Category Archives: Terraplay

Smart Irrigation Month

Complementing Your Smart Irrigation System with Sustainable Solutions

There are plenty of additional considerations you can explore to complement your smart irrigation system and contribute toward a truly sustainable landscape.

Green walls. A vertical, vegetative “living wall,” a green wall can be freestanding or part of a building and can help reduce the overall temperature of the building, improve the aesthetics and can even aid in water reuse, purification and retention.Soil testing. Submit a soil sample to a testing laboratory for an inexpensive report explaining its balance of nutrients, which will assist with selecting the appropriate fertilizer and application rate.

Aerification, amendments and mulch. Implementing a regular aerification schedule and base layer of organic matter or calcined clay products will aid in water and nutrient retention and allow deeper infiltration into the soil profile to promote deeper root growth and help plants resist disease and better withstand drought conditions.

Slow-release fertilizer. The use of coated, slow-release fertilizers, which have lower salt indexes than other quickly-available nitrogen fertilizers, means less watering when compared to their non-coated counterpart products.

Fertilizer injection systems (fertigation). Fertigation, derived from the combination of fertilization and irrigation, allows you to fertilize and irrigate a section of turf in one simple step, making it easier for nutrients to infiltrate plant root zones and eliminating the need for watering above and beyond the irrigation system’s scheduled program run time.

Water Wisely

Today’s irrigation systems include sophisticated controllers that allow you to easily adjust watering schedules to fit different needs.

  • Get in the zone. Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system to account for type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, and soil in that section. Different zones will almost always need different watering schedules.
  • Consider soil type. Type of soil determines how quickly water can be absorbed without runoff. Watering more than soil can absorb causes runoff and waste.
  • Don’t send water down the drain. Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or buildings.
  • Water only when needed. Saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.
  • Water at the best time. Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool — typically between the evening and early morning.
  • Water more often for shorter periods. For example, setting your system to run for three, 5-minute intervals lets soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, reducing runoff.
  • Adapt watering to the season. Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly based on seasonal weather conditions. Or invest in a smart controller so your system can make these changes automatically.

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. Learn more at www.smartirrigationmonth.org.Provided for the Irrigation Association by Ewing Irrigation Products, Inc.

James Haley

Cell 480-444-8776
TerraPro, Inc.
4856 E. Baseline Rd. #104
Mesa, AZ 85206
james@terraproaz.com
Office 480-355-1393
Fax 480-452-0347

CAI Educated Business Partner

Congratulations to James Haley on earning the CAI Educated Business Partner distinction!

Posted on July 1, 2013

Jim ProfileJuly 1, 2013 (Phoenix, AZ) James Haley of Terrapro Landscape Maintenance, a provider of Landscape Maintenance services for association management firms has recently achieved the distinguished ‘Educated Business Partner’ status; awarded through the Business Partner Essentials Program of CAI (Community Associations Institute).

James Haley now joins an elite group of professionals nationwide who have successfully completed the two part Business Partner Essentials course and assessment. This course is designed to promote better understanding of community associations and the many types of businesses serving them. The course material covers a wide range of topics including the history of associations, the bid process, and the ethics of doing business with an association. Those successfully completing the course and examination achieve the recognition of CAI Educated Business Partner.

CAI is an association of 31,000 members specifically created by industry leaders to build better communities. Please visit here to learn more about Business Partner Essentials.

Saving Money with Sustainable Landscape

Saving Money with Sustainable Landscapes

By Michael Chaplinksy, Turf Feeding Systems

Plants need less water than you think when they live in harmony with soil biology.

The segment of the green industry that maintains turfgrass, sports fields and large greenscapes has seen many really significant changes over the past 20 years. Even so, for the most part, we’re doing the same thing, applying chemical fertilizers and overwatering, over and over again, but expecting different results. This is the definition of insanity, according to Albert Einstein.

However, there is a simple, cost-effective method that landscape professionals on the cutting edge are starting to use. It’s called sustainable landscaping, and it doesn’t take a genius to do it.

