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Winter Flower Gardens

flowers

For garden enthusiasts, winter is generally thought of as the “off season”. This is especially true for the gardener who delights in growing flowers. It is a common belief that winter flowers are only grown commercially and that a winter flower garden on a residential scale isn’t feasible.

It is true that in very cold climates, winter flowers are a rarity. Very few flowers are hardy enough to poke their way through frozen earth and snow. It should be stated, however, that there are many species of flower that can survive in “cool” conditions, and a few that can live in down right “cold” ones.

How Cold is too Cold?

Is the ground frozen? Then yes, it’s too cold. Next comes the tough one. Will the ground freeze again? If the answer is definitely “no”, then there are some flowers you can plant. It is, however, nearly impossible to say when the ground will stop freezing.

Shrubs

The easiest way to have a winter flower garden is to plant some very hardy shrubs. Now, in mid-winter, we’re lucky to get much color at all. So some suggested winter shrubs will have brightly colored berries, and a few will have actual flowers.

Witch hazel is one of the most common flowering shrubs. It is extremely hardy and will produce winter flowers in the months of December and January. Japanese pieris is another good choice and will produce flowers in the very late fall or early winter. In slightly milder climates, rosemary will bloom during winter months.

Holly, with its beautiful and festive berries, will add color to your garden. Callicarpa and photinia, related species of shrub, will produce bright purple and dark red berries, respectively, that can last all winter long.

Winter Flowering Plants

There are a few flowers that, though there are no guarantees, tend to do better than others in cold conditions. Helleborus, snow drops, and winter jasmine are very hardy and some of your best bets. Some roses and lilies are also quite tough. Iris, hollyhock, poppy, and carnation have been known to thrive in cold conditions as well.

Those looking for a great variety of blooms, however, should either stick to summer months or invest in a greenhouse. There are some greenhouses on the market that are very affordable and will make it possible to grow a vast array of different flowers no matter the season.

Admittedly, the amount of species of winter flower pales in comparison to the number of flowers that bloom in other seasons. Maybe that’s what makes them so special. Seeing flowers when the snow is still falling is a thrill even indoors. Imagining how hard those little blooms and berries have to work outside in the cold just to brighten your day makes their rarity almost uplifting.

 

Original article is on HomeAdvisor website here

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Enhanced Backyard

House backyard, retaining wall

Transblue can transform your backyard into anything you want! Fire-pit? Sure! Water feature? Yes, please! And throw stone stairs on top of that!

Just let us know what you dream about, and we will do it for you! Look at our new project and a beautiful result:

Fire-Pit, Water Feature and Flagstone

firepit, water feature, backyard

Stone Stairs

Stairs

 

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Checklist: Winter Yard Work

Frosted grass

Landscape and yardwork are usually the last thing on the minds of most homeowners in the dead of winter, but this is actually the ideal time to renovate the lawn and eliminate the brown spots and crab grass left over from last summer.

Lawn renovation

A lawn renovation starts with a thorough raking to open the ground and expose the soil so new seeds can germinate. Next, level the lawn by covering the lowest areas with new soil. Then, reseed the entire lawn if necessary, or simply patch certain areas as required.

To ensure germination, add a good fertilizer and cover the seeds with humus to protect them from hungry birds. Then wait about three or four weeks for the seeds to pop.

An advantage to doing this in the winter is that nature provides enough water to germinate the seeds, whereas it is necessary to sprinkle the areas during other times of the year.

Crab grass

At this time of year your grass is full of millions of crab grass seeds waiting to sprout in the spring. Therefore, you want to be ready to spray with a pre-emergent about the last week of February, just before the temperature starts to warm up.

However, you don’t want to apply pre-emergent any earlier than February, as it would kill new seeds that you have planted. Also, the chemicals are not be as effective in the cold weather.

Also, remember that you cannot apply pre-emergent yourself because it is a hazardous chemical which by law must be applied by licensed professionals.

Pruning

Now is the time to begin pruning your trees, and don’t forget about your roses, too. In order to improve the production of both fruit trees and rose bushes, you must prune before they start to bud.

You should also cut back overgrown bushes and trim non-fruit trees before they start to grow again.

Professional pruning consists of:

  • Clean from the inside out, removing crossing branches.
  • Thin branches so they will not become too heavy with fruit. Quality is more important than quantity.
  • Don’t forget to spray your fruit trees with dormant oil. You should apply dormant spray three times: around Thanksgiving, around Christmas, and the third application should come after pruning.

Flower beds

Now is a great time to clean out the flower beds, removing the fallen leaves and blossoms to avoid potential fungus and molds from growing.

Planting

Plant bare-root trees and roses before spring arrives. Now is when you will get the very best prices possible on new trees and bushes for your landscape.

Contact landscape pros

Finally, winter is the ideal time to contact a landscape contractor about updating, remodeling, or totally reinstalling your yard.

Homeowners typically wait until spring to make their initial calls, only to find that most quality landscapers are busy and even scheduled ahead by March. Plan ahead to get your best service and prices of the year.

