Page 1

Focus on

workforce development


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




4 6 8 10 14 15 16 17 18

Executive Director message World of Landscape 2017 Creating a buzz at CEFGA What did you miss? GALA Banquet & Awards Ceremony 2016 GALA Judges' Choice Awards What did you miss? April UAC Networking + Education Dinner Safety Zone winners for 2016 Arborguard joins Davey Tree Stone Forest joins SiteOne Award-winning UAC members NALP Awards of Excellence


20 21 22 24 26

Save the date Have you met...Bradley Griffin, Atlanta Landscape Group Health & benefits 2016 UBA Health Plan Survey Safety works Taking charge of workers' comp What the tech? Using your website for employee development

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

28 31 32 34 39

Workforce development series What makes people people How big is too big? Five tips to help manage small business growth Productive. Motivated. Satisfied. Engaging your employees Coping with labor The pains of finding and keeping good workers Team spirit Time for recognition and transparency

INDUSTRY 40 41 42 44

Waltz receives honor TPI Turfgrass Educator Award of Excellence Mentoring girls, caring for trees Women Arborists of the Southeast The power of plants NICH releases infographic series Sine Die 2017 legislative session summary


46 'Java White' Copper worth every penny in the summer landscape 47 'Mrs. Schiller's Delight' Semi-evergreen is tough and tolerant 48 Conifers feeling the stress Conifers suffering drought stress


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, Labor



Please continue your efforts to educate your clients on water stewardship and conservation, and implement best management practices in design, installation and maintenance, and make sure that they are informed of current water restrictions.

Spring planting season is upon us, and the calls for assistance to find labor are coming in rapidly. Unfortunately, a silver-bullet solution is not available. We continue to advocate for the expansion of the H2B program and other mechanisms for a viable, legal immigrant workforce option.



As if labor woes weren’t enough of a challenge, water woes may be added in late spring and summer. During meetings in late March with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) and the Georgia Rural Caucus, the challenges of water management loomed. Georgia EPD Director Rick Dunn reported to the DNR Board that, even with rain in recent months, Lake Lanier is still nearly 10 feet below full pool. When the 2007-2008 drought began, Lake Lanier was down just four feet down at the same time of year.


This sets the stage for continued or increased outdoor water use restrictions for much of the metro Atlanta area and will have an impact on turfgrass, greenhouse and nursery growers/ retailers. At the Rural Caucus in March, Doug Wilson of the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center shared insight on historic and current stream flows in southwest Georgia. The planting season is already off to a dry start and streams have not benefited from much rainfall in recent weeks. These conditions, especially on the heels of the water war ruling a few weeks ago by the

U.S. Supreme Court Special Master, are leading toward some very difficult decisions by Georgia EPD if drought conditions do not improve. Please continue your efforts to educate your clients on water stewardship and conservation, and implement best management practices in design, installation and maintenance, and make sure that they are informed of current water restrictions. These will be updated as needed on the Georgia Water Smart website:

Equipment theft

Finally, another reminder about the escalation of thefts and concerns for employee safety. We are collecting specific, concrete data about crimes, losses and locations where these crimes occur to quantify the economic losses and safety issues that these businesses and their employees are encountering. This information will be used to meet with local law enforcement and bring greater attention to this dangerous issue. Our association has been leading this initiative for over a year, and working with other state associations to find ways to combat these issues. This is happening in all areas of metro-Atlanta, and the state - and all over the country. Please notify us if you have been a victim of theft – in the field and/or at your business location. The only way any action will be taken is if we have verifiable data to bring to law enforcement. Thank you for your assistance. If you have any questions - please do not hesitate to contact me by phone or email, 770-359-7337 or mkw@georgiauac. com.

Mary Kay Woodworth Executive Director





Lo & Behold



These dwarf plants bloom continuously from mid-summer to frost without deadheading.


Unlike other Buddleia, they don’t need heavy pruning to stay manageable. Non-invasive Lo & Behold® butterfly bush are a great choice for sunny, well-drained sites that need color and fragrance all season long. LO & BEHOLD® BUDDLEIA SERIES FULL TO PART SUN • USDA ZONE 5, AHS 9 • FROM 1.5’ - 3’ INDIVIDUAL PLANT SPECS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Hillside Ornamentals Byron • 478-956-0945 Scottsdale Farms Alpharetta • 770-777-5875 Buck Jones Nursery Wrens • 800-854-3646 Site One Landscape Supply Alpharetta • 770-442-8881 Stovall & Company, Inc. Alpharetta • 678-514-0140 Arbor Hill Nursery Marietta • 770-794-2309 Northside Gardens Sugar Hill • 770-932-1244 Intown Wholesale Tucker • 678-478-2083


Like other Buddleia, they are deer resistant.

Available from these suppliers in 2017

5 May-June Georgia UAC Lo & Behold.indd 1

3/15/17 9:13 AM


World of Landscape 2017 Creating a buzz at CEFGA by Mary Kay Woodworth UAC was proud to sponsor the “World of Landscape” for the third year on March 23- 24, 2017, at the Georgia International

Conference Center. Sixteen member companies and organizations participated in the two-day Student Career Expo, presented by CEFGA (Construction Education for Georgia). Whether they were dangling in a harness from the Downey Trees spider-lift, taking selfies with Horticulture Uga, reacting to the copperhead provided by Gwinnett Tech or posing in front of the graffiti wall from Outdoor Expressions, middle and high school students, educators and volunteers filled the World of Landscape. The goal of our participation at this event is to introduce these young people to all facets of our industry – and then follow up with school counselors and teachers. We will continue this outreach and grow it! Financial support came from the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP); eight Event Sponsors (Chatham Landscapes, Ed

Castro Landscape, Ewing Irrigation, Greenwood Group, HighGrove Partners, Landmark Landscapes, Outdoor Expressions and Seasonal Solution); and three Supporting Sponsors (Classic Landscapes, Crabapple Landscape Experts and The Outdoor Lights). These eleven companies, along with Downey Trees, Gwinnett Technical College, Ruppert Landscape, Solterra Landscape and the University of Georgia participated with hands-on activities and volunteering at the event. The 2017 event was “the biggest and best in our 13-year history,” according to CEFGA President and CEO Scott Shelar. A total of 7,544 attended, the largest total attendance to date, with an 8-percent increase over 2016. These numbers included 5,204 students; 936 influencers (parents, teachers, counselors, etc.) and 1,404 industry volunteers and guests. We look forward to next year’s Expo, March 22-23, 2018. For more about CEFGA and the Career Expo, visit

"What one thing did you learn about the landscape industry that you didn't know before?"

"I didn't know you can earn $30/hour."

Student from N. Georgia Tech. College, Clarksville


"I didn't know there were jobs throughout Georgia."


Student from Banneker High School, College Park

"I didn't know what landscaping was. It's like flower arranging, but outside."

Student from Northeast High School, Macon

"I didn't know you could do design."

Student from Cedartown High School, Polk County

This graphic was displayed in the World of Landscape booth and handed out to the counselors and teachers to take with them.

"I didn't know that there were more economical ways of saving gas, by using different equipment."

Student from South Cobb High School, Cobb County





GALA Banquet & Awards Ceremony March 28 Magnolia Hall, Piedmont Park


Sponsored by



UAC NEWS Photos by JK Johnson


Winners of the Snellings Walters raffle for Atlanta United soccer tickets: Diane Burger, Bruce Holliday, and Doug Cash with Will Pharr and Tara Byrd.






2016 Judges’ Choice Award "Exciting and highly successful."

~ GALA Judges

Simply Flowers | Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport


Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world. It is the gateway to our city and the first impression that millions of visitors have of Atlanta and the United States. The seasonal color displays play a big role in creating that first “WOW” when visitors exit the terminals.


2700 sq ft requires a lot of flowers! To make a bold yet interesting statement for the grand approach to the International Terminal, different plants in shades of red, blue and yellow were implemented. Red selections include Red Flash Caladiums, Whopper Begonias, and Bronzeleaf Begonias. Scaevola, Setcreasea, Angelonia, and Ruellia cover the blues/purples. Lantana, Coleus and Duranta were used for yellows. Each plant brought color and texture for a multi-leveled garden with motion, scale, and emphasis. On this non-irrigated approach to the Domestic Terminal, the color theme is continued, along with a repetition of plant materials. Choosing a common theme for the color beds unifies different areas of the campus.

UAC NEWS Behind the scenes, this mandate can be a bit of a challenge. Flower beds and containers are in high-traffic areas. Traffic lanes have to be blocked for some portions of the installation process. Teams have to be cautious at all times for they are in constant proximity to other vehicles, buses, and the general public. Container gardens near the terminal doors are pulled, prepped, and planted on the same day. It is critical that we avoid any debris or water getting on the sidewalks, as these create slip hazards for pedestrians. Pots are overplanted with large material at installation to minimize any confusion with a trash receptacle. The large plants, however, have proven to be a great hiding spot for airline contraband. Crews have found quite a collection of pocket knives, lighters, and other items prohibited on airplanes. Most of the campus is not irrigated. Plant selections take this into consideration, with a focus on a more Water Smart palette. In addition, flowers must be resistant to urban wildlife. The grounds team has a dedicated truck to continually water over 11,000 sq ft and 73 pots that are spread throughout the Domestic and International Terminals. The end result is a beautiful labor of love. It translates into smiles for people from all over the globe. What an honor to be included as a tiny thread in Atlanta’s welcome mat!

Four of these beds decorate a cool resting area for travelers. There is a roof over these beds. All watering must be done by hand.

Guests are treated to nearly 2000 sq ft of annual color surrounding roses, crape myrtles, artemesia, eucalyptus and perennials.