What is sustainable landscaping? Definitions vary, but in general, it means landscape practices that are in harmony with nature and the local climate, requiring minimal inputs. Sustainable landscape practices can reduce water use by up to 50 percent. They can cut labor costs and the need for chemical fertilizers. The end result is better soils and healthier, more disease-resistant plant material.

Turfgrass managers who have instituted sustainable practices are noting significant results. Focusing on soil and plant health, this method is an efficient management program for any facility or landscape. Maintaining soil nutrition is just as important as any other turfgrass maintenance task, such as mowing or aeration.

The first thing a facility turf manager or maintenance contractor who wants to begin a sustainable landscaping program should do is a bioassay of the soil. This test will evaluate its overall health, its biology and biodiversity. It will also find any pathogens that might be in it. If amendments are needed, they can then be applied by fertigation. This is simply the process of applying quality liquid nutrients through the irrigation system.

But that’s not the goal, that’s just the start. What we’re seeking is a relatively self-sustaining biosphere in the soil that replicates what nature does by itself.

Soil feeds plants. Dying plants feed soil, which in turn feeds plants. This cyclical, symbiotic process has been enacted by nature for millions of years. In jungles, grasslands, forests and other native areas untouched by humans, plants are sustained by this relationship between the soil, the plants and the trees. No one feeds the plants chemical fertilizers out in nature, yet somehow they thrive. Nature does a better job of nourishing plants than we ever could.

Grasses turn over their roots every two to three years, leaving the soil with thousands of pounds of dead roots to decompose. In a soil rich in biodiversity, the dead roots and other organic matter will be converted to organic humus particles. Leaving the roots there to decay naturally, instead of removing them, is like tilling in rich potting soil, only cheaper and more effective.

As soil health improves, it becomes more nutrient-efficient and needs less fertilizer and water. Organic humus particles have great storage capacity. Humus-rich soil becomes a very efficient biological dynamo that will attract, hold and release water and nutrients at a rate ten times higher than clay soil. It increases the efficiency of any mineral or synthetic fertilizers that may then be applied.

This process also frees up nutrients such as phosphorus, iron and boron that are trapped in the soil but unavailable to the plants. They only need to be released so the plants can uptake them.

Roots are where a plant stores water and nutrients. The healthier the soil, the deeper and denser the roots will be. A plant with a good root system is a more efficient plant, one that needs less water— up to 30 percent less in some cases.

The result is higher quality turfgrass.

Plants in soil rich in probiotics will not be stressed by the growth process. They’ll have thicker cell walls and be more disease-resistant, reducing the need for chemicals. Although sustainable practices may not eliminate the need for chemicals entirely, it can reduce their usage to a much lower level, saving money.

Of course, even with sustainable practices, other factors may interfere with soil health. There are many landscapes that have a very high pH, because of bicarbonates in the water or soil. If the pH is too high, nutrients will be unavailable to the grass and will go to waste. Applying sulfur or gypsum as a buffering agent is a simple, low-cost solution to this problem.

Sodium is another concern. Landscapes and sports fields located in coastal areas can suffer a buildup of sodium, especially in clay soils. Too much salt is toxic to plants. Unfortunately, it can’t be flushed by rain and the more it’s irrigated, the more damage is done. Once grass is poisoned with sodium, it’s like irrigating with seawater.

Fortunately, fertigation with organic additives like humic acid and organic enzymes has had great success on many sodium-tainted landscapes. This method should be applied first as a treatment and continued as a maintenance practice.

The overuse of chemicals has made many soils sterile. Beneficial bacteria is killed along with the bad. Some groundskeepers want to keep their soils that way so they don’t have to worry about disease. But when soils are brought back to life and made biologically active, the plants they feed are naturally resistant to disease. If you need evidence of this, take a look at the native areas around your sports field or landscape. Do you see any diseased plants there?

By bringing nature into your management practices, you’re starting up a biological engine that will never stop running. This engine will create stronger, better, more disease-resistant plants and grasses that use water and nutrients more efficiently. Your landscapes and fields will look better, be healthier and cost less to keep that way.

