• December 29, 2014
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Westside's Lawn Restoration Program

In the tough times we are in, many of you cannot afford to replace your existing lawn, so we are for the first time advertising our Lawn Restoration Program. The problem with most lawns is the soil fertility. The reason for this, as I have written about in previous blogs, is that the health of the soil that your lawn roots grow in is very sick.

Westside’s Lawn Restoration Program will not replace the new lawn but give it a much needed facelift, not unlike what golf courses do every spring and fall to keep their greens healthy. In fact, I learned this from having been in the golf business for 15 years.

For scheduling and pricing details please <a href="http://www.westsidelandscape.com/LawnRestoration.php">click here</a>.

Soil Aerification

We start by core punching small holes with a machine allowing air, water and nutrients to penetrate into the root zone. Most root depth is only about 1inch deep and we like to see at least 2 inches, and prefer 3 to 4 inches of root depth. Contrary to old school thought, thatching will do nothing for the health of your lawn, and will only encourage the wrong kind of short grass (Bent and Poa Annua) to grow. This we do not want.

Top Dressing

The next step is to “top dress” the lawn. After we core aerate the lawn, we top dress/fill the holes, with a combination of organic compost, iron, blood meal, lime, and slow release fertilizer, then overseed with a 3-way blend of rye grass, adding fine fescue in shaded areas.

What does this do? The cores create growth space, air and water can enter, the compost and nutrients fill the holes and the roots chase after the newly created open space. Blood meal is an organic phosphorus compound and will enhance root growth, organic lime (Calcium) helps to balance PH levels, making the cells of the grass plant more resistant to disease and stress. Organic chelated iron reduces the amount of nitrogen levels needed for green healthy grass, and finally fertilizing with slow release nitrogen for long term feeding.

Results

If it is not within your budget to replace that old lawn, Westside's Lawn Restoration Program is an economical way to enhance any lawn immediately within 30 days and in the long term create a much thicker, healthier lawn needing less water and fertilizers to keep it greener and thicker.

We guarantee results and will refund your investment if you do not see remarkable results in the first 30 to 60 days.

As always, thanks again for reading my blog.....Tim..

  • December 29, 2014
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Low Maintenance Yards

Ok, I hear this one all of the time, and although you folks mean well I want to spell some light on the myth of the quote I hear often" I want a low maintenance yard" and even though I usually don't say much I will elaborate a little here.

I can't tell you how often I hear this one, the low maintenance yard Cry....and you know I can't blame you, in fact if I didn't have a crew of guys to keep up my 20 acres I most likely would be crying the same thing. Problem is in Oregon there really is no such thing as a low maintenance yard, and here are a few reasons why.

I know how much effort it takes to maintain a yard after all we have about 20 full time employees dedicated to all of you folks out there that are grateful enough to trust us with your properties.

Oregon has 4 distinct seasons and none of them are real severe which leads to plant growth and weed growth year around, and yes growth will slow down in the off season but then there are a slew of other projects that need to be done in and out of the growth season.

So there you go, my take on the low maintenance yard slogan, how about the less maintenance yard or the limited maintenance yard, ok you get my drift...... myth busted again...

Thanks as always.....Tim...

  • January 02, 2015
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The Myth Buster Blog

OK, here is my newest blog, and yes it is in conjunction with a new section of the web site called....” Myth Buster “ and yes, of course I, copied the show, which I love to watch, so please don’t call them about copyright infringement, thanks......anyway.

How many times have I you heard someone with that great idea, you know the one they picked up on the Saturday morning talk show on the radio, or they took a master gardener class at the local Elks club and all of the sudden not only are they an expert but, they have the latest and greatest cure for whatever bug or mole that needs to be eliminated with the simple household soap or baking soda that sits on the shelf....Ok....

So I started a column called myth busters, not cause I know everything, cause for sure I don’t, well, then again, or just ask my wife Denise, well then maybe not, anyway.....

It sure cracks me up when I hear some of the craziest ideas coming out from the folks, and of course me with all of my 25 years plus experience in the industry and my college educatedness ( as you can see I flunked English in high school, thank goodness for spell check).

OK where was I, oh yes, busting so called myths, I’ll do my best to shed some light on those old wives tales, so have a laugh and feel free to comment back to me, especially when I’m wrong and one of those home remedies actually works! Please feel free to rub it in and I will do my best to save face and admit I’m wrong.

Thanks again,

Tim....

