San Remo Transitioning to State of the Art Irrigation System
Florida landscapes are highly challenged during the hot, dry spring and fall seasons. Water restrictions during these times make a well-performing landscape even more difficult to sustain. Recognizing the importance of water, the Bonita Springs, FL, residential community of San Remo wisely decided to address this issue head on.
The San Remo Board of Directors began their effort by investigating weather-based irrigation control systems. These highly advanced control systems use an on-site weather station to determine the landscape’s need for water on a daily basis. Data is used to irrigate only when the landscape requires water. This technology typically reduces irrigation consumption by 40 to 60 percent.
In addition to outstanding water conservation, the control system gives irrigation technicians remote control capability from their smart phones. The control system, which was installed in 2010, allows inspections and repairs to be completed more efficiently saving the homeowner’s time and money.
Mainscape became San Remo’s landscape maintenance partner in January 2012. Since that time, San Remo has continued their effort to increase irrigation efficiency and landscape performance by examining the effectiveness of the irrigation sprinklers.
During the first month of service irrigation team members conducted an in depth analysis of sprinklers and made recommendations on how to improve water delivery. During summer 2012, phase 1 recommendations were put in place. As the growing season progressed, the landscape’s performance improved significantly and was sustained during the fall dry season. Audits on the site have documented water savings near 20 percent. San Remo has been able to reduce plant and turf loss, which has created additional savings and allowed for other projects to be funded.
The proactive efforts of the community are paying more than financial dividends. Recently Mainscape petitioned Lee County on San Remo’s behalf to be excused from local water restrictions based on the conservation efforts. The county was very pleased with preemptive approach and grated the request. The variance allows irrigation to occur when the landscape needs water not just on specific days.
San Remo is a great example of a progressive community looking toward the future to provide their members with an outstanding community and beautiful landscape.
Throughout the country, our clients entrust us with the task of creating a beautiful outdoor environment in which to work and play. Naturally, it’s often the visual impact of their landscape investment that captures their attention. But in reality, achieving a successful landscape starts with what we seldom see – the soil and roots that are just below the surface.
Recognizing the importance of soil health, Mainscape has combined its irrigation and technical (fertilization and pest control) departments into a new agronomy department. By joining forces, this new department will collaborate to maximize soil health and landscape performance.
It’s difficult to underestimate the importance of healthy soil biology and the role it plays in the quality of landscapes. Key elements of healthy soil are water, nutrients and air. Striking the perfect balance within the biological engine will create more roots, increase nutrient efficiency, increase overall quality and reduce costs. As soil health increases, the soil becomes more nutrient efficient and needs less inputs like fertilizer and water. Healthier soil biology will also release minor nutrients such as iron and boron, which exist in the soil but are tied up and not available to turf and plants. These nutrients are found naturally in the soil and only need to be released for plant use.
Spring is going to be upon us soon. The spring season is a wonderful time of year many enjoy. However, with all the blooming trees, color and new life comes rapidly changing weather that can mean severe storms. It’s important to be aware and prepared for those severe weather storms.
As soon as an emergency signal is heard, you should take shelter immediately. Remember to discuss these weather emergencies with your employees and families, and to set up evacuation routes and procedures.
Look for darkening skies, lightning flashes or increasing wind. Listen for the sound of thunder. If you can hear thunder then you are in danger of a thunderstorm. Seek shelter and wait until the thunder stops or the storm passes. You can try to determine the distance of the thunderstorm by counting. When you see the lightning strike, begin counting the seconds until you hear the thunder. Then divide the number of seconds by 5. It is a common misconception for people to think that 1 second = 1 mile. The truth is that for every 5 seconds you count, the storm is approximately 1 mile away. Be sure to listen to your NOAA Weather Radio or turn your radio to your local emergency station.
A thunderstorm watch is a message stating that the current conditions favor a storm and may occur within the next 6 hours. A warning implies that your area is currently experiencing severe storms or will be experiencing a storm within the next 30-60 minutes. If your area is under a WARNING, seek shelter immediately and listen to your NOAA Weather Radio, local radio station or T.V. for updated information.
Pre-Tornado Awareness (Signs of a TORNADO!!)
Look for a strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base. Look for whirling dust or debris on the ground underneath the base of the clouds. Remind employees that tornadoes don’t always have a visible funnel
Be extra observant of hail or heavy rain followed by dead calm or a strong fast wind shift. There are many tornados that can’t be seen when they are surrounded by heavy precipitation. Also, be aware that it doesn’t have to be raining for a tornado to occur. Listen for a very loud, continuous rumble. Some people have compared the sound of a tornado to a freight train. If it sounds like a train or thunder and doesn’t fade after a couple of seconds, seek shelter.
