It’s a term that gets a lot of play. Quality over Quantity. It seems like a reasonable and straightforward mantra. Paying more for something of higher quality will be the smart move in the long run. However, when walking into a grocery store with a limited budget, the “bang-for-your-buck” approach becomes pretty compelling. Many a young college student has had to choose between 20 packs of ramen noodles vs a few fresh fruits and veggies. It’s all in the context…and what the pocketbook dictates sometimes.
Choosing what you want in a landscaping project is obviously nothing like trying to keep your belly full. But people do tend to take a similar approach in their decision making when it comes to a project. The mind knows one thing, but the heart wants more! It all really depends upon the individual and what their bank account says.
The word that should be the cornerstone of any decision is priority. Knowing what is most important, and where the money should be spent can go a long way into deciding what can get done.
In landscaping, items like rock, mulch, and dirt don’t have the variances in quality that something like edging does. But even with this item, it becomes personal preference.
Hardscapes, such as pavers and block, are where choices do really count. There is a significant difference in what you can get at a big box store vs a specialized vender. “Professional-grade” products such as Borgert or Rochester will stand up to the harsh climate conditions much better than the simple, cheap items found where you can also pick up toothpaste. Sure, you can get a larger patio or retaining wall, but what will they look like in a couple years? Will it be worth the time, effort, money, and embarrassment when your relatively new (but cheap) retaining wall crumbles?
The issue of installation needs to be addressed as well. What is your time worth? Are you willing to take on a DIY project of this kind? Do you even have the means to install the job? Without the right equipment, you might as well say goodbye to your summer. Enter the choice of whether to hire a professional contractor. You get what you pay for here as well. Do your research because integrity and skill is everything!
Spring has sprung! If you have some thin areas in your yard, now is a good time to think about finding a solution for them. There is a general rule of thumb that overseeding should be done in the fall in conjunction with aeration. This surely is an option, but it need not be observed as the rule.
Spring can be a wonderful time to overseed your lawn. The temperatures are at a great point to accommodate seed germination and establishment. Your existing turf is also ready to be fertilized at this time of year. In conjunction with overseeding, you can, and should, apply an application of starter fertilizer. This will jump-start the new seed as well as your existing turf.
If you are taking steps to improve your lawn now is also a good time to start a broadleaf and fertilizing regimen. The new seed needs a chance to establish itself before it is ready to withstand a broadleaf chemical treatment. A safe rule of thumb on this is to apply after the second cutting of the newly germinated grass. An approximate time frame on this would be about six weeks.
These are all services that you can choose to do yourself with some research and rental equipment. If DIY is not for you, Barrett Lawn Care has expertise in these areas and would be happy to assist you!
When it comes to saving water and money with our irrigation systems, pressure regulation can be a key factor and is often overlooked. Sprinkler nozzles are designed to have a certain amount of water and pressure coming out of the head to operate at peak performance. If the pressure is too high we can fix this issue with regulators at the sprinkler head, fitting, or valves. Too much pressure can cause the heads to create a fog or mist, wasting a lot of water and costing you money. If a system does not have enough pressure, it will be a maintenance issue and an irrigation professional can help to rectify this.
There is an optimal PSI for every sprinkler head to create the most efficient and effective water distribution. However, for every 5 PSI a head is above optimal, it is wasting 6-8% of the water. This number may not seem huge, but even at just 5 PSI over it is like watering your lawn an extra cycle every 12th day. The further away from optimal pressure your system is, the more water and money you are wasting. Fortunately this can be an easy fix.
As we discussed earlier, there are three main ways to fix a high-pressure problem: with a pressure regulated head, fitting, or valve. The two most effective ways to do this are with either a head or a fitting. This way the pressure is reduced at the point of distribution and will have the best success. Reducing the pressure at the valve can cause every head to still have a variance of pressure, and is better than nothing, is still not getting the desired outcome.
Please contact the professionals at Barrett Lawn Care to help keep your irrigation system running optimally!
Updating Your Irrigation System for your Changing Landscape
As your landscaping matures you will need to be mindful of how that affects your irrigation system. As shrubs and trees grow or green space changes, your landscape may start to impede or conflict with existing sprinkler heads. Updating the irrigation system may be necessary to better accommodate your lawn and plants. Adjusting the placement and type of irrigation heads will help to ensure that your entire lawn is getting adequate and consistent coverage.
