Winter Storms preparedness

Know your risk

What

Winter storms occurs when there is significant precipitation and the temperature is low enough that precipitation forms as sleet or snow, or when rain turns to ice. Winter storms can range from freezing rain and ice, to moderate snowfall over a few hours, to a blizzard that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures.

Winter storms can cause power outages that last for days. They can make roads and walkways extremely dangerous or impassable and close or limit critical community services such as public transportation, child care, health programs and schools. Injuries and deaths may occur from exposure, dangerous road conditions, and carbon monoxide poisoning and other conditions.

Where

Winter storms and colder than normal temperatures can happen in every region of the country.

When

Winter storms can occur from early autumn to late spring depending on the region.

Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

  • Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
  • Make an emergency kit for at least three days of self-sufficiency.
  • Keep space heater safety in mind: Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Remember to keep all heat sources at least three feet away from furniture and drapes.
  • Prepare your home:
    • Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the warm air inside.
    • Make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector.
    • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
    • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
    • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
    • If you have a wood burning fireplace, consider storing wood to keep you warm if winter weather knocks out your heat. Also, make sure you have your chimney cleaned and inspected every year.
    • Have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out:
      • Extra blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter coats
      • Fireplace or wood-burning stove with plenty of dry firewood, or a gas log fireplace
  • Vehicle Prepardeness:
    • Fully winterize your vehicle: Have a mechanic check antifreeze, brakes, heater and defroster, tires, and windshield wipers to ensure they are in good shape. Keep your gas tank at least half full.
    • Keep an extra emergency kit specifically created for your car. In addition to the basic essentials, consider adding a portable cell phone charger, ice scraper, extra blanket, sand for traction and jumper cables.
    • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
    • Sand to improve traction.
  • Make sure you have a cell phone with an emergency charging option (car, solar, hand crank, etc.) in case of a power failure.
  • People who depend on electricity to operate medical equipment should have alternate arrangements in place in case power is out for an extended period of time.
  • Plan to check on elderly/disabled relatives and neighbors.
  • Plan to bring pets inside.
  • Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it in case you lose power.
  • Fill a gallon container with water and place them in the freezer to help keep food cold.
  • A NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts alerts and warnings directly from the NWS for all hazards. You may also sign up in advance to receive notifications from your local emergency services.

During Snowstorms and Extreme Cold

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive: travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule and your route; stay on main roads and avoid back road shortcuts.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. Use caution, take breaks, push the snow instead of lifting it when possible, and lift lighter loads.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • If you must go outside, wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
  • Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf to reduce heat loss.

Cold Related Illness

  • Frostbite is a serious condition that’s caused by exposure to extremely cold temperatures.
    • a white or grayish-yellow skin area
    • skin that feels unusually firm or waxy
    • numbness
    • If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care.
  • Hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, is a dangerous condition that can occur when a person is exposed to extremely cold temperatures.  Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposures to very cold temperatures. When exposed to cold temperatures, your body begins to lose heat faster than it’s produced. Lengthy exposures will eventually use up your body’s stored energy, which leads to lower body temperature.
    • Warnings signs of hypothermia:
    • Adults: shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech drowsiness
    • Infants:  bright red, cold skin, very low energyIf you notice any of these signs, take the person’s temperature. If it is below 95° F, the situation is an emergency—get medical attention immediately.

Carbon Monoxide

Caution: Each year, an average of 430 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, and there are more than 20,000 visits to the emergency room with more than 4,000 hospitalizations. Carbon monoxide-related deaths are highest during colder months. These deaths are likely due to increased use of gas-powered furnaces and alternative heating, cooking, and power sources used inappropriately indoors during power outages.