Whether you live in South Florida, the Midwest, or Pacific Northwest, landscaping has a direct impact on the perceived value of your home or property. Properly landscaped and maintained exteriors indicate a properly designed and preserved interior. “Perception is reality.”
According to several sources, landscape can increase the overall perceived property value anywhere from 5-15%, and even higher in some cases! For instance, if your house is worth $200,000, a well maintained or updated landscape could increase the value from $10,000-$25,000. Keep in mind that this “perceived value” can work in both directions.
Little things can make a major difference. In order to achieve basic curb appeal it is important to pay attention to even the most basic of maintenance practices. Well defined bed edges, healthy well fertilized turf and shrubbery, as well as appropriately maintained shrubbery and trees are notable examples.
Have a little faith. That’s what Mainscape has practiced from the very beginning. Faith in their people, faith in the quality of their work and the faith to step outside of their comfort zone is what has guided the company into the ranks of the Top 100.
When owner Dave Mazanowski was going to school at Ball State University, he was doing some summer mission work in the community and he and his group basically needed something to support themselves while they did that. So, they started a grass-cutting and general yard work company and they did that every summer and into the fall until they graduated. When they graduated, Dave knew that he could either move on and get a different job, or he could keep doing the landscaping thing, so he chose to keep doing the landscape thing.
I started with the company in 2002 running operations in Indiana. The first big milestone was expanding outside of the state in 2004. We started doing some work out in California. We were trying to learn then if we could do work that wasn’t necessarily right in our backyard. Since then, our average growth rate has been right around 20 percent a year.
About a year and a half ago, we went through a buyout from Dave’s brother, who was 50 percent owner for about 20 years. So now Dave is back to being the sole owner of the company.
We try to bring on the best people that we can find – really good people – who have that mindset and mentality of continuous improvement and who are entrepreneurially oriented, people who want to grow and develop. That’s what we focus on doing.
From a cultural standpoint, when we make a mistake, we’re very open to talking about it. Every mistake we make, we are diligent about looking at what it is we did wrong and how we can fix it.
We can look back and say we’re better now than we were a year ago, and I feel like we’ve always been able to say that. I think that’s pretty important.
Building a relationship is very much the same as building anything else. It starts with a solid foundation. The stronger the foundation, the stronger the relationship.
In all of my own relationships, the framework of building the foundation has started with the basic component of trust. It’s the little things in the beginning that build trust. Calling promptly when I say I will, arriving on time for appointments and carrying through on what I have promised. It’s that simple, yet so many people fail from the very beginning. They have dug themselves into a hole which they must now climb out and begin to regain trust.
As landscapers, it is not uncommon to encounter prospective clients that are very apprehensive about my performance. So many people in the landscape industry overextend and over promise to clients with good intentions, but come up short for a number of reasons. Maybe they have enough business that it doesn’t really matter to them. Perhaps they are just lazy and don’t care. Most often, they have limited resources and are trying to do the job of two or more people and fall short in the process and affect the relationship negatively.
Mainscape puts a great deal of focus on the relationship and the process of building a solid foundation. In our organization, there is a support structure which is built around teamwork with a common goal to create long lasting and solid relationships. In any service industry, the relationship is paramount. Why would anyone have me cut their grass if they didn’t think they could count on me? More importantly, why would they trust me with thousands of dollars to care for their landscaping that may have cost tens of thousands of dollars if they don’t even know if I will show up consistently? It probably won’t happen.
Last year Indianapolis was very busy getting ready for Super Bowl XLVI. Mainscape was honored to be a big part of beautifying our downtown where hundreds of thousands of people visited.
We were asked to create cheerful winter container displays for a hotel in the heart of it all and directly behind where ESPN was broadcasting live.
We chose to use red twig dogwood and golden mops. Both plants are hardy, colorful, and easy to maintain. Above is a picture of the display we created in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.
Indianapolis was praised for Super Bowl XLVI being a huge success. We feel very proud that we were part of that experience.
If you are looking for winter color for your containers this season and you live in the Midwest, click this link for ideas from Midwest Living: http://bit.ly/wintercolor
Happy winter planting!
- Sarah Lacey
A BETTER WAY TO LIVE- TO STOP
I always enjoy this time of year. The weather in Southwest Florida is perfect and I’m reminded why I love to live here. I’m also reminded why so many people love to visit us when the weather is cold up north. As I write this, I think in my best forecaster voice: “It is currently 80 degrees with a slight northeast wind and the humidity is 53 percent.”
