Signature helps wounded hero and family enjoy a new home

Defenders of Freedom Home

A Northern Nevada soldier & family enjoy new home in Somersett

Signature Landscapes Defenders of Freedom work

Signature crews installing landscape

In May of this year, a group of volunteers including Signature Landscapes raised the support walls for a Reno house being built for Sgt. Thomas “Trey” Humphrey and his wife, Lindsey.

Humphrey, 29, a graduate of Foothill High School in Henderson, suffered severe leg, arm, facial and brain injuries when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in November 2010. His squad was trying to maneuver on an enemy machine gun position at the time.

The 1,739-square-foot home, valued at $275,000, is being donated to the couple as the first such project sponsored by the Reno chapter of the Texas-based organization Defenders of Freedom.

Some 40 local companies and individuals have donated more than $200,000 in cash, supplies and services for the Reno home to date.

houseduringconsructionDefenders of Freedom ~ Northern Nevada is a local organization that was formed to build fully compliant homes for our American heroes with physical challenges faced as they return home. Defenders of Freedom is a nonprofit (501c3) organization. All donations, grants, and in-kind services are 100% tax-deductible. One Hundred Percent (100%) of all monies contributed support construction of the homes.


 

 

Ten Questions About Defensible Space

TEN FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT DEFENSIBLE SPACE

A special post from local Living With Fire founder and fire prevention specialist,
Ed Smith, Natural Resource Management Specialist for UNCE

As northern Nevada communities grow, the likelihood of homes being threatened by a wildfire also grows. A critical factor in determining whether or not a home will survive a wildfire is the type, amount, and maintenance of vegetation surrounding the house. In the 1980’s, the term “defensible space” was coined to describe vegetation management practices aimed at reducing the wildfire threat to homes. This fact sheet addresses some of the frequently asked questions regarding defensible space.

1) WHAT IS DEFENSIBLE SPACE?
Defensible space refers to that area between a house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the wildfire threat and which provides an opportunity for fire fighters to effectively defend the house. Oftentimes, a defensible space is simply a homeowner’s backyard.

2) WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VEGETATION AND WILDFIRE THREAT?
Many people do not view the plants growing on their property as a threat. But in terms of wildfire, what is growing adjacent to their homes can have considerable influence upon the survivability of their houses. All vegetation, including naturally occurring native plants and ornamental plants in the residential landscape, is potential wildfire fuel. If the vegetation is properly modified and maintained, a wildfire can be slowed down, the length of flames shortened, and the amount of heat reduced, all of which contribute to a house surviving a wildfire.

3) WHY IS DEFENSIBLE SPACE NECESSARY? WON’T THE FIRE DEPARTMENT PROTECT MY HOUSE?
Some individuals incorrectly assume that a fire truck will be parked in their driveway and fire fighters will be actively defending their homes if a wildfire approaches. During a major wildfire, it is unlikely that there will be fire fighting resources available to defend every home. Even with adequate resources, some wildfires may be so intense that there may be little that fire fighters can do to prevent a house from burning. The key is to reduce fire intensity as a wildfire nears the house. This can be accomplished by reducing the amount of flammable vegetation surrounding a home.

4) DOES DEFENSIBLE SPACE REQUIRE A LOT OF BARE GROUND AROUND A HOUSE?
No. While bare ground would certainly provide an effective defensible space, it is not necessary and looks bad. Bare ground may also cause soil to erode. Many homes have yards that are both effective defensible spaces and attractive landscapes with little or no bare ground.

5) DOES CREATING A DEFENSIBLE SPACE REQUIRE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS OR EQUIPMENT?
No. For the most part, creating a defensible space employs routine gardening and landscape maintenance practices such as pruning, mowing, weeding, plant removal, appropriate plant selection, and irrigation. The necessary equipment consists of common tools like a chain saw, pruning saw, pruning shears, loppers, weedeater, shovel, and a rake. A chipper, compost bin, or a large rented trash dumpster may be useful in disposing unwanted plant material. Annual maintenance will likely be required to retain an effective defensible space.

