Page 1


Keeping Georgia’s green industry informed









Advocate. Educate. Promote.1



UAC Magazine Official publication of the Georgia Urban Agriculture Council

Board of Directors Todd Jarrett, President Arbor Hill Nurseries Matt Lowe Swift Straw Josh Morrow Athletic Fields, Inc. Ken Morrow Sod Atlanta Chris Nelson Chattahoochee Nature Center Bob Scott Irrigation Consultant Services Ray Wiedman Outdoor Expressions Ron White TurfPride Dixie Speck, Past President Solterra Landscape

Ex Officio Ellen Bauske UGA Extension Public Service Assistant Bodie Pennisi UGA Extension Horticulturist Clint Waltz UGA Extension Turf Agronomist

Staff Mary Kay Woodworth Executive Director Kathy Gatten Johnson Marketing Director & Editor

A member of:

Georgia Urban Ag Council PO Box 817 Commerce GA 30529 P: 800.687.6949 F: 706.336.6898 E: All contents copyright 2017




4 6 8 10

Executive Director message What did you miss? 2016 EDGE Expo UAC Safety Zone Awards Revamped for 2016 Sponsor Spotlight EDGE Expo and SEED supporters


15 16 18 20 22 26

Save the date Have you met...Stephanie Williams, WebTech Health & benefits Can stress make you sick? What the tech? Converting visitors into customers Pest 411 Carpenter ants Safety works Technology to beat the cold

BUSINESS 28 30 33 34 36

Social media for landscapers Feedback and photos Take a breather Slow and steady wins in sales, too Payroll cards Can paycards save money for your business? “No thanks” Understanding customer resistance 4 Cores of Landscape Business Success Part two

INDUSTRY 40 43 44 46

New year, new president Trump policies 2017 CEFGA Student Career Expo 2016 Benchmarking your business report National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture


48 Painting with color Stretch your creative muscle 52 Killing cold Effects of low temperature on plants 58 The Brassicas are taking center stage!


Atlanta Botanical Garden Georgia Agribusiness Council Georgia Arborist Association Georgia Association of Water Professionals Georgia Green Industry Association Georgia Urban Forest Council Georgia Water Alliance National Association of Landscape Professionals Southern Nursery Association




Dear UAC Members and Supporters, No matter your political affiliation, I’m

confident that you will agree that 2016 has been a VERY interesting year, unpredictable with surprising twists and turns weekly. Throughout the excruciatingly long election cycle, the economy was always at the forefront of my mind, and, as I do every year, I read Kiplinger’s economic predictions, and keep my fingers crossed.

Here are the predictions for 2017:

        

GDP: 1.5% growth for the year; a 2.1% pace in ‘17 JOBS: Hiring at 150K-200K/month through ‘16

INTEREST RATES: 10-year T-notes at 2.7% by end ‘17 INFLATION: 2.0% for ‘16, 2.4% in ‘17

BUSINESS SPENDING: Slight gain in ‘17 after flat ‘16 ENERGY: Crude oil trading from $50 to $55 per barrel in March

HOUSING: Single-family starts up 9% in ‘16, 11% in ‘17


RETAIL SALES: Growing 3.7% in ‘17 (excluding gas)


TRADE DEFICIT: Widening 4% in ‘17, matching increase in ‘16


Overall, there is optimism. Coupled with an anticipated change in the regulatory atmosphere, things are looking good for 2017. We hope that you can capitalize on this optimism. We also hope that the new pro-business administration will be focused on rewarding businesses who follow the law, pay their taxes and follow correct hiring processes. It’s time that those “businesses” who are skirting the law and consequently making it harder for legitimate businesses to operate be held accountable.

On the home front

Closer to home, we are watching two things very closely. First, the drought, that was exacerbated by an extremely long, hot summer. Our interaction with the EPD leads us to believe that when we get sufficient rainfall, the drought level will be revised. As I’m writing this on a rainy December morning, I hope that steady rainy days will continue through winter. We will keep you advised. Second, the FL vs GA water trial. The trial ended in early December, and it’s likely that a ruling will be issued by end of 2016. We are cautiously optimistic that Georgia made a better case, and that our water rights will prevail, as Georgia contends there’s not enough evidence to support drastic action that could imperil the state’s economy. Stay tuned for updates on this important issue.

Looking ahead

Finally, for the third year, UAC is partnering with our member companies to engage youth to consider a career in our industry. CEFGA’s Career Expo (which focuses on workforce development for middle and high school students) will include our “World of Landscape” in March 2017. Our goal is to create an engaging environment to introduce the landscape industry as an exciting career path. Read more about CEFGA’s Career Expo on page 43 and contact me today to get involved. Here’s looking to an outstanding 2017! Mary Kay Woodworth Executive Director

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EDGE Expo December 8 Infinite Energy Center


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UAC NEWS Education conference with CEUs, free pre-game sessions and Belgard University, plus a vendor fair.




UAC Safety Zone awards get a makeover

Your UAC Safety Committee has revamped the annual safety awards. Take a look:

Amped up • • •

Safety Zone has a new twist: now you’re competing against your fellow UAC members! For the Safety First Awards, the winners will be those with the lowest number of accidents, injuries, illnesses and/or lost time when compared to the other entries. Entries will be divided into categories based on fleet size and company size.

Streamlined • •

No calculations or volumes of paper needed. Just submit the entry form and a form or two that you already have at your fingertips.

New categories, more chances to win • •

New award categories for photos and videos that demonstrate your safety measures. Three chances to win a trophy in each category, plus your photos/videos could be featured on UAC’s website.

Judging, entrance criteria, and awards UAC’s Safety Committee will evaluate each entry. The judges may choose to not make an award in any category, based on the merits of the entries. All judges’ decisions are final.

Eligibility • •

Only current UAC business-level members may submit entries. Members are encouraged to submit entries for any or all of the award categories.

Entry procedures


Application materials must be completed and submitted properly according to entrance criteria and submission instructions to be considered for a UAC Safety Zone Award. Improper submission may result in disqualification.


• There is no entry fee but you must be a current UAC business-level member. • These awards recognize safety performance from January 1 - December 31, 2016. • Entries are due by Wednesday, March 1, 2017. • Awards will be presented at the April 2017 UAC dinner meeting.

Awards Prizes will be as listed in the application materials for each award category. In addition, winning companies will have a Safety Zone Winner badge placed on their UAC website profile and also can include that badge on their company website. Safety Zone winners will be featured in an issue of UAC Magazine.

Entry deadline: March 1, 2017 Learn more and apply:




Our new Deutzia varieties are like ‘Nikko’…only selection that is covered with white flowers in spring. Yuki Cherry Blossom™ is a pink version YUKI SNOWFLAKE ™

of the classic Deutzia ‘Nikko’; it has soft pink

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flowers in spring and outstanding fall color,

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too. Both are tidy, low-growing mounds that

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fit easily into landscapes and have excellent resistance to deer browsing. YUKI CHERRY BLOSSOM™ ‘NCDX2’, ppaf, cbr#5079 YUKI SNOWFLAKE™ ‘NCDX1’, ppaf, cbr#5078 FULL TO PART SUN • USDA ZONE 5, AHS 8 • 1 - 2' TALL


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Available from these suppliers in 2017

9 Georgia_Jan_Yuki Cherry Blossom.indd 1


11/14/16 10:59 AM


Thank you

to the following companies for supporting the annual


Outdoor Living E X P E R I E N C E

Belgard® Design Studio uses contractors’ designs to create a 3D rendering which allows homeowners to fully visualize what is possible, resulting in larger projects, higher closure rates, and increased profits.


E D G E E������







and to our SEED sponsors, who support all of us every day. Please show your appreciation by calling on them the next time you need their products or services. Abraham Balwin Agricultural College ABAC 6 2802 Moore Hwy. Tifton, GA 31793


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H & H FARM MACHINE CO., INC. GCIA-certified turfgrass ensures producers, turf professionals and homeowners will receive high-quality sod which is free of noxious weeds and is true to variety. Georgia Crop Improvement Association, Inc.

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Email: Phone: 704-753-4919 Building sprayers your way - since 1978!

Using tank sizes from 15 to 500 gallons, fitted with name-brand components, and supported by rugged tubular frames that give years of dependability.

Your source for screen printed and embroidered apparel

Frank Mims Spontaneous barefoot moments.

Post Office Box 4933 Marietta, Georgia 30061 770.578.0695 866.666.9500 770.578.4348 F

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Terry Hollifield, Executive Director 2425 South Milledge Avenue | Athens GA 30605 (706) 542-2351 |

7916 Unionville-Brief Rd. | Monroe, NC 28110




New location! Branch 44 - Peachtree Corners 4300 Gilleland Lane Peachtree Corners, GA 30360 (770) 919-5001


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Mike Bishop 850.545.7947

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than tifway and is more drought tolerant than Celebration™, Latitude 36™ and all other tested bermudagrasses. fine textured and dense, tIftuf™ powers through cold, shrugs off traffic, spreads with incredible speed, greens up early and retains its color well into fall. Science has just delivered it all — tIftuf™.

Exclusive Licensing Agent: The Turfgrass Group, Inc. 1225 Savannah Lane • Monroe, Georgia 30655 (770) 207-1500 or (770) 710-8139

It’s more than a landscape. It’s our calling. Our experts research the latest landscape and environmental trends and educate both students and professionals about the industry’s newest science and technology. We’re committed to solving problems and providing answers about turfgrass, horticulture, entomology, water and related topics. Learn more at

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SEED sponsorship opportunities support | energize | enable | develop SEED sponsorships offer our members an additional opportunity to promote their businesses and support UAC at a level beyond the membership dues.

seed support | energize | enable | develop


This is an annually renewable program, beginning on the contribution date.

Available to current UAC business-level members only. Sponsorship levels and benefits


DIAMOND $3000 Company name and logo will appear on UAC printed materials, the UAC website (with link to your website), and graphics at UAC-sponsored events; choice of three full-page color interior ads in UAC Magazine OR web banner ad for six months on UAC website (your choice of issues/months). Total maximum value of additional benefits: $1500. TITANIUM $2000 Company name and logo will appear on UAC printed materials, the UAC website (with link to your website), and graphics at UAC-sponsored events; choice of two full-page color interior ad in UAC Magazine OR web banner ad for four months on UAC website (your choice of issues/months). Total maximum value of additional benefits: $1000. PLATINUM $1000 Company name listed on UAC printed materials, the UAC website (with link to your website), and graphics at UAC-sponsored events; choice of one full-page color interior ad in UAC Magazine OR web banner ad for two months on UAC website (your choice of issue/months). Total maximum value of additional benefits: $500


GOLD $500 Company name listed on UAC printed materials, the UAC website (with link to your website), and graphics at UAC-sponsored events; one month web banner ad on UAC website (your choice of month). Total maximum value of additional benefits: $250.


SILVER Company name listed on all UAC printed materials, the UAC website (with link to your website), and graphics at UAC-sponsored events.


BRONZE Company name listed on UAC printed materials and the UAC website (with link to your website).


Thank you to all of our SEED Sponsors! Diamond tree_logotypeUpdateGENERIC.pdf

Platinum C




9:40:37 PM

Buck Jones Nursery Plants • Sod • Landscape Supplies






Grayson, GA Location 770-963-8227 Woodstock, GA Location 770-345-5506 Matthews, GA Farm 800-854-3646 – Wholesale only

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Visit for updates and to register.

Landscape Business Boot Camp See page 38 for more info

DATE: Thursday, January 19 PLACE: Heritage Sandy Springs | 6110 Blue Stone Rd. NE | Atlanta GA 30328

SEASONAL COLOR: Start to Profitable Finish Design workshop by Dr. Richard Ludwig and Bill Slack See page 35 for more info






DATE: Thursday, February 16 PLACE: Heritage Sandy Springs | 6110 Blue Stone Rd. NE | Atlanta GA 30328


Georgia Landscape Awards Ceremony & Banquet GEORGIA URBAN AG COUNCIL

DATE: Tuesday, February 28 TIME: 5:30 networking/cash bar; 6:30 banquet & presentation PLACE: Magnolia Hall | Piedmont Park




1320 Monroe Dr. NE | Atlanta, GA 30306

Entry deadline for Safety Zone Awards DATE: Wednesday, March 1 See page 8 for more info



Learn more and apply:




Stephanie Williams

Marketing Strategist WebTech Marketing Services My first job in the green industry was...10 years ago,

Stephanie Williams Address: 3295 River Exchange Drive

Suite 220 Norcross, GA 30092



Fax: 404.551.4821 Email: UAC MAGAZINE | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017



when WebTech was founded. We created a website for Russell Landscaping and then went on to develop sites and online visibility for many Urban Ag members including Oasis Landscapes & Irrigation, Classic Landscapes, Inc., and Unique Environmental Landscapes among others. We also developed the Urban Ag Council’s website!

