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3 Reasons You Should Get to Know Your Landscaper

People in the commercial landscaping business are generally a fun group of people to be around. 

In case that’s not enough reason for you to invest the time to get to know your landscaper better, here are 3 good business reasons you should get to know your property’s commercial landscape provider.

Your commercial landscaper controls your property’s curb appeal.

“The grounds are what sets our community apart from others in the area and it is key that our landscaping shines.”

We received this comment from one of our clients in her response to our annual client survey.  She clearly understands exactly what makes people want to buy homes in her community.  

As the housing market continues to rebound, buyers are back and they expect more for their money.  Curb appeal has long been an important way to make homes more attractive to buyers, and curb appeal starts with the community’s entrances and common areas.  It’s even begun to play an important role in marketing commercial real estate properties.

Your landscaper should make sure that your property’s curb appeal is always at its best and understand exactly why it matters to you.

Your landscape increases (or decreases) the value of your property.

Good curb appeal makes your property more attractive to buyers.  More attractive properties command a premium that buyers are willing to pay.

  • Consumers value a landscaped home over 11% higher than its base price.
  • Consumers pay a 12% premium for goods purchased in retail establishments that are accompanied by quality landscaping.
  • Small businesses rank the amount of green space and proximity to parks and recreation as the number-one priority when selecting a new location.

So, if great landscaping is key to selling homes at higher prices, to influencing more expensive retail purchases and to leasing commercial space more quickly, the landscaper has a huge effect on the value of the property they maintain. 

If the landscaper does a poor job, your property loses more than just its curb appeal, it can also lose its long-term financial value.

The wrong landscaper could cost you more than you realize.

If you’re responsible for your property’s commercial landscape service, selecting the right landscaper can make you look like a hero.

“This community has never looked better.  I don’t know how you found them, but they have completely turned things around.  Thank you!”

That’s the kind of note that Property Managers want to get from their clients.

The wrong landscaper will cost you credibility with your client.  Finding a great landscaper takes time, if you have to conduct a search for a new one every year, the wrong landscaper is going to cost you time, too.

One of our clients recently highlighted exactly what the stakes are for him after he brought us on to one of his properties.

“My job, as well as yours, depends on the grounds looking great.”

No pressure there, right?

We take the faith our clients place in us very seriously because we know this all too well.  It’s not just our contract on the line - our performance is a direct reflection on the Property Manager who hires us.

 

When you consider all the things that your commercial landscaper’s performance impacts, we hope you’ll agree that it’s worth spending a little time to get to know them better.  Make sure that you and your landscaper are both focused on the same goals, and that your needs and expectations are consistently being met.

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The Scoop on Dealing with Late Summer Lawn Stress

 

Late summer can be one of the most difficult seasons for your home’s lawn and landscaping. Temperatures are at their hottest of the year and you’re likely to be dealing with either excessive rainfall or extended drought. And the humid nights aren't giving your lawn a break from the stress of the daytime, either. There are a few things to remember as we approach the late summer season that will help keep your lawn healthy and deal with the stress brought on by Mother Nature.

Be flexible with your maintenance program.

By late summer most of us have gotten into the routine of weekly mowings.
Every Saturday morning we’re out behind our mower and it’s become part of our schedule. Weekly mowings are a great practice, but pay attention to the weather to make sure you’re doing what’s best for your lawn. If you’re in the middle of an extended period of drought with little relief in site, it might be better to skip a week and let your lawn recover. Keep an eye on your irrigation schedule, too. If you’re getting daily rainfall and your lawn’s showing signs of disease, it’s probably best to dial back your watering frequency and help your lawn dry out.

Don’t forget about the less regular additional maintenance practices.

Sometimes called cultural practices, or best management practices, there are other things that your lawn needs in addition to regular maintenance tasks like mowing and watering. Additional practices include things like fertilizing, overseeding, topdressing, aerating, and implementing an integrated pest management (IPM) program. More on these practices in future editions of The Scoop.

Know when to fertilize your lawn.

When your grass gets a little brown in the late summer, it’s easy to be tempted to add a little fertilizer, but be careful not to fertilize too soon. Late summer fertilizing should only be done when you’re sure that you’ve passed the worst of late summer stress and when nighttime temperatures begin to cool and the humidity is less severe. This means that most of us will typically be waiting until September to apply our fertilizers. Fertilizing too soon alters the natural growth pattern of your turf and creates an environment favorable for pests and disease. Applying at the right time promotes deep and healthy roots and gives them time to get established before fall and winter.

