the time to get the key nutrients down to reach the root zone and go to work.

Each commercial property is different—shady zones, sunny zones, irrigated areas and non-irrigated areas are all part of choosing the right fertilizer application.  Most important though is a soil test.  Using a soil probe, representative soil samples are sent to a laboratory for a fertility and mineral analysis.  The results, in the hands of a landscape professional, become the blueprint for selecting a fertility plan which best matches your property’s unique soil structure and turf needs.

Yes, your turf is hungry.  Making the right fertility selection based on soil test data will definitely pay visual dividends in showcasing your landscape’s largest asset.

How Does Your Garden Grow?—Stamford Proud

Planet Day 2014 Fairgate Farm SignPlanet Day 2014 rototiller

Fairgate Farms is a one acre community garden on Stillwater Avenue where local residents as well as the Boys and Girls Club grow a variety of garden to table vegetables and plants.  This year, Eastern Land Management’s one day of community service was dedicated to this city garden oasis on the city’s West Side.  Bruce Moore, Sr. and Bruce Moore Jr. worked closely with Farm Manager Bill Callion to develop a plan of action for the day to improve the garden.

Last Tuesday morning the team, equipment and materials rolled in for an early start.  Backhoes, trenchers and rototillers along with irrigation experts and experienced operators and laborers had a long list of to do’s.  First up, spreading, grading and rototilling 80 cubic yards of compost.  Next gravel and 4 inch flex pipe into trenches to alleviate water in low, soggy areas.  Jose Igartua and his talented water management team renovated and reinstalled a full irrigation system to setup for drip irrigation throughout the garden.

From Farm Manager’s Bill Callion thank you letter—“a heartfelt thank you for improving the Farm by an order of magnitude”.  Bill continues ” the professionalism, thoroughness of project completion and can-do attitude of all involved led to dramatic positive change in the Farm’s ability to produce vegetables and flowers as we continue to teach nutrition and health as well as be a learning laboratory for the community, especially our youth.”

After surveying the improvements, Michael Cotela, the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford stated, “Bruce Moore and his team did an amazing job and performed an incredibly generous service to Stamford and to the residents in or near the Vita Health District on the West Side of Stamford”.

How does this garden grow?  Very well thanks to the ELM team and their commitment to the Farm and The Boys and Girls Club.  We will be stopping by this summer to admire the community’s hard work and maybe pick up a few farm fresh tomatoes.

Planet Day 2014Planet Day 2014 IrrigationELM Planet Day

 

 

 

Spring At Last!

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After a brutal New England winter, spring is finally here!  Temperatures at last are in the 50’s and 60’s and thankfully, it won’t be long until landscapes start to green up and bulbs start to pop.  Make no mistake though, after a record long cold snap and nearly twice the average long term annual snowfall, commercial properties in Westchester and Fairfield counties need help.

With these mild temperatures in place, it’s time to walk your property with your landscape professional and assess winter’s impact.  Start with the turf.  Which areas will respond to fertilization, or a gypsum conditioner treatment and which areas should be removed and either re-sodded or seeded?  In a similar fashion, inspect the shrubs and groundcover areas.  Will a few plants need replacement?  Even plants, particularly evergreens, away from snow plowing damage may need a liquid fertilization to offset winter windburn.

Spring flowers can add some real visual excitement to your site.  If your site did not have a spring bulb planting installed last fall, pansies are cold tolerant and are available in several great colors.  Whether at your signage or in containers at main entries, a blast of color will bring compliments from tenants and employees.

During this walkthrough, it is a great time to discuss site enhancements for the upcoming year.  Not unlike new carpeting or paint inside, renovating key areas of your landscape will create a fresh look to showcase your facility.  Curb appeal is often the first impression of tenants, employees and most important, prospective tenants.

Been waiting for a nice spring walk for too long?  Now is the time to schedule an assessment of your property with your landscape professional.

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Snow Season-Halftime Analysis

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As we begin February, property managers and facility directors of commercial properties in Westchester and Fairfield counties are beginning to grow a bit weary of the winter of 2013/2014.  This season has been an active one with many storms and near record cold temperatures.  The unseasonably low temperatures have driven up the materials usage needed to deliver clean pavements (see blog Cold, Colder, Coldest).  And, for those in the per storm/per inch contracts, costs are continuing to climb.