The biggest challenge in my career has been...

practicing what I preach. When you’re in the “weeds” servicing customers, you sometimes forget to do what needs to be done for your own business, too. We made that time this quarter and are about to unveil our new website…something we should have done last year!

The people who have influenced my career are...people who reinvent themselves

and their businesses. I’ve worked in corporate, co-founded a heating and air company and a remodeling company, and was interim VP of Marketing at a non-profit. I try new things with different people, and still have a lot to learn from people and organizations like Urban Ag who have had to reset themselves to meet changing times.

My biggest career success so far has been...a work/life balance. Having a family and

working full-time takes balance. So does raising children to be responsible and resourceful (not entitled). I’m proud that I was able to accomplish both during my career, and will continue to strive for this balance in my next stage of life as an empty nester.

If I had to do it all over again I would... move more. I love doing small things inside and outside of houses that make a big difference. At one house, the first change I made was to build a small rock wall around an obtrusive tree in the front-yard. It was such a big improvement that neighbors stopped to compliment it. I did it again at my latest home, moving randomly placed bushes blocking the house’s façade. I start outside, and then move inside.

The thing I like most about my career is.... providing value to customers. It’s not hard to find marketing companies or people. Everyone knows someone in marketing. The difference I pride myself on is being able to explain the opportunities and options, and work with clients to make the most impact I can.

My least favorite part of my job is....

educating “past” another marketer’s wrong doings. Unfortunately, many of our peers aren’t focused on providing value. They’re in marketing, collecting customers’ checks, and doing the bare minimum. Once a customer experiences “that” marketer, it takes time to educate them about the right way of doing business and how we do it.

One piece of advice I would give to someone entering the green industry today receptive to change. Everything

is changing all the time – in the green industry, in marketing, and everywhere around us. We have to be open to technological advances and knowledgeable customers: the more that we can

HAVE YOU MET educate ourselves, and our customers, the more successful we’ll be.

The one thing most responsible for my success is...building and maintaining strong,

long-term relationships. Professionally and personally, it all comes down to people. Making and keeping relationships is the key to success in all aspects of life.

If I could change careers, just for a a travel agent. I’d have the hotels or resorts that want to entice customers entertain me (for free!) in exchange for helping them get people there.


One thing that really annoys me is... people’s faces stuck in their phones. Look up, look around, and be present, people. You’re missing out on the conversation!

When I’m not working, I like to...hang-

out with my family and friends near and far, workout, and try new things – recipes, exercises, places...the more the better.

One thing most people don’t know about me self-confidence isn’t nearly as big as my personality. Maybe that’s what keeps me always striving to do better.



Awards Banquet & Ceremony

Be the first to find out. Reserve your banquet seat today. DATE: TIME:

Photos by Chris Voith Photography | 404-386-8505

Tuesday, February 28 5:30 networking/cash bar 6:30 banquet & presentation PLACE: Magnolia Hall, Piedmont Park 1320 Monroe Dr. NE Atlanta, GA 30306

Register online at Be sure to log in as a member to get your discounted rate!



Notification of awards Late January


Who will win big this year?



Can stress make you sick?

Everyday emotional stress can take a physical toll Information provided by Snellings Walters Insurance Agency immune system. They found that even a small hike in stress levels (like taking a test) stops the body from fighting off germs.

Most of us shrug off a certain amount of daily

“When we are stressed, our hearts get over-stimulated. Our hormonal output becomes imbalanced and our immune systems are weakened.” Alice D. Domar, Ph.D. Director of Women’s Health Harvard Mind/Body Medical Institute

stress. Demanding bosses, annoying coworkers, approaching deadlines — it all gets on our nerves, a little at a time. We grumble and groan, but isn’t it just part of modern life? All those frustrations are irritating, but they won’t hurt us, right?

Wrong. Chronic, everyday emotional stress can take a physical toll.

Your endocrine system produces more stress hormones, such as adrenaline.


What studies show


How stress gets physical

During a nerve-wracking situation — say, a runin with a difficult co-worker — your body goes into Red Alert mode.

   

“The stress in our lives, and the internal distress it causes, can wreak havoc on our bodies,” says Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., director of women’s health at the Harvard Mind/Body Medical Institute.

“When we are stressed,” Domar explains, “our hearts get over-stimulated. Our hormonal output becomes imbalanced and our immune systems are weakened.” This information is general and is provided for educational purposes only. It reflects United Benefit Advisors’ understanding of the available guidance as of the date shown and is subject to change. It is not intended to provide legal advice. You should not act on this information without consulting legal counsel or other knowledgeable advisors.

Stress is a factor in some gastrointestinal problems, such as heartburn (a.k.a. gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Here’s one thing that stress doesn’t do. It doesn’t cause ulcers. However, stress may make ulcers worse.

Numerous scientific studies link emotional stress and physical ailments: •

High stress levels may increase the risk for heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes and headaches.

Chronic stress can contribute to depression and anxiety.

In 2004, scientists published a review in the Psychological Bulletin of more than 300 studies investigating how stress affects the

Your blood pressure, muscle tension and heart rate climb. More cholesterol flows into your bloodstream. The brain releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. After the stressful situation, your body gradually returns to a normal, balanced state. But when stress is chronic, your body stays in the Red Alert mode. Over time, Red Alert mode can take a toll on your body: •

Constant surges in blood pressure and cholesterol damage blood vessels.

High levels of stress hormones limit your immune system’s disease-fighting capability.

High levels of stress hormones can also cause elevated blood sugar levels especially in people with diabetes.

Frequent demands for endorphins can make them less effective. This may worsen migraine headaches, backaches and other ailments.

Find what works for you

How do you stop stress from causing physical harm? •

Different people find success with diverse strategies, including meditation, yoga and social support.

Being active helps manage stress. Physical activity increases your body’s production of feel-good endorphins.

Enhancing both the amount and quality of your sleep may be beneficial.

Learn to set boundaries in stressful situations.

Don’t let stressful situations lead you to make poor food choices. A candy bar or a bag of chips may offer a quick pick-me-up but they’re lousy choices in the long run. A balanced, nutritious diet can help you better handle stress.


Most days, you probably don’t even think about insurance.

But when

all hell

breaks loose, Who do you want as your

Break the cycle

You can learn to break the cycle of chronic stress. You’ll give your body and mind a chance to return to a balanced, peaceful, healing state. Resource:

Taking the stress out of relationships

Steve Harmon Will Pharr

770-396-9600 |


Let’s talk


Cost Containment | Flexibility


Association Strength | Industry Expertise


Learn to accept that some people won’t change. Keep in mind that you can change your reaction to them.


Pick your battles.


Try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective.


Use specific examples of times when you felt you were mistreated.


Know your boundaries and stick to them.

When a battle takes place, we are stronger together l in cia

Learn how to keep your cool when a situation heats up.


     



Don’t feel that you have to just put up with difficult people. The following strategies can help keep your stress in check:




Converting visitors into customers How retargeting can help

by Dawn Brown, Content Marketing Specialist, WebTech Marketing Services Small businesses, startups, and family operations need advertising to connect with customers while working within a budget that may not offer room for national TV spots or As the user browses throughout the prominent billboards day, they become far more likely on the highways. to see multiple instances of your When you need to advertisements, reinforcing the amplify the value memory of your brand in a way that of your advertising dollars, intelligent can last for years through those few online marketing passive interactions. that uses techniques like retargeted advertising will get more customers with fewer resources.


Please come again


At a physical storefront, you’ll typically see the front entrance littered with business cards, flyers, menus, coupons, and other takeaways for customers to freely grab. If you think of advertising as just a way to get customers in the door, then this grab-bag of items may seem like a waste of money. Using a more comprehensive view of advertising, the Small Business Association notes that persistence and repetition are key, and repeat customers are amongst the best brand assets that any company can acquire. These advertising items are intended to repeat the message containing your business’ pitch every time the previous visitor sees them on the fridge magnet or in their wallet. In the digital world, you can accomplish the same appeal to previous visitors and customers by employing retargeted advertising elements.

Retargeted advertising in action

Online advertising services that offer retargeted advertising, such as AdRoll or Google’s AdWords, are connected to a wide network of websites that may display your advertisement. When potential clients explore the Internet, possibly visiting your site in the process, they use web browsers that rely on data files called “cookies” to track information like login status, preference settings, and other data that enable more sophisticated website functions. Each visitor to your site will receive a cookie. When the visitor leaves your site and continues to explore other websites, the advertising program sees the tracking cookie and “follows” the visitor around a bit, allowing your advertisement to show up to that potential client when they are on their favorite news site or checking the weather. As the user browses throughout the day, they become far more likely to see multiple instances of your advertisements, reinforcing the memory of your brand in a way that can last for years through those few passive interactions.

Using retargeted advertising

Retargeted advertising is a useful tool in a marketer’s playbook, but it needs effective and strategic use to have the best results. Don’t dump all of your advertising focus into retargeted ads. Instead, keep looking for new visitors to start the retargeting chain with advertisements targeted via other factors like matching demographics and with alternative advertising methods like Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. To make sure that visitors are engaged when they do return to the website, make sure your site’s content is rich in information and pulls them towards a purchase. If you want to take your marketing strategies to the next level, hunt for an advertising agency using a tactical questionnaire to match you with the right management team. Taking all of these steps will help illuminate the best way to include retargeted advertising in your digital media campaigns.

Homeowners, property owners and managers turn to the Internet to find landscapers, landscape management firms, and other Urban Ag providers they can trust.

They find you on your website, Facebook page, Yelp, Angie’s List, and Houzz to check-out what you’ve done, where you work, and even schedule appointments.




We help companies better inform and update, increase awareness, and add new customers on the web.

To earn trust, you need a website and social media sites with content and images that showcase your professionalism and expertise. You also need digital tools that help build positive online reviews.




User friendly websites with less bounces, more click throughs, and longer page views Logical SEO investments and results Internet advertising/PPC

Learn more about how we deliver results for Urban Ag members and affiliates.

WebTech MARKETING SERVICES 404.348.4921 |



The result?


PEST 411

Carpenter ants

Biology and management by Daniel R. Suiter, Ph.D., UGA Department of Entomology, Griffin, GA Carpenter ants are so-called because of their habit of chewing wood to create nest sites.

Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,

Black carpenter ants are dull black and their abdomens are covered by yellowish hairs.

They do not eat wood, like termites, but they excavate it with their strong, saw-like jaws to create random galleries where they nest. Carpenter ants are also a nuisance because of their abundance and large size.

Damage to wood caused by carpenter ants is different than the damage to wood caused by subterranean termites.


Carpenter ants chew wood with and across the grain, while termites only damage wood with the grain. Furthermore, termites often line their galleries with mud, while carpenter ant galleries are smooth, clean, and devoid of mud and other debris.



Carpenter ants are the largest of the pest ants found in Georgia. In Georgia, there are two pest species of primary importance: the black carpenter ant (Camponotus pennsylvanicus) and the Florida carpenter ant (Camponotus floridanus). Black carpenter ants are dull black and their abdomens are covered by yellowish hairs, while the Florida carpenter ant has a deep reddish-colored head and thorax and a shiny, black abdomen. Since ants from a single carpenter ant nest vary greatly in size, ant size alone is usually not a good characteristic for identification. Carpenter ants

vary in size from about Ÿ to ½ inch. To confirm their identify, collect a few ants in a vial filled with a preservative such as rubbing alcohol, and send them to a Cooperative Extension Service county agent.


In Georgia, carpenter ants become active in the spring (March/April) and remain active through the early fall (September/October). During the winter, ants become inactive and hibernate in their nest to survive the cold. The habitat where carpenter ants are most common include areas abundant in mature hardwood trees typified by older, wellestablished suburban neighborhoods. Carpenter ants are most active at night, when it is not uncommon to see 10- to 20-fold or more ants than would be seen during daylight hours. Ants emerge about 15 minutes after sundown and leave the nest in large numbers in search of food, traveling up to hundreds of feet from the nest on semi-permanent trails. Unlike other pest ant species, carpenter ants create semi-permanent trails through the grass from their nest to areas where they collect food. Movement between nest sites and between nest sites and feeding sites is often facilitated by the use of these well-maintained, semi-permanent trails. In the evening, ants can be seen using these trails as they emerge from and return to their nest. Colonies may even use the same trail in different years. Carpenter ants also follow man-made guides such as wall edges when foraging. Carpenter ants feed mainly in the tops of trees, where they consume the sweet, sugarrich honeydew directly from aphids and scale insects that are found feeding on the tree’s sap. Honeydew is nearly pure sugar, and is excreted by aphids and scale insects in large quantities during the spring and summer months. Many

PEST 411 ant species depend on honeydew as a stable, predictable source of food throughout the warm season.

Nest habits

Carpenter ants may establish nest sites inside and/or outside the home. Some examples of where carpenter ants have been found nesting inside are in moisture-damaged wood around chimneys and skylights, under bathtubs, inside dishwashers, in wall voids beneath window sills, inside hollow doors and door frames, under fiberglass insulation in crawl-spaces, and in wall voids in wood porch supports and columns, under siding and wood shingles, and in moisture-damaged eaves. In general, wood suffering from moisture damage will attract and be used by carpenter ants as nest sites because damp wood is easier for the ants to chew than sound, dry wood. Damp wood combined with warm temperatures also promotes the survival, growth and reproduction of carpenter ant colonies.