  • January 02, 2015
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Native plant discussion

This year for some reason we have been involved in multiple projects were we were asked to install native plants. I have a feeling this comes from the sustainability (Green agenda) that has developed throughout the country in the last few years so I want to discuss what I have learned lately about native plants.

When a client asks me to design a landscape the first thing that comes to my mind is not native plants. When I went to college I took many hours of plant identification, learning the Latin and common names, cross referencing them with all of the other names that folks tend to call them but I don’t remember getting much information on “Native” of course these are different times and just the thought of a native plant sounds pretty good to some but is there really a difference?

When I design a landscape I try to listen to the customer and find out what they want. They usually want a lot of variety and color, I do this by using a variety of combinations of evergreen perennials, deciduous seasonal blooming shrubs, evergreen and deciduous trees, annuals and bi-annuals.

The problem with the native plants is that they just don’t have the versatility of color and texture that most folks want. Most of the blooms on native plants are white and very small, most plants foliage is small and it takes a lot of plants to fill areas that normally would have a lot of character and depth.

For the most part I have observed that the native plants are just kind of unattractive and useless in most landscape applications, that’s not to say that they don’t have their uses I like them on stream banks and in native forest areas or woodlands type of applications, but I’m sorry I really don’t care for some of them in the everyday landscape application.

On another note what really is the difference in native plants verses non native?

Honestly aren’t they all Gods living creation, they all need water, nutrients, need to be trimmed and manicured, maintained and loved on and with a little TLC any plant will grow and survive, so I really don’t understand from a horticultural view the difference in the plants.

I also don’t buy into the theory that some ornamental plants will grow over other plants and that birds like the native plants better, I mean what about all of the un wanted grasses that end up in your lawn is this because of the birds or the wind or?.......well I think you see where this is going it’s pretty much the way mother nature created it.

You know I think that you could make up anything you want about what makes a person feel good, about a ‘slogan’ or, sounds politically correct , well here I go getting poloticky so let’s just end it here.

If you want to try the native plant thing there are some nice varieties of plants, I love and use tons of Kinnikinnick, I like Nutka Rose, Ribes Sanquenium, Oregon Grape, Cornus, there’s lots of others just don’t forsake the old mainstays like Viburnums, Euonymus, Azalea, Nandina and many others.

They are popular because they work, the folks love them, its what’s worked in the landscape for many years.....And what’s wrong with that?

Thanks again.....Tim...

  • January 02, 2015
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The yearly wrap up

I have been so far behind lately due to a lot of factors like great weather, and ahhh, Great weather!! Oh yes also a lot of you folks just wanting to get in that project while the sun is shining.

Then there are the General contractors that we work very hard for that keep throwing projects our way. Thank you very much by the way and we will continue to put you guys up front as we do with everybody that we are contracted with.

This year has been just amazing, we have experienced some wonderful new clients, that’s you the folks out there wanting us to do your project and let me tell you I just feel totally privileged to be able to say that Westside is on your team and in the lead for you to count on.

I am constantly discussing you folks with my folks about how we need to take care of your project so that you will be happy. This is easier said than done sometimes but if I fail you it’s only because I forgot to look in the mirror at that point, and I promise you that I will take care of whatever I may have forgotten. Remember, please, it’s ok for you to remind me if I forgot something if you feel so inclined.

So much for the yearly wrap up, well I guess that if we are looking at numbers Westside Landscape is growing up. Our overall construction growth is above 160% since March of 08, our maintenance division growth is about 130% since March of 08 and our maintenance retention rate is 98.9%.

When I look at numbers I really don’t care about how much growth is happening, in fact I am really scared of off the charts growth, reason is that I mostly want to take care of the folks, that is you guys that are relying on us to do what we say we will and then some. I am constantly telling my people that the growth at this point will happen if we take care of the folks.

So if I fall short please feel free to remind me that it is your yard, or your project that we at Westside Landscape need to keep in our priority sites, not the numbers!!

Thanks again, as always you the folks are the reason why we are successful! Here at Westside Landscape....

Tim.......

  • January 02, 2015
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Landscape Professionals

I wrote a blog a long time ago about choosing a landscape contractor and what to look for, researching my web site I could not find this old blog so I want to touch on a few details about what may or may not be a landscape professional.

I am constantly trying to look in the mirror about how to do it better, how to be more consistent, how to give our clients more for their money resulting in satisfied long term customers. Not wanting to toot my horn, I fall short in a lot of ways but if I talked about my shortcomings you just might not want to even talk back to me.

