I just want to thank you. I have never seen the property looking so nice. This morning a resident in 206 happily shared his opinion of the courtyard near my office. He said “I have never seen the courtyard in all the years I have lived here, looking as good as it does now.” I thanked him for saying so and told him that Bladerunners are our new landscapers. He said he had already known Bladerunners Inc. because his brother was in the business also.
I have introduced my self to your crew chief (Rodas I believe?) and some of the other guys. Eric, I want you know how impressed I am with their work so far. I am also excited to see the subtle but important care the guys take in their work i.e., shaving-off and or removing the old mulch “humps” that have accumulated over the years, the perfectly cut mulch beds and the quality of the mulch in general. Great work, keep the foot on the gas. I love it.
Thank you, Kevin.
At Seminary Walk
Everywhere you turn there is a debate about the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Are they poisonous? Do they work? In our society, the prevailing trend is to automatically believe that the word “Organic” always means better. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) debunked some myths surrounding the use of organic pesticides and fertilizers The purpose of this blog entry is to help put our customer’s minds at ease with an old fashioned, tried and true method: sharing the facts.
The facts in this instance are straight forward:
- Blade-Runners uses chemicals that are safer than commonly used household items and
- There are good reasons to use these pesticides and fertilizers.
It is important to remember why we use pesticides and fertilizers. For years now we have benefitted from the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Many of our eating habits, prices, and health benefits come from the advantages of pesticides and chemicals. For example:
- In many circumstances pesticides are the only successful means of controlling weeds and disease carrying insects
- There is a wider selection of food and clothing sold at lower prices
- Pesticides protect private, public, and commercial dwellings from structural damage associated with termite infestations
Please feel free to examine these issues even further using our chemical research book provided online to all customers. In the future, the book will permanently appear under, “Why is Blade-Runners Better” on the website.
We also offer an LD50 chart for all our chemicals comparing them to common household products. LD50 is the lethal dose in kilograms of a chemical provided to other animals, such as rats and hamsters, that kills them. The lower the LD50 number, the lower the dose required for death, the higher the score the more needed for death.
Remember: The lower the score the higher the danger.
|Household Product||Landscaping Maintance|
|Borax (LD 2660)||Barricade (LD 5000)-Used to prevent crabgrass|
|Tide Pods (LD 600)||Talstar [bifenthrin] insect control (LD 623)|
|Frontline (LD 2995)||Glphosate (LD 5600) Used to kill weeds in the pavement|
|5 Hour energy with caffeine (LD1129)||Merit (LD 1858) Control insects|
The debate over the use of chemicals by landscaping companies such as Blade-Runners, will and should continue for years to come. The most important thing to know is that we here at Blade-Runners have you, your family, your pets, and your property’s safety in mind. Look for future entries to explain run-off into the water, effects on our ocean life, danger to our food supply and inhalation dangers.
Creating an Objective: Some of the most common objectives are listed below.
- Improve structure/health
- Improve health by establishing a structural pruning program to young trees 15’ or less on the property. Structural pruning of young trees is the best way to ensure and improve the serviceable lifespan of trees on your property.
- Provide a view
- A view can be created or enhanced through crown reduction where the edge of the crown at the top of the tree is reduced or by elevation pruning where lower branches of the crown are removed.
- Provide clearance
- Growth can be directed away from buildings lights or parking areas. This is the most commonly request pruning item and will need to be repeated as the tree will grow back to fill the void created by pruning.
- Reduce risk of failure
- Risk of tree failure can be reduced by identifying and rectifying hazard conditions such in bark, dead or broken branches or large scaffold limbs. Mature trees need to be monitored to manage these risks. Recommendations will depend on the specific tree.
Types of Pruning
You may have noted several pruning terms listed in the description above. Your proposal should speak in these terms, beware of specs that simply state ‘Pruning’ We use the following terms in our proposals as they are recognized tree standards supported by the International Society of Arboriculture and the American National Standards Institute[ANSI]
|Remove Deadwood||Crown Cleaning||Crown Thinning||Crown Reduction||Crown Raising||Structural Pruning|
|Dead limbs exceeding 1″ in caliper will be removed in order to eliminate a possible hazard to underlying targets.||A light pruning of thinning or lateral cuts to selectively remove dead, broken, crossing, injured, co-dominant or diseased branches will reduce the movement of decay, insects and diseases from dead or dying branches.||Selective removal of live branches to reduce crown density.||Lateral or drop-crotch cuts to reduce the breadth of the canopy or decrease the height and/or breadth of a tree.||Selective removal of branches to provide vertical clearance above walkways, vehicles, signs, streets and vistas.||Removal of live branches to establish dominant central leader, influence spacing, growth rate, strength of attachment and size of branches.|
When encouraging the healthy growth of your trees and plants it is important for you or your contractor to follow the American National tandards for Pruning (ANSI 300). Read more to see these standards and to get other hints! You should not be confused by the terminology that your contractors use. Be Pragmatic and ask Pointed Questions! Be sure they follow the appropriate terminology and have thoroughly trained staff. Your contractor will know when the best time to prune each specific plant is.
We welcome all calls to your Blade Runners Account Manager should you have any questions!