Finding nests is key

The key to eliminating carpenter ant infestations is to find the nest and remove it, either physically (by vacuum) or by treating it with an insecticide.

Carpenter ants found in the house often-times can be found nesting outdoors in trees. To find outdoor nest sites, inspect each large tree (greater than 6 inches in diameter), beginning 15 to 20 minutes after sundown, by walking around it while shining a flashlight up and down the trunk. If a nest is present, you will see ants moving up and down the trunk as they leave from and return to the nest with food. Since carpenter ants use permanent trails, use a flashlight to find ants on the trail, then follow them as they move to and from their nest. Finding just part of the trail can be a tremendous help in finding the nest. After locating several points along a trail, a directional pattern will emerge and often lead directly to the nest. Look for sawdust at the bases of trees. Since carpenter ants must excavate wood to expand their galleries, it is common to find piles of sawdust on the ground at the base of a tree where carpenter ants nest. As mentioned previously, carpenter ants do not consume wood, but they must chew it to build and expand nest galleries. Galleries are created by biting off small pieces of wood and disposing


Outdoors, nest are most commonly found in hardwood trees containing treeholes. Most large hardwood trees contain a treehole or other imperfection where ants might nest. In treeholes, ants find an environment that is ecologically stable (consistent humidity and temperature) and protected from adverse environmental conditions and natural enemies. There they chew dead wood to create galleries for nest sites. Colonies are less commonly found in stumps, logs, railroad ties or similar large pieces of wood. Outdoors, black carpenter ant nests are found almost exclusively in trees containing treeholes, while the Florida carpenter ant is more opportunistic. It is found not only nesting in trees but also under loose debris found lying on the ground (e.g., roof shingles, cardboard boxes, logs, etc.).

Inspect all locations listed as indoor and outdoor nest sites in the previous section. To find nest sites indoors, follow a few foraging ants to learn where they might be nesting. This excites the ants, allowing the inspector to detect their presence by Mohammed El Damir, hearing their raucous Florida carpenter ants nesting in firewood. movements. Look for small piles of wood debris -- resembling sawdust -- that ants drop from the next during excavation of the wood. Close examination of the debris may also reveal parts of dead carpenter ants and the uneaten, discarded pieces and parts of prey insects brought into the nest for food.


PEST 411 of it to the outside. The small bits of wood often pile up at the base of a tree and look very much like sawdust.

Treating nest sites indoors

Either physically remove indoor nests or treat them with an insecticide labeled for ant control indoors. Use insecticidal dusts and/or aerosols to eliminate carpenter ant infestations indoors. Apply small amounts of dust into voids where the ants are known to be nesting, are suspected of nesting, and/or in voids that they use when foraging. Dusts must be placed into the voids so they will not be contacted. Since dusts become airborne very easily, it is advisable to wear a protective mask when applying dusts. Apply dusts so a very thin film settles in treated areas. Place dusts behind electrical outlets and switch plates and in the voids under window sills. Small holes (1/8 inch) may also be drilled into drywall in areas where ants are suspected of nesting. Place dust into the void and patch the hole with drywall cement.


Aerosol formulations may also be used when indoor ant nests are visible and accessible. For example, when nests are uncovered during inspection, spray all ants with an aerosol before they can disperse.


Never use water-based or other wet formulations in voids. Wet formulations not only damage drywall, insulation and wood molding, but there is a danger of electrical shock and/or fire when using liquids around electricity.

Treating nest sites outdoors

Outdoors, pour a water-based, liquid insecticide directly into carpenter ant nests located in treeholds. Use enough insecticide to thoroughly saturate the entire nest and all ants inside. This may require pouring 1 gallon or more of liquid insecticide into the nest. It is important to saturate all nest galleries with insecticide. If the nest is awkwardly positioned and difficult to reach with a liquid spray, it may be necessary to drill a small hole (Ÿ to ½ inch) into the top of the suspected nest location. This allows the liquid insecticide to be introduced and allowed to flow downward through the nest.

When treating carpenter ant nest sites inside and outside, the choice of a particular product or brand name is not as important as the choice of formulation and the direct treatment of ants and/ or nest sites. Carpenter ants are not resistant, or immune, to any insecticide.

When nest cannot be found

Often the nest cannot be found or, if found, cannot be easily treated. Under these circumstances, use baits and/or treat outside with a liquid spray. Baits are an effective means of controlling ants in some cases. Indoors, use liquid baits and baits contained in childproof, plastic bait stations; outdoors, use liquid and granular baits. For liquid baits, soak a small cotton ball and place it on a piece of aluminum foil in areas where ants have been seen. Granular baits should be delivered from two or three small piles (about the size of a quarter) placed in areas where ants have been seen (e.g., next to semi-permanent trails and trees containing nests). Perimeter treatments are used as means of keeping ants from entering a structure. To conduct a perimeter treatment, spray the outside walls with a water-based liquid insecticide 2 to 3 feet up, and spray the ground (including shrubbery, mulch, flower beds, etc.) 5 feet away from each wall. Spray as many areas traveled by carpenter ants as possible, and concentrate spray treatments to areas where ants might enter the structure (e.g., around doors and windows). As part of the perimeter spray program, apply a liquid insecticide to the trunk of each tree on which carpenter ants have been seen. This treatment strategy will kill ants moving up and down the tree trunk. Perimeter treatments should be re-applied every four to six weeks during the summer and within a week following a heavy rain. Typical perimeter treatments often require 7 to 10 gallons of liquid spray.


Homeowners can take several measures to help prevent future problems with carpenter ants. Eliminate sources of excess moisture to help

PEST 411 make the home a less desirable nesting site to ants and other pests. Fix leaks around attic vents, pipes and sinks, and around chimneys and skylights. Replace water-damaged wood. Dry out the crawl space by installing a vapor barrier and foundation vents. Keep rain gutters clean and adjust drain spouts so water flows away from the building. Install rain gutters if they do not already exist. Trim tree limbs away from the structure. Foraging carpenter ants often enter structures by bridging to roofs and siding from tree branches in contact with these surfaces.

Selecting a professional

It is often best to employ a licensed pest control firm, especially when nests are difficult to find. The company chosen should conduct a thorough and complete inspection that results in location of the nest or at least a probable nest site before treatment. Although locating the nest is not always easy, it is the key to eliminating the carpenter ant infestation.

Avoid having a pest management professional return to spray each month or whenever carpenter ants are seen. The infestation will continue unless nests are found and eliminated. If nests are found and treated, it is unlikely that additional services for carpenter ant control will be needed, since carpenter ant nests are fairly small and grow very slowly.


Because of their nesting habits, carpenter ants can be persistent pests in and around homes. The key to eliminating a carpenter ant infestation is to find the nest and remove it. Look both indoors and outdoors for carpenter ant nests, and use the most appropriate control strategy to eliminate the infestation. If insecticides are used, they must be used judiciously. Follow label guidelines strictly. If problems persist, seek the advice and services of a pest management professional and your county extension agent.

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Technology to beat the cold

Apps that can help you stay safe this winter Information provided by Risk Management Partners on behalf of Snellings Walters Insurance Extreme cold weather is a dangerous situation that can bring on health emergencies.

During the winter, many workers are outdoors, working in cold, wet, icy, or snowy conditions. Workers who are exposed to extreme cold or work in cold environments may be at risk of cold stress. What constitutes cold stress and its effects can vary across different areas of the country. In regions relatively unaccustomed to winter weather, near freezing temperatures are considered factors for cold stress. Whenever temperatures drop below normal and as wind speed increases, heat can more rapidly leave your body. These weather-related conditions may lead to serious health problems. Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by ensuring workers: are:

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aware of the hazards of winter weather driving;


properly trained for driving in winter weather conditions; and


are licensed for the vehicles they operate.

NOAA Snow Forecast shows you how much it’s going to snow and breaks the locations down into neighborhoods as opposed to the forecast in larger areas, such as entire cities.

Technology to the rescue

Being prepared for possible winter weather is very important and today there are many advances in technology that can help workers prevent serious injuries and be prepared for anything that may occur while working in winter conditions. To help workers prepare for winter weather, one app, Winter Wake Up is synced to your local weather reports, this free app alerts you to wake up early if there’s snow on the ground and ice on your windshield, giving you more time to get your car clean before you leave the house. Another app, NOAA Snow Forecast, shows you how much it’s going to snow in your location or other locations, such as those you plan to travel to in the upcoming days, and breaks the locations down into neighborhoods as opposed to the forecast in larger areas, such as entire cities. The app shows you detailed and hourly updated snowfall forecast projections. It costs $1.99 and is available on both iOS and Android. To help those that get stuck out in winter weather, one app, Winter Survival Kit, is a free app available for both iPhones and Android smartphones. Among its features, the app can pinpoint a stranded motorist’s location, call 911

The free app, Survival Guide, provides essential survival tips when trapped out in the winter weather, from starting fires to finding food.

SAFETY WORKS and notify loved ones, and even monitor how long it will be before gas runs out. Another app, Survival Guide, provides essential survival tips should you find yourself trapped out in the winter weather and need tips from starting fires to finding food. This is a free app and is available on both iOS and Android.

Stay smart and safe

Using technology to help monitor the winter weather and the outdoor working conditions can help prevent serious work related injuries; and also help both employers and workers be prepared for dangerous conditions before they arise.

This topic is available in

SAFETY SCHOOL UAC business-level members: download the trainer document (includes a quiz for the participants), slide presentation, and attendance sheet. Available in English and Spanish. First, log in as a member at Click on the Membership tab > LInks for members > Visit UAC Safety School

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Social media for landscapers Responding to online feedback

by Adreana Young, Copywriter and Content Specialist, Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply Social media has created a space for

When you receive positive comments or feedback on social media, it might be tempting to just leave them alone, but responding to positive comments shows your appreciation for the positive feed back, and shows the customer they have been heard.

customers to voice their thoughts and share experiences. It’s expanded word-ofmouth reviews from a neighbor or two, to thousands of people online; and social sharing and online feedback can have positive and negative impacts on a business. There’s a lot to be gained from both positive and negative feedback online. Here’s how to best handle them.

Negative comments


If your business has a presence on social media you’re bound to receive some negative feedback.


While negative comments seem like they have the potential to damage your company brand, you can take control of the situation and change perceptions to show followers your dedication to amazing customer service! Let’s say a customer had a bad experience with one of your employees, and posts about it on your social media page, or tags your company in their personal post. The first thing you should do is ask your employee about the situation. After gathering information, respond in a polite, calm tone. Apologize for any inconvenience and try to correct any mistake that was made—even if your employee isn’t entirely at fault. If a customer is complaining about your company’s services or a job, again remain calm, assess the situation and gather more information. Once you better understand what happened,

work to fix the problem. If a job wasn’t done the way the customer expected, offer to make it right. No one expects you to be perfect, but apologizing for mistakes and offering to fix them shows great character on your company’s part. When negative comments occur, opening up a dialog and being transparent through communication creates a situation where your customer can get answers and a fix for their problem, which can turn a potentially brand damaging situation into one where you look like a customer services super star! However, it’s also important to know when to take the exchange out of the public eye. Use direct messaging when appropriate. The main point to remember is that you’re not responding to one person’s comments; an entire community of followers is watching. Depending on your reaction, you can either alienate more customers, or gain respect from them. All you need to do is work to remedy the issue and remain courteous and understanding.

Positive feedback

When you receive positive comments or feedback on social media, it might be tempting to just leave them alone, but responding to positive comments shows your appreciation for the positive feed back, and shows the customer they have been heard. Responding to positive feedback on social media isn’t as intricate as responding to negative feedback. Simply “like” the comment or respond back with a thank you or an anecdote about the job you performed for them. This can build loyalty and encourage them to post more positive comments.

BUSINESS Don’t shy away from either type of response online, and don’t take it personally. Use social media as a looking glass into your customers’ views of your company and respond accordingly.

Try to respond to everything

It can be difficult, but having active social media accounts is a great way to be available to customers. The more you respond to followers and customers on social media, the more responses and feedback you will get, which will provide you greater insight for your business.

How to get better reviews

What you can gain

Social media can sometimes feel daunting, but it can be a powerful tool to engage with customers and gain deep insight into their needs and wants. Positive feedback can provide reinforcement that what you’re doing is working. Negative feedback gives you opportunities to pivot if something isn’t working the way you hoped it would.

Your social media reviews and comments are often a direct reflection of your customer service performance. The best way to get more positive reviews is to provide great service. Encourage happy customers to visit your social media pages and ask them to write a review. Actively promoting these accounts shows customers that you value what they have to say. Communication between customer and company is the best way to build your online brand and grow your business.