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal¬ burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Keep these devices at least 20 feet from doors, windows, and vents.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
  • Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

Stay or Go

STAY:

  • If stuck on the road to avoid exposure and/or when rescue is likely
  • If a safe location is neither nearby or visible
  • If you do not have appropriate clothing to go outside
  • If you do not have the ability to call for help

GO:

  • If the distance to call for help is accessible.
  • If you have visibility and outside conditions are safe.
  • If you have appropriate clothing.
  • Once the storm has passed, if you are not already home, follow instructions from your local transportation department and emergency management agency to determine if it is safe to drive and, if so, which route will be safest for you to get home. Drive with extra caution.

After Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

  • If your home loses power or heat for more than a few hours or if you do not have adequate supplies to stay warm in your home overnight, you may want to go to a designated public shelter if you can get there safely. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (e.g., SHELTER20472)
  • Bring any personal items that you would need to spend the night (such as toiletries, medicines). Take precautions when traveling to the shelter. Dress warmly in layers, wear boots, mittens, and a hat.
  • Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.

Winter Weather Watches and Warnings

  • Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify an extreme winter weather alerts:
  • Freezing Rain – Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Sleet – Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Wind Chill– Windchill is the temperature it “feels like” when you are outside. The NWS provides a Windchill Chart to show the difference between air temperature and the perceived temperature and the amount of time until frostbite occurs. For more information, visit: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/winter/windchill.shtml.
  • Winter Weather Advisory – Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening. The NWS issues a winter weather advisory when conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences that may be hazardous. If caution is used, these situations should not be life-threatening.
  • Winter Storms Watch – A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information. The NWS issues a winter storm watch when severe winter conditions, such as heavy snow and/or ice, may affect your area but the location and timing are still uncertain. A winter storm watch is issued 12 to 36 hours in advance of a potential severe storm. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, local radio, TV, or other news sources for more information. Monitor alerts, check your emergency supplies, and gather any items you may need if you lose power.
  • Winter Storms Warning – A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
  • Blizzard Warning – Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
  • Frost/Freeze Warning – Below freezing temperatures are expected.

If you’re in the Chicago area and would like to discuss other winter landscaping measures including heated driveways then please contact us.

With acknowledgement to the  Department of Homeland Security

Above Ground Pool Removal

The process of above ground pool removal differs somewhat to the traditional concrete pool removal. Here we will discuss the process of above ground pool removal a little more.

As discussed in our various previous posts there are many reasons why one  would want to remove a pool. What’s most important once you make the decision is to choose a contractor who follows best practice. It’s not just a case of smash it up and haul away the rubble.

Above Ground Pool Removal

The first step is to call in  Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators (JULIE)  1 week prior to start. JULIE provides Illinois excavators and underground utility owners with a continuously improving, one-call message handling and delivery service committed to protecting underground utilities and the safety of people working or living near them.

You may be surprised by what’s buried in your yard. That’s because most electric, gas, water, sewer and telecommunications companies are delivering utility services underground.

Few people know that state law requires you to notify JULIE at least two business days before any digging project regardless of the project size or depth so that can assist in ensuring that none of the utilities get damaged.

Next step is to pump out existing pool water and discharge to curb or on property. We keep abreast of the regulations in both the Chicago and Denver areas to ensure that the discharge of this water is done according to state requirements.

All pool utilities, gas and electric then need to be safely disconnected and removed.

The pool liner is then carefully removed and disposed of offsite.
The remaining supporting structure is disassembled and all materials are then recycled.
We then bring in the appropriate type of topsoil to cover the disturbed area that was previously under the above ground pool.
This area is then covered with sod or seeded according to the wishes of the client.

We are particularly familiar with pool removals in Northbrook. If you live in that area make sure to call us first.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to do your own above ground pool removal. We have been dong this for years and we will be in and out with the least amount of hassle and in the quickest time.

Contact us today for a friendly chat.

Robotic Mower – Which one for my lawn?

The Robotic Mower

Robotic vacuum cleaners have been around for some time but the Robotic Mower is relatively new to the market.

Here we will discuss a little more about how they work, what features to look for and how to choose the right one for your lawn.

Why buy a robotic mower when traditional lawn mowers have done the job for years?