Just wanted to let you know that I feel your crew did an outstanding job on the mulch this past week!! They did a nice job edging the beds, cleaning up the old mulch, and putting fresh mulch down. The black mulch really looks nice and it was a good suggestion you and your team had. Great Job!! Cheers, James C. Brett
This is a note to thank you for your good judgement in not spreading salt on our roads the evening of 3/6/13, in view of the weather developments. I’m sure that these are tough decisions and I want to compliment you on your decision-making. McLean Mews are most appreciative! Bill Grove McClean Mews
We have been very happy with the Bladerunner’s snow removal service (and all of their service for that matter). They are always rapid to clear the road during any storm. We never seem to wait for them to show up and I can’t think of any time in the last 8 years that I have lived here where I have felt stranded because they haven’t started to plow. One of the great services they offer is to send email notifications before, during, and after a snow event telling you their plan and giving you the opportunity to decline or add services (examples attached). The Board gets the notices and then we post them to our website, or you can forward it to the cluster (I would remove the bladerunners contact info so you don’t have a bunch of homeowner’s contacting them directly). When there is a snow event it seems everyone at Bladerunners is committed to it, right down to the President as most of the notices come from him.
One of the “extra services” that we have to add from time to time is for a front end loader to remove the snow piled up in the 14 visitor spaces or the mounds of snow from large accumulations. The basic service only covers a plow coming through and pushing the snow into piles. If there is a 6+ inch event, there is only so many places you can push snow before it begins to block edges of the roadway, corners, and general parking areas. The only way to get these areas cleared is with a front end loader and smaller Bobcats. When you order this service there is an extra fee which is by the hour but worth it.
There are really never any complaints about their service. One year someone that lives on a corner complained that when the truck came by there was too much left in front of her driveway versus getting right up to the curb. She lives on a corner that is hard to get and since then they always get closer to her driveway. She complains about everything and hasn’t complained about this in the past 3 years so that is a good sign. Also the Magic Salt does appear to work as the road is never slippery.
I am sure you can find cheaper alternatives; however, I don’t think you will find anyone as thorough, reliable, and RAPID. The last thing I would want to do is change services and then find out 12 hours into a snowstorm that they don’t do snow removal anymore, or their ONE truck has broken down. Good luck in your search!
Towns Of Waterford Hoa
Dear Manaager, Heights of Penderbrook:
Glad you mentioned BladeRunners. They are included in our landscaping bidding process. How is your experience with them?
They do a good job and very knowledgeable in the field. I would definitely consider them if your Board is looking for a landscaping company concentrating on going green, in regards to the environment. BladeRunner are on the cutting edge on this movement. Even their grounds men are wearing blue shirts with the “going green logo” so in short they have my endorsement.
Legum & Norman, Inc.
An Associa® Member Company
Read all about Virginia Property Owners’ Association Act requirements for new notice of pesticide application
Many Virginia HOA Boards, Property Managers, and landscape contractors were blindsided by a Virginia Statute (§ 55-510.3 ) requiring 48 hours of posting notice for all agronomic applications.
Read the actual statue § 55-510.3. Common areas; notice of pesticide application. The association shall post notice of all pesticide applications in or upon the common areas. Such notice shall consist of conspicuous signs placed in or upon the common areas where the pesticide will be applied at least 48 hours prior to the application
Posting Agronomic Signs & Blade Runners Approach:
While this may produce added expense for the association it really is a good idea. Effective communication to the residents, if done properly, communicates service dates, contact phone numbers for residents with questions, and provides residents with support documentation of pesticide products to be applied, along with product labels and contact information should they have further concerns.
Blade Runners has long provided this pesticide sign posting service as an option for HOA’s. This not just littering the community with pesticide application flags vaguely communicating the something was applied.
We provide highly visible, solid real estate-style signs placed at specific areas of the property. It contains the dates of application along with a phone number to call with questions, as well as, our website address.
Proper implementation for both pesticide notice posting and the agronomic applications takes planning. Adequate inventories of signs are needed to replace weathered and/or stolen signs. Coordination planning is necessary in order to time the application after a turf mowing for maximum control along with the required 48 hour advance posting visit to place the signs. In the event of poor weather, an additional visit might be needed to alter the date. Signs are removed from the site after the application.
Blade Runners has a resource manual that contains
- Product label and MSDS sheets for all products we use.
- Phone numbers for state and government agencies should the client want addition information.
- Questions and answers regarding the service
- Our methods of production and the manner in which we deliver the service.
As with many things there is more to this than meets the eye. Associations should be careful that there solution is a comprehensive one that adds value.
Turn this annoyance into a positive thing for your community.
Blade Runners have been here all morning. I have been outside since 9:00 working on a patio and side garden project so I had an opportunity to observe the workers. Here is my assessment: Perfect. There is not a leaf on the property and these young men work very hard. I even asked them to be careful not to blow towards my garden and they were extremely respectful and courteous. From my perspective, Blade Runners hit a home run today.”
Chancery Square Resident
Please give your mowing crew a big thanks from SHA (Stonehurst Homeowners Association). The grounds look awesome! There were loads of small twigs, broken branches and leaves all over the neighborhood- looked like a hurricane had come through our neighborhood. LOL So make sure they get our thanks- they just left now-7pm-
Stonehurst Homeowners Association
I have thoroughly appreciated Blade Runner’s service to our community, both in landscaping and snow removal. Your customer service has been impeccable and consistent. As an example, last week I was pruning my next door neighbor’s front yard tree for her. One of your crews arrived to perform a mowing and before I had to ask, one of your men came over to me and asked me to pile the branches in the street so that they could remove them. That is customer service.
