Monday, 26 June 2017

Top 10 Apps for Landscapers

These days there’s an app for almost anything, and landscape and turf management is no exception. But we know that sifting through all of the apps in the app store can be time-consuming for professionals who have very little free time. To give you a head start, we reached out to a number of landscape professionals and asked what their favorite apps were. From that research, we’ve compiled a top 10 list that includes apps for both use in the field and in the office. Whether it’s processing an invoice on the go, looking up the name of a particular plant or seeking out the cheapest gas prices, you can bet there’s an app for that.

1. Dropbox

What it does: This file-sharing app allows you to sync and share files of any kind to and from any of your computers and smart devices. In other words, any file you save to Dropbox becomes accessible from all of your computers and smart devices. If you update a file in one place, it automatically updates everywhere. Should any of your devices break or get stolen, files also are available on the Dropbox website.

2. Evernote

What it does: This app enables you to take notes, photos and record audio files and upload them to Evernote so you can access them from your smartphone, tablet or any other computer. Further, you can add tags and descriptions to these items. For instance, if you attend a trade show and see a piece of equipment you like, you can take a photo of it, name it and tag it with “equipment I want to buy” for access at a later date.

3. GasBuddy

What it does: This free app helps you find the cheapest gas prices wherever they are — or via a search by city or zip code. GasBuddy keeps an up-to-date record of gas prices by asking users to help out. You earn points and also a daily chance to win $100 of gas by reporting gas prices in your area.

4. Google Earth & Earth Pro

What it does: Google Earth helps landscapers get a good sense on the size of a property without ever stepping foot on it. It allows users to visualize directions in 3-D and can be used as a downloaded program or accessed from any computer with Google Chrome installed, other browsers to come.

5. iPunchclock

What it does: Contractors can easily keep track of hours spent on a job site with this mobile timesheet. Data can be exported directly to Google docs or other formats if you prefer. The app manages multiple independent time sheets and can use the phone’s location awareness.

6. Invoice2go

What it does: This app allows you to invoice directly from their smart device and email it to the customer. The app includes more than 20 invoice templates to choose from, all of which can be customized with a company logo. A PayPal button can be included in the email in order to encourage even faster payment. In addition, the app includes 12 different reports, such as dashboard and sales reports, all of which can help you make better business decisions.

7. Landscaper’s Companion – Plant & Gardening Reference Guide

What it does: Touted by the developer as the “most comprehensive plant guide on iPhone,” the Landscaper’s Companion contains information on 26,000 different plants and includes 21,000 different pictures for reference. This includes trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials.

8. Leafsnap

What it does: This electronic field guide helps users identify tree species from photographs of their leaves. The app is packed with beautiful high-resolution imagery of leaves, flowers, fruits, petiole, seeds and bark. The idea for Leafsnap was born out of the realization that many of the techniques used for face recognition developed by Professor Peter Belhumeur and Professor David Jacobs of the computer science departments of Columbia University and the University of Maryland, respectively, could be applied to automatic species identification. It’s a helpful, on-the-go tool.

9. The Weather Channel

What it does: With a business that is dependent on the weather, it never hurts to have as many weather-related resources at your fingertips as possible. With The Weather Channel app, you can see detailed weather by the day, week or even in the next hour. Push alerts and badges ensure you know about any severe approaching weather, while seasonal tools such as pollen alerts help plan around the weather. Detailed weather conditions include “feels like” temperature, sunrise time, wind speeds, humidity, UV index, visibility, dew point and pressure.

10. Turfgrass Management

What it does: Developed by a team of professors at the University of Georgia, the Turfgrass Management app provides easy access to information for identifying and diagnosing pests in the field. The application combines information from numerous books on turfgrass science in one complete program that can be used on-the-go. The database contains preemergent and postemergent herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, plant growth regulators and adjuvants.

Read more:

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in December 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Friday, 23 June 2017

Understanding Customers Messages And Objections

Say What?

In the world of sales and customer service, what people say and what they mean are not always the same thing. Unfortunately, many of us are listening impaired when it comes to getting to the heart of our customers’ messages.

“Maybe in six months.”

“I’m just looking.”