Use photos to drive engagement to your social accounts They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but on social media, a photo can tell an entire story and make or break a post.

According to HubSpot, Facebook posts that include a photo get 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments and 84 percent more clicks than text-only posts!

Let your photos do the talking

Taking compelling photos

You don’t need a high-end professional camera to take great photos. Most smartphones today have built-in cameras that take high-resolution shots sufficient for social media purposes. Consider these when shooting your next job: Active shots. Photos of people doing things are the most interesting to look at, and often tell a story without using words. Photos that tell a story. In addition to active shots, include befores and afters. Before starting a job, snap a picture of what the landscape, golf course, or irrigation system looked like. Once you’re finished, take another picture and compare them side-by-side. This is a great way to show off your skills and a job well done. Behind the scenes photos. People love to see what goes on behind the scenes. Give customers and potential customers a peek inside your hard work, and make them feel more involved with your company.

Before posting any photos of your client’s landscapes, be sure to get their permission. In a world of constant online social interaction, the best way to stand out and capture your followers’ attention is to promote your work with interesting and fun photos.


Having plenty of photos throughout your social media page will draw in more people and cut down on the amount of text they have to scan. People today often don’t have time to read paragraphs on social media. Photos are a great way to effectively share your message. Your photos should be clear, active and tell a story. These photos can easily accomplish this: • Beautiful landscape shots • Before and after shots of job sites • Photos of employees working • Team shots

Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply is the largest familyowned supplier of landscape and water management products in the country. Ewing offers commercial and residential irrigation supplies, water management and sustainable solutions, landscape and turf products, hardscape, landscape lighting, water features, erosion control, industryleading seminars and more to professionals serving the landscaping, sports field, golf and agricultural industries.

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A general rule for photos on social media is to try to have at least one photo (or video or graphic) attached to your posts. The more visual your accounts are, the more likely people are to pay attention to what you’re saying.

Photo selection

About Ewing



Take a breather

Slow and steady wins in sales, too by Marty Grunder For the last 32 years, I have learned

a lot about selling from my own efforts and from training other landscape sales professionals. The best of what I’ve learned to do before, during and after the sale is below.

The process of selling is a marathon, not a sprint. Nothing happens until somebody sells something, folks. So, go for it!

The process of selling is a marathon, not a sprint. Nothing happens until somebody sells something, folks. So, go for it!




Have a screening process. If you do a good job screening your prospects and making sure they are a fit for what you do, there is no reason you can’t close the majority of the calls you go on.


Too many contractors go and meet with anyone who calls in. Big mistake! You want to spend time selling your strengths to someone who needs them and appreciates them. This is one of the biggest lessons I learned early on at Grunder Landscaping Company and it’s improved our success at sales tenfold. Ideal clients are the ones who appreciate you, are capable of paying and put a smile on your face. If you are explaining how you do business and learning more about your prospect’s needs when you get there, you are wasting your time and your prospect’s or client’s time. Get this out of the way before you get to the appointment. I am a strong believer in charging for consultations. This may not be an idea for

all of you to follow, but I believe professionals should get paid for their expertise. Amateurs don’t as they need the practice. What are you? Resist the urge to interrupt, jump to conclusions or talk too much. Be brief and to the point. Recently my wife and I had a couple of decorators over to our house to help us spruce up our 10-year-old home. One of the decorators did not charge to come out and when I asked how she worked, she said, “Well, I just show you what I can do and hopefully you’ll buy it.” I asked her what happened if I did not use her. Would there be a charge for her ideas? She said, “Well, not really. If you want my ideas, I can bill you a couple hundred dollars.” She sure wasn’t making me feel like she was unique or in high demand. I think this is a big mistake. When you stop giving away all your expertise for nothing, the whole industry is elevated. Sure, you may upset a few people along the way with this approach, but it’s worth it. Your doctor, your attorney, even your local car care professional doesn’t give out free advice and you shouldn’t, either. Give the prospect a reason to listen to you. There are many ways to accomplish this. You can send them an email introduction or a video introducing you, your background, talents, expertise and credentials. To do otherwise is a mistake.


The one decorator we met at the house jumped right into ideas and how she could help us. She was a lovely lady, however I am still wondering if she has a degree. Does she own the firm? If she doesn’t, how long has she been doing this? What awards has she won? Why would I want to work with her? Make sure you introduce yourself and

BUSINESS impress them, and you have already distanced yourself from the competition. Be on time. The first promise you keep is the one to be at the appointment when you said you would. If you need me to say more about this one, you might not be cut out for success. If you really want to impress, be three minutes early for the call. Make a weakness of the industry your strength.


You have to look the part. Back to the decorators: All of the women who showed up at our house had nice, clean vehicles, and were dressed very, very well. They looked like professionals who had style and pride. Their attractiveness gave me reason to believe they would have great ideas for our house. Oh, and smell good. Yep, sounds silly, but it can be an issue. One shot of the cologne, not 10, men!


And don’t forget the breath mints. I could go on and on. Just be mindful of all the senses and appeal in a good way to all of them. You’re trying to make a sale and we want to be doing things that impress and we do not want to give our client or prospect any reason to believe we aren’t who we say we are.

Be respectful. There are a lot of little things that show respect for the prospect or client. Don’t park on their driveway or in their spot at the office. Be smart! There are five senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. Don’t stand out poorly in any of them.

Listen. Be quiet. Listen 10 times as much as you talk. Take notes, ask questions and probe. When you do this, you can methodically uncover exactly what the prospect or client wants and be in a position to deliver just that. Resist the urge to interrupt, jump to

Also, being early allows you to be relaxed and review your notes as to why you are meeting with this prospect. You need to be focused before you start the appointment.



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BUSINESS conclusions or talk too much. Be brief and to the point. Nothing is worse than a rambling salesperson in your kitchen. Be respectful of their time. I tell the prospect before I come out how long I need and then reaffirm that when I get there. I am very careful not to overstay my welcome. There will be a time for you to impress them with your knowledge, so wait for the right time.

area to get the sale. Doing what you said you would do is a surefire way to win. Your quote and all accompanying work should be neat, tidy and highly detailed. Again, we’re not going to give the prospect one reason to think you are anything other than the absolute best choice for their landscaping. If you can think that way and get your sales team to think like that, you will win.

I’m amazed at how many sales professionals don’t write things down during a meeting. Writing what your prospect or client says during the call does two things. It helps you remember the conversation when you are back at your desk working on the proposal. And second, it shows your prospect or client that you value their time and comments.


When you are finished with the meeting, you should recap the conversation before departing, touching all the wants and needs they share with you and making sure expectations are in sync.


Follow up. If you can price the job on the spot, by all means, do that.


Landscape professionals I have worked with implementing my selling system have seen a 25 percent increase in sales when they close everything they possibly can on the spot.


People want it and they want it now. You know you like that too, right? If you can’t price the job on the spot, tell them when you will get back to them. Set up the next appointment before you leave, erasing doubt from the prospect and hopefully keeping them from calling someone else for a price as they know you are moving quickly.

Ask for the sale. I always ask for the sale. Why is this so important? Consumers want to work with someone they know wants to work with them. By asking for the sale, you show your confidence. I ask for the sale when I am done presenting and after all questions have been answered.


Be persistent but professional. I will keep asking for the sale in a professionally pushy way. I will write a thankyou note after the initial call. I will email them to follow up. I will call them. I will stop by. I will do whatever they say is okay to do to try and make this sale.


If you make the sale, do exactly what you said you would do. The goal of a landscape sales professional is repeat business. We are looking for relationships, not transactions. Value is built in our businesses with long-term relationships, not random transactions. Getting and keeping clients should be the focus.


Keep asking for sales. Smart contractors develop relationships with clients and contact them to say hello and make sure they are happy. They also constantly show them what’s possible for their property.


Deliver as promised. It sounds so basic, but it’s the greatest selling tip ever. If you say you’ll have a plan and proposal for a patio and fire pit in their backyard for a Saturday morning meeting at 9:30, you need to do just that.

Consumers buy from sales professionals they know, like, and trust. Follow these 11 ideas and you will improve your sales efforts. They are basic ideas and I have found those who do the basics best win the most.

You’re trying to build up trust and this is the way you do that. People buy from people they know, like and trust. You have to check the box in each

Originally published by Lawn & Landscape and reprinted with permission. For more, visit



Payroll cards

Can paycards save money for your business? by Lori Murray, Manta Contributor Replacing paper paychecks with payroll cards can take the cost and hassle out of your

payroll process, and make it easier for employees too! Spending too much of your time and money on the payroll process? Small business owners in search of a wage payment method that reduces payroll costs and increases efficiency may want to consider paycards. This paperless approach to paying wages not only saves time and money, but it eliminates the worry and hassle of payroll checks that are lost or stolen.

How paycards work

When using paycards, also known as payroll cards, the employer simply arranges to automatically have the employee’s pay directdeposited onto a card.

This removes the need to print and deliver paper checks, and it makes direct deposit a reality for all employees—not just those with a bank account. Employees can then use the card—either as a debit or credit card—to purchase goods or pay bills.

How paycards pay off for you

A way to counter common objections, since employees can check their balances online and withdraw funds from an ATM, at banks where the Visa or MasterCard logo is displayed and at the point of purchase with cash back

Less money spent on printing, postage and lostcheck fees

Small business owners in search of a wage payment method that reduces payroll costs and increases efficiency may want to consider paycards.

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Cards can be issued immediately, in most instances, since employers can keep some on hand and issue them as needed An online portal that allows employers to easily manage their payroll program

By 2017, there will be 10.8 million payroll cards in circulation, according to Aite Group. It may be time to find out how they can work for your business.

Reduced administrative costs and the potential to limit your environmental footprint

Manta is one of the largest online resources dedicated to small business. We deliver products, services and educational opportunities that are effective, easy to understand and geared to help business owners become more competitive in their respective industries.

A better option for convincing reluctant employees to convert from the traditional check-in-hand to a paperless model

We are constantly evolving and improving, and our mission to empower small businesses continues to be inspired by their significant impact on an individual, local and national level.

As a small business owner, here’s the upside for you:

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“No thanks”

Understanding and addressing customer resistance by Dr. Richard Ludwig, Landscape Design & Graphics Workshops

There’s nothing worse than investing


time and energy into a dynamic proposal and hearing a negative response. “No thanks” always stings and frustrates us, especially if we thought everything was going well.


To be fair, we must expect some negative responses. Not everyone has the resources or are willing to part with their resources once a proposal is made. However, it is important to understand that most Most of our customers are time poor if not all customers and don’t want to interview a number want to say “Yes!” They want you and of companies; they want to use you if your ideas to succeed. you can meet their expectations. Never heard of anyone contacting a landscape professional just to turn them down. They may have sticker shock and reject your proposal because of the price but often it is something else that causes a “No” to happen. Most of our customers are time poor and don’t want to interview a number of companies; they want to use you if you can meet their expectations.


Understand the personality of your customer. If most are baby boomers (born 1945 - 1964), they are often traditional and conservative. A significant portion of this customer base owns their own home and likes a conventional approach. This typically means

being less interested in the latest and greatest; they prefer something that is tried and true. On the other hand, if your typical customer is a GenX (born 1965 - 1980), they’re educated, technically savvy and individualistic. They also may need to pay over time as most are still making payments on their home. Are you listening? Most homeowners don’t know the difference between a holly and an Indian Hawthorne. What they want is a landscape that works, that does something, that enhances the use and value of their property. Too often we’re all about finding the most unique plants available and imposing them on the site or designing the space based on what we like.


First step in sales is to listen intently to identify the customer’s concerns and specifically address them. Can you describe the purpose the plant materials serve? If it has no value other than looking pretty, chances are they won’t be thrilled with your choice. However, if you have done a great job of listening and select plants that are functional and purposeful you’re probably in business. They don’t want to hear you say, “Well, Osmanthus is one of our favorite plants.” Rather, “We chose the Osmanthus because it is a solid evergreen screen that will block the wind and create a visual barrier between your deck and that ugly shed.” That is the type of sales argument that customers can appreciate. Do you take the time to explain the overarching problem or concern? Sometimes we need to be an educator to make a sale. In the South, clay soil is a four-letter word. Clay is inherently acidic, poorly drained and anaerobic. This means core aeration for turf as well as organic matter for our beds. Customers generally don’t understand this. You’ve got to be a patient teacher to help them understand the lack of O2 is a primary impediment to a gorgeous lawn or healthy perennials and seasonal


BUSINESS color. Don’t underestimate the value of taking the time to explain the science behind what you are offering. Do you guarantee your results? One of the major reasons folks are anxious about investing in our products and services is fear of failure. They may not understand the science behind the state-of-the-art irrigation system or how to take care of a pond. I am sure you’ve heard potential customers say, “Oh, I can’t grow anything, I have a black thumb.”