Thanks again for the great work you do to keep Oak Manor looking well-maintained.
Board of Directors
Glen II HOA in Lake Ridge, VA looks forward to working with Blade Runners Landscape and Grounds Maintenance Company
“I have to tell you, your team is very impressive as is the excellent customer service you’re providing! Thanks so much and looking forward to working with Blade Runners more in the future!”
Glen II HOA
Lake Ridge, VA
Sycamore Ridge Condo Association of Arlington Praises Blade Runners Lawn Care E-mail Notification System
Your e-mail notifications are among the Blade Runners features I most treasure, after you, Mike, Raul and our several crews. Your e-mail notices help me monitor our contract, and I want them to continue to enter my mailbox. Previously, Elaine Ely was my colleague on the Grounds Committee, but she quit a few years ago, so she does not need to receive your notices anymore. I think I asked Raul to cancel e-mails to her sometime last year, and it appeared that had happened. So if you can pick up from there, that would be good. Otherwise, leave me on your list and delete Elaine. She still cares, but she has chosen not to be involved on the “responsible” level, so she should be off the list.
I also hope you got your billing situation straightened out. For the first three 2011 payments, you billed Sycamore Ridge Condo Association at the 2010 rate. We have since paid the arrearage, so I hope billing is now on track too.
Not that it matters, but I got two of the appended e-mails from you. Identical. I just thought you’d want to know.
President, Sycamore Ridge Condominium Association
Osha has a requirement that all drivers have cpr training. This is often overlooked by contractors and clients should really ask about it.
First-aid and CPR training shall be conducted using the conventional methods of training such as lecture, demonstration, practical exercise and examination (both written and practical). The length of training must be sufficient to assure that drivers understand the concepts of first aid and can demonstrate their ability to perform the various procedures contained in the outline below.
The following Blade Runners Staff members have recently completed CPR training and certification:
Cesar t Pu
Cesar t Pu
I want you to know that I am getting nothing but compliments from our residents about the landscaping work. Even the biggest complainer in the HOA began his latest whine with the qualifier that “the common area looks much better.”
I know first-hand from my own career that quality service delivery doesn’t “just happen.” It takes a lot of hands-on supervision and attention to details. We appreciate very much the successful efforts your company is making to keep our neighbor looking first class.
BTW, we are having our first social event of the season this Sunday starting at 5 PM. It is a very informal wine party at the gazebo with some snacks. I don’t want to impose on your weekend, but if you and/or Mike want to stop by with your wives and meet some of our residents then you are most welcome to do so.
President and Grounds Chairman Oak Manor HOA
We are a small homeowner community serviced by Blade Runners. This past winter we were asked to try a new de-icer compound called Magic Salt. We were impressed with the treatment on our roads and sidewalks. It was a very effective first treatment and continued to provide a level of protection after the initial covering of snow was removed. It does not appear to have stained streets or resulted in any damage to grass areas adjacent to our sidewalks. We would recommend its use to others looking for an effective de-icer treatment for roads and/or sidewalks.
Stonehurst IV Community Association
The Stonehurst Homeowners Association has used Magic Salt to assist in removing snow and ice from our streets and sidewalks last winter. We have found Magic Salt significantly improved the removal of snow and ice from our sidewalks and prevented ice accumulation from melting snow. The plowing of our streets was also enhanced when Magic Salt was used in treating the streets before the snow began to fall. We are very pleased with the improvement we achieved by using Magic Salt in lieu of other deicing materials. Most importantly, Magic Salt provided protection on our new sidewalks from spoliation as compared to deicing materials we used in the past.
Stonehurst Homewoners Association
Mid Atlantic, Inc hosted a seminar for arborists March 16th which provided training in Personal Protective Equipment, Tree Climbing Techniques & Equipment, Arborist Rigging Techniques, Fundamentals of Tree Access with an emphasis on Safety, Skill and Productivity.
Any work place has some potential danger, yet little is more evident than the dangers of tree work. Workers risk potential falls, equipment accidents and poisonous plants and snakes. Weather can also have an effect on the job site from the quick on-set of severe weather conditions to extreme heat or cold. At Blade Runners we take safety seriously. Our team of tree work experts log in significant hours of safety and equipment training and Blade Runner’s maintains this financial commitment year after year to insure we do everything to prevent accidents.
Recently, Carlos Carcamos, Carlos, Lemus, Ever Martinez and Ever Maldanado successfully underwent safety training and earned a Certificate of Training in Emergency Response and Aerial Rescue from North American Training Solutions.
The guys who will here to clean up, weed and mulch did a wonderful job. I am amazed how many people called and complimented the work. I am excited that this property will finally start looking it’s best.
Magic Salt starts out as ordinary rock salt.
When sprayed with a distilling by-product mixed with magnesium chloride, rock salt becomes Magic Salt!
Magic Salt Works Better.
Magic Salt works faster and lasts longer than rock salt, and is effective to –30F. Light snow under 2” can be burned off without plowing! Magic Salt is less corrosive and environmentally friendlier than other ice melters, and leaves no residue, unlike calcium chloride products. It’s safe to handle, and biodegradable, too.
Magic Salt Eliminates Sand Clean Ups.
Magic Salt melts snow and ice therefore there is no need for sand. As a result, sand is not tracked into buildings, there is no mess, and sand will not clog up drains. Magic Salt reduces Spring Clean Up time and associated costs by eliminating sand deposits during the winter.