“I’m sure I can get it cheaper somewhere else.”

Sound familiar? Probably. Do you understand what people mean when they use these objections? On the surface, sure, but do you really get your customer’s or prospect’s intended meaning? Maybe. If you don’t, you could be losing business.

The good news is there’s hope. With some practice and a little bit of discipline, you can tune up your service ears and grow your relationships.

Slowing down and focusing on what others need versus what you can provide is the first step. The second is to listen for a few key phrases and appropriately respond. The following are some of the most common red flags to which you should pay attention.

1.When customers say “maybe,” they often mean “no.” “Maybe we’ll place an order in six months.” “Maybe” may mean never. When you hear that word, keep asking questions. Don’t wait six months and then act surprised when no order is forthcoming. You have your prospect’s attention now and a chance both to clear up some misconceptions and make a sale or, at a minimum, to understand what they are saying.

  • “I understand that you’re on the fence and committing now isn’t in your plan. Between now and the time when you might order, how will you get ABC done?”
  • “When you start our services six months from now, tell me a little about how it will help you or impact your home or business?”
  • “What other solutions have you considered to accomplish ABC?”

Any of those follow-up questions will give you insight into the other person’s needs and decision process. Notice, too, those questions aren’t “salesy.” Your follow-up questions — and you, for that matter — should show a genuine interest in your customer and his or her concerns. The better you understand people and what motivates them, the more likely you’ll be able to help if there is a fit or to get a straightforward answer if there isn’t. The point is, when you hear “maybe,” investigate.

2. In the same lane of the vagueness that “maybe” occupies is another phrase that communicates very little. You’ve heard it before and probably used it yourself, and that’s the word “fine.” “How is everything?” “Everything’s fine.”

Maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. You can’t know unless you do a little more digging. People will often say “everything is fine” in lieu of “go away” or “totally horrible, but I don’t feel like engaging in conversation about it.”

If you find yourself getting a lot of “everything’s fine,” make subsequent inquiries. At the same time, try to determine if you’re setting yourself up to hear this unhelpful response.

By that, I mean if you ask something specific, you’ll learn more. “Which part of the meal was your favorite?” is hard to answer with “fine.” Instead, you’ll most likely discover what your customers liked and what they didn’t. “Which part of the meal did you like best? “I loved the salmon. The beans were a little spicy for me but still good.” Now that’s better, isn’t it? The takeaway to remember is “fine” doesn’t mean fabulous, fantastic or flawless. Respond to “fine” with a follow-up question.

3. When customers ask “why,” they are usually expressing displeasure of some sort. “Why is this so expensive? Why is this offered only in that region?”Too often, service and salespeople miss the real meaning behind these inquiries. “Why is this so expensive?” translates to “This costs too much.”

Listen for “why,” and respond with something better than “I don’t know” or “You’ll have to ask my manager.” Although your customers aren’t jumping up and down with steam coming out of their ears or carrying gigantic flags with the word “why” emblazoned across them, somewhere lurking behind the question are people who are on their way to being unhappy.

Imagine a busy traveler on a tight schedule in an unfamiliar city. He hasn’t seen his own bed in two weeks, few of his daily flights have followed their published schedules, and he’s missing another one of his kid’s ball games. It’s 11:30 at night and he’s just entered the door of his hotel where you work at the front desk. You exchange pleasantries, take his credit card and give him the Wi-Fi code. Just before you send him on his way, you explain that you will have a wonderful breakfast waiting for him the next day. He then reacts to you with a “why” question. “Why is breakfast only served between 6:00 and 10:00 in the morning?” At first you might be thinking, “Because that’s when people eat breakfast.” Fair enough, but the minute that three-letter word passes the traveler’s lips, your internal radar should pop up, and you brain should realize danger is in the air.

The traveler’s “why” is a complaint and one that, if handled correctly, can offer you an opportunity to shine. Let’s look at a few possible responses.

  • “Great question. We’ve found most of our guests prefer that window,” and one of the following:
    • “We do have to-go bags here at the desk. If those times don’t work for you, just see the person back here, and he or she will gladly give you breakfast for the road.”
    • “We have a mini-store with a few breakfast items you can purchase if those hours don’t work out. There’s also always fresh coffee and fruit in the lobby.”
    • “If those times don’t work for you, I have a list of restaurants that serve breakfast outside those hours. I would be happy to give you a copy.”

