Smart irrigation controllers – A Greener Idea

A Greener Idea

You may be able to upgrade your current irrigation system with a smart controller. Some new components are designed as easy add-ons to existing systems.


If you’re a typical homeowner, you probably put your automatic sprinkler system into the same category as your home’s heating and cooling system. You expect it to work reliably and efficiently with minimum fuss. The latest technology offers just that — and more.

Automated irrigation systems offer convenience while protecting your landscape investment. A well-maintained system keeps your lawn and landscape beautiful and healthy, while minimizing water waste.

To raise awareness of the benefits of efficient watering practices, Reno Lawn & Landscape is promoting Smart Irrigation Month throughout the month of July. Make time this summer to be sure you’re getting the most out of your irrigation system, while keeping utility bills low and helping to protect the environment.

NEW $21 DISCOUNT: Signature will take $21 off any Rain Bird ESP Model controller. Just mention this article! Call today (775) 827-5296

 Sprinklers Get Smart

The new generation of “smart” irrigation systems monitor weather, soil conditions, evaporation and plant water use and automatically adjust your watering schedule.

The secret to smart systems is the controller. Smart controllers use weather and/or site data to determine when and how long to water. Then, sprinklers apply just enough water at exactly the right time in each zone of your yard.

Smart controllers

  • Save water. Smart systems automatically suspend watering during rain, freezing or high wind conditions. Careful scheduling minimizes evaporation and encourages water to soak in, reducing the total amount of water needed. Preventing overwatering actually keeps plants healthier by encouraging stronger roots and discouraging weeds, disease and fungus growth.
  • Save money. Smart systems can reduce your annual water bill by as much as 30 percent by preventing water waste. Plus, many local water providers offer rebates for purchasing specific smart controllers.
  • Save time. Once an irrigation installer has programmed your site data into the smart system, the controller adjusts the watering schedule based upon weather conditions and soil moisture without manual intervention.
  • Add convenience. Smart controllers adapt to seasonal weather changes without requiringreprogramming. And their “set and forget” technology is perfect for complying with any local watering restrictions, as well as for frequent travelers and vacation or second homes.


Renovating A Bland Yard Will Energize Your Outdoor Living

Backyard living spaces have seen increased popularity in the Truckee Meadows. Did you know we’ve been bringing imaginative outdoor rooms to locals like you for decades?

Our hands-on approach will help to identify the indoor functions you’d like to extend outdoors such as a fireplace, seating area, spa, living room or even the kitchen. We’ll develop a sense of your design priorities as ideas emerge for these outdoor options.

We suggest you consider the following:

  • Gathering areas for kids, pets and visitors
  • Health and relaxation objectives
  • Recreation and entertainment opportunities

As you prioritize your functions and separate “nice to do” from “must do” you’ll quickly establish a surprisingly comfortable outdoor room your entire family will enjoy for decades. Why not let us turn your design and budget into an beautiful opportunity to enhance your Reno lifestyle?


The projects coming across our drafting tables are excellent indicators of what’s on the minds of your neighbors~specific to backyard renovations. When it comes right down to it, there are some pretty basic “must haves” when prioritizing a backyard landscape:
1. make it livable
2. keep it green

So we wanted to give you some food for thought on the top two issues as you consider your yard makeover this summer.


What is lawn renovation?
Lawn renovation involves killing existing turf and replacing it with new grass without tilling or changing the grade which is normally done during the establishment of a new lawn. Locals with older homes are finding they love grass, just not their old tired turf installed when the home was new.

Why renovate a lawn?
The lawn species/variety is frequently attacked by disease or insects causing the lawn to thin.
Your yard has become increasingly shady over time & the original lawn is thin and unhealthy.
The lawn was severely injured or totally killed by disease, insects, drought, or hit by winter.
You want to completely convert from one turf species to another.


