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

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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.

CLIPPING FROM THE RGJ.COM

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.

 

 

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

KNOW THE LAW
“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)

WHAT IS DEFENSIBLE SPACE?

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.


 

SIGNATURE’S DEFENSIBLE SPACE TEAM WILL ALWAYS:

  • 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.

defensible-guidelines

Landscaping During Changing Weather

Late Winter Lawn Care

Yards are trying to turn green, trees are budding and if your yard is like Erin’s, daffodils are coming up confusingly early. Our warmer weather is challenging the plants around the yard. Our best advice is to water the trees but let the lawns stay dormant until things warm up a little more.


Here’s a link to the original piece by KTVN:
http://www.ktvn.com/story/28192449/with-lawn-care-watch-the-timing

Pre-season garden work that pays off

‘Dirt’ ~ ‘Soil’ ~ ‘Mother Earth’ ~ Whatever you call it, some of us like to dig in with our own hands and others would rather have someone else do the digging. Either way, if you want a great garden this year, it’s best to get the soil in order before someone starts digging.

February is an ideal time to apply compost, regardless of the weather. That means you can even toss it on top of the snow!

  • Need help getting compost into your garden? Signature Landscapes’ lawn and garden pros can can help you identify the right mix of compost and soil to help your garden grow.

Why compost?
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. Even if you are not able to till compost into the soil when you apply it, an early application gives the compost adequate time to do its work.

Why winter composting is good
Compost needs time to mellow or break down and that’s why a winter-time application is beneficial, even if it is not tilled into the soil. Compost creates a homogeneous soil mixture ripe with microbial activity. This process does not add many nutrients to the soil, but improves the soil’s capacity to hold onto both nutrients and water. It improves the root zone. That is why compost is so good for the garden and of course, the plants grown there.

How to shop for compost
Shop for compost that is well-aged and low in salt. Also, look for varieties that have little or no fillers. Compost by nature is all organic, so composts that are labeled “mixes” that contain sand or other inorganic fillers are generally less than optimal.

How much should I buy?
Applying 1 cubic yard of compost per 100 square feet of garden is the rule of thumb. However, if your soil has been well amended in the past, you can use less. The best value is in bulk purchases, so if you have 100 square feet of garden or more, a pick-up load might be the most cost effective. Most pick-ups hold 1 ½ to 2 cubic yards. If you order bulk delivery from a supplier, the minimum order is usually 5 or more cubic yards.

Reminder: Compost is about more than growing good veggies. It’s a key ingredient when establishing a healthy, low-water lawn and for all the other plants in your landscape.

 

Brown Spots on Your Lawn?

How to deal with brown spots

In the heat of July, almost every lawn has brown spots and we all see them. Brown spots are really the lawn’s S-O-S call for help. The grass is obviously stressed and of course, we think it needs MORE water.

We’re tempted to turn up the sprinkler system so it waters longer. But watering longer won’t solve the problem if the water isn’t getting to that brown spot to begin with.

So, how do we find the problem?

Many brown spots can be solved right at the source of where the water comes out – at the sprinkler heads themselves. Four common problems are quick fixes that can get much of your system back in order. If you do the work yourself, it shouldn’t take a lot of time. Whether it’s a DIY project or you bring in the Signature Landscapes technician, the benefits will be a healthier lawn and hopefully, less water use and costs.

4 Causes of brown spots

  • The nozzle – the part in the sprinkler head where the water comes out – is clogged. Dirt and debris often get into the nozzle and once it is cleaned out, the head will spray water where it’s intended.
  • The direction of the nozzle’s spray is out of adjustment. The nozzle may be directing water too low or too high. Either one will keep the water from hitting the area it is supposed to reach. Making the adjustment will solve the problem.
  • Rotor heads – the ones that oscillate back and forth – may be pointed in the wrong direction or stuck. A head that’s aimed at the street rather than your lawn is the culprit for the brown spot and wasting water in the process. Getting the head back into adjustment will put the water where it needs to go.
  • Sprinkler heads aren’t popping up high enough. Equipment damage or soil build-up over the years may mean the sprinklers are no longer popping up high enough to clear the top of the grass blades. Water will hit the grass closest the head and be deflected. Raising the heads – or replacing them with sprinklers that pop up higher – will solve the problem. 