Can you give them detailed instructions and offer solid assurance that if they do what they are supposed to do, they’ll be successful? I’ve heard of landscape firms offering a lifetime guarantee on anything they install in the landscape, as long as they also do the maintenance. Being on the site multiple times each month to do the mowing and blowing gives you a chance to survey the plants and offer the homeowner assistance. If it dies? Well, you’re profiting from the maintenance and it’s a pretty easy to pull up that one-gallon azalea and put a new one in the ground.

Are you persistent enough? Sometimes you’ve not had enough contact with them to encourage them to pull the trigger. Here’s some fascinating statistics from the National Sales Executive Association:


48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect 25% of sales people only make a second contact and stop 12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts 2% of all sales are made on the first contact 3% of all sales are made on the second contact 5% of all sales are made on the third contact 10% of all sales are made on the fourth contact 80% of all sales are made on the fifth to 12th contact! So, get to know your customer and listen to their needs. Be an educator and a offer solid guarantee. And finally, be persistent. You may never hear the word “No” again!

One-Day Hands-On Workshop! Spend one day with us, spend the Spring making profits.

Thursday, February 16, 2017 Heritage Sandy Springs 6110 Blue Stone Rd. NE, Atlanta GA 30328

Drafting equipment & supplies included • • • • •

The purpose and value of seasonal color Selling seasonal color to your clients Graphics to sell seasonal color Understanding the basics of form, color and texture Block design strategies

Discounts for UAC members!

• • • • • •

Efficient installation of seasonal color Secrets of container, soil and plant selection How create lush, gorgeous compositions Pricing your work to be competitive and profitable Management for performance Putting it all together - final design project

For details and to register:


Dr. Richard Ludwig Bill Slack, ASLA



4 Cores of Landscape Business Success

Landscape Business Boot Camp primer, part two by Steven Cohen, Consultant, GreenMark Consulting Group

Strategy-based performance metrics

The most critical metrics for a business capability focus on the strategy for the business solution. These metrics aim toward assessing the success (performance) of the strategy on a continuing basis. Strategy-based metrics fall into two categories: goal-based and policy-based.


Goal-based strategy monitors. Goal monitors are metrics for determining whether business goals are being satisfied. At first glance, goal monitors often seem relatively straightforward. The devil is in the details as they say...capturing and specifying practicable business rules that support goals often requires significant analysis.

Kathy G. Johnson

One of the most important, but often overlooked, aspects of KPIs is that they are a form of communication. As such, they abide by the same rules and best-practices as any other form of communication. In the first part of our Landscape Business BootCamp primer in the Nov/Dec 2016 issue,


we provided an overview of the 4-Cores for Landscape Business Success. In part two of this series, we will discuss measurement and metrics often known as Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs.


Developing the right metrics or key performance indicators for your landscape company’s success is imperative. Operating an efficient business requires a solid understanding of what things are crucial for on-going business success. Such understanding is embodied in the strategy on which the capability is based, in particular on business goals and business policies.

Performance metrics for business processes. Discussion of metrics often focuses on business processes, rather than on strategy. Although metrics for the former can be important, we think metrics for the latter are generally much more so. Nonetheless, you should consider carefully what KPIs you need for business processes. Bottom line: a business model is not complete without them.


Some simple questions to ask yourself in the metrics and measurement analysis of your landscape company are as follows:

  

1. How effectively do we measure in our organization? 2. Do we measure what is important? 3. How do we use the information gathered?

Basing metrics on business goals and business policies permits you to demonstrate true business alignment quantitatively.

After asking yourself these questions, you must truly understand that a KPI is only as valuable as the action it inspires.

For purpose of simple understanding, we break this down into two key metrics.

Too often I see my clients and colleagues overburden this process by creating either to many KPIs or unnecessary KPI measures.

BUSINESS One of the most important, but often overlooked, aspects of KPIs is that they are a form of communication. As such, they abide by the same rules and best-practices as any other form of communication.

Customer satisfaction Happy customers vs. dissatisfied customers, renewals/cancellations WIP report Work in progress

Developing your KPIs

As with the discussion of KPIs in general, you must identify what KPIs are needed to manage an organization of excellence, a simple baseline. From there it becomes a matter of establishing goals against your KPI’s.

In terms of developing a strategy for formulating KPIs for your business, your team should start with the basics and understand what your organizational objectives are, how you plan on achieving them, and who can act on this information. This should be an iterative process that involves feedback from your key contributors. As this fact-finding mission unfolds, you will gain a better understanding of which business processes need to be measured with KPIs and with whom that information should be shared. My suggestion is a go back to the roots process and determine the most important KPIs and focus on making sure that those are being measured correctly. Real-time information through specialized scoreboards will help coordinate all your business intelligence into one easy-to-use platform. For the purpose of discussion, some suggested KPIs and real-time dashboards for a landscape company could include the following:

Georgia UAC is bringing

Landscape Business Boot Camp to Atlanta! See page 38.

As you already know from this article and even perhaps your own knowledge, your KPIs will enable you to develop an understanding of where you are, where you need to go, and a timeline for when you will get there. Assuming you have your goals in place, the next step is to develop mastery to build the exceptional processes that will deliver on those goals. It’s also important to understand that key performance indicators are really never done. Perception of business risks change with time; modifications of business policies produce new patterns of business activity; customers become smarter (faster and faster) … the list goes on. Inevitably, initial specifications for KPIs will evolve and new indicators will emerge. Basing deployment of KPIs on business rules enables rapid, continuing adaptation. And meaningful adaptation. As business rules, the KPIs will remain grounded in the structured business vocabulary (concept model, sometimes called fact model). Without such grounding, metrics can quickly come to have literally no meaning whatsoever.


Sales activities Bid, won and lost ratios and comparisons Operational performance Estimated hours to actual hours Financial performance AR/AP/payroll, P&L and balance sheet, profit sharing Equipment costing Rent vs. lease, operating expenses, equipment recovery costs Employee costing Employee talent and retention, tenure, performance, performance bonuses Safety Days without loss, MOD ratings, insurance rates

It’s important for an organization to align its specific needs of KPIs with an appropriate database or software platform to best manage and scale its business model.

Ready to learn more about the 4 Cores and how to put them to work for your business?



Bottom line

KPIs have a certain level of importance in an organization, but only if they lead to actionable steps to achieve a goal. For organizational and operational success of any business metric, the company must convert the measured, quantified data into actionable items to meet its goal.

About Landscape Business BootCamp Struggling with improving your team’s performance, attitude and loyalty? Or perhaps feeling like you are constantly putting band-aids on problems, only to find that they continue to resurface? If so, then this course is for you If you own a landscape or irrigation business with an annual revenue between $350k and $2 million, this work session will help you plan and implement business strategies to take your business to the next level. You’ll come away with a renewed sense of energy, ready to stay the course and keep building your business, along with the essential foundation needed to improve the overall vitality of your company.

About the author Steven Cohen, Principal of GreenMark Consulting Group, is a business management and operations consultant with more than 25 years of landscape/snow industry experience. Steven has an extensive background in managing cross-functional business operations, business strategy and market growth projects. He prides himself as being both an analytical and a conceptual thinker who effectively partners with business owners to assess opportunities, facilitate strategic decisions, and drive successful implementations. GreenMark Consulting Group specializes in helping growth-oriented companies see through challenges and map out operational and growth strategies.

Landscape Business Boot Camp


GreenMark Consulting Group has developed a proprietary Landscape Business BootCamp Platform which offers a combination of business and industry expertise and accelerated knowledge of in-depth strategies.


DATE: January 19, 2017

The curriculum is based on GreenMark’s 4 Cores of Landscape Business Success: 1. Guiding the Business

PLACE: Heritage Sandy Springs 6110 Blue Stone Rd NE Atlanta, GA 30328

2. Running the Business

Sponsored by



Discounts for UAC members!

3. Getting the Business 4. Doing the Business

The program is tailored to business owners, managers, employees, and all those seeking to improve their expertise in the landscape industry.


• Obtain a better understanding of what it really takes to build, manage and sustain success • Improve team performance, attitude and loyalty • Increase your customer loyalty • Expand your market or service offerings • Increase your revenue growth profitability • Learn how to develop a competitive dominance within your market


Each Core includes Landscape Business Courseware and our Landscape Business Success Toolkits™ which serve as a blueprint to help attendees: • Create a vision, mission and values statement • Create processes for business standardization • Define a branding strategy, market position and sales pipeline • Manage the internal and external customer delivery experience

for more info and to registeR:


Health Care Benefits Program


There’s nothing easy about health insurance.

Unless you’re a UAC member.

ways your life just got easier


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> One invoice for all coverages > Online systems for your HR managers > We’ll help you design a plan that is tailored to your specific needs > Bilingual call center so your employees can call directly for information

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The power of your group gives you more bang for your buck so you can offer more for less Position your company to compete for the best employees Take care of your current employees so they remain loyal to your company

Drive results that are more predictable and create long-term savings for your company Help contain your costs by offering company-specific wellness programs like tobacco cessation or activity-based challenges Just like your safety programs help you reduce workers comp claims, wellness programs can significantly reduce your health costs Don’t worry, we’ll help you develop MAKE PRICING programs that work for your MORE PREDICTABLE company


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Large national network means more options for you and your employees

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Put the power of your UAC membership to work for you! Get more info today: Billy Potter: 770.508.3008 or






New year, new president

How Trump policies might affect the Green Industry by Gregg Wartgow

public, over-regulation that does not appeal to the greater good can have an adverse effect on small business. A limited, sensible regulatory environment is the desire of our industry.

 

Pro-Business Fiscal Policy. Policies that encourage investment and reward business success and growth are the desire of the industry. Immigration. Illegal immigrant workers and business owners hurt the industry overall. A policy that protects American workers and business owners while also helping to secure a legal supply of seasonal workers is desired.

Trump’s plans Many people are wondering: How will the Trump presidency affect my life and job? 2016’s divisive presidential election has

left half of the country elated, and the other half deflated. Many people are wondering: How will the Trump presidency affect my life and job? Let’s take a look at the proposed policies of Trump/Pence as they relate to the lawn care and landscaping industry.

At the risk of not sounding impartial, we will now simply present the major policy positions of President-elect Trump as published on both his campaign website and now his transitional website, You can connect the dots to the above section as you see fit.



What does our industry need?

First and foremost, let’s look at the factors that drive economic activity in our industry.

Housing & construction. A healthy home and commercial construction environment is vital. This helps to create demand for landscape construction and ongoing landscape maintenance services.

Consumer spending. Demand for landscaping and lawn care services is fueled by consumer disposable income. The more money consumers have to spend, the better for our industry.

Regulations. While everyone agrees that certain regulations are needed to protect the

Tax policy. Trump wants to greatly simplify the tax code, streamlining the current seven income tax brackets down to three. All income-taxed Americans would see a reduction in their tax rate, which would be either 12%, 25% or 33%. The investment income tax would be eliminated. The capital gains tax would remain the same. Carried interest would now be taxed as ordinary income. (Carried interest is the share of investment profits paid to an investment manager.) Death tax would be repealed. Furthermore, the threshold of taxable capital gains would be $10 million, which would leave most family farms and small businesses in the clear. The business tax rate would be cut from 33% to 15%, encouraging companies to retain profits in the business to fuel future business activity and growth. Create a deduction for childcare and eldercare based on state average. Couples making more

INDUSTRY than $500,000 and individuals making more than $250,000 would be excluded from taking the deduction. The standard deduction would be increased from $12,600 to $30,000 for couples, and from $6,300 to $15,000 for individuals. Itemized deductions would be capped at $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples. Note: Some tax policy analysts say that some lower-income families could actually see an increase in tax burden as a result of Trump’s tax policy proposals. That would depend on income, number of dependents, and other factors. Regardless, for purposes of this story, it’s irrelevant—because lower-income families (earning less than $50,000) are generally not considered as a significant market for lawn care and landscaping services.

countries. Some analysts say trade wars could ensue, resulting in a reduction in exported American goods and/or higher consumer prices on goods brought into this country from other places. It’s logical to conclude that any kind of retaliatory measure a trading partner might take would depend on what kind of trade surplus they were currently enjoying.

Trade. Trump vows to reassess all trade deals and renegotiate as necessary. The ultimate goals are to: 1) close the gap between imports and exports, and 2) protect American workers by discouraging the relocation of jobs to other

Health care. Trump promises to work with Congress, which will be controlled by Republicans, to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare. Trump’s primary goals are to: 1) make health savings accounts a core element of health care reform, 2) drive down prices by allowing for interstate competition among insurance companies, 3) return regulatory control to the states, and 4) reestablish high-risk pools as a more effective way to insure people with extensive medical needs. Health care reform is a complicated issue, so it remains to be seen what can actually be done, and on what kind of timetable.




Regulations. Trump vows to require all federal departments to conduct internal audits to identify unnecessary, job-killing regulations. Also, a temporary moratorium will be placed on all new regulations not authorized by Congress. Two regulations thought by some to be the most oppressive, the Clean Water Rule and the Clean Power Plan, will be among those immediately eliminated.