From left: Alieu Sanyang, Robert Ballestros, Amber Reid, Amy Ballestros, Jenny Hardgrave, Alicia Barrita, Stephanie Ballestros, Eugene Farrell III


With little light and no natural rainfall, houseplants and caladiums make good choices for these covered planters. These photos were taken on the day the plants were installed. Travelers have more respect for larger plants and are less likely to damage them.

If concrete barriers are required for security purposes, why not make them beautiful?! These bright containers are the first things visitors see when they exit the concourse.






2016 Green Star & Judges’ Choice Award "This space will change kids forever." ~ GALA Judges

The Fockele Garden Company | Smartville Garden


Smartville Garden is an outdoor classroom at a public elementary school where students, staff, parents and the community can experience the proven effects of nature on educational aptitude, health and wellbeing. Plant taxonomy and classification, water conservation, environmental awareness, nature science, and biology are taught


BEFORE: The fifty-year-old school campus had only enough soil to support weedy grass and a few trees. Erosion left large areas of dirt exposed.

via an instruction model that includes crossconnecting science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There are open areas for lectures, quiet places for counseling, and pathways throughout that allow para-professionals to escort entire grade levels of children from the building to the playground, and parents, staff and visitors to crisscross the campus during any

The stormwater system is simple to operate and a valuable teaching tool. In this view the roof water is directed into above-ground tanks. When the tanks are full, they overflow into a rock-lined swale, which slows the stormwater, encourages percolation, and leads the excess to infiltration basins.

UAC NEWS day. Over seventy species and one thousand plants were used. Colors and textures captivate garden visitors all year long. Included are many uncommon and difficult to source plants that succeed in our climate and represent the broadest array of taxa practical. Smartville Garden is a wildlife habitat with plants for food and nesting. The elaborate system of rainwater collection demonstrates conservation and engineering. The garden is organized, creatively designed and accessible to every visitor. A pump house with a green roof can be seen from the street and is a visible statement of the theme of the garden. The pump house stores all the tools needed for student and community participation in planting and tending the garden.

The garden also includes four large raised beds where students grow plants from seed or potted seedlings. The science teacher reports that many children learn here in this garden that food comes from plants!

The ponds allow large volumes of water to percolate into the soil. The ponds and swales are planted with Iris, Bald Cypress, Carex, and other plants that enjoy getting their feet wet.

Part of the educational value of the garden is in illustrating plant taxonomy, shown in part by grouping like plants together, as we have done here with the conifers.


From left: Joy Giusto, Felix Romero, and Stephanie Gordon

Students pass through the garden daily. Those who were on campus when the garden was being built have a unique understanding of the garden and of plant life in general. But everyone who experiences the garden today feels the proven effects of nature on educational aptitude, health and wellbeing.



WHAT DID YOU MISS? April UAC Networking + Education Dinner April 18 Topiary Courtyard Norcross, GA

Kathy Montgomery (left) with speaker, Dottie Myers who spoke about the importance of evergreens in the garden and shared photos of her projects.

Sponsored by


Jody Karlin talked about his years of experience using conifers in the southeast. Who knew that could be so funny?


Those who came early had the opportunity to earn two hours of pesticide credits by attending Tim Daly's presentation.


Safety Zone winners for 2016 Congratulations to Solterra Landscape and Arbor-Nomics Turf, winners of the 2016

Safety Zone Awards. Certificates were presented at UAC's April dinner at Topiary Courtyard on April 18.

Picture yourself here next year!

Don't miss this opportunity to step up and get recognized for your safety efforts.

You already have what you need From left: Victor Concha, Jen Yavorsky, Russ Chism, Dixie Speck, Peter Speck

For the Safety First Awards (Vehicle Safety, Health, and Lost Time) you just need to submit your OSHA form 300A.

Solterra Landscape

No calculations, less paperwork

Safety First Awards • Health • Lost Time

Starting with the 2016 awards, there are no set minimums for accidents or incidents. Instead, your OSHA form 300A will be compared to other entries, based on fleet and company size. Whoever has the lowest numbers, wins!

More ways to win We added video and photo awards in 2016, so if you have a smart phone, you can enter! Just snap some photos and press the record button to document your safety efforts. It's that easy - no professional photographers or videographers required.

Do it all online

From left: Dick Bare, Doug Cash, Ward Frost, Brandon Stegall, Josh Bare

Safety First Awards • Vehicle Safety • Health • Lost Time Safety in Action Video: Gold Award Culture of Safety Photos: Gold Award

Some surprises in store UAC's Safety Committee is planning to sweeten the pot for the 2017 Safety Zone Awards. Stay tuned!

Plan now to enter!

The 2017 Safety Zone awards recognize safety performance from January 1 December 31, 2017.

 

Entries are due in March 2018. Awards will be given at the April 2018 UAC dinner.


Arbor-Nomics Turf

The entry form is completely online now - just fill out the form and upload your documents. Couldn't be simpler.



Arborguard joins Davey Tree The Davey Tree Expert Company is proud to announce the acquisition of Arborguard, Inc., a residential

“We were already aware of Davey’s reputation for integrity, innovation and leadership within the green industry. As we learned more about the company, particularly its focus on safety and environmental stewardship, the partnership seemed like a natural fit.”

and commercial tree care company based in Atlanta, Georgia with operations in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Arborguard Tree Specialists has been providing specialized tree and plant health care services to residential and commercial clients in the Southeast, Spence Rosenfeld including caring for Owner and founder, Arborguard some of the region’s prestigious golf courses and resorts, since 1981.


“This new chapter of Arborguard will help us deliver expanded tree care to our clients in the greater Atlanta and Charlotte areas,” said Spence Rosenfeld, owner and founder of Arborguard.


Davey and Arborguard share many of the same core values, Rosenfeld said. “We were already aware of Davey’s reputation for integrity, innovation and leadership within the green industry. As we learned more about the company, particularly its focus on safety and environmental stewardship, the partnership seemed like a natural fit.” Jim Stief, Davey’s executive vice president of U.S. residential operations, pointed out that Davey offers tremendous benefits to Arborguard’s clients and employees. “Clients of Arborguard now have access to Davey’s diversified service offerings, technology and equipment resources, and research and

development capabilities provided by the Davey Institute, all of which ensure their continuing high-quality service,” Stief said. Stief added that Arborguard’s talented, safetyconscious employees will have the opportunity to further their professional careers by accessing Davey’s industry-leading training and education programs. As Davey employees, they also can become employee-owners of the Davey Company, the 13th largest employee-owned firm in the U.S. Pat Covey, Davey’s president and chief operating officer, agreed that Arborguard is a good example of the type of company that will strengthen the Davey brand. “Arborguard is a welcome addition to the Davey Tree family,” said Covey. “Like Davey Tree, Arborguard provides excellent tree care while concentrating on the client experience and quality control. Now, we can focus on sharing our mission with the greater Charlotte and Atlanta area – together.” Arborguard’s Jamie Blackburn will serve as manager of the Atlanta office, which will complement Davey’s Atlanta Residential/ Commercial office and district manager Chris Heim. Arborguard’s Barry Gemberling will serve as manager of the Charlotte location, a complement to Davey’s Charlotte R/C office and district manager Ray Betz.

About Davey Tree Expert Company

The Davey Tree Expert Company’s more than 8,600 employees provide tree care, grounds maintenance and environmental consulting services for the residential, utility, commercial and government markets throughout the U.S. and Canada. Davey has provided Proven Solutions for a Growing World since 1880 and has been employee-owned for 38 years. For more information, visit


Stone Forest joins SiteOne SiteOne™ Landscape Supply, Inc., the largest and only national wholesale distributor of landscape supplies in the United States, announced in February 2017

the acquisition of Stone Forest Materials. Started in 2003, Stone Forest has a single location in Kennesaw, GA and is a leader in the distribution of hardscape and related products to landscape professionals. The acquisition of Stone Forest provides SiteOne with its first dedicated Hardscape Center in the Atlanta area. “Stone Forest is a terrific fit with SiteOne as they are the clear market leader in the Atlanta, Georgia market for hardscape products. The addition of Stone Forest provides a dedicated hardscape center to complement our network of nine locations in Atlanta offering the full range of hardscape, agronomic, irrigation, nursery and outdoor lighting products, said Doug Black, CEO of SiteOne Landscape Supply.

“Stone Forest has a passionate and talented team providing excellent quality, service and value to their customers. The combination of Stone Forest and SiteOne is yet another step forward in our mission to become the best full-line distributor in the Green Industry. We welcome all of the Stone Forest associates to our family,” said Black.

About SiteOne Landscape Supply

SiteOne Landscape Supply (NYSE: SITE), is the largest and only national wholesale distributor of landscape supplies in the United States and has a growing presence in Canada. Its customers are primarily residential and commercial landscape professionals who specialize in the design, installation and maintenance of lawns, gardens, golf courses and other outdoor spaces. Visit



REINTRODUCING THE ICC2 CONTROLLER. The ICC is back and packed with all the features you need, like increased station count up to 54 stations, four independent programs (any two can run simultaneously), and a large, easy-to-read backlit display. Like all Hunter controllers, the ICC2 is simple to install and program. And ICC2 will soon be your favorite for large residential and commercial projects.


RESIDENTIAL & COMMERCIAL IRRIGATION | Built on Innovation® Learn more. Visit


with its competitive pricing, the



Award-winning UAC members NALP Awards of Excellence

GRAND – Exterior Design/Build Artistic Landscapes Ed Castro (3) Floralis Fockele Scapes (2)

Join us in congratulating these UAC member companies who submitted award-

winning entries to the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) annual awards program. The Georgia locations of these members are winners:

MERIT – Exterior Design/Build Artistic Landscapes

MERIT – Commercial Landscaping Ed Castro Landscape (2)

View the projects on the NALP website:

A Smarter Way to Landscape




• Inventory for any size landscaping project • Daily and weekly rentals, plus open Saturdays • Fast, on-site delivery & pickup when you need it most • 5 Convenient Metro Atlanta locations

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Specifically selected by renowned turfgrass researchers for drought and wear tolerance from 27,700 other genotypes. Strenuously tested for two decades under extreme stresses in both research and real world production environments. A scientific breakthrough in performance and sustainability, TIFTUF™ Certified Bermudagrass uses 38% less water

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


We’re making our mark



Visit for updates and to register.