No more gas mower servicing.

More free time while the robotic mower does the job for you.

Some distance between you and those allergy causing particles.

Less time being exposed to those harmful sun rays.

Frequent mowing means a perfect carpet like lawn every time with no weeds.

How do Robotic Mowers work?

A base station is installed that connects to your house mains. This base station is where the robotic mower lives and gets charged when it’s not mowing the lawn.

A guide wire that starts at the base station is run along the perimeter of the area to be so that the mower knows where all the edges are. At the end of it’s mowing cycle it will return to base on its own to continue charging, ready for the next day’s mowing.

Complex areas can be broken up into zones and using various accessories these zones can also be dealt with by the robotic mower.

 

Every day, the mower cuts a few millimeters of grass and leaves the clippings on the ground, fertilizing your lawn in a natural way.

Obstacles are easily handled with the robotic mower detecting obstacles and mowing around them.

 

What are the typical specifications?

There are a number of makes a models designed to handle everything from the smallest area all the way up to more than an acre. Depending on the model selected the specifications will fall somewhere in this range.

  •  LAWN SIZE : from 1/20th to a 1 1/4 Acre
  •  MOWING WIDTH : from 7 to 22 INCH
  •  MOWING HEIGHT : 0.5-3.14 INCH
  •  MOWING MOTOR : 200W-400W
  •  SLOPES : up to 50%

What are the typical features?

There are a number of models to choose from that will have a combination of the following features.

  • Reliability
  • Excellent cutting result
  • GPS-assisted navigation
  • Weather timer
  • Low noise
  • Cell phone app. control
  • Quick charge
  • Latest battery technology
  • Remote object detection
  • Weather proof
  • Anti-theft alarm

 

Mackland LLC has extensive knowledge about Ambrogio robotic mowers having installed them for customers and using them for their own purposes in both the Denver and Chicago areas.

Don’t make the mistake of buying the wrong product for the job ask the experts for advice. As part of your Chicago and Denver area landscaping architecture project, we will even source, deliver and install for you.

6 Reasons to Remove your Swimming Pool

REASONS TO REMOVE YOUR SWIMMING POOL TODAY

1. Reduce Stress and Enjoy your Back Yard

• Having a swimming pool in disrepair is stressful and could be a liability
• Every time you look into the back yard you see it and it haunts you
• At night you may lie awake trying to figure out how to deal with the problem
• Neighbors may be complaining and you may start receiving letters from the City or Village

2. Increase Real Estate Value

• Gain a bigger yard with more usable space and a more marketable space for realtors to sell, even consider adding a garden train
• Houses without a swimming pool appeal to a broader market
• Houses being sold “as is” with a swimming pool in disrepair will decrease the value of the home more than
it will cost to remove it and may decrease surrounding property values
• The cost of removing a swimming pool in disrepair will be significantly offset by the value it adds to the
property and it will make the property easier to sell

3. Save Money

• Property Tax Reduction – Pool are considered usable space are you are taxed on it
• Reduce your Home Owners Insurance Premium – Pools are a safety liability
• Lower your monthly utility costs, energy costs are constantly rising, your pool will only become
more expensive
• Water costs are rising
• Repairing an old swimming pool will cost a lot more than it will be to remove a pool over the long run

4. Conserve Clean Water

• There is a shortage of clean water in the world

5. Public Pools are like Water Parks

• Public pools are up-to-date with latest safety features such as shallow pools for toddlers
• Public pools increase social interaction among children and parents, making a community
stronger
• Your taxes are paying for the public pools, so why not use them

6. Reduce West Nile Mosquito Breeding Grounds

• Abandoned pools are the ideal spot for mosquitoes to breed

Contact us about removing your swimming pool.

We do work in both the northern Chicago and Denver areas.

Restoring your lawn, seed vs sod

Restoring Your Lawn

So you are looking at restoring your lawn and you are not sure of the options. Let us help you with your decision.