By moving an irrigation head away from an intruding plant, you will be able to keep your plants and grass happy by not over-watering or under-watering either one. Updating your system is an ongoing process since landscape is constantly growing and changing. By staying on top of these changes we ensure that the landscaping will continue to look great year after year.
Letting your landscape take over your irrigation system will involve more in-depth work or even re-installing parts of the system. Therefore, by keeping up with new technologies and new additions to your landscape, you will be able to save yourself water, money, and keep your system running efficiently.
A cold frame is basically an outdoor box with a transparent cover which acts as a passive solar energy collector and reservoir. You can purchase or make your own cold frame from plywood and old window sashes or plastic. Most cold frames are 3 X 6 feet or made to fit the size of the window sashes or other materials which could be used for the cover.
How to Build Your Own Cold Frame:
1. Using rot-resistant wood, make the back wall 18-30 inches tall and the front slightly lower, about 12-24 inches. Cut side walls 3 feet long and with a slanted top to match the height of the front and back walls. The cold frame cover can be a wood frame covered with plastic or discarded windows.
2. Use 2 X 2’s for the corners. Make the posts longer than the sides if you want to use them to anchor the frame in place.
3. Face the front of the cold frame toward the south for maximum light and heat. Face the back of the cold frame north or against a building. Placing the cold frame next to a permanent structure will provide screening from the wind and the foundation will serve as a heat source. Another way to increase the heat within the cold frame is to paint the interior white and the exterior black.
If building a cold frame is out of the question, you can also use plastic sheeting. Row covers of polypropylene fabrics can be used to extend the growing season. The row cover fabrics help trap heat around the plants while allowing air, water and light through to the plants. Loosely drape the plastic over the plants being careful not to harm them. Anchor the sides, leaving enough slack in the fabric to allow for plant growth.
If you live in a colder climate, you can choose to extend your growing season by using a cold frame. A cold frame, with its natural light and warmth allows you to foster seedlings in early spring and keep veggies going through fall and even into winter.
So, you want one of those so-called “outdoor living spaces”. What does that mean? It can actually mean quite a lot in quite a lot of different things! Everyone has their own personality and diverse ways to “recharge the batteries”. Some folks are simple and enjoy quiet and privacy while others like to entertain family, friends, and/or children. A lot of us are in between. Depending on who you are and what you enjoy, there is a space for you.
Gardeners may just want an oasis to meander around on paths and enjoy plant material. These people love nature and take solace in surrounding themselves with everything it has to offer. Stone paths meandering through a lush garden or a patio surrounded by a variety of plants would suit them nicely.
Some people may only want to escape and relax privately as they soak in a hot tub or listen to the soft churn of a water feature.
Families with children have their obvious set of requirements. Fire pits, swimming pools, and playsets are in order. Open spaces for running, playing, and/or setting up a tent are vital.
And then there are the partiers. People who like to host and have good time. There is a bit of this in all of us. This is where things can get really fun (if not expensive). These spaces are made for entertaining. Swimming pools, outdoor kitchens, lighting, and media centers can add the feeling of a resort right in the back yard!
So who are you? What are your priorities? Is it budget? How big of space do you have to work with? How often will it get used? Who will use it?
All the above questions – and more – need to be answered before a shovel hits the ground. At Barrett Lawn Care, our sales and design staff are ready and willing to help you navigate your journey toward a new outdoor living space – whatever that fit it may be!
Northern Green Trade Show is hosted by the Twin Cities every year and is the largest trade show in the Midwest for the green industry. In a 2-3 day window, 200,000 plus people move through the trade show talking with vendors and getting a look at new products that are on the horizon.
The Trade Show Committee oversees the moving in and out of this large scale, organized chaos. They were looking for new members in 2017 so I decided to join. It was an experience – with semi’s pulling in, skid steers all over the place, and hundreds of people bustling around trying to get their booths set up. Not to mention the snow coming down and clearing off vehicles when they came in the facility so there were no drainage issues.
