The New Jersey Landscape Contractor Magazine

Page 1


Summer 2014

Landscape Contractor

The Official Publication of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association

Using Metrics for Better Decision-Making Dealing with Angry Customers Organic Based Plant Health Care Approach Solid Tips for Building Raised Patios Sketching a Masterpiece with Landscape Software Certification Matters...Really!

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Published By



The New Jersey Landscape Contractor magazine is the official publication of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association, dedicated to the professional landscape industry of New Jersey. NJLCA was founded in 1966 as the Bergen County Landscape Contractors Association, and is today comprised of six regions throughout the state of New Jersey.


New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association 465 Boulevard, Elmwood Park, NJ 07407 Phone | 201-703-3600 -- Fax | 201-703-3776 E-mail | Visit our website at


Publisher/Editor Gail E. Woolcott Contributing Writers Mark Adamson | Pete Baloglou | Mark Bradley Danielle Cormier | Barry Draycott | Jonathan Goldhill Mike Ingles | Shay Leon | Michael Mazzarella Jody Shilan | Gail Woolcott NJLCA Combined Board Executive Director | Jody Shilan, MLA President | Tom Canete Vice President | Nelson Lee Treasurer | Richard Goldstein, CLT Director | Anthony Agudelo Director | Tom Barillo Director | Greg Carpenter, CLT Director | George Futterknecht, CLT Director | Dan Kindergan Director | Luis Rosero Associate Director | Joe Bolognese Jr. Associate Director | David Gaynor Associate Director | Shay Leon, AAI, CIC Advisor | Dr. Bruce Clarke, Rutgers University Advisor | Dr. Steven Fischer, Bergen Community College Advisor | Dr. James Murphy, Rutgers University The New Jersey Landscape Contractor magazine is published triannually. 500 print copies are distributed to members and over 3,000 digital issues are sent to professionals in the Green Industry of New Jersey, as well as educational and governmental institutions. Subscription rates: $45.00 per year; $15.00 per copy. New Jersey residents only, please add 7% sales tax. To advertise in The New Jersey Landscape Contractor, please contact Gail Woolcott at (201) 703-3600 or e-mail gwoolcott@ Article and photo submissions are encouraged and may be sent to NJLCA at the above address. Publisher assumes no responsibility for safekeeping or return of photos or manuscripts, and reserves all rights to edit material submitted for publication. Š 2014 New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association. All rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of the publisher. PUBLISHED June 2014


Dealing with Angry Customers Do You Own Your Business or Does Your Business Own You?

8 Using Metrics for Better Decision-Making 10 Certification Matters...Really!


Organic Based Plant Health Care


Solid Tips for Building Raised Patios

22 Sketching a Masterpiece with Landscape Software 28

Landscape Perceptions Creates Stunning Backyard Design

Are You Smiling?



Executive Director’s Message

NJLCA News Briefs

6 Welcome New Members 16 3rd Annual Golf Challenge 18 Contractor Focus: Anthony Agudelo Landscaping 19 Associate Focus: York Trailers 32 Calendar of Events Columns 5 Safety Corner 7 Get Social 9 Design/Build Sales 11 Legislative Wing 21 Plant Material 23 Your Equipment 25 Business Brief NJLCA.ORG


Executive Director’s Message Why Should I Become a Member of the NJLCA?


hen you think about a landscape association, or really any association, the concept is completely illogical. Why on earth would direct competitors want to have anything to do with each other? After all, isn’t the basic concept of business to run a tight and profitable ship and do everything that you can to beat your competition? If this were true, associations wouldn’t exist and I’d be out of a job. That’s why I’d like to share some thoughts and insights that I have learned working as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association. If no man is an island, then no business can be either. In other words, for any of us to be successful, we need the camaraderie and assistance of others. We need this so that we can get varied perspectives and experienced advice. Sometimes we just need to be around other people who understand what we go through so that we can commiserate about our successes or failures and just blow off some steam telling each other stories, that all seem to begin with either, “Listen to what my guys did today”. Time and time again, I hear our members say that they don’t mind losing work to other companies as long as they play by the same rules. Or as Sy Syms would say if he were a landscape contractor, “an educated contractor is our best competitor”. An educated competitor is one who is properly insured, has all of his required licenses and registrations, and also knows his true costs of labor, material and overhead.

He operates his business safely and legally. He maintains his trucks and equipment properly and adheres to ethical hiring and business practices. Things that cost a lot of money, raising his overhead, but ultimately protecting his customers, his employees and the health, safety and welfare of the general public. These are the types of honest and open discussions that NJLCA members have at our membership meetings, indirectly through one of our professional speakers, or directly, speaking with other contractors (aka your competitors). Now, not all of our members are contractors. As a matter of fact, 25% are associate members who provide the goods and services that our members need. From nursery stock and hardscape material, to lighting and irrigation, truck, trailer and equipment sales/service along with professional services such as insurance, banking, legal advice and landscape design services. And just like contractor members, our associates are here to help you run a safe, legal and profitable business. In addition to the wealth of knowledge and experience available to you through our members, and the amazing educational opportunities we provide for you, we can also save you money through our exclusive NJLCA member “vendor benefits program” as well as our incredible health benefits plan offered through The Association Master Trust. Join us today and see how the NJLCA can help you succeed.

Jody Shilan, MLA NJLCA Executive Director

Members With Benefits Member Benefits Include: • Participate in the NJLCA’s Employee Benefits Trust for substantial savings on your medical, dental, prescription and life insurance costs for you, your employees, and families. • Market your company with the NJLCA logo and stand out as an active member of a statewide trade association. • Membership meetings throughout the state two times per month allow you numerous educational opportunities at no additional cost for you and your employees (includes dinner). • Free listing in our membership directory, a great tool to find fellow landscape contractor members, as well as associate, affiliate, advisory, agricultural agents and student members. • Substantial exclusive vendor and event discounts, including many with allied associations. • Additional fantastic educational programs to improve your 66 Morris Ave, Springfield, NJ 07081 • (800) 631-7945 business and increase your profits. Visit our website: • E-mail: • Social outings that are not only fun, but allow you to network 66 Morris Ave, Springfield, NJ 07081 • (800) 631-7945 in a relaxed atmosphere. Includes Golf Outing, Holiday Gala, 66 Morris Ave, Springfield, NJ 07081 • (800) 631-7945 Visit our website: • E-mail: Pizza Night and more! Visit our website: • E-mail: • Volunteer and community services opportunities coordinated by the association to allow members to give back to the community. • And so much more.....!

Employee Benefits Trust

Medical • Rx • Dental • Life

Employee Benefits Trust Employee Benefits Trust

Association Master Trust

Medical • Rx • Dental Medical • Rx • Dental • Life • Life

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4 SUMMER | 2014

Safety Corner Protecting Outdoor Workers from Heat Heat Illness Exposure to heat can cause illness and death. The most serious heat illness is heat stroke. Other heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash, should also be avoided. Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion • Headache, dizziness, or fainting • Weakness and wet skin • Irritability or confusion • Thirst, nausea, or vomiting Symptoms of Heat Stroke • May be confused, unable to think clearly, pass out, collapse, or have seizures • May stop sweating To Prevent Heat Illness, You Should • Provide training about heat stress. • Provide a lot of cool water to workers close to the work area. At least one pint of water per hour is needed. • Schedule frequent rests with water breaks in shaded or air conditioned area. • Routinely check workers at risk of heat stress due to protective clothing and high temperature. What to Do When a Worker is Ill from Heat • Call for help. • Have someone stay with the worker until help arrives. • Move worker to a cooler/shaded area. • Remove outer clothing. • Fan and mist the worker with water; apply ice (ice bags or ice towels). • Provide cool drinking water. IF THE WORKER IS NOT ALERT or seems confused, this may be a heat stroke. CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY and apply ice as soon as possible. Captain Safety can only be contacted through Bob Hibler of Gamka Sales Co. in Edison New Jersey. Bob can be reached at 732-248-1400 or you can e-mail him at

Feature Story

Dealing with Angry Customers

by Mark Adamson, Douglas Dynamics


our business reputation depends on your employees’ ability to recover unsatisfied customers. No one enjoys being confronted with an angry customer, but we all understand the importance of conflict resolution for positive word of mouth and the future business. From receptionists to owners how many of your employees have been trained how to handle these sensitive situations? When confronted with these “uncomfortable” moments it is no time to be “HAP”-hazard in your approach. HAP (Handling Angry People) will provide you with a system to cool customers down because you can’t fix the problem until you fix the person. Your newly acquired knowledge and confidence will not only be effective with customers, but also coworkers, vendors, neighbors, spouses, and teenagers (well...maybe not teenagers).


The Not So Sweet Sixteen

1. Debate the Facts 2. Use Fight Words 3. Jump to Conclusions 4. Blame the Customer 5. Use Sarcasm 6. Bad Mouth Others 7. Change the Subject 8. Verbal/Non-Verbal Mismatch 9. Pass the Buck 10. Use Cliches 11. Use Humor 12. Use “Poor Me” 13. Use “Dumb Me” 14. Admit Prior Knowledge 15. Use Technical Terms/Jargon 16. Use “Gotcha” / Error Detection

DO... 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

The Sweet Seven

Listen Agree Remain Calm Acknowledge Anger Acknowledge Needs Apologize Without Blame Show Empathy

Fix the Person....Fix the Problem Mark Adamson was involved in the “green” industry for over two decades with John Deere Company before dedicating himself to the “white” industry. For the last 9 years Mark has been the Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Douglas Dynamics, leaders in snow and ice control and manufacturers of Western, Fisher, Blizzard, SweepEx, TurfEx and SnowEx brands.


NJLCA News Brief A warm welcome to our newest and returning members...