More advice for brown spots

For a few days if temps remain high, you may want to hand water just those brown spots to give them extra TLC – but avoid making the entire sprinkler system run longer just to deal with problem areas. That’s a waste of water – and added cost.

Need help getting your sprinklers in good running order? Your Signature Landscapes Landscape Certified Irrigation Technician can help you find the perfect formula for a healthier greener turf.

TURF HELP

Call 827-5296 to green-up your grass today

Salt & Ice-Melt Can Damage Your Property

One of the most frequently asked questions our crews will get during the winter is whether or not ice melt will hurt my yard?

Glad you asked! As the freezing and thawing of snow over sidewalks occurs, please keep in mind ice melt will indeed cause damage lawns and other sensitive plants if it’s not properly installed. To prevent long term injury, sidewalks and driveways should be cleared and snow tossed back far enough so when it melts, it does not melt over the top of the concrete and then freeze again the next night. This will prevent reapplication of salt to the same areas over and over and put less salt filled runoff into the yard right off the concrete surfaces.

Keep in mind salt is toxic to plants when it dissolves in water. Rock salt absorbs the water that would normally be used by roots. Roots dehydrate and plants are stressed. Salt reduces the cold hardiness of plants, making them even more susceptible to frost damage. 

Here are a few tips to keep your plants safe and your sidewalks and driveways clear:

  • Don’t over-salt! Follow label directions precisely.
  • Avoid using rock salt in extreme cold. Salt is most effective at temperatures just below the freezing point. 
  • De-icing agents with calcium-chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate, are salt-free and should be used in extreme cold.
  • Also, in extreme cold, sprinkle water lightly over the surface before you apply the ice melt for better results.
  • Erect barriers with plastic fencing, burlap or snow fencing to protect sensitive plants.
  • For plants that do get sprayed by salt, use a broom and lightly brush salt off of the plants. You may not see the damage to plants and trees by salt or ice melt until spring.
  • Shovel ice and snow as soon as possible, and try to keep sidewalks and paths clear to avoid re-applying.

 

Water Conservation Tips for HOA’s and Large Commercial Properties

The challenge of watering Homeowners Associations (HOAs) and other large commercial properties during a drought can be greatly reduced by using proven maintenance practices, integrating irrigation technology designed to water more efficiently and incorporating Xeriscape principles.

 

Following are practical tips provided by Signature’s landscape experts to help large properties keep landscapes healthy while using less water.

Tip #1: Determine the best water plan

drip-hoaIn communities where mandatory water restrictions have been enacted, large properties are typically faced with two irrigation options: watering on assigned days or participating in a designated water budget program. Because many commercial properties with large landscapes need more flexibility to deliver water to all their irrigation zones, property managers may elect to use a water budget. Water budgets determine a certain number of inches per year, gallons per square foot, or percentage reduction of water use based on evapotranspiration (ET). If using a water budget, the property can normally be watered any day of the week, but is limited to a prescribed amount of water. Irrigation professionals can help develop a program that is best for the property.

Tip #2: Perform proper irrigation maintenance

Improving irrigation system efficiency is one of the best ways to save water and money not only in a drought year, but every year. At system start-up and throughout the watering season, the system should be checked for leaks and broken heads and repaired promptly. Heads should be straight and not obstructed by tall grasses or plants.
Spray heads that mist or fog are indicators that the water pressure is too high and wasting water. Installing pressure-regulating devices will save water and help apply water directly to the plants.
Replacing mismatched nozzles and installing higher efficiency nozzles also save water. Many water providers offer rebates on high-efficiency nozzles, so be sure to check rebate qualifications online or ask your landscape contractor. Drip irrigation is recommended for watering trees, shrubs and flower gardens.
Drip irrigation systems are water efficient because they are not as susceptible to water loss due to evaporation, wind or surface runoff.