If you are going to install a sprinkler system, the best time to do it is before installing your new turf. It will be easier to install and be in place to help your new plants grow. This service goes hand in hand with service on the left. With our semi-arid climate, an efficient system has several benefits.

An efficient sprinkler system will:

  • Save more water than you might expect

  • Make it easier to water at the best times

  • Adjust flows with temperature and humidity

Typical issues in local households

  • Pop-up spray heads, impact sprinkler or rotor
  • sprinkler nozzles or sprinkler bodies are broken.
  • Sprinkler head above or below grade.
  • Spacing of sprinklers inappropriate for the head.

Start a compost pile in time for Earth Day

Here’s a link to an excellent “How-To” for composting by Susan Donaldson at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extention. » Link to article

Here’s the breakdown. I highly recommend reading the article if you’re thinking about starting to compost at your home.

  • Site. Pick a level, well-drained site…
  • Pile size. Make compost piles at least one cubic yard…
  • Ingredients. Start by creating a series of layers…
  • Particle size. The size of the materials you add to your compost pile plays a role in how fast the material breaks down…
  • Water. This is often our biggest barrier to effective composting in Nevada…
  • Mixing. Once the pile is built, it should begin composting quickly…
  • Curing. The pile should stay hot for several weeks to two months…

Susan Donaldson is water quality and weed specialist for the western area of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. This is the 10th in a series of articles from University of Nevada Cooperative Extension on starting your own vegetable garden. Previous articles have explored such topics as site selection, ordering seeds, preparing your soil and starting seeds indoors.

To find the complete series of articles, go to

Apply compost now for water savings later

Turning the corner into a new year makes the gardening season feel closer at hand.

If you’ve got a hankering to get outdoors and “do something,” January is an ideal time to apply compost, regardless of weather.  That means do it the Nevada way… toss it on top of the snow!

Homemade Compost Bin

Even if you are not able to till it into the soil, the early application gives compost adequate time to break down.  Compost on its own is low in nutrient value.  It’s not valuable for what it is, so much as what it does — and the doing takes time.

Early composting allows a “mellowing process” that will result in a homogeneous soil mixture ripe with microbial activity.  That’s why compost that mellows a few months has better results than when it’s applied right before planting.  This process helps soil hold onto both nutrients and water.  With another dry season predicted, holding on to every drop of water this growing season will be critical.

What kind of compost?

  • Compost by nature is all organic, but some compost “mixes” will have sand and other inorganic material as fillers.
  • To promote the most organic activity possible, look for compost with little or no fillers.
  • Also, shop for compost that is well-aged and low in salt.

How much do I need?

A good rule of thumb is 1 cubic yard of compost per 100 square feet of garden area.  Use less if your soil has been well amended in the past.

Best value: 

Bulk purchases are the most cost effective, so you might get the best deal picking up bulk compost.  For reference, a pick-up truck holds about 1 ½ to 2 cubic yards.  So if you need this amount–or could share with a neighbor–buying in bulk could save some cash.  To buy in bulk and have it delivered to your home usually requires a minimum order of 5 or more cubic yards.

We suggest calling on someone like Craig at Full Circle Compost in Carson City for some really great material. Call them at 775-267-5305.

This weekend looks to be a bit warmer.. up in the 40’s! So as long as the frost isn’t biting too much,  it might be fun to pitch some compost over the garden and daydream about early-summer tomatoes.

Reminder:  compost is about more than growing veggies.  It’s a key ingredient when establishing a healthy, low-water lawn and for all the other plants in your landscape.  If you are renovating or installing a new landscape, be sure to follow the compost requirements as suggested by your landscaper – or visit the University Cooperative Extension web site for excellent information on composting in Nevada.

Lawn Aeration & Fertilization Combo Drawing

Win a FREE Lawn Aeration & Fertilization Combo Treatment!

Kickstart next year’s lawn care program with a healthy combo. 

We’re giving away a ‘guaranteed green’ treatment for your home. It’s a Christmas gift your lawn will remember for months to come. Just enter the drawing by signing up below.

