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.

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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.


How gardening helps grow kids

Did you know that 98 percent of kids who grow their own vegetables will actually eat them? That means kids will want to eat peas, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli and maybe even spinach! This is the official word from the American Gardening Association which offers programs to encourage kids to head outdoors and into the garden.

Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA — in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and community. Click this link to listen to a truly inspirational gardener! » Watch TED Talk

toddler gardeningGardening is catching on in schools all across the country and that includes a big emphasis in Nevada. Every year, more schools are building gardens on their campuses and using them as an educational opportunity. And some of the produce ends up in the school cafeteria.

If you have children, consider getting them involved in gardening at home as well. Already, kid-sized tools and boots are showing up in garden centers. Helping kids pick out their own properly sized implements will make the process more fun.

Then head over the seed aisle and let them select veggies, herbs and flowers they would like to grow. This kind of involvement is more engaging than handing them your packet of seeds early some Saturday morning when it’s time to plant.

Here are four ways to keep the engagement going:

  • Help kids to learn by doing. Even a 3-year-old can tuck some seeds into the soil and will love holding the water wand to sprinkle water over newly-planted seeds. What child doesn’t like to play in the dirt or spray water? Older children can do more – and as the growing season takes off, you can make pulling weeds a game rather than a chore.
  • Keep it simple. Kids are most motivated when they grow plants that are easy to grow and that show fast results. Sunflowers and pumpkins, for example, grow quickly and are dramatic in their size and shape. They can be started indoors before it’s time to plant outside. Kids can stand by the window sill and check out the changes as seedlings emerge and become little plants.
  • Make it “mine.” Remember those seeds that the little ones selected? Create an area for those plants and allow children have their own group of plants to care for. Having them water and weed their own plants – and pick the harvest later on – imparts pride of ownership.
  • Teach value. At harvest time, weigh some of your harvest and write down how many pounds of zucchini, tomatoes or other veggies your young gardener has grown. Then go to the grocery store, find the current price of these items and help them do the math. There’s a good lesson in knowing that you’ve just grown $5 worth green beans!

Winter Drought Tree Watering

Supplemental Tree Watering

Winter watering is essential to maintain healthy trees in Northern Nevada and California. Your trees and shrubs need a good drink this winter! 

Signature Landscapes offers a Deep Root Watering service that ensures moisture is placed in and around the critical root system.

Let us help you water your trees & shrubs: Contact our Tree Care team at (775) 857-4333

Why water trees in the winter?

driplinegraphic-LargeWe’ll often find ourselves experiencing periods of little or no precipitation during winter months. The impact of this to newly planted trees, trees in construction areas, and trees already under stress from previous storm or insect damage can be overwhelming. This will often result in tree death. With the cost of removing and planting trees rising every day, it becomes increasingly important to properly care for the trees that are already in your landscape.

On average, it takes up to 12″ of snow to equal just 1″ of actual moisture.

Businesses, property managers and homeowners should evaluate their ability to water their trees, shrubs and turf areas, and don’t be fooled when it snows. Dry winter conditions result in serious damage to newly planted landscapes as well as mature and established trees. Damage to vegetation includes, but is not limited to:

  • Desiccation and dieback to fibrous (nutrient absorbing) root tissue
  • Undersized leaves in the spring
  • Needle browning and premature needle drop in evergreen trees
  • Increased susceptibility to insect attack

Download PDF – Managing Drought Guideook

Inadequate water (drought stress) is probably the most significant cause of plant problems in the Truckee Meadows. Due to the semi-arid conditions in which we live, irrigation systems, designed to satisfy the watering needs of our lawn, do not water deeply enough to accommodate the needs of our trees. Trees require deeper, longer, less frequent watering.

Rule of thumb: Water all established trees and shrubs deeply every four weeks when conditions are dry and mild. This is especially true in the fall and winter. Use of a soil probe or soaker hose is a good way to deeply water your trees. A sprinkler can also be used if allowed to run long enough to thoroughly moisten the top 12 inches.

To test if your trees need water, dig down two inches deep and form a ball in your hand. If the soil remains clumped together, your tree does not need water, otherwise water deeply.

Turf & trees have different water needs

Trees and turf often share space in home landscapes, but they have different water needs. Understanding this can help conserve water and save money.

A tree is a thirty-year investment that can easily add up to $5,000 to a property’s value!