Any of those answers is better than, “I don’t know. My manager decides that, and he isn’t here.”

Whether you’re uncovering the details behind “Maybe” and “Fine” or recognizing that “Why” is often a complaint, better listening can help you build your relationships with people, improve your sales and enhance the service experience. Take the time to slow down, ask questions and get to the core of a customer’s message.

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Like a Boss: Learning to Handle Rapid Expansion

Hands helping growth

While adding employees seems like a great way to grow a business as the needs of the company grow, expanding too rapidly can have the potential to do harm. Andrew Weilbacher, owner of Weilbacher Landscaping in Millstadt, Illinois, says that as his business grew he thought the next step was to add more people. But in only a short time he began to feel overwhelmed by managing too many crews.

“It just became too much,” Weilbacher admits. “It originally felt natural to be adding employees as I grew. But I quickly began to feel as though I was losing control. I have since found that growth doesn’t always have to mean adding more people. It can mean working smarter with the people you have.”

Weilbacher says that one of the biggest issues he had as the company grew was losing that hands-on touch that he had always offered customers. And they noticed. It was as though the business suddenly went from Weilbacher being heavily involved in projects to spending his days putting out fires.

“As the number of people I had in the field increased, my involvement on projects decreased — and that didn’t end up working out for me,” Weilbacher says. “I was getting more complaints than I’d ever dealt with before and I was suddenly running around dealing with those.”

While many business owners desire to reach a stage where they begin delegating most of the work, Weilbacher says he built his business by being involved in projects and that still seems to be part of his reputation — and his success.

“I think my customers appreciate that I’m so involved on their project so to switch from that model is difficult,” Weilbacher says. “It’s part of who we are and I think our customers have come to expect it.”

Today, Weilbacher is finding a way to manage his growth and success while also remaining involved. He says he’s learned that the two go hand-in-hand.

“I ultimately think I grew so rapidly because I was so involved on projects,” Weilbacher says. “So, to suddenly take myself out of the equation was not the right approach for us. Today, I’m focused on still overseeing our projects — primarily hardscaping and swimming pools — and managing crews. It doesn’t mean I don’t delegate at all but I’ve also found that it’s important to stay involved.”

Our Like a Boss series highlights some common business challenges landscape professionals face and how they conquer them. Discuss your biggest business challenges on LawnSite’s Business Management forum.

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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Kawasaki Motors Teams with Pro Wrestler Steve Austin: This Week’s Industry News

Kawasaki Motors Teams with Pro Wrestler Steve Austin

Want to keep up with the latest news in lawn care and landscaping? Check back every Thursday for a quick recap of recent happenings in the green industry.

Ruppert Adds Software Development Team
Ruppert Landscape has added a software development team within the company’s IT department. Emil Saweros, a 6-year Ruppert employee with more than 20 years of combined IT experience, will lead the team that also includes Melanie Halsey, Luke Ardizzone and Jordan Marshall.

Aqua-Yield and Harmony Brands Enter into Joint Agreement
Nano-technology-based fertilizer supplier Aqua-Yield and turfgrass supplier Harmony Brands, have announced a promotional partnership. Under the agreement, Aqua-Yield will have direct access to sell its fertilizer to Harmony growers across the United States. The promotional partnership ultimately means turfgrass with less inputs; less water, less fertilizer and an end product that is much more environmentally friendly. The turfgrass, supplied to and then distributed by Harmony, will ultimately find its way to our nation’s largest and best-known retailers, including; Home Depot, Lowe’s and WalMart, claims a release announcing the agreement.

Rotolo Acquires Greenscape Grounds Management
Rotolo Consultants (RCI) recently acquired Greenscape Grounds Management, a commercial landscape maintenance company with operations in Lafayette and Lake Charles, Louisiana. Greenscape Grounds Management owner, Brad Breaux, and his brother, Ross Breaux, will continue in management roles with RCI. Brad Breaux said, “We are thrilled to join RCI for our next chapter of growth. RCI brings additional expertise and resources to help us expand our scope of services to new and existing clients in Lafayette and Lake Charles.”