 

Original article was taken from HomeAdviser

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Checklist: Winter Landscaping Tips

Frosted grass

Winter season doesn’t mean that you don’t have to think about landscape. Here is few tips about winter landscaping from Home Advisor:

While most landscaping tips are concerned with tending plants during the growing season, winter landscaping is every bit as important if you want to have a great-looking lawn and healthy, vibrant plants. With the arrival of fall and cold weather, it is essential to complete a few projects to keep your landscaping protected during the dormant months. Prepare shrubs, trees and grass now, and they will return healthy in the spring and leave you with a neat, well-tended winter landscape.

Winter Landscapes: Preparing Your Lawn

Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Now is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn. Feeding the lawn early in autumn will give the roots a boost before winter arrives. A second feeding in late October will keep it winterized and strong in the freezing weather.

If your lawn has some bare patches, early autumn is a perfect time to install sod or reseed. Adding sod gives you an instantly perfect lawn that will be a pleasure when the warm weather returns. To firmly establish new sod, keep it moist for the first week after it is laid. After the first week, it can be watered as needed. Avoid having sod laid in hot, dry weather, as it will be hard for the roots to establish.

Be sure the sod contains varieties of grass that are indigenous to your region. The sod should not look dry and should be sitting on a pallet no longer than two days. It should not be warm to the touch. You can eliminate a lot of uncertainty by buying sod from a reputable grower. For types and average pricing, see our sod price guide.

Winter Landscaping Tips for Pruning Shrubs and Hedges

Pruning is very important to encourage healthy growth in spring. Most pruning should be done after the leaves turn, indicating that the plant is dormant. A good rule of thumb is to prune spring blooming shrubs immediately after flowering and to prune summer blooming shrubs in the dormant season. Also, pruning late in the growing season will encourage new growth that will be damaged by frost.

When pruning, use caution to make a good cut at a slight angle about 1/4 inch from the branch. You may want to hire a professional gardener to help with this delicate task.

Some shrubs need to be wrapped with burlap to protect them from frost. If you have experienced frost damage in the past, make sure to protect these plants before the temperature dips down. Spread a layer of mulch around the base of the plants to provide insulation for the winter. Wait until spring to fertilize shrubs and trees.

Winter Landscaping Tips for Trees

Like most of the plants in your yard, trees need special care. It is important to keep tree limbs away from power lines and away from the roof of your house. Branches can easily pull down gutters or cause other costly damage if they are hanging over your house.

When planning to prune trees, consult with a professional arborist. He or she will know the best method for your species of trees and the correct time of year for pruning. A professional arborist will also know how to safely remove any troublesome branches without causing damage to the tree. Typically, arbotris prune trees early autumn or late spring.

Preparing Landscape Fixtures for Winter

Winter landscapes are made up not only of plant-life, but of many other objects, as well. Just like the plants, however, these fixtures often require special care to weather the cold. Walkways and patios can take a beating in cold weather. Shifts in temperature and humidity can cause concrete and brick to heave and settle unevenly. Keeping them free of water build up and debris will reduce the chances of winter damage. If you noticed water or ice accumulation last winter, take steps now to provide proper drainage. This can be as simple as adding a small gravel drainage channel next to a walkway or fixing a gutter that drips onto steps.

Having a professional pool cleaning company winterize your swimming pool is essential. Drain the water and cover the pool to keep out leaves and animals. In winter, it is not uncommon for deer or other wildlife to walk over pool covers, so choose the strongest cover you can afford.

Hot tubs and spas will be a welcome treat in the cool weather. Make sure the heater and pump are functioning properly. If not handled correctly, water could freeze in the pump, pipes, or the hot tub itself, causing irreparable damage.

 

Link for the original article is here
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Best Practices Checklist for Managing Snow & Ice, Vol 2

snow plowing trucks

• Communication, documentation and verification.
In this step, you document your snow removal process using a site visit or work completion logs. It’s helpful to use technology to help track your snow removal process such as an electronic reporting system. Developing a communications system such as a phone tree, electronic notification, etc. also helps get the word out about the condition of your facility during a snow event.

• Certification/standards and education.
To ensure that those managing your snow removal process are up to date on the newest information, we suggest you offer training and educational opportunities.

• Expertise and professionalism.
SIMA suggests that the manager/foreman assigned to manage your snow and ice removal process has five or more years of field experience and the staff assigned to perform work on your site has two or more years of field experience as a best practice.

Following these tips will help ensure that your snow removal process planning goes smoothly for the next snow season.

Original article: http://www.cleanlink.com/news/article/Best-Practices-Checklist-for-Managing-Snow-And-Ice–15357
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Best Practices Checklist for Managing Snow & Ice, Vol 1

Winter is still here, so we continue with more information about snow removal and ice management.

As the snow season begins to wind down, you may be looking to improve your snow and ice management process. To help you do that, the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) has published its first version of the SIMA’s Best Practices Checklist for Managing Snow & Ice. This checklist provides a standard method of benchmarking your snow and ice management plans.