A new market is being created to promote and support sustainable landscapes. Across diverse parts of the country, experienced professionals are leaving the traditional landscape maintenance business and creating a new service industry.

This natural cycle is the agronomic engine that feeds plants all over our planet, and it depends on healthy soil.
The future of agriculture and all areas of agronomy rely on growing and managing healthy plants. Just as physicians promote a healthy, disease-resistant body for their patients, healthy soil is the important foundation for a healthy plant.

James Haley

Cell 480-444-8776
TerraPro, Inc.
4856 E. Baseline Rd. #104
Mesa, AZ 85206
james@terraproaz.com
Office 480-355-1393
Fax 480-452-0347

Arizona Cicadas

Insects We See and Hear in the Summer Months
Desert Cicada

These insects are commonly heard in the summer buzzing or singing in trees. Cicadas are 1-1/2 to 2 inches long with thick bodies and bulging eyes. The most common species in lower elevations of Arizona is the Apache cicada, which is dark-colored with a pale tan band just behind the head. The adult males produce the loud, shrill noise to attract females. The male Cicada may be the loudest insect known to man, their shrill can be heard as far away as 400 yards. Cicadas are not harmful to humans in any way. They do not bite or carry diseases. The cicadas spend most of their lives as immature’s, feeding underground on the roots of trees or other perennials. The immature’s move out of the soil during summer evenings, starting in June about Father’s Day. They leave behind holes about one half inch in diameter. They crawl up nearby tree trunks, plants or buildings and cling there. If you watch, eventually the back of the nymph begins to split open and the adult winged cicada emerges. Homeowners often find the leftover skins attached to foundations or trees. Cicada adults live three to four weeks. After mating, the female cuts open twigs with her saw-like egg-laying apparatus, and deposits her eggs in the slits. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs drop to the ground and burrow into the soil in search of food.

The species of cicada found in Arizona finish their life cycles in two or three years. There is one species found east of the Mississippi, however, called the 17-year cicada. The immature’s of this species stay underground, feeding away on tree roots, for 17 years! Then, using some clue that is not yet well understood, all the adults come out at the same time to mate and lay eggs for the next generation

Cicada Ambience on the Peavine Trail: http://youtu.be/ciWORJjayVE via @YouTube

Terrapro June Watering

June is probably the most difficult period for many plants because of the long days, high temperatures, and low humidity. Ineffective water management is the number one cause of death of landscape plants in the Valley, and, believe it or not, it is more frequently from over watering than under watering.

You can reduce your water bill and take better care of your plants it you water slowly (prevents run off), deeply (use a soil probe or a long handled screwdriver to check that the water is penetrating 2-3 ft. deep for trees and shrubs, and 1- 1 1/2 ft. deep for turf & flowers), and infrequently (Let the soil dry between watering).

James Haley

Cell 480-444-8776
TerraPro, Inc.
4856 E. Baseline Rd. #104
Mesa, AZ 85206
james@terraproaz.com
Office 480-355-1393
Fax 480-452-0347

Smart Irrigation Month

Complementing Your Smart Irrigation System with Sustainable Solutions

There are plenty of additional considerations you can explore to complement your smart irrigation system and contribute toward a truly sustainable landscape.

Permeable pavers. An alternative to concrete or asphalt surfaces, permeable pavers allow rainwater to filter naturally down into the underlying soil to recharge valuable groundwater aquifers. They help prevent flooding and protect the quality of our water supplies by eliminating pollutant-laden runoff from entering natural waterways.

Rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvesting refers to the capture and storage of water, which can then be used as a supplemental water source for irrigating a landscape. Rainwater harvesting can take many forms, including above-ground rain barrels or cisterns, below-grade catchments or combined systems that incorporate simple or advanced water features. Be sure to check local regulations before exploring this option.

LED lighting. LED technology, or light emitting diode, is the most efficient light source available, rivaling halogen in brilliance and intensity at one-fifth of the wattage. Though not suitable for all applications, the lamp life rating is excellent – upwards of 80,000 hours.