Arborjet College Scholarship Program Deadline is June 30
Arborjet reminds graduating high school seniors that the deadline for its annual Taking Root College Scholarship Program must be postmarked by June 30. Arborjet is accepting applications for its annual program from students who plan to pursue a career in arboriculture or a related field. Now in its fourth year, the scholarship program will award 10 graduating high school seniors each with a $1,000 scholarship to pursue full-time studies in forestry, plant sciences, horticulture, entomology, environmental science or a related major at an accredited two- or four-year college.

Kawasaki Motors Teams with Pro Wrestler Steve Austin
Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A. announced an advertising campaign with Hall of Fame Wrestler Steve Austin to follow the introduction of the all-new MULE PRO-FXR side x side. Austin, a television and movie personality and creator of the hit show “Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge,” has been working with KMC since 2015. He will host commercials primarily featuring the MULE PRO-FXR model, and showcasing the full line up of MULE side by sides. He will also be the face of technical videos highlighting the benefits of the MULE vehicles, and showing just how Kawasaki “strong” they are, alongside Kawasaki chief product developers.

CASE Construction Celebrates 175th Birthday
CASE Construction Equipment celebrated the CASE brand’s 175th birthday with a rally and luncheon attended by more than 800 employees in Racine, Wisconsin, as well as local dignitaries, elected officials and a descendant of the Case family. The company was founded in 1842 in nearby Rochester, Wisconsin, as the Racine Threshing Machine Works Company. It evolved into one of the world’s most iconic manufacturers of construction and agricultural equipment. Speakers included U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the congressman representing Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district; Richard Tobin, chief executive officer – CNH Industrial; and Kaleb Jerome Case, the great grandson of company founder and Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ Hall of Fame member Jerome Increase (J.I.) Case.

U.S. Regulators OK Dow Chemical, DuPont Merger
The $62 billion merger of chemical giants DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co. has been approved by U.S. antitrust regulators, reported the Indianapolis Business Journal June 15. The Justice Department said Thursday it would approve the deal as long as the companies sell off some herbicide and chemical units to preserve competition. Those sales are already in the works.

Makita Adds Spanish-Language Content to Website
Makita U.S.A., Inc. re-launched its website with an option to view content in Spanish. The new feature, which can be activated with a single mouse click, shows a range of makitatools.com content in Spanish including product data, service options, warranty information, promotions, select videos, and more.

Coxreels Introduces Updates for SLPL Spring-Driven Models
Coxreels has introduced a product enhancement to the spring-driven 1¼- and 1½-inch SLPL models. Prior to this update, these models of the SLPL came standard with Coxreels’ aluminum inline swivel. The company has eliminated the aluminum inline swivel on five SLPL models (725, 750, 825, 835, and 850) and incorporated a nickel-plated steel inline swivel (from the 1185-Series).  The axle plumbing in both standard carbon steel models and optional stainless steel models was upgraded as well.

Minnesota United FC Announces Toro as Official Turf Equipment and Irrigation Partner
Minnesota United has selected Bloomington-based Toro as the official partner of turf equipment and irrigation. The irrigation system will utilize T7 Series rotors and be managed by Toro’s Sentinel central control system. As the stadium moves towards completion, Toro will work with the Minnesota United to select the proper mowing and turf cultivation equipment for the unique challenges of maintaining a stadium playing surface.

GreenCare for Troops Celebrates 11 Years of Service
Project EverGreen’s GreenCare for Troops initiative, which celebrates its 11th year in 2017, provides basic lawn and landscape services for military families with a deployed service member and post-9/11 veterans with a service-connected disability. Since the program’s inception in 2006, more than 11,000 military families and veteran and 6,000 green industry professionals have registered to receive or provide these services. In total, volunteers donated lawn care and landscape services valued at $1 million in 2016. Nufarm has been the platinum partner for the last two years.

Read last week’s industry news: NALP Partners with Houzz

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Mosquito Control As A Big Business Opportunity

The Sting

It’s no con. Mosquito control can be a profitable service add-on. In a divided country where there seems to be little common ground, pretty much everyone can agree on one thing: mosquitoes are bad. That would seem to present a big business opportunity for anyone in the business of getting rid of mosquitoes. And lawn and landscape companies that have begun offering mosquito control services are taking advantage of that broad-based demand.