Magic Salt Saves Money.
You can use 30% to 50% less Magic Salt than you would ordinary rock salt, and Magic Salt can virtually eliminate the use of sand in many applications. Because of its residual effect, Magic Salt means fewer trips to a job, saving you time and money.
Follow these links to see what others are saying:
Fox News 8 in Ohio
Action 6 Philadelphia PA
Good Morning America
Magic Salt is safer.
It is the only ice melting product approved by the EPA. It is far safer for Concrete, Asphalt, Plants and pets. See the comparison Chart below:
It is the only ice melting product approved by the EPA. It is far safer for Concrete, Asphalt, Plants and pets. See the comparison Chart below:
Sycamore Ridge Condo Association in Arlingtion compliments Blade Runners exceptional Grounds Maintenance Service
Dear Raul and Eric,
Cambridge Station in Fairfax Virginia compliments Blade Runners Tree Care, Clean-Up and Grounds Maintenance Services
Dear Mike and Eric
I wanted to let you know that at the board meeting Thursday night, a few of the directors said that they and other residents had noticed what a great job the crew did recently on a couple of services.
1) They wanted to compliment the shrub shearing, especially the meticulous clean-up. I even saw no traces of missed clippings as I walked to work on Friday.
2) Second, they complimented the look of the leaf mulch. It stays in place better and is thinner for less build up. We would like to go with that at each mulching if possible.
3) They mentioned the general appearance of the neighborhood as excellent. We had some die-hard believers in our previous service, but even they are saying they are very pleased with the overall appearance of the grounds.
Thanks so much for making us look good!
President ,Cambridge Station
McNair Farms in Herndon and Property Manager Ingrid Ketterman compliments Blade Runners hardworking Grounds Maintenance staff
Capitol Property Management
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Blade Runners: The BEST Choice for your Landscape Project
Landscape installation projects are expensive and require a good deal of thought. As a property owner you want to make the BEST choice possible. This choice should include short-term considerations (design, plant selections and budget) and long-term solutions (longevity of plants and hardscapes and easy maintenance).
Not all contractors are equal! We hope you choose Blade Runners because of our balance of quality, performance and price. Blade Runners has a proven track record with excellence in landscape installation and maintenance.
Some points you should consider when comparing proposals are listed below:
1) Pay very close attention to items such as plant size, quality, the dimensions of the planted area, and the amount of materials being used. Often a low price has hidden costs attached to it– or inadequate plant materials for long-term success. Make sure the wall is the same size, or the number of tiers in a graduated bed are the same.
2) Standards: Make sure that the chosen contractor knows the proper planting and installation standards. Not all contractors have a training program as comprehensive as Blade Runners.
How big should the hole be for a shrub or tree?
3) References: Does your contractor have a quality reputation? Check the references for your contractors.
4) Do they water after installation? Do they provide ongoing watering? Water is the essence of life! Proper watering is essential between having “not quite dead” plants and healthy, lush green plants. Many contractors offer a 1-year warranty, which should be a minimal contract standard. It is important that your contractor follows proper watering techniques and that, when needed, plant replacements are done easily without a hassle.
5) What maintenance is required and how will this be achieved? The best landscape bed is only as good as it can be preserved and look good.
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Some quotes from our clients talking about the poor work by other contractors are here as well:
- “The crew left the pavement dirty each day as the work was being done. We were used to Blade Runners cleaning up each day.”
- “Some of the plants died and we could not get the contractor to come back and replace them. When we used Blade Runners, they informed us of the dead plants and replaced them under their warranty.”
- “ The contractor would not provide any watering service for the project. Blade Runners provided watering services that kept the plants healthy.
We hope that Blade Runners will be your selected landscape professional.
Please give us the opportunity to review competing proposals to adjust and perhaps match the prices. In some cases we can uncover important errors with the plant material and design approach. Together we will come up with the best solutions to your landscape needs.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
You folks have done excellent work, both for the Association and for me personally (my back yard is beautiful!).
Thanks to you.
Byron F. Knight
Thank you Eric for the direct line phone numbers. Yes they will be very helpful. I want you to know that I again received some wonderful comments about the lush green beautiful lawn we now have at our Falls Church, Church of Christ. I tell them that Blade-Runners deserves all the credit (pats on the back) for the excellent condition of our property. So many cudo’s Blade-Runners folks.
Kevin Thie J
Thank you Eric.
Your company and staff live up to your motto: “Always with quality and courtesy.” We are very impressed with the people who have been working at Annandale Unitied. Thank them very much for us. —
Williamsburg Pond HOA in Falls Church is happy with the work Blade Runners Grounds Maintenance Performed!
Dave Shelby Of Vienna was pleased with the drainage job performed by the crew of Blade Runners Landscape!
Shelly, my back yard was mowed yesterday and they did a fantastic job, particularly since it was so tall! And the mower blade was sharp so it was a clean cut. Thank you for coordinating, and please pass along thanks to the “guys” for a job well done. Have a wonderful week-end, GPagin, Edgemoore, Darnley Place.
International Registries, Inc. in Reston Makes Positive Comments on Blade Runners Spring Clean-up Service
In all of my years of managing this building, as a sideline to my real job of supporting the CFO, I have never seen a more detailed and more perfect spring cleanup. The property looks better than it ever has. The diligence of the workers and their supervisor was astounding. I reluctantly made a small suggestion to them about tossing the rocks that had moved away from their beds adjoining the building, and they were instantly responsive. I did tell them I was not sure I should be telling them what to do (leftover from Links Pond policies), but they were most willing, and I told their supervisor as he checked up on their work. All over the property they explored places and piles of debris that had never been touched! So congratulations to all. I am so glad you are in our corner.