Agila C. Service Carlos Agila Little Ferry, NJ

Emerald Lawn-Scapes Bryan Friedenberger Boonton, NJ

NorthEast Bowie Sales Ed Dugan Whitehouse, NJ

Terreri Construction Ronald Terreri Cedar Knolls, NJ

All County Landscaping Alan Hamann Sr. Wayne, NJ

Excel Termite & Pest Control Chris Keenan River Edge, NJ

Peak Equipment Emil Pescatore Whitehouse Station, NJ

Top Notch Tree & Landscape Trevor Hoeckele Saddle River, NJ

Reed Systems Jim Reed Ellenville, NY

Twin Industries Jeanne Crispino Eatontown, NJ

SPS Consulting Steve Skuropacki Blairstown, NJ

Ultra Lawn Services LLC John Stanley Howell, NJ

Sicilian Sunscapes Pete Virga Elmwood Park, NJ

United One Landscaping & Design LLC Michael Fabian Union, NJ

Biosphere William Boyce Saddle River, NJ BKS Lawn Service Bill Kloos Helmetta, NJ Bogle Agency Insurance Matt Huppert Lyndhurst, NJ Cahill’s Farm Rob Cahill Andover, NJ

Four Seasons Contracting Brian Vint Ocean, NJ Fullerton Grounds Scott B. Fullerton Ledgewood, NJ Gary L. Smith, CPA Angela Smith Succasunna, NJ Greenbelt Landscapes Terry Beltramini Ramsey, NJ

Ince Landscape Construction & Management Central Jersey Trailer & Hitch Matt Ince Jackie Scagliotta Pittstown, NJ Somerville, NJ Invest @ UCNB Contractors Solutions Sally Lawson James McDermott Boonton, NJ WoodRidge, NJ Countywide Enterprises Daniel Dix Perth Amboy, NJ Curb Appeal Landscape Solutions Mike Aquino Rockaway, NJ

KL Services Rob Kaiser Somerset, NJ Lawn Pro/Leaves 2 Go Kevin Kretz Hillsdale, NJ

D & J Landscape & Constr. Cindy Peluso Summit, NJ

Lombardi Law Firm Steven Lombardi, Esq. Millburn, NJ

Delgado Brothers Gen. Contr. Jaime Delgado Passaic, NJ

M&R Landscape & Design Manny Carlino Westfield, NJ

Donovan Lawn Care & Landscaping Bruce Donovan Hillsborough, NJ

6 SUMMER | 2014

Tazmo Enterprises Tom Bradley Jackson, NJ

USI Landscape & Design Adam Kestin Union, NJ WJR Landscapes LLC Wesley Rowe Bridgewater, NJ

JVS Landscaping/ Christmas Lighting Joe Soccodato Westwood, NJ

D & B Landscaping Billy Tommas Saddle Brook, NJ

DiMeglio Landscapes Frank DiMeglio Skillman, NJ

Stone & Garden By Design David Miles Ringwood, NJ

Marshall Farley Lawn Svcs. Marshall Farley Flagstown, NJ Mercedes NJ Landscaping Aquilino (Elvis) Mercedes Harrison, NJ

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Get Social

Feature Story

Do You Own Your Business or Does Your Business Own You?

Two Social Media Tricks You Never Knew Show Off Positive Customer Feedback on Facebook Did you know that 35% of comments on Facebook Pages are compliments? Unfortunately, when a fan comments on your page, it often becomes hidden under Recent Posts by Others. Luckily, there is a trick for featuring positive fan com- “35 percent of ments on your comments on main timeline. Follow these simple steps:

Facebook Pages are compliments”

1. Access your Activity Log by visiting and click on Posts by Others on the lefthand side of the Activity Log. 2. Click the pencil icon that appears on the right side of the post you’d like to show off and a menu will drop down. 3. Check off the Allowed on Page option. 4. It’s as simple as that! Use Pinterest to find new customers Pinterest has amazing search capabilities. While keeping your search engine privacy turned on may be a good idea for your personal Pinterest account, turning this setting off is recommended for brands. This allows search engines such as Google and Bing to show your Pinterest profile and boards within their search results. Danielle Cormier is a Social Media Community Manager at Constant Contact with a passion for data, analytics & SEO. @dcorms

by Jonathan Goldhill, The Goldhill Group


s a business owner, can you walk away from your business for one or two months and come back to find it operating smoothly and profitably? Can you even escape for two weeks? Have you ever taken a workfree or guilt-free vacation? If your answers are “no”, you don’t have a successful business, you have a glorified job! You don’t have an effective business system; you are the system! In a large sense, you are a slave of your own success. Please do not be offended by these very direct and frank statements. You must realize I get paid to help my clients “face reality” and then hold them accountable for the changes and goals they desire. Facing reality is a critical step that owners must take to begin to build a better business and a better life for themselves. Ask yourself these questions and be brutally honest with yourself: • Do I often question, “Why do I have to do every darn thing myself ”? • Am I still working too hard and making too little? • Am I trapped working “in” my business instead of “on” my business? • Do I ever wonder if business ownership is truly worth the time, effort, headaches, hassles, and sacrifices? • Do I feel trapped on a treadmill, where I am moving faster and faster, but going nowhere? • Do I constantly face frequent interruptions and repetitive questions from my staff? • Do I go home many nights feeling mentally and physically drained? • Do I crave more free time to do the things that matter most to me? If you answered, “yes”, to a majority of these questions, your approach to business management is broken. Your business should serve you and your dreams. It should give you greater freedom, not less. In fact, your business, properly designed, should function practically without you, not because of you. It should run predictably and automatically whether you are in the office or the field, on vacation or not. Your business should not depend upon your presence, personality, problem solving and perspiration for its daily survival. If so, your business does not work, you do! Bottom line, you should run your business; it should not run you, your family or your life. Your business should be systems-dependent and not owner-dependent or expert-dependent for its success. Jonathan Goldhill, Expert Business Coach and Consultant with The Goldhill Group, is a strategic business, marketing and sales coach and consultant to owners, managers and salespeople of growing companies in the green industry. Learn more about his company at His books include “The Six Silver Bullets to Growing Any Business Fast” and Sales Accelerator: Strikingly Simple & Effective Strategies for Today’s Marketing.


Feature Story

Using Metrics for Better Decision-Making by Mark Bradley, Landscape Management Network


f there was one simple number that you could use to help you make better business decisions consistently, wouldn’t you want to know it? There are thousands of numbers and indicators that give you feedback on your company or jobs. Gross Profit, Net Profit, Sales By Month, Sales Per Customer, Sales By Salesperson, Revenue Per Hour, Overhead Ratio, and many more. They’re all worthwhile metrics, however, every company has one simple metric they should be focused on, and here’s why. Picture a simple assembly line that makes cars. Your line has four stations: 1. Frame + Body Assembly [30] 2. Paint Booth [35] 3. Engine + Drivetrain Assembly [15] 4. Finishing + QA [55] In brackets, beside each station is the number of cars that can be completed per hour. The paint booth, for example, can paint 35 cars per hour. The maximum number of cars we can build – start to finish – is 15 per hour. It doesn’t matter that we have enough finishing and inspecting capacity to do 55 cars an hour, we can only assemble 15 engine and drivetrains per hour and therefore, we can only build and sell 15 cars per hour. If you were the manager of this line, your job is obvious. You need to get more production out of your engine and drivetrain section. You‘d likely be ready to make a sizeable investment to improve station 3, since improvements would directly improve total sales, without investment required elsewhere (we could produce and sell up to 30 cars per hour before improving other stations). Somewhere in your landscape company exists this same weak link. It’s your own “engine and drivetrain assembly” station. Picture your company like a funnel. Your funnel neck will only allow so much work through at once. Your company’s production/sales are limited by the amount of work that can pass through the thinnest portion of your funnel. It’s called your bottleneck. Unfortunately, there is no bottleneck that applies to every company in the industry, but most companies share a common one. Skilled foremen, who can get jobs done independently on time and on budget, are the most common weak link in the land-

8 SUMMER | 2014

scape industry. Whether you’re a single owner-operator who can’t seem to pull back from daily operations, or a multi-national franchise that depends on many managers and foreman to hit sales targets, most companies’ bottleneck is skilled people who can independently manage a job through to completion. Therefore, a single metric you could use to make better, more profitable decisions might be sales per foreman hour, or sales per owner hour if you’re managing field work. It’s nice to know how other stations are functioning, but your company’s success/failure is largely determined by your bottleneck. Let’s take a look at how that metric would impact the way decisions are made in real life. Picture two landscape companies. Each have stonemasons who install 100 sq. ft of stone each day. They’ve both agreed to do 100 sq ft. of stonework for $2,000. Company A measures success by cost savings. Rather than spend $150 to have the stone delivered by the vendor, they send their foreman to pick it up. After all, 2 hours of wages is less than the $150 delivery charge. Company B uses the bottleneck approach. They only have a few masons who can independently run a job. They look at the cost of delivery, not based on the cost of the stonemason, but the overall cost to the company. 2 hours of their stonemason picking materials is 20 sq. ft of stone that is not installed. At $20/sq. ft, that’s a cost of $400. Company B gets materials delivered and happily pay the $150 charge so that their bottleneck, their foreman, stay focused on generating revenue (finished stonework). Who comes out ahead?

Wage Costs (per day) Equipment + Fuel Costs (per day) Delivery Charges Material Costs (100 sq ft) Overhead Expenses (per day) Production (per day) Sales Revenue Earned That Day ($20 SF) Profit

Company A (pickup)

Company B (delivery)

$600 $225 $0 $800 $500 80 SF $1,600 $75

$600 $200 $150 $800 $500 100 SF $2,000 $350

Big difference. Company A spent a little more in fuel (to pickup the stone), but saved the delivery costs. However, they lost 20% of their available production hours that day while they picked up stone. That loss of production cost them dearly. Not only are they far less profitable than Company B, but Company B will be finished and starting the next job sooner, giving them a further advantage. Better Profit Lesson: The cost of your bottleneck working on non-revenue generating tasks, is not the cost per hour of the bottleneck, it is the cost of lost company revenue. Most landscape companies could improve profit by looking at owner/foreman hours the same way. The best decisions are the ones that get the most production out of your bottleneck, even if it means it increases the cost of production (up to a limit, of course). Common examples where costs increase, but so do profits include:

Design/Build Sales Free Plans Cost You Plenty Design-build companies, both large and small, are still doing “free plans” to try to get installation work. Naturally, many landscape contractors feel that they can’t charge for their designs because their competition doesn’t. They think that it is just the cost of doing business or that they’ll recoup the money when they sign the installation contract. This is, and always will be, a bad business practice. It may get you some work, but those free plans “...charging for are costing you your designs plenty. I know this because I have been will help you sell in the industry more work...” for 35+ years and have designed for free and for a fee. I can tell you that charging for your designs will help you sell more work than free plans. Let’s look at the traditional design/build sales process for a plan of a typical ½ acre property in New Jersey to see how much time you actually spend on your free plan and free estimate (travel time is included). Initial Consultation Site Analysis Design Estimate Presentation Revisions Proposal Presentation

1.5 Hours 1.5 Hours 6.0 Hours 3.5 Hours 1.5 Hours 2.0 Hours 2.0 Hours 1.5 Hours


19.5 Hours

Therefore, one free plan is tying up your design/sales person for almost 20 hours, or half a week. If they get the job, you’ll tell yourself that it was worth it, and maybe you’re right. But what if they don’t get it? What if they close only 25% of these projects? That means that they are spending almost 80 hours (two work weeks) to sell one installation. Is it still worth it? I think you know the answer. Jody Shilan, MLA is an award-winning landscape designer and former landscape design/ build contractor. He is the Executive Director of NJLCA, the editor of and host of Landscape Live! He can be reached at 201-783-2844 or

