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  1. If you’ve ever seen large puddles and rivers of water on your property, you have a problem with storm water runoff. This is the water that comes from rain storms or melted ice and snow that isn’t absorbed into the ground. This runoff might flow into a storm drain, drainage swale or the sewers, but a bad storm can leave the systems unable to handle the invading water.

    When you have a storm water management problem on your property, you can see erosion, a wet lawn, damage to your landscaping, and damage to your foundation. A soggy lawn, garden or landscaping will result in bacteria, which loves moist, wet areas. Mosquitoes can breed in standing water too. The standing water left behind by a storm can cause many issues and should be addressed as soon as possible.

    1. Landscaping Strategies

    There are quite a few landscaping strategies to help with storm water runoff before it can start damaging your home or commercial building’s lawn or foundation.

    Flow-through planters are used to filter water and infiltrate it back into the soil over time. It collects in these planters and is released over time to ensure that the area isn’t bombarded with too much water. They’re great for providing green spaces near the building too.

    Swales can be created next to the foundation to pull moisture away from the building. They are small bits of land with beneficial plants that will trap particles and manage the water runoff in order to reduce its flow.

    Trees can be planted in areas that end up with standing water. The trees will take advantage of the water, slow it down, and decrease erosion of the soil. The tree roots will soak up pollutants and filter the water before it’s released.

    2. Evaluating Downspouts

    After making sure the downspouts are maintained properly, the next step to runoff management is making sure they are directed away from the building. Downspouts are meant for this specific purpose, but they can sometimes be overwhelmed with water.

    Check to see where the water is puddling and if there’s an area that is being inundated with stormwater. For example, if the water is running to one drain, that drain will be unable to handle the sheer amount of water flowing there. The downspouts might need to be redirected based on how the water flows.

    3. Culvert and Drain Management

    Some properties have a drainage system in place, but the area isn’t maintained as properly as it should be. A property with a culvert or drain system has to be landscaped to remove weeds and overgrown plants. Otherwise, the system won’t work. Water will collect in puddles near the culvert or drain and back up into the rest of the lawn.

    Landscaping, proper planning, and maintenance are vital for storm water management for runoff on your property. It’s best to consult with a landscaping company to ensure that you’re doing all you can to manage the storm water and directing it back into the ground properly.

  2. As a home gardener, you will always want to ensure that your irrigation system is turned off for the winter. Winterizing is important during the coldest months of the year, because your lawn and all the plants growing on it are in the dormant phase. By the time spring is back, you will want to turn your irrigation system back on just in time for the first blooms. When the temperatures increase, you will want to use proper irrigation maintenance. Doing so will allow your lawn to thrive throughout the entire growing season.

    It’s always important to remember where each component of your irrigation system is so that when winter is over, you can more easily access them. Here are steps to take during proper irrigation maintenance when you are ready to turn the system back on.

    1. Turn Water on Slowly

    One of the most important things to remember when you are turning the water back on to start up your irrigation system for the spring is to do so slowly. This is because doing so too quickly can cause a water hammer, which is a high pressure surge of water that can happen when a valve is opened after it was off for a long time. It can lead to a sprinkler head popping off or even fittings bursting, so take care to slowly turn it back on. Valves need time to properly pressurize, which is only possible when opened slowly.

    2. Locate Shut Off Valves

    There are a few different valves that make up a sprinkler system, including the stop and waste valves and the pressure vacuum breakers, which are above the ground. Make sure you know where they are so that you can effectively turn them back on when winter is over.

    3. Turn on Valves

    You need a meter key to turn on the stop and waste valves. The valves frequently turn on at a 90 degree angle in a counterclockwise position. It’s not uncommon for them to slightly leak when they are first turned on, but that should stop after a few moments. The pressure vacuum breakers turn on with two ball valves situated at either side of the vacuum breaker valve. When it is in the parallel position, it’s on, and when it is in the perpendicular position, it’s off. Turn it at about a quarter to turn this valve on. Remember to turn each valve slowly to avoid a water hammer.