All the best,
June Swan,International Registries, Inc.
First Ballston Board of Arlington writes a note about the Blade Runners Snow Plan for the Blizzard of 2010
This note was on a handwritten card and we had to share it with you:
Eric and Blade Runners,
A heartfelt thanks on behalf of the First Ballston Commons Community for your conscientious and diligent snow removal efforts this winter. We appreciate that this has been a particularly trying season and despite it all we have recived excellent, proactive service and many unexpected personal gestures. Keep up the great work , best wishes for a happy , healthy 2010.
Darcey Bennett and the First Ballston Board.
Communication is an area where Blade Runners really stands out. Prior experiences with other landscaping companies as well as other community contractors were routinely disappointing when trying to contact someone to answer a question, review an invoice, submit a proposal, etc. Blade Runners has been responsive, accurate and available by both phone and e-mail. This is a far cry from our previous landscaping contract with which the site manager seemed to always lose the job specs and the owner would return a call the next week â€“ from a golf course in Florida. Raul has done an excellent job as our site manager in notifying us when and how specific services or projects would be done. Communication also appears to be strong within the Blade Runners team, with our onsite crew regularly well-prepared before they drive onto the property on how they will approach and complete the job.
Good communication makes us feel that our good partnership with Blade Runners will continue to improve year after year. Thanks for staying in touch.
Hunters Green Cluster
“The combination of Rocks, Plants, and Design turned an eyesore into an attractive area!”
Problem Betsy Hill, Hunters Green Cluster board member, spearheaded the initial project,”…we were looking to do an erosion project behind [the community]. It’s a shady area with no topsoil left, exposed roots, utilities; it’s complicated and the planting would be a big part of making the long term erosion control work.” Hunters Green Cluster’s rear common area suffered from erosion causing back yard properties to flood, walkways constantly washing out and existing culverts unable to function effectively due to the collection of silt and runoff debris. The cause is common; overgrown tree canopy, either by neglect or a desire to keep shaded areas. Without proper canopy pruning, there is an eventual loss of turf area and exposed top soil erodes and causes various erosion problems, such as flooding. Proposal Account Manager, Terry Turner, provided a thorough assessment of the areas affected by the erosion and found many areas of concern. He proposed a drainage swale design utilizing River Jack stone for the swale, replace and repair existing clean-outs and create a river jack stone buffer around the existing drainage culverts. The proposal included the necessary turf renovation and ground cover installation. The proposal was then given to the Reston Association for review.
Solution Create drainage swales throughout rear common area. Reparations of the existing drainage culverts and clean-outs, turf restoration where turf grass is feasible, and the establishment of ground cover beds under the existing shade trees would be essential to eradicate these erosion issues. The design included the use of woodchips and perennial ground cover to be installed as a landscape buffer to further protect the topsoil from washing into the new drainage swale.
Accolades “The board at Hunters Green Cluster hired your company to correct an erosion problem behind my home. The landscaping crew finished the project last week and I am writing to tell you how pleased I am with the results. The combination of Rocks, Plants, and design turned an eyesore into an attractive area.” resident, Virginia Banks. Board member, Betsy Hill, expressed her comments about the drainage swales, “Terry, this project is great!!!!” “The work is exemplary …. the swale is beautiful…amazing!!!!”, stated long-time supporter and board member, Katherine Hunter.
DRAINAGE & SOIL EROSION Q&A’s
WHAT IS SOIL EROSION?
Soil erosion occurs when soil particles are carried off by water or wind. In addition to the soil, runoff can wash fertilizer and other pollutants along with it. Most phosphates and pesticides entering Virginia’s waters are attached to these soil particles. Nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers carried by runoff have been associated with many environmental problems. Streams, ponds, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay suffer from algae growth, depletion of the water’s oxygen supply, and suffocation of aquatic organisms.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF SOIL EROSION?
Everyone recognizes a gully as evidence of soil erosion. Muddy water in your gutter or driveway also indicates that erosion has been occurring. It may only be visible for a time following a rain, but the damage will continue unless something is done.
The following are other indications of erosion.
- Bare spots on your lawn or property
- Exposed tree roots
- Small rills or gullies on slopes
- Soil splashes on your windows and outside walls
- Sediment that collects in low areas or on pavement
DRAINAGE, WHY DOES DRAINAGE MATTER?
Water always takes the easiest path. Because of this, it is important to understand how and what drainage is in order to find an alternative path for the water on your land.
DRAINAGE ON YOUR PROPERTY HAS A GREATER AFFECT
What drains from your property will affect much more than your land alone. Runoff from your yard is the water that runs across your yard and all the material the water picks up and carries with it. Pollutants in water are frequently referred to as point and nonpoint source pollution. Point source pollutants come from an identified point such as an outfall pipe at an industrial operation. Nonpoint source pollutants come from many sources such as pet waste, leaking or improperly disposed auto fluids, car wash detergents, or fertilizers from your lawn. Pollutants are carried down into the groundwater table with percolating water draining through soil. Pollutants are also washed into lakes and streams via surface runoff. Storm drains, along streets and in backyards, lead to local streams. Home lawns and landscapes contribute to pollution when improper water management and chemical application allow fertilizer or pesticide-laden runoff to drain into our water supplies. In some areas, soils are very slow-draining and are referred to as having a high groundwater table. Groundwater tables tend to be at their highest in February and March in Virginia as a result of snowmelt and rains.