There is no crystal ball to predict the long term weather pattern, but with 6-8 weeks of the snow season left, no doubt we are in for a least a few more events.  If the snow continues, what possible avenues can be considered to help hold or reduce cost?

Review your site usage, is there a remote parking area or portion thereof, which can either be closed to parking, or plowed just once at the end of the event?  Could some unused walkways be reduced to end of storm, or emergency exit only treatment?  Is there a side entry plaza or outdoor patio area which is used by a few people which could be downsized in coverage?

After your initial review, schedule a meeting with your snow services provider.  He knows your site throughout all conditions, day and night.  With an active exchange of ideas and recommendations from both parties, perhaps a more budget feasible approach can be developed.

Game Plan – Snow Plan

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The countdown has begun for the big game, the Super Bowl.  Broncos, Seahawks. This is the game which nearly everyone watches or at least participates.  For some it’s the football, others it’s the wings or chili at halftime and for others it’s the commercials.  For most, it’s a great time to get together with family and friends in the middle of winter.

This year’s game brings a unique potential storyline to it-what if it snows? What if it really starts coming down a few hours before the game as all those buses, limos and cars are headed to MetLife Stadium? Not good!  Imagine being one of those individuals or corporations who secured a super box for upwards of a million dollars, in a standstill, somewhere outside the stadium at kick off time.

Just like the offenses and defenses in the game, no doubt, for the snow removal team, extensive planning has taken place.  Every loader, pusher, plow truck and snow shoveler has a coverage zone, where to start, where to finish.  Entries/exits have been prioritized.  Handicap parking has a precedence.  Communication protocols for each zone leader have been dialed in.  De-icing materials (more than enough) have been stockpiled. Contingency plans (what if it’s a significant storm?) have been brainstormed and put in place.

Does your site, facility or campus have a documented snow plan?  What areas are priority one-constant clean?  Is there a slope or hill on your site which can quickly become dangerous?  Are there areas which just need to be safe and passable?  Is there a front door which only a few people use and secondary entry which many use?  What about all those emergency exits?

The best snow service providers work closely with facility directors, property managers and building owners to develop and document a snow plan/game plan.  The plan is critical to how we roll out the equipment, manpower and supervision to accomplish site safety and mitigate your risk in a consistent and cost competitive fashion.

In football and in snow removal, the winning team will be the one who prepares and executes a great plan.

Cold, Colder, Coldest – The Impact on Salt Usage

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Here in Westchester and Fairfield County, we are experiencing an exceptionally cold spell, even for southern New England.  Everyone is adding that extra layer before going outside.  It seems like the car takes forever to warm up and the furnace won’t stop running.  When the news media and meteorologists introduce the term “Polar Vortex”, you know it’s cold!

It’s all about a 30 degree swing.  Which is not so bad when temps go from 80 to 50, but when temps drop from 25-30 (average for us around here) to 0 and below, it changes how property managers, facility directors plan for and operate their facilities, and snow removal service providers change their methods to achieve site safety.

When the temperatures are in the 0 range, it is a real game changer for snow removal.  The snow removal aspect does not change greatly.  Most important, is keeping the manpower warmed and moving through the event.  The big change comes in material usage, especially salt and salt products.

Think back to high school chemistry experiments where heat was an important part of obtaining the results.  In snow removal at these temps, it is the lack of heat and severe cold which impacts the desired reaction — melted snow and ice.  The table below shows how the extreme temperature dips require a multiple of the salt material needed which the average storm consumes to achieve clean, safe pavement conditions.

Pounds of Ice Melted Per Pound of Salt
 Temperature Degrees F One Pound of Sodium Chloride (Salt)
30 46.3 lbs. of ice
25 14.4 lbs. of ice
20 8.6 lbs. of ice
15 6.3 lbs. of ice
10 4.9 lbs. of ice
5 4.1 lbs. of ice
0 3.7 lbs. of ice
-6 3.2 lbs. of ice

While southern New England does not get many snow storms in the 0 degree range, when they do arrive like these past few in late December and early January, you can see why they require nearly four times the material required in a 25 degree event.  ELM utilizes treated salt which does quicken the activation time some; however the severe cold still requires a multiplier of 2-3 times the typical usage rate.

Everyone has welcomed the recent warm-up.  However, when temperatures dive to near zero, informed snow fighters will be adjusting their application rates to ensure timely site safety and mitigate the risk so inherent in snow removal services.