Feature Story • • • • •

getting your vendors to deliver buying materials pre-processed to reduce prep time buying/renting equipment to improve productivity more detailed designs/project planning before the start of a job specialized crews – so specialized foremen are dedicated to tasks that require specialization

Some of the old adages you may have heard, like don’t buy equipment until you can pay for it in cash, are sound, conservative approaches. However, when you look at those decisions from the bottleneck point of view, they’re not necessarily the most profitable direction. The examples above increase sales – the upper half of our sales per foreman equation. But don’t stop there. You should also focus on reducing foreman hours spent on tasks that don’t drive revenue. Foreman hours are the bottom half of the equation. In our assembly line example, you’d want to look for ways to off-load work onto other stations to improve the Engine and Drivetrain assembly’s production. Perhaps Finishing + QA could tighten the bolts, a task now done at the Engine + Drivetrain station. If that helped Engine and Drivetrain produce 5 more cars/hour, then we’ve increased our sales capacity by 33%! Even if it cost more to have Finishing and QA do the bolt tightening, it’s almost certain to be a financially smart move, when you look at it from the bottleneck perspective. Take a hard look at your operations and see where you could off-load non-billable tasks from your bottlenecks so they can stay focused on production-related work. • Washing trucks, maintaining equipment? Could it be done by others? • Picking up or moving materials? Can your vendors deliver? Could it make sense to have your own dedicated delivery truck? • Waiting for instructions or planning? Could you spend more time designing or planning jobs to reduce questions/confusion/mistakes? • Loading/unloading vehicles/equipment? Fueling? Could you have an “evening” yard person that could do this for all the trucks? • Could you outsource your fueling to a mobile fueling company? Finally, to keep things interesting, keep in mind that your weak link changes over time! Imagine improving your engine+drivetrain station so it can complete 60 cars per hour. It’s no longer the bottleneck. You’ve got a new bottleneck that needs your attention. It’s time to start this process all over again. Where do you start? Here’s a few places you can start: • Divide your job prices by estimated foreman hours. Get a feel for the ranges of “good” and “bad” jobs (hint: the lower the sales per foreman hour, the worse the job) • Ensure your payroll and job costing systems are linked. Every payroll hour should be tracked to a “task” – billable or not. It’s critical that you know how much time is spent unbilled. • When you’re estimating, take a few minutes to look at different ways to do the job. As we’ve seen, an increase to job costs doesn’t always mean less profit. We call this “value-engineering” a job and it’s a critical step to improving profitability. Mark Bradley is the president of TBG Landscape & Landscape Management Network. For more info visit or


Feature Story

Certification Matters ... Really!


by Mike Ingles

t may be impossible to quantify how becoming “certified” in the landscape industry will affect your bottom line, but what is certain is that more commercial and government accounts demand certifications by established service providers. Certification is a positive force in elevating service levels within the various segments of the green industry. While industry professionals understand the value of continuing education that leads to credentials that advertise their expertise, work remains to be done to “educate” property owners and property managers the value of hiring those who have gone the extra mile. “Without a doubt, certification elevates our industry on the whole,” says Shayne Newman, founder and president, YardApes, New Milford, Conn. “It is the means by which we become landscape professionals.” Newman says, “We’ve had several employees achieve certification through a rigorous program administered by PLANET. To be certified means unequivocally that we are safer, more knowledgeable, more efficient & more productive.” One of the main goals of the green industry’s national trade associations is to promote professionalism and build the public’s confidence in the industry. Offering industry certification are: the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), International Society of Arborists (ISA), Irrigation Association (IA), Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) and Snow and Ice Management Association. Sheri and Joe Russell own/operate Russell Tree Experts, Westerville, OH, and boast having several certified ISA tree service associates. Russell attained her certification in 2008. “I’m proud to be one of the few female certified arborists. I

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was the only female in a room of over 100 people when I took my exam at Dawes Arboretum, Newark, Ohio, and am excited to see more and more women seeking certification,” she relates. “I sought after the title because it serves as proof of my understanding and dedication to professional tree care,” Russell says. “I’m happy to see that the public is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of the title when hiring tree care professionals. I encourage potential customers to compare our services to other businesses with certified arborists for an ‘apples to apples’ comparison, for it has been my experience that companies that seek certified individuals operate with high standards and truly value healthy trees.” It is equally important that service providers attain and retain certifications in their particular fields. Many industry standards have evolved into baseline criteria that state and local agencies utilize to establish requirements when considering new regulations and laws. Sometimes, these voluntary rules and regulations become standards for state licensing. “Certification as a recognition of a level of professionalism is gaining momentum within all sectors of the green industry,” adds Joel Hafner, CLT, CLP, Poolesville, Md. “Our customers are becoming more aware of its significance and, one day soon, will hopefully demand certification as a requisite for being on their property” he says. Not that earning a certification is easy. Not by a long shot. “I think the test has five sections and you must pass all sections in order to pass the test,” says Michael Joseph, co-owner, Joseph Tree Service, Columbus, Ohio, of the ISA certification test. “I recommend to those thinking about taking the exam that they take the test seriously and buy the study materials and really study hard.” A serious effort Wendy Connair, president, Garden Girls, Inc., Mantua, Ohio, says passing the PLANET exam is no picnic either. “It’s not just an easy test that you walk in and walk out of; there is a level of skills and knowledge that is required to master in order to acquire a certification.” Connair says her certifications assure the public that she knows her business inside and out and that her company is not just a fly-by-night. “I feel that PLANET understood years ago the importance in setting a higher quality standard in the green industry needed to be established to set the professionals above those who are out to make a quick buck,” she says. “Just like a plumber is looked upon as a professional occupation and learned skill so should the landscape occupation.” Joseph concurs with Hafner, Newman, Russell and Connair about the need for certification in the green industry.

Legislative Wing March on Trenton On March 24, 2014, I had the opportunity to join several of our Board members, our Executive Director, the Executive Director of ASCA, Kevin Gilbride, and a large group of our members, as we went to Trenton, NJ to speak to our Senators and Assemblymen about the issues facing snow and ice management contractors and the inability to get insurance at a reasonable rate or at all. It was a great experience to see the inner workings of our government, as we met with Marcus Raynor, President of the NJ Civil Justice Institute, along with Senator Sweeney, Senator Cardinale, Senator Barnes, Senator Whelan, Jason Redd, Deputy Executive Director and “Senator General Counsel to the NJ Senate Democratic Cardinale was Office, the offices of particularly Senators Kyrillos, and O’Toole, and the office impressed...” of the Senate Minority. Senator Cardinale was particularly impressed with our attendance (in all, about 30), as well as how prepared we were for our meetings. Since March, we have been in touch with Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, as well as heard back from Senator Cardinale’s office, who is working with us to draft legislation that will hopefully assist our snow and ice managers with obtaining reasonable insurance at the end of this year. At the end of the day, I truly felt as though our legislators are there for us, the people, and they simply need to be made aware of the issues that affect us. If you have the opportunity, do join us in Washington, DC in July for the PLANET Legislative Day on the Hill! Gail Woolcott is the Director of Operations for NJLCA. She has been with the association since 2006 and was named “Legislative Champion of the Year” from FEWA in 2009.

Senator Cardinale with representatives from NJLCA

Feature Story “Arborist certification is very important for our industry. It demonstrates a level of education about arboriculture and a level of commitment to the industry,” says Joseph. “There is a continuing education requirement which helps arborist to stay up to date with the advancements and science of arboriculture,” says Joseph. Anne Olmstead, ISA’s marketing communications manager, says that obtaining an ISA certification demonstrates that members have the proper knowledge and skills, as well as a high level of dedication to our profession and community. “ISA credentials build expert knowledge and reflect the professional skills sought by leaders from the public and private sectors, including training, academia and government organizations,” insists Olmstead. Olmstead advanced several advantages to becoming certified by ISA that also applies to each discipline in the green industry: increasing income, efficiencies in hiring and training, allowing the public to make informed selection for the services, building upon self-image and certifications might become a deciding factor when bids are similar in cost and application, especially to those businesses seeking LEED certifications. Karen Barnett, PLANET’s director of programs and services, says that certification allows the public to review credentials and make a decision based on each service provider’s level of training and education. PLANET offers multiple certifications (see sidebar). Professional growth strategies, and helping the public identify competent service providers are among the association’s goals. “Individuals who become certified increase their value to employers, provide a higher standard of service to clients and help raise the professionalism of the entire industry,” insists Barnett. PLANET, in addition to helping members earn certifications, is working to get the word out to the public. “We are also focused on educating the public about certification. The first thing to know about landscape industry certified (LIC) is that it is an individual certification, not a company accreditation,” says Barnett. “Professionals who are interested in becoming certified should first choose one of the seven designations and then register. All programs are self-study and suggested study materials are available for purchase.” Continuing education Recertification is important and stressed in the green industry because of ever-changing laws and almost daily technical advancement in the various fields. Each discipline has a stringent recertification program designed to ensure their members are up-to-date with changes in their industry. “Landscape industry certified individuals stay on top of their profession and credentials by recertifying every two years,” says Barnett. The required continuing education and optional service needed to maintain the active status of PLANET certification is measured in continuing education units (CEUs). Members are required to report 24 CEUs earned during the two-year cycle to maintain the active status of certification. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies standards state that certification programs must include recertification provisions.


