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Spring 2019: Landscaping to Create Outdoor “Rooms”

Landscaping to Create Outdoor “Rooms”

The summer sun is fantastic but even we Minnesotans think twice about sitting at a metal picnic table in the heat of July. The right amount of shade allows a property owner to maximize the time homeowners or clients spend enjoying an outdoor space. Majestic shade trees such as oaks and maples require decades to reach maturity and may not be the appropriate tree type for all properties. While trees should be part of every outdoor living space, but you can also cool down a space with plants surrounding a structure such as this attractive & practical gazebo on one of our customer's properties.

Show Stopping Apple Blossoms at Hartford Commons

Show Stopping Apple Blossoms at Hartford Commons

Fast growing flowering apple trees as shown here are always lovely. For quick color, texture and shade, Minnesota native vines can help create living walls. The University of Minnesota advises us to select such beauties as Clematis, American (not Oriental) Bittersweet or Riverbank Grape which quickly enshrine fences, gazebos, or pergolas. Vines can be planted in tight areas and perennial vines like those noted herein, typically require little maintenance other than pruning out dead wood in the spring and new mulch to minimize weeds and maintain moisture. These living walls serve not only as shady respites from the heat but offer up floral and foliage beauty and food for birds.

Outdoor "Rooms" are an enticing way to attract customers to shopping districts, get employees outside for a lunch break and fresh air, provide a healing garden for hospital guests and staff, or to provide residents a show stopping communal gathering area that greatly enhances property value and quality of life. However you create it, shade can make any outdoor area cool, comfortable and inviting all summer long.

Paulita LaPlante
March 2019: Mulch - More Than Meets The Eye

MULCH - MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

A fresh layer of mulch applied to a property's plant beds is one of the best ways to spruce up springtime landscaping. Rich, dark mulch gives beds a sharp, uniform look. It provides a great contrast to bright blooms that make flowers 'pop' with color. Importantly, as shown in this photo, the selection of mulch type and color should complement building materials and colors to provide curb appeal.

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Beyond appearance, there are many advantages to adding mulch that benefit every landscape. Your Account Manager will consider the following factors in choosing the right mulch type(s) for your property:

  • Keep soil cool and moist in summer; mulch can increase soil moisture by 21% and reduce soil temps by 10 degrees!

  • Keep soil temperature constant in winter to prevent heaving

  • Provide weed control

  • Allow adequate air and water to pass to the soil

  • Prevent soil splash to minimize spreading disease and prevent erosion

  • Add nutrients to the soil, or prevent nutrient loss, or remain neutral

  • Provide a barrier for trunks and stems to prevent lawn equipment damage

  • Minimize soil compaction

  • Protect roots

Not surprisingly, there are a variety of mulches but on a very basic level, we classify them as organic and inorganic. The organics are anything that breaks down over time; for commercial properties, the most popular choices are chipped or shredded wood or bark which come in a variety of colors and textures. As certain types of organic mulch break down, care must exercised to avoid nitrogen depletion which can weaken plants. Inorganic mulches most frequently used on commercial properties are rock, crushed stone or gravel. Again, there are a variety of colors and textures.

Finally, the depth of mulch and its placement is also important and varies according to where it will be used and its purpose. Some factors that your Account Manager considers include drainage, irrigation, soil type, and of course, plant/tree type.

Now that you know more about mulch, call us today to schedule your spring mulch plans!

Paulita LaPlante
February 2019 - The Ideal Landscape?

The Ideal Landscape?

It depends! With thoughtful, deliberate planning, a landscape can be beautiful, sustainable and meet the needs of the most exacting stakeholder.

Every good plan starts with the basics. We first need to know how a property owner intends to use the outdoor space(s). Will areas be used for employee or client seating? Some owners consider “stay and play” areas highly desirable for employees e.g. frisbee, lawn bowling. Is a healing garden a desired element? What about pollinator-friendly and rain gardens rather than turf? Are trees important to protect from wind and/or sun? What about color to celebrate each Minnesota season? These elements will become the property’s personality and may be integral to a company brand.

After functionality has been addressed, it is time for science and design. We assess soil, plant and tree health. We evaluate opportunities to conserve and protect water - think smart irrigation! These inputs are melded with property function and used to provide a beautiful design and a 3-year maintenance plan to keep everything looking its best.

