Meet Jeff, He Speaks for the Trees

Celebrating Dr. Seuss and the Lorax

Today is March 2.  It is Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  Everyone loves Dr. Seuss’ silly rhymes and illustrations that are uniquely well… Seussian.  But, landscapers and arborists tend to connect with the Lorax in particular.  You can tell that Dr. Seuss found inspiration for his whimsical trees from real life versions.

From the magical tale of the Lorax, we learn that the Lorax speaks for the trees.  Here at Signature Landscapes, we have Jeff and he too is humbled and honored to speak for the trees.The Lorax Book

Jeff discovered his affinity for trees around the third grade.   The neighbor across his street had a few big brittle cottonwood trees that he used to climb with his friends.

“I remember him yelling at us to ‘get down!’” recalls Jeff.  “Liability didn’t mean much when we were kids and having fun outside, climbing trees did.”

As Jeff grew, so did his love for trees.  He was pleasantly surprised to hear you could get paid for climbing trees.  “Why didn’t they mention this kind of work during career day in high school?” he pondered.

It must have been fate, because a few years later, after working as a dishwasher and janitor, Jeff’s dream job was going to become a reality.

One day while doing some yard work for a neighbor (not the one with cottonwood trees), Jeff was approached by the owner of a tree service start-up company.   Jeff ended up working for him for over 10 years learning all he could.  Jeff started as a ground man, progressed into a climber and ended up as a manager.   It was the perfect gig for a tree guy.

Jeff loves simply daydreaming and looking at trees.  Sure everyone is reminded to stop and smell the roses, but don’t forget to take a minute and get lost in a tree.

“They are amazing. There’s an endless variety in the shapes of the canopies and leaves, textures of the bark and growth patterns of the branches.” said Jeff.

Weeping Sequoia Trees

Weeping Sequoias line the entrance to the Signature Landscapes parking lot.

Trees can be very symbolic and inspirational as Dr. Seuss discovered.  Jeff shared some of his favorite trees that look like you can find them in the pages of a Dr. Seuss book.  He likes the coconut palm tree, the way it hangs and flows in the breeze.  The image seems like a world away at the moment (don’t worry it’ll warm up).  Another Seuss-looking tree is the weeping sequoia.  It twirls and twists and has a small frill at its crown.  More mature ones seem to sprout arms and lean toward each other as if they are talking about Brown Bar-ba-loots or perhaps Humming-Fish.

If you’re like Jeff and the Lorax and you admire and appreciate trees, take good care of them.   If you want to do more to make sure the earth is not at risk for losing real-life versions of Truffula Trees, you can participate in The Lorax Project.  The project is an initiative to raise awareness of environmental issues and inspire earth-friendly action by tree enthusiasts of all ages so we can all continue to enjoy trees.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It’s not.”  – The Lorax

Trees make us happy and they are important.  If you are looking for someone who truly cares about trees and will take good care of your trees, you’re looking for Jeff—he speaks for the trees.


Jeff Richardson is an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Certified Arborist and Manager of the Tree Division of Signature Landscapes.

Top Christmas Lighting Trends

Colored Christmas BulbsBrighten everyone’s spirit with this year’s top holiday lighting trends!

It’s that magical time of the year when you start untangling your lights and getting in a festive spirit.  So, are you going to stick with putting your lights up the same way you did last year (and the year before that)?  I’d like to encourage you to make your house merry and bright with this year’s top trend – color.

Colored bulbs, do you remember those?  Over the past several years white (well, technically clear) lights have been the go-to lighting design, but we’re seeing a throwback to traditional multi-colored lights.

Run multicolored lights along your home’s fascia or roof edge.  Spruce up shrubs with color blocks of all red or green.  Illuminate walkways and paths with colorful ground lighting.

If you’re not ready to go with an all-color lighting scheme; just add a pop of color to a tree or shrub.   You’ll find that colored bulbs are more festive and give your home a custom look.   (Bonus landscaping tip:  never put nails in your trees!)

Another lighting option we’re starting to see more of is lighting projectors and spotlights.  This is an easy way to shine holiday cheer on your home.

Finally, give your home extra holiday character with lighted wreaths and ornamentals.  Illuminated large-scale décor adds more dimension to you holiday motif.  Still, I recommend keeping the overall design simple and classy.

You don’t need to go full Griswold to prove that you’re committed to the Christmas spirit!  A tasteful design that incorporates some of this year’s lighting trends will perfectly delight everyone (including Santa).

Remember to follow proper holiday lighting etiquette and take your lights down after January 1, but before January 30.  Don’t be those neighbors!

For do-it-yourselfers, here’s a time-saver:  test your lights before you hang them.  Seems simple, but with all of the holiday to-dos on your mind you may forget this simple first step!

Another pro-tip, string your lights at dusk so you can keep an eye on your design and watch for gaps or any bulbs that are out.

