Archive for the ‘News Letter’ Category
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!
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.
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
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.
Many people are naturally concerned about the products lawn care companies use on the landscape. This simple entry is not designed to give you all the answers. It is to point out the level of danger or toxicity as they relate to common household products.
Did you now that each chemical has a measured LD50 rating? See the definition below
In toxicology, the median lethal dose, LD50 (abbreviation for “Lethal Dose, 50%”), LC50 (Lethal Concentration, 50%) is the dose required to kill half the members of a tested population. LD50 figures are frequently used as a general indicator of a substance’s acute toxicity. The test was created by J.W. Trevan in 1927. The concept, and calculation of the median lethal dose for comparison purposes, is widely used.
Generally the lower the score the higher the danger of the product. See below a sample list of standard landscape products and the LD50 score. Below find some sample household products for comparison.
Products used by landscapers LD50 score Use
2-4-D (Ld score of 700) Used for controlling turf weeds
Barricade (Ld score of 5000) Used to prevent crabgrass
Manage (Ld score of 1287) Used for controlling turf weeds
merit[imidicloprid] (Ld score of 1858) Used to control insect pests in the landscape
orthene[acephate] (Ld score of 1447) Used to control insect pests in the landscape
Roundup[glyphosate] (Ld score of 5600) Used to kill weeds in the pavement
Sevin[carbaryl (Ld score of 307) Used to control insect pests in the landscape
talstar[bifenthrin] (Ld score of 623) Used to control insect pests in the landscape
Household and other products for comparison LD50 score Use
Arsenic (Ld score of 15) Hopefully not used in your home but a basis for comparison
Aspirin (Ld score of 1240)
CAFFEINE (Ld score of 192) Starbucks! We drink this!
Cyanide (Ld score of 6) Hopefully not used in your home but a basis for comparison
DDT (Ld score of 87) Hopefully not used in your home but a basis for comparison
Deet (Ld score of 1800) Used in most insect repellants we spray this on our skin!
Frontline[flea/tick] (Ld score of 2995) We apply this to our pets!
Lysol (Ld score of 500) Clean Clean here, rub rub there
Nicotine (Ld score of 50) No need to comment on this one
Oil (Ld score of 5000) We handle this with our cars
Revolution[flea/tick] (Ld score of 1600) We apply this to our pets!
Salt (Ld score of 3300) Where would we be without this
Tilex (Ld score of 5000) Mold and mildew be gone
Toilet Cleaner (Ld score of 1850) Keep that bowl tidy!
The proper and safe application of landscape products is very important. Hopefully you can see from this chart, that the products used are no worse that the ones you use at home.
Are you confused about playground safety surfaces? Find out what type of material to use on your tot lot.
Year’s ago, simple wood chips would suffice for tot lot surfaces; however, the surfacing under and around playground equipment is one of the most important factors in reducing the likelihood of injuries. A fall onto a shock absorbing surface is less likely to cause a serious injury.
What’s the best shock absorbing surface? Engineered wood fiber (EWF)
Engineered wood fiber (EWF) is a wood product that may look similar in appearance to shredded mulch, but EWF products are designed specifically for use as a playground safety surface. Tested thoroughly by the American Society for Testing and Material’s Standards (ASTM), these products are soft enough to limit injuries from falls, yet firm and stable enough for wheelchair maneuverability, meeting the requirements of the ADA. This product, also known as wood rug or wood carpet, is made out of wood (not bark). It is 100% natural and no chemicals.
Why should you use this EWF product on your tot lot? In a word, liability.
Using EWF products that are ASTM certified and meet ADA specifications limit your exposure to liability issues and create a safer environment.
Where do you find this EWF product? These are landscape materials, so most landscape supply companies should stock them; however they must be certified as a safety surface. You want to be sure the supplier is using a certified product; and your contractor is spreading a certified product.
Do you have timbers around your tot lots? Years ago, wooden landscape timbers were state of the art. Today, safety is a primary concern. Consider using plastic landscape boarders, as they may be a better alternative. We recommend them for the following reasons:
• Safety guidelines require EWF materials to be installed at a depth of 12” and a compressed depth of 9” for an acceptable shock absorbing surface
• Plastic landscape boarders allow for the 12” depth and they will help keep your playground surfacing in place
• They are a no-maintenance alternative to wood
• They’re made from recycled plastic
We can provide you with a quote.
How do I know if my tot lot is safe? The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has developed a playground safety handbook that provides a wealth of information. Additionally, the handbook has a suggested general maintenance checklist and routine inspection procedure to help you assess the safety of your tot lot.
Organic program alternative:
It would be terrific to have a fully organic fertilization and weed control program that was as effective as the traditional approach using synthetic chemical weed control products. Unfortunately there are no proven organic products that kill weeds after they emerge. Corn Gluten can be effective for the pre-emergence control of crabgrass and some broadleaf weeds, please see detailed information below regarding *corn gluten.