Seven sections of the best practices checklist:

• Environmental health, safety and risk management.
In this first step to a solid snow and ice removal plan, be sure to verify insurance liability coverage, making sure that any outsourced services have a policy that includes a “snow rider.” A basic site engineering plan needs to include items such as safe snow stacking, steps to prevent melting/refreezing, a safety and training program, a parking lot and sidewalk clearing process, and knowledge of salt’s impact on the area around the facility.

• Estimating, planning and cost-effectiveness.
This step includes shoring up a snow site engineering plan and verifying a provider’s estimating process. Finally, it entails understanding the capacity needed to consistently clear the site from ice and snow, especially during major or drastic winter events.

• Execution and responsiveness.
Are you really prepared for the snow removal season? Do you have the proper resources allocated related to the timing of snow removal and identifying key areas that need to be serviced first? Do you have a two-week inventory of a product that helps control ice? Remember, you need a variety of ice removal products due to different products working in varying temperatures. You also want to consider planned reserve equipment and estimating your labor needs for snow and ice removal in your facility.

• Quality of service.
In this step, your process or provider should identify priority snow removal areas such as handicap zones and fire hydrants. You need to use a systematic site inspection process, and ensure that you have one person managing your snow removal process onsite for consistent results.

Original article: http://www.cleanlink.com/news/article/Best-Practices-Checklist-for-Managing-Snow-And-Ice–15357
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Shoveling safety

During the winter many people has to shovel their own properties, so let’s talk a little bit about shoveling safety. Safety first, after all!

The proof is in the details, and your shovel crews play a key role in making sure your snow and ice management service plan is executed properly. Unfortunately, their work must be completed in less than ideal conditions, open to the elements and other hazards. Train your teams on the following five tips to help keep them safe:
Lifting: Stretch before beginning operations to avoid injury. Use proper lifting and clearing techniques that use the legs and not the back.
PPE: Protection from the cold is essential. Ensure crews are outfitted with the proper personal protective equipment, including insulated boots and gloves, layers of warm clothes, waterproof jackets, socks that wick moisture and hats. Reflective clothing should be worn to alert drivers to their presence in low visibility conditions. Safety glasses and ear protection should be used if power equipment is being used.
Look down: Uneven surfaces hidden under snow can be a trip and fall hazard and can also catch the edge of a shovel causing injury.
Look up: Be cautious of low-hanging branches, signs or structures that could impede operations. In addition, beware of falling snow or ice from rooftops and awnings.

Traffic: When clearing sidewalks, face oncoming traffic whenever possible.

This shoveling safety tips are taken from SIMA website. Article can be found here: https://www.sima.org/resource/library/newsdetails/2018/01/05/shoveling-safety

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Salt smart: Sustainable solutions – Part 2

snow plowing trucks

Let’s continue talking about salt and salt smart liquid technologies.

The big picture

The private snow and ice industry is taking notice, aware that what equates to voluntary compliance today may eventually lead to regulation. Current estimates put the cost to taxpayers at about $1,800 per ton of salt spread to repair damages to infrastructure, ecosystems and foliage. As a result, Minnesota and New Hampshire are two of a growing number of states that have implemented winter maintenance certification programs for public and private sector providers seeking to adopt more efficient and sustainable best management practices.
These are not without their benefits. Under a new law enacted by New Hampshire in 2013 (RSA 489-C) aimed at reducing chlorides in the watersheds along the I-93 corridor: “Any business owner who contracts for snowplowing and deicing with a [Green Snow Pro] ‘certified’ salt applicator, has liability protection from damages arising from hazards caused solely by snow or ice.” Similar protection is afforded to the contractor who obtains the certification.
In the fall of 2015, a Salt Summit, sponsored by The S.A.V.E. Lake George Partnership in upstate New York, drew widespread support from both public and private sectors in a combined effort to dramatically reverse the rising chloride levels threatening the lake.

Most recently, the crisis of lead tainted water in Flint, Michigan has drawn national attention to this issue. An article in the Detroit News on January 8, 2016 put the estimated cost of replacing infrastructure damaged by the corrosive Flint River water of upwards of $1.5 billion. At present, the public health impacts are still immeasurable.

Multiple sources point to the runoff from road salts used in winter services as a probable cause for the increased chloride levels in the river. Experts assessing the situation note that chloride levels in many rivers and streams in northern Snowbelt urban areas have doubled in the past 20 years and warn that municipalities that pull their water from inland lakes and rivers are increasingly at risk of similar problems unless more sustainable practices are adopted.

Salt smart liquid technologies deliver strategic benefits

In this climate, forward thinking service providers are also embracing the potential ROI to be gained by acquiring cutting-edge liquid technologies, reported to reduce salt usage up to 75% when anti-icing and up to 30% when deicing with pre-wet granular deicers.

Innovative snowfighters realize that, regardless of the price and availability of salt, salt smart liquid snow and ice control strategies outperform traditional methods, and provide improved safety and sustainable outcomes for their customers…at a lower cost. Quite simply, liquids provide strategic advantages that new age snowfighters can no longer do without.

SnowEx | www.snowexproducts.com
By Pam Buckley, Sustainability Manager, Douglas Dynamics

You can find the whole article here: https://www.sima.org/resource/library/newsdetails/2017/11/01/salt-smart-sustainable-solutions-strategic-advantages