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Southwest Houston Intern Learns From Unique Experiences!

Accepting an internship with BIO Landscape has definitely been an outstanding decision on my part. I am currently working at the Southwest Houston Branch with some of Yellowstone’s most top notch employees. So far my experience has been one for the books. Once I was acquainted with the team I felt right at home in an enthusiastic and hard-working atmosphere.

I have spent an ample amount of time in the field, whether it is with Account Managers, Business Developers, or Labor Crews.  I started out shadowing my Mentor and the other Account Managers. They showed me their various properties and what is expected of the crews on a routine maintenance visit, what to look for when arriving, and opportunities that could enhance the properties and increase revenue.  While shadowing, I was able to interact with clients and learned how to make wise managerial decisions.

A few times that I worked with the Irrigation/Enhancement Account Manager; we drove to several properties checking irrigation issues.  With a background in irrigation I enjoyed working with him and learning what he had to offer.  One job at the Port of Houston I found very interesting.  It started out as a normal enhancement project, adding a zone to some pre-existing irrigation, followed by creating a bed and adding flowers.  It seemed simple until a sub-contractor had to come out and bore through 6-8 feet of concrete.  The job required us to bore underneath the concrete in order to get irrigation to the bed that had been created and once complete everything would go as planned. Of course the best laid plans never happen.  The bore ended up getting stuck 3-4 feet under the cement where the road bed and cement came together. We tried everything from twisting and pulling the hydraulic hose to get it out but couldn’t make any headway.  We ended up losing the bore and had to make a new one which then worked as planned.  This experience showed me exactly how fast a project, proposed to be done in one day, can turn into a three day job in a matter of minutes.

Most recently I went out with a crew to inspect islands in Galveston Bay.  We reported to the marina at 6:00 AM to meet our ride for the day.  While inspecting these islands we looked for signs of erosion or anything out of the ordinary such as a lot trash or poaching.  The islands are created to store mud that is dredged from the bottom of the shipping channel.  Once dredged, it is pumped into the island (retention pond for mud).  We also pulled drains boards to let any remaining water flow out.  I had never heard of inspecting islands until now, I found the process very interesting.  Once we finished with the inspections the guide took us fishing.  It was the middle of the afternoon and the fish weren’t biting but I did learn something new.  These past few months have been a continuous learning experience.

All in all I have had an outstanding time working out of the Southwest office where I learn something new every day.  I plan to stay in this industry and these experiences will enhance my future career.  I am very appreciative of this opportunity and excited it has been a successful learning experience.

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Atlanta West Intern Learns Landscape Maintenance on a Larger Scale

Working at the Austin Outdoor Atlanta West Branch has been a pleasure from day one.  The people that work here are helpful and very passionate about their work.  Austin Outdoor is the largest landscaping company I have worked for and before this internship, I had never serviced a commercial property.  

My first week was exciting, while riding with my mentor, I saw what managers do and how they handle the crews on a day to day basis.  Learning how the managers worked helped me understand what was expected of them and their crews.  My mentor is very supportive, he answers all my questions and helps me understand my role as an Intern.  

Tom, my Mentor, manages the irrigation work also and I began working on some of these jobs for him in my second week.  The previous summer I worked in Dallas, TX for a company doing residential irrigation repairs and trouble shooting.  This is where I learned skills to benefit Tom as an irrigation helper.  The scope of things I encounter here are larger in size compared to what I have in the past due to the commercial aspect, but for the most part, it all works the same.  During my time with Austin Outdoor I replaced double checks, fixed broken pipes, replaced heads, located valves, replaced controllers, and more.  I have loved every minute of it!

After running the irrigation truck for a while, I was put in charge of driving different maintenance trucks to fill in for various Crew Leaders.  This was a new experience for me. I had never serviced a commercial property before and I had never even been to most of these properties.  I gave it my best shot and each day I learned more and more about what to look for on the sites.  Riding with different crews is beneficial because each crew would let me know how the regular Crew Leader would handle the property. From these experiences I learned the most efficient way to conduct day to day operations.  Juan Carlos is a Crew Leader that sections his properties off in three week rotations.  He does this because it is difficult to prune everything all in one day on a property.  Every week the mowing, blowing, and edging would get done, but each week only a section would get pruned, sprayed, and weeded.  After three weeks, it was time to do that section again.  This system works great for keeping up with the property and not missing any areas.

