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, unlike many other products that come with chemical content. Most of these products were reported for being harmful; approaching Lee Friedland is the solution in such cases to ensure justice.

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 ( , 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.

Blade Runners is a landscape company with whom we have had the pleasure of working with for a number of years in various commercial sites that we have managed. We have found Blade Runners to be extremely responsive, professional, and reliable to work with and I highly recommend them for any landscaping or snow removal services.

Tim Kirchner
Northern Virginia Management

Are you worried about a leaning tree on your property? Is there a tree that is looking old and rotten? Blade Runners uses a progressive tool called a resistograph! By using this tool you can make the right plan of action and also protect yourself from a liability standpoint. This can also be sued to assess timber walls , fences and other wood structures.

The resistograph is an instrument that detects decay and cavities in trees and timber. Through resistograph technology, an arborist is able to detect wood decay, stages of rot, hollow areas, cracks and ring structure. The resistograph is an ideal device for estimating tree stability and longevity. The resistograph is based on a drilling resistance measuring method developed by Frank Rinn in Heidelberg, Germany.

As the micro drill enters the tree, the resistance of the wood changes the rotation speed of the drill. These variations are translated into a graph, which looks a lot like an EKG print out. The tiny drilling hole closes itself up without any damage to the tree.

“This winter’s snow proved to be a great burden not only on homeowners but on the contractors servicing those homeowners. Blade Runners did an outstanding job of providing snow removal and sanding to the communities they served. They were responsive to some unrealistic homeowner requests and performed better than most other contractors I work with.”

Carl Wallen
Armstrong Management

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 but if ou have them along with other invaders contact the termite and bed bug exterminator But remember 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 which needs to be fight against by the bed bug treatment from the exterminators.
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. James Catchings says The Critter Squad squirrel removal services have been increasing with the birthing season of squirrels approaching. Catchings says squirrels have 2 birthing seasons per year and squirrels in the attic aren’t shy about letting you know they are present. “Squirrel damages are a major problem for homeowners”.

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.

As a Community Manager of nine properties throughout Virginia and Maryland, Blade Runners provides service to four (4) of these properties. I can honestly say that you have provided excellent service, excellent response times and everyone I have had to deal with has been wonderful to work with. A few of my properties have had severe landscaping problems. My Account Manager, Terry Turner, has offered many ideas to assist in these problems.

I would recommend Blade Runners to anyone wanting high quality, quick response and overall high work integrity. I look forward to many years of working with you and your highly competent team.

Diana Fritts Community Manager
Loudoun Management Associates

Dear Blade Runners…
especially to EDWIN LORENO

it is now after noon… on the day I hit the metal drainage cover on my exit from Indian Ridge…
I heard the bad noise, as did golfers and was out of my car bemoaning my lack of attention and the resulting damage…sigh

and, along came Edwin Lorenzo!!! SO VERY nice to me… so patient and caring..
he let me complain and moan and went right about sympathizing with me…
lamenting the sharp metal cover..(the regular curb would not have done any damage)
and went straight work helping me… (in fact, basically took over for me…) to change my tire..
how very very wonderful and thoughtful and caring..

I thank you, so much, Edwin…
I appreciate your time and help, Edwin…
and, I want Blade Runners to know how much I continue to appreciate your efforts on our behalf …
and today…
MY DILEMA made ever so much less terrible because YOU CARED to stop and help me!!!!

H Katharine Hunter

Hi Terry,

I just want to say a HUGE thank you for all the weeding your guys did in my yard on Friday. I’ve been planting some ferns and extra hostas hoping they will hold the soil around the edges of the yard, and to give it some interest until we figure out our master plan for the community. I was just flabbergasted when I saw them working on it, so I can’t say thank you enough.

I want you to know that there are plenty of us who appreciate all you and your crews do. There

But I just wanted you to know that I’m happy to compliment you on all the good work you do. Chris had seen the pond area as he walks his big Lab every day but I haven’t been over there yet, but will just as soon as I can.

Thanks again and have a great week, and be sure to pass on the compliments when you can – I’d like to the crews to know we say thank you -good job!

Suzanne Wolfe
Landscape commitee
Woodwinds Condo Assocaition.
Reston VA

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