WHAT ARE SOME CLUES AND CORRECTIVE MEASURES?
- Wet Lawns: To help prevent surface water from standing in your property, don’t create or maintain a perfectly flat space. Maintain a slight slope that drains toward a swale, rain garden or storm sewer inlet. Even very well-drained soils may become saturated in a Virginia summer thunderstorm, so try to maintain a slope of 5 percent away from the house and 2 percent everywhere else.
- Standing water: If your yard, or some portion of it, remains wet and soggy for extended periods (two or three days following a rain), the natural drainage ways may be blocked or have settled and do not have enough grade to drain. Soggy ground and wet lawns are often the result of trapped surface water with no place to go. Most yards are originally graded so that water flows from the front to the street and from the back to a swale, ditch, or storm sewer. The existing grade of your land may have changed with an added patio, walk, or mounded planting beds, or trees may have grown significantly and their roots raised the ground surface.
- Bare Spots: Excess water is the most frequent cause of bare spots and erosion. If the excess water is moving across your property, it will need to be redirected to a more appropriate area. The redirected water can be diverted to an appropriately planted grassy area, or a drainage swale, (A drainage swale is a shaped and sloped depression in the soil surface used to convey water run-off to a desired location). Regrading may be necessary to the surrounding ground to encourage the water to move where you want it to go.
THINGS TO CONSIDER…
1. Where is the water coming from? Standing rain water? Or is the water flowing onto the property from elsewhere?
2. Where should the water go? Water always flows downhill. Is something preventing the water from draining away? Is a storm drain clogged with debris? Is a drainage ditch overgrown with weeds or full of mulch? Is some man-made barrier blocking the waters natural path?
3. How much water to be handled? Is a wide drainage channel needed or will a shallow channel suffice?
4. How steep is the slope? A gentle slope will have a slow current, while a steep slope will need breaks to slow the water and prevent erosion.
HOW CAN YOU STOP SOIL FROM ERODING?
To solve the erosion problem, you must identify the cause and then correct it with an alternative site design solution using BMPs (best management practices). BMPs involve measures which accomplish two basic objectives:
- Reduce the amount of impervious surface area, thereby reducing runoff and
- Utilize the landscape to naturally filter and infiltrate runoff before it leaves the development site.
Recommended Site Design Alternatives…
- Natural Drainage Swales: A drainage swale is a shaped and sloped depression in the soil surface used to convey water run-off to a desired location. A drainage swale is designed with a lining of vegetation, riprap, asphalt, concrete, or other material and is used to intercept and divert flow to a suitable outlet. It is constructed by excavating a channel and applying the appropriate stabilization. They can be used to convey runoff from the bottom or top of slope. For swales draining a disturbed area, the outlet can be to a sediment trapping device prior to its release.
- Mulch: Mulching is a temporary erosion control practice in which materials such as grass, hay wood chips, wood fibers, straw, or gravel are placed on exposed or recently planted soil surfaces
- Natural Landscaping: Natural landscaping approaches utilize native plants as an alternative to conventional turf grass. The principal advantage of preserving natural vegetations and utilizing natural landscape designs is the protections of desirable trees, vines, bushes, and grasses from damage caused by erosion. Vegetation provides erosion control, storm water detention, biofiltration, and aesthetic values.
- Permeable Pavers: Permeable pavers are an environmentally friendly alternative to regular interlocking pavers. They allow for water to filter through the surface where it stays in a gravel basin while it slowly filters into the soil. By absorbing runoff, permeable surfaces help to prevent erosion and drainage issues.
- Riprap: Riprap is a permanent, erosion-resistant layer made of stones. It is intended to protect soil from erosion in areas of concentrated runoff.
Additional Links & Resources
This will be our first year with you all during leaf pick-up. Eric talked about your innovative strategies, but I have not seen them in action. (Though your efficient mowing and herbicide techniques likely mean that this effort will be just as efficient!)
Call or e-mail with any reminders or suggestions. The community looks good – we have had a number of residents and visitors tell us that – and that is in large part due to the efforts of Blade Runners.
“Many thanks to Blade Runners for beautifying our community!”
Problem “Turf , drainage and erosion problems have been areas of contention for 10 years at Bentana Park. Many different solutions had been tried and proved unsuccessful” stated Property Manager, Diana Fritz. “When I requested a bid from Blade Runners last year to replace ‘XYZ’ contractor, I knew that I was getting a company that would stand behind their work and would give us the best service available. I have worked with Terry Turner, Blade Runners Branch Manager, on several other communities and he has always been exceptional to work with. He has given me wonderful service at other properties and I knew he would do the same at Bentana Park.”
Proposal Terry Turner provided a thorough assessment of the areas of erosion and found many homes were affected and there was flooding involved. This was of major concern. He proposed a drainage swale consisting of River Jack stone, replacing and repairing clean-outs and installing a river jack buffer around the existing drainage culverts. Woodchips and perennial ground cover will be installed as a landscape buffer to further protect the topsoil from washing into the drainage swale. The proposal was then given to the Reston Association for review. According to Diana Fritz, Property Manager, “Another contractor also installed drain swales that were extremely costly, but unfortunately, Reston Association came back and told them they were not to code and needed to be ripped out. When Reston Association finally approved Blade Runners approach and the work was complete everyone, including Reston Association was delighted with the final product.”