Tree suffering from overwatering

Tree suffering from overwatering

Bluegrass turf requires about 1inch of moisture per week during the spring and fall and about 1 1/2 inches in summer, depending on temperatures and winds.

Water should be applied once or twice a week on heavier soils in spring and fall, and potentially two to three times during the heat of the summer. For lighter, sandy soils watering may be needed more often.

This frequent irrigation is good for the turf, but not so for the trees that live within the turf.

This frequent, shallow watering encourages trees living within the turfgrass to develop shallow roots. When periods of drought occur, these trees do not have a deep root system that would allow them to pull water from deeper in the soil profile and that’s when we see them become drought stressed.

One other problem that trees encounter while living in the over-irrigated turfgrass environment is that daily watering of turf also prevents the soil from drying out, this also is harmful to trees.

Tree roots need oxygen to develop correctly. Soil that is constantly saturated with water will prevent oxygen from being present in the soil. This will prevent proper root growth and this will lead to drought like symptoms.

Furthermore, trees planted in irrigated turf must try to compete with turf to capture moisture and nutrients within that top 12 inches of soil. Inevitably the turf will win every time.

Homeowners will find it more practical to meet the differing needs of trees and turf if they group trees within large mulched beds. Trees would prefer to be watered deeply and less frequently than lawns. They should be given 1 to 2 inches per application.

Healthy grouping of trees on a separate drip line

Healthy grouping of trees on a separate drip line

We encourage watering trees deeply and infrequently to encourage them to develop a deeper rooting system, which makes them structurally stronger and more resilient to years of drought because they can capture water deeper in the soil profile.

A typical tree has most of its water-absorbing roots in the top 12 to 24 inches of soil. Those roots also expand out more than one and a half times further than the drip line of the tree. These massive root systems allow trees to draw moisture from a larger area.

The objective to watering trees should be to irrigate to the depth of the root zone and provide adequate water to the area under the drip line and beyond.

Trees would prefer to receive moisture every seven to 10 days, possibly even 14 days, depending on species. The best way to know if a tree needs to be watered is to insert a soil probe or a 12-inch-long flat-head screwdriver into the ground. If it goes in easily there is no need to water; if it is difficult to insert into the ground, it is time to apply some moisture.

It’s also important not to apply too much water or fertilizer around the trees near the end of the growing season, prior to first frost. That would stimulate tender new growth that could be damaged by the freeze. However, after the leaves have dropped, if winter is dry, water should be added once a month.

Other factors to consider when trying to figure out a watering routine and amount to apply are:

  • Soil: Heavy soils require more water less often. Sandy soils require more applications, but in smaller amounts
  • Location in the landscape: Trees placed on south and west sides of buildings and homes require more frequent watering than trees on the north and east
  • Time of year: Trees need to be irrigated less often in the spring and fall, because temperatures are lower and less evaporation is occurring
  • Species of tree: Some trees species require more water than others

Knowing trees’ water requirements is more than a good way to conserve water; during a drought, it might be the key to saving valuable trees. If water restrictions are enacted, homeowners should give trees higher priority than turf.


Special thanks to Amy Seiler and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for information on this article.

Winter drought will take a toll on your landscape

A winter watering program will save your trees & shrubs

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, if the snow levels continue at this rate, it will be the driest four-year period since 1990-92. Warm winters without snow appeal to people, but cause harmful winter drought. Specifically, the lack of soil moisture and atmospheric humidity can damage tree and plant root systems unless they receive supplemental water on a regular basis. This can trigger a cascade of effects on overall tree and overall landscape health. By reducing a plant’s ability to take up water and nutrients, particularly during spring bud break, winter root damage limits subsequent stem and branch growth in summer. In turn, this can contribute to tree mortality and may even explain pockets of dead trees.

You see, trees may look inactive going into winter but the fact is they continue to regulate their metabolism and only slow down some physiological activities. This decrease in photosynthesis and transpiration begins a tree’s dormant phase. Trees still continue to slowly grow roots, respire and take in water and nutrients.


A simple & visual guide to watering your trees during the winter drought

Why this matters now

Your tree & plant roots suffer from weeks of zero moisture.

Weaker trees and plants are more susceptible to outside pests and disease.

Plants will put energy into rebuilding the damaged root structures before flourishing in the springtime.


