Hiring a landscape contractor Q&A

Question: I’m evaluating a landscape contractor who has a current
contractor’s license. That’s all I should be concerned about, right?

Brian Dean, ISA Arborist, ASCA

It’s a common misconception that a contractor’s license relieves you, the homeowner of liability should a worker get hurt while on your landscaping job. Unfortunately, that’s far from the truth. A contractor’s license only stipulates qualifications to perform certain work. It doesn’t mean the contractor has provided his workers all the necessary insurance as required by law.

Without workers comp and liability insurance, homeowners are often shocked to find themselves the target of lawsuits by injured workers.

When considering a landscaper, always be certain:
  • Your contractor is actually the person named on the license.
  • Workers compensation and liability insurance are in place and both are current. Insist on viewing the documentation.
  • Request references and contact them.
  • Get a written estimate with timeline.
  • Insist on Landscape Industry Certified technicians.
“You don’t really purchase a landscape. You buy the services of a landscape contractor to install and construct the project you want.”

When shopping your next landscape project, you’ll likely find a substantial gap between the highest and lowest bids. If this is the case for you, begin by asking questions specific to insurance and liability. If the contractor fails to provide reliable answers, you’ll be smart to move on. There are ample highly qualified and respectable landscape contractors in the Truckee Meadows. This talent pool will allow you to make a choice based upon the integrity of the contractor rather than the lowest price freelancer.

The bottom line: As with any major construction project, solid due diligence always pays for itself. Licensed contractors are regulated by laws designed to protect the public, are bonded, and must successfully complete arduous testing to acquire a license. Unlicensed persons, typically, are not bonded and may not have liability or workers’ compensation insurance. If you hire an unlicensed person, you may be financially responsible if injuries, fire, or other property damage results.


2010 JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes Corporate Co-Chairs Announced

Management Team from Signature Landscapes and Reno Lawn and Landscape Excited to Change the Landscape for Kids with Type 1 Diabetes in Northern Nevada


RENO, Nev. (July 1, 2009) – Lebo Newman, Rick Clark and Justin Trimble, the management team of Signature Landscapes and Reno Lawn and Landscape, have been named as Corporate Co-Chairs for the 2010 Northern Nevada Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Walk to Cure Diabetes.  Signature Landscapes, Reno Lawn and Landscape and sister company Christmas Décor are also presenting sponsors of the Walk.

Newman, Clark and Trimble will lead the recruitment of corporate walk teams and corporate sponsors for the 2010 Walk, as well as lead the charge for the sale of the foundation’s trademark paper sneakers at outlets throughout the Reno/Carson/Tahoe area. In 2009, over 135 teams participated raising over $235,000 to help find a cure for diabetes. The Co-Chairs hope to reach 175 teams participating in this year’s Walk which is set for 10-10-10 (Sunday, October 10) at theUniversityofNevada,Reno.

There’s a wise saying that goes, “First do what is necessary, then what is possible, and before long you will be doing the impossible.” Lebo Newman reiterates this; “The Walk is about the power of many making the impossible become a reality – getting closer to a cure for juvenile diabetes.”

Changing and improving landscapes is what this team of co-chairs know best, and they are deeply committed to working towards supporting the work of JDRF and raising money to fund research so the landscape for people with diabetes is changed completely someday soon – through a cure. They also know that by doing good, good will come back … the Walk is a wonderful, feel-good, do good event for a company team and can create exposure for other area companies that can get involved at little to no cost.

JDRF is dedicated and focused on finding a cure for diabetes and its complications, and is actively working toward that goal through the support of research. JDRF gives more money directly to diabetes research than any other non-governmental agency in the world.

For information on forming a Walk team, corporate sponsorship or sneaker sales opportunities, please call JDRF at (775) 786-1881 or email at northernnevada@jdrf.org.




Organic Lawn Care now available in the Truckee Meadows

Organic Lawn Care now available in the Truckee Meadows

We believe there’s good news ahead for your lawn’s natural health and well-being. You can always improve the structure of your soil by amending it with the appropriate materials to achieve the desired structure for the turf you are growing. And our organic program leads the charge for a fresh start.

Changing to organic lawn care practices often requires the application of products which are not used in chemically dependent lawn and garden care. Reno Lawn & Landscape will manage this process in order to help your turf reach it’s peak of health.

You see, our organic strategy makes life favorable for the grass and unfavorable for the weeds – so the grass chokes out the weeds. Naturally!

Under our organic lawn care program, the presence of pests in large enough numbers to cause damage or a nuisance is recognized as a symptom of an underlying problem or imbalance in the ecosystem which must be corrected. The techniques and materials used present very low risks or no risks at all to human health and the environment.

Reno Lawn & Landscape’s creative combination of professional care and organic fertilization will provide rich beautiful beds and lush thick turf. Organic soils have better physical structure, preventing erosion; are more permeable, which increases healthier microorganism growth; and provide more availability of nutrients which are necessary for crop productivity.