Entering the mosquito market

Goodall Landscaping in Maine began offering mosquito control services two years ago. “It seemed like a good add-on service to complement the tick control and lawn care services that we offer,” says company owner Ben Goodall.

Goodall began by cross-selling to his existing customer base, and then sent direct mail pieces to try to draw in new customers. Mosquito control is also featured prominently on the company website, and this year Goodall Landscaping is putting together a radio ad campaign that focuses on mosquito control. The overall message conveyed is that mosquitoes not only inflict painful bites, but also spread disease, and that controlling them allows property owners to spend more time outside without these worries.

At Ryan Lawn and Tree, which has six locations in Kansas and Missouri, the decision to get into mosquito control two years ago was the culmination of a relatively long process. “Our agronomist has been researching mosquito control for a number of years,” says company president Larry Ryan. “And we looked at what the industry was doing and asked, ‘Can we do it as well?’ Because we don’t want to do anything poorly — our whole company is built around doing things well — so that’s what we focused on.”

Pricing mosquitocontrol services is dependent on the time required to treat mosquito-harboring vegetation, such as trees and shrubs.

Motivated by both scientific and market research, the decision was made to try it. Ryan next made the decision to bring in a new employee who had experience in mosquito control to help get the company’s new program started. “The individual that we brought onboard was strong, and good people create their own solutions,” he explains, crediting that approach as one of the reasons that the new service was added so seamlessly to the company’s offerings. “We don’t like starting new things and having to learn them from the ground-up.”

Ryan Lawn and Tree began by simply letting its existing customer base know that this new service was being offered. But it is also happy to provide mosquito control services to neighbors or others who aren’t customers of the company’s other lawn and landscape services.

That’s similar to the approach taken by Citrus Park Lawn Care in Florida, a 10-year-old company that has always offered both indoor and outdoor pest control services, but just started offering mosquito control about one year ago. “We added it to our full package, and it took off pretty well,” says company president Denis Perry. “We already have a customer base that uses the multiple other services that we offer; we did some marketing to all of our current customers and a lot of them just jumped right on board with it, added it to their service package program, added it to their monthly bill, and we just created a new schedule in our scheduling system for it.”

Strategies for getting started

Perry says that, given his company’s past pest control expertise, adding mosquito control proved pretty easy. “We’ve got the technicians who do the lawn and ornamental services and the indoor pest control,” he explains.

Perry says he researched the best way to apply mosquito control treatments. While the company has large spray trucks, he made the decision to keep it simple and utilize STIHL backpack sprayers. “They work great,” he says, noting that the equipment cost is relatively low at roughly $600 to $700 per unit.

And there were no added costs for new personnel: “I trained our technicians who do our lawn and ornamental service. So the technician, when he’s there on a property every month doing fertilizer/L&O applications, just pulls out the backpack sprayer and does the mosquito application while he’s already there.”

Similarly, Ryan reports that mosquito control has been a relatively easy service to get off the ground: “We use a STIHL backpack blower and a pickup truck. All we need to carry is a container of water and some mix — that’s really just about all there was to it.”

Citrus Park Lawn Care technicians are trained to provide mosquito control services during their scheduled turf and ornamental stops.

At Ryan Lawn and Tree, the same technicians that handle mosquito control also apply mole control and house perimeter pest treatments. “We try to look at that as its own little department,” explains Ryan. These technicians typically work alone and focus only on these applications on their routes, and not on other turf and tree services that the company offers.

At Goodall Landscaping, the same technicians that handle lawn and tick treatments are performing mosquito control treatments. “Because it’s a similar application to other services that we’re providing, we use the same licensed technicians,” Goodall explains. (State licensing is typically required for mosquito control, just as it is for other pest control applications.)