The two main options are planting new seed or laying sod which is lawn that has been grown by a sod farmer and delivered to you in squares or rolls.

As with most things in life there are pros and cons with each option. Let’s take a deeper look at what may be the best approach for restoring your lawn.

Seeding Lawn
Advantages:
  • More grass types and varieties to choose from
  • Less expensive than sodding
  • Deeper root system
  • There is no thatch layer present which may harbor unwanted diseases or insect pests
  • Over seeding by the planting of grass seed directly into existing turf, without tearing up the turf, or the soil.
  • Easy to spread, and it only takes a few minutes to do it
  • Better to use on yards that are hilly, sloped, or have shaded areas
Disadvantages:
  • Initial establishment takes longer – maybe 2 or 3 months before the lawn can be used
  • Sometimes, not all seeds germinate and you have to spread new seeds in certain areas of your lawn
  • Time of seeding is limited mainly to late summer and early fall
  • Moisture is critical for the young seedlings – daily watering
  • Invasion of weeds into bare soil
  • The area is inaccessible until seed is fully established
Sodding Lawn
Advantages:
  • Instant gratification
  • Relatively weed-free in the beginning
  • Can be laid any time during the growing season
  • Sodded lawns control soil erosion on slopes and eliminate problems with mud while the grass is becoming established.
  • Instant accessibility to the area
  • Sod takes root better than seed and is much more reliable
  • Sod doesn’t need as much water as seed
Disadvantages:
  • A lot more expensive than seed
  • Less selection or control over types of grasses (shade or drought tolerance)
  • Labor intensive – harder to install than it is to spread grass seed
  • Sod is a crop, and it is grown in sun. When you buy sod to put in a shady area, it will have to adapt.

Contact Us for a chat. We will help you decide on the best approach based on your needs and on your Wauconda or Denver location.

Of course, don’t forget to take into account your irrigation requirements while restoring your lawn.

 

 

 

 

 

Heated Driveway – Melt That Snow

Staying safe and slip-free is the number one reason to install a heated driveway snow melting system. The main reason people have heated driveways is for safety. Many driveways are impossibly steep and homeowners are afraid of the fall hazard presented by ice build-up on drives and walks.

Benefits
  • Added home resale value
  • No salt or chemicals meaning less environmental damage
  • No driveway damaging snow plows
  • No need to own a noisy and space consuming snow thrower
  • No more physically strenuous snow shoveling
How Heated Driveway Systems Work

The two popular types of heated driveway systems both work by generating radiant heat underneath the driveway keeping the pavement warm during snowstorms.

Generally, two types of snow melting systems are available for use in exterior slabs ,  hydronic snow melt and electric snow melt systems.

Both rely on four key components to turn the entire slab surface into a radiant heat source.

  • A heating element, which is embedded in the slab.
  • Sensors to detect outdoor air temperatures and moisture.
  • A power source.
  • A controller to tie the heating element, sensors, and power source together.
The Technology

The first method uses a series of tubes and pumps to move hot water directly underneath the driveway, warming it up. The second heating method uses an electric current to generate heat on a wire or across a mat, in almost exactly the same manner as most indoor floor-heating systems.

Heated driveways are actually a radiant heat flooring system, which can be installed both indoors and out. For outdoor use, radiant floor systems are quite beneficial to those who live in snowy climates. When temperatures drop, heated water and antifreeze are pumped into the tubing, melting any snow that collects on your driveway. From the comfort of your home, you can flip a switch and watch the snow melt away. It’s also possible to automate the whole process. Sensors detect when the system needs to turn on so that you arrive home to a snow free driveway.

If you want a heated driveway, you don’t necessarily need to install a whole new driveway. Sometimes the tubing can be run under your current one.

Many factors influence whether you need to have the driveway replaced including time of year, soil compaction, trees in proximity, etc. Replacing the driveway ensures that the heated driveway system has been installed correctly.