6) HOW BIG IS AN EFFECTIVE DEFENSIBLE SPACE?
Defensible space size is usually expressed as the distance from the house in which vegetation is managed to reduce the wildfire threat. The necessary distance for an effective defensible is not the same for everyone, but varies by slope and type of native vegetation growing near the house. An example of defensible space distances is presented on the back page of this publication. Contact your local fire marshal for suggested defensible space distances specific to your area. If your recommended distance exceeds your property boundaries, contact the adjacent property owner and try to work cooperatively on creating a defensible space. The effectiveness of defensible space increases when multiple property owners work together.

7) WHAT SHOULD I DO TO MAKE MY PROPERTY DEFENSIBLE?

Within the recommended defensible space distance, conduct the following activities:

  • Remove dead vegetation (i.e., dead trees and shrubs, dried grass and flowers, dead branches, fallen leaves, etc.).
  • Remove lower branches from mature trees to a height of eight feet from ground level. Also, remove small trees and shrubs growing under mature trees.
  • Remove tree branches within 15 feet of a chimney or stove pipe. Keep vegetation clear of power lines and decks.
  • Remove the majority of native shrubs and trees within 30 feet of the house. Retaining a few well maintained native shrubs and trees within the 30 feet is acceptable. Avoid leaving native trees in front of large windows and adjacent to decks.
  • Beyond 30 feet, remove native shrubs to provide a separation between shrubs of approximately three times the shrub height (i.e., if shrub height is 2 feet, then 3 x 2 feet = 6 feet separation). Thin mature native trees to provide a separation of at least 10 feet between tree crowns.
  • Selectively thin and maintain remaining native vegetation at a shorter height through pruning.

Selecting ornamental plants for use in the defensible space should emphasize:

  1. herbaceous plants (i.e., non woody plants such as turfgrass, perennial and annual flowers, etc.) over shrubs and trees.
  2. shorter growing plants over taller plants.
  3. deciduous plants over evergreens

8) DOES HAVING AN EFFECTIVE DEFENSIBLE SPACE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Yes. Investigations of homes threatened by wildfire indicate that houses with an effective defensible space are much more likely to survive a wildfire. Furthermore, homes with both an effective defensible space and a nonflammable roof (e.g., composition shingles, tile, metal, etc.) are many more times likely to survive a wildfire than those without a defensible space and flammable roofs (i.e., wood shakes or shingles).

9) DOES HAVING A DEFENSIBLE SPACE GUARANTEE MY HOUSE WILL SURVIVE A WILDFIRE?
No. Under extreme conditions, almost any house can burn. But having a defensible space will significantly
improve the odds of your home surviving a wildfire.

10) WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE LIVING IN A HIGH WILDFIRE HAZARD AREA CREATE A DEFENSIBLE SPACE?
The specific reasons for not creating a defensible space are varied. Some individuals believe that “it won’t happen to me”. Others think the costs (i.e., time, money, effort, etc.) outweigh the benefits (i.e., improved protection for property). But some have failed to implement defensible space practices because of lack of knowledge or misconceptions.


Thank you to Ed Smith and Sonya Sistare For individuals wanting to learn more about defensible space, contact out YOUR LIVING WITH FIRE office or fire marshal.

April showers, May flowers and June tomato towers

With water resources looking to be tight throughout much of northern Nevada, many of us are wondering what we should plant in our gardens this year – or should we plant at all.

If there are no April showers, should we scratch the May flowers?  Should we grow tomatoes or corn or petunias?  Mr. Vegetable, where are you?

Nasturtium

Nasturtium – colorful and edible.

First things first… get the garden off to a good and healthy start.  

  • Clean out the debris like leaves and dead plants that has collected over the winter.
  • Till the garden by double digging or even consider the new trend which is triple digging.  You have to dig down to the third shovel depth to till. This is done in Africa with amazing results in production.
  • Add compost.  Tilling plus adding compost will improve soil quality and help it hold more water.
  • Use mulch this season because it keeps more water in the soil and lowers evaporation.  Wood mulch, straw and even newspapers and grass clippings all do the job.

Be sustainable in your plant choices and practices.

Growing food is not a waste of water – it puts the most locally-grown food possible on your table.  Just do it wisely.

