Property Management: Operating Lean and Mean

Ron Jones, president of local Nevada Commercial Services, says it best;

“The goal really doesn’t change very much. It’s to deliver the very best service as possible at the very best price possible and make the tenants’ occupancy as comfortable as it can be so they can focus on their business.”

The entire Signature Landscapes team couldn’t have said it better. While this goes for any industry, really. It hits right on the mark for the landscape industry and what drives us to serve our property management customers.

via Nevada Business Magazine article: Property Management: Operating Lean and Mean.

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.

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.

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.

Garden clean-up in fall pays off in the spring

If you’re tired of outdoor chores, it’s tempting to walk away from the garden with a plan to clean it up next spring. But if you want a great veggie garden next year, you’ll be wise to take advantage of this warm weekend by doing some fall clean-up.

Why can’t you just wait until spring? Leaving leaves and debris in the garden gives diseases, fungus and pests a nice place overwinter and come back with a vengeance next spring. A garden that goes to sleep all cleaned up for the winter will wake up healthier in the springtime. There will also be less need to treat for pests and disease.

Need help with fall landscape chores? Contacting a landscape clean up pros at Signature Landscapes is as easy as clicking on our service request form, or calling (775) 857-4333.

Take these steps before you begin the clean-up:

  • Harvest root crops like carrots or potatoes that are still in the ground.
  • Make a sketch of this year’s garden, before removing any plant debris, that shows what was planted where. Having a sketch of this year’s garden will help you rotate placement of next season’s crops – like tomatoes – that do best when not grown in the same place each year.
  • Plant herbs, that will not overwinter outdoors, in containers to bring inside.

Tips for the clean-up

  • Remove all old veggies, vines, leaves and other debris from the garden. If leaves from trees blow in, keep them cleaned up as well. All of this decaying plant material makes a nice winter home for insects and disease.
  • Remove the weeds, too.
  • Most greens, leaves and small plants are fine to pitch in the compost pile. But leave out the weeds whose seeds will get back in the garden when you spread the compost. Also leave out tomato plants as they often carry disease, and large-stemmed vines such as pumpkin as they take too long to decompose.

When the garden is clean, do one last chore that will pay off next spring: work compost into the soil. You can also add straw mulch or grass clippings as mulch on top. Now your garden is nicely tucked in for its long winter’s nap.

 

Heat stress on your lawn

Just like any other living creature in Northern Nevada, your lawn can suffer serious heat stress symptoms. Caused by high heat and lack of rainfall, dry summers and lack of humidity, we’re seeing heat stress is really take a toll on our local lawns.

Consistent watering is one of the most important practices in taking care of your lawn right now. 

 But be alert – temperatures over ninety degrees day after day can cause a slowdown in grass growth. With our low humidity, the blades of grass can experience a daytime wilt which can cause a loss of color normally associated with a healthy lawn. But don’t stress yourself…this does not necessarily mean the lawn is dying or in serious trouble.

Your grass is comprised of 80% water. High heat and low humidity takes some of this away, even with good watering practices – hence the wilting. But properly watered lawns will recover much more quickly than a drought stressed yard when the longer nights and cooler days return.

Water at least 2 to 2 1/2 inches per week. One inch of water should re-wet the soil about 6 inches deep. To determine how much water has been applied, set a straight-sided can under the sprinkler.

And remember, without adequate water, your heat stressed lawn will quickly turn into drought stressed lawn.

In a drought stressed lawn, grass soon turns brown and becomes dormant. An early clue to drought stress is when grassy areas show a dark bluish-green cast. Begin applying water when the soil starts to dry out and before the grass wilts and has a chance to become brown.

A word of caution about limited watering: A single watering during a high heat and/or drought period is likely to do more harm than good. If the grass cannot be kept actively growing with sufficient water, it is best to let the grass go dormant. Inconsistent or “light” watering during extended dry periods will slow the rate of recovery when adequate rainfall does occur. Bluegrass is very resilient and will come out of the heat and drought quickly as long as it is properly cared for and steps are taken to keep insects and weeds out of the stressed or dormant areas of the lawn.