Working for Austin Outdoor has taught me a lot about maintaining landscapes and I am grateful for the hands on experience I have received.  A career with Austin Outdoor is something to consider if you are interested in landscape management.  If you love working outdoors as much as I do and are looking for an internship or pursuing a career, I highly recommend Austin Outdoor!

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North Branch Intern Enjoys Her Time in the Field!

When I first met the BIO Landscape Recruiters at the Sam Houston State University Ag Career Fair I knew at once that if I was offered an internship this would be the one I take.  I was nervous at the prospect of taking an internship in general and I have not regretted my decision to accept this opportunity with BIO Landscape in any way.  I am now ten weeks in and I am quite sad that this internship is coming to an end. 

Throughout my college career I have taken classes that pertain to the landscape industry and although I have gained a great deal of experience through school, it pales in comparison to what I have learned while here at the North Houston Branch of BIO.  Every day is different but I have spent a great deal of time working with my mentor on one contract in particular that maintains over 120 parks in The Woodlands area. 

Most days are spent visiting parks and communicating face to face with the customer but my favorite days are those that I get to spend in the field.  The days that I spend applying my studies to real world experiences are those that excite me most, including those that I don’t have much knowledge on.  If the tractor is available once the crews have left the yard in the morning I will sometimes attempt my hand at cleaning up the brush pile in the yard.  I am not the greatest at consolidating the brush pile but I do greatly appreciate the opportunity to gain some experience. 

On a weekly basis I ride with different Account Managers learning from each of them and their perspective.  This past week I spent a great deal of time with the Irrigation Specialist.  I have very minimal knowledge of the inner workings of irrigation systems so I was very excited when I was allowed to help with an enhancement to an existing irrigation system at one of the parks we service. 

Seeing how life at the North branch is very busy, I never find myself doing the same thing as the day before.  From working with Dario in Fert/Chem to helping Willie organize things in the garage, I have enjoyed every moment of my internship with BIO Landscape.  

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Construction Intern Hunter Learns the Bidding Process

This past week I took off my safety vest and cozied up to a keyboard and mouse.  I was starting the estimating portion of my internship.  I learned more than I expected during the first phase of my Internship, working with Project Managers and crews in the field.  Estimating is what I am most interested in, since it is an area that I am the least familiar with.

When I first started, my Branch Manager showed me the Excel file for bidding.  I must say it was pretty intimidating.  As a horticulture major with minimal computer courses, Excel has managed to slide right by me for quite some time now.  It seemed so easy to get lost in the maze of rows, columns and numbers.  My branch manager came to the rescue.  He did a fantastic job showing me how to navigate the labyrinth of different pages and how the entire file worked.

During my first week in estimating I attended a pre-bid meeting with my Mentor for a potential project. This opportunity gave me exposure to see how the bidding process starts and how professionals interact with each other within the industry.  After the meeting, I was given the task to contact the firm leading the project, obtain an electronic copy of the plans, and begin taking measurements to produce a bid.

During this process I utilized PlanSwift, the program used to take measurements, which was a great learning experience and a fantastic program to add to my “tool belt”.  Using a new program can sometimes be pretty intimidating.  If I had any doubt, an issue about how to do something, or a question about why something was done a particular way, my Mentor was right there to quickly answer my question.  Although I was able to obtain help when needed I was always left to work independently.  This required me to fine tune my time management skills and get tasks completed on time.  After finishing the measurements, I plugged the collected data into our bid sheet and corrected items no longer relevant to the job.  Trailing the data input, I contacted our purchaser to update all material costs such as irrigation, plant material, and other miscellaneous jobs.  I coordinated with the subcontractors to obtain and incorporate their bid for the job.  After all my data was relevant and up to date, I took the totals from our document, incorporated it into the standardized bid form for the job and turned it back over to my mentor.