Solution Creat Dry River Swale through rear common area. A Dry Swale serves as a permanent, erosion-resistant layer, made of stones. It is intended to protect soil from erosion in areas of concentrated runoff. Groundcover beds to be established around and under existing shade trees. Wood chips and ground cover perennials installed as a landscape buffer. Ground cover vegetation provides erosion control, storm water detention, biofiltration, and aesthetic values.
Accolades Longtime resident and board member, Kathy Ray , “I have lived in Bentana Park for 20+ years and during this time, there has been numerous attempts to handle the erosion issues behind some of the units with our community. Within the first few months of working with Blade Runners, these areas were turned into livable, beautiful areas. Blade Runners provided the expertise to design and a dedicated team to perform quality workmanship. They have proven to be dependable, dedicated and provided excellent customer service. Not only has the erosion issues been controlled, it has given the homeowners a place to finally be able to sit and enjoy the scenery. Many thanks to Blade Runners for beautifying our community!”
The damage to concrete most people fear is actually caused by the freezing and thawing of water that soaks into the upper surface of the concrete. The use of deicing salts increases the amount of freeze-thaw cycles that a concrete sidewalk or driveway experiences. The volume of water increases by 9 percent when it freezes. This expansion creates internal pressures that can blast apart weak concrete.
Concrete that contains small air bubbles (air entrained), a minimum of 564 pounds of cement (6 bag mix) per cubic yard and a minimum amount of water when mixed (4 inch slump) can resist repeated episodes of ice expansion within the concrete. In addition, the concrete must be moist cured at or above 50 F for a minimum of seven days, produce a 28 day strength of 4,000 pounds per square inch and have a minimum drying time of 30 days before it is subjected to the first freeze-thaw cycle. These practices are commonly followed by experienced, professional concrete masons.
Deicing salts rarely cause problems on wood surfaces and asphalt. What little damage they may cause is far outweighed by the benefits of preventing personal injury as a result of a fall on some ice.
There are four primary deicing salts. All have different characteristics. The most common deicing salt is regular rock salt or sodium chloride. It is widely available and can melt snow and ice until the temperature drops to between 16 and 20 F. Below these temperatures the rock salt stops melting snow and ice. Rock salt also releases the highest amount of chloride ions when it dissolves. Chloride can pollute streams, rivers and lakes. The chloride also causes metal to corrode.
Calcium chloride is another deicing salt. Many people have seen these small rounded white pellets. It can continue to melt snow and ice as temperatures fall well below 0 F. It can cause skin irritation if your hands are moist when using it. Concentrations of calcium chloride can chemically attack concrete.
Potassium chloride is a deicing salt that available in some markets. It is not a skin irritant and does not harm vegetation. It only melts ice when the air temperture is above 15 F, but when combined with other chemicals it can melt ice at lower temperatures.
The newest deicing salt is magnesium chloride. It continues to melt snow and ice until the temperature reaches -13 F. In the photo, the air temperature was 0 F. The magnesium chloride melted through a 1/2 inch thick layer of ice in just 10 minutes. This salt releases about 40 percent less chlorides into the environment than either rock salt or calcium chloride. It is also less damaging to concrete surfaces of questionable or unknown quality. Magnesium chloride is less toxic to plants, trees and shrubs. It also does not leave a powder residue when tracked into your home.
Avoid the use of fertilizers as deicing and traction agents. Those that contain ammonium nitrate and ammonium sulfate can rapidly disintegrate concrete. Don’t take a chance if you don’t know what is in the fertilizer. If you don’t have salts available use sand to stop you from slipping and sliding.
Is it necessary to wave a magic wand and remove every single leaf when doing a fall clean up? Is it acceptable to grind leaves and return them to the soil? Is it okay to place leaves in the surrounding wooded common area as long as they are spread evenly and not left in piles. Are we being green??
Follow this link for modern leaf removal methods and the research that supports it.
MODERN LEAF REMOVAL
The traditional concept of creating huge piles of whole leaves and transporting them to a landfill is costly and not environmentally friendly. Large armies of workers using lots of noisy, smelly leaf blowers together with rakes and tarps have been the usual manner of removal. Blowing and tarping of whole leaves and dragging them into huge piles take a good deal of time and thus heavy expense for the client. Transporting large quantities of leaves to a landfill is costly and deprives the soil and woodland areas of needed nutrients.
The modern choice is to mulch and reduce leaf size using specialized equipment. This method saves time on the site, reduces landfill transportation and dump fees, as well as provides direct environmental benefit to the turf and surrounding wooded areas.
Grinding leaves on the site with precision mowers reduces the need for blowing and also the amount of leaves to be piled. The pulverized leaves are returned to the thatch layer and provide benefit to the turf with both nutrients and soil composition. Leaf reduction in rear areas allows for the pulverized leaves to be returned to the surrounding wooded areas in a fashion that is eco friendly and not an eyesore to the client. This saves valuable tarp dragging time.
With less leaves to pile there is much less quantity to transport to the landfill area, which saves dump fees. As an added benefit, the leaves that are carried away are ground in such a way as to accelerate the decomposition process. This creates rich top soil that can later be transported back to properties that would benefit from it.