*Information regarding Corn Gluten:
Corn gluten is a by-product of wet milling process to make cornstarch. It is an animal feed for cattle, poultry, other livestock, fish and some dog foods. It also contains naturally occurring substances, which inhibit the growth of seed’s tiny feeder roots by causing a break down in the cell wall. The seedlings struggle to get enough moisture, which causes them to die before they ever have a chance to take hold. When used as directed, corn gluten acts as a preemergent natural herbicide that will not harm beneficial insects, soil organisms, pond or stream life. It is also safe around pets and children.
Since corn gluten kills only the roots of sprouting seeds, it can be used around transplants and established vegetables, flowers, fruit, shrubs and lawns. It can be used even up to the day of harvest. Once vegetable or flower seedlings have true leaves, it is then safe to apply corn gluten.
Corn gluten has another benefit. It is 10% nitrogen by weight in a slow release form. As a 10-0-0 fertilizer it can inhibit weed germination and feed your lawn and garden nitrogen. (Additional supplements of phosphorous and potassium may be needed, based on a soil test.)
The only potential hazard that is documented so far is potential allergic reaction from inhalation of dust with certain individuals.
Effectiveness of corn Gluten
• Corn gluten works on seeds not established plants. It will not kill a dandelion plant.
• It has reduced crabgrass by 86% the first year and 98% the second year provided recommended rates are applied in both spring and fall. Dandelion infestations were reduced 100% in plots treated for 4 years in spring and fall.
• Plants tested to date for susceptibility = 23 and include: barnyard grass, smooth crabgrass, curly dock, green & yellow, black nightshade, orchard grass, shattercane, purslane, wooly cupgrass, giant foxtail, lambsquarters, buckhorn, quackgrass, velvetleaf, annual bluegrass, dandelions, creeping bentgrass, black medic, redroot pigweed, catchweed bedstraw, & other common garden weeds.
• Corn gluten lasts 5-6 weeks. There is no carryover. After this time seeds can be planted in treated areas without being effected.
The Green Guardian (http://www.greenerpast.com/tips.html) , offers a liquid application that employs the active ingrediante extract from corngluten along with sugar beet extract that they believe provides post emergent control. I have spoken with some current users who confirm the product is effective. While I cannot offer personal assurance at this time, there is enough evidence to try the program as an organic alternative.
Our organic program is a coordinated effort that employs not only different products, but alternative maintenance practice to bring about desired results while not using conventional control methods. It should be understood that this program will not produce the same results of conventional programs. It is likely that you will have unwanted weed populations in the turf. However, there will be other benefits for the overall health of the turf to include a deeper root system and a greener color.
Change in maintenance and product practice:
Mowing height: The height should be raised an additional inch to 3 ½” in spring and 4” in the summer. This can leave a shaggy appearance from time to time.
Mowing frequency: We would need to mow the property more frequently (an additional 7 mowings per season) to maintain an acceptable appearance and reduce thatch issues.
Increase in aeration: There would be a spring and fall aeration to the property.
Liming: Would become an annual and integrated part of the program.
Seeding: Would become an annual and integrated part of the program.
Application 1 14-0-5 March
Application 2 Aeration ,14-0-5 April
Application 3 14-0-5 May
Application 4 5-0-3 June
Application 5 Liming, and 5-0-3 July
Application 6 5-0-3 Aug
Application 7 14-0-5 ,Aeration,Seeding Sep/Oct
Application 8 14-0-5 Nov
Are you worried about the herbicides and pesticides being applied to your property? Below find listed the organizations and agencies that can help you. In addition to this Blade Runners has a pesticide safety handbook, please contact us if you would like a copy.
Poison Control Center 1800 492-2414 This is a toll free emergency number operating 24 hrs a day for questions on treatment of poison from any cause, including pesticides.
Chemtrec 1800 424-9300 This is a 24 hrs emergency hotline for questions dealing with chemical spills.
Animal Poison Control Center 1 217 337-5030 This number is operated 24 hrs a day by the University of Illinois as an emergency hotline.
National Pesticide Telecom 1800 858-7378 This Number is a free service operating Monday through Friday 9:30 AM until 7:30 PM EST. It may be called by non-professionals. This number provides non-emergency information on product chemistry, protective equipment, safety, health and environmental effects. It is founded by the EPA and operated by Oregon State University.
Chemical Manufactures of America—1800 622-8200 This number may be called by non-professionals Monday through Friday 8: AM until 9:00 PM EST. CMA provides non-emergency safely and health information on many chemicals including but not limited to pesticides.
The Safety Drinking Water Hotline—1800 426-4791 This line is available to answer questions concerning the Safe Drinking Water Act.
It is time to put to rest the old wives’ tale that if you mulch the landscape adjacent to your house, you’ll have termites. There is a right and wrong way to mulch, and there are many factors involved that will determine whether or not you will have a termite infestation. Simply having mulch there will not mean you will have termites.