Can I Still Plant Now?

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The horticultural calendar is winding down as December opens.  It’s a time of finalizing leaf cleanups and prepping for winter.  With the somewhat milder weather pattern we have enjoyed all fall, a question we often are asked is “can I still plant now?”

The answer is yes, with one or two qualifiers.  First, this is still an ideal time to plant “woody” materials, i.e. trees and shrubs.  These plants are hardy and in their dormancy.  The key at this time of year especially, is to ensure during the backfilling process, the soil mixture has no air pockets.  The soil acts as an insulator for the tree/shrub ball and its roots.  Air pockets defeat this and place colder temps against the roots.  These air pockets also contribute to dehydration.  When the temps are above the mid 30’s make certain the plants are watered thoroughly.

As to the qualifiers, this is not the time to install “non-woody” plants.  This takes in most ground covers and perennials.  While these plants often are the finishing touch to the landscape, these plantings rarely survive the winter.  With no chance to push out roots and get comfortable before winter’s chill, mortality rates are high.  Mulch these beds for a finished look and schedule these plants for first thing in the spring when they will thrive.

For broadleaf shrubs, azaleas, rhododendrons, mountain laurel; strongly consider an anti-desiccant spray which provides an organic, protective film to these larger leaf shrubs to prevent dehydration damage from strong winter winds.

Is this the time for a planting at your site?  Two yeses, first you will need to act fast.  And, second yes, if executed properly within the horticultural confines above, it looks like the next few weeks will remain just mild enough to complete the planting improvement your site needs.

Dazzling Displays – Holiday Lighting Time Is Now!

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The recent cold snap has interrupted a long, mild and beautiful fall here in lower New England.  A quick check of the thermometer and a look at the calendar leave no doubt, we have arrived at the middle of November.  Thanksgiving and the holidays are right around the corner.

For many commercial and corporate properties throughout Westchester and Fairfield County, it’s time for holiday lighting and decoration.  What a great way to transform your property and its landscape at this festive time of year. Employees, tenants and visitors appreciate when property and facility managers add this seasonal and visually exciting touch to their landscapes.

ELM provides just the right touch for clients’ landscape and building entry façade.  Seasonal holiday lighting displays can vary from open, draping of trees to tightly wrapping branches for a stunning effect.  At night (which comes a lot earlier now), the landscape comes alive in almost different dimension.  The warm twinkle of the lights set your building and landscape off with both pride and seasonal conviviality.

For daytime visual interest, consider seasonal accents like large, structural wreaths and bows, light pole or building column wraps, garland and bow installations, shopping center banners and interior artificial holiday trees.  Inside at lobby and reception areas, poinsettias add their unique colorful and seasonal touch to your high traffic, high visibility areas.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your commercial site’s lighting, exterior and interior decoration needs.  Now is the time to have a conversation to understand the design, measurement, math and spacing which delivers the outstanding visual highlight you seek for your building and property.  In just a week or two, it’s time to position your building and landscape with a distinctive holiday presentation.

Christmas Wreath

Critical Operations – Fall Irrigation Shutdown

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As November is just around the corner and the first hard frost arrives, this is the time to ensure your property’s irrigation system has been fully blown out and shut down for winter.  Perhaps there is no more important landscape operation at this time of year.  For New York and Connecticut landscapes, if your system has not been shut down and blown out, the time is now.

As air and soil temperatures drop to the low 30’s, the heads in particular as they are at the surface and the irrigation lines which are usually just a few inches under grade, can freeze.  This causes irreparable damage and often, almost a complete rebuild of the system.  Ouch!  This is a lesson no property or facility manager wants to learn the hard way.

It is a relatively simple process in the hands of trained irrigation technicians.  However, if not performed correctly or worst case, not performed at all, repairs and costs will be significant.  After the fall system shutdown for your commercial landscape, this is a great time to review the year’s performance and ensure necessary budget dollars are in place for any repairs or system enhancement for 2014.

No question about it, this is best left to the professionals.  Here at Eastern Land Management, our irrigation team is led by Jose Igartua, who has his CT Irrigation J-3 license and is a Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA).  As your trusted full service landscape maintenance and irrigation provider, you can be sure your irrigation system will be properly shut down for the winter ahead.  Please give us a call quickly if your irrigation system is still active.  We will make certain there is no ouch next spring.