The bid is a critical component to winning the job.  I am so grateful to be given this opportunity to expand my knowledge in this area of the landscape industry.  During this bid process I was able to learn and understand the entire progression from start to finish.  I now understand the “whys” and “how’s” of the way things are done throughout the industry and why time management skills, and communicating successfully with other professionals is important.

So far this Internship has been a nonstop educational experience.  Whether I am cozied up to a keyboard or putting that safety vest back on, I cannot wait to see what other lessons are in store for me!

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Atlanta East Intern Excels Under Pressure!

I was always told that you will learn more in an internship than a year of school and now that I am coming to the last few weeks of mine I can confirm that this is true. My Internship with Austin Outdoor has been one of the most educational experiences of my entire life.  I cannot thank the staff of the Atlanta East Branch for all their support.  My Mentor put together a great summer, filled with many challenges and pushing me to step up and be a leader.  I was challenged to find ways to get the properties looking perfect in the time budgeted, sometimes with limited resources.  Before this internship I had little experience working with a company or doing commercial properties.  Most of my past landscape experience was for family and friends.  I took this into account when looking for an internship because I wanted one that was structured in a way that I would get to see all sides of the company. This was my reason for choosing Austin Outdoor and I have not been disappointed!

My first week I shadowed my Mentor, looking at the different properties he serviced and getting a feel for his day-to-day work schedule.  The following week I hit the ground running, fast!  I was put on a crew that serviced the largest contract, a large portion of the city of John’s Creek.  I learned very quickly that you have to find the perfect balance of doing quality work efficiently and be able to finish all the areas that need service before the end of the day.  By the next week I was running a maintenance truck and crew and was servicing properties on my own.  While doing this I learned how to think fast on my feet and deal with changes that happen each day.  Some days I would be short a person or someone would leave early and I would have to account for the shortage in manpower.  Some properties would need more attention than others.  

During my fifth week I worked on my first install job.  The crew and I removed sod and replaced it, added river rock to create a dry riverbed to aid in drainage and removed old gravel from around the house.  My goal this summer was to gain more installation work but learning the maintenance side of the company has worked out well.  The remainder of my time here has been spent in a superintendent role with my Mentor, bouncing around to different properties doing various tasks such as; spraying, weed eating, pruning shrubs, and general clean up.  I have also worked with the irrigation department and the sales team to see what their day-to-day is like.

I am so grateful for this experience, I have learned more in the past two and a half months than I ever expected to this summer.  Everything I have learned throughout my internship will help me every single day of my future career.  I can’t thank the staff at the Atlanta East Branch enough as none of this would have been possible without their help.

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Daytona Intern Looks at Summer Weed Control vs Irrigation

Austin Outdoor has really provided me the diverse internship experience I was looking for and have learned a lot during my time here.  The company and the people are very friendly and knowledgeable, and the field experience I have received this summer will be invaluable as I move forward in my career.

While the internship experience has been great, rather than summarize my time and activities here, I felt it would be more interesting to talk about an issue that affects the company and the industry as a whole, especially during the hot and rainy summer months.

Working in the Daytona Beach Branch these past weeks I have observed two main issues we face from a maintenance and enhancement standpoint; irrigation vs weed control.  With the summer heat comes the summer rains and keeping our sites lush, green and appealing to the customers and public becomes somewhat of a tradeoff.  The more we run irrigation to combat the drying effect of the heat the more time we spend detailing areas to rid them of unappealing weeds.  The two weeds; Hydrocotyle umbellate or Dollar Weed and Panicum repens orTorpedo Grass are prevalent everywhere.  Austin Outdoor currently uses the recommended over the top treatments for both weeds in shrub beds.  Speed Zone is used to control Dollar Weed, however it does not kill very quickly.  It also leaves circular brown weeds as they die off leaving the area unattractive.  Image and Fusilade are used for Torpedo Grass control and work quite effectively; however, the weed grows so quickly by the next week there is new growth popping up right next to the previously sprayed weeds.

Ultimately, we are lead back to mechanical removal as the most effective form of detailing.  I am not saying we should stop hand pulling weeds, it is still very effective at making plant beds look perfect, especially before public events but spending hundreds of labor hours on weed eradication seems a very inefficient use of time.

Finding a solution to this issue is not an easy one.   One solution for weeds in turf areas; is mixing the residual herbicides with the wetting agent applied to turf areas.  In theory this would help the turf hold water and reduce browning from temperature stress while ensuring moisture being held in the soil does not give way to a resurgence of weeds in the turf areas.