"On the Economic, Business & Political Climate"



Networking + Education Dinner

Speaker: Roger Tutterow

Professor of Economics and Director of the Econometric Center, a research center housed in the Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University

DATE: Tuesday, August 29 TIME: 5:30 cash bar | 6:30 dinner PLACE: Heritage Sandy Springs | 6110 Blue Stone Rd NE | Atlanta, GA 30328

TOPIC: TBA (please check website for updates)



Networking + Education Dinner

5th Annual UAC Sporting Clays Tournament



DATE: Tuesday, September 26 TIME: 5:30 cash bar | 6:30 dinner PLACE: Heritage Sandy Springs | 6110 Blue Stone Rd NE | Atlanta, GA 30328

Blast your troubles away | Win prizes | Eat BBQ GEORGIA

DATE: Thursday, October 12 TIME: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm PLACE: Blalock Lakes | 4075 New Corinth Road | Newnan, GA 30263


Certiied Tifway bermudagrass available in pallets or mega rolls.


Call now! Darren Emerick 770.530.5078

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


Bradley Griffin

Atlanta Landscape Group My first job in the green industry...started

with a push mower back when I was 11, as the fastest and easiest way to get money for baseball cards. Business blossomed from there.

The biggest challenge in my career has been...learning that other people have different

If I could change careers, just for a month...I would

love to be an outdoor adventure guide for a month!

work ethics, and understanding how to listen, challenge, and motivate people in different ways.

One thing most people don’t know about me is...

The people who have influenced my career mom and dad, who taught

how much I LOVE to traveling to different Caribbean islands with Shari, my wife of 19 years, and exploring local foods, cultures, and the beauty of God’s world.

me the most about hard work, which has served me well. Also, Dr. Harry Ponder, a professor at Auburn University, has always listened to me, encouraged me, challenged me, and then held me accountable for anything we discussed.

The thing I like most about my career is....challenging individuals, and then watching

Bradley Griffin Phone: 770.845.9644 Email: Web:

people grow in their relationships - not just in their responsibilities at work, but also with their families.

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

emails - who doesn’t agree? They allow us to be productive, but they also make it hard to “disconnect” from our jobs.

One piece of advice I would give to someone entering the green industry today is...find yourself a mentor in the green

One thing that really annoys me is...when people blame their shortcomings or failures on other people versus looking in the mirror, and self-reflecting on what they need to improve for success.

The Griffin family, from left: Christian, Bradley, Shari and Elisabeth Grace

When I’m not working, I like to...enjoy

watching my son’s sports, watching my daughter enjoy the outdoors through archery, fourwheeling, and fishing with me.


industry. You may be nervous or intimidated to ask someone for help, but your learning curve of growth can be shortened immensely by simply asking for advice, listening, and then making your own decisions.



2016 UBA Health Plan Survey

Health plan intelligence for smart business decisions From Snellings Walters Insurance Agency, a United Benefit Advisors partner firm Data in the 2016 UBA Health Plan Survey are based on responses from 11,524 employers sponsoring 19,557 health plans nationwide.

Key findings Health plan options. More than half (53.4%) of all employers offer one health plan to employees, while 28.3% offer two plan options, and 18.3% offer three or more options. The percentage of employers now offering three or more plans (up 4.5% from last year) is of particular interest since it represents nearly a 22.7% increase over the past five years. More and more, employers are offering expanded choices to employees either through private exchange solutions or by simply adding high-, medium-, and low-cost options; a trend UBA Partners believe will continue. Not only do employees get more options, but employers also can introduce lower-cost plans that may attract enrollment, lower their costs and meed ACA affordability requirements.



Health plan costs. The average annual health plan cost per employee for all plan types is $9,727, a slight decrease from 2015, when the average cost was $9,736.


Plan type PPO

Though overall costs are holding nearly steady, employers are shifting more of the cost to employees, lowering their share from $6,403 in 2015 to $6,350 for 2016. Employees have seen their average costs edge up from $3,333 in 2015 to $3,378 in 2016. Factors holding rates steady (ad discussed further in this report) include increased prevalence/enrollment in lower-cost CDHP and HMO plans; increased out-of-network deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums; “grandmothering” and the PACE Act, which protect some groups (though not all) from moving to higher-cost plans; reduced prescription drug coverage; and UBA Partners’ negotiating power.


Costs and contributions by industry. Total costs per employee for the retail, construction, and hospitality sectors are 4.3% to 10.7% lower than average, making employees in these industries among the least expensive to cover. This is typically due to the lower average age among this workforce combined with less rich plans. It’s noteworthy, however, that this year these perennial cost leaders didn’t have the same savings as last year when they were 8.6% to 21.2% less expensive than average, indicating that costs are rising

Total cost

Employee cost

Employer cost



















Preferred Provider Organizations

HMO Health Maintenance Organizations

POS Point of Service plans

CDHP Consumer-Directed Health Plans

EPO Exclusive Provider Organization


All plans (average)

HEALTH & BENEFITS even in this sector. Employees in the retail and construction sectors pay 6.5% and 7.1% above the average employee contribution, respectively, so employers bear even less of the already low costs in these industries; hospitality employees pay slightly less than the average employee contribution. The government sector again has the priciest plans, costing on average $11,443 per employee. In addition to offering the richest plans, government employers also passed on the least cost to employees – government employees’ average contribution is 21% less than average. But this actually includes a significant increase – their contributions, which were 45.2% below average last year, jumped 26.6%. This change may demonstrate that even government employers can’t continue to fund their historically generous offers, particularly in light of the Cadillac tax.

for all employer-sponsored plans are $509 for single coverage and $1,236 for family coverage. For an employee electing single coverage, employers cover 71% of the monthly premium; meanwhile, employers only are covering 54% of a family premium.

770.396.9600 |


Premium increases. Premium renewal rates (the comparison of similar plan rates year over year) have increased an average of 5.9% for all plans – up from last year’s 5.6% increase. Some smaller groups, hard hit last year, are finding temporary protection with grandmothering and the PACE Act (depending on their state) this year. Other groups are keeping premiums in check by raising out-ofpocket costs for employees and turning to lowercost CDHP and HMO plans. Average premiums



Out-of-pocket costs. Median innetwork deductibles for singles and families across all plans remain steady at $2,000 and $4,000, respectively. (There was, however, an increase in PPO deductibles.) When out of network, families again are being hit hardest; their median deductible has risen from $6,000 in 2014 to $7,000 in 2015 to $8,000 in 2016. Singles, who had seen no increase for two years at a $3,000 median out-of-network deductible, are now seeing a 13.3% increase to $3,400. Both singles and families are facing continued increases in median in-network out-of-pocket maximums (up $440 and $300, respectively, to $4,400 and $9,000). Families bear the brunt of the increase in median out-of-network out-ofpocket maximums, going from $16,000 in 2014 to $18,000 in 2015 and $20,000 in 2016, while singles are holding steady at $9,000.



Taking charge of workers’ comp It’s not just a cost of doing business

by Risk Management Partners on behalf of Snellings Walters Insurance Agency

Workers’ compensation is not just a cost of doing business, as

many business owners think. It is an expense within every owner’s control. Why do worker’s comp claims get out of control? Two main reasons: there are too many claims and the employer is not taking charge of the workers’ comp process.


What is important to realize is that indirect costs are usually much greater than direct costs - from 2-10 times as expensive. Another important point is that, unlike direct costs, indirect costs are uninsured; they come right out of the company’s pocketbook.


Consider the costs

The business owner also has to consider the direct and indirect costs of an accident.

Indirect costs Indirect costs are all the “uninsured” additional costs associated with an accident. What is important to realize is that indirect costs are usually much greater than direct costs - from 2-10 times as expensive. Another important point is that, unlike direct costs, indirect costs are uninsured; they come right out of the company’s pocketbook. These are the costs that can drive a company into the red. The National Safety Council lists these examples of indirect or uninsured costs:


Lost production time.


Productive time lost by an injured employee.


Productive time lost by employees and supervisors helping the accident victim.


Cleanup and startup of operations interrupted by an accident.


Time to hire or train a worker to replace the injured worker until they return to work.


Property damage. Time and cost for repair or replacement of damaged equipment, materials or other property.


Cost of continuing all or part of the employee’s wages, plus compensation.


Reduced morale among your employees, and perhaps lower efficiency.


Cost of completing paperwork generated by the accident.


OSHA penalties.

Direct costs

Direct, or insured costs for accidents are usually considered those costs covered by workers’ compensation insurance and other minor medical costs for the accident. The company pays insurance to cover these costs. The average direct costs depend on the nature of the injury or illness, but usually range from $1,000 to $20,000. A good round figure to use when estimating all lost-time workplace injuries is $10,000.


Avoid these common mistakes Business owners also need to consider these common workers’ compensation mistakes:

Hiring unqualified employees. You must make sure that each employee is qualified to safely perform the job he or she is hired to do before placing them in that position.

Disproportionate length of disability. The time out of work should be proportional to the length of time of the actual medical disability.

improvements can rise profitability, competitiveness and also motivate the employees, all while driving down the cost of workers’ compensation. By having an occupational health and safety system in place, the workforce can have an effective and efficient framework to help minimize and/or prevent workplace injuries, accidents, medical illnesses and even death.

Too many employees out of work for too long. You should aim to have 90% or more of the lost-day claims back to work within four days.

Get proactive

Another way that companies can avoid losing large amounts of profit due to workers’ compensation is to invest in an occupational health and safety team. The team’s simple

Most days,

you probably don’t even think about insurance.