This I do know is that we are fully licensed with the Landscape Contractors Board of Oregon and maintain a $15,000 bond, have 2 million in liability insurance and carry SAIF accident insurance on all of our employees....Oh yes we also pay taxes!!

Reason for this discussion is that I bid a lot of jobs and tend to see some of the folks out there wanting to have their yards maintained for let’s just say, a little too reasonable. My point is most of the yard maintenance services that are small one man or 2 man operations most likely do not have the proper liability insurance, don’t pay SAIF insurance, and are they paying taxes?

In fact quite often you the folks are paying more for your landscape monthly service than we charge and you don’t even know it because you like the guy that is doing your service....Nothing wrong with that but ask yourself this, what if he trips and falls into the mower blade, who is going to pay?? Are you paying them cash money, or writing a check in their name? If so most likely they are not paying taxes and helping the local economy!

With our two months free program for first time customers with annual maintenance agreement our price is very hard to beat and you are at no risk for liability.

So give me a shot at quoting your landscape maintenance or landscape project, you’ll be glad that you did...

Thanks, Tim...

  • January 02, 2015
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Crane Fly Life Cycle

I recently attended a local pest control seminar and am motivated to share with you about what I have learned regarding the crane fly.

The crane fly is indeed a true insect. The adults lay the eggs, the eggs evolve to larva then to pupa and finally to adult. It feeds on the crown of the grass plant in your yard while in the pupa stage. In this stage it takes the form of a cut worm. If you suspect the critters in your lawn you can dig out a chunk of grass and you may find them just below the surface in the dirt.

The optimum time to eliminate them is when they are in the growth stage. This is called the instar stage where they will put on new growth by molting out of their old skin and elongating new growth. Since the eggs and adults don’t eat, this is the only time to treat them because at this stage they are eating at their best.

In my experience, timing for treatment is based on the time of the year and temperature of the soil. Since first early pupa stage is in the fall, I have found that mid to late October is optimal for treatment and again in late winter to early spring (late February to early March) when the weather begins to warm up. This early season treatment must be timed so that the soil temperatures have warmed a little allowing the pupa to molt again and begin feeding.

It is impossible to tell if you have removed all of the worms with a single treatment and even if you did, they may re-infest from a neighbor’s lawn or from runoff or some kind of mechanical re-location. For this reason, we treat all of our lawns twice a year.

Signs to look for:

  • Your lawn looks very thin. When looking down into the grass you can see the dirt.
  • The lawn will have a yellow dingy color to it in the affected area.
  • You may notice some of the pupa (small worms) on your sidewalk or driveway after a heavy rain.
  • When the temperature warms up in mid to late March, your lawn seems to be greener and healthier in some areas and spotty, yellow and thin in the infected areas.

I hope this helps! Give me a shout via email or pass a picture on to me and I can help you with the identification of your infestation.

Tim Barnes, President
Westside Landscape
590 Greenwood Rd
Independence, OR 97351

Mobile: 503-991-0285
FAX: 503-606-0439
www.westsidelandscape.com
E-mail: tim@westsidelandscape.com

  • January 02, 2015
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The Underground Economy

Again I am writing to inform you the folks out there that there is a huge underground economy that is operating in Oregon, (flying under the radar as we in the industry call it.)

I am not trying to pick on the little guy, the laws in Oregon are clear and were made to protect you the consumer, there is a good chance that you are not protected at this moment if your landscape maintenance company cannot provide the following information!

If your maintenance person were to injure themselves, throw a rock, cut a limb, damage your property you basically have no recourse and if you press an issue most likely they will just disappear. Many of these small companies don’t have a valid driver’s license or address to track who they are or where they live.

Here is what’s going on, in the State of Oregon there is no license category for a landscape maintenance company, this differs greatly from landscape installation where there is a 5 category license that must be passed to be an all phase’s licensed contractor in Oregon.

The Landscape Contractors Board of Oregon regulates the landscape installation contractors in the state go to www.oregon.gov/LCB/index.shtml , here you will find some very useful information and you can check to see if your service is licensed.

The following is a list of things to look for, please check with your landscape maintenance company to see if they are in violation of the law:

  • If they have a business name and are collecting funds for a service they must be registered with the State of Oregon with an assumed business name.
  • If they are registered they must record their income with a bank account/checking account for tax records.
  • An Oregon registered company must have liability insurance.
  • If a legitimate company has an employee they must be a partner in the company if not they must covered by SAIF accident insurance.
  • A registered company will have an address and the owners and representatives will have a valid driver’s license number.