Green walls. A vertical, vegetative “living wall,” a green wall can be freestanding or part of a building and can help reduce the overall temperature of the building, improve the aesthetics and can even aid in water reuse, purification and retention.

Soil testing. Submit a soil sample to a testing laboratory for an inexpensive report explaining its balance of nutrients, which will assist with selecting the appropriate fertilizer and application rate.

Aerification, amendments and mulch. Implementing a regular aerification schedule and base layer of organic matter or calcined clay products will aid in water and nutrient retention and allow deeper infiltration into the soil profile to promote deeper root growth and help plants resist disease and better withstand drought conditions.

Slow-release fertilizer. The use of coated, slow-release fertilizers, which have lower salt indexes than other quickly-available nitrogen fertilizers, means less watering when compared to their non-coated counterpart products.

Fertilizer injection systems (fertigation). Fertigation, derived from the combination of fertilization and irrigation, allows you to fertilize and irrigate a section of turf in one simple step, making it easier for nutrients to infiltrate plant root zones and eliminating the need for watering above and beyond the irrigation system’s scheduled program run time.

Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. Learn more at www.smartirrigationmonth.org.Provided for the Irrigation Association by Ewing Irrigation Products, Inc.

James Haley

TerraPro, Inc.
4856 E. Baseline Rd. #104
Mesa, AZ 85206

You take a picture and we go to work

Work Crew iphone and Android

You take a picture and we go to work

Landscaper-Panel-1

You take a picture of what needs to be done.

Landscaper-Panel-2

We receive the details, pictures and GPS location.

Landscaper-Panel-3

We send you a picture when the work is completed.

Work Order Flow Chart

Landscaper-Workflow

Terrapro Customer Service Methodology

A property´s common areas enhance the look of the multi-family or condo complex. To enhance your property’s appeal, the landscape maintenance must be guided by a detailed plan that incorporates some quality control measures. Terrapro uses a Work Crews iPhone application to verify that the community looks its best, from the entrances to the hidden away corners. We police ourselves and believe quality control is our job, not the job of the property manager or residents. Property managers can take a picture of a landscaping issue, and we do the rest.

Work Crew iphone Application

Take A Picture and Terrapro Goes to Work – With Terrapro’s new iPhone Work Crews application, all landscaping assets—trees, shrubs, turf, and sprinkler systems—on a property can be cataloged by global positioning system (GPS) location. Terrapro landscape maintenance generates work orders and tracks their progress based on a this precise landscaping asset information.

The Work Crew iPhone application increases the accuracy of the quotation, work order, and invoice process for both Terrapro and its clients. The work list and completion time for each landscaping maintenance task are tracked to the minute and documented by pictures. Property mangers can access their landscaping inventory and review work orders and invoices from their desktop computer or PDA. The Work Crew application creates transparency and accountability in the invoicing process for both Terrapro Landscape and its clients.

 

ET Water

Case Studies:

National Apartment Provider Attains 40% Water Savings and 230% ROI

One national apartment building provider attains 40% water savings, 230% ROI, and a year-over-year savings of $60,000.

Southern CA HOA Saves 35% With ETwater

This HOA saved 36% in water use in the first year after installing the ETwater solution, which stayed consistently under the water budget and outperformed the competition in a 2-year competitive analysis.

Colorado Apartment Provider Saves 29% in Water Use

This Colorado irrigation consultancy helped their luxury apartment community client use 29% and 1.7 million less gallons of water in the first year after installing ETwater controllers while also staying nearly 1.5 million gallons below the district’s water budget.

Why Playing Outdoors Makes children Smarter

Why Playing Outdoors Makes Children Smarter

PlayingOut.articleAuthor and clinical psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison writes, “Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” It is through unstructured, open-ended creative play that children learn the ways of the world. While playing outside, children explore with all their senses, they witness new life, they create imaginary worlds and they negotiate with each other to create a playful environment.