Some things you can do when water restrictions prevent you from watering as much as the lawn really needs:

  1. Make sure your irrigation timer/clock is set to provide all the water your grass needs this month.
  2. Water only that part of the lawn where improvement is most important.
  3. Use a sharp mower blade; the cleaner the cut the less water the grass blades will lose out of the injury done by the cutting.
  4. Mow regularly until growth slows, but at a higher (rather than lower) cutting height.
  5. Make each watering consistent and make sure enough water is being applied to moisten soil to a good depth.
  6. Remember, with our losw humidity, a ten minute watering of most sprinkler systems will not likely get enough water into the soil. This will force the roots to go shallow and weaken the lawn’s resistance to heat stress and drought stress/damage.

If you have questions about your irrigation timer, how to propertly adjust for this high heat, don’t hesitate to call us. Our PLANET Certified Irrigation Technicians can quickly help get your lawn’s watering needs on track.

Call Signature Landscapes at 827-5296 and we’ll come out immediately!

Signature Helps Renovate the Reno Tahoe Open Entry

Signature Landscapes is digging in and donating crews to help this year’s Reno Tahoe Open out at Montrêux look its best for the upcoming event next week.

“This area is going to shine because of Signature’s expertise and we’re so grateful to have their support,” said Michael Tragash, Special Events Manager for the Reno Tahoe Open.

A longtime fan of local PGA tournament, Signature Landscapes is completely refurbishing the grand visitor entry area to offer the 60,000 visitors a beautiful experience immediately upon entering the grounds.

“The sweet spot of any event starts the very first second you walk onto the course,” said Steven Fine, of Signature Landscapes. “So we made it a point to guarantee something colorful and inviting for the RTO guests.”

This project has come down to the wire in terms of timing with the opening. Signature crews plan on wrapping up the landscape renovations by Monday. Just in time for the huge volume of busses arriving hourly with excited Reno Tahoe Open fans.

Signature Wins Back Meadowood Mall

Signature Landscapes is proud to serve Meadowood Mall once again

Signature is proud to announce our former client, Meadowood Mall, has once again enlisted the our premiere landscape management service to supervise all facets of the mall’s 8-plus acres of exterior landscape and maintenance responsibilities. By addressing the needs of the mall and understanding the acute challenges of such a large and mature landscape, Signature will again serve Meadowood and its thousands of daily customers starting July 1st.

Signature previously managed the property from 2002 to 2009 and is thrilled to welcome such a important customer back to organization.

Signature Welcomes Back Carson Medical Center

After a three year hiatus with in-house operation, Signature can call
this world-class organization a client once again!

Cancer Center Fountain designed and installed by Signature Landscapes.

In December 2005, Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center opened the doors of its new expansion to the public. Soon afterward the facility was acclaimed for its innovative and functional landscape design, hardscape features, and practical application of the healing environment concept.

Signature Landscapes is extremely proud to have been the primary landscape services contractor for the medical center since day one. With more than 15 miles of irrigation and multiple landscape awards, the 80-acre campus continues to thrive, just as the healthcare provider continues to serve the community. And Signature is proud to have helped in its development along the way.

This month, Signature Landscapes is pleased to announce the medical campus’ decision to move the role of landscape management to an outsourced program led by the Signature team, previously an in-house operation since 2008.

Managed by Signature Landscapes from breaking dirt through 2008, the hospital took the maintenance duties in-house in an effort to reduce expenses. During this time, the landscape company continued to help develop numerous projects along the way, including the award winning Cancer Center’s Chartres Labyrinth and rose garden, as well as care and maintenance of several related properties such as the Sierra Surgery Hospital and the Cancer Center.

The Signature team would like to publicly welcome such a wonderful partner back into the exclusive club and hope the innovative collaboration in landscape excellence continues for years to come.

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