    4. Check Individual Sprinkler Valves

    Check each of the sprinkler valves and remove the sprinkler head from each line before turning on the valves. It can prevent a water hammer if the valve is turned on too fast. Check for any leaks in the sprinkler lines. There is a manual screw on the side of most sprinkler valves if you prefer taking the time and turning each one on individually.

    5. Check Each Sprinkler Station and Set Timer

    Inspect each sprinkler station to ensure that none of the links are broken. Any broken sprinkler heads should be repaired or replaced. You can also make adjustments to their spray patterns. Afterward, set the timer for the times when you want your lawn to be watered.

    If you have any concerns or confusion about properly turning your irrigation system back on after winter, feel free to contact us. A professional can ensure that you get it back up and running efficiently.

     

  3. One of the responsibilities you have if you are the owner of a business is maintaining a commercial landscape. It is a task that calls for more attention than the maintenance of a residential landscape, because you want to make it not just presentable and eye catching for prospective customers but also safe for them, your employees, and the public in general. Here are some tips on maintaining your landscape on commercial property:

     

    Timing

    The timing at which you perform your landscape care and all maintenance tasks associated with it should be organized to be the most effective and efficient. You should schedule for maintaining your commercial landscape at the right time so that it can bring about the effect you desire. You must water the plants that make up your landscape, prune them, and give them much needed mulch at precisely the right time so they can thrive. In the long run, it will save you time and money as well as resources. Take note of the growth cycles of the plants used in your landscape.

     

    Practices

    It is absolutely essential to utilize the right practices to maintain your landscape, particularly when it is around a commercial property. You will need the right tools for planting and for maintenance tasks such as pruning. Just like your landscape, your tools should be in good condition and properly maintained – with sharp blades for pruning. They should also be clean to ensure the best health of the plants that make up the landscape. Using tools with dull blades can result in your plants becoming injured. The best practice when you are maintaining landscape plants is to have clean, sharp blades so that the damage done during pruning is minimal and the plants can more easily heal. Properly maintained tools can also prevent the spread of disease to plants.

     

    Edges

    The truth is that every good landscape design includes well defined edges. They are the most transitional and active components of nature and include everything from sun, water, shade, woods, land, and fields. People walk around edges of landscapes all the time, whether they are simply walking on the street, maneuvering through their own yards or another person’s walkway and so on. It is imperative to have edges that stand out in your landscape, commercial or residential, so that it is easy to maneuver around. Edges in landscaping ensure that plants are well maintained and protected against damage. Of course, they also serve to beautify the landscape itself. Using the right edges in landscaping also helps to protect people who come onto your property, preventing them from potentially tripping and falling and getting injured. On the other hand, when they are improperly used, edging can cause damage to plants as vehicles or foot traffic comes into contact with them and can look very messy and disorganized.

    When you take these three factors into consideration to take advantage of the effectiveness and efficiency of your commercial landscape, you will be ensuring that both your business and the landscape itself succeeds.

  4. If you are looking for an exceptional way to improve your property’s curb appeal, adding fresh mulch to your landscaping may come to mind. This is one of the most cost-effective ways to dress up your landscaping with considerable results. However, you need to ensure that you can afford this expense. By asking how much it will cost to mulch your commercial property and by learning more about the benefits of mulching, you will see why this is an activity that you want to move forward with soon.

    The Benefits of Mulching Your Commercial Property

    Most commercial property owners are encouraged to mulch their properties because of the aesthetic benefits associated with mulching. This can instantly give your flowerbeds and planter boxes a polished look that adds curb appeal with amazing results. However, mulching also offers other benefits. For example, it prevents weed growth when mulch is applied amply, and this decreases maintenance tasks and promotes curb appeal for months. More than that, it locks in moisture in your flowerbeds to keep your plants from drying out and to reduce the time and expense associated with frequent watering sessions.