Association Strength Industry Expertise Cost Containment Flexibility

When a battle takes place, we are stronger together 770.396.9600 |



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Better retention, increased productivity Using your website for employee development by Dawn V. Brown, WebTech Marketing Services Did you know that the average employment turnover rate in the United States is 16.4 percent? Staff

attrition — whether through retirement or resignation — has a detrimental effect on any business. You need to hire new staff, What if fewer employees left your train them, then try company in the first place? What if to retain them — a your website convinced them to stay? time-consuming and expensive process. What if fewer employees left your company in the first place? What if your website convinced them to stay? Here are a few website development techniques to increase retention and improve productivity.


Using your website as an internal job board not only boosts morale but improves engagement between you and your employees. An intranet area of your site lets you post information that is relevant to employees in various departments. Staff can check these pages during the working day or at home.

Provide guidance

Research shows that when an employer provides feedback and praises good efforts, staff are less likely to leave a company. So why not use your website to communicate with your staff and increase productivity? You could set up a page that lists the best performing members of staff from the last month or quarter, for example. Or post tips on how staff can become more effective at their job.

More employers are using their websites for employee development and retention.

Providing guidance to your staff on your website helps build a stronger workforce. This, in turn, could result in stronger sales and a stronger business.

In 2016, 87 percent of millennials said professional development is very important, while 76 percent of employees said career growth opportunities were one of the top three non-financial motivators at work.

Thirty-nine percent of employees don’t feel appreciated at work, and staff are two times as likely to be actively disengaged if they are ignored by management. Be different — provide positive feedback on your website!

Boost morale


Internal employees who use your portal are likely to feel inspired when they see there are multiple opportunities for career development.

Why not use your website to advertise professional development and career growth opportunities? Set up a special employee portal where you post job openings, training days and courses. Unlike your regular company website, the employee portal can only be seen and accessed by staff, using a login and password. This provides you with the privacy you need when discussing company information.

Increase fun in the workplace

Adding a bit of fun to the work environment reduces staff attrition rates. It creates bonds between employees and management, and staff are more likely to be productive in the workplace. You can use your website to introduce various social activities for employees — days out, meals, theater trips, etc. — outside of work. But you can also create fun elements during the working day.

WHAT THE TECH? Use your website to host a weekly competition, for example, where the winner gets a small prize. The competition should be related to your business – who knows the most about a new product or who comes up with the best new strategy. These activities get employees on all levels involved in pertinent business decisions in a way that is interesting and engaging.

Deliver constant communication Whether your company decides to feature an employee of the week – with a photo and a brief biography, or post a monthly newsletter – consistent communication is key.

For employees, this builds their confidence in the workplace, knowing they are part of the ongoing thought process at the company. Building an employee portal helps you boost morale, provide guidance and increase fun in the workplace. Want to optimize your website for employee development? Contact us at WebTech Marketing Services to get started today!

About the author

Communication lets your staff know that you’re thinking of them and their needs in addition to the needs of your costumers and your sales goals.

E: W:

Dawn is the content marketing specialist at WebTech Marketing Services. As a writer, creative thinker and video producer, Dawn uses various mediums to create awareness, build brands and tell compelling stories. She works to create smart thought leadership for a variety of businesses and industries.




Workforce development series What makes people people

by William Eastman, GreenMark Consulting Group First is to understand that all behavior is rational - yeah, I said rational - to them. Let me explain. When people plan a response or just react, the behavior they choose makes sense to them. It can look absolutely bizarre to everyone else, but it makes sense to them. So, the first test of any leader is to understand the situation from their viewpoint, to make it rational. If you can do this, dealing with the immediate situation and the individual over the long term becomes easier.

The purpose of this article is to lay the groundwork for competing and winning in a tightening labor market.

This doesn’t mean you agree, it means you get it and have a point of reference that will prove invaluable.

If you would like to expand on these topics so you can apply it in your business, join the discussion on our google group and we will help:

If you are successful getting under the hood of somebody’s personal computer, you will find the following operating code: motives drive behavior and its consequences reinforce or disrupt expectations. Let’s take these apart.


No cost. No obligation. No sales pitch.


Just a place for you to get answers to your questions.


This is the first in a four-article series on workforce development. This issue

will cover what motivates people, how today’s workforce is different from earlier generations, and (once you have selected and onboarded them) how to develop talent. The purpose of this article is to lay the groundwork for competing and winning in a tightening labor market. One thought as we start: nobody in this or any other industry has a nursery out back growing future employees. We are all competing for the same talent. The question to consider: how are some companies attracting the right people?


Motives are internal to the individual and driven by three needs: power, affiliation, and achievement.

  

A short discussion on motivation is a very ambitious undertaking; it’s a topic I have studied and dealt with during over 30 years of management. Here are a few insights I picked up along the way.

A power motive means people need control over their environment to feel safe and secure. Affiliation motive means people need the approval of others to feel good about themselves. Achievement motive means people need challenges to feel successful. One last thought: each of us has a primary motive that drives our behavior most of the time. Valuable information to know about your people. How about you - which is your primary motive? Is it the need to control your environment and keep everything predictable? Is it a need for approval to prove what you are doing is right? Is it the need to show your smarts or a bucket-ofblood work ethic?

BUSINESS Based on which motive drives me, I will select a behavior that has the highest expectation of success. My expectations are formed from prior experiences, from prior employers. The good news is if you run a professional operation, it will exceed the experiences of many people. The bad news is everyone brings baggage to a new employer, even the first-time employee.

Today’s generations

This takes us to our second topic: how is today’s workforce different from earlier generations? One of the main differences is that with the rise of social media many of the younger generation are more affiliation driven than earlier groups. The opinion of others is critical and has implications for how they act on the job, but also drives who they pick for employment. The social contribution of current or future employers matters.

Our research shows the number one factor for choosing an employer with people under 30 is its reputation in the community. This also extends to the industry and your challenge - how is your company or the landscape industry perceived in your community? The key question. Is working in landscaping a manual labor job requiring a strong back and weak mind, or a profession where you work outside with your hands and use your talent to make an impact? Both are accurate descriptions of the industry - what matters is how the landscape owner defines it and runs their business. Who are you attracting? Here are three major factors impacting their perception of potential employers:




  

Does the company have a positive impact on the community, does it make a difference? Does the company have a compelling story, is it driven to become a great place to work? Will the company allow me to contribute, address my need to be accepted and validated? I am not suggesting that pay and benefits and growth are not important because they are but if your focus is here, you’re trying to win a battle that cannot be won. Most small landscape businesses lack the resources (read MARGINS) to compete in a bidding war. Besides, you are buying employees - is that who you want to attract? The same thing that drew you to the industry will draw them - make the case!


The third topic expands on “who you are attracting” by focusing on their orientation. What I mean by orientation is where are their loyalties? Are they committed to a profession or to an organization?


How you onboard new people to the organization is critical. I experienced this first hand. While Chief of a Leadership and Management School in the Coast Guard, I served on an officer retention panel. We were suffering an exodus of pilots at the 12-year mark. The reason? They were pilots first and Coast Guard officers second. After 12 years the only thing they flew was a desk and they didn’t care whether their uniforms were Coast Guard or Delta blue as long as their office was a cockpit.


Here is my point. It is tougher in the short term and smarter in the long term to bring in somebody without skills who shares your passion. They learn the industry and become professionals because you taught them and your company becomes their commitment. The two types of employment orientation:

 

The profession. I am a landscaper, I am a design build engineer, I am an irrigation technician, etc. The company. The company I work for taught me to become a professional landscaper and gave me a future.

There is nothing wrong with bringing in landscape professionals for specific jobs but never forget that their orientation or commitment is not to your company, it is to their skills. That means the second somebody offers a better position, they are gone. When you bring in new people, put your emphasis on the company’s vision, mission, and values. Have them understand where the company is headed and the part they play. Then take them through a development plan to move them from where they are to landscape professionals.


My quick tip is this: because you are a small business, hire people who are achievement driven, who have your drive to get things done. Second, expand how you see the company and make it a force in the local community. One or two small projects you can showcase is essential to grab the attention of the 20-30 population. Last, look for attitude, not skills. You can train skills; attitude is a long-term project. Hire people who will appreciate what they learn. If you can’t keep them (and you won’t keep the good ones) they will become competitors, so establish a reputation for growing great landscapers. One last thought: where are you on employee ownership? What if you had a reputation for giving great employees a piece of the action? Might the good ones stay? Next in the series: New models of compensation About the author William Eastman is a Business Management Consultant with GreenMark and the Managing Partner for Intellectual Property at the GrowthWorx – a business research and product development company headquartered in Richmond, Virginia.


How big is too big?

Five tips to help manage small business growth by Lori Murray, Manta Contributor As your business grows, don’t lose sight of the values your customers love or the identity that helped you succeed. You’ve been working hard to grow your business, and now it’s finally taking off. By all accounts, that should be a good thing—unless, of course, you can’t effectively manage that growth. Truth is, if you’re not prepared for rapid growth, it could actually do your business more harm than good. Everything from service to quality could suffer, and before long, you could lose the hands-on approach your customers love. Sound familiar? Then take a look at our tips for managing growth—before your identity as a small business spirals out of control. Manage your cash flow. This is the demise of many small businesses, so it’s best to take charge before it’s too late. If sales are happening faster than your ability to purchase supplies or inventory, that’s a problem. Likewise, make sure your customers pay their invoices on time so you’re never short on cash.



Mind the mission. Sometimes growth happens so rapidly that the company culture gets lost in the shuffle. Remember that your mission played a big role in your company’s success up to this point. Hold on to that mission by making sure your managers and new hires understand and embrace your values and stay true to your original plan for the business.


You’ve been working hard to grow your business, and now it’s finally taking off. By all accounts, that should be a good thing—unless, of course, you can’t effectively manage that growth.