Tip #3: Incorporate water-saving technology

etsystemSmart controllers, also known as evapotranspiration (ET) controllers, measure soil type and characteristics, precipitation rates, plant water requirements, and weather to deliver only the amount of water needed. Controller types, features and costs vary, and some brands allow the entire system to be maintained remotely via the Internet.
Another important and inexpensive technology is a rain sensor, which prevents the irrigation system from watering during a rainstorm. Many water utilities offer rebates on water-saving technologies.

Tip #4:  Xeriscape

Xeriscape is more than a garden style or type of plant. It is a comprehensive approach to landscaping that combines seven landscaping principles to conserve water. The process includes proper design, soil prep, appropriate plant selection, water efficient irrigation, practical turf areas, mulches and appropriate maintenance. Converting all or part of an existing property to Xeriscape is another way to save water.

Tip #5: Schedule watering based on site conditions

Several factors must be considered when setting watering schedules on large properties, including soil, slope, plant types, exposures and existing irrigation technology. To adequately determine frequency and duration of watering, water application rates, soil characteristics, plant needs, weather variation and the capabilities of your irrigation technology must also be considered. For example in May, the controller might be scheduled to apply only 50 percent of the peak water budget that would be applied during the heat of July.
The amount of water applied at any one time should not exceed the infiltration rate of the soil or water will run off. Newer controllers allow for multiple start times so that the cycle- and-soak method can be utilized for better infiltration.

Tip #6: Hire a Pro

Not all landscape contractors are irrigation efficiency experts. When interviewing contractors, ask for water-saving successes from their work on similar-sized properties.
It is important to select a contractor who understands the principles of water management and also has the expertise to operate new technology. Providing the contractor the property’s water bill will help him better assess how to employ water saving measures.

 

greencoThis fact sheet is part of the Green Industries of Colorado (GreenCO) education series. GreenCO is an alliance of seven trade associations representing all facets of horticulture and landscape industries. This educational material is courtesy of GreenCO and made possible through a Water Efficiency Program Grant from the Colorado Water
Conservation Board (CWCB).

Wonders of Winter Care – Tips and Tricks

Hello Northern Nevada! Winter is on our doorstep with snow coming soon. In the meantime, there’s still some nice weekends ahead to enjoy being outside while catching up on a few remaining landscape chores.

Snow on top of leaves is a mess

Wet leaves take time to dry out, become heavy and even slimy. It will save you time and trouble in the long run if your yard is covered (again!) with leaves, to deal with them before it snows. For leaves on the lawn, a smart move is to mulch them with a mulching lawn mower. The fragments left behind are good nutrition for the lawn.

In bed areas, you’ll also be ahead of the game by raking most of the leaves out. Work especially at cleaning out ground cover.

Storm damage is more likely to occur on trees that haven't yet dropped all their leaves. 

Tree care tips for when it snows

Storm damage is more likely to occur on trees that haven’t yet dropped all their leaves. The snow mounts on them, weighs down the branches and they can break. Many trees – particularly pear, crab apple and honeylocust – which still have a lot of leaves are in this susceptible category.

If you see snow accumulating and you can reach branches on smaller trees, use a broom handle to gently shake limbs so snow falls off. Start on the lowest branches. Otherwise, snow falling from higher onto lower branches just adds to their snow load that leads to breakage.

Don’t forget evergreens. Even though they stand tall winter after winter, in very heavy snows, their branches can also break. Keep an eye on them during heavy snows and shake their branches as well.

It's always best to have broken, ripped limbs pruned back with a clean cut.

Prune to prevent more storm damage and decay

High winds have already broken limbs in many areas this fall.  It’s always best to have broken, ripped limbs pruned back with a clean cut. Otherwise, torn limbs can invite pests and disease. This is one time when having an arborist, who really knows trees, do the work pays off for the long term.

Also be aware of “hangers” – limbs that may be damaged but are still “hanging by a thread.” They could fall at any time to damage property or injure people. Look up and play it safe.

What not to prune

Shrubs that flower early in the spring have already set the buds that will become pretty flowers. Avoid pruning lilac, dogwood, forsythia, viburnum and spirea in the fall as you will see fewer flowers next spring.