Financial services. Trump vows to dismantle what is known as Dodd-Frank, a law that made historic changes to the financial regulatory environment. Trump wants to replace the law with more pro-growth financial policies. Opponents are concerned that any such regulatory rollbacks could lead to another financial crisis similar to what began to unravel in the fall of 2008.

Energy. Trump wants to make America energy-independent by making full use of all energy resources, including both traditional and renewable sources. He wants to greatly simplify the permit process for energy projects. At the same time, he says the goal of clean air, water and natural habits must be maintained. “America’s environmental agenda will be guided by true specialists in conservation, not those with radical political agendas,” Trump’s website says.



Education. Trump wants to eliminate Common Core and advance policies supporting education at the state and local level. He’s also an advocate of school choice. Trump also wants to support vocational programs and make sure the opportunity to attend a two- or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access and pay for. This would include vocations such as small engine repair, masonry and horticulture—all of which are experiencing skilled labor shortages.

Immigration. The focus is on public safety and protecting American workers. Trump says all criminal illegal immigrants will be immediately deported, as will visa overstays. Funding for sanctuary cities will be stopped. Catch and release will be stopped. A strong southern border wall will be built.

At that point in time, Trump said during an August policy speech in Phoenix, he will examine what needs to be done with the remaining, law-abiding illegal immigrants that remain. As his website states:

“In several years, when we have accomplished all of our enforcement goals – and truly ended illegal immigration for good, including the construction of a great wall, and the establishment of our new lawful immigration system – then and only then will we be in a position to consider the appropriate disposition of those who remain. That discussion can only take place in an atmosphere in which illegal immigration is a memory of the past, allowing us to weigh the different options available based on the new circumstances at the time.” Trump also says the U.S. must turn off the “jobs magnet” that draws illegal immigrants across our borders. While no specific mentions are made on his websites, in the past he has discussed the importance of mandatory e-verify, along with the H-2B seasonal guest worker visa program. Originally published by Green Industry Pros and reprinted with permission. For more, visit

About the author

Gregg Wartgow is editor in chief of Green Industry Pros magazine, SnowPRO, Dealer Success Guide,, and related print and digital products.


2017 CEFGA “World of Construction” Career Expo March 23-24, Georgia International Convention Center The Georgia Urban Ag Council will

participate for the third year in this outreach event for middle and high school students.

  

“It’s a great opportunity to plant seeds for what the construction industry is all about and how the landscape/horticulture industry fits in. The industries represented are often a secondary career path that people consider,” says Mary Kay Woodworth, Executive Director, UAC. “Our goal in the “World of Landscape” is to show them the diversity and opportunities in the landscape industry, and that there is an opportunity for good pay, good benefits and a career path!” We encourage all UAC companies to consider participating in this event with us, considering these benefits:

Promote the landscape/landcare industry as a diverse, vibrant career path;

Promote the landscape/landcare industry as a professional industry; Introduce students to your specific company and what you do; Promote importance of investment/participation in professional association

For more information about CEFGA, please go to careerexpo

With an increasing shortage of skilled workers entering the construction industry, and baby boomers retiring, there are not enough young people choosing a careers in our industry. The CEFGA CareerExpo is designed to give employers a way to engage and interact with young people; to give employers an opportunity to connect with their future workforce and to get young people excited about our industry! We hope that you’ll respond to our call for participation in the outstanding event.

Certiied Tifway bermudagrass available in pallets or mega rolls.

The contractor’s choice for quality bermudagrass Customer focused and customer oriented • Farm located minutes from I-75 in Calhoun, Georgia

Ready to deliver to your site Call for pricing and availability


Call now! Darren Emerick 770.530.5078





Use our data to see where you stand relative to the rest of the industry.



ur annual Benchmarking Your Business Report outlines key data points for every landscape and lawn care business in the country. The exclusive research on the following pages will help you compare your company to your competition regionally and nationally. Keep this report handy and use it as you plan for 2017. And don’t forget to visit to see even more regional data and print out segmentspecific budget calculators. – Chuck Bowen









Design/ build


Lawn care



Snow Irrigation and Ice inst. and maint. MGMT.



Tree care

What do you estimate your location’s 2016 net profit margin will be?









5% or less


6% - 9%


30% 58%

10% - 14%

15% - 19%

20% or more

Compared to 3 years ago, how have prices changed? I charge more now No change I charge less now Not in business/no answer



Compared with 2014, how did your location’s 2015 total gross revenue grow for each category?


What does your location pay per hour for the following positions?

$10.50 Entry-level mower operator Entry-level irrigation technician $12.00 Entry-level construction worker $12.00 $12.00 Entry-level spray technician $14.00 Entry-level mechanic

Where is your company located? CANADA: 2%

Experienced mower operator Experienced irrigation technician Experienced construction worker Experienced spray technician Experienced mechanic

$13.00 $16.00 $15.00 $16.00 $20.00

Median annual revenue by region

National median

$339K Northeast

$287K Midwest



New England: CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT........................................... 4% Middle Atlantic: NJ, NY, PA ....................................................... 11%



East North Central: IL, IN, MI, OH, WI ...................................... 18% West North Central: IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD ....................... 12%


SOUTH South Atlantic: DC, DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, PR/VI, SC, VA, WV ............. 18% East South Central: AL, KY, MS, TN ........................................... 9% West South Central: AR, LA, OK, TX ......................................... 9%



What was your location’s gross revenue in 2015? (IN PERCENTAGES)






Less than $300,000

$300,000 - $499,999

$500,000 -$999,999

$1 million - $3.9 Million

More than $4 million







SURVEY METHODOLOGY The 2016 Benchmarking Your Business survey was designed jointly by Lawn & Landscape and Readex Research, and fielded from Aug. 9-22. The survey’s 240 responses represent an estimated population of 15,500 landscape contractors. The margin of error is ±6.3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Some charts do not total 100 percent due to rounding and because not all answers are included with some questions.

Reprinted with permission from Lawn & Landscape, November 2016



Mountain: AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, UT, WY ..................................... 7% Pacific: AK, CA, HI, OR, WA .......................................................... 8%

Including you, how many employees does your location have? (National avg.)



National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture Helping horticulture find its niche

By Gail Langellotto, D. Casey Sclar, Ellen Bauske, Tom Underwood, Susan McCoy & Tom Bewick NICH aims to echo and capitalize on the success of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. This alliance — a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fresh fruits and vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products — was organized in advance of the 2007 Farm Bill to ensure that Congress heard the message, loud and clear, that specialty crops were important and that federal funds were needed for research and extension in specialty crops. NICH leaders and advisors met at the Denver Botanic Gardens in June 2016 for the 2nd NICH strategic planning retreat. From left to right, back row: Cyndi Haynes (Iowa State University), Shannon Spurlock (Denver Urban Gardens), Lucy Bradley (NC State University), Susan Mahr (University of Wisconsin), Tom Underwood (American Horticultural Society), Casey Sclar (American Public Gardens Association). Front row: Rusty Collins (Colorado State University), Ellen Bauske (University of Georgia), Jessica Romer (Denver Urban Gardens), Dave Close (Virginia Tech), Tom Bewick (USDA-NIFA), Gail Langellotto (Oregon State University) and Suzi McCoy (Garden Media Group).


The goal of NICH (National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture) is to get 90 percent of U.S. households gardening by 2025.


The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH; pronounced “nitch”) is a movement whose intention is to provide a unified voice to promote the benefits and value of horticulture to policy makers, decision makers and the general public. NICH brings together academic sectors, government, private industry and nonprofits with an interest in consumer horticulture. NICH’s mission is to “grow a healthy world through plants, gardens and landscapes.” In short, NICH seeks to cultivate a passion and appreciation for plants, while increasing a universal demand for gardening.

Representation came from across the specialty crop sector and included United Fresh Produce Association, AmericanHort, U.S. Apple Association and many others. As a result of the alliance’s efforts, the 2007 Farm Bill allotted $230 million (later raised to $320 million) for specialty crops. The alliance continues to have a huge impact on the production of commodities such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery crops and floriculture. While the alliance benefits horticulture production, NICH represents the end-use side of horticulture, ultimately serving the general public (consumers). Since its inception, NICH has aligned dozens of organizations, crafted a mission and vision statement, and developed a working set of core values, goals and associated objectives. NICH’s vision is to “use stakeholder partnerships to increase the percentage of U.S. households participating in consumer horticulture to 90 percent by 2025.” Three goals were crafted to address the potential benefits consumer horticulture will have on community, economic and environmental systems. Specific objectives were also developed to guide work on each goal. Our organizational structure allows us to recruit nationally known leaders including researchers, extension agents, master gardeners, nonprofit directors, growers, retailers and industry providers. Three goal committees (Community,

INDUSTRY Economic and Environmental) interact with three advisory councils representing different consumer horticulture sectors. The goal committees prioritize and plan work to fulfill the initiative’s mission. The councils (Land Grant, Commercial and Non-Profit) each provide industry- and sectorspecific input and guidance. The Executive Committee manages the general business of the organization and ensures equality and open communication to all stakeholders, supported by marketing expertise. Tom Bewick from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture serves as an external advisor.

How will NICH benefit the retail garden and nursery industry?

NICH aims to grow a culture where plants are considered a necessity rather than a luxury. Envision a society where people of all ages garden or engage with plants for their well-being every day of the year. More gardeners and consumers of gardenrelated goods and services will mean an increased demand and sales for plants and related products.

NICH seeks to build a strong case for continued support that will benefit university research and extension personnel, as well as school gardens and community green spaces. Ultimately, NICH aims to raise the profile of consumer horticulture and esteem for those who work in the trade including landscapers, growers and suppliers to the industry.

There are many ways, big and small, that members of the nursery industry can become involved with NICH. First and foremost is to join the organization. If you are unable to commit to more active efforts, you could be involved by monitoring future growth and successes via the listerv (sign up, or you could recommend someone who should be involved in an industry grant review panel. Other opportunities include helping spread the word about NICH, offering your expert advice, or getting involved with a group of like-minded passionate leaders with a committee or council that suits your time and talent. All have major impacts on the effort. To join NICH or learn more about the initiative, visit

About the authors

Gail Langellotto is an associate professor and Extension specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University. Contact her at D. Casey Sclar is executive director of the American Public Gardens Association. Contact him at Ellen Bauske is an urban ag program coordinator in the Department of Plant Pathology, University of Georgia. Contact her at Tom Underwood is executive director of the American Horticultural Society. Contact him at Susan McCoy is the owner of Garden Media Group. Contact her at Tom Bewick is national program leader in the Division of Plant Systems-Production at the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Contact him at

This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of Digger, published by the Oregon Association of Nurseries.


By developing a cohesive voice, NICH will position consumer horticulture to be more successful in leveraging public funding from USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative and other sources, thereby growing the entire industry. NICH will conduct comprehensive industry-wide research; implement prioritized research objectives; document economic impacts; and articulate the social and environmental benefits of consumer horticulture.




Painting with color

Stretch your creative muscle by Russ Smith There is a myth out there that you’ve probably heard before, that

dogs see the world in black and white. Like all myths, this one has a kernel of truth: dogs are colorblind and only see blue and green. Imagine how monochromatic every flower garden would look in only two colors.


On the other hand, butterflies— who Butterflies— who love to flutter love to flutter around around planting beds—have two color planting beds—have receptors that we don’t, and can see two color receptors more color than we can. that we don’t, and can see more color than we can. Perhaps that’s why, as we do, they seem to gravitate to flowers—the more colorful, the better.


Colorful flowers and plants can make a bold statement on a property. They can create a mood, draw people in, and leave an impression. That’s not to say that color displays are as easy as a walk in the park. All sorts of factors go into making a display that’s beautiful and feasible at the same time, and customer preference is just the tip of the iceberg. Still, people can be deeply affected by a strong splash of color, which makes annual displays an attractive option for residential and commercial clients alike. Knowing how to make an attractive display of plants, when to sell that display to your client, and then how to keep it alive, can make a splash in your wallet as well. By stretching their creative muscles, landscape contractors can build their business while finding a fulfilling artistic outlet at the same time.

Back to the color wheel

The first step is the fun part— learning to let your inner designer come out to play. Whether your customer base is primarily residential or commercial, any landscape can benefit from a beautiful color installation. If you aren’t sure where to begin, remember that you’re not trying to reinvent the color wheel. You may remember the color wheel from art class as a kid. It’s just the 12 most even mixes of the primary colors: red, green and blue, arranged in a circle. Shades that are next to one another are ‘analogous’ and will look good together, as will shades which are across the circle from one another, which are called ‘complementary’ or ‘contrasting’ colors. “I use a color wheel a lot of times when I’m trying to make a choice,” said Debbie Jones, operations assistant at Reno Green Landscaping in Reno, Nevada. She does a lot of annual bed designs, and she uses the wheel “to get contrasting colors, or tonal colors, colors that look really good together.” Tonal colors are lighter or darker shades of the same hue, and can be used to create visually striking blocks of color.