Goodall Landscaping currently has six technicians on staff. Goodall’s preference, when possible, is to try to mix mosquito control into the existing lawn care and tick control routes. “It’s just adding an additional backpack mister, so if the truck is already going out there, we can usually add it in to the route, so there’s less travel time and we’re making more out of our stops,” he explains. Goodall’s goal is to keep routes “as tight as possible,” which isn’t always easy to do in a rural area with relatively low population density, so he says it’s all the more helpful to be able to provide multiple services at each stop in order to be as efficient as possible.

Goodall says there were no unexpected surprises encountered in offering mosquito control services: “It was pretty turn-key to roll it into our program offerings.”

Growing sales

Goodall has timed his mosquito control marketing campaigns to take place as soon as mosquitoes are present and become a nuisance. Unfortunately, it’s easier to get people to focus on the problem once they are actually experiencing the painful bites that mosquitoes inevitably bring about.

Mosquito control is a summer-long endeavor. For Goodall in the Northeast, that means roughly May to September.

As in most other states, mosquitoes are primarily a concern in the summer in Florida, but in that warm climate Perry with Citrus Park Lawn Care says that some customers opt to continue treatments all year long.

The company recommends monthly treatments; some customers opt for every other month; still others request just occasional treatments. “Some of our customers, if they’re having a big event, like a kid’s birthday party, might call us to come out to do an application a week or two before the party,” says Perry.

He emphasizes that, like any other service, fully understanding the costs of providing mosquito control is the essential first step toward setting a price that will be profitable. The chemical cost is pretty easy, but calculating the time required for the technician to do the application is a little trickier, and it’s not as simple as looking at the square-footage of the property, Perry explains.

“People think that you’re spraying the lawn, but you’re not; you’re spraying the shrubbery, the trees, the bushes, the landscaping — that’s where it all starts for the mosquitoes. So if you have a big yard with a lot of trees and a lot of landscaping and hedges and bushes, we price it accordingly.”

Other variables include examining whether there’s any standing water on the property, which needs to be treated with mosquito control packets, and items that can collect and hold water, such as kid’s toys or flower pots that need to be dumped out, Perry adds.

Citrus Park has a minimum charge of $45 to $60 to treat even small yards with little landscaping, and up to $125 to $150 for larger, more landscape-intensive properties.

Perry says that the well-publicized, mosquito-borne Zika virus threat last year drove an increase in business. “We were pretty busy with it last year, especially here in Florida,” he recounts. Citrus Park Lawn Care was even featured on a local news broadcast while doing a mosquito control treatment, which made the phone ring all the more, he says.

Ryan Lawn and Tree began offering mosquito services just about the time that Zika was being covered almost nonstop in the news. “That really helped us sell the service, there’s no question about that,” says Ryan. “It was almost like they were selling it for us.”

The company prices mosquito treatments on an individual basis; new customers who elect to sign up for five applications throughout the season [the product used has about a 30-day residual] are given the first application for free. “We don’t like discounting very much, and once we get a customer we discount very little. But to pick up that new customer, we will do it,” says Ryan.

Read more: Is it Time to Add Zika to Your Mosquito-Control Messaging?

The bottom line

“For a new start-up, it’s gone gangbusters. It’s doing very well,” says Ryan of his company’s new mosquito control service. “This is our second year and we just hired our third person in that department. It’s been nice to see that growth, because I really don’t like to do things that don’t grow. We don’t get into services that flatline; if they don’t continue to grow, we don’t want to be in those services.”

Ryan expects mosquito control to continue to grow as a source of revenue for the company for the foreseeable future, in part because “it works — people who were on the program last year told us that they literally had no mosquitoes. And their neighbors did.”

Ryan says that mosquito control has proven to be profitable: “The product costs are minimal; it’s mostly a labor cost, and even that is very doable,” he says.

One challenge, he adds, is that mosquito control in that part of the country is a five-month-a-year business, so a company wanting to offer the service would need to have a plan for what to do with those employees the rest of the year.

“We need help in other areas of our business, so they don’t sit around; if they sat around, or you had to hire people for just five months, it would be tough.”

As an add-on service “it is definitely profitable,” agrees Perry, but not so profitable that he would try to make it a standalone service.