Here are some tips:

  • Grow more edibles than ornamentals.  Tomatoes have many uses on the menu and are easily consumed.  Pumpkins, on the other hand, are generally more ornamental and tend to overrun your garden if you’re not careful.  Scale back on the pumpkin patch and devote more resources to food crops.
  • Dress up your edible garden with companion flowers.  Nasturtium aren’t just pretty, they taste good in a salad.  Marigolds help deter pests.  Using dual purpose flowers like these in your garden gives more bang for your water buck.
  • Plant in blocks, rather than in rows.  Putting plants closer together creates shade that holds in moisture.
  • Control weeds.  They will suck up moisture your veggies need.
  • Use containers to grow some herbs, veggies and summer annual flowers.  Potted plants generally need less water than those planted in the soil.  Containers can also be watered efficiently with drip irrigation.
  • Recycle water from the kitchen.  After swishing a head of lettuce in a big bowl of water to clean it, pour the water on the pot of herbs outside.  It’s a few more steps, but the effort reminds us how precious our water is and that we need to use it wisely and even “twicely” whenever we can.

Productive landscapes add value to our lives and are a responsible use of resources.  This year, plan ahead and water wisely.

Revitalized Landscapes on Horizon for 2013

Recent research shows that at least 30% of homeowners nationwide have plans for a major landscape project sometime in the next two years. And that’s aside from many more of us who have lesser projects planned that will add to the ambiance and enjoyment of our outdoor spaces.

quotesLearn more about evaluating a landscape contractor

Brian, Signature Designer & ISA Certified Arborist

Brian, Signature Designer & ISA Certified Arborist

Interestingly, this research also showed that most of us turn to our family and friends to get referrals when looking for help with landscape projects. It’s easy to peek over the fence to see the neighbor’s new project and there’s a built-in trust factor in the recommendation.  That’s good info and it’s where Signature Landscapes gets a large number of new landscape construction customers!

But if you’re in that 30% with a major project on your agenda, it will be worth your time to do some homework and make the selection process thorough. Depending on your yard and your budget, a “major landscape project” can range from $10,000 to $150,000 or more. It’s an investment in your ongoing property value and personal enjoyment, so it pays to be a wise consumer.

Here are 4 tips to get started:

  • Identify your priorities, your “maybe” list and your problems. For example, you may know you want an outdoor kitchen, but aren’t sure about a fire pit. Or there may be an eyesore in the yard that needs a creative solution, but you’re not sure what it is. Laying out your priorities, maybes and problems will help you match your needs to the right expert.
  • Know your budget and be ready to discuss it. This will help you get the best value from your available resources.
  • Check out the company, even if you got the referral from a friend. Is it a member of the Nevada Landscape Association? Does the company have industry certified people on board? Are they aware of licenses and permits that may be required by your city? Do they offer to provide you with a certificate of insurance to show that they have the necessary liability and worker’s comp coverage?
  • Look for professionalism. Do they have everything in writing? A detailed landscape design, a well-written contract that protects the interests of both parties and a fair payment schedule are the marks of a pro. They should spell out exactly what you are buying and they are essential to doing good business. These documents will be critical should a dispute arise.

Common Landscape Irrigation Problems

No two landscapes are alike

That’s why Signature Landscapes  installs some of the most diverse, durable and precise irrigation components in the industry. Whatever landscape problems you might have, be worry-free knowing Signature Landscapes has an efficient, hassle-free solution.

PROBLEM: Watering Slopes or Hills
Water can puddle or pool around sprinklers installed at the bottom of slopes or hills, causing soggy areas, which can kill grass or encourage fungus to grow.

SIGNATURE LANDSCAPES SOLUTION
3500 Rotors and 5000 Rotors with a Seal-A-Matic™ (SAM) Check Valve stop the problem of low head drainage and eliminate puddling. Or use Rain Bird Rotary Nozzles which deliver water at a lower rate, allowing sufficient soak-in time to prevent run-off.

Tips for a Pet-Friendly yard

It will be easier to keep your dog out of the proverbial dog house if you do what it takes to make your yard pet-friendly.
Here are a few pet-wise accommodations to give your pet a safer place outdoors.