Tell your friends…this isn’t only for Signature email customers!

That’s it! Good luck and have a wonderful Holiday Season!
NOTE: Drawing valid for residential lawns only up to 3,000 square feet. Drawing will be held on January 11th. Winner will be notified via email. Entry into the drawing grants Signature Landscapes to use your name in future promotions. 

The Boomerang Loss Cycle

Rediscovering the influence of value in a service economy

As a family owned company concentrated on the services end of the building industry, we’re always keen on the numbers that make new business happen. Whether you run a roofing company, sell office furniture, or a landscape

contractor, the numbers driving your businesses directly correlates with the volume of bids your team delivers each month.

The reason these numbers drive successful proposals is because you’ve done your homework, run through the figures several times, and you’ve delivered a bid that provides honest value for the services requested. In a larger sense, you didn’t compromise the value of your services and your customers clearly understand the strength of getting the job done right the first time.

Lebo and Pablo working on a Carson project

But what about your competitor who isn’t cross-checking prices or the labor hours? This might be an outfit sans years of training, little or no association participation, perhaps even lacking an industry certification or two? How do you compete with these entities who bid only to win rather than becoming a long-term partner serving the needs of the customer?

Throughout the years serving the Northern Nevada we’ve been underbid countless times by the competition. Some have successfully knocked it out of the park – it’s hard to watch, but it’s not inconceivable the other guys will hit a few
home-runs playing the low-price strategy. However, this is not the norm, and more times than not, you’ll soon find the competitor delivering on what they’re being paid rather than what they had promised.

So now what? Since the economic bottom dropped out in 2008, these price wars have only escalated, creating what seems like an entirely new B2B format where service is a commodity and freebies are the added value. The result… a skewed pricing model that has taken us just a few short years to get in to, yet will take at least a decade to dig ourselves out of.

The Sunny Side of the Price War

It seems that many of you who I’ve talked with over the past six months are seeing some clear benefits to these rock-bottom price providers. Look to your calendar for example. There’s a good chance these low bid customers are possibly in the market for a revised bid. While your organization might not be the first choice (for various reasons), there’s no reason you shouldn’t have your new proposal at the top of the pile.

Rather than calling them past customers, I like to refer to them as targeted leads. And the approach to these customers is that of any new lead, with a twist…deliver a dose of humble respect, clearly outline solutions to problems you know you can solve, and present a price that won’t necessarily match prior rates, but will offer margins reflecting the new economic model.

Bottom line, you know more about the client than anyone and you have historical knowledge base to provide a strong argument. There’s value to this. And if you took the initial hit with class and integrity, it sounds like a good chance you’ve developed a stronger relationship with the customer during your time apart. The old adage, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” can apply here.

During this absence, you’ll want to put on your marketing analysis cap and find the time to discuss your performance with the former customer. What were your strengths, and more importantly, where did you drop the ball? Tremendous value can be found interacting with former clientele. They’re typically more forthcoming in their scrutiny when the business relationship has turned from sales and service, to fact-finding and improvement.

A side note for those of you with solid clients, this conversation need not take place only after you’ve lost the business. Communication is key, start this conversation early and reap the rewards for years to come.

Service in Action

Over the past eight months, our own organization has had the opportunity to serve several past clients again; some we haven’t worked with upwards of three years. During the absences, our team maintained the relationship, offered support when asked, and worked hard to remain available as some of them struggled with the ‘low-bidder hangover’.

When talking with other company leaders in different trades, I’m hearing the same thing. Remain helpful and contemporary, support the industry and demonstrate growth from the experience. In concert, these action steps can do more to cement relationships with former clients than anything else.

Remember, we’re delivering value – that’s a recipe of excellent service coupled with communication served every minute of the day. Do your part of the bargain, and you can count on regaining some of the losses served our industry. It’s about time, and about value. Is that proposal ready?

by Steve Fine, Signature Landscapes 

Signature Landscapes wins Presidents Award from Nevada Landscape Association

Signature Landscapes came out on top among several award winners for outstanding landscape maintenance and construction during the 22nd Annual Nevada Landscape Association Banquet on November 9, 2012.