Most underground systems are constructed with the ability to melt snow at a rate of about one inch per hour.

Mack Land, LLC in Denver and in Wauconda will help you decide if an electric or hydronic heated driveway system is right for you.

Hydrangeas – Plant – Grow – Care

When embarking on a landscape architecture exercise hydrangeas are a popular choice due to their captivating display of beautiful flowers and foliage.

Hydrangeas come in types that can flourish in sun or shade. They offer huge bouquets of clustered flowers, in various arrangements from mophead to lacecap from summer through fall. Varieties of hydrangea differ in size of plant and flower shape, flower color, and blooming time.

Although there are many types of hydrangeas, most can be grown in full sun or partial shade. Keep in mind, however, that many hydrangeas do not like extremely hot conditions, so try to locate them in an area where they can enjoy some afternoon shade. While they can be grown in a wide range of soils, hydrangeas typically prefer rich, moist soil that drains easily. Amending the soil with compost prior to planting could be helpful.

Hydrangea planting should be performed in spring once the threat of frost has passed. Water thoroughly after planting. You can also add a layer of mulch following hydrangea planting.

The colors of some hydrangeas—especially mophead and lacecap—can change color based on the soil pH, which affects relative availability of aluminum ions. Acidic soils with a pH of less than 5.5 produce blue flowers; soils with a pH greater than 5.5 product pink flowers. White flowers are not affected by pH.

PLANTING

  • VERY IMPORTANT: Choose a location where your hydrangea can reach its full size without pruning. For normal sized hydrangeas, expect the plant to reach at least 4 ft. X 4 ft. Hydrangeas are almost impossible to keep pruned to a smaller size than they ultimately wish to grow.
    They prefer full sun in the morning, with some afternoon shade; however, many will grow and bloom in partial shade. This is especially true for the bigleaf hydrangeas
  • The further north one lives the more sun hydrangeas need and can withstand. While mophead hydrangeas can grow well in all-day sun in Chicago, they would struggle to survive in afternoon sun in Atlanta.
  • Plant in well-drained soil! If soil is heavy, add roughage such as pine bark mulch (Make sure it’s ground BARK not ground WOOD).
  • Do not over water, esp. in clay soil. This can lead to root rot.
  • Do not plant too deeply. Plant at the same depth the hydrangea was planted in the pot.
  • Plant in early summer or fall.
  • Transplant a hydrangea when it has become dormant and has lost all of its leaves (late fall or winter).

CARE

  • For the first year or two after planting and during any drought, be sure hydrangeas get plenty of water. Leaves will wilt if the soil is too dry.
  • If your soil is rich, you may not need to fertilize hydrangeas. If your soil is light or sandy, it’s best to feed the plants once a year in late winter or spring. Too much fertilizer encourages leafy growth at the expense of blooms.
  • In the fall, cover plants to a depth of at least 18 inches with bark mulch, leaves, pine needles, or straw. If at all possible, cover the entire plant, tip included, by making cages out of snow fencing or chicken wire, and loosely filling the cages with leaves. (Do not use maple leaves, as they will break down too quickly.)

This is a very basic introductory guide for both Wauconda and Denver locations. Look for follow up articles on pruning, color change, drying, fertilizing, transplanting etc. etc.

 

Garden Checklist – June

June is about half way through already and although a little belated it’s not too late to review your garden checklist as summer approaches.

Annual and Perennial Care

Remove spent blooms of annuals and some perennials to encourage new flower formation. Stake tall perennials and continue to tie annual and perennial vines to supports. Continue to apply repellents to emerging summer-blooming lilies, if rabbits and deer have been a problem in the past.

Fertilize annuals in containers, baskets, and window boxes with a quarter-strength balanced fertilizer every seven to ten days. Always water the plants before adding liquid fertilizer.

Fertilize bulbs with a 9-9-6 slow-release fertilizer if you did not do so at planting time. Mark the spots with small stakes to repeat fertilizer application in the fall (when plants are not visible).