Feature Story Certification Matters...Continued Earning the right to be a PGMS Certified Grounds Manager involves acquiring technical knowledge and in-the-field skills. Sherrie Schulte, CLIA, certification and operations director, Irrigation Association, also insists that certifications elevate green industry professionals over those that have not achieved the same proven level of competency. “Becoming certified gives individuals instant credibility, provides additional job opportunities, demonstrates individuals’ commitment to water management and distinguishes them from their competition,” she says. “Certification also raises the bar within the industry, which helps the credibility for the industry in general.” The IA also offers multiple certification programs. Each program has different requirements in order to qualify to sit for an exam, says Schulte. Kelly Mesaris, associate executive director, Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS), says that the certifications that her association offers to grounds professionals offers tangible benefits. “With certification, your presentations, requests for funds and equipment and recommendations carry more weight,” she points out. PGMS members are primarily institutional grounds managers and their association offers three certification programs. “The Certified Grounds Manager program, developed and offered by PGMS, is the premiere program of its type in the green industry,” Mesaris adds. “To earn the certificate of completion for the School of Grounds Management (SGM), the student must complete a total of 24 credits within four years. Eighteen of these credits must beBe completed at the SGM in theField... core competencies.“ Outstanding In Your

Ellen Kobach, certification and communications manager of the Snow Ice Management Association, says that SIMA’s certified snow professional (CSP) certification is the recognized standard for professionalism and excellence in snow & ice management services. “Getting the CSP designation can build a broader base of knowledge to deliver excellence to customers. CSPs value consistent service and communication, are focused on partnership, safety and risk management and are aligned with industry best practices,” says Kobach. To become CSP certified the student is tested in six areas of competence: business, human resources, marketing, subcontractors, snow and ice science, and snow and ice operations and techniques. Kobach explains that at SIMA they renew yearly. Once an individual passes the exam, they must renew and obtain continuing education credits through SIMA’s annual Snow and Ice Symposium, industry trade show attendance, writing content for SIMA, webinars and more, she adds. At ISA there are two options in maintaining certification: members can obtain the required CEUs in their three-year certification period (i.e. ISA certified arborist 30 CEUs) and pay a recertification fee, or choose to retake the exam and successfully pass in order to maintain credentials. Schulte explains the IA’s recertification process. “All certified professionals are required to submit 20 CEUs per two-year cycle to remain in good standing. Newly certified professionals will be assigned a CEU cycle. This cycle will begin the year following when the designation was earned.” AT PGMS, after becoming a CGM, members must keep up accreditation by earning 25 CEUs every three years. Along with industry certifications, many colleges and universities offer curriculums of specialization into every facet of National Landscape Industry Certified Technician Program green industry services. Two-year technical certifications, in a (formerly CLT) variety of disciplines, as well as four-year bachelor programs in Certification is a national hands-on testing program administered turf science, horticulture and related sciences, are becoming the by the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA) norm for many contractors; advanced degrees, or comparable in conjunction with the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET). Certification seeks to recognize proficiency in the landscape work- experience, is often required for executive positions with larger force, upgrade the landscape professional, and provide the public turf management companies and is a necessity in many start-up with a means of identifying qualified landscape professionals. companies and often become requisites for advanced certifications in many trade associations. Register today for the Landscape Industry The International Society of Arborists (ISA) offers several Certified Technician Exam certifications for contractors. Upcoming Exam: Many states have landscape associations and some offer Saturday, September 27, 2014 strong educational opportunities, and certification programs. Bergen Community College, 400 Paramus Road, Paramus, NJ Trade association certifications offer valuable learning opportunities, are key in continuing education and provide the For more information, contact NJLCA public the assurances that each science is being performed by at (201) 703-3600 or email knowledgeable and reliable professionals.


Mike Ingles is a freelancer writer living in Columbus, Ohio, who writes articles about business and the green industry. Contact him at Article reprinted with permission of Turf Magazine.

12 SUMMER | 2014

Be Outstanding In Your Field...


2014 National Landscape Industry Certified Technician Exam

(Previously the CLT Exam) is administered exclusively by the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association

q Full and Retake Exams - September 27, 2014 - 6:15 am Bergen Community College, 400 Paramus Rd., Paramus, NJ Registration Form

Year you entered the Green Industry: To become Landscape Industry Certified, PLANET recommends that you have a minimum of 2,000 hours work experience. Please check your work experience: q 1 year (2,000 hours minimum) q 2-5 years q 5-10 years q 10+ years Do you need an on-site Spanish translator? q Yes q No Study Guide to be sent in: q English q Spanish Do you have a disability that requires special accommodations? Please explain: _______________________________ Name: ___________________________________________ Company: ______________________________________________ Company Address: _________________________________ City: ____________________________ State: _____ Zip: ________ Home Address: ____________________________________ City: ____________________________ State: _____ Zip: ________ Phone: __________________________ Fax: __________________________ E-mail: _____________________________________ I am a member of q NJLCA q Other ____________________ To pay by credit card: q MasterCard q VISA q Amex q Discover Card number: _______________________________________ Cardholder’s Name: _______________________ Exp.: __________ ~ Registration also available online at ~

Make all checks payable to NJLCA. Payments are due with this application form. No refunds will be given!

(Retakes: Please contact the NJLCA to find out which modules you need and/or fill in module numbers below) NJLCA or Other Landscape Association Member Non Association Member: Maintenance Exam for Members: Maintenance Exam for Non-Members: q Turf Maintenance or q Ornamental Maintenance... q$250 q Turf Maintenance or q Ornamental Maintenance... Installation Exam for Members: Installation Exam for Non-Members: q Softscape Installation or q Hardscape Installation... q$250 q Softscape Installation or q Hardscape Installation.. Retakes for Members (1 - 2 modules)................................... q $85 Retakes for Non-Members (1 - 2 modules)......................... Module #(s): _____________________________ Module #(s): _____________________________ Retakes for Members (3 or more modules).......................... q$185 Retakes for Non-Members (3 or more modules)............... Module #(s): _____________________________ Module #(s): _____________________________ Manual for Members................................................................ q $70 Manual for Members.............................................................. Refresher Course for Members (Date TBD)......................... q $50 Refresher Course for Non-Members (Date TBD)..............

q$300 q$300 q$110 q$210 q $80 q $75

You will receive a study guide upon receipt of your application; however, the training manual is strongly suggested! This form must be signed in ink by the authorized person in the company.

No refunds. Substitution of candidates is permitted up to 2 weeks prior to test date. A $25 fee is assessed for substitutions for administrative costs. Signature: __________________________________________________________________ Return this completed application form to: NJLCA, 465 Boulevard, Elmwood Park, NJ 07407 or fax to (201) 703-3776

Date: ____________________________

For more information please call (201) 703-3600 or visit

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Feature Story

Organic Based Plant Health Care Approach by Barry Draycott, Tech Terra Environmental


uring the last fifty years, the landscape industry has become more and more dependent on the use of pesticides as the first choice of dealing with many problems. So much so that many of us have never learned other methods of creating and maintaining a healthy landscape. When I started out working for tree care companies in the mid 1970’s, gypsy moths were the major pest, and we would spray all trees and shrubs on the properties with the most powerful insecticides available. That approach certainly killed many caterpillars and saved many trees, but it also killed many beneficial insects and caused environmental concerns. Many clients would ask us to also spray their crab apples for disease, cherry trees for scale, and hemlocks for mite. We were very efficient and added fungicide, other insecticides, and miticides to the mix and sprayed everything. By the mid 1980’s those cover sprays evolved into spot treatments based on calendar dates, which helped reduce the amount of pesticides used. In the 1990’s some companies were adding integrated pest management (IPM) services for their clients. As defined by the Southeast PA IPM Research Group, “IPM is a pest population management system that utilizes all suitable techniques (biorational, chemical, cultural, fertilization, irrigation, monitoring with sex pheromone traps, resistant plant varieties, etc.) and information to reduce or manipulate pest populations that are maintained at tolerable levels (meaning a few pests will still be around) while providing protection against hazards to humans, domestic animals and earth’s environment.” In reality, many landscape IPM programs just include monitoring and spot treatments as required, usually with traditional pesticides. This technique is focused on pest control by reacting to the pest. It certainly is an improvement and has reduced pesticide usage even more, but we are treating the symptoms without addressing the cause of the problem. However, times are changing, and due to public demand as well as new regulations we have to become knowledge-

able in other techniques to care for plants. In fact, those who continue with business as usual may find themselves out of the business before long. We have more tools now! In the past couple of decades, science has provided us with new insights into the biological workings of plants that are helping to reduce the amount of pesticides and saltbased fertilizers that were considered necessary for landscape maintenance. A great deal of research and fieldwork has demonstrated that, just as in humans, when stress factors are reduced plants become healthier, and more energy can be devoted to defensive measures. Programs that address these issues have been called plant health care (PHC). This is a proactive program that comes from a completely different mindset. The Southeast PA IPM Research Group defines PHC as “a process of scheduled preventative maintenance based on monitoring and use of cultural and chemical tactics, to enhance plant vitality. The plant and its requirements become the central focus of our activities, rather than responding to symptoms caused by pest presence, physical agents, or nutritional deficiencies. A plant health care practice addresses the basic causes of the reduction in plant health and provides corrective measures to promote plant health.”

Continued on Page 21 NJLCA.ORG 15

News Brief

3rd Annual NJLCA/IANJ Golf Challenge to be Held at Galloping Hill Golf Course


he 3rd Annual NJLCA/IANJ Golf Challenge will be held on September 9th, 2014 at the Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth, NJ. Since producing the golf outing along side our allies in the irrigation industry, the golf outings have been nearly selling out, but we will continue to make room for all who want to attend! The Galloping Hill Golf Course was chosen by the Golf Committee for many reasons, but mostly because it offers a challenging, yet enjoyable day on the green. Galloping Hill Golf Course sprawls across 271 acres in Kenilworth and Union. Characterized by its natural terrain of rolling hills and valleys, the course often referred to as “The Hill”, has a reputation as one of the most challenging courses in the area. The 18 hole course features 6717 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71. The course was designed by Willard G. Wilkinson and opened in 1928. Most recent renovations were completed by Stephen Kay in 1998. The course has partnered with the NJ State Golf Association, who now hold their headquarters at Galloping Hill. They will also be hosting the NJ Open Championship in 2016, the first time in the event’s 112-year history at a public, county-owned course. In addition to the 18 hole facility, Galloping Hill offers a state of the art learning center and 9 hole practice course The Learning Center at Galloping Hill. This facility opened in October 2009 and has 52 stalls (20 of them are covered and heated) and a 45,000 square foot practice area. The Learning Center is also home to the TaylorMade Performance Lab at Galloping Hill. The Performance Lab contains state of the art club fitting technology, video instruction and a TaylorMade Master club fitter. The 9 hole course with 2348 yards of golf

16 SUMMER | 2014

from the longest tees for a par of 33, is a great place to reinforce the lessons and instruction you just received at the Learning Center. In January 2010, KemperSports began managing Galloping Hill and The Learning Center. KemperSports is recognized as a leader in the golf course management industry and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the facility. The all new 45,000 square foot clubhouse will offer all players and dinner attendees a fantastic view of the course itself and fine dining at the awards dinner. The NJLCA/IANJ Golf Challenge is always a great time, with both lunch and dinner included in the price per golfer. Attendees even have the opportunity to shoot for $10,000 cash and a $1,000,000 annuity! This year we have so many great sponsors, including Bobcat, Scirocco Group, Atlantic Irrigation Supply, Toro/ Irritrol, Hunter, and Aquarius Supply, that attendees are going to walk away with a bag of goodies like never before! We even have a few more sponsorships available like the Golf Tees, Towels, Special Contests and more. So those vendors out there that want to get in on the action should call or sign up right away! Some of the proceeds of this years golf outing will go to the NJLCA Scholarship, which funds 10 scholarships per year. Three are given to Rutgers students, two to Bergen Community College students, two to Community College of Morris students, all in green industry programs, and three to students that are children of NJLCA members, regardless of the field of study they choose. Therefore, attending the golf outing also helps our members, as well as the future of the industry! An equal portion of the proceeds goes to the Irrigation Association’s educational foundation, which also provides support to the industry’s students. It is an excellent day of socializing with others in the landscape field, as well as allies in the irrigation industry. In addition, the networking opportunities at both meals, as well as out on the course, provide contractors the opportunity to spend time with each other and their vendors. Finally, we end the evening with a spectacular dinner and awards ceremony, with a multitude of prizes for First, Second and Third place winners, the Most Honest Team, Longest Drive, Straightest Drive, Closest to the Pin, and more! So join us on September 9th at Galloping Hill Golf Course (see registration form for deadlines) and spend a great day on the greens, followed by food, fun, and prizes!