Remember your customers. These are the people who got you started, and you need them to see you through your growth. So keep their needs front and center.


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. Learn more at

Pay attention to quality control. As your business grows, you will need to maintain the same, high-quality standards that got you where you are today. Establish strong internal systems and guidelines for ensuring that quality remains a top priority, and assign the task of overseeing it to someone you can trust. Hire the right people—and delegate. Gone are the days when you could manage every employee and every facet of the business on your own. Realize when it’s time to hire a manager, and then step back and let that person do the job.



Ask for customers’ suggestions, and listen to what they say. Then develop a strategy to ensure you stay connected to this all-important client base—even as you continue to expand.



Productive. Motivated. Satisfied.

Engaging your employees in the workplace by Erin Saunders, JLL

The big 12

When it comes to engagement research, Gallup is one of the best-known leaders in employee engagement research. What their research shows is that not all things are equal when it comes to creating a motivated workforce. What employees need and want from their work can be broken into four main buckets: Basic Needs, Management Support, Teamwork, and Growth. Let’s explore the first two categories of basic needs and management support to help determine how you can have an impact on positive employee engagement.

What employees need and want from their work can be broken into four main buckets: Basic Needs, Management Support, Teamwork, and Growth. There is lots of talk in the business world


regarding employee satisfaction at work. Why does engagement matter in the first place? One could argue that, philosophically, it’s the right thing to create a workplace where employees feel supported, motivated, and ready to do their best. But it comes down to more than philosophy.


Research has shown that engaged employees have significantly higher productivity, profitability and customer ratings; and less turnover, absenteeism, and safety incidents than those who aren’t engaged. Gallup, State of the American Workforce, December 2015

All of these have a direct impact on a business’s bottom line. The most recent Gallup survey found that roughly 70% of the American workforce is not engaged in their work, with 60% of those being actively disengaged. What can be done, and how can you help create an environment that allows your employees to do what they do best every day?

Basic needs


I know what’s expected of me at work. This is the number one most important factor in helping drive employee engagement. They need to understand their role and what the organization and you, as their manager, expect. This goes beyond just a job description. Rather, it’s the ongoing process of articulating and reinforcing ongoing expectations. The more that employees get feedback on what’s required of their role and how they fit into the team, the more they know they are focusing on the right things. I have the materials and equipment needed to do my job. Anyone who has ever had a truck that won’t start or a computer that’s frozen understands the importance of this piece. Not only do employees need to know what’s expected of them, but they also need the tools necessary to be successful in their role. The organization and the manager need to be aware of this and periodically check in to make sure the tools needed are safe, effective, and operating as needed.


Management support


I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day. This is about

BUSINESS finding the right person for the role or vice versa. When people are in roles that play to their natural strengths and abilities, they tend to be more successful and productive in their jobs. As a manager, the more you can work with your teams to understand what their strengths are and how they can use them more, the better off your employees and your business will be. I’ve received positive recognition from my supervisor in the last seven days. Positive recognition is a powerful motivator in the work place. Pay for work is expected from employees. Positive recognition isn’t something employees take for granted. As such, on the spot formal or informal feedback can have a big impact on your team’s morale.



My supervisor cares about me as a person. Gallup’s research has found that employees don’t leave companies; they leave managers and supervisors. Great supervisors genuinely care about the people they work with and treat them as individuals. Get to know your employees. Learn about their families and interests. The more you connect with your team members on a personal level, the more motivated they will feel. People connect with people and the more you can build positive relationships at work, the better equipped you’ll be to get things done efficiently.


Facilitating team engagement

Employees who have an intrinsic motivation to work are more likely to be productive and motived. To help provide this, start by clarifying expectations. Sit down with your team and

  

Why does the team exist? What do we want to be known for? What do we need to change in order to fill our purpose and reflect our team’s brand?

Openly discussing these questions does a few things. It allows for input and feedback from the team, which promotes diversity of opinion and thought, and is more likely to create buy-in from the team members. It also sets expectations for the team on what they accomplish and how they accomplish it. In addition, it allows them some control over the ability to impact decisions, which is also motivating.

Play to your team’s strengths

Playing to individual and team strengths is going to have a huge impact on both job satisfaction and team effectiveness. Strengths-based leadership is designed around the philosophy that if you focus on weaknesses, they will just be less-weak. But if you play to your team’s strengths, you’ll be able to better delegate and collaborate on tasks and projects. Have open discussions with your teams about their professional and individual strengths. If you haven’t already, consider using a tool such as Strengthsfinder ( to understand your team’s makeup. Then help the team arrange work in a way that allows them to do what they do best every day. About the author Erin Saunders is Sr. HR Business Partner with JLL. P: 303-931-0923 E:


There is someone at work who encourages my development. Traditionally, development has been viewed as an employee being promoted. True employee development is about more than that. Development comes primarily from new and different experiences (whether in a new role, on a special project, or with expanded job duties), secondarily from manager feedback and coaching, and finally from training. Talk openly with your teams about how they want grow and develop in their roles.

facilitate a discussion with them on the team’s purpose. You could start by asking questions such as:



Coping with labor

The pains of finding and keeping good workers from Irrigation & Green Industry magazine

Whenever I do hard physical labor, pain is the


usual result. An afternoon spent moving firewood logs results in an evening nursing sore calf and abdominal muscles. But that’s okay with me. I kind of enjoy these aches, because they let me know that I’ve exercised. I suppose you could call these ‘labor pains,’ even though a new little human doesn’t result from them.


To stretch this metaphor even further, there’s Labor is usually the biggest out-of another kind of labor pocket expense for any contractor. pain in our industry. Recruiting, interviewing and training This is the one that has been plaguing personnel takes time, and time is landscape company money. owners for the last few years, and that’s the shortage of people willing to do the mowing, trimming, blowing, and other work that keeps their enterprises going. As a landscape contractor, you know that finding and keeping good workers is a significant problem, no matter what part of the country you work in. Once you do find people willing to do these tasks, then the other ‘pains’ of paying and managing them kick in.

An expensive proposition

Labor is usually the biggest out-of pocket expense for any contractor. Recruiting, interviewing and training personnel takes time,

and time is money. Any pre-employment testing and vetting costs you dollars, too. Once that’s done, you’re still not through spending. You have to equip them with safety gear and fund their benefit packages. Then there’s insurance. You need vehicle coverage so that they can drive your trucks, and liability insurance should one of them damage a client’s property. Last, but not least, you need a workers’ compensation policy that protects you and your employees, should they get hurt on the job. “Labor is far and away the largest cost we have,” said Lebo Newman, CEO (he prefers the title H.I.G., for ‘Head Inside Guy’) of Signature Landscapes in Reno, Nevada. “So, we concentrate on working efficiently, buying the right tools for the right job, so that our crews are using equipment instead of their backs as much as possible. How efficiently they get their work done factors into our gross margins.”


Finding workers nowadays requires a lot of effort on your part. “There is such a labor crisis that you can’t just go to one source and post an ad, and think you’re going to have ten people calling you any more,” said Antonio Zeppa, co-owner and CEO of Zeppa’s in Louisville, Kentucky. “You have to pull from a lot of different streams.” He puts the word out on social media, networks with his vendors to see if they know people he should hire, and sets up recruiting booths at industry events. He also holds an open house a few weeks before the season starts, publicizing it via flyers in English and Spanish.

BUSINESS Zeppa has found that his best resource is his own workforce, having hired many of their relatives and friends over the years. To encourage such referrals, he offers a $300 bonus to anyone whose recommendation gets hired and sticks around for five months or longer. This gets everyone in the company acting as ‘headhunters,’ not just the two owners.

But focusing on generational differences is not the way to address the problem, said Ward. A veteran contractor with 39 years in the business, he’s a mentor through NALP’s (National Association of Landscape Professionals, formerly PLANET) Trailblazer program. Zeppa is one of his mentees.

Newman used to find new workers through his existing employees, too. Lately, however, that pool seems to have dried up, and he’s had to advertise out of state to try and attract applicants.

He says, “There are changes going on in society, and if labor’s going to be short, then the reality is, you either become a magnet for talent, or you’re going to fight for people. You’re going to have to do that anyway. You need to make your company ‘the employer of choice,’ the outfit that everyone in the area wants to work for.”

Getting potential hires in the door is just the first hurdle. Then it’s up to you to interview these candidates and try to figure out their strengths and weaknesses. Most small businesses don’t have the benefit of a big human resources department with trained hiring professionals and all sorts of sophisticated psychological testing. Then, you’ve got to check the candidate’s references, credit history, criminal record and immigration status, and maybe drug-test him, too. “As of late, we do drug testing and criminal background checks before onboarding anyone,” said Lori Anewalt, co-owner of Anewalt’s Landscape Contracting in Bernville, Pennsylvania. “These extra steps save us valuable time in the long run.”

He’s not sure why there is such a labor shortage, but he has some theories. “There are fewer high school kids who dream of a career in the industry, and that’s just a fact of life. Maybe that’s because of the times they grew up in. When I was young, we didn’t have all the electronics we have today. We rode bikes and played outside.”

To H2-B or not to H2-B?

In most states, landscape work is seasonal. One green industry consultant explained the labor shortage by saying, “Americans don’t want seasonal jobs, or jobs that get them dirty.” Whether you agree with those assertions or not, the nature of our industry presents a challenge to finding and keeping good workers. Some contractors counter the seasonal work by doing snow removal or hanging holiday lights in the winter to keep their best workers from seeking other jobs. You can’t blame people for not sticking around. While the work may be seasonal, their bills are not, and they still need to pay for food, housing and all the other costs of living for themselves and their families, all 12 months of the year. When a landscape company owner can’t fill his ranks with locals, he can turn to the H2-B visa guest worker program. It permits employers to hire foreign workers to come to the United States temporarily and perform short-term


The time and money involved are worth it to her. “Unfortunately, there are no ‘silver bullets’ when it comes to hiring,” she says. “And I believe in the old saying, ‘Hire slow, fire fast.’” Although Mike Ward Landscaping in Loveland, Ohio, has been “diligently recruiting all winter, we’ve not made the progress that we’d like,” said owner Mike Ward. “A few of the people we hired never started. Some of it was due to people who failed the drug test, or knew they would.”