I would also recommend a trial garden on location that is populated by plants commonly used on client properties in the surrounding area and test a mixture of products that can provide residual weed control without harming ornamentals in the plant beds. 

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Daytona Intern Builds Design Skills by Creating Visual Enhancements

Austin Outdoor has provided me with the unique opportunity to experience the design side of the company in addition to my time spent in the field learning the logistics of maintenance work.  My time spent in the Palm Coast office has provided a great learning experience and new appreciation for the behind the scenes work that occurs, to obtain the contracts we install and maintain.

My previous experience with design software (Photoshop and AutoCAD) is invaluable to my experience these past weeks.  While my background from the University of Florida’s Landscape Architecture program is useful, there is a lot to remember and more yet to learn when it comes to principles of design and learning Austin Outdoor’s design style.

During my time in the design office we created a variety of visual enhancements; both for existing contracts and new work we hope to win.  The primary tool for creating the visual enhancements is Adobe Photoshop; it lets designers communicate to clients the potential their site has to offer.  The photo enhancements we create aid Business Development Managers and Account Managers when presenting proposals to clients.

Being able to show clients a “before and after” picture can help them see the benefit of enhancing their landscape.

Not all design work is done on the computer; for large jobs, usually community developments, we create a hand drawn map that shows a plan view of the site.  Spending time doing a hand rendering gives an added artistic quality to a presentation.  These maps are also used to create weekly or monthly maintenance schedules which are overlaid and color coded.

Communication is key when working in the design department.  You are constantly collaborating with other designers on work, determining plant pallets, and communicating back and forth with Account Managers and Business Development Managers.  Feedback is very important as there are often changes and alterations that need to me made to ensure a quality final design that reflects the Austin Outdoor style.

The diversity of projects I have worked on during my time in the design department has greatly helped me improve my design skills.  Beyond enhancing my skills with Photoshop and hand rendering I find myself more adaptable and creative as a result.  Austin Outdoor has an excellent design and business development team and I count myself fortunate to learn from them.

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Intern Melissa Sees Our Safety Program in Action

Unlike most interns at Yellowstone Landscape, I am working towards a B.A. in Engineering with a concentration in Safety Management.  This field is about the exploration and understanding of Health and Safety Management Systems and how they work. When searching for a way to further my “hands on” experience while completing my degree, I explored the possibility of being part of an internship program.  I sought to venture out to other industries outside of construction to expand my knowledge.  While searching, I came across Yellowstone.  I fell in love with the family-atmosphere that was presented to me, as well as ample room for growth of knowledge and understanding.  Within Safety Management, growth only occurs when you jump into what you are studying and getting hands on experience, which Yellowstone has provided for me.

During my time here I have worked under the Health Safety and Environmental (HSE) Officer in the Safety Department, learning all aspects of safety in a company setting.  In the beginning I shadowed my Mentor and several Account Managers observing how they completed their work.  Within the first few weeks I was on the equipment learning as much as I could about their operation and the safety systems set in place by the manufacturer.  I also learned how to address safety infractions and conduct a Safety Audit on my own.  During my third week I traveled to Georgia with my Mentor and observed how to approach a Safety Audit at a new location, as well as how to continue implementing new safety procedures for our existing locations.

Other projects I have been involved with during my time here include updating the HSE Manual and helping with the implementation of new safety procedures and programs.  In the field, I have experienced hands-on how our crews work and utilize PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).  Through this experience and my observations of our crews, I have developed new ideas to further the safety standard.

My time in the field has been interesting and educational; I have spent time with the maintenance department of several of our branches, as well as construction and arbor.  With the aid of our maintenance crew, I now know how to operate mowers, blowers, weeders, edgers, and many other tools.  While with the landscape construction division, I was able to see how the Account Manager sets up a job, implements the job, and how they contact and inform the crews on their next job.  With the Arbor Department I was able to see how the crews utilize some of our more dangerous equipment such as chainsaws and wood chippers.  Within all of these departments I have been able to expand my knowledge of the landscape industry and understand how safety plays an important role in the success of a company.

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3235 North State Street
PO Box 849

Bunnell, FL 32110
877.785.6685

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