Decorating House with Lights

Professionally trained decorators install a custom Christmas light design.

If you are decorating your home yourself this season, please be careful.  If you don’t want to deal with holiday lighting, but still want a jolly home, enlist a professional holiday lighting company (it’s kind of like having elves of your own).  So, if you’re tight on time and just want the holiday magic with out all of the hassle, we hang Christmas lights!

Wishing you a holiday season that is merry and of course—bright!

Tim Scott is a professional holiday light installer and oversees the Christmas Décor division of Signature Landscapes

Winter Lawn Prep Tips

Is your landscape ready to weather winter precipitation?

The time to prepare your landscape for the potential wet wonderland this year is right now, before the first rains and freezes.  Taking wet winter precautions will promote a beautiful yard once spring rolls around again.

The key to helping your lawn weather a wet winter is proper drainage.  Chances are your landscape was properly graded, sloping away from your home when it was initially installed.  Still, be sure to look out for standing water and take note of how water is flowing across your property.  A licensed landscape contractor can help design and install proper drainage if needed.  Also, keep drain swales and inlets (for water runoff) clear of debris.  Sal Perez, owner/partner of Signature Landscapes explains how to keep drains free of debris: watch video.

Water Puddle on Pavers

Backup of trapped water due to improper drainage

Remove leaves and debris now; don’t wait for all of the leaves to fall.  Keeping your lawn and planter beds free of debris will help prevent moisture retention that can create fungal disease conditions, smother the grass and attract pests.  Now is also a good time to contact an arborist to prep your trees for a wet winter.  Saturated or snow laden branches may break and cause damage to your home, vehicle or nearby powerlines.

Limit tracking over your lawn to avoid rutting and displacing your grass.  Otherwise, you may face dead spots or grass that is thinner than the rest of the yard.  Heavily worn traffic patterns will be slower to green in the spring.  Additionally, frequently trudging over your lawn during a wet winter may cause compaction.

Aerate your lawn to avoid compaction and allow for better absorption of water.  Yes, plants need water, but they also need oxygen.  Waterlogged lawns and plants can drown.  A properly aerated yard allows your lawn to receive oxygen and nutrients and it may keep your plants from becoming overly saturated and help it recover between storms.

Give your lawn a fighting chance with a winter fertilizer application, which is actually applied during the fall and assists with root development during the winter.  A good winter fertilizer can help your grass and plants better tolerate rough winter conditions and have a shot at holding up to the possible heavy precipitation.  Be sure to test your soil and apply the appropriate winter fertilizer for a green spring.

Lastly, properly winterize your irrigation system.  Irrigation systems are typically winterized by late October, but since Northern Nevada’s often has temperamental climate changes, keep an eye on the weather and winterize before soil temps drop below 50 degrees.  Also, there’s more to it than just switching off your sprinkler controller.  Consult a landscape professional to ensure that your irrigation system is free of leaks and has properly been winterized.

The good news is that turf is very resilient and in wintertime many plants are still dormant, which makes them more forgiving of saturated soil.  Also, the fungal organisms that cause rot are not as active when the soil is cool.

Still, there is risk that an extremely wet and cold winter can damage your landscape despite taking all of the right precautions.  Not to despair, just work with a landscape professional to recover your lush lawn in the spring.

Confused About Reno’s Temperamental Weather? So Are Your Plants and Trees.


Snow Covered Forsythia

Snow-laden Forsythia

March 28, 2016—Yesterday, you had on shorts and your flowers were starting to bloom.  Today, you have on snow boots.  Confused?  So are your plants and trees.

Reno’s temperamental weather can “confuse” trees, making them want to shut down their systems or go dormant again.  But, they won’t really have the required lack of light and the longer periods of colder temperatures to do that again, until the next winter season (hence the confusion).  This will have ramifications with trees that were in bloom and those about to bud.

Many fruit-bearing trees were not able to set their blossoms before this latest storm.  The result may be lost fruit production.  Unfortunately, there is nothing to do about that, except wait until next season and try again.

The delayed blossoming of non-fruit bearing trees will be mostly that—delayed.  Still, some new growth may be lost at the tips of these trees.  This will require non-dormant season pruning of the tips to remove the dead wood.  The good news is that it should not be a major problem, but in an area like Northern Nevada, we never like to lose any new growth as trees struggle to survive our climate every year, so they grow slower here than other moderate climates.

Another side effect of this storm that we are already seeing is that there are broken tree limbs due to the amount of moisture in the snow and the weight of the snow.

The first day of spring this year was on March 20, but no one seemed to tell Northern Nevada’s weather that.

Here’s the good news, we have an arbor department with ISA certified arborists.  So, just cozy up inside and let us take care of your trees (775-857-4333).

Tips on How to Avoid a Tree Trimming Scam

Tips from a certified arborist. 