How do you do that? “You have to understand what defines success for your employees, and find a way to help your employees achieve it. It isn’t always about money. The best workers are the ones who feel as if the company is on their side.”


BUSINESS non-agricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peak-load or intermittent basis.

know where the program is going to go in the future, and feels that relying upon it to fill one’s ranks every season is risky.

These individuals come mostly from Central or South America. They sign up for the program because they can earn far more money here than they can in their home countries. They’re not immigrants. They don’t bring their families, and when the season ends, they go home.

Newman doesn’t participate in the H2-B program. “I looked into it in depth this year, and I discovered that there are so few permits granted now, that if you haven’t already been in the program, the chances of being approved are really, really slim.”

The program has a cap of around 60,000 workers each year. That’s for the entire country, across various industries. Restaurants, resorts, hospitality, and other service-related industries lay claim to these workers as well. Mark Becker, owner and president of Complete Lawn Care Inc., in St. Louis, Missouri, has used H2-B workers on and off, over the years. Though he feels it’s a good program, there is one major flaw: you never know for sure when your workers are coming, or if you’ll get enough of them.


When you don’t have enough people, then you can’t take on new accounts, and you may have to pay overtime just to catch up. That makes your season less profitable.


“Our season starts at the beginning of March. But last year, we didn’t make the deadline, so our H2-B workers started in April. We had to turn away new work, and struggle to keep up with the clients that we already had. This year, we’re supposed to get them in March; so hopefully, we’ll be able to sell a lot more work.” Zeppa also used H2-Bs for the first time last year, but won’t this year. “The government controls when they can and can’t come. They were supposed to be here the first of April, but didn’t get here until June first, so for two months, we were scrambling. If we get the people late, the program’s worthless to us.” Ward has used H2-B workers since 2001, and says that he’s using a higher percentage of people out of that program than he’d like. He doesn’t

Many contractors say that they couldn’t get through their season without the help of their H2-B workers. The general consensus is that these people, when they can get them, are extremely hard-working, enthusiastic and competent.

Problems with employees

While there are lots of good, solid, productive workers in the labor pool, there are also the less desirable folks. Unfortunately, you don’t know which type you’ve hired until someone’s worked for you for a while. Last season, Becker processed 14 W-4s to keep six positions filled. Half of those hires didn’t work out, for one reason or another. It’s frustrating when that happens. It means that you have to interview, train, and do the paperwork all over again for someone else. When Becker does have problems with an employee, it’s usually about his work ethic. He depends on his longtime crew leaders to keep him informed as to how new hires behave once they know the boss’ eyeballs aren’t on them. Letting workers know your expectations from day one is crucial. “Integrity is one of our core values,” said Zeppa. “I tell people that right up-front, in the interview. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you say you’re going to be here at 8 a.m., be here at 8 a.m.” “At my company, if you’re late, you lose a lot of respect from the other guys, even if you’re a hard worker. If a guy’s ruining the company culture, he needs to be out the door.”


“If a team member isn’t a good fit, we use quick and just protocols to get him or her to see that,” said Anewalt. “By acting swiftly and justly, we model for the rest of our employees that we value good team members, and won’t tolerate bench warmers.” Newman said that there are a number of reasons why someone doesn’t work out. Some people don’t realize how physically demanding the work really is, so they quit before they even have a chance to get used to it. Family issues have been a big one lately for his people. Those kinds of worries can preoccupy an employee, and interfere with both his concentration on the job and his attendance. Sometimes all it takes is a conversation. There

may be a way to deal with a problem short of firing someone.


Once you find a really great worker, you naturally want to hang onto him. Newman is proud of his company’s record in this area, saying, “Once we get good people, we don’t lose them.” He attributes this to paying higher-thanaverage wages for the area, and providing bigger benefit packages. This has paid off, in more ways than one. Not having to constantly replace personnel has made a big difference in his company’s bottom line. While money and benefits are important, both Ward and Newman believe that career development is the real key to keeping good workers with you.



BUSINESS Reprinted with permission from Irrigation & Green Industry magazine.

“The big corporate companies call this ‘onboarding,’” Newman said. “We just call it, ‘making them part of the family.’ Once we get them, we train them, teach them, encourage them and reward them.”

go next with their careers, and how he can help them get there. “We need to do a better job of showing people that there really is a career path for them, that they can rise to very high income levels by mowing lawns, trimming shrubs and planting trees,” said landscape industry consultant Fredric R. Haskett, CA, CTP.

One way he rewards his people is by making productivity ‘a participatory sport.’ There are incentive programs for virtually everyone who works for Signature, based on safety, efficiency, and quality of work. Then there’s the ‘Rising Star’ program. “That’s where we recognize the outstanding people in our ranks, and create career paths for them,” said Newman. “We concentrate a lot of time and effort on teaching them what they need to know to be able to move up in our company.”

“Crew members can become crew leaders, production managers, business developers, irrigation supervisors and so on. In certain areas, management positions pay $40,000 to $50,000 a year in places like the Midwest, where the season is shorter. In some of the year-round and urban markets, people are earning in the $60,000 to $80,000-a-year range.”

Ward does one-on-one mentoring sessions with all 60 employees in his company. He tries to do at least two of these every week, with people who don’t report to him directly, so that he can get an idea of how they’re doing, where they want to

It’s clear that finding, keeping and managing a labor force is no easy task. Has it ever been? Like every other aspect of your business, it’s a challenge, and every contractor finds his own way of coping with it. You will, too.

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Team spirit

Time for recognition and transparency by Jeffrey Scott, MBA

Spring kick-off is a time to renew team spirit and ready your staff for the upcoming year, as well as recognize employees for past accomplishments.


Recognition can encompass highlighting a positive safety record, employee longevity at your firm (5, 10, 15, 20 yr. employees), becoming a new member of your team, and other branded annual awards your firm can hand out. Team spirit can include discussing goals for 2017, showing photos of employees at work and at past company parties, having a current client come in to speak to your team to rev them up, etc. A fun aspect I always enjoyed during our spring kickoffs is handing out prizes, using raffle tickets and calling out numbers throughout the event. Ask your vendors to donate prizes; you may be surprised at their generosity.


The penny game Use 100 pennies to represent 100% of every dollar sold, and show them how many pennies are spent on each expense area. To maximize engagement of your staff, turn this discussion into a contest, where small groups of employees work together to guess/figure out how much is spent on each major category in your P&L, and how much is left over for profit.

Use 100 pennies to represent 100% of every dollar sold, and show them how many pennies are spent on each expense area.

Take this one step further: Do an exercise to explain how much of that profit can get eaten up by a crew squandering 15 minutes each morning and evening, or wasting 5 minutes per job for those doing multiple jobs a day. It really adds up over a year’s time! Jeffrey’s breakthrough idea: Understanding financial literacy is part of your employees’ job; teaching financial literacy is part of yours. Take action: Connect the dots for your employees. When you explain how money is spent and profit is created, show your team how this translates to their day-to-day work. You will want to do this final step to help employees understand how they impact the bigger picture.

About the author Jeffrey Scott, MBA, author, business coach, hall-of-fame consultant, is the expert in growth and profit maximization in the lawn & landscape industry. He grew his company into a $10 million enterprise, and he now helps others achieve profound success. Over 6000 read his monthly newsletter.

To sign up go to www.jeffreyscott. biz. He facilitates the Leader’s Edge peer group for landscape business owners; his members achieved a 27% profit increase in their first year. To learn more visit www. GetTheLeadersEdge. com.


An area that is gaining traction at the spring kickoff is to discuss the company financials of your firm. That’s right! Discuss the expenses and profitability of each sale that is made, and develop the financial literacy of your team. In my book, Destination Company, I highlight how to play the penny game as a way to educate your staff on how much money is spent on all the different line items: labor, materials, subs, insurance, etc.

Then explain the major categories where your profit gets spent and invested: Uncle Sam, equipment, working capital, etc. Identify how much profit is actually left over for reinvesting back in the company. It’s not much.



Waltz receives honor

TPI awards Turfgrass Educator Award of Excellence

The Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) Turfgrass Educator Award of Excellence


Dr. Clint Waltz received the TPI Turfgrass Educator Award of Excellence on February 22, 2017 at Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, FL from Linda Moyer, chair of the TPI Public Relations Working Group.


is awarded to an individual who has demonstrated personal commitment, dedication, and has had a positive influence in helping to educate consumers, turfgrass producers and industry professionals throughout the world.

Dr. Clint Waltz joined the University of Georgia turfgrass team in September 2001 as a Turfgrass Extension Specialist. His program leadership Wife, Leigh, and son, Will, help Dr. Waltz celebrate. responsibilities are in all turfgrass management areas, including turfgrass water management. His other state responsibilities include serving as ex-officio board member for the Georgia Urban Ag Council (GUAC). He also serves the golf course industry on the Georgia Golf Course Superintendents Association (GGCSA) education committee and Water Task Force. Ken Morrow of The Turfgrass Group offered these thoughts: “Clint focuses on industry relationships in his role as Extension Turfgrass Specialist by serving as liaison with each industry association serving the turfgrass industry.