“It’s not something that I would ever invest in a mass marketing campaign to get new customers to do just this service,” he states, noting that while “mosquito control” is now touted on Citrus Park Lawn Care’s marketing materials, website and trucks, “we don’t get a lot of calls for it outside of our existing customer base.” But, Perry adds, “to just piggyback this new service on [other services] just makes our existing program better.”

Goodall is using mosquito control as one way to bring in new business while remaining true to the company’s overall mission. “One of our priorities is to use the greenest products available to us for controls, so we’re using more organic and green-friendly [mosquito control] products,” he explains. “So we might be positioned a little higher in price because we choose to use these products, but we feel that the service we provide and the long-term value is there to justify it.”

Goodall also makes sure that his employees are ready to answer any customer questions about mosquito control prior to applications being made, and leave information about mosquitoes and the treatments made with customers afterward. “If we can do a good job with the mosquitoes, oftentimes they’ll look at us for our other services,” he concludes.

Read more: 5 Plant Options to Help Your Customers Repel Mosquitoes

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Get to Know Drew Weesen

Drew Weesen

Snow and ice management in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, can be hard work. Drew Weesen, snow manager in the winter and project manager in the summer for Boreal Property Management, has found first hand that the Jackson Hole snow season can pose unique challenges. Weesen says some of their clients have driveways that are a mile long and built into the side of a mountain. It’s also not uncommon to have avalanches occur on some of the properties. The company services both residential and commercial snow work and has a fleet of six trucks with four dedicated routes and two others that are available for special requests — usually from construction sites.

After a snow season that was far above average, Weesen says he’s ready to relax a bit this summer. Weesen says the summertime activities in Jackson Hole are endless — hiking, biking or swimming in one of the dozen lakes in the area are just a few examples of ways he will chill out in the warmer months. We recently caught up with Weesen to find out what kept him going during the trying snow season.

I love snow! As much as I dislike getting three hours of sleep and peering out from an ice-covered windshield, I still enjoy seeing the flakes coming down and piling up. If we get into a good cycle of multiple early days, I quickly adjust and have enough energy after a plow shift to go out and snowmobile or ski. I love it when the sun comes out for a day or two and we can focus on equipment maintenance and cleanups, but I’m always disappointed to see the snow banks shrink.

Keeping people coming and going from their houses during a big storm is a satisfying part of the job for me. Getting thankful waves and gratified smiles makes me remember what an important job it is to keep things moving. Of course, pulling our competitors’ trucks out of the ditch is always a fun highlight of the day, too!

We use a multipronged attack to tackle snow in the most efficient manner. I try to coordinate that attack from both the office and the field. When plows or machines break, I redirect the team to address that route and keep everyone happy.

The BBC News is on at 4 A.M. and their commentary and perspective of the USA is entertaining to me. That keeps me busy in the early morning hours.

I try not to drink my second cup of coffee until 6 A.M. — it seems to keep my energy level consistent and fortunately my beverage is still warm then. My lunch box is usually filled with leftovers from the night before. Cold pizza, fried chicken and kale burgers!

My two biggest indulges are fried chicken and Big Macs! Albertson’s Grocery has the best fried chicken in town — plus it’s cheap.

Visit PlowSite.com for more forums on equipment, business management and technical information. Join the conversation in the largest community of snow and ice business professionals.

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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Story of a Landscape: New Water Feature Proves Nice Addition to Heritage Property

Can a historic home and a brand-new pond/waterfall exist in perfect harmony? For designer Stephanie Scott and the crew at Yards Unlimited Landscaping, there was never a doubt.

In the end, not only were the clients pleased, but the project was also recognized by the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association with one of its annual awards for water features.

Scott explains that she met the homeowners at a home show in Ottawa. They had recently purchased the stone residence, which was built in 1828 and listed as one of the Canadian capital’s designated heritage buildings, and wanted to incorporate water into the landscape.

The backyard before renovation Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

She adds that one of the clients had grown up with a small bubbling rock in the family’s backyard, and the home the couple was leaving had had a backyard pond they had built themselves.

“It was important that this new water feature blend in with the feel and age of the house,” Scott says. “I explained then that when creating a water feature, everything is in the details, from the layout to the choice of stone to the plant material.”