Continue to remove yellowing leaves of summer-flowering bulbs.

Tall, floppy plants such as chrysanthemums, asters, and tall sedums can be cut back by as much as half or pinched to regulate their height.

Sow seeds of biennials, such as hollyhock, directly into the garden this month for next year’s bloom. Mark the area carefully to avoid accidentally disturbing the seeds.

Monitor plants, especially succulent the new growth, for insects. Infested plants can be hosed down to remove small insect populations. Don’t apply chemical treatments if ladybugs or other predator insects are present.

Mite activity often increases in hot, dry weather. Symptoms include stippled foliage which can be removed from plant. Refrain from applying chemical miticides which will also kill beneficial mites and increase mite populations. Consider releasing predators such as ladybugs or praying mantis to consume unwanted mites.

Lawn Care

Cool-season turf-grass should be mowed to a height of 2 to 3 inches. This height can be raised during hot, dry periods or when turf is stressed due to disease, insects, or drought. A general rule of thumb is not to remove more than one-third of turf at one time.

Seed bare areas of turf with an appropriate grass seed mixture. Keep newly seeded lawns moist until seeds germinate. Do not allow the grass to become overly dry for the first year and limit excessive foot traffic. Begin mowing when the grass reaches a height of approximate 4 inches.

Do not fertilize your lawn in hot weather. The best time to fertilize is fall.

Established turf requires approximately 1 inch of water per week to keep grass green and actively growing. Lawns that are allowed to become dormant and brown usually recover nicely as precipitation increases in the fall. It is best to water early in the day, which will decrease the occurrence of turf disease.

Fruit, Vegetable, and Herb Care

Harvest peas, raspberries, and all cool-season lettuces and vegetables as they ripen.

If squash vine borer has been a problem in your garden, cover small transplants of squash, cucumbers, and zucchini with row covers to prevent moths from laying eggs on vines. Remove row covers when plants begin to flower. Consider planting resistant varieties next year.

Pinch top growth of herbs to encourage branching and keep them from flowering. Snip or cut off sprigs of herbs to use in cooking all season.

A fascinating nature project for families is to plant dill or fennel to attract swallowtail butterflies to lay their eggs. Watch for tiny eggs to develop into plump caterpillars that will feed on the herb foliage before pupating into butterflies.

Plant pumpkins at the first of the month. Large varieties require a 100-day growing season. If you gently carve names in developing pumpkins, the letters will enlarge as pumpkins grow.

Stake or cage tomatoes and peppers as they continue to grow.

Mulch your vegetable garden with straw to retain moisture.

Indoor Plant Care

Amaryllis plants should be placed in morning sun (preferably outdoors), watered regularly, and fertilized every 2 to 3 weeks with a general purpose, liquid fertilizer.

General Garden Care

Apply 1 to 2 inches of leaf mulch on flower beds and around trees, keeping mulch away from the trunks. Mulch conserves moisture, protects plant roots, suppresses weeds, and regulates soil temperature. Make sure all trees, shrubs, perennials, and roses receive 1 inch of water per week. If Mother Nature does not provide this amount, it is best to water deeply once per week rather than water shallowly several times per week.

Tree and Shrub Care

Pinch off terminal growth buds on rhododendrons to increase next year’s buds.

Prune all spring-flowering shrubs, if necessary, immediately after they flower.

Evergreens, such as boxwood or yew, can be lightly pruned after the new growth fills in to maintain a formal shape.

Rose Care

One application of fertilizer in the spring is usually sufficient for species roses and shrub roses. All other roses should be given their second application of a well-balanced fertilizer in mid-June or after their initial bloom period.

Monitor roses for black spot and other fungal leaf diseases. Remove infected leaves immediately and begin a preventative spray program with an approved fungicide at labeled intervals.

Deadhead hybrid tea roses as soon as flowers fade. Many shrub roses are self-cleaning and don’t require deadheading. When in doubt, lightly prune old blossoms to keep plant looking attractive.