Check list for your maintenance company:

  • Ask your maintenance person to show you proof of liability, all insurance companies print certificates that you should ask for and keep on file before you hire a maintenance company.
  • If there is a helper ask for their SAIF # or their State Accident Insurance carrier number. Call and check, many have business cards with fake numbers.
  • Ask for a drivers license number and address, if they are on the way to mow your property and are in an accident and your name comes up that you are paying them for services, you can be liable for the accident because you have hired and paid them even if you pay them cash.

In this day and age in America it is becoming increasingly difficult to make a profit and run a legitimate business, my goal is not to put the little guy out of business but to help them become legitimate and comply with the laws therefore creating an equal playing field.

A few years ago the Oregon Landscape Contractors association of Oregon better known as OLCA, see their web site at www.oregonlandscape.com OLCA lobbied and tried to pass laws against the underground economy and was unsuccessful. Recently however the legislature has discussed re-visiting this issue to see of a law can be written to help protect the consumer and create tax revenue that has not been established.

Please check and see if your landscape services provider is registered in Oregon and has insurance or it could cost you dearly.

Thanks again, Tim...

  • January 02, 2015
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Aeration vs Thatching

This time of year many of us are out in the yard for the first time since it started raining 8 months ago!...Try running a landscape business in this weather on top of the slowing of the economy, it has been a challenging year.

Anyway back to your yard, this winters freeze was hard on some plant materials, mostly plants that are in the warmer climate zones, I noticed we lost a lot of Escellonia however they are recovering from the root crowns up and starting to grow back nicely. Some Carex, Daphne, Heathers, also got hit hard. Trim them back all the way to the ground if necessary and see if they will come back, most will.

I am noticing some real deficiencies in plant color, most likely due to the amount of rain we have had this season, use a shovel, shove it in backward at about the drip line, push it down away from the plant and add any type of granular fertilizer that you want except weed and feed, give it a month or two and the plant will green up. You can also use liquid fertilizers, although since they are water soluble multiple treatments will be needed.

Lawns also will need fertilizer more often when a lot of rain or sprinkler water is applied due to the short root depth and poor clay soils that are in most folks yards.

We are restoring many lawns this year on our lawn restoration program, the winter has taken its toll on compaction of lawn soils, rain and overhead water are the main compaction factors on lawns.

Myth- True or False? Thatching will benefit a lawn? In most cases thatching will not help, if you have a new lawn that was sod most likely it will be Rye grass. Perennial Rye grass is a bunch grass that will not spread or go to seed at mowing heights, just like a Rhododendron the Rye grass plant will live a long time if cultivated properly.

Most foreign grass infestations are the result of poor maintenance, when your lawn develops a hole or open spot due to the dog, kids, not raking the leaves in the fall, unwanted grass seeds will blow into these spots and germinate, since most of the Perennial Rye grass is harvested annually in the valley you will usually end up with Bent grass, Fescue, Velvet grass or Poa Annua.

You do not want these grasses, Bent grass and Poa will take over and they love to be thatched, thus allowing them to multiply and spread many times over their original path, so when someone tells you they are thatching their lawn ask them Why? And then send them to my site for an explanation.

If you want to encourage the healthy grasses in your lawn <u>aerate</u>, do this by punching holes in your lawn and over seeding it with a quality bunch grass like Turf Type Tall Fescue or Perennial Rye grass, make sure to add lime, fertilize and add a high phosphorus product to stimulate the roots and you will see that eventually these grasses will choke out the creepy Creeping Bent and Poa giving you the healthy look that you are after.

So go rent you an aerator and overseed and top-dress your lawn, or call us and we will save you the hassle.

  • January 02, 2015
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Tough Times

It is something how life changes, isn’t it? I have to admit that I did not see this change in the economy coming. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen any home refinancing options to fund your landscape projects or to pay off credit card debt.

Most of you are paying the old fashioned way - with cold, hard cash. You know, that savings account that is so hard to tap into, and, yes, I understand because mine has been dwindling a little as well. But maybe that is not such a bad idea. Where might we be if we would have already been doing that? Would this country be in the financial trouble that it is in today?

If you’re spending your hard earned cash you better get your monies worth, ay? I have recently heard of some real horror stories about contractors ripping off folks out there for various reasons that I really don’t care to repeat. Just be careful because there usually is a trade off for that cheap price.