He has served the sod industry since his first year at UGA. His work in conducting the Annual Sod Industry Survey and annual reports on it have greatly enhanced sod marketing for all sod growers and provided landscapers, sports field managers, golf course superintendents and other urban ag professionals with a third party, unbiased report of the inventory of turfgrass sod by species, and with expected price impact for the spring season. This report is a ‘go to’ resource for all sod customers in planning and bidding their projects. Sod farms rate it a key resource in evaluating the market and setting prices for sod each spring. Clint leads industry associations’ committees in planning and conducting annual education programs and conferences. He provides this assistance also for our Turfgrass Sod Field Day which occurs every two years and has a one-half day seminar.” Aaron McWhorter of NG Turf wrote, “As Georgia Extension Turfgrass Specialist, Clint focused on serving the turfgrass industry from day one at UGA. He has continuously put his attention on building relationships with any and every entity of the turfgrass industry.” Although his appointment is 100% extension, Dr. Waltz conducts research projects in many areas of turfgrass management. He has been published in scientific journals and trade magazines, and makes regular contributions to the newsletters of state associations. Additionally, Dr. Waltz makes numerous presentations to turfgrass professionals, from golf course superintendents and county extension agents to homeowner groups. He was also active in working with TPI’s Public Relations Working Group and Extension Specialists Meetings and has spoken numerous times at TPI-related events. He is responsible for the development and maintenance of the website.


Mentoring girls, caring for trees Women Arborists of the Southeast by Catherine Buckley

WASE is a newly formed non-profit group of women arborists dedicated to community outreach and education, including mentorship of young girls interested in arboriculture. In addition to being arborists, the members are also experienced in tree care, forestry, landscape architecture and design, horticulture, public policy, private industry and public utilities.

Since its formation in 2015, WASE has participated in Arbor Day events in Brookhaven and Decatur with tree planting and educating the public on proper planting and pruning techniques. A workday at Montgomery Elementary also provided attendees with tree identification keys for the forested areas on campus.

Get involved

Future projects

The production of a public service announcement in English and Spanish on the evils of tree topping, a problem growing rampant in Georgia.

 

WASE believes that capturing the attention of girls in this age group can help preserve the future of our urban forests as well as show them that arboriculture is multi-faceted and jobs for women in the industry are wide-ranging.

A guided tree walk this fall through forests to help the public identify dead, dying and diseased trees.

Since its formation in 2015, WASE has participated in Arbor Day events in Brookhaven and Decatur with tree planting and educating the public on proper planting and pruning techniques.

Meetings are held every other month on a Saturday morning. Those interested in joining are encouraged to contact Gretchen Musser, President of WASE, at

Visit our website at for more information and upcoming projects and events.

Women Arborists of the Southeast is dedicated to the promotion of women in the profession, mentorship for girls interested in arboriculture, and outreach programs for the general public.


Plans to mentor young girls at the high school and middle school levels are underway, beginning with creating campus tree inventories using mapping and tree identification tools.

March 12, 2016 - Arbor Day at Brookhaven. Members from left: Kay Evanovich (Brookhaven City Arborist), Heidi Harrington and son Dillon, Catherine Buckley, Wendy Bishonden, Lisa Campbell, Gretchen Musser, and Teresa Eldredge



The power of plants

NICH releases infographic series by Susan McCoy, Garden Media Group

Horticulture positively affects people’s lives where they live, work, shop and play, according to a new report from the

National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH). The benefits of consumer horticulture are spotlighted in “#PlantsDoThat, Horticulture: The Art, Science, & Business of Plants.” The infographic (right) illustrates how consumer horticulture contributes $196 billion to the U.S. economy and creates more than 2 million jobs.

“The story doesn’t just stop at direct economic impact. Consumer and society engagement through plants permeates all aspects of our lives, from providing the aesthetic backdrop to directly enriching our health and well-being.” ~ Casey Sclar, NICH Chair

According to the NICH report, plants benefit society in many ways:


Plants in the workplace reduce employee sick time by 14%


Well-landscaped homes are more valuable; since homes represent 25% of personal wealth, outdoor plants pack a powerful personal finance punch

  

American’s are growing more of their own food—25% of all Americans grow berries, veggies or fruit trees Shaded roadways save 60% of repaving costs America’s public gardens generate $2.3 billion in tourism spending

The infographic, developed by the NICH Economic Committee, uses data gathered by Dr. Charlie Hall, the Ellison Endowed Chair in International Floriculture at Texas

A&M University. It’s the first of a number of infographics to showcase the power of plants to improve life. The infographic series is available to companies, institutions and individuals for use in outreach to horticulture industry and non-industry members: “We envision the infographics as a tool showcasing the power of consumer horticulture for the purpose of building support for more plants in our personal and public spaces,” says Debbie Hamrick, NICH Economic Committee chair. For instance, Hamrick says the infographic could be used by a landscaper speaking before a City Council about a new or renovated development, or by nurserymen on Capitol Hill making the case for research, or an environmental engineer arguing for using vegetated plant systems instead of or in conjunction with gray infrastructure.

About the NICH The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) is a consortium of industry leaders who are promoting the benefits and value of horticulture. NICH brings together academia, government, industry, and nonprofits to cultivate the growth and development of a healthy world through landscapes, gardens and plants – indoors and out. The Mission of NICH is to grow a healthy world through plants, gardens, and landscapes. This article originally appeared on PRWEB, authored by Susan McCoy of Garden Media Group, and is available in its original format. (http://www.prweb. com/releases/2017/03/prweb14192325.htm)





Sine Die

2017 legislative session summary by Georgia Agribusiness Council

Georgia lawmakers wrapped up the 2017 session on


We are pleased to report that ag industry interests finished a very good 40-day run.


March 30 record fashion as the negotiating lasted until nearly 1:00 a.m. We are pleased to report that ag industry interests finished a very good 40-day run. There is much to like about the final outcome; we have provided a comprehensive look at what crossed the finish line as well as a short list of bills that will continue in the 2018 session.

We want to express our thanks to key legislative leaders as well as ag industry allies at the State Capitol. Activities during session focus on ag policy, but it is the relationships built in agriculture that really sets the tone for the future. We’ll start by expressing our gratitude to the two Agriculture Committee Chairmen, Rep. Tom McCall and Sen. John Wilkinson. They are not only outstanding leaders on our issues, they are amazing friends to our industry. Key actions at the Capitol, some visible and others subtle, are also commendable. We thank Rep. Sam Watson, Rep. Terry England, Rep. Jay Powell, Rep. Matt Hatchett, Rep. Clay Pirkle, Rep. Robert Dickey, Rep. Jason Shaw, Sen. Ellis Black, Sen. Larry Walker, Sen. Tyler Harper, and Sen. Bill Heath for having important roles in advancing one or more of these bills. UAC works with the Georgia Agribusiness Council along with other ag industry allies at the State Capitol, including Georgia Farm Bureau and the Georgia Forestry Association.

CUVA update, solar panels and farm worker housing

HB 238 by Rep. Matt Hatchett (Dublin) and Sen. Tyler Harper (Ocilla) provides three important changes to Conservation Use Valuation Assessment (CUVA) and Forest Land Protection Act (FLPA) programs. What started out as a bill dealing solely with solar panels, morphed into a key bill. We successfully updated the definition of “family farm entity” that now includes ‘entities created by the merger of two or more entities which independently qualify as a family owned farm entity.’ This change is key for farm mergers already in place as well as those that will develop in the future. The solar panel provisions allow installation on CUVA with just a one-year tax penalty for breach of the area where the solar panels are installed. The bill also includes a carve-out for farm worker housing if it is provided to workers at no charge – this will aid those using the H2A or H2B farm worker programs. This bill is very important for our industry. It now awaits Governor Deal's signature.

Ad valorem tax exemption on leased farm equipment

HB 290 by Rep. Sam Watson (Moultrie) is awaiting the signature of Governor Deal to become law. It will clarify to many Georgia county tax offices that leased farm equipment to family farm operations is NOT subject to property tax. This will save cash and headaches for the farms and farm equipment dealers that have been caught up in confusion created by county tax officials.

State budget

The FY 2018 State Budget (HB 44) proved to be beneficial to a wide spectrum of ag interests. The respective Appropriations Committee Chairmen, Rep. Terry England and Sen. Jack Hill, provide outstanding leadership to this essential process.


Water resources

SR 152 by Sen. Frank Ginn (Danielsville) awaits the Governor’s signature. In partnership with House Natural Resource & Environment Chair Lynn Smith (Newnan), it will create a joint study committee to explore issues related to stream buffers on state waters. We support this study committee focus to ensure property rights and environmental stewardship are considered before any new laws are created. Meetings will be held this summer to discuss these issues.

Rural Georgia Initiatives

initiative was used in the past with great success. This bill awaits the Governor's signature.

Unmanned aerial vehicles

HB 481 by House Transportation Chairman Kevin Tanner (Dawsonville) limits local regulations on unmanned aircraft or drones. Local governments that already have laws in place will stand but any new ordinances must fall under the guidelines set by the Federal Aviation Administration. It passed out of the Senate and now goes to the desk of the Governor.

The "Georgia Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act," by Rep. Jason Shaw (Lakeland), stalled in the final weeks of the session, but was added to SB 133 by Sen. Larry Walker (Perry) and passed on the final day of session. The challenges in rural Georgia for access to capital for business growth will be aided by this legislation. This bill will provide a $100 million fund through a partnership of private equity groups and state tax credits to stimulate economic and job growth in rural counties. We appreciate the excellent work by Rep. Shaw to lead this initiative and excellent management by Sen. Walker to pass this bill. It now needs the approval of Governor Deal.

Ethanol ban rejected

HB 73 by Rep. Penny Houston (Nashville), “Revitalization of Vacant Rural Georgia Act,” is designed to encourage investment, job creation, and economic growth in long-established business districts with the incentive of tax credits in rural downtown areas. This bill passed the Senate on Tuesday and now heads to the Governor for signature.

Early in the 2017 session, House Ways & Means Chairman Jay Powell (Camilla) introduced HR 51 and HB 85. This constitutional amendment and its enabling legislation seeks to update the mechanism for determining the fair market value of forest land, creating more uniform formula reimbursing counties for tax revenue losses from the FLPA program, and create a new category of taxable property for timberland.