Flowers are starting to bloom and so are the numbers of tree-trimming and other home maintenance scams.  Jeff Richardson, our ISA Certified Arborist shares his tips on how to avoid a scam and make sure you are dealing with a legitimate arborist.

  • Look for a professional tree service company that is licensed, bonded and insured (you can confirm that a contractor is licensed with the Nevada State Contractors Board).
  • A great way to correctly identify a legitimate arborist is to ask for identification (arborist ID, business card with business license, drivers license, etc.).   Look for an ISA Certified Arborist credential (International Society of Arboriculture).
  • Require a written contract agreement.
  • Do not pay cash.  Walk in or call the office and pay with your credit card or a check. 
  • Check for proper equipment that appears well-maintained and a truck identified with their logo and contact information.

It is rare that a legitimate tree trimmer will just happen to knock on a door for work.  Be aware of anyone offering their service door to door that doesn’t have any printed materials or offers an unusually low price and only accepts cash.  If you aren’t sure what a fair price is, get multiple estimates from reputable companies.

Also, being pressured to say yes to the service in a hurry can also indicate that you are being scammed.  Take the time to do your research.  Quality is important when it comes to tree service.  A poor pruning or trimming can damage your trees.

“Hiring a certified arborist will protect your trees and your money,” says Richardson.

Again, do your research (check with the Better Business Bureau and/or company website).

If you have thoughts or concerns on how best care for your trees this spring, call Jeff at Signature to receive a free consultation on steps to take.

Submit Online Service Request

Prevent Backflow Theft

Winter is quickly approaching and we are scheduling your irrigation system shutdown. Over the last few years we have seen a tremendous increase in the theft of backflows


Due to this increased theft we recommend removal of you backflow(s) and storing in a secure off-site location. We are offering services to prevent a possible urgent expense of up to $6,000 later in the season.

Why wait to protect your investments until it is too late? Theft comes when you least expect and then you can’t provide enough protection fast enough. The good news is that we can help prevent these thefts from reoccurring at a fraction of the costs involved for total replacements.

Replacing these backflows can cost as much as $6,000!

While the scrap metal value for the brass and copper contained within these fittings is only about $250, brazen thieves are making short work of stealing as many as they can, sometimes twice from the same properties!

products-shg-headerThe thieves drive up, sometimes dressed in orange vests to look like city employees, take a saw and cut the valve off at the pipes. The whole process can take less than two minutes.

These thefts have occurred in broad daylight and also have happened at prominent and visible locations.

Their removal by thieves will also interrupt water service for your property and tenants as well as the possible water damage created from the water running uncontrolled through the open connection.


The city of Reno in Nevada lost more than $100,000 last year from scrap-metal thefts - and it wasn't alone. Cities across Nevada detailed similar problems on Wednesday to lawmakers considering a bill to increase penalties for such crimes. Officials from Henderson, North Las Vegas, Las Vegas and Reno all testified in support of SB37 before the Assembly Judiciary Committee. "These problems are an indication of our times," said Cadence Matijevich, assistant city manager of Reno. "People are desperate and looking for materials they can turn and sell for a quick profit." Current law classifies scrap-metal theft based on the monetary value of the stolen material, with possible penalties including fines, prison time and community service. In general, the thefts are considered misdemeanours if the value is less than $650. If it exceeds $650 but is less than $3,500 it's a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. A thief who takes more than $3,500 could land behind bars for 10 years. The bill under consideration by the assembly mandates 100 hours of community service for a first offence, 200 hours for a second offence, and 300 hours for third and subsequent violations. Previous legislation that increased penalties for stealing copper - one of the more valuable scrap metals - has done little to curtail the problem, Matijevich said. Of Reno's $103,000 in losses last year, $27,000 came from a single incident when thieves took copper wiring from a downtown railroad trench, Matijevich said.



Save 10% on your water bill each month – KTVN Channel 2 says how

10% is easier than you might think

TMWA’s 10% voluntary water usage reduction is in effect and you might be wondering just what you can do to save that water. If you have an irrigation system installed at your home, there are some simple changes you or your landscaper can do to quickly cut your water usage each week.

  • Walk your system to check for leaks and to ensure your sprinklers are directing water to the proper locations… is water going where it’s supposed to?
  • Swap out your old and inefficient spray nozzles for highly efficient ‘rotator nozzles’. Easily purchased from you lawn & garden center, these nozzles will spray a heavier amount of water to properly irrigate your turf and allow the water to soak in to the turf. And they usually take less time to water than the older nozzles too!
  • Program your clock for the seasonal climate. Before June, you will most likely benefit from a twice a week watering program. On your two watering days, set you clock to water once in the am and once in the pm. When it warms up, you can add an additional time mid-day. It’s not till the temperatures regularly top out at 80° will you go to a 3x weekly watering program. 