Why do we use mulch? Mulch is used to conserve soil moisture, keep down weeds, reduce the soil temperature and provide an attractive covering. For many gardeners and landscape companies, spreading mulch on garden beds is as much the official start of spring as our Tidal Basin cherry blossoms.
Homeowners can limit termite activity by mulching properly. Apply no more than 2-3 inches of mulch to any area. This allows the mulch to dry out regularly, creating a dry environment that termites dislike. You can even mulch up to the foundation of your home if you limit the depth to less than 3 inches.
Although it is not believed that woodchips draw termites to a location, they may create access for an existing termite population if woodchips are placed against the foundation. A 6 inch buffer around the base of the house with nonwhite inorganic mulch will reduce the likelihood of termites invading the foundation.
If you use a landscape contractor, make sure they are using top quality mulch and are limiting the mulch to 2-3 inches. The high grade mulch we use has been decomposing for over 3 months at such high temperatures that termites would not survive. Blade Runners also makes sure that excess mulch is removed and each spring mulch beds are raked allowing all areas of the mulch to dry. Also, when watering plants, the water should be directed to the roots of the plants and not to the entire mulch bed.
Ultimately, termites do eat wood and you should make sure that your house base is termite free before putting any wood products adjacent to it. This is simply good sense and an annual inspection is always advised. What we can guarantee is that we are not bringing termites to your property and we apply mulch materials correctly to not encourage any termite population.
What about this termite we’ve read so much about imported from Louisiana? The termite in question is the Formosan termite, imported years ago from China. This termite does cause severe devastation to homes in the southern United States. However, the pest is not found in nature above the 35th parallel — roughly, north of Charlotte — and the ability of a colony to survive the shredding process of mulch, or the 130-degree heat generated in the shrink-wrapped pallet of bagged mulch, makes its spread improbable.
In addition, wood debris does not even leave Louisiana, as there has been a long-standing quarantine in the state for the 12 infested parishes. This was put into place to help protect against Formosan termites being accidentally spread. No wood or cellulose materials may be moved out of these quarantine areas without Louisiana Agriculture Department approval, including all materials from Katrina cleanup efforts. If any type of wood debris is moved out of the quarantine area, it is being done illegally.
For more information on this topic or other related topics, contact your Blade Runners representative. We’re here to give you the most up to date information available.
Proper Pruning for the Pragmatic Practitioner
I Creating an Objective: The first order of business with regards to pruning is without a doubt to “Create a Pruning Objective”. Some of the most common objectives are listed as examples below.
To improve structure/health : Improve health by establishing a structural pruning program to young trees 15’ or less on the property. Often times these trees are overlooked in the landscape but, how often have you encountered a problem that could have been avoided if it would have been addressed 20 years ago. Young trees are like children. This is the optimal window of opportunity to influence their development at maturity. Structural pruning of young trees is the best way to ensure and improve the serviceable lifespan of trees on your property.
To 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.
To 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.
To reduce risk of failure- Risk of tree failure can be reduced by identifying and rectifying hazard conditions such as included 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 and
II 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 using 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- Eliminating deadwood is an essential maintenance practice for trees. Dead limbs exceeding 1″ in caliper will be removed in order to eliminate a possible hazard to underlying targets. Appropriate pruning cuts will be performed to allow the tree to compartmentalize the wound from insects or diseases and to prevent future inoculations.
Crown Clean- A light pruning of thinning or lateral cuts to selectively remove dead, broken, crossing, injured, co-dominant or diseased branches. This type of pruning is done to reduce the risk of branches falling from the tree and to reduce the movement of decay, insects, and diseases from dead or dying branches into the rest of the tree. It can be performed on trees of any age but, is most commonly practiced on medium aged or mature trees. Dead branches less than 1″ in diameter are not included.
Crown Thinning- Selective removal of live branches to reduce crown density. Crown Thinning increases the penetration of light through the canopy, increases air flow circulation and reduces wind resistance in the crown.
Crown Reduction- Lateral or drop-crotch cuts to reduce the breadth of the canopy or decrease the height and/or breadth of a tree. This type of pruning is done to reduce the risk of structural failure or to prevent encroachment of vegetation into undesirable areas such as nearby buildings, parking lots, lamp posts, utility lines or other structures where clearance is desired.
Crown Elevation- Selective removal of branches to provide vertical clearance above walkways, vehicles, signs, streets and vistas.
Structural Pruning- Removal of live branches to establish dominant central leader, influence spacing, growth rate, strength of attachment and size of branches. Structural pruning is often performed to young or medium-aged trees to encourage trunk taper and improve branch arrangement in order to increase serviceable lifespan of tree.
When encouraging the healthy growth of your trees and plants it is important for you or your contractor to follow the American National Standards 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 is the best time to prune each specific plant.
We welcome all calls to your Blade Runners Account Manager should you have any questions!