    Factors That Influence Mulching Costs

    As you can see, the process to mulch my commercial property can yield significant benefits that you want to enjoy. However, you may be wondering how much this task will cost to complete. If you plan to hire a contractor for assistance, the two primary components that affect cost are labor and materials. Labor costs vary by your location, and you may be able to shop around to find a great rate. Keep in mind that some landscapers offer lower rates in the off-season. The cost of mulch is the second component that affects the cost of your project. A typical bag of mulch at a retail store can cost you a few dollars. Depending on the size of your property, you may require dozens or even hundreds of bags of mulch for your project. Both the square footage covered as well as the thickness of the mulch will impact how much mulch you need. Your landscaper can provide you with an estimate regarding how much mulch is needed for your project.

    When to Request a Quote for Mulching Your Property

    Because mulch can fade in color and can break down over time, you may find that your beds and planter boxes need to be re-mulched regularly. Your landscaping team will generally recommend a mulching schedule for you when you set up regular lawn care and grounds maintenance service. If you are requesting a quote independent of a primary service contract, you may find more cost-effective quotes available during the off-season.

    Mulch is a wonderful material that offers commercial property owners many benefits. It is available in a wide range of hues to give you better control over what the finished look of your beds will look like after mulch has been spread. To obtain a firm estimate on your mulching task, contact a landscaping crew for assistance.

  5. Landscape pavers can add elegance, texture, and structure to a garden or yard, but not every type of paver is appropriate for every climate. The wrong paver in a cold climate can spall, which means bits or pieces of the paver fall away because of the freeze-thaw cycle. Water seeps into the material of the paver, freezes, expands, and cracks it. Frost heave happens when the soil beneath the paver becomes saturated with water, which freezes in the cold. The soil expands and lifts up the paver. The good news is that there are many types of paving materials that are resistant to freeze-thaw and other cold weather problems. They include:

    Slate

    Slate is a hard rock that is famous for its ability to split into thin sheets. It comes in colors of green, blue, blue-gray, violet or green and brown. Used largely for roofing, it is durable and weatherproof and has the advantage over stone such as granite or marble for not being very porous. This makes it resistant to the freeze-thaw cycle, though it needs to be installed correctly to be spared frost heaving.

    Travertine

    Travertine is a whitish variety of limestone. For many years, contractors warned against installing travertine pavers, because the stone was too porous to bear up under cold weather. Now, travertine can be used as a landscape paver if it’s sealed. According to builders, it’s best to dry lay travertine and use stone dust instead of polymeric sand in between the joints. Even if a travertine paver cracks, it can be replaced easily.

    Porcelain

    Porcelain is ceramic tile that is fired at a higher temperature than regular ceramic tile. This makes it very hard and absolutely waterproof. Porcelain pavers come in many colors, and since the colors permeate the entire paver, they won’t fade. Though many people think of porcelain as slippery, textured porcelain can reduce the risk of slips and falls.

    Stamped Concrete

    Homeowners in cold climates sometimes choose stamped concrete over brick, which some claim is more subject to frost heaving. The concrete is poured, troweled, and then stamped to look like brick, cobblestone or other material. Stamped concrete can be dyed or stained many colors to match the decor of the patio.

    Paving Brick

    This is brick that’s made to withstand both traffic and cold weather. Some come in interlocking sheets that are installed without mortar in less than a day. The colors of these bricks do fade over time, which may or may not be to the liking of the homeowner. Paving brick that’s made from clay and fired a long time in a very hot kiln is hard, tough, and can stand up to inclement weather. Well-made paving brick can last a century or more.

    Terra Cotta

    Terra cotta, which means “baked earth” in Italian, is the opposite of porcelain in that it’s clay fired at low temperatures. It can be glazed or unglazed, and needs to be sealed to make it water resistant. Though terracotta paver tiles can come in beautiful colors and patterns, some homeowners may not have the patience to seal it every two years or so.

    Homeowners who live in cold climates no longer have a limited range of paving materials to choose from. Different landscape pavers can be beautiful even as they endure the coldest winter.

  6. You’ve daydreamed about the perfect backyard, the perfect storefront, or the perfect patio for some time. Your dreams are shaping up into what could be a solid reality. Now is the time to make it happen – but first, consider these seven simple things you should think about before designing your dream landscape.