Same guidelines apply in both Wauconda and Denver areas.

Credit to the Chicago Botanic Garden

Liability of owning a pool – worth it or not?

The liability of owning a pool must not be taken lightly.

A backyard pool can be a lot of fun, but it does not come without some liability issues that homeowners should be aware of. Safety devices and additional insurance coverage can help lessen the financial risk associated with having a pool in your backyard. If you have had your pool for some time or are about to purchase a home that has a pool and are concerned about all of these liability issues then you can always consider having your pool professionally removed and having the newly acquired real estate beautifully landscaped.

Homeowner Liability

Liability of owning a pool for the homeowner stems from negligence, or the failure to do what a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances. Injuries resulting from a lack of security around a pool or a failure to properly maintain the pool in good condition may result in homeowner liability because homeowners with pools are expected to protect guests and prevent unwanted visitors.  If a homeowner is negligent in keeping the pool area safe and inaccessible, then he could be liable for injuries suffered in or around the pool.

In addition, most states, cities, and towns have statutes regarding the construction and maintenance of residential swimming pools, including requirements for special covers, locked gates, and fencing. Though these restrictions may seem elaborate, failure to comply with ordinances can invite injury and may make proving liability easier because failing to comply with protective law makes a homeowner strictly liable – meaning there is no need to prove negligence. For more information, be sure to contact a local attorney with experience in homeowner liability.

Liability of owning a pool Slip and Fall 

Due to the high risk of slip and fall accidents in slippery areas surrounding a swimming pool, owners must take reasonable care to provide non-slip surfaces and to take other measures to prevent accidents such as warning guests of an unsafe condition or cleaning up standing puddles of water on the pool deck.  To establish negligence in a slip and fall case, you will have to show either that the pool owner negligently created the puddle, or negligently failed to remedy the puddle after notice that it was there. Negligence law requires attorneys, judges, and juries to consider all the factors surrounding the slip and fall injury that occurs on a pool deck, however, the pool owner will usually be at a disadvantage due to the high standard of care they are held to.

Attractive Nuisance and Trespassers

Typically a homeowner has no liability for injuries suffered by trespassers on his property, however, attractive nuisance is a legal loophole in the traditional liability approach to trespassers which states that a homeowner can be responsible for injuries to a young trespasser if there is an object on the property which attracts children. Playground equipment and pools are the most common examples of attractive nuisances, and in terms of swimming pool accident liability the homeowner is typically liable for injuries to children unless it is physically impossible for the child to reach the pool.  If your child is injured or drowns in a neighbors pool, the homeowner may be liable for the full extent of the damages under the legal theory of attractive nuisance.  As with any personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits involving children, an experienced attorney should be involved.

Insurance and Liability of owning a pool

While technically a homeowner’s insurance policy may offer coverage for a pool, the truth is that any sort of coverage, even through the most comprehensive policy a homeowner can purchase, is not necessarily going to be enough to protect him should you or your child be seriously hurt in the pool.  Typically pool owners are required to purchase a separate insurance policy for swimming pool liability, or an umbrella policy for the home, which would give them enough coverage for most accidents.  This benefits injured parties because it allows the case to be handled by insurance rather than a lawsuit, however, depending on the nature of the swimming pool accident and the willingness of the insurance company to pay for damages, legal action may be required.

We have all the necessary pool removal equipment in both the Wauconda and Denver areas, get in touch with us.

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Landscaping Mulch

Selecting the Right Landscaping Mulch

There is no one, universal landscaping mulch for everything. There are pros and cons to every mulching material. Whatever the material, mulch needs to stay put to be effective, but should also be easy to remove and apply.

Natural landscaping mulches are very common and are composed of plant matter. Examples include straw, shredded leaves, bark, pine needles or wood chips.

These mulches decompose over time which helps improve the soil but it also means they must be replaced once or twice a year.