Golfer Fees: $195 per golfer

Email: _________________________________________________

Handicap: ___________________________________

Directions: From South: Take the Garden State Parkway North to exit 138. Make left to go South on Boulevard (Route 509), after crossing over Garden State Parkway make right into Galloping Hill Golf Course From North: Take the Garden State Parkway South to exit 138, make right to go North on Boulevard (Route 509), cross over GSP and make first right for U-Turn. Make left onto Boulevard (Route 509), cross over GSP and make first right into Galloping Hill Golf Course. From West: Take Route 22 East to Michigan Ave South. Follow Michigan Ave to Boulevard (Route 509), make left and follow Route 509 North over the Garden State Parkway and make first right and make a U-turn. Cross back over the GSP and make your first right into Galloping Hill. From East: Take Route 1&9 North to Route 22 West. Follow Route 22 West to Garden State Parkway South. Take the GSP South to exit 138, make right going North on Boulevard (Route 509), cross over GSP and make first right for U-Turn. Make left going South onto Boulevard (Route 509), cross over GSP and make first right into Galloping Hill.

Soft Spikes are now mandatory!

Golf casual, collared shirts. No cut-offs or blue jeans.

Dress Code:

__________ x $195 = $ _____________

Method of Payment: q Check # __________ q Credit Card

• Please make checks payable to NJLCA.

• In the event of rain, please call NJLCA at (201) 703-3600.

• For further information contact the NJLCA office at (201) 703-3600

Total $ _____________

• Registration will not be processed without full payment.

City, State, Zip: ______________________________________

Billing Address: _____________________________________

Cardholders Name: __________________________________

Expiration Date: ______________ 3- or 4-Digit CVV: ________

Credit Card # _______________________________________

$ _____________

Sponsorship from Reverse Side

Total Foursome _____________ x $700 = $ _____________

Total # Dinner Only __________ x $100 = $ _____________

Total # Golfers

• All must bring a current photo ID on day of event.

• No rain date or refunds.

Registration is limited, so please register early!

Payment Information

Would you like your foursome to include the players listed above or would you like to be placed in separate foursomes? Please indicate below: (If you do not indicate a preference, we will designate foursomes according to handicap.) q Include above listed players in my foursome q Place above listed players in separate foursomes

Company: _____________________________________________

Name: ______________________________________

Registration Deadline: September 5, 2014

Email: _________________________________________________

Handicap: ___________________________________

Email: _________________________________________________

Handicap: ___________________________________

Dinner Only: $100.00 per non-golfer

Company: _____________________________________________

Name: ______________________________________

Company: _____________________________________________

Email: _________________________________________________

Handicap: ___________________________________

Name: ______________________________________

Company: _____________________________________________

Registration Form

Name: ______________________________________

Golfer Information:

Please join NJLCA and IANJ members and colleagues at the 2014 Golf Challenge on Monday, September 9, 2014 at Gallopping Hill Golf Course for a day of golf, friends, food, and awards!

Special Foursome Price - $700 (save $80)!

Includes: Greens Fees, Cart, Bag Drop Service, Club Cleaning Service, Lockers, Lunch and Dinner

11:00 am 12:00 pm 1:00 pm 5:30 pm

Agenda Registration Driving Range & Contests Lunch Shotgun Start Dinner & Awards

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

2014 Golf Challenge

New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association and Irrigation Association of New Jersey

News Brief

Contractor Focus: Anthony Agudelo Landscaping


ew Jersey based Anthony Agudelo Landscaping has been in business for over a quarter of a century, serving Randolph, Mendham, Morristown and neighboring NJ towns. Anthony acquired his love of plants from his mother. As a young boy growing up in Colombia he didn’t have a big yard. His mother made up for that by surrounding he and his brother with house plants. She had a passion for growing plant after house plant in every single empty container she could find. This appreciation for plants and being self employed was instilled in Anthony at a young age and blossomed into his career of maintaining beautiful, efficient landscapes. In addition, he grew up in a farming town in Colombia, which further fueled his enthusiasm in the landscape industry in the US. His dedication to excellence sets his company, AALNJ, apart from others. Anthony is committed to having his customers for life by bringing them the safe, beautiful and cost effective lawn and pest strategies for the health of their landscapes. As part of his strategy, Anthony says, “All decisions we make about the maintenance of the property has to be in the best interest of the customer in the long run”. To attest to that, one of AALNJ’s customers says, ““I found Anthony originally through Service Magic and used his company for the intended project. His service was great and I have brought him back in 1-2 times each year since for other projects and spring cleanups.” Anthony is also an avid learner of new technologies, stating, “We try to be on top of any new technology that can help us provide a more efficient service, allow us to be in contact with the customer or let us know where the crews are, and what they have accomplished so far for the day. Recently Anthony added snow and ice management to his lineup of services offered, which he says have made the past few years quite successful financial and certainly have helped him continue to grow his company. Several years ago, Anthony also added organic lawn care as a service stating, “The idea of learning about organic lawn care started a couple of years ago after taking a class over the

18 SUMMER | 2014

winter at NJLCA. I found that I can provide my customers with a great looking lawn, with the use of a minimum amount of pesticides, as long as they we willing to make a few changes in the way the lawns were being maintained.” Anthony continues to learn and be of service in the region. He is a Director of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association, received his 2014 Certificate from Rutgers Cooperative Extension in Organic Land Care and a Founding Member and Director of the New Jersey Organic Landscape Association. Anthony says that he gets quite a bit out of being part of associations. “You get to know people that have faced the same issues you might be facing right now and can guide you on how to solve them. Associations also bring to you a lot of classes that would not be available anywhere else,” he says. When asked what he would tell someone just entering the landscape industry, Anthony says, “It is a good industry if you are willing to stay educated about the new trends in the industry. There will always be maintenance that needs to be done. Most importantly is the understanding of the cost to run a professional operation. It is just good for the owner, employees and customers. Visit for more info or call 973-895-7725.

News Brief

Associate Focus: York Trailers


ork Trailers, established in 1964 as a used car dealership, was on York Street in Paterson, hence the name. The dealership moved to Wanaque in the late 70’s, where the owner at that time began selling small aluminum boats and trailers, which grew to include utility and car trailers. The

facility moved to its current location on Rt. 23 North in the early 90’s. York currently sits on 3.5 acres with two buildings, giving them nine bays. After working with the previous owner for some time, the Straffin family bought the business about 12 years ago. A decade ago, everyone was building, and customers were replacing old trucks, trailers and equipment. The hardest part for manufacturers was to get materials fast enough to keep up with demand. Then the bottom dropped out. Sales came to a screeching halt, even service and parts numbers were down. As with many industries, this hurt York, but helped by thinning the herd. Weaker competition was eliminated and the marketplace changed. The waves have died down, but the ripples can still be seen. Manufacturers have much smaller running stock. Years ago, you could purchase a unit that was already built. Now manufacturers offer incentives for you to pre-order units. Dealers and customers alike have to plan ahead or be willing to wait for the product that they want. York bases their builds on industry trends and sales experience. If a trailer on their lot is not what the customer needs, they can make changes onsite or order one custom. York Trailers is best known for trailer sales, but have much more to offer. They install trailer hitches and wiring, ladder racks, toolboxes, fuel tanks, lighting, truck caps and covers, and vehicle accessories. The dealership has recently picked up a line of aluminum truck beds. They have installed models from pickup bed replacements to mason dumps and landscape bodies. Their newest offering is the Boss Snow and Ice lineup. Says Gregg Straffin, “We were approached by several lines, but feel that Boss is the best fit for our dealership and is a product that we can stand behind.” Jon Straffin states, “One of the most important things that

contractors need to keep in mind when buying equipment is the cost of maintenance. I tell customers to build a trailer based on a worst case scenario. You can’t just take the operating weight of a piece of equipment and figure a trailer’s payload. If there is open space in or on a trailer, it will get filled. Maintenance trailers don’t just have a few mowers and trimmers on them. They have bags of fertilizer and seed, jugs of fuel, tools for repair, spare parts and other miscellaneous items.” He continues, “Even if your mower weighs so much now, you may replace it with a heavier one down the road. Keep this in mind and plan ahead.” Equipment trailers too should be built to handle the equipment and attachments. When asked what sets York apart from their competition, Gregg replies, “Rather than telling you things we do that others don’t, I would like to concentrate what we pride ourselves on. York Trailers is a family owned and operated business. We provide quality service at a fair price. One of us is involved with every job that goes through the shop, many times being hands on, which allows for quality control. We try to offer advice and education to customers. If a customer was to bring us a part that they need, we will inspect said part and advise potential causes of wear or failure and what else should be serviced or inspected while making that repair. We make great efforts to keep on top of new technology and products in the industry.” He continues, “We are members of several associations to keep up to date with regulations and laws. Manufacturers have used as a sounding board for the research and development of new products and real world testing.” The Straffins feel it is important to stay involved with associations like the NJLCA. Jon says, “NJLCA is very proactive with development of legislation to protect its members. Without this protection, government can easily overrun small business. Being part of the association has also allowed us to develop relationships with other small business owners. This provides us with feedback from the end user and allows for insight into the landscape industry trends.” York Motors can be reached at or call them at 973-492-0110.