However, the property is certainly not the typical flat suburban lot. The home had been built into a hillside, and the lot itself wasn’t particularly wide, although fairly deep. And, while the backyard is large, it presented its own challenge: the grassy expanse serves as the septic field.

The backyard before renovation Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

Scott, however, didn’t see that as a drawback. She opted to place the water feature at the side of the house, instead.

“We wanted to make good use of that natural sloping grass on the side,” she says. “It’s much easier to create a water feature that looks natural when you have a slope to work with as opposed to trying to create an elevation.”

Even when confident of her site, however, Scott says there were challenges. High on the list was access to the construction site, which offered narrow side setbacks and woods at the rear. As a result, the crew had to temporarily remove part of an original stone wall, as well as protect the roots of a 300-year-old oak.

“It was important to keep the feel of the property and to imagine what a waterfall and pond would have looked like if it had been there for years,” says Scott. “That’s what I tried to create here, even with the plant choices, using some native plant material and grasses.”

Constructing the new back yard water feature Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

One key feature, although not one she lists as a challenge, was the clients’ requirement that the pond be large enough to support a dozen koi.

“We certainly had to take that into account,” Scott says. “And, because of our winters here, ponds have to be a certain depth to allow those fish to survive. Not only did we have to go deeper but I had to calculate the amount of water required to support 12 mature koi.”

While koi tend to go into a state of torpor once the air temperature cools below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, Scott says the clients do keep the pond aerated over the winter.

Creating the waterfall and pond required a substantial use of natural stone, which Yards Unlimited obtained from a local distributor.

Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

“The clients came with me and we selected weathered stone,” Scott says. “We selected some very specific stones and wanted large ones that looked like they had always been on the property. We took quite a bit of time selecting them.”

All the stone is naturally set. Scott says the largest ones were set first to help create the stream and then the smaller ones were placed around those.

“It was important to get the water to change directions where it hit the big rocks as it would in nature,” she says. “We took the time to create a natural-looking stream. The falls also split in some areas which adds a lot of interest from various vantage points.”

Again, she notes that the largest stones had to be ferried individually to the construction site.

Flagstone is utilized in the area around the pond, and even in the pond itself, since part of its construction includes a flagstone shelf at the bottom to give the fish a place to hide from large water birds that inhabit the area.

Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

One of the clients’ goals was having a place where their nieces and nephews could come and enjoy feeding the fish. However, Scott also paid attention to wildlife that might be in the area.

“I made sure there was a safe place for them to enjoy the pond by adding a large flagstone feeding area overhanging the pond,” she says. “The pebble beach is a wonderful feature that was intended to provide an escape for any trapped wildlife, but it’s brought so much more to the pond. Birds come to bathe in the evening and frogs are able to come and go as they please.”

Planting around the water feature also kept the non-human habitants of the area in mind. Scott explains that some plants were interwoven into the areas of smaller stones to create a natural-looking element.

Native plants include nodding onion, Bebb’s sedge and bristle leaf sedge, while the non-native plant list features geranium rozanne (which blooms from May to October in Ottawa), white coneflower, rosy return daylily, Bobo hydrangea and lavender elegance purple.

“The tall grasses frame the medium and smaller plants to create visual interest,” Scott says. “By including a lot of native plants, especially on the side close to the water, it encourages the native insects and frogs, as well as other wildlife. And, there’s always something new and exciting to see, whether it’s a new flower or a bee gathering pollen.”

Photo: Yards Unlimited Landscaping

Scott credits much of the success of the project — which cost approximately $40,000 to the Yards Unlimited crew, which ranged from three to four men over the three weeks of construction.

“The foreman and his crew did a fabulous job of implementing my vision,” she says. “They’ve given the homeowners a beautiful water feature which will only get better with each year that goes by.”

In fact, she says if nothing else, this project taught her the importance of having a team that has the same shared vision, passion, patience and willingness to collaborate to make it come together.

It’s that execution, coupled with her design, of which she’s most proud.

“As soon as I stepped foot in the backyard, and heard the running water cascading down, I knew it was perfect,” Scott concludes. “Every time clients are happy at the end of a project it makes me smile. That’s what it’s all about.”

The post Story of a Landscape: New Water Feature Proves Nice Addition to Heritage Property appeared first on Turf.



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