Thursday, February 16, 2012

Training in the 21st Century and the landscape contractor

Many landscape companies thrive on people's lack of knowledge. They count on it! Training is just not their strong point. "Grab a blower and go!" seems to be the ruling methodology.

At Ground Effects Landscaping (merging with Horizons West Landscape Contractors), training has played into the bottom line since J. D. DiMegglio. Steve Bidwell and Norm Farmer continue on with this mantel with enthusiasm.

Having well educated personnel ensures the best possible job being done. Sustaining our permaculture (indefinite sustainability) in the landscape adds value to our homes, businesses and even aesthetic value. The University of Arizona's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences reports over 2 million acres of land has changed from 1982 to 1997. Their Cooperative Extension discusses the impact on sustainability as being crucial to our community. (Click on the link for more information.)

That means we need educated, trained individuals who care about the value of  your landscape, whether it is being designed, installed or maintained. Landscapes like the one to the right don't happen accidentally. The personnel doing the work must be trained in the nuances of best practices to ensure a permaculture that lasts and adds value to the changing uses of land.

Water, of course, is a hot button topic in our region. We've started touching on water usage with our blog on "Xeriscape to Oasis" that impacts your choices. We'll be doing more of these.

What does all this have to do with our orientation?

GEL believes it's important to start our new employees off properly. Whether they work in construction or maintenance, our people will know the proper way to take care of your properties. We will be partnering up with other contractors, builders and developers to give you options that will benefit you, your family, your clients, or your tenants. Being aware of how you can be in charge of our our environment by knowing more is vital; that's at the heart of our blogging and informing you of all your options. We want you to know about projects like TROT's (Therapeutic Riding of Tucson) installation of native plants, pathways and gardens on their property, or organizations such as The Drachman Institute and their numerous projects to enhance the environmentally sensitive development of our communities.

It all comes from knowing what to do and how to do it right. Our orientation is the beginning building block for our personnel to do it right.

We will bring your more information about our training programs, and the organizations and companies that share our vision of a beautiful Metropolitan Tucson and surrounding communities.

If you would like more information, please don't hesitate to call us. If you would like a consultation, we would be honored to share our expertise to benefit your needs. You can always call us at (520) 751-0232 for more information, check our website, Ground Effects Landscaping, or find us on Facebook at Ground Effects Landscaping.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February plans for your landscape

The warm weather is coming ... but, will there be one or more last freeze(s)? That is one of the major questions that landscapers and gardeners deal with in this region. There are still some things that must be done to prepare for the growing season.

It's time to consider rejuvenating your formal flower beds. Depending upon your budget, you can plant pansies, poppies, daylillies, dahlias, petunias, bachelor buttons and other colorful flowers to add great color to your landscape. The summer flowers will be ready for planting around April or early May. Once again, it depends upon your budget and time allowance as to what type of planting you will undertake.

Another consideration is planting a natural wildflower garden. You can add seed mixes that can be obtained at nurseries that will produce color year round. Seed mixes should include some of the following flowers in different percentages: Gallardia, Asclepias, Aster (Daisies), Columbine, Calendula, Chrysanthemums, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Delphinium, Dianthus, Dyssodia, Echinacea, Poppies, Desert Sunflowers, Baby's Breath, Sunflowers,  Impatiens, Morning Glories, Mallows, Alyssum, Dusty Millers, lupine, Desert Rockpea, Forget-Me-Nots, Primrose, Penstemon, Salvias, Gazanias, Phlox, Bluebells, Deseret Marigolds, Mexican Hat ... these are just some of the suggestions you have available to you. Considerations must include location, reflective heat, ground contours, shade/full sun.

The advantage of gardens such as these are low maintenance and year round color. Thinning and deadheading spent flowers are optional to a degree; it depends on how much time or what kind of budget you have.

Another major event to consider is pruning your trees. The non-native deciduous shade trees and fruit trees are just about ready to start their growth for the new season. With the lack of leaves, you can see the structure more easily and start your pruning "artistry."

For native trees, wait until the start of summer to prune.

One important consideration is to prune the dead, decaying and damaged branches (the three D's) first. The next part of the approach is to consider where the growth of the remaining branches will be. Will it grow into other trees, awnings, walls ...

The proper way to prune is shown in the illustration to the left. The first cut is to ensure the branch doesn't tear the bark due to the weight of the branch being pruned. The second cut will take off the bulk of the branch. The last cut, outside of the collar or swelling of the branch from the next larger branch or trunk that it is being removed from.

Make sure you don't prune more than 25-33% of the tree. Doing more can cause stress and lessen the ability for the tree to properly photosynthesize. It can also cause sunburn to the inner tree branches and trunk. Don't leave stub or make flush cuts. These inhibit the tree's ability to properly heal the pruning wounds.

If you have any questions about formal or natural gardens,  or about pruning, just drop your questions or comments on the blog or on the FB page. I'll be glad to answer you or find a consultant for you! Happy gardening and pruning!