    1. What are you starting with?

    Evaluate first what you already have. Are there any landscape features already in place? If so, will they need to be removed or incorporated? Will grading or digging be required to achieve the desired look? If the area in question has features you do not like, such as a steep hill or existing trees, how could these be incorporated or altered to fit your vision? Considering these factors will aid in the planning process.

    2. Consider plant hardiness.

    If your dreamscape involves lushly planted gardens, do a bit of research on the types of plants you wish to include. Ann Arbor sits near the boundary of USDA plant hardiness zones 5 and 6. Choosing perennial plants (those that return every year without the need to be replanted) well suited to these zones will keep your garden looking great for years to come.

    3. Consider time expenditure.

    After installation, some landscaping features require regular maintenance. The most labor intensive are water features such as ponds, fountains, and swimming pools (filters must be cleaned, water parameters monitored, and chemicals applied). Some plants also require special care (fast growing bushes must be trimmed, ornamental and fruit bearing trees should be pruned, and roses dead-headed to remove spent flowers). Research these items or ask your landscaper so you know what you are getting yourself into.

    4. Count the cost.

    Before planning your garden area, decide on a maximum budget. As you learn the cost of each item and feature you desire, determine the total. If you exceed your budget, you will need to reduce costs by removing a feature or finding a cheaper alternative.

    5. Check local codes.

    Permits may be required for some decks and outdoor structures. Also, if your neighborhood has a homeowner’s association or you live in a gated community, there are often guidelines that must be followed, such as building fences, decks, and pools to certain specifications.

    6. Solve landscaping problems with creative ideas.

    Use internet sites as well as respected landscaping magazines to research ideas for your project. You may encounter solutions you never thought of for turning that hill into a terraced garden or filling that shaded corner with plants that will thrive.

    Designing your own landscape can be a demanding task, and implementing your design is even more daunting, but this is a task you don’t have to tackle by yourself. If you live in or around Ann Arbor, Michigan, contact us today. Our landscaping professionals will walk you through every step, allowing you to live your dream that much sooner.

     

  7. Whether it was a harsh winter or not, there are certain things you’ll have to do to your landscaping before spring officially arrives. When it warms enough for being outdoors working in the yard, you might be tempted to jump directly into your gardening. Unfortunately, there’s a transition phase between winter and the gardening of spring. Consider these landscape tips as a preparation for spring.

    1. Winter Clean Up and Lawn Care

    While you might have done a good job at cleaning before winter hit, there’s likely some work to be done in the yard. Clearing debris like broken branches, twigs and left over leaves, are a priority for spring. If you didn’t clean as much as you should have in the fall, now is the time to clear the rot or mold that could have developed.

    It’s a great time to rake your lawn. Even if you raked all the leaves, the grass can become matted due to snow depending on your area. It’ll give you a chance to assess the grass too. While raking the grass to allow it to breathe, check for signs of blighted areas. While caring for your lawn, aeration can help to loosen a compacted lawn. When you find bare parts of the lawn, add some seed to that area. Spring is the time to fertilize the lawn too.

    2. Tree and Shrub Damage and Pruning

    In the spring, you’ll want to do a perimeter check to see how the trees and shrubs fared through the winter. High winds, snow, and ice can really destroy some trees and weigh down shrubs. Broken or bent branches should be cut immediately. When trees and bushes emerge from winter to spring, they’ll take that time to heal from trauma. A clean cut heals better than a rip or torn branch.

    Make sure you understand the types of shrubs and plants you have before trimming and pruning. This task should be done to some trees and shrubs, but not on others. When a shrub has buds that can appear on the new wood, these are the shrubs you’ll want to prune. You’ll get a short, full shrub for the summer. This also means it’s time to prune rose bushes and climbing vines. Some flowering bushes or shrubs should be pruned only after they’ve flowered, so you can see where the dead parts are located.

    3. Equipment Inspection

    From the blades on your lawn mower to the sharpness of your cutters, hedge trimmer, and spades, it’s important to check and maintain your landscaping equipment. Add fuel to the lawnmower and chainsaw. Any equipment with a motor should be checked to ensure the lines aren’t frayed or torn.