Water efficient Hunter MP Rotator Nozzles save 10% to 30% on most household irrigation systems.


KTVN News Channel 2 interviews our own Steve Fine to learn what we need to do to our part to save 10% on our monthly watering usage.

If you have thoughts or concerns on how best to prepare a watering program for your landscape this spring, call Tim at Signature to receive a free consultation on steps to take.

Submit Online Service Request

Reducing landfill waste

Celestial Seasonings tea is packaged without a string, tag, staple or individual wrapper for its teabags. A few years ago they realized that eliminating these elements from their product would save more than 3.5 million pounds of waste from entering landfills each year.

Scott Tube-Free Tissue

This year, the Scott paper company introduced its no-tube toilet paper product. The full-page ads that launched this product announce that each year 17 billion TP tubes are thrown away. Scott’s innovation may change how things roll in the bathroom – and to the landfill.

Many industries are on board with reducing the waste they generate and that includes the landscape industry.  One of the landscape industry’s major commitments is to reduce the high volume waste produced by mowing lawns and pruning trees and shrubs


Grass clippings
During the last 20 years, most lawn maintenance companies have converted to mulching mowers which finely cut grass clippings and deposit them back on top of the lawn. This practice alone has removed tons of green waste that would have headed to the landfill each year.

In addition, this process of grasscycled mulch reduces the amount of fertilizer needed on the lawn because as clippings decompose, they create nutrients for the lawn. These clippings also help hold moisture in the soil which reduces water needs.

Pruning debris
Every year, tree service companies and landscape maintenance companies cut down dead trees and prune live trees to remove dead branches and keep trees properly shaped and healthy. This activity produces tons and tons of debris that is recycled for compost or chipped and ground to create wood mulch. Many recycling and composting centers throughout the state accept pruning debris from landscape companies and homeowners.

Mulch derived from pruning debris can be put right back into the landscape as a healthy amendment. Because this mulch is derived from organic material, it settles onto the soil and does not blow away like mulch that has been recycled from treated or dried wood products such as pallets. It must first be watered in so that it settles. Over time, the mulch breaks down and completes the cycle of returning back to the earth from which it came.

Mulching tip: when using wood mulch, do not use landscape fabric under the mulch as its slick surface will cause mulch to blow away in the wind.

Need help adding mulch or dealing with spring landscape chores?  We have dozens of pros in your area to help you get your garden, your landscape and your well-being situated for the season.

Call Julie at (775) 827-5296 to learn more.

Are the communities you manage protected from the devastating risk of fire?

“Persons owning, leasing, controlling, operating or maintaining buildings or structures requiring defensible spaces are responsible for modifying or removing nonfire-resistive vegetation on the property owned, leased or controlled by said person.”
International Wildland-Urban Interface Code, 603.2 Fuel modification

Drought & Defensible Space

Figure 603.2

Figure 603.2 (enlarge)


Defensible Space is the area around a structure where vegetation has been modified to reduce the fire threat. The size of your defensible space will vary, depending upon property size, location, and topography. Sometimes a defensible space is simply a homeowner’s properly maintained backyard. Yet another property owner might need to provide over 200 feet of defensible space around their property.

Start the Spring with Fire Safety

There are a few simple things homeowners can do to help protect their property before a wildfire.



  • Reduce vegetation by pruning, hand crews or mowing
    Space between plants & trees removes the continuous fuel bed that might otherwise exist
  • Remove dead & flammable vegetation from slopes
    Debris, branch piles, & various materials add up to become fuel for even the smallest sparks.
  • Replace flammable vegetation with less hazardous choices
    Shorter plants are better than taller plants & nonwoody plants are better than evergreens or junipers.


Landscaping During a Drought

Prepare your landscape for the dry summer

Turf can significantly cool down your house but many people are looking to get rid of all their grass altogether.

KOLOlogoIf you plan on living on your property for another five or ten years, you can take it out and create a beautiful landscape with a third of the turf and probably using 1/10th of the water you’re using now.

But before you fork out thousands of dollars, there are cheaper alternatives, like changing your sprinkler nozzles. You’ll save 20-30% on your water bill right off the bat.

Click to view the full KOLO 8 News Now story from Catherine Van.


KOLO TV provides some smart tips on what homeowners can do in the area to prepare for drought.

  • Aerate your turf in Spring as well as in the Fall
  • Walk your irrigation system and check for leaks
  • Swap out older inefficient nozzles for water-smart nozzles (for your turf irrigation)
  • Whenever possible, move to DRIP irrigation to water trees and shrubs
  • Program your clock for the seasons – spring, summer, HOT summer, fall then winterize properly
  • Have a licensed Irrigation Technician set up your system each spring

If you have thoughts or concerns on how best to prepare a watering program for your landscape this spring, call Tim at Signature to receive a free consultation on steps to take.

Submit Online Service Request

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