Research to Support our Methods:
Virginia Cooperative extension endorses this approach!. Virginia Tech,Turfgrass Specialist Michael Goatley Jr. believes:
“Leaf mulching directly into the turf. There are several university research reports detailing how leaf mulching affects turf performance. In almost every instance, the results show that chopping up deciduous leaves as part of a regular mowing schedule is an effective means of managing them without harming the turf. that in almost every instance, the results show that chopping up deciduous leaves as part of a regular mowing schedule is an effective means of managing these leaves without harming the turf.
Purdue University turfgrass researchers Zac Reicher and Glenn Hardebeck took the time to perform a study on the question and they found:
Leaves have no effect on turf visual quality or color
Leaves have no effect on turf growth by clipping weights
Leaves have no effect on mat or thatch depth
Leaves have no effect on soil pH or nutrient availability
Leaves have no effect on incidence of red thread
Leaves have no effect on incidence of pink patch.
Leaves have no effect on incidence of dollar spot
Leaves have no effect on weed infestation
The Sierra Club, a non-profit, member supported, public interest organization that promotes conservation of the natural environment by influencing public policy decisions (legislative, administrative, legal and electoral) believes in leaving the leaves.
They state that leaf mulching:
Makes nutrients more readily available in the soil and speeds up the Enrichment process.
Retains water in the soil during the summer, for drought protection.
Insulates the ground from penetrating cold during the winter allowing the underground.
Work of earthworms and soil microorganisms to create Humus
Helps reduce weeds
“Brown patches are all over your property” exclaims a frustrated property manager. If you have these troublesome brown patches on your property that have gotten increasingly worse with time, you may well have a Japanese beetle grub infestation in your lawn. While chemical options are available, there is a safe, effective remedy in using Milky Spore.
We’re all familiar with the damage the adult Japanese beetle does as it feasts on fruit, flower, shrubs, garden plants and the foliage of some field crops. At the immature beetle stage, the grub enjoys feeding on the roots of grass and other vegetation to include stems of plants. Applications with Milky Spore attack the beetle at the grub level BEFORE damage is done. Milky Spore acts as an on-guard protective blanket on your lawn and works for at least 10 years.
Milky Spore is safe as opposed to the many dangerous chemical applications. Milky Spore is not harmful to beneficial insects, birds, bees, pets or man. The product is approved and registered with EPA, Milky Spore will not affect wells, ponds or streams. The ideal way to combat area infestation is through organized community efforts. Large areas treated with Milky Spore can result in long term control.
Blade Runners issues a Milky Spore certificate for properties and communities that use this product on their turf area that can be used for future home sales or in community newsletters.
Milky Spore has gone through many transformations. The product that Blade Runners uses is the original formula devised by the USDA, produced by St Gabriel laboratories, that has been proven effective for over 70 years to limit Japanese Beetle grub infestations. Milky Spore is effective, innovative and on the cutting edge of environmental friendly products.
Common Questions: What changes are taking place in the mulch industry? What is mulch made of anyway? Why is the mulch looking worse each year?
Great questions and it’s true that the quality of mulch you see on your property has changed considerably in the last decade. A combination of market force, competitive pricing, supply and demand, and alternative fuel requirements is putting the squeeze on your mulch quality. Click here to find out more and what you should be thinking about and how you should change your contract specifications.
What is Mulch? Mulch is a protective covering, usually of organic matter, placed around plants to prevent the evaporation of moisture, the freezing of roots and the growth of weeds. We mulch to keep watering requirements low, protect the roots of plants in the winter, keep weeds down, enrich the soil and for aesthetic reasons.
While in the old days mulch was primarily made of shredded bark, shredded wood mulch is generally used in the Washington Metro area. This is from shredded trees in area land clearings or bark from sawmills.
Why is the mulch looking worse each year? There has been a spike in demand for mulch products from this busy building cycle. Large price-based mulch contractors have entered the market using lower grade materials making it difficult for others to remain competitive. Using lower quality mulch has been a savings point for contractors one that they feel clients will not perceive.
- Factors that contribute to mulch quality:
- Percentage of Bark- This represents the largest change. In years past, bark was made up of 100% shredded bark. Now mulch contractors must pay more for lower quality mulch. Once a principal supplier, saw mills are now selling their mulch to other companies who are trying to meet alternative fuel government requirements. Even the top quality mulch has only 70% bark and the majority of mulch being spread today has only 30-40%.
- Age of shredded bark after processing – After the mulch is made aging is an important factor in quality. The natural decomposition will give mulch better and longer lasting color. It will also bond together and avoid washout issues in the bed.
- Degree of shredding- Some manufactures require double shredding and some do not. It is more a matter of the type of machine that is used. Smaller pieces will decompose faster and tend to look better on the landscape.
- Presence of stump and undesirable items- Certain types of tree/stump debris will off balance the percentage of bark. Stump debris has been known to cause a grey color as the mulch ages.
What should you do?
Require your contract to adhere to these three minimum standards:
1) Mulch to be 70% bark
2) Mulch not to have pieces of wood longer than 3” and wider than ¼”
3) Mulch not to have stump debris
What’s new on the market? Colored mulch is gaining popularity in the landscape industry for its durability and aesthetic quality! As an alternative, mulch with no bark and that is finely shred and has color added is being manufactured. It generally costs more but holds it’s color longer and can save on future mulch applications. This could be real savings for properties that have more than one mulch application per season.