Reno Lawn & Landscape’s Organic Lawn Care is:

  • People and pet safe
  • 100% natural and organic
  • Eliminates the need for chemical fertilizers when scheduled properly
  • Adds life to lawns providing beneficial soil microbes
  • Promotes hardy root system
  • Fast effective natural results
  • Continuous feeding for up to three months

Call our professionals today and learn how we can help you create a productive, organic, healthy soil which assures essential nutrients are continuously available to your lawn. (775) 827-5296


Water your way!

Water your way

Are you tired of fighting the poor irrigation system currently installed on your property? Did you know you can literally save thousands of gallons of water in your landscape, and save your plants from drowning, with the proper setting of your irrigation controller?

There are two types of irrigation controllers available for your home. They come in a variety of brands and formats, but the two main elements to consider are… do you want to manage your controller manually or let the newer technology-side of water-management into your home with a weather based “smart” controller?

Water is a precious resource and conserving it is everyone’s responsibility. But that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice a green lawn and beautiful landscape. And installing either method mentioned above is a smart and cost effective step toward saving thousands of gallons annually.

  • SAVE TIME: Your system will do all the watering for you.
  • SAVE WATER: An automatic system uses up to 75% less water than watering by hand.
  • SAVE MONEY: Your water bills will be lower and your plants will live longer.

With the manual controllers, you can’t just set it and forget it. You need to change the watering schedules as plants become established, with the changing seasons, and when it rains. The ease and speed with which you can program newer controllers is remarkable. They’re not only simple to operate, they’re fairly inexpensive too, many costing less than $100 or so. A new controller often solves 70% of watering issues on mature systems with older controllers.

Weather Based “Smart” Controllers work on a simple principle: provide the appropriate watering schedule, adjust for weather changes and irrigate based on the needs of the landscape.  A smart controller will automatically reduce the watering times as the weather gets cooler and less water is needed. Then as the weather begins to warm up, the controller will add more watering time. The way this typically works is that you set the controller for a default maximum watering time, based on the hottest time of year. Then the controller reduces that time amount by a percentage value when less water is needed.

There are a variety of weather-based “smart” controllers available for residential applications.  Whether it is real-time on-site weather data, off-site data with internet access, historical weather data or on-site monitoring, the new “smart” controllers leave little room for error. Simply input a few key specifics, such as your zip code, allowed watering days and the plant/soil type for each zone; the device does the rest. Your irrigation system waters only when the landscape requires it. And you save 30-70% in water.

Take this a step further with a custom-designed irrigation system. Each area of your landscape now has the proper water-saving sprinklers and spray heads, plus a controller that will turn the system on and off…automatically and on a precise schedule. The end result will be a likely reduction in water bills and a definite savings of time and effort.

An automatic sprinkler system is a home improvement project worth considering. Not only will it help maintain a healthy beautiful landscape which you can enjoy with your friends and family, but it’s the most convenient and efficient way to ensure your landscape gets the water it needs without over-or under-watering.

In fact, a professionally or DIY-installed automatic sprinkler system is one of the best investments that you can make for your home. Just ask anyone who has one. There is no easier or more cost-effective way to beautify your home, increase its value, and save yourself time and money.

Freeze Damage

The cold weather of the last week has caused some significant damage to new vegetative tree growth across much of the Reno, Sparks and Carson City region.  Many deciduous including oaks, ash, maples and aspen have had their new spring growth killed by the freezing temperatures. Leaves on many trees and shrubs can be damaged by the low temperatures.

What will happen to freeze-affected trees? The answers vary…

Freezing of new leaves will damage the trees slightly. It will set them back and possibly weaken them. Other effects depend on the health of the tree prior to a dramatic temperature change. Healthy trees are able to store around three years worth of energy. If the tree was vigorous and healthy last year, it will put out a new set of leaves from what are called adventitious buds. This “secondary” growth often is weaker than the primary growth put out first, so expect to find small branchlet loss in high wind storms during the summer. The secondary growth also may come out in a bushy or tuft-like pattern called “witches brooming.” The shape and form of these trees may look a little different for a couple of years. If the particular tree in question was declining prior to this temperature drop, expect to see further decline. Trees in this situation have less stored energy and may not recuperate as well as their counterparts. If a tree damaged by freeze has not re-leafed by June 15th, it probably never will.

Tree owners can’t do much to undo Mother Nature’s blow. Our crews will typically prune out dead branches during summer and we do not “baby” the trees with too much water. Overwatering in a heavy clay soil (which most of us have in abundance) will lead to oxygen starvation in the root system. The best rule of thumb for tree watering is: “deeply, less often”.

Your turf will benefit from this watering rule of thumb, too. If the tree is watered with the lawn, try to accustom the lawn to receiving water less than every three days. Resist fertilizing until midsummer, but do it before July 30. Fertilization is not a must. Most trees in lawns receive enough.