    This is the time to check the sprinkler system too. Make sure none of the lines have been damaged. You can hire a professional to test and repair the system if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

     

    Before you can think about planting, there’s a transition phase between winter and spring where you should be cleaning from winter and preparing the lawn and garden for the coming warmth. These landscape tips should help make that transition easier.

     

  8. Winter is on its way out and spring is nipping at your heels. As much as you can’t wait for those warmer days, you are concerned about how to prepare your lawn for spring. The good news is spring preparation is fairly simple and straightforward. Once you clean up the last traces of winter, plan your battle attack against crabgrass. Don’t forget to have your lawnmower sent in for servicing, though, or you’ll be knee-deep in an overgrown lawn. Then, aerate and fertilize your lawn to ensure strong, healthy growth, and a breathtaking lawn.

     

    Blow Winter Away

    The colder months have left reminders of biting winds and snowy days behind on your lawn. Unfortunately, all of that debris and snow isn’t good for spring foliage. Needless to say, the first step to spring lawn care in Michigan is cleaning up the leaves, twigs, and snow. Be sure to use a lawn rake rather than a garden rake to remove surface debris without damaging the delicate new growth below.

     

    Crabgrass Attack

    The part of spring you dread is the invasion of crabgrass. Rather than wait for the first peek of the hated weed, take an offensive stance and prevent crabgrass and other weeds from ever gaining a foothold. You can choose from a number of herbicides, including all natural ones, to protect your lawn. Simply wait until the forsythia blooms drop to spread the herbicide and get a jump start on the crabgrass assault.

    Spring Mower Maintenance

    The first warm day is a sign it’s time to bring the lawnmower out of the garage and prepare it for the long seasons to come. Begin by sharpening the blade (if you didn’t do so at the start of winter). It’s also advised you take your mower in for servicing to ensure you don’t fall behind in your lawn care in Michigan. After that, you should be prepared to keep your grass in picture perfect condition.

     

    Growth Mania

    The beauty of spring is the emergence of plants, the bedazzling blooms and the awakening of the planet from her long summer. Unfortunately, all that growth can lead to compacted soil which in turn prevents health growth. Fortunately, you can avoid this by aerating your lawn or loosening the soil to allow the roots to breathe, absorb water, and receive nutrients. In short, if you don’t have an aerator, you may want to invest in one to keep your lawn healthy and happy.

     

    Nurturing the Growth

    Plants need a lot of nutrients in the spring because of all the energy they put into growth. As such, this is the ideal time to fertilize your lawn and gardens. In fact, for a healthier lawn, you may want to look into organic fertilizers that provide natural foods for your beloved plants. Just keep in mind, you will have to fertilize again as part of your lawn care in Michigan, so store some aside in your garage to keep your lawn care efforts easy and simple.
    Spring is right around the corner, but that’s no reason to start fretting about your lawn. In fact, you can have your lawn ready for the warmer months in a few steps. Clean up the last traces of winter, aerate your lawn, and spray herbicide to prevent a crabgrass invasion. Finally, have your mower serviced to ensure you have the most beautiful lawn on the block.

  9. If you’re thinking about adding an outdoor fireplace to your backyard and are considering the benefits of having one built on your property. Some of the advantages of constructing this versatile and attractive element could include:

     

    Warmth and Relaxation

    Sitting by a crackling fire is a great way to spend time in the outdoors during cooler weather. The entire family would not be quite so housebound in the fall and winter and would be able to relax and enjoy the fresh air and cozy backyard surroundings in comfort. Add hot chocolate, fresh coffee, apple cider, local wines, or hot toddies to the mix for even more comfort.

    Ambience

    An outdoor fireplace would add so much to your backyard. It would look attractive and be more welcoming to your guests and relatives during outdoor gatherings. Other surroundings such as flower beds and benches could be built to match. It would look great right on your patio, in the middle of the backyard, or even nestled in a corner of your lawn.

    Culinary Opportunities

    A fireplace such as this would give the family ample opportunity to cook their snacks and meals in the great outdoors. Hot dogs, s’mores, and other simple foods would be a snap over the open flame. If the fireplace is equipped with the proper equipment, other foods such as burgers, steaks, shish kabobs, and seafood could also be prepared. Add special wood chips to the flames to promote even more flavor in your favorite outdoor dishes.