The result is a living, breathing landscape and a style that is uniquely yours so join our land care revolution and let’s get creative!

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Happy New Year!

As 2018 winds down, we take time to reflect on the past year as we look forward to the next. We are grateful that you, our customers, are part of our extended family and that you trust us to care for your property. We are hopeful for new beginnings in the year ahead and have many projects in the planning stages. Have a look at our Top Ten List for 2019 and give us a call to see how we can make your New Year's wishes come true.

  1. Make it Sustainable. Kudos to all our clients on schedule to reduce outdoor water use in the New Year with smart irrigation systems.

  2. Make an Outdoor Oasis. Creating a thoughtful place for staff and clients to sit and enjoy the landscape is a top priority for property managers.

  3. Create Focal Points in Plants. Whether an intriguing planter or a colorful garden, everyone loves an eye-catching display.

  4. First Impressions. Adding professionally designed landscape lighting makes the journey to entrances and spaces dramatic and interesting.

  5. Pollinators. Thanks to all our clients that request pollinator-friendly practices and plants as part of their contract.

  6. Birds. So many plants are wonderful sources of food for birds: high bushcranberry, pagoda dogwood, black cherry, sumac, echinacea and more. Our landscape designers are ready to help you attract more birds.

  7. Bring Green Indoors. Biophilic interior design is increasingly popular. Living walls can quickly make a difference in air quality and office mood.

  8. Roof Top Gardens. This is becoming a standard amenity for many metro apartments.

  9. Indoor Dog Runs. Ever try to house-train a puppy when you live in a high-rise and there is a foot of snow outside? Trust us. This is a thing.

  10. Organic Everything. One property manager introduced their organic program with this proclamation "not every dandelion needs to be dead." We predict this will be a shared refrain in 2019.

Paulita LaPlante
Sustainable Snow and Ice Management
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Let it Snow!

November 2018

Winter weather is becoming harder to predict, but we know you need a plan that works for you, your client and/or corporate brand and your budget. The additional stresses that winter weather causes facility managers are changing. Cost control, risk management, and rising expectations for near-perfect conditions (“zero tolerance”) are typical challenges. As in many northern states, Minnesotans are seeing that there is liability linked to the overuse of rock salts (sodium chloride) leading to water pollution. We also know, however, that residents, tenants, or guests do not complain when they encounter plowed parking lots, cleared sidewalks, and steps that are free of snow and ice. They do complain when their cars are stuck, salt is tracked onto the building carpets, or they suffer a fall due to snow and ice.

As a property manager/owner, your challenge is to prevent these reasons for complaint. Before winter threats are a possibility, it is important that you have a plan that addresses human, property, land, and water protection. That is where our company excels. We help you select the level of service expectations that are right for you. We are a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Certified Level II snow-ice company. We calibrate our salt equipment and our storm response times with appropriate resource allocations (your snow crew and their materials and equipment). We prevent bonding of snow and ice on paved surfaces by using anti-icing application techniques as conditions allow. We optimize dry salt output by “pre-wetting” dry salt flow with salt brine, because salt is optimally effective in liquid form for melting snow. We purchase new plow technology options for more efficiency in clearing snow accumulation from parking lot surfaces down to near-bare conditions.

Less snow and ice accumulation left on the parking lot surface means less salt is needed to melt. We are leading the Minnesota standards of practice for responsible snow and ice management and sustainable property management.

Fall Planting
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Fall Planting

October 2018

Trees and Shrubs: Once milder temperatures set in, trees, shrubs, and turf will no longer face the stress of summer heat. This shift in weather allows plants to reinforce their root systems. It also makes fall the friendliest time for new plantings. Freshly planted trees and shrubs have the fall to get established, making their springtime emergence hearty and healthy.

Fall Color: Many of our crews have already installed fall color mums, kale, pansies, and grasses. A mix of annuals can be interspersed with perennial grasses to mark the season. However, this is also a time to consider adding native trees that are showy and can help rejuvenate our tree canopy as the Emerald Ash Borer takes its toll. River Birch is a good example. It has lovely color from spring through fall and then features gorgeous white, brown and tan bark, all peeling from mature trunks during the winter.

Mature landscaping can be a property's most prominent feature. As with any investment, you want to give landscape additions the best possible chance to reach full maturity. By planting new landscaping in the fall, you are setting the stage for long-term health and longevity.

Paulita LaPlante