Your best bet is to let those freeze-damaged trees recover on their own.

Among those trees are colorado spruce, green ash, honeylocust, and hackberry. These three trees have leaves just beginning to emerge fro the bud, which is the prime stage for freeze damage. Other trees and shrubs that leaf out earlier, such as crab apples, lilacs, linden, silver maple and Siberian elm, are not damaged, as their leaves are “older” and more hardy. Was your tree damaged by a April freeze? If the young leaves are blackened, shriveled and dry as a bone, the answer is, yes. The answer also is yes if, during a present hot spell, leaves are dropping prematurely.

Most hardwoods are very resilient. If they are reasonably healthy, their dormant buds will become active and eventually they will reform new leaves, and by mid summer if will be most difficult to see that they were damaged. Most likely, the greatest damage will be some loss of growth and a slight reduction in health and vigor because of that lost growth. If the tree was marginal in terms of health and vigor, the damage may be more significant, and in a very few cases, cause branch dieback and in the most severe cases even tree mortality.

Some of the conifers have also been affected. Most of the pines do not appear to have suffered significant damage. However, the spruces and Douglas fir have suffered the most, with significant dieback of the newly formed shoots and needles. This loss is more significant than the loss of growth with deciduous trees because conifers have fewer dormant buds.

However, most conifers will recover and may in some cases put secondary growth later this spring.  In some cases, with young trees in particular, the needle and twig loss may be sufficient to cause mortality.  Many of the conifers are also able to survive the frost damage because different parts of the tree are at different stages of growth expansion; earlier stages are more tolerant of cold conditions than later stages.



Beautiful landscapes begin by eliminating weeds before germination

RENO, NV – Here’s the skinny…we’re pretty much calling an end to winter – at least that’s what the weed seeds on your property are saying right now. The weather is unusually warm and this means all of us in the Truckee Meadows need to step up our weed control programs considerably.

Lawn maintenance requires attentive weed control. The most effective way to control weeds is to apply pre-emergent herbicide early in the year to prevent unwanted growth from appearing. Call our helpful weed-pros to schedule your treatments this week – before the seeds on your property germinate.

Call Julie at (775) 827-LAWN (5296)

  • Weeds hurt the healthy and vibrant plants in the landscape stealing water, nutrients and light.
  • Many people are allergic to weeds and can suffer skin reactions or breathing difficulties.
  • They’re unattractive additions to any property and can cost thousands of dollars to eliminate if left untreated.
  • The aesthetic factor: weeds hurt the look of a landscape.

Timing Weed Control

Pre-emergent herbicides only work if they are applied to your lawn before the weed’s growth period. Weeds are persistent and crafty, and managing them really is a matter of outwitting, outplaying them, and outlasting them. They come back every season, twice a year. According to garden experts across the U.S., pre-emergent fertilizers should be applied so that they activate before seasonal weeds make an appearance.


About Reno Lawn & Landscape 

Residential Landscape Artistry is the act of creating and maintaining beautiful landscapes to enhance people’s lives. For more than 26 years, Reno Lawn & Landscape has offered award winning year-round, full-service residential outdoor property management; installation & maintenance to Truckee Meadows, Carson City area and beyond. Proud members of the Nevada Landscape Assoc, ICPI, CAI, PLANET, Reno/Sparks Chamber, many more. For more information and photos of our best work visit www.renolawn.com.

Signature Supports Commercial Real Estate

Signature Landscapes renews its commitment to support commercial real estate organization, CREW of Northern Nevada. As a platinum sponsor, Signature Landscapes clearly wants to show the entire commercial real estate community how important the industry is to the long-term growth and vitality of our beautiful city. It’s the quality of life that keeps us here, and it’s why we enjoy our membership in CREW Northern Nevada.

  • I am pleased to say that Chemane Trimble of Signature Landscapes has agreed to be the Chair of the Membership Committee for CREW for 2012! You will see all future new member applications come from her for a vote. I think this will tie in well with Signature’s Platinum Membership Ambassador Sponsorship, which I am also happy to say that they have committed to again for 2012. Thank you Steve and Chemane and thank you Signature Landscapes for your support of CREW!!–Brittany Diehl, CPM®

It has always been a goal for Signature to become more involved with exceptional organizations – the ones that motivate and move the members it serves.  We set our goals high as we sought a group that had achieved some of the values we were searching for…

a group that served the members, a group that clearly aligned itself with the needs of the community, and a group welcomed us in… which is harder to find than you’d expect.   And to this end, it is this seed that draws Signature in to CREW’s new membership program.

You see, by helping the new members associate with the current membership, we grow outside of our comfort zones for sure …but the CREW Network has the opportunity to grow far stronger than if we remained comfortable in our own silos.

CREW Network is the industry’s premier business organization dedicated to the advancement of women in commercial real estate.  Learn more about CREW and how you might benefit from becoming a member.

Learn More About CREW…

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