Scott Leonard

The highlight of the night, the coveted President’s Award was won for their maintenance services at the world class 20-plus acre Shakespeare Ranch, Lake Tahoe. The honor is presented annually for the best landscape receiving the highest overall judging score.

“To manage the landscape of a stellar property such as the Shakespeare Ranch makes me proud to begin with,” said Justin Trimble, partner of Signature Landscapes. “But to win the top NLA award adds a cherry on top! It’s really a great honor.”

Featured in Architectural Digest, Shakespeare Ranch (named for Glenbrook’s craggy rock resembling the playwright), has a famous following in its own right. Hosting dignitaries such as chef Emeril Lagasse, private concerts from Lionel Richie, and even former President Bush, who mentioned “They don’t make barns like this in Texas” during his stay.This is not the first time Signature Landscapes has been honored with the award; winning for the Cottages at Montrêux in 2007, and the Foothill Industrial Park in 2002. The company won 1st Place for the beautiful Ranch as well in the Large Residential Maintenance award category.

Calling All Tree Climbers!

 Tree Climber Needed

Signature Landscapes Tree Services is looking for a talented and motivated Tree Climber

Put your Tree Climbing skills to work at Signature Landscapes! Signature Landscapes is the largest landscape contractor in Northern Nevada and has a growing tree care division. We have the capability to perform many aspects of tree care and have significant experience to serve a wide range of customers.

Position Summary:
Climbers are responsible for working in and around trees to perform general tree care including pruning, cabling, bracing, and tree removals. Are you an ISA Certified Arborist? That’s even better!

Climbers are also responsible for:

  • Using proper pruning techniques
  • Assisting in process of trimming trees, clearing and chipping tree debris, and disposing of tree debris
  • Ensuring that the work area beneath and around the trees is clear and properly marked so that the public will be safe from falling debris
  • Maintaining climbing gear and tree care equipment to be sure that all equipment and tools are safe and in working order for high quality and safe service
  • Ensuring that all crew members follow Company safety policies and procedures

Position Requirements / Basic Qualifications 

  • Valid Driver’s License (CDL’s a plus)
  • 1 Year Experience Required
  • Able to successfully follow directions and complete requests
  • Strong work ethic
  • Good communication skills
  • Experience with Bobcat or Tractor a plus
  • Bilingual (Spanish) a plus
  • Certified Arborist a plus+++

We Offer a competitive salary and an energetic, focused and collaborative work environment.


Help BANN and the Builders Association Charity spread holiday cheer by joining the Big Give BACk.  Learn more >

What better way to spread holiday joy than to give back to our community here in Northern Nevada. We’re hosting The BIG Give BACk Blood Drive this December 11th. There will be tons of food and snacks – and lunch too! So please help this holiday season. Lots of appointment times left.


Jim Stanhouse honored as Ambassador for the Landscape Industry

Jim Stanhouse, Ambassador to the Landscape Industry

Jim Stanhouse, commercial manager for Signature Landscapes was awarded with the Ambassador for the Landscape Industry by the Nevada Landscape Association.

Given to the individual who has best served as a representative for the Green Industry, the award is a testament to Stanhouse’s commitment to educating Northern Nevada’s future landscape professionals. His dedication to leading the certification process for the NLA over the years has resulted in certifying more than 100 landscape professionals, and helping to raise the bar for landcare and maintenance in the community.

“Landscape professionals who become certified are recognized for having the high level of industry knowledge plus the experience to do a great job,” Stanhouse said of the certification process.

Always humble, and willing to share the spotlight, Stanhouse celebrated the award by presenting certifications to this year’s seven new landscapers at the award banquet held at the Silver Legacy, Friday night.


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