Remember the sprinkler system
If you have not yet winterized the sprinkler system, don’t delay. Freezing temps are ahead! Our guys can help you out in a pinch. Call Julie at (775) 827-5296 for a technician to drop by and take care of your system.

Winter Lawn Care Tips

As you know, lawns in Northern Nevada go dormant for the winter. Here are a few tips on what you can do to prepare:

  • Get the lawn as clean as possible. Excess leaves and debris can cause long term problems including disease and smoothing of grass. A heavy covering of leaves does not protect your lawn. Instead, once it snows those leaves trap moisture and prevent the lawn from being able to breathe.
  • Do not change the last few lawn mowing levels, and keep mowing until the grass is no longer growing. Leaving the grass too long over the winter can cause the same kind of problems as leaves on the lawn.
  • Heavy traffic should be kept to a minimum as much as possible. The wear and tear on dormant grass from heavy traffic can cause long term damage, and may prevent those areas from greening up in the spring
  • Winter weather in the Truckee Meadows can be very unpredictable. If we have heavy snow fall, ice can develop under the snow causing diseases such as snow mold.  If this happens, allow these areas to breath by changing traffic patterns over the snow packed area.
  • Salts and other ice melting agents can do serious damage to grass. You should only use ice melting materials when needed.
  • Mites are a grave threat to lawns even when parts of the lawn are covered in snow. South and west facing areas are often times free and clear of snow even as the rest of the lawn is covered in snow. These are the areas mites hit. A combination of winter watering and winter mite sprays can prevent costly damage which becomes visible when it warms up in spring.
  • Finally, voles can cause damage to lawns under snow. ‘Trails’ in the lawn that lead back to a common point are a sure sign of vole activity. For vole or mite control please contact Signature Landscapes pest control team. We have affordable options to protect valuable landscapes during the winter

Snow Mold in Northern Nevada Lawns

What is snow mold?

Snow mold is a fungal disease that appears in the early spring as the snow melts. There are two types of snow mold. Grey snow mold (also known as Typhula blight) and pink snow mold (sometimes referred to as Fusarium patch). Pink snow mold infects the crown of the plant and can cause more severe injury than gray snow mold which only infects the leaf tissue.

To minimize the risk of snow mold occurring on the lawn it is important to "put the lawn to bed" properly.

What does it look like?

Snow mold damage looks like circular patches (3″-12″) of dead and matted grass. Depending on the severity of the outbreak, the circles can coalesce and become a large mass. It is not uncommon to find both gray and pink snow mold together.

Pink snow mold is distinguished by the pink color of the web-like mycelium growing on the grass surface. While the grass is wet, the mycelium starts out white and resembles cobwebs, as it matures it turns its pink or salmon color. The mycelium quickly disappears as the grass dries.

Gray snow mold is similar to pink snow mold except that its mycelium remains whitish-gray. Gray snow mold is also distinguished by the presence of tiny black mycelial masses (sclerotia) on the grass blades and leaf sheaths of infected plants which pink snow mold does not produce.

What causes snow mold?

Snow mold is caused when there is an extended period of snow cover on ground that is not completely frozen. It can also be brought on by a badly timed fertilizer application which causes a flush of growth too late in the fall. Snow mold can also occur under leaves that have not been cleaned up or amongst long grass that should have been mowed once more before winter set in.

How is snow mold prevented?

Avoid excessive nitrogen fertilizers in the fall, mow the lawn until it stops growing, clean up leaves in the fall, manage thatch to avoid accumulations of more than 2″

How do I repair snow mold damage?

Fungicides are available for both preventive and curative treatments of snow mold. However, they are not recommended due to the largely superficial and temporary damage snow mold inflicts on the lawn.

Although it can look really nasty in the early spring, most snow mold damage will recover in time. Once the area has dried, the infection will cease and the turf will grow out and renew itself. To speed up the process, the infected area can be lightly raked to encourage drying. Some overseeding may be necessary and if the damage is extremely severe, topdressing can be applied and areas can be repaired like a bare patch.

 

Article produced by Kelly Burke at About.com

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