We are still here, performing the same quality service that we always have. I am constantly telling my guys to go the extra mile, do a little more so that our clients feel like they are getting their monies worth. After all, that is what I’m looking for when I purchase something - the added value.

One of my personal goals for this slow time (although it sure seems like I am working harder than I ever have to earn enough to cover my overhead) is to involve myself in a cause to somehow regulate the landscape maintenance industry (see last month’s blog on the underground economy). I will write more on this in the future. For me, it’s about evening out the odds. For you, it’s about protecting you as a consumer.

Thanks, Tim...

  • January 02, 2015
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Watering Tips for Hot Summer Weather

I have recently been hustling, following up on customer concerns about their irrigation system controllers and have a few tips to offer to the folks out there.

I believe it to be a myth that one inch of water per week will keep grass green. It may for some, depending on the type of soils and how deep you can get your roots to go down. The secret to good roots is in the soil. The roots will only be as tall as or a little deeper than the lowest mowing height of your lawn, so if you mow at two inches, most likely your lawn roots will only be about 1½ to 2 inches deep. The problem with this is that it will take more water when it's real hot to keep water in the root zone. Improve this by aerating your lawn with a 3" to 4" tine aerating machine and topdressing, fertilizing and over seeding. This will help the roots drive deeper, retain moisture and keep the lawn green.

As for your plants, they are down in the soil table. The biggest challenge I see my clients have is that they do not separate the shrub zones from the lawn zones or they water the shrubs the same as the lawn.

You may need to water 4, 5 or even 7 days a week for the lawn but plants will only need 1 or 2 days per week, depending again on your soil and how much water it will hold. Test the soil for plants using a shovel. Push it into the soil as deep as the lowest roots and tilt the shovel so that you can observe how much water and moisture is in the soil. If there is standing water down there, adjust your controller so that you only water enough to keep the lowest roots moist. Too much water will suffocate the plants. I see this a lot in the summer months when the water systems are turned on. In some cases, drainage should be implemented to alleviate some of the plant stressing problems, but usually careful monitoring of the system will solve this.

Some rules for watering lawns with heavy clay is to water more frequently for shorter periods of time. Adding time usually just runs water off of the lawn and into the street. On your controller there are 3 or 4 separate start times that you can set up to run at night. For example, run a lawn zone for 5 to 10 minutes or until the water starts to run off. Sometimes it will only take 3 or 4 minutes, but the problem is that you need more time to saturate into the soil. In this case, set up 2 or 3 more start times at short intervals and run them through the night at different times to allow water to soak into the soil.

Plants are different. I usually set our controllers to operate 2 or 3 times per week, watering down to the roots for say 10 to 15 minutes and don't water again for at least a day or maybe even 2 to 3 days later. Remember, too much water can damage your plants.

For plants on slopes, take the same approach as the lawn. Short run times and frequent intervals allowing water to soak rather than run off.

Enjoy the hot weather...Tim Barnes...

  • January 02, 2015
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Property Management

This season we continue to experience solid growth with our maintenance business, there are really two different kinds of landscaping, installation and maintenance and they are quite different from one another. In this article I'm going to discuss maintenance (property management) and the different services that we provide.

Another way of saying this is, we are property managers for the outside of your house! This includes residential, farms and commercial properties. The following are some of the services that we provide and if you don’t see a service on here listed give me a call to see if we can accommodate your personal preference.

  • Lawn services - mow, edge, complete year around maintenance system, and grass health services.
  • Plant services from trimming to complete health services.
  • Sprinkler system repairs and maintenance.
  • Parking lot maintenance and cleaning.
  • Power, pressure washing.
  • Window cleaning.
  • Cob web (spider web) removal from lights, awnings, and hard to reach building surfaces.
  • Graffiti painting.
  • Concrete cleaning, spot cleaning of hardscape surfaces, pavers, tile etcetera.
  • Oil staining removal from blacktop and concrete surfaces.
  • Water feature maintenance, cleaning and water system balancing.
  • Soil testing.
  • Garbage can/trash servicing.
  • Gutter cleaning, leaves, twigs trash.
  • Gopher control.
  • Tree planting and removal.

OK that is most likely not the complete list but it should give you a good idea of some of the services that we are performing on a regular basis at various commercial and residential properties that we service.

Thanks again to all of our loyal clients.......Tim Barnes