  1. Outdoor play is a multi-sensory activity. While outdoors, children will see, hear, smell and touch things unavailable to them when they play inside. They use their brains in unique ways as they come to understand these new stimuli.
  2. Playing outside brings together informal play and formal learning. Children can incorporate concepts they have learned at school in a hands-on way while outdoors. For example, seeing and touching the roots of a tree will bring to life the lesson their teacher taught about how plants get their nutrients.
  3. Playing outdoors stimulates creativity. Robin Moore, an expert in the design of play and learning environments, says, “Natural spaces and materials stimulate children’s limitless imagination and serve as the medium of inventiveness and creativity.” Rocks, stones and dirt present limitless opportunities for play that can be expressed differently every time a child steps outside.
  4. Playing outdoors is open-ended. There is no instruction manual for outdoor play. Children make the rules and in doing so use their imagination, creativity, intelligence and negotiation skills in a unique way.
  5. Playing in nature reduces anxiety. Time spent outside physiologically reduces anxiety. Children bring an open mind and a more relaxed outlook back inside when they are in more traditional learning environments.
  6. Outdoor play increases attention span. Time spent in unstructured play outdoors is a natural attention builder. Often children who have difficulty with pen and paper tasks or sitting still for long periods of times are significantly more successful after time spent outside.
  7. Outdoor play is imaginative. Because there are no labels, no pre-conceived ideas and no rules, children must create the world around them. In this type of play, children use their imagination in ways they don’t when playing inside.
  8. Being in nature develops respect for other living things. Children develop empathy, the ability to consider other people’s feeling, by interacting with creatures in nature. Watching a tiny bug, a blue bird or a squirrel scurrying up a tree gives children the ability to learn and grow from others.
  9. Outdoor play promotes problem solving. As children navigate a world in which they make the rules, they must learn to understand what works and what doesn’t, what lines of thinking bring success and failure, how to know when to keep trying and when to stop.
  10. Playing outside promotes leadership skills. In an environment where children create the fun, natural leaders will arise. One child may excel at explaining how to play the game, while another may enjoy setting up the physical challenge of an outdoor obstacle course. All types of leadership skills are needed and encouraged.
  11. Outdoor play widens vocabulary. While playing outdoors, children may see an acorn, a chipmunk and cumulous clouds. As they encounter new things, their vocabulary will expand in ways it never could indoors.
  12. Playing outside improves listening skills. As children negotiate the rules of an invented game, they must listen closely to one another, ask questions for clarification and attend to the details of explanations in ways they don’t have to when playing familiar games.
  13. Being in nature improves communication skills. Unclear about the rules in an invented game? Not sure how to climb the tree or create the fairy house? Children must learn to question and clarify for understanding while simultaneously making themselves understood.
  14. Outdoor play encourages cooperative play. In a setting where there aren’t clear winners and losers, children work together to meet a goal. Perhaps they complete a self-made obstacle course or create a house for a chipmunk. Together they compromise and work together to meet a desired outcome.
  15. Time in nature helps children to notice patterns. The natural world is full of patterns. The petals on flowers, the veins of a leaf, the bark on a tree are all patterns. Pattern building is a crucial early math skill.
  16. Playing outdoors helps children to notice similarities and differences. The ability to sort items and notice the similarities and differences in them is yet another skill crucial to mathematical success. Time outdoors affords many opportunities for sorting.
  17. Time spent outdoors improves children’s immune systems. Healthy children are stronger learners. As children spend more and more time outdoors, their immune systems improve, decreasing time out of school for illness.
  18. Outdoor play increases children’s physical activity level. Children who play outdoors are less likely to be obese and more likely to be active learners. Children who move and play when out of school are ready for the attention often needed for classroom learning.
  19. Time spent outdoors increases persistence. Outdoor games often require persistence. Children must try and try again if their experiment fails. If the branch doesn’t reach all the way across the stream or the bark doesn’t cover their fairy house, they must keep trying until they are successful.
  20. Outdoor play is fun. Children who are happy are successful learners. Children are naturally happy when they are moving, playing and creating outside. This joy opens them up for experimenting, learning and growing.

Stacey Loscalzo is a freelance writer and mother of two girls living in Ridgewood, NJ. She and her girls have been getting outside to play for nearly a decade.