Plan with a purpose

Some landscapes have a defined purpose, and a good design takes that into account. “You are trying to think of their space and what it is that they’re trying to achieve,” said Jones. If an area is going to be a hotspot of activity, you might want to consider hotter colors like red, orange or yellow. A quiet suburb with a more pastoral feel might benefit from cooler colors like blue, green or violet. Of course, the client’s wishes are paramount—it’s their property after all—but not all customers

URBAN AG feel that strongly. When they look to you for advice, it’s helpful to have some tips and tricks to fall back on. Jerry Stoffield, horticulturalist and maintenance specialist at David J. Frank Landscape Contracting, Inc., in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, always asks his clients what their favorite color is. “If it’s a commercial company, I try to select colors that match their company logo, or draw something off of their building that might fit,” he said. Designing a display isn’t just about color, there are other components to keep in mind as well. “Some plants peter out too quickly, or they stay too low and you can’t really see them when you’re driving by at 35 mph,” said Jones. “So you want to select ones that have large enough flowers, and will put on enough of a show that you’re going to get the most impact for your money.” “We break up our annual displays into thrillers, fillers and spillers,” said Stoffield. Centerpieces are composed of eye-catching ‘thriller’ plants, surrounded by more commonplace ‘filler’ plants like petunias, begonias, and zinnias. The rest of the space is taken by the ‘spillers,’ vines like potato vines (scolanum), scaevola, and wave petunias.

start earlier, and the lowest latitudes may differentiate seasons more by convention than climatic necessity. The limiting factor is temperature, as a solid frost can kill delicate plantings and damage active irrigation systems. The big season for annual displays across most of the country is summer. “That gets planted Gibbs Landscape Company in May,” said Jones. People can be deeply affected by a “I’d say there aren’t strong splash of color, which makes any restrictions on annual displays an attractive option plant variety at that point in time, other for residential and commercial clients than what’s available alike. for purchase.” This is the big show, when designers have the most freedom and pull out all the stops to make displays which could last as long as five months.

“In the springtime, we’ll install pansies on some properties, to give them a little bit of color,” said Jessica Booth from Borst Landscape & Design’s garden maintenance department in Allendale, New Jersey.

This season usually comes to a close around September, and gets replaced again by cooltolerant plantings. American fall traditions do afford some colorful opportunities that spring does not. Pumpkins, gourds and other vegetables fit in with the motifs of late October and November, and bring a classic fall palette to a landscape.

Designing is only part of the field of color installation, and it’s important to keep in mind that each region has its own plants, and its own climate. The turning of the seasons will dictate what you can plant and when you can plant it.

Pansies are a common choice for many spring displays. They’re particularly hardy, and come in a variety of colors, making them ideal for the spring season, which can be as short as a month. “The big first color for us up here is bulbs and cool-tolerant annuals, we would usually be doing that in April,” said Stoffield. Lower latitudes can

If the display is in a ground-level bed, cooltolerant annual bulbs may be able give a little extra bang for their buck. Tulips, daffodils (narcissus) and hyacinths can sometimes survive the winter, and come back of their own volition in the spring. “As those die back,


Changing with the seasons

Depending on the client and the plants used, some break the season in two. “Summer is obviously our longest rotation,” said Carrie Owen, sales and service manager at Reno Green. “Sometimes, our clients like that display freshened up, so they might have four rotations,” she said.


URBAN AG you have to let the foliage of those bulbs completely droop over and almost turn brown,” said Stoffield. “Because you want the sugars that are in the leaf structure to go down to the bulb, which then swells back up.” Chatham Landscape Services

A vibrant color display raises property values, attracts customers and helps put visitors at ease, but all that is beside the point. The point is that this is art, it’s beauty, and that has always existed for its own sake. If utility were all that mattered, all cars would be beige sedans, and houses would come in one of a handful of layouts.

Winter doesn’t have to mean the end of landscape decoration, either. Covering planting areas with the boughs of an evergreen tree like a balsa, spruce or pine is not just attractive, it offers those beds some protection from the salty runoff of deicing efforts.

“In a raised planter, employ vertical elements like red twig dogwood (Cornus sericea), corkscrew willow (Salix matsudana), white birch (Betula papyrifera) and holly, which has really pretty red berries,” he said.


Prepping for success


Naturally, knowing what to plant and when to plant it is only half of the story. The contractor then has to keep that display not just alive but thriving, which is often easier said than done. “Your main season annuals are going to require the most maintenance,” Booth said. These delicate flowers need all the help they can get. That starts, as always, with the ground. Stoffield warns against relying on the site’s topsoil alone, without any amendments. “Try to bring in a blended organic matter soil,” he said. “It’s gonna help these plants grow healthy and strong, to be able to combat infection and disease problems better than they would in your garden variety soil.” Irrigation can also be an issue. The grass on most lawns is able to withstand a higher degree

of moisture and shade than the average flower, so an irrigation system designed to water a lawn may not be optimal for chrysanthemums. Where possible, the easiest method is to employ drip irrigation, which can soak the roots without hitting the flower. Displays with annuals will also benefit from some sharp attention as well. Pruning or ‘deadheading’ annuals will eliminate unsightly spent flowers, and encourage new growth. A flower that’s done blooming is spending the plant’s energy trying to seed, and deadheading stops that process in its tracks, sending the flower back to square one, making a new bloom. “You can generally get petunias to rebloom through proper maintenance, by pruning them back and cleaning them up,” said Booth.

Overcoming challenges

Maintenance isn’t the only challenge in annual color, either. “People don’t always see the value of spending a good deal of money on something that’s only going to show for four or five months,” Stoffield remarked. Color prices are almost always rising, and clients can feel like they’re burning money when they see their expensive display being removed. A vibrant color display raises property values, attracts customers and helps put visitors at ease, but all that is beside the point. The point is that this is art, it’s beauty, and that has always existed for its own sake. If utility were all that mattered, all cars would be beige sedans, and houses would come in one of a handful of layouts. That said, there are a few things you can use to sway a reluctant buyer. Perennials will come back year after year, sometimes with offspring, which can be very attractive to the budget-conscious customer. They also offer a structure in the winter when annual beds are empty. Mixing perennials into an annual display does have its downside though, including limiting your color palette. “The annuals are going to give a really good show of color and be very full, while the perennials will be going through stages of flowering and not flowering,” said Stoffield. Getting these stages to line up can be tricky, if not outright impossible.

URBAN AG For businesses looking to plant annual color, fungi and diseases are a regular difficulty. If a particular strain of flower becomes widespread for some reason, (say, because it’s wildly popular) that provides increased opportunities for plant diseases to spread. Keeping abreast of the most prevalent problems, and which plants they affect, can help you avoid expensive headaches.

Finding inspiration

This will also require you to change up your game from time to time, as one plant or another becomes a problem, but change is part of the joy of seasonal color displays. What’s going to be the most striking varies from person to person, from property to property, and from year to year. Inspiration for a layout can come from all sorts of places. Jones looks to interior design for cues about what’s going to be hot next. “There are so many things that are popular right now,” she said. “There are a lot of very muted color pallets. Succulents are extremely popular indoors right now, which will translate into outdoor designs.”

Jones clarified that she doesn’t think that people will start putting in succulents, but utilizing their colors in outdoor designs. Stoffield relies on keeping a weather eye out for new and interesting plants to find new material. “Sometimes, I’m walking a street and see something that I’ve never seen before. I take a picture of it, go back to my office and try to figure out what it is,” he said. He usually finds that it’s some exotic tropical that would need winter storage to survive, but occasionally it’s something he can use.

Reprinted with permission from Irrigation & Green Industry magazine.

The purpose of most landscapes is to enhance nature by applying an unnatural degree of order to it. The landscape contractor waters, fertilizes and mows to achieve this effect, to render nature into art. Color displays offer a chance for contractors to show their creativity in the most direct fashion—as a collaborative artistic process between them and the client, which benefits all involved. So the relevant question is, do you have a colorful vision?



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Killing cold

Effects of low temperature on plants by Bodie Pennisi, Paul Thomas, and Eric Stallknecht, UGA Department of Horticulture Temperature is an important environmental factor in plant


growth and development. It governs the rate of photosynthesis (food production) and respiration (food utilization). Depending on its origin, each plant species (e.g. tropical vs. temperate) has a temperature range where it grows best.


Temperature greatly influences plant Figure 1. Plant Hardiness Zone Map of hardiness, fall color, Georgia. Zones based on average minimum and senescence winter temperatures. Zones are not (leaf fall). A plant’s permanent and change over time. Keep an hardiness determines updated map to ensure best results for your its ability to withstand specific region. the average minimum temperature of a region without damage or death. Although winter hardiness is genetically determined, it is influenced by the duration of cool temperatures. Cool temperatures acclimate plants and prepare them for winter dormancy. Many woody plants need two to four weeks of cool temperatures to achieve maximum hardiness. The United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Map (Fig. 1) shows the cold hardiness zones of Georgia. Zones are based on average minimum temperatures in a region. Select species rated for their appropriate hardiness zone(s) since temperature is the least controllable environmental factor in landscapes.

For example, you should NOT attempt to grow plants rated with hardiness zone 8 (warmer) in zone 7 (cooler) because they often become damaged by winter cold. Zone 6 plants are fine for zone 7 (provided they are also heat hardy and adapted to the soils of the area.) If you choose to grow plants with borderline hardiness, you should be prepared to provide cold weather protection. Having a solid grasp of cold temperature’s effects on plants will help you implement critical horticulture practices like controlling greenhouse temperature, insulating containerized woody stock, and correctly timing any pruning. In this publication, we will explore the effects of low temperature on plants in production greenhouses, nurseries, and landscapes. These three environments have different causes and effects, each requiring unique responses to avoid injury. To better understand the effects of low temperatures, let’s look at how and when freezing and chilling injuries occur.

Freezing and frost injury

These occur at or below freezing point (32 0F/ 0 0C). Freeze damage happens during an advection freeze when an air mass with temperatures below freezing moves into an area and displaces warmer air, causing the temperature of plants to become low enough for ice crystals to form inside their cells. Frost damage happens during a radiation freeze. This occurs on clear nights without wind when plants radiate more heat to the atmosphere than they receive. This creates a temperature inversion where cold air close to the ground gets trapped by moist warmer air above it. When air temperature at ground level nears or drops below freezing, the plant’s temperature becomes colder than the surrounding air temperature causing ice crystals to grow on the surface of the foliage, stems, and flowers.

URBAN AG In both situations (frost and freeze injury) ice crystals form in plant tissues, dehydrating cells and disrupting/ rupturing plant membranes. This causes physical damage as expanding rigid ice crystals puncture cellular membranes and dehydration damage as all water within plant tissues freeze, rendering it inaccessible for photosynthesis. Once physical damage has occurred it manifests itself as brown to yellow necrosis; often leading to portions of the plant dying if not the entire plant.

Figure 2. As the ice crystals grow, they attract water from the cell, dehydrating and killing the living protoplasm.

Chilling injury

This occurs above the freezing point (32 0F/ 0 0C). Tropical and subtropical plants are most susceptible. Injured foliage appears purple or reddish (Fig. 4), and sometimes wilted (Fig. 5). Chilling injury can be obvious or invisible. Chilling can delay crop blooming, cause direct damage, or reduce plant vigor. Chilling injury happens often with tropical and subtropical plants grown in most of the U.S., but can happen with native, temperate forest plants as well, depending on critical temperatures, the duration of low temperature, temperature changes, age, hydration status of plants, and time of year (Figs. 5-6).

In many cases the most exposed part of the plant canopy becomes injured after low temperatures (Fig. 7); often with entire shoots dying (Fig. 8). Every plant is a living entity with unique preferences for temperature. Specific temperature ranges are required for optimal functioning of enzymatic and bio-molecular

Figure 3. Frost appears on leaves (top, Yaupon holly) and

flowers (bottom, Pansy). Within an hour or two of the sun shining, the ice evaporates. Both species are cold-hardy and will not be damaged. processes. These processes make proteins and sugars, the building blocks of plant cells and tissues, and carry out cell functions leading to plant growth. Temperatures could be near 100 0F for a cucumber, or near 50 0F for Primula, for example. It is often not the temperature


Plants can drop damaged leaves, become wilted, have misshapen new growth, discolored foliage, or even have whole or portions of the plants die. The damage may also be unseen by the naked eye, but manifest later as delayed blooming or stunted growth.


URBAN AG specifically causing the damage. Factors such as the amount of temperature change, the stage of growth, and the speed and duration of change is what determines the extent of damage.

Figure 4. Chill damage on Princess Flower,

Tibouchina, is manifested by red lower foliage. The damage is fairly mild, although the affected leaves will defoliate. This type of damage is common in early fall.

Figure 5. More severe chill damage on


Gingko is manifested by wilted foliage. This damage is common in late spring when plants have come out of winter dormancy and have started developing young foliage.