Feature Story

Solid Tips for Building Raised Patios


by “Paver Pete” Baloglou, Techo-Bloc

hy have raised patios consisting of SRW’s and ICP become such a hot topic? Maybe the inherent safety and maintenance issues with a wooden deck? Maybe the aesthetic and structural advantages of today’s concrete hardscape products. The versatility of SRW’s and ICP in raised patios has given rise to a new problem, “what is the right way to build it?” With the NCMA and ICPI (Industry Governing Bodies) crossing paths on the subject we have had to rely on blogs, “I heard they build them this way…”, and on-the-job training to figure it out. Questions such as: house foundation prep, over excavation of house, elevated ingress, steps to grade, drainage, and accessories/fall protection can be overcome with the best life cycle cost and quality; reputations are built on. Problems around the homes foundation include unbalanced fill, water proofing, poor construction practices, liability, and drainage just to name a few. Unbalanced fill is defined as a foundation wall made to withstand a given load then increasing it exponentially with an exterior raised structure. The raised structure can also trap moisture (and condensation) against a naturally wicking, porous wall composed of ready-mix concrete or CMU’s. Concrete foundation walls combined with poor construction practices in most slapped together forms with questionable concrete curing and drainage you’re looking at potential liability. “How am I liable?” Who do you think will be blamed (i.e. sued) for cracks, mold, water in basement, etc… the sub-contractor who poured the wall, the builder or the landscape contracting firm who leaned 70 tons of aggregate against the foundation? To further complicate the case is the transition to pressure treated sill plates and vinyl siding, masonry veneer, or stucco and over excavation of the foundation. How was this transition from concrete to veneer water proofed, drained, etc? Remember a good carpenter is one who hides his mistakes! How about the over excavation of the foundation footprint? Was the foundation properly backfilled with drain tile (positive gravity flow) and clean stone or was dirt, stone, construction debris (i.e. insulation, roof tile, 2x4’s, plywood, etc.) pushed in and allowed to “naturally compact”? These

20 SUMMER | 2014

are our obstacles, let’s look at some solutions. With an elevated ingress to the back of the house and code restrictions on step downs building a landing is our best option. To resist settlement in this minimum 6’ x 6’ landing, pin and pour a steel reinforced concrete base to code below frost line. Once inspected build a 4 sided box gaped 1” to 2” from foundation using SRW units. This box negates any unbalance fill problems. Fill box with AASHTO # 57 (3/4” clean…poorly graded) stone maximum every 8” and lightly compact to within 8 ¾” of top of cap or landing. AASHTO # 57 stone is 95% compacted when dumped so only minimum effort is needed to ensure consolidation. Regardless of this fact bi-axel geogrid every 16” or to engineer spec’s is cheap insurance against failure. Install nonwoven soil separation geotextile fabric over #57 stone (and up walls) and build a base of ASTM C2940 (3/4” w/ fines… well graded) compacted to 98% SPD to within 2 ¾” (for 60mm/2 3/8”) paving stones of the top of cap. Contour base into a drain that allows for bedding and surface drainage…daylight or plumb into sub-base. Screed ASTM C33 (WCS-Washed Concrete Sand) to 1” loose thickness and lay paving stones and cut in. Compact with protective buffer on textured units with minimum 4000-5000 lb. centrifugal force vibratory plate compactor. Three passes with compactor should leave paving stones ¼” higher then cap to compensate for minor differential settlement. Now that ingress is solved and we’ve built our landing beyond area of over excavation we can build some steps down to the raised patio. The reduction in elevation will create interest and character, save on landscaping and fencing needs, and provide privacy. Steps can be built monolithically into wing walls from the stoop using either solid treads like Röcka from Techo-Bloc or segmental units matching surrounding walls. Once on the raised patio consider at least one grade

Continued on Page 30

Plant Material Tried, True and New As tastes and needs change in the landscape, it is important to keep up with the latest trends in landscape design as well as the newest cultivars in plant material. Not to say that you shouldn’t still work with your tried and true seCredit: Hort Printers. lections but adding Courtesy of Monrovia a new plant or two to your palette each year will keep your planting layouts fresh and eye catching. Here are some plants to consider on your next project. The are all hardy in Zone 6 so they are perfect for any landscape in the garden state. All of them are deciduous, flowering, attract butterflies and birds and are deer resistant. While all of you should be familiar with the traditional Cornus kousa ‘chinensis’ (Kousa Dogwood), you may want to look for Cornus kousa ‘satomi’ which is similar but a pink flowering variety. Another tree that fits the above criteria and is surely underutilized is Laburnum x Watereri ‘Vossi’ (Golden Chain Tree). It has beautiful yellow flowers that bloom in the spring. Although Syringa x chinensis (Chinese Lilac) is a staple plant in many landscapes why not try Syringa vulgaris ‘Ludwig Spaeth’ (Ludwig Spaeth Lilac), ‘Charle Joly’ (Charles Joly Lilac or ‘Sensation’ (Sensation Lilac) that also has a variegated purple flower.

Credit: Doreen Wynja. Courtesy of Monrovia

If you’re looking for some yellow in your landscape throughout the year why not try Forsythia x intermedia ‘Spring Glory’ (Spring Glory Forsythia) for spring; Hypericum palatum ‘Sungold’ (Sungold St. John’s Wort) for summer; or like Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’ (Yellow Twig Dogwood) to brighten up your landscape all year round.

Feature Story Organic Based Plant Health Care (Continued) On paper there are many similarities between IPM and PHC programs; the game changer is shifting the emphasis from pest management to plant health. Healthy strong plants are better prepared to withstand many pest problems. As stated before, when plants are stressed due to environmental and/or cultural pressures they divert energy from growth and defense to survival. In many cases, pests are able to detect these chemical changes in the stressed plant and move in for the attack. Some common examples include the following: •Stressed birch trees are targeted by bronze birch borers. •Kentucky bluegrass, when fertilized, closely mowed, and improperly irrigated, encourages that buildup, which is idea for infestations of billbugs, chinch bugs, and sod webworms. In cases like these, the pests are secondary problems and only treating for them is a band-aid approach. Good PHC programs may begin by treating emergency problems and then are followed up by actions to rectify the cause. Landscape contractors always ask me, “How can I kill pests organically?” My answer surprises many of them: “Let’s start at the beginning and talk about the importance of soil health.” Understanding the associations between soil health and plant health is the key to setting yourself apart from your competition. In my case, I had become proficient in IPM and kept many pests under control while using much fewer pesticides than in the past. But, many plants still did not look vital and healthy even when traditional fertilization was part of the program. I knew enough about soil compaction to realize it is a major part of the problem, but I knew of no economical way to improve soil structure in existing plantings or turf areas. I began to learn more about soils and what grabbed my interest the most was the dynamics of soil biology. Good, healthy soil is teeming with life, not just earthworms and insects, but also billions of microbes. Many of them promote root growth, nutrient and water uptake, and will defend plants against diseases and other pests. You can almost say that the soil is the digestive and immune systems for plants. When we use salt-based fertilizers, we bypass this system. It’s almost like someone being fed intravenously; he’ll get the basic nutrients and will survive but in a weakened state. Now, he needs antibiotics because his immune system is not working as it should be. When plants are weak, we need more pesticides to control more frequent disease and insect attacks. Microbes in the soil provide plants with more than basic nutrients. They also deliver enzymes, proteins, and hormones that are necessary for plant vitality. They help improve soil structure and increase water reten-

Continued on Page 27 NJLCA.ORG 21

Feature Story

Sketching a Masterpiece with Landscape Software by Michael Mazzarella


here’s an old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” So when you’re creating a design for a landscape, you want your thousand words to be good ones. Well, with computer design software, it’s easier than ever to compose your landscape. Forget about the pens, the paper, and having to go to a blueprint shop. Now, all you need to make a stunning design, plans, and an estimate, is a laptop—or a tablet—a software program, and your imagination. Going from digital photo to design photo The computer age has brought about many changes, as far as what people can do with photographs. Probably the bestknown program that has made it possible to add or remove things from a picture is Photoshop. It can make a photo ap-

pear like it is forty years old, or add a person into the picture, or it can change backgrounds; it can do a myriad of things. Then, you can print or send that image, and no one knows that it isn’t an original image. Landscape design software has capitalized on this ability with photo imaging. If you were called in to see a potential client, or a client that you had worked for in the past, and they want to renovate their landscape, now you can take a digital image of the client’s house—front, back and sides—go back to your office or truck, and start the work right there. To begin a design, download a photo of the property. Your client would probably like to keep the grown trees surrounding the property, but would like to remove the overgrown shrubs and turf that make it look like it was landscaped 30 years ago. You want to bring it up to date. Most programs offer collections of images, accessories

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and plant material that allow you to put together a visual design of the new landscape in no time at all. All you have to do is simply drop and drag flowers, grass, mulch, hardscapes, and various other elements into your design, and you can create a digital image of what the house might look like. This also means that there’s no need to spend time explaining what each of the plants will look like. The client can just take a look at the image, and have a clear sense of the finished product. And when your clients get a sense of what their new landscape is going to look like, that’s when they’ll get excited. Editing and adding on Beforehand, discuss with your clients what they would like to see and what they don’t. Based on that meeting, you begin to design. But what happens when you show them the landscaped picture and they don’t like it? Don’t sweat the details; it’s easy to change. In fact, psychologically it would make sense to have some pieces in the design that would need changing. When you start talking about additions you would like to bring in, or when your clients see something they are not crazy about, it’s easy to make it right. In the past, that would usually mean going back and redrawing from scratch. But when you are using design software, changing elements of a design becomes much less of a chore. You can change elements of a design very easily when working with a computer image. If there is anything in the design that the client doesn’t like, or if there’s another option you’d like to consider, all it takes is a few clicks (or a few swipes of the finger, if you’re on a tablet) and you can display what the landscape will look like with the modifications. As a contractor, this gives you a big advantage. You can create exactly what a client wants. This will save you from costly problems due to miscommunication down the road. “If you put in purple flowers, and they don’t like purple flowers, well, then you can address that up front,” says David Sloan, sales and marketing director for Drafix Software, Inc., based in Kansas City, Missouri. “You not only find out what they like—but more importantly, what they don’t like—before you start digging holes in the ground. You want them hands-on enough to know just what they want.” “A client can say, ‘I like this, but let’s change this over here. I’d like to put the fireplace over here and I’d like to add a spa over there.’ In the old days, with a pen and ink drawing, you’d

Your Equipment A Clean Machine is a Happy Machine According to Greig Lutz of Oakland Marine Equipment, there are some simple maintenance jobs that landscape contractors can do in-house to keep their lawn maintenance equipment running stronger and longer. The following tips will also save you from some costly repairs and keep your equipment in the field and in production. His first tip sounds so easy, but is so often overlooked. According to Lutz, you should check your oil every morning and if it is low, top it off. Even though you should always change your engine oil and keep it clean, it is better to be full and dirty then clean and low (up to a certain point). As he told me, “Somehow that Friday oil change seems to turn into next Friday, then next Friday, then …” Next on his list of money-saving tips was to make sure to blow the grass clippings out of your fins and cylinder head by removing the blower housing at least once a month. The engine will run cooler and breathe better, minimizing breakdowns and extending its life in the long run. Another easy tip is to clean the filters and grease all fittings once a week. According to Greig, cleaning an air filter weekly is probably one of the easiest things that you can do to keep your equipment running. A clean filter captures dust and particles, which prevents them from getting into the carburetor and, ultimately, the engine. Unfortunately, the filter can become clogged up in less than a week, preventing not only dust from getting into the engine but air, which the engine needs to run properly. One last, but less common maintenance tip is to adjust your rocker arms every six months to increase the life of your starter. Lutz said that it really is a simple procedure that requires very few tools. Once you see someone do it, you should be able to do it yourself. Naturally, if you would like him to do it at Oakland Marine, I am sure he’d be happy to. Greig Lutz is the owner of Oakland Marine Equipment. You can reach him at 201-3377741 or visit