The other day I read something by Og Mandino and I wanted to share it with you. He writes:
RULE EIGHT…Never again clutter your days or nights with so many menial and unimportant things that you have not time to accept a real challenge when it comes along. This applies to play as to work. A day merely survived is no cause for celebration. You are not here to fritter away your precious hours when you have the ability to accomplish so much by making a slight change in your routine. No more busywork. No more hiding from success. Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now! Now! Not tomorrow!
A Better Way to Live, p. 80
When I read, “a slight change in your routine” I hear the word STOP.
There’s a paradox here in Florida. While our weather is beautiful and the plant growth cycle begins to slow, many people return to Florida for a break from northern weather and our staff becomes occupied in other ways. We visit with customers, review budgets and plan upcoming enhancements to our clients’ properties. Mainscape realizes that while we are in the green industry, we really are in the people business.
So, we made a decision as a company to stop. In mid-November, Mainscape Florida ceased the routine of daily work life and came together for a whole day seminar on customer service. It was the first time that we had the whole Florida team together and it was exciting to see.
One of the things that we spoke about was our commitment to safety. It’s tremendous to look around a room and to consider the lives that have been positively affected by hard work and to remember all the people and families that are attached to success and growth. Conversely, the thought of the consequences of an accident, lapse in good judgment, or carelessness is a sobering reality. As a company, we are committed to caring for people inside and outside the organization. It was a terrific day.
This time of year is great because the holidays are a sort of stop gap that help us to break out of the routine of life. People halt their routines to come together as friends and family and to celebrate. As the holidays approach, our Mainscape family wishes everyone a safe and happy celebration with your family and friends. Don’t miss the opportunity to stop and as Og says, “Leave time, leave space, to grow. Now! Now! Not tomorrow!”
- Matt Loboda
With Fall upon us and winter rapidly approaching, it is time to start thinking about how you plan to protect your plants from cold damage this season. Landscaping is a huge asset to any community, and Mainscape recognizes the importance of protecting it with proactive preparation and management. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Whether you live in the Midwest or South Florida, following a few key factors will help your landscape survive and flourish.
Day length is a controlling factor which influences when/if a plant goes dormant. As the days grow shorter through the winter months, certain plants will enter dormancy. In warmer climates some plant species will enter into a state of “rest” or semi dormant phase due to shorter days and cooler temperatures by thinning/ dropping leaves, browning, reduced/halted growth, little to no flower production, etc. Correct management practices are critical during these periods. By understanding the plants within your landscape you will be able to differentiate between a dormant, damaged, or dead plant. Plants are often mistaken as dead or dying, when in fact they have entered dormancy, or sustained damaged from cold weather. This can be a very costly mistake.
Damage can be caused by as little as an overnight frost, or multiple days/nights of freezing temperatures. Cold damage can affect the entire plant, or be specific to individual plant parts, such as leaves, fruit, roots, etc. These injuries may cause immediate damage such as plant desiccation or leaf burning, or have a more delayed affects such as stunted growth, quality issues, or insect susceptibility from weakened state of the plant.
It’s an age-old puzzle: To water or not to water.
At Mainscape, our clients often ask us to help them figure out this very question. Unfortunately, a simple “now” or “later” rarely provides the full answer, since the timing of proper irrigation is ultimately driven by evapotranspiration.
Evapotranspiration – or ET for short – is a term that describes the amount of water evaporated or transpirated by the plant. Essentially, ET equals the total demand for water by the landscape, and it’s how Mainscape determines the best and most effective way to irrigate our clients’ property.
The differences in daily ET can be quite different throughout the year. Let’s think of this in human terms. If we were in Central Indiana and ventured out for a round of golf in May, it probably would be a very pleasant experience. We wouldn’t perspire much. Now, let’s try the same round of golf in hot, dry August. We would likely break a sweat just getting the clubs out of the car.
Plants work in much the same way. During cooler times with lower humidity, the landscape requires less water than in hot, humid times.
Another comparison that works is to think of irrigation as being similar to a coffee cup. After each irrigation, the coffee cup is full again. But then a thirsty coffee lover comes along, looking for his
morning java. In irrigation, ET represents the landscape’s demand for water, while in our coffee analogy, it’s like the drinker taking a sip from the cup. The sip of coffee can be large or small, depending on key weather factors such as temperature, relative humidity, wind and sun.
As irrigation experts, Mainscape’s irrigation goal is to fill the soil with water to a depth of four to six inches. As the root zone – the coffee cup – begins to empty, it becomes necessary to fill it back up with another irrigation event. In most cases, the root zone should be approximately 50 percent empty before irrigating.
By letting the root zone dry out between waterings, it encourages roots to dive deeper to find water stored in lower soil layers. Many homeowners look for the first signs of stress, such as wilting, as a signal to irrigate. While this can be an acceptable practice, we suggest that you try to avoid excessive stress to grass and plants between waterings.
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