Deal with puddles that lead to muddy paw prints. Dogs don’t walk around puddles and sporting breeds instinctively dig when they see water. So if puddles are your problem, fill in low areas that collect water. If poor drainage is the cause, address the bigger issue. Quick and simple fixes are to place rocks, gravel or bricks in depressions to keep paws out of the mud.

Need help? Schedule a FREE Consultation with the pros in our Landscape Design Center to learn how to create a yard that both you and your pet enjoy. Simply call (775) 857-4333 or visit our only service request page to start today.


Wipe out well-worn paths across the yard. Dogs often have a favorite path across the yard that stamps out the lawn or the ground cover in beds. It’s unlikely you’ll get your dog to change its route, so place pave stones where he walks across the lawn or in the flower bed. This deals with the unsightliness, helps with mud and lets your pet to stay on its critical path.

Create shade. Female dogs in particular like to dig nests in the cool spaces next to foundations. In wet weather, these holes fill with water, make muddy paws and can lead to foundation problems. If there are no shade trees, make sure the dog has access to the patio or the north and east sides of the house. A dog will duck into the shade of the trampoline or other structures if you make the area accessible.

Don’t deck your dog! We love time out on the deck, but it’s not a safe place for dogs. Wood decks often have splinters if not sanded regularly. Dark woods absorb heat and can create conditions leading to heat stroke. If you’re building a deck, look at the lighter recycled products that are cooler and splinter free. They are also less maintenance for you and sustainable. Unless your deck is well shaded, put the dog under it rather than on it.

 

Irrigation – a Nozzle for Every Need

Selecting the correct nozzle is one of the most crucial, yet overlooked, elements in irrigation system design.


Choosing the correct nozzle, whether it’s for a spray head or a rotor, is easy if you take the time to study the nozzle charts in a manufacturer’s product catalog and select one that best suits your needs; irrigation equipment manufacturers have put a tremendous amount of effort into developing nozzles to fit almost every application:

  • For slopes and compacted soils, select a nozzle with a lower precipitation rate.
  • For windy areas, select a nozzle with a low nozzle outlet trajectory.
  • To achieve even water distribution without having to separate part-circle from full-circle sprinklers, select a nozzle set that features a matched precipitation rate.
  • Another way to ensure uniform watering, if you’re working with spray heads, is to select nozzles that have an undercut nozzle. These nozzles have an second, undercut orifice for watering closer to the head.
  • For flexibility with spray heads, select a nozzle with an adjustable or variable arc.

Because nozzles are designed to work within a wide range of pressures, it is important to ensure you have the correct pressure at the base of the nozzle. Too much pressure, as is commonly the situation with spray heads, will result in misting. Misting creates a reduction in the radius of throw and you may experience uneven coverage, and cause wet and dry spots. To correct this, several manufacturers offer devices that can be installed at the nozzle or are integrated in the sprinkler, such as the Rain Bird PRS Series.

If you’re working primarily with rotors, keep in mind that too much pressure can cause the rotor to rotate too quickly. The nozzle stream of a fast moving rotor will “horsetail” and cause a severe reduction in the radius of coverage. Too little pressure will also result in a reduction in the radius of throw and uneven water distribution.

For more information on proper nozzle selection, contact Signature Landscapes Landscape Industry Certified irrigation pros (775) 857-4333. We’re here to help your landscape grow!

 

Watering Variations & Sun Exposure

Over- or under-watering often results because not every part of your yard and garden requires the same amount of moisture due to exposure to the sun.
SIGNATURE LANDSCAPES SOLUTIONS
Easy-to-set controllers with multiple, independent programs, like the ESP-Modular, allow additional watering times to be programmed for areas with more sun exposure. Low-volume drip allows the customization of precise water delivery to individual plants or groups of plants, based on specific watering needs and exposure to the sun.

Call (775) 827-LAWN (5296) for a quick and helpful phone quote. Or visit SigLands.com and schedule a free consultation. Our team will help you get the most out of your current irrigation system today. We’re proud to use Rain Bird products for a green, healthy lawn!

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.

ESPModular

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?

BACKYARD BASICS: WHAT’S HOT TODAY?

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.

LAWN RENOVATION

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.

(re) INSTALL SPRINKLERS

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.
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