Feature Story have to erase everything, or you’d have to redraw,” says Steve Secondo, owner of Steve Secondo designs in Santa Ana, California. “With the computer, you can easily make lines and features disappear. It makes changes and revisions easier, and makes it simple to put an image together that can be shared with the clients.” Not only is it easy to factor in the clients’ input, but because they are right there with you, they feel involved in the design itself. Here is where the psychology of this comes into play. They can see a finished image of a design, and think to themselves, “I helped design that. This is just what I want, and I’m looking forward to seeing this when it’s done.” Working with lights If your company also does landscape lighting, guess what? You can design the landscape and put in the lights where they belong as well. It’s quick and easy to create a lighting design for your clients’ needs that can be clearly shown to them. Even better is the fact that the software can show your clients what the landscape will look like at night. There’s no need for them to imagine what it might look like at night; you can show them what it will look like, right in front of their eyes! Remember that old Illustration courtesy of DynaSCAPE saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” Simple to work with But what about the contractor who doesn’t have the desire to design? What can he do with this? Well, contractors who don’t have the vision or the desire to design usually outsource this work to professional designers. Fortunately for us all, technology keeps getting easier to use, even for technophobes. Today, you can do a design with your laptop or your tablet, right on the site, while meeting with the client. With a little imagination, using design software could not only be enjoyable, it can save money, too. It also saves you the time wasted on repetition. One big annoyance with drawing a design by hand is the need to continuously pencil in the same plants over and over again to fill in a bed. Or having to sketch flowers in a front yard and try to make each one appear unique. But with a collection of images to work from, putting together a row of plants or adding a pool in the backyard is a piece of cake. “I was doing it by hand previously, and I went to software to increase productivity,” says Patrick Duchene, owner of Duchene Design Solutions, based in Branchburg, New Jersey. “Your accuracy greatly improves, and now, thanks to the software, I’m probably doing about three to four times the work. Also, your presentation is superior to anything you do by hand, in my opinion.”


Feature Story Sketching a Masterpiece (Continued) “If you can turn a project around quicker, people are a lot more inclined to buy and to sign on the dotted line, because you’ve delivered something in a timely and professional manner. It sets a precedent for later on, for when you do a project and you say you’re going to finish it on time,” explained Duchene. There’s also a far greater clarity as to what’s actually in the design. Unless your client happens to also be a contractor or designer, odds are he isn’t going to know how to interpret a blueprint. But with a colorful image of his home, there’s nothing to interpret. When you insert a tree from the image library, it will look like a real tree when someone other than a designer looks at it. “This software is a very big benefit to the client,” said Joe Salemi, marketing manager for DynaSCAPE Software, Burlington, Ontario, Canada. “They instantly have much better clarity as to what they are getting.” Design software allows the contractor to work with his clients better, so that they can find out precisely what they want. The clients have a better grasp of what the finished product is going to look like. This leads to less hassle for you, happier clients and fewer problems down the road. “When I add water, it looks like real water. When I add in trees, they look like real trees,” says Secondo. “The clients understand that what they’re looking at are trees. This is all about communicating an idea, visually, in two dimensions.” Features of the system: Transferring Computers are valued for a lot of reasons. For one thing, they make transferring ideas and projects much easier. A design created on a computer can be sent from person to person with ease. A design developed online can be put into a PDF, and can then be sent out anywhere you want. Or, you could print out that PDF and hand it over to a client, so they can have a picture of what their future project will be like; a nice reminder of what their yard will look like. It also means that you can send your thoughts and ideas to clients even when they’re not in town. They can be away but you can still keep them informed of what is happening. The software has completely revolutionized how you can communicate with your customers.

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More perspectives, more possibilities But your ways of wowing the customer don’t end there. Remember, people don’t look at a landscape from just one perspective the whole time. They’re going to walk out into the middle of it, or look at it from the sides. So wouldn’t it be smart to have your design display what it will look like from these angles as well? If you really want to wow them, turn that photo imaging design into a full 3D image. That way, you can allow the client to see their potential landscape from a variety of angles and directions. Let them see it from the corner of the property, or let them stroll through it from one end to the other, or even let them see what it looks like as they are walking out from the house onto the landscape. These multi-angled views give buyers a better sense of what the finished product will look like.

Business Brief Properly Insuring Your Equipment When was the last time you reviewed your equipment schedule with your insurance professional? The last thing you want is an equipment loss which interrupts your ability to work and complete scheduled projects. Equipment coverage is one of the least expensive, broadest coverages available. With little effort and the right insurance program, you can make sure your equipment is properly insured. There are three categories that a landscaper’s equipment fall under: scheduled equipment, miscellaneous unscheduled and leased or rented. Scheduled equipment should be those larger items which have a higher value, typically “...keep a comover $2,500. Replacement cost maybe avail- plete up-to-date able for items 5 years old list of all items and newer. Understand you own...” the coverage and know if you are insuring for replacement value or actual cash value. This makes a big difference on the valuation and the limit you chose. Miscellaneous unscheduled equipment includes smaller items, such as weed wackers, back pack blowers, trimmers, hand tools, etc. Review your per item limit, as well as the maximum amount available per loss. Leased or rented equipment coverage can be set up on a per item per limit basis with a maximum coverage amount, depending on the type of equipment you lease or rent and for how long. Make sure you keep a complete up-to-date list of all items you own and review it with your insurance professional. I review the equipment schedule with my clients at least once a year. It’s easy to do and can save you a lot of time and money if a claim occurs. Shay Leon specializes in insurance for Landscape, Lawn Maintenance and Snow Management contractors and has been a member of the NJLCA since 1993. He is currently an Associate Director on the NJLCA Board.

Feature Story Creating a detailed map But there are times where you need that detailed, 2D site plan. When you need a detailed model of what a design may look like, fear not, because landscape software designers have your back here, too. Most of the big names offer easy-to-use computer-aided design (CAD) software. CAD allows you to easily create a 2d site plan that accurately represents the installation of plantings, sprinkler systems, and hardscapes. The result is an image of the landscape that has color, but also contains details on what’s going in the design. Better measurements and better estimates There is something else that computers can do that make a contractor’s life easier: they can make calculations far faster than any human can. When operating with design software, there can be no doubt that a measurement of a backyard can be spot on, saving you the hassle of measuring by hand. And as a result, the amount of material that you are going to need is also going to be right for the job. “I don’t do anything without the software,” says Cassie James, chief designer for James Landscaping in Grapevine, Texas. “It makes it possible for me to create a bid without guessing at the square footage. The hedge lines are always accurate; the placement of plants is always correct. It just decreases all the time and effort. So I never go to a project without it.” When the time comes, you can also generate blueprints, and then you can create a take-off sheet. The software comes in just as handy for that. Many programs offer built-in bidding capabilities that can help you create an estimate that is ready to print out.

What this means for a contractor is that he can bring everything he has worked on together into a professional-looking sales presentation, with a cover sheet, an estimate, and a list of materials that will be used. You can even give information about the plants you’ll be using. All that makes you look like the landscape professional that you are. Now, it is easier than ever for landscape contractors to create their own landscape designs. Businesses that are already making use of designing with software have found that it saves them time, it saves hassles and provides an even more professional approach to the client.

Reprinted with permission from Irrigation & Green Industry magazine. NJLCA.ORG 25

Feature Story

Organic Based Plant Health Care (Continued)

tion while improving drainage. Microbes also form protective layers around roots to defend against pathogens. Science is just beginning to understand the millions of biological activities that occur in the top six inches of good soil and their impact on plant health. Key Components of PHC Programs Whether your business is a nursery, landscape contracting, or maintenance, the following aspects need to be understood in order to implement successful PHC programs. Client expectations need to be defined not only to offer the best service but to achieve the best results. Client education is essential, as many people do not have horticulture backgrounds and may have unrealistic expectations. Using your knowledge in a professional manner to help clients meet their goals is the sign of a successful businessperson. Site considerations such as hours of sun, temperature range, soil type, slope and drainage, irrigation, plant types, site usage, and many other factors come into play when designing a PHC program. When you understand the site you are working with, you will have a much greater impact on preventing pest problems. Cultural control strategies will greatly reduce stress factors. It’s really sad to have to tell a new client that their trees were planted too deeply, the wrong grass seed was used, or the plant they just installed should never have been planted there in the first place. Proper pruning, mowing height, irrigation, and nutrient management are additional procedures that will improve plant health. Pest Control Even with best management practices there will be times when pests will cause problems and have to be controlled. There are many options we can choose from. Do we need to exterminate the pest or manage an acceptable balance? There are times when extermination may be the best option and a strong pesticide may be required to remedy the situation. An

organic-based PHC program does allow for this. But bringing out the big hammer should be the exception rather than the rule. When soil health and sound cultural practices are maintained, there is little need to pull the pesticide trigger. When this is necessary, consider using EPA minimum risk pesticides and/ or biorational controls. In 1996, the EPA exempted pesticide registration on products containing only ingredients listed by the EPA as posing little or no risk. Manufactures of these products may legally claim pests that are controlled by the product. Depending on state laws, an applicator license may or may not be required to apply these products professionally. Biorational controls are designed to have little or no impact on beneficial insects and the environment. They may include horticultural oils and insecticidal soap, bacteria such as Bt, the attraction and release of predators, and other options. Some are EPA-registered pesticides requiring an applicator license. The benefits of an organic-based PHC program are numerous. We, our workers, and our clients are exposed to less pesticides, and nutrient runoff into our waterways is reduced. At the same time, we are able to provide vibrant lawns and landscapes at competitive pricing. Public pressure, government regulations, and good business practices are all telling us to go green. Now is the time to get serious about promoting our profession as being environmental stewards. We take pride in the work we do to enhance the beauty of outdoor spaces for our clients. Take the lead and separate your business from your competition by implementing an organic-based PHC program. Barry Draycott is President of Tech-Terra Environmental. He shares his nearly 30 years of knowledge and direct experience in the field with the landscape industry. Tech-Terra educates on integrated pest management solutions, both organic and non-organic.