Effects of rapid chilling

Plants are an extremely complex set of chemical reactions. Everything from basic cell materials, such as water and nutrients, to proper levels of enzyme activity and proper environments need to be in place for plants to grow well. These processes take time to allow plants the ability to adapt to different temperature regimes. The process is called “acclimatization” and could be hours at best, days or more for many plants. For some tropical interiorscape plants, up to six months may be needed.

Therefore, the amount of damage Figure 6. Chill damage on Indian Hawthorn. Mature foliage turns brown to dark brown or first depends on nearly black. This type of damage can occur how rapidly that throughout winter. species can adapt. For example, foliage may have to change the orientation of the leaf itself or change the orientation of chloroplasts and the photosynthetic apparatus (the food-making parts of the cell). Consider also the rate of activity of such complex processes as photosynthesis and respiration. 54

As mentioned previously, temperature has an important effect on the rate of the biochemical reactions. This effect is known as the “Q10” and it refers to how a biological reaction responds to a change in temperature within the temperature limits of a plant. Tropical African Violets, for example, prefer to grow in temperatures between 56 and 80 degrees F. Just outside that range, they will slow down, but survive. Most plants have a Q10 of 2, which means that for every 10 degree Centigrade increase in tissue temperature, the reaction rates can double (within the temperature limits of that plant). So photosynthesis rates can double between a cool morning and a hot afternoon. In reverse, respiration rates can be cut in half between a warm afternoon, and a cool night. Basically, things react faster when warm, and slower when cold. There are also limits as to how fast the change from hot or cold can happen before the plant can’t adapt to temperature shifts. Some species cannot respond quickly enough and when change occurs, parts of the system stall, break, stop, or cease to exist. An African violet grown in a greenhouse (60 0F at in the morning) is not going to go into shock when watered with 55 0F hose water, because the difference in temperature is very small, hence you see few, if any, chill spots. On the other hand, that same plant watered in the afternoon (90 0F air temperature) will experience physiological stress such as disruption in cell and chloroplast membranes. Given a few minutes to an hour, the cell either dies or survives without key enzymes, chloroplasts (hence yellowish cells or spots) or adequate membrane integrity. If the chilling damage affects many leaves on the plant, growth slows and death can eventually occur. No amount of nitrogen can help the plant recover. Even watering a warmed-up African violet at 3:00 pm on a summer day with 65-70 0F water can cause spotting. One final note: cold water below 55 0F exceeds the cold

URBAN AG temperature limits of an African violet plant. If the greenhouse outdoor cistern water drops to 45 0F in a cold snap, the crop of African violets can be severely damaged if you use that water directly, regardless of how cool the greenhouse night temperature was or how early the crop was watered. Now that we have established what frost/freeze damage, chilling injury, and rapid chilling injury are and how they affect plant cells and tissues, we can adapt cultural practices to prevent this in different environments. Greenhouses, nurseries, and landscapes each require specific techniques to prevent low temperature damage. Remember: prevention is the key and philosophically all environments require constant prevention to ensure healthy plant growth. We will suggest a few key cultural practices and some examples for each of the three environments. These are not complete lists, however, and knowing a plant’s physical boundaries ensures proper health. If unsure about a decision that affects entire crops, make sure to consult your local county extension agent.


In polyethylene-covered hoop houses, placing two layers over the frame creates an insulated pocket of air between them that resists greater temperature fluctuation than a single layer would. This helps prevent rapid temperature change inside the greenhouse. If propane heaters are available, inspecting them before their inevitable use is needed and periodically thereafter to ensure they remain functioning.

Figure 7. Chill damage on Gardenia

(top) and Holly ‘Carissa’ (below). The most exposed parts of the canopy were affected. The gardenia shoot tips turned brown. New shoots developed later in the spring, emerging below the damage. This is frequently referred to as ‘frost-pruning.’ In the case of the holly, only the tips of the exposed foliage were damaged.

Greenhouse crops such as Lantana and Vinca are notorious for not showing physical signs of chill damage from cold water on a warm afternoon. Bedding plants such as Calendula and Angelonia are examples of plants whose new expanding growth will distort easily when exposed to a rapid temperature shift. Damage caused Figure 8. Chill damage on Azalea. Instead to the photosynthetic of the tips, an entire shoot was affected and pathways have longhad to be removed. lasting effects, often for weeks, and can manifest itself by slow growth. Root tissue, especially in bedding plants and vegetable starts, can be dramatically affected by rapid shifts in soil temperature. Mineral uptake by the root is impaired because of the cold effects on the root


It’s important to prepare for cold temperatures. Frost and freeze damage occur in the same manner as in the environment. Greenhouses offer substantial protection to cold-sensitive plants but need to function properly to ensure that.

Depending on the size of the greenhouse a temperature gradient can form where the side closest to the heater will remain warmer then the side furthest from the heater, and this temperature difference may cause uneven plant growth and cause crop delays. Plastic tubing running the length of the greenhouse can be used to help alleviate the temperature gradient for more even air distribution. In some cases heated mating can be used to protect susceptible plant material.


URBAN AG hair membranes. Deficiencies can occur even though adequate nutrition is present in the soil! If plant foliage is touching the cold greenhouse glazing, that could lead to damage as well.

Water only in the MORNING preferably before the heater or the sun warms up the greenhouse. In addition to reducing chill effects, you will reduce potential for disease.

A popular spring crop is Boston fern Figure 9. Chill damage on Boston fern. grown in baskets (Fig. 9). Boston fern is not adapted to large temperature swings. If the night temperature chills rapidly, they will develop foliage with misshapen leaflets and twisted fronds (Fig. 9). This is why spring-grown ferns can be damaged by energy-saving attempts to lower the heat at night because not enough time is given to the plants to adapt to the lower temperatures.

Acclimating deciduous woody stock before winter often occurs in above-ground organs leaving freezing damage to affect roots of containerized plants. For this reason you should be ready to protect the root system from freeze damage. Both heated and unheated greenhouses can provide protection from winter freeze damage. Unheated greenhouses can be used in regions where periods of freezing temperatures from winter are short. Heated greenhouses may be used but should have temperature near freezing to keep them acclimated and not break bud too early (this often causes severe damage.) Even in winter, greenhouses can reach high temperature. Opening vents and using high air-flow fans can be used to cool a greenhouse with outside air to prevent this early bud break. Containers may be buried or insulated with mulch (even hay) to prevent damage to sensitive roots over winter.

 


Also worth mentioning is that research has shown that plant cultivars may have differences in chill sensitivity.


A paper recently published out of the University of Florida IFAS Extension evaluated Spathiphyllum hybrids for sensitivity to chill damage. Results from the study showed leaf chill damage by 38 0F temperatures varied from 2.5% damage up to 100% damage. For Spathiphyllum, a temperate chill to just 38 0F caused significant damage to appear within 24 hours. Many cultivars tested had leaves turn black or exhibited large necrotic areas.

Minimize chill damage in greenhouses

  

Use convection tubes when venting cold winter air in a greenhouse to reduce cold air impact. Do not drop night temperatures below the tolerance limit for that crop. Know what your well water or city water temperature averages in spring and fall out of the end of the hose. Measure it at 7:00 and at 3:00 pm after running the water for five minutes!

Run HAF fans 24/7 in the winter to reduce the rate of temperature drops by mixing the air from vents or open doors. Keep all leaves at least six inches from greenhouse sidewalls and external glass.


Water as frost prevention Citrus and fern growers in Florida will sometimes spray water on the plants to reduce impending damage. As the ice forms some heat is given off, thus ice doesn’t penetrate the leaves and fruit tissue. The system works only as long as water is continuously applied. If the water stops, temperature will quickly drop below freezing and cause damage. This type of protection works well for plants with thick cuticle leaves and tough, thick fruits. However, when applied to perennials, many ornamental woody crops and bedding plants, results are far less successful. The rapid drop of temperature across the entire leaf is too rapid. Freeze damage is deadly, but chill damage is insidious and can have long-term effects. It is

URBAN AG far better to use good quality frost cloths as recommended by the industry to slow the rate of cooling and keep the temperature as high as possible, or pile leaves up over your outdoor plants as insulation. Use of water to prevent freezing brings leaf tissue temperature near 32 0F, which for many, if not most, ornamental crops will still likely result in chill damage.


award- winning landscapers use foliar fed, nitrate-based, quick-feed fertility programs in winter to maintain flowering pansies!

In summary

 

Low temperatures can negatively affect plants in the landscape. The easiest way to avoid low temperature damage is to pick and use plants according to their plant hardiness zones. These zones are based on average minimum temperatures and will prevent any cool or cold weather damage. When buying new stock inspect the tag for the plant’s hardiness zone. If it’s not on the tag, this information is readily available on the internet and from store owners.

Each plant has both hot and cold temperature limits you cannot exceed. Know them. Within preferred temperature limits, each plant has a different ability to respond to the amount of temperature change that occurs (in minutes under a hose or over hours in an open field or greenhouse). How rapidly that change can occur matters greatly, and the duration of the shift matters as well. Most tropical and subtropical ornamental crops are sensitive to chilling! With woodies, perennials and native species, it depends completely on the species and stage of growth. Some are insensitive; some are sensitive only when in a growth flush or when blooming.

If you wish to grow plants in the landscape that are outside of your hardiness zone, there are a few things that can be done to help ensure they survive in the landscape.

  

Place susceptible plants on the north and east side of the home where the warm morning sun won’t induce plants into early bloom or leafing. Place potted plants in a covered area, buried, wrapped in insulation, or mulched for extra protection.


A good example of root systems being affected by winter cold is pansies appearing to be starving mid-January in the South in a tested, fertile bed. The near-freezing soil temperatures have impaired root uptake, but the relatively warm afternoons promote leaf metabolism and even flowers. The end result is that the plant must cannibalize nutrition from the leaves to maintain new growth or flowers despite the poorly performing roots. Nitrates are taken up better than ammonium ions at lower and higher temperatures than preferred by the plant. Hence

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Cold damage also can occur from the fluctuations in the temperature. Roots can be susceptible to cold damage even if the above ground portion is acclimated. Mulching the ground around its root ball will help prevent root damage.

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The Brassicas are taking center stage! Kale, mustards, and collards by Norman Winter In the fall and winter seasons, we


have always dabbled in flowering kale and cabbage, but it seems in the last couple of years that things are changing. The cruciferous crops are doing their part to create the wow factor in flower beds While collards are really old fashioned, the across Georgia. It’s application with ornamentals is new and not just flowering trendy. Their monolithic blue-green leaves kale and cabbage on can serve as an amazing backdrop to pansies display, but edibles and snapdragons. like the Toscano kale and – would you believe it – that old, Southern favorite, collards.


Last year anyone who went to the Savannah/ Hilton Head International Airport could not help but notice the monolithic blue-green leaves serving as the backdrop to the pansies and snapdragons. The enormity of the leaves created their own photo-worthy moment. This year I am seeing collards used elegantly in mixed containers and even baskets. Why not? You couldn’t ask for a better companion to the colorful pansies. When I took the photo, I was thinking, “Now I need catfish and cornbread.” While collards are really old fashioned, the application with ornamentals is new and trendy, at least in several generations. Toscano kale is also called “Toscana,” “Tuscan,” “lacinato” and “dinosaur kale.” Culinary experts know it is among the most flavorful and treasured in Italian soups and stews, but it’s recently new to the flower garden. You can rejoice at its incredible beauty and texture, but if you fancy yourself a chef, then it means an edible landscape is close at hand. Remember that these plants are among the easiest to grow. Prepare soil by incorporating 3

to 4 inches of organic matter and 2 pounds of a slow-release, 12-6-6 fertilizer per 100 square feet of bed space. Space them according to label recommendations – normally 12 to 18 inches apart. Add a good layer of mulch after planting to help stabilize soil temperatures and conserve moisture. Kale, cabbage and mustards all need good drainage, but must remain moist and fed to keep them growing vigorously. Pay especially close attention as dry cold fronts have a tendency to deplete the available moisture. Feed them with light applications of the preplant fertilizer every four to six weeks. Leaf colors will intensify as the temperatures start to get cold. Flowering kale, collards and mustards excel with beds of brightly colored pansies, violas, panolas and snapdragons. Don’t be afraid to cluster or mass-plant your kale – it will certainly create a visual thrill in the landscape. You can also plant bold drifts or sweeps of kale, collards or red mustards together. As you plan your bed, try planting a large bed of narcissus behind the kale, collards or mustards. Kale or collards in containers might, at first, seem strange to you. Consider, however, that very same container during the summer probably had a variety of a dazzling coleuses, so why not carry on the thought or similar design with a cool-season foliage crop, fragrant dianthus and regular or trailing pansies. The cool season is a wonderful time to garden, and foliage plants like kale, collards and mustards make the perfect pansy pals. About the author Norman Winter is director of the University of Georgia’s Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, Georgia. Follow him on Twitter @CGBGgardenguru. For more on the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden, please visit the

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UAC Magazine - January/February 2017  

UAC Magazine is the official publication of the Georgia Urban Ag Council

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