Ag education

HB 437 by Rep. Robert Dickey (Musella) is a bill establishing the Agriculture Education Advisory Commission. It will evaluate and provide reports on the conditions, needs, issues, and problems facing our state's ag education division. A similar

Looking ahead to 2018

HR 238 and HB 332 by Rep. Sam Watson would create the GA Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund. It provides for a Constitutional Amendment that would authorize 75% of all state sales tax collected from sales of outdoor recreation equipment be dedicated to the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund. The funds would be used specifically for protection and preservation of conservation land and for state operated recreation facilities. Governor Deal has great interest in issue. If passed, the proposed constitutional amendment would be placed on the ballot for voters to consider.


HR 389 creates the House Rural Development Council to address the problems facing rural Georgia. The Senate introduced SR 392 that would create the Senate Rural Georgia Study Committee which is a similar initiative. They both passed with overwhelming support.

Further proof that defeating bad bills is just as important as passing good ones, we opposed SB 115 in the Senate Agriculture Committee early in the session and we were pleased the bill never advanced, however it is still viable for 2018. While there are some legitimate concerns about the use of ethanol in fuel, this bill would prohibit the sale of ethanol gasoline throughout Georgia. We highlighted the important economic benefits of ethanol availability and the impact of a stable corn market for Georgia farms.



‘Java White’

Copper worth every penny in the summer landscape by Norman Winter Last summer in Savannah, the heat and humidity were simply staggering. But,

Photo credit: Norman Winter

as I drove into the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, there they were, two acalypha plants, the tropical troopers of the landscape. I was looking at ‘Java White’ and the bright red, cattail-like blooms of the chenille plant.

When it comes to August heat, we gardeners need some tough tropicals to help the landscape dazzle until cool-season planting time arrives; the copper plant is one that comes to mind.


‘Java White’ looks as though it has been kissed by snow, creating a daring look on a porch patio or in a landscape.


Calling ‘Java White’ “copper” is certainly a misnomer. It’s funny that it’s in the same genus and species, which is Acalypha wilkesiana, where you find plants with foliage that is truly copper, many as showy as a new penny. But, the foliage of ‘Java White’ appears as though it has been kissed by snow. It features various patterns and variegations of green, white and cream, with leaves that are like snowflakes in that no two are alike. Like the others, it too maintains a shrublike habit in sun to partial sun, and certainly offers an exotic appeal all its own. The copper plant, or copperleaf, has its origins in the Pacific islands. It is in the Euphorbia family, making it related to the poinsettia, croton and chenille plant, the latter of which is known botanically as Acalypha hispida. In the South Pacific, copper plants may reach 10 to 15 feet tall.

In addition to the ‘Java White,’ watch for ‘Beyond Paradise, with its brilliantly variegated leaves in shades of copper and rose. In the shade it is not quite so bright, but equally stunning in various blends of copper, green, cream and rose red variegation. ‘Beyond Paradise’ reaches 36 inches in height. It also makes a visually stimulating companion in mixed containers. A fairly new introduction called ‘Jungle Cloak’ has a unique camouflage pattern featuring green, cream, red and copper. It too reaches about 36 inches in height and spreads to 24 inches. The chenille plant is a pendulous, blooming jewel from Malaysia and New Guinea, where it grows to be 6-feet tall, adorned with 18-inch long, drooping, tail-like structures of deep red. We grow ours in a planter box-like setting that allows the flowers to cascade over the edge. Whether you choose a variety of copperleaf or the chenille plant, well-drained soil will be your friend. If in doubt, incorporate several inches of organic matter while preparing the bed. These plants grow quite large, so space them adequately. At 18 inches, they will quickly form a hedge-like look. Depending on the variety, you will want to space them 24 to 36 inches apart. They are incredible in mixed containers with both flowers and foliage. The copper partners well with blue flowers, whether salvias or my favorite, the light blue plumbago. Create thrilling partnerships with soft orange and apricot. Copper plants were sold generically for years, but that is now passé thanks to varieties like ‘Beyond Paradise,’ ‘Bourbon Street,’ ‘Ceylon,’ ‘Tricolor’ and ‘Jungle Cloak.’ The chenille plant, on the other hand, is still pretty much generic, but wonderful nonetheless. Unless you live in zone 9 or warmer, these plants will be grown as an annual, but are worth every penny. Because of their rugged nature, many garden centers bring them in for a late summer landscape pickup. You could hardly do better.


‘Mrs. Schiller’s Delight’

Semi-evergreen is tough and tolerant by Norman Winter It’s been amusing watching visitors get out of their cars and start taking photos of

shrubs around the parking lot at the University of Georgia Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens. Sometimes we even laughingly call these tough-as-nails plants “parking lot shrubs.” I am referring to ‘Mrs. Schiller’s Delight,’ a selection of the native Walter’s viburnum. At the gardens we have viburnums from China, India and Japan, but this small, compact native has to be the ideal bones and structure plant of any garden. Botanically speaking, this little workhorse is Viburnum obovatum. It is native in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Though native to the South, it is cold hardy through zone 6. In the wild, the species may look like a tall shrub or small tree, reaching 12 to 15 feet in height. But ‘Mrs. Schillers Delight,’ introduced by nurseryman Steve Reifler in Florida, made a huge impact not only on the landscape trade, but on the nursery industry as well.

In Savannah, Georgia, ours are pretty much evergreen, but in colder areas, they tend to be semievergreen to deciduous. We grow ours in the sweltering hot sun, adjacent to the parking lot and our visitor and education center, but they are very tolerant of shadier locations in the landscape. The white flowers will give way to fruit that ages from red to purple to black and is devoured by birds.

The ‘Mrs. Schiller’s Delight’ viburnum is a very versatile plant and, while the birds may love the fruit, you will celebrate the fact that the plant itself is not normally on the local deer menu. When planting season shows up in your area, consider using this little, native selection as a foundation plant. You will find it easy to grow, requiring practically no maintenance, and you’ll be rewarded with a blanket of welcoming, white flowers next year. 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 website:


‘Mrs. Schiller’s Delight’ reaches about 3 feet tall and is slightly wider. Ours are covered with white flowers that cause everyone to jump out of the car with the camera blazing. Every week I hear from my son who bemoans issues with boxwoods and, like the V8 beverage commercial I think, “Wow, you could have had a ‘Mrs. Schiller’s Delight.’” The same goes for me, because while we have lost dozens of dwarf yaupon hollies in our formal garden due to various water issues, we have only lost ‘Mrs. Schillers Delight’ viburnums to reckless drivers.

As you might guess by the native region, they do prefer acidic soils, much like the azalea. Though they are found in the wild in moist, almost boglike conditions, they will thrive in fertile soil and become quite Photo credit: Norman Winter drought tolerant once ‘Mrs. Schiller’s Delight’ grows to about 3 feet established. Though I tall and slightly wider. It becomes covered have touted them as with white flowers that cause everyone to the parking lot plant, grab a camera. they certainly have a lot of landscape potential. We’ve clustered them around the taller, conical-shaped oak-leaf hollies and at the base of palms. We use them in partnership with podocarpus or Japanese yew and surround them with seasonal color.



Conifers feeling the stress

Landscape conifers still suffering drought stress by Timothy Daly, Agricultural and Natural Resource Agent, Gwinnett County Cooperative Ext. Although Georgia has received rainfall during the spring, most

of the state is still in a drought. The rain has improved the situation, but whether the rainfall will continue is uncertain.


Many plants have sustained damage and died as a result of the continued dry conditions in Fall 2016. Much of the state received little or no rain Leyland cypress trees grow as a property from early August border in a lawn in Butts Co., Ga. until December. The damage caused by The damage caused by long periods long periods without without rain can take months or years rain can take months to develop. or years to develop. To complicate matters, Georgia has had a couple of abnormally wet years that have caused some root damage, making plants even more susceptible to a lack of water.


Trees in trouble

Several coniferous plants are turning brown and dying. Leyland cypress trees, which are frequently planted too close together, are suffering from a fungal canker disease that is worsened by dry conditions. Symptoms start with individual branches dying, and on many trees, multiple branches begin to die, which causes the whole tree to perish. There are no fungicides available to treat the problem. Only pruning dead branches and applying water to affected trees can improve the likelihood of survival.

Many Japanese cryptomeria and arborvitae trees, which grow up to 30 feet in height, are suffering from the prolonged dry spell, too. These trees die from the top down. When planted in rows, one tree may start suffering before others, leading many to speculate that the cause is a disease. Japanese cryptomeria are sensitive to soil water, and too much or too little can cause them to deteriorate. Pine trees can be seen beginning to die. The dry conditions have impacted them, leading to their decline. Those around rocky outcrops, such as Stone Mountain and Arabia Mountain in DeKalb County, have the added stress of being in shallow soil and in the presence of exposed rock that enhances the stress of heat and drought. One of the most destructive insects of pines is the pine beetle. Healthy trees can repel the pest, but those that are under stress are less able to do so. Pine beetles are attracted to trees in distress. They bore into a distressed tree and begin tunneling. The insects do not feed on the wood, but instead infest the trees with a fungus that provides a food source. Once a tree becomes infested with the beetles, nothing can be done other than removing it. Nearby trees can be sprayed with an insecticide that offers some level of protection, but that is no guarantee the pine beetle won’t spread.

Beyond conifers

Many other species of landscape plants have also sustained damage. The damage may take some time to become apparent, even if we do receive adequate amounts of rain. Applications of supplemental water may help. These plants should be watered once or twice a week, and long enough for deep penetration of the soil into the plant’s root zone. Avoid watering that only penetrates the upper inch or so of the ground as this encourages roots not to grow deep, which makes them more vulnerable to dry conditions.

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

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