2017 proved to be an interesting set up with a massive overhaul of the floor plan. There was a new hardscape competition that teams could demonstrate their skills with block patterns, cutting, and planting. A new stage area was put up where speakers gave presentations and people could get refreshments and relax. Ultimately, more machinery and fewer booths were set up for what I assume is more of a “wow” factor.
Overall, it went off without a hitch and was a great Northern Green Trade Show. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and am looking forward to another great year in 2018. Further information on the Northern Green can be found at http://northerngreen.org.
Team building events can be a great way to build morale and celebrate success, together, as a business. This is something we at Barrett Lawn Care embrace. We take advantage of whatever down time mother nature provides us in the winter to capitalize on getting to know one another and building relationships.
Good leadership and good business starts at the top. For us at Barrett Lawn Care Laura Barrett does a phenomenal job of setting the gold standard of what she wants her business to be, and her leadership team to uphold, as far as culture and values.
Some of these team building activities directly relate to our business, and sometimes they are aimed at simply spending time together and interacting at a personal level. For us, professional success directly parallels personal health and success, and we believe that supporting and developing our staff as a whole is paramount to our future being successful.
Recently we had the opportunity to take in some non-business related team building! Our venue of choice for this event was Smaaash At the Mall of America.
Smaaash does a great job of catering your event to meet your needs from food, to drinks, to gaming.
As I sit drinking my hot tea on this bitter cold January day, I become painfully aware of my houseplants. It’s usually this time of the year when I depend on my houseplants to inspire and awaken me; however, this year my plants seem to be suffering; whether it’s from spiders or just a general lack of attention. People are spending less time outdoors breathing fresh air and thus, houseplants have come to serve a vital function in our quality of air indoors. Houseplants do more than add a touch of greenery to our homes and offices – they also reduce common indoor air pollutants. Experts have found that people who work or live near plants have reduced depression, a lower stress level, decreased blood pressure and an improved sense of well-being. Here are ten plants to consider adding to our home or office:
Boston Fern Nephrolepsis exaltata: this is an effective plant in reducing the amount of formaldehyde while adding humidity to the environment.
Chinese Evergreen Aglaonema commutatum: is known to filter benzene which can be found in certain glues, paint varnish and/or paint strippers.
Dracena Dracaena deremensis ‘Janet Craig’ and ‘Warneckii’: is known to filter trichloroethylene, another additive to paint, varnish and adhesives.
English Ivy Hedera helix: has proved to absorb benzene (sources include cigarette smoke and car exhaust) and formaldehyde.
Palm many different varieties are effective at removing most indoor air pollutants.
Peace Lily Spathiphyllum wallisii: is a great choice for absorbing harmful air pollutants such as trichloroethylene.
Pothos Epipremnum: is an easy to grow, hard to kill choice, which ranks high in removing formaldehyde from the air. (Note: these are very poisonous to cats and dogs, so keep them around, but keep them up high!)
Snake PlantSansevieria trifasciata: is an overall great air purifier for your home.
Spider Plant: a NASA study showed that a single Chlorophytum comosum in an enclosed chamber filled with formaldehyde removed 85% of the pollutant in one day!!
Weeping Fig Ficus benjamina: is an effective air filter for ammonia.
There have been studies that suggest that as few as 15 houseplants can reduce pollutants in an average home! Choose one or two to get you started.
This is an update to our liquid ice melt experiment. As you all know, on the morning of Tuesday, February 7th we received some freezing rain/drizzle throughout the metro area. Watching the forecast and knowing this was a possibility, I pre-treated our parking area in the front of our building with the liquid ice melt. I did this at 3:30 pm on Monday afternoon and the precipitation started Tuesday about 7:00 am. As you can see from the pictures, the results of the application were completely opposite of each other!
The first picture is old existing concrete. The liquid spread out and covered as I would expect. The second picture is 3-year-old concrete which had a sealant applied when it was poured. It is almost like the concrete absorbed the material and/or the material dried up or evaporated.
The overall results were less than ideal. The old concrete held up fairly well for an hour or so and then it gave way and became as icy as an untreated surface. The new concrete area did not hold up at all and it was like it was never treated. In the end, we had to treat both areas again with granular salt to get the results we needed, which was an area free of ice.
The machine worked well as expected and I had no issues applying the material. I will continue to experiment with this product and update as the results come in.