     


    Promote Quality Time with Family and Friends

    An outdoor fireplace would lend itself to unique gatherings, special occasions, and romantic encounters. During cooler days and evenings, the family would be more apt to meet at this new structure to converse and bond. These moments could become treasured times to spend with close friends, children, and older relatives. It could become a focal point for cool-weather birthdays, anniversaries, and holiday parties. This is a great way to extend your living space, especially if your house is not very large, or if you need room to entertain larger crowds.

     

    Increase Property Values

    Adding a new fireplace to your backyard would increase your property values. Realtors love this type of addition, because it can be a huge selling point for buyers. Even if you decide never to sell your home, you will know that you have increased its value just by having this simple structure built. Just by adding this structure to your property, it will inspire you to find more ways to improve your residence.

    As you can see, adding a fireplace to your outside living area will provide you with so many positive benefits. Being able to sit outside and enjoy the moon and stars on a crisp, clear evening is a priceless benefit. The gatherings at your home will be treasured, and you will be creating real memories for friends and family alike. Everyone will want to be included in these fun and friendly social events.

  10. Properly landscaping your Ann Arbor Michigan home can significantly improve its curbside appeal and overall value. In fact, the right landscaping designs can also play a major role in preventing soil erosion, water damage at the building foundation, and many other costly issues. If your outdoor areas are flood-prone, erosion-prone or simply in need of better organization, a retaining wall could be the best functional and aesthetic addition to consider.

    How These Walls Can Improve Your Ann Arbor Michigan Property

    Retaining walls serve the functional purpose of holding back ground and ground materials that are naturally predisposed to moving downwards, whether due to their positioning, slope or loose nature. In a sense, these structures can be considered as being man-made dams for solid runoff. With the right design, it’s possible to stabilize landscapes that are both sloped and subjected to an inordinate amount of water.

    Create Different Elevations

    In terms of overall yard aesthetics, these structures are also good for creating different elevations. This design strategy gives the space greater depth and visual appeal. This can be especially beneficial to the overall landscaping scheme when building upon a flat, empty landscape with little variation in texture and features.

    Different Options In Wall Materials

    When adding one of these structures to your Ann Arbor Michigan property, it’s important to learn more about the different materials options that exist, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each. Given the diverse range of applications for these walls, it’s also vital to select materials that are optimally suited to your purpose. A wall that is built solely for the purpose of preventing erosion or run-off will likely need to be comprised of different materials than one that is primarily intended to enhance overall outdoor aesthetics. Among the most popular options are:

    • Wood
    • Mortared/Cast-In-Place Designs
    • Segmental Walls

    Functional Retaining Garden Wall

    Wood

    Wood is among one of the cheapest options available and it can be used to construct attractive structures that blend seamlessly with all other landscaping features. One thing to note, however, is that wood has a notably short lifepsan in this application. As the wood in these walls begins to decompose, the integrity of both the structure and the usable outdoor space will gradually decrease.

    Mortared Or Cast-In-Place Designs

    Mortared or cast-in-place walls are incredibly attractive and very popular. These are offered in a vast range of veneers, including bricks and flagstones among many others. If you want to enhance the style and texture of your outdoor areas, this is definitely the way to do it. Cast-in-place designs are far more durable than wood and can be used in multiple applications.

    Segmental Walls

    Segmental walls provide a similar level of durability, but they can be less costly to build and far easier to maintain. These have an interlocking design that’s sufficiently flexible for repairing grading and sloping issues. Walls like these use similar construction techniques to those used in the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China. As such, they’re virtually guaranteed to last.

    Establish Your Landscaping Design Goals

    Before attempting to add in any element as permanent as a new retaining wall, be sure to determine just how you want to allocate your outdoor space. Temporary and semi-permanent design elements can always be removed or moved around to accommodate changes in your outdoor entertaining habits or other outdoor uses and features. Working with a reputable landscaping company is always the best way to get a solid, seamless landscaping plan that will both protect your property and enhance its value.