Contact Christina, your Customer Service Diva today to set up a winter watering program to ensure the health and vitality of your landscape investment this year.

Call: (775) 857-4333


Learn more about our winter drought conditions from the media:

  • KTVN Channel 2 News:
  • KTVN Channel 2 News:


Defensible Space Specialists

Signature Landscapes is a leading defensible space landscape contractor for the Truckee Meadows, Carson and Tahoe/Truckee region. This means our expertise and manpower can quickly and effectively help to provide our firefighters with a safe place from which to defend your home from an approaching wildland fire.  Homes with adequate defensible space are more likely to survive a wildland fire, even without firefighter assistance.

Defensible Space
Defined as the area around your home where the vegetation has been modified to reduce the fire threat.  The size of a home’s defensible space varies, 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. 

Call Signature Landscapes today and take steps to create a fire-safe landscape for your home as well as your neighborhood. It takes a community to keep everyone’s home safe from the devastation of fire.

Local fire departments would like to encourage you to create a defensible space around your home.  You can do this by implementing the three “R’s” into your landscaping design: Removal, Reduction, and Replacement.

Start the Spring with Fire Safety

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

  • Remove dead or flammable vegetation. 
  • Reduce vegetation by pruning or mowing.  Providing space between plants and trees removes the continuous fuel bed that might otherwise exist throughout your yard.  The more continuous and dense the vegetation in your yard, the greater the wildfire threat to your home. 
  • Replace flammable vegetation with less hazardous choices.  Shorter plants are better than taller plants, and non-woody plants are better than evergreens or junipers.

“Shifting our thinking now is critical given some disturbing projections from the nation’s wildfire experts:”

  • Fire seasons will become longer, more intense, and wildfires will be more difficult to control.
  • The number of people living in or adjacent to high fire-hazard areas will increase.
  • Our firefighting resources will not keep pace with the increased wildfire threat.

Ed Smith, Natural Resource Specialist University of Nevada Cooperative Extension


Download the following PDF booklets to learn how you can create a landscape in fire-prone areas:

Why plants need TLC in the winter

This time of year, we think our landscapes are tucked away for their long winter’s nap. Yet this is the arid Northern Nevada climate we’re talking about and even leafless trees and dormant lawns will become very thirsty.

The norm for snowfall is 12-15″ per winter at lower elevations – and that equates to only about 1 inch of moisture.  That’s not enough water to keep plants from suffering winter drought stress.  And unfortunately, the effects often don’t show up until the heat of summer.

During the season of giving, the gift of moisture to your plants will not only be well received - but reward you later with stronger, healthier plant material.

A series of unfortunate events following winter drought stress can set up a deadly three strikes that can take plants out.  Drought stress that dehydrates roots, followed by freeze damage that is later followed by other stressors such as an insect infestation or summer heat stress, will often be more than plants can handle.

Winter watering, on the other hand, can keep plants healthy enough to move on and deal with the next stress factor more successfully.  Here are tips for winter watering and plant care.

Supplemental water during dry spells in the fall and winter is very important to bringing plants into the next growing season in good health. 

  • Warm days during fall and winter dry out plants and roots.
  • If you check the soil and it is dry down to about 3 inches deep, then you should apply supplemental water to the lawn, trees and other plants.
  • As long as daytime temps are above freezing and the soil is not frozen, plants can be watered.
  • It’s best to water trees with a deep root watering device attached to the hose so that water gets deeper into the soil where roots live.

Applying mulch around trees and other plants is also very beneficial.  

  • A good wood mulch (not rock) can conserve as much as 30% of moisture in the soil.
  • Mulch also helps insulate plants against severe cold and fluctuating temps.
  • Apply mulch no more than 4 inches deep as deeper mulch can start to sour and hold in too much moisture.
  • Also avoid placing mulch next to tree trunks and shrub stems as this too, can hold in too much moisture and cause the trunk or stems to rot.

Stressed lawns
Lawn areas exposed to winter sun will dry out faster, especially on a slope.  And these conditions also attract turf mites.  Applying moisture is the best deterrent to mites – and gives the thirsty lawn the moisture it needs in the process.

Run the hose with a sprinkler attached to water the lawn.  As in the summer, avoid the quick spritz and apply a good soak of moisture.

Need help with winter watering? Signature Landscapes can help with all your cold weather chores! Call (775) 857-4333 or schedule a visit online!

Schedule An Appointment

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