Colored mulches are made by adding a dye to a natural mulch. They typically come in colors such as brown, black or red.

Whether you’re using rich black to make your perennial garden pop or soft red to accent your home, colored mulch gives you more flexibility and creativity in your garden.

Shredded or chipped hardwood or bark

Benefits: Effective; attractive; organic.
Drawbacks: Large wood chips may wash away; as the wood decomposes, it pulls nitrogen from the soil. Avoid bargain mulches, which may contain weed seeds.

Sawdust

Benefits: Acidifies the soil for rhododendrons and blueberries; organic.
Drawbacks: Weeds sprout easily. Nitrogen fertilizer may be needed to replace the nitrogen pulled out of the soil to decompose the sawdust. A crusty top forms so it is harder for water to penetrate. Check the sawdust source carefully because it shouldn’t be from treated wood.

Straw

Benefits: Inexpensive; suppresses weeds; good for winter vegetable garden insulation; organic.
Drawbacks: Unattractive; decomposes rapidly; flammable; may contain weed seeds.

Shredded Leaves

Benefits: Free from your own yard; organic.
Drawbacks: Decomposes rapidly; large-leaf species (oaks, maples, sycamores, etc.) need to be shredded first so they don’t form a mat.

Newspaper

Benefits: Inexpensive way to recycle newspapers (use three layers); suppresses weeds; organic.
Drawbacks: Must use another mulch to weigh newsprint down; cannot use slick inserts.

Manure

Benefits: Excellent source of soil nutrients; organic.
Drawbacks: Must be aged at least six months to avoid “burning” plants. Depending on the source, it may have an odor when wet and may harbor weed seeds.

Compost

Benefits: Excellent soil amendment; organic.
Drawbacks: May contain weed seeds.

Grass Clippings

Benefits: Free from your lawn; organic if you don’t use lawn chemicals.
Drawbacks: Best used on the lawn. Use only weed-free, chemically untreated, dry clippings (clippings must be dry because wet grass can form an impenetrable crust).

Pine Needles

Benefits: Inexpensive if you have pines on your property; organic.
Drawbacks: Best for acid-loving trees and shrubs.

Gravel, Crushed Rock, Pebbles, Volcanic Rock

Benefits: Available in wide array of sizes and colors; won’t blow away or decompose.
Drawbacks: Draws heat; difficult to keep clean; difficult to remove. Avoid alkaline limestone rocks near rhododendrons and other acid-loving plants. Must use landscape fabric below rocks so they don’t migrate into the soil. Loose stones may get thrown by lawnmowers; inorganic.

Plastic

Benefits: Effective weed control. Plastic absorbs heat, which raises soil temperature so may be useful in vegetable gardens where warm soil is desired.
Drawbacks: May tear; unattractive. Plastic must be tacked down or held with another mulch. Soil cannot “breathe.” Clear plastic allows weed growth. May retain too much moisture; inorganic.

Landscape Fabric (Geo-textiles)

Benefits: Allows water and air penetration; effective in weed control.
Drawbacks: Unattractive; must be tacked down or held with another mulch. Weeds may grow through fabric cuts and cracks; inorganic.

Shredded Rubber

Benefits: Available in a variety of colors; doesn’t decompose or blow away.
Drawbacks: May be difficult to remove; flammable; inorganic.

Landscaping mulch helps in the control of weeds by cutting off sunlight for weed growth and choking the weeds. However, care should be taken in the choice and application of mulch. Thick mulch may reduce air circulation, result in water-logging especially during rainy seasons, and provide shelter to hibernating insects during winter.

Living with Nature, not against Nature should be the goal of every homeowner. One can easily have a beautiful landscape by conserving water and using recyclable material from ones own yard as landscaping mulch.

There are options to consider, like whether organic or inorganic materials work best for you, and you should understand that poor technique can actually harm your trees, encouraging rot and harm from rodents and insects. Regardless if you are the Denver or Wauconda areas, it’s worth talking with a professional!