Feature Story

Landscape Perceptions Creates Stunning Backyard Design


andscape Architect Josh Hampton of Landscape Perceptions located in Oakland, NJ was challenged by Craig Bagin, of B&B Pool and Spa, to design a custom gunite pool in this elegant backyard located in Northern New Jersey. The client requested a number of advanced amenities, such as fire bowls, sheet flows, and automated controls to be incorporated into the traditional, formal layout of the pool, cabana, and surrounding landscape. These amenities add flair and excitement to the formal design of the project, while allowing the client to control the pool with ease. The pool measures 22’ x 45’ and was sited on gently sloping topography in the backyard, facing the house that was still under construction while the pool was being built. The sloping topography allowed Hampton to create the raised beam and spa with sheet flows that cascade down into the pool below. At either end of the raised beam, Hampton designed two circular stanchions that rise up 8” past the beam, hold 24” fire bowls that frame the cabana behind the pool, and create a dramatic scene for the client and guests to enjoy in the evening hours. Stacked stone steps along side each circular stanchion provide access to the raised spa and spectacular cabana behind the pool. Thermo edged bluestone coping and a unique tile layout adds an element of interest to the raised beam. The dry-laid natural stone patio material, Norwegian Buff, compliments the Bluestone coping and provides a long lasting walking surface for the client to enjoy for years to come. The pool itself was designed to be a “Play Pool” says Hampton. There are shallow ends at either end of the pool that pitch toward the middle to a maximum depth of 5 ½ feet, allowing users to stand and play in the entire pool. Another

Photo credit: Chris Nelson

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unique feature are the extra long steps opposite the raised beam that allow guests to sit or wade in the water along the perimeter of the pool. Patio spaces around the pool are functional for large gatherings providing plenty of space for outdoor dining, pool parties, and access for guests to enjoy

Photo credit: Chris Nelson

all the unique elements of the project. Planting spaces were incorporated within the patio and pool area to provide seasonal interest to the landscape and further accentuate the formality of the design. Mechanically this pool is very advanced. It uses salt to create chlorine within the filtration system and a chemical monitoring system to allow for a healthier and more refreshing swimming experience. Also, automated controls are located in the home and on the side of the spa so the client can control the pool and spa functions, heater, lights, and fire bowls with ease from inside the home or while relaxing in the spa. Color changing LED lights installed in the pool complement the fire bowls, lighting on the cabana, and landscape lighting to create a remarkable lighting display after sunset. Logistically this project was very challenging. The pool, cabana, and landscaping had to be built while the primary dwelling was under construction. Working together with other trades and contractors on site was a must on this project. Without the collaboration between contractors, this project would not have been possible. This spectacular pool and landscape project is truly one of a kind. Formal design and modern amenities blend together seamlessly and provide an extraordinary outdoor living space for the client and guests to enjoy. “It’s an oasis in your own backyard” says Hampton. “The project provides a place to escape the stresses of everyday life in their own backyard”.

Feature Story

Smiling is a Best Management Practice by Jody Shilan, Executive Director


here are a many reasons why a business may be successful. They may provide goods and services at a very low price like Hyundai, provide an excellent value at a moderate price like the Ford or are best of class and provide an incredible customer experience at an extraordinary price like Mercedes. Maybe their success comes from having a unique and innovative product that can’t be found anywhere else, such as Tesla. Or maybe they have a product known for something unique, such as extraordinary safety like Volvo. Now what about you and your company? What type of customer experience do you provide and at what price point? For example, does one of your maintenance crews give your customers the red carpet treatment, while another crew treats your customers as if they’re doing them a favor each week? What about your salespeople? Is salesperson “A” always lowering his prices and giving great deals, while salesperson “B” beats them up for every penny they’ve got? Hopefully it’s not this bad, but still, being consistently inconsistent is a recipe for failure. Whenever I discuss these kinds of topics, I always recommend that you think about your own experiences. Every single day we are consumers ourselves, whether we are buying coffee in the morning, filling up with gas or purchasing materials for our customers. When you go to your favorite coffee shop in the morning, is it perfect some days, cold on others or burnt? Is the cashier always courteous or sometimes rude? Does it depend on the day? What about when you purchase plant material at the nursery? Do you get some plants that are lush and perfect while others are on their third re-burlapping? I think you get the idea. When you buy a Big Mac from Mickey D’s, no matter what state or country you are in, those two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, it will taste exactly the same. Make it a combo and you get French fries and a soda of your choice. If you really think about it in terms of your own business, delivering this kind of consistency is not an easy task. How can you deliver this kind of consistent product or service? It all starts with developing standard operating procedures (SOP’s) and Best Management Practices (BMP’s). One of the easiest procedures to start with is a phone script,

so that anybody who calls your office gets the same consistent message and initial customer experience. As the saying goes, “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. This saying is just as true, regardless of whether you are meeting someone over the phone or in person. Your customer’s first call to the office and their initial customer experience sets the tone for everything. While you may be the king of “Search Engine Optimization” and spending big bucks to be ranked #1 on page 1 with Google, your investment will be completely wasted if the person answering the phone turns off your customers as they answer the phone and say, “Yeah, hello. Listen, we’re really busy right now, can you call back later or maybe tomorrow? We’re really getting slammed.” This, as opposed to “Good morning. Thank you for calling Bill and Ted’s Excellent Landscape. This is Laura, how may I help you this morning?” Your script doesn’t have to be long, just professional. Here is one last Trade Secret. As ridiculous as this might sound, you need your people to smile when they answer the phone. Yes, smile! People “sound” happy when they smile as they talk over the phone. It’s true. I actually used to play a bedtime game with my son, Jake, called “Am I smiling”? I would sit in the rocking chair and he would turn his back to me and say, “Am I smiling”? I would have to guess from the sound of his voice whether he was smiling or not. No matter how hard he tried to change his voice, I was right 100% of the time. Try it with your employees or your kids.

Start with one process at time and before you know it, you will become consistently consistent with everything that you do. Please follow this YouTube link for even more help Although I can’t see you, I’m going to guess that right now you’re smiling.


Feature Story Solid Tips for Building Raised Patios (Continued) change. Grade changes add a vignette feel, for example a place for water, planting, fire features or grilling station. The raised patio walls should be level and outside of the area of over excavation. With a level perimeter surface drains will be placed in the pavement in aesthetically unimportant points (i.e. not in the flow of traffic and not necessarily in the middle of the patio). The cross section of the raised patio includes: 1. Sub-grade excavation with positive flow away from house(minimum 3/16”/foot) amended and compacted (SRW trenches level, amended and compacted) 2. Geotextile separating sub grade from sub-base. Minimum 12” overlap and shingled with flow of water 3. Geotextile in SRW trench if aggregate base. If flowable fill (self-leveling concrete) is used fabric isn’t necessary. 4. Sub-Base of AASHTO # 57 stone installed in maximum 8” lifts and lightly compacted. Flowable Fill and ready-mix concrete not recommended because of cost and 8” rule for backfilling without affecting wall batter 5. Base of ASTM C2940 over geotextile fabric, minimum 6” thick (3” lift maximum) to 98% SPD properly graded to drains. Ensure no movement of SRW during compaction. 6. Bedding of ASTM C33 1” loose (5/8” after compaction). Only pre-compact bedding in slab installation. 7. Techo-Bloc paving stones after compaction ¼ “ higher than cap. Steps to yard and walkway to doors at grade/driveway tie raised patio into the landscape. Unlike wooden deck re-

strictions similar to a child playpen raised patios flow with the environment. Take advantage of contrasting and complimentary paving stone patterns, colors, textures, and scale for walks, vignettes areas, and step treads for creating caution on grade changes and interest. Don’t forget stepping stones like Maya from Techo-Bloc for natural transitions. Accessories and fall protection (per local codes) are another place raised patios with SRW’s and ICP shine. Using double sided structural walls keep the ordering of material simple and color matching sitting/parapet walls to structural walls seamless, for ex. Mini-Crete Plus 3” and 6” wall from Techo-Bloc allows battered walls for structure and vertical install for sitting. Pillars also add visual wall breaks and if filled with galvanized fence post or concrete are great railing starts and stop points. Pillars also create caution at steps and architecturally carry the height of the house down to the ground. Built in grills using SRW units can be bookended with pillars and flat caps for food preparation and placement. My last and favorite is the Valencia feature, a versatile raised circle with complimentary color and texture to surrounding walls. Valencia can be purchased with dish and spark shield, converted to a re-circulating water feature (bubbling urn), or used as a planting bed for season appropriate color. With some pond liner and grating or geotextile and top soil the transition is quick and fun. For complete instructions on SRW’s and ICP please refer to a current Techo-Spec guide, ICPI, NCMA, or your local supplier. But regardless of what you read, have built, heard, etc…remember raised patios can be built affordably, functionally, and with personality that a wood deck with its rusty nails and maintenance never could. Keep and open mind, look at problems as opportunities and go out and advertise raised patios to your market …they will thank you for the consultation.

Advertiser Index

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174 sedore avenue • fairview, NJ 07022


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All member meetings are held from 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

2014 CALENDAR OF EVENTS July 10, 2014 Membership Meeting Shemin Nurseries 100 Weyerhauser Road Mahwah, NJ 07430

August 14, 2014 Membership Meeting The Terre Co. 206 Dellawanna Ave. Clifton, NJ 07014

August 21, 2014 Membership Meeting Van Dines Truck Center

Topic: Drainage

Topic: Effective Pesticide Use & Options & New Plants for 2014-15

Topic: Effective Pesticide Use & Options & New Plants for 2014-15

September 9, 2014 3rd Annual NJLCA/IANJ Golf Challenge Location: Galloping Hill Golf Course, Kenilworth, NJ

September 11, 2014 Membership Meeting Krehel Auto Repair 955 Paulison Ave. Clifton, NJ 07011

September 18, 2014 Membership Meeting Condurso’s Garden Center 96 River Rd. Montville, NJ 07045

Topic: Roundtable Discussions

Topic: TBD

October 9, 2014 Membership Meeting Bobcat of North Jersey 201 Maltese Drive Totowa, NJ 07502

October 16, 2014 Membership Meeting Garden State Bobcat 45 Route 22 Green Brook, NJ 08812

Topic: Snow & Ice Technology

Topic: Snow & Ice Technology

September 27, 2014 NJLCA Landscape Industry Certified Technician’s Exam Bergen Community College 100 Paramus Road Paramus, NJ 07652

November 13, 2014 All Service Contr. Equipment 770 Route 23 Pompton Plains, NJ 07444

November 20, 2014 County College of Morris 214 Center Grove Road Randolph, NJ 07969

135 Railroad Ave. Hackensack, NJ 07601

Van Dine’s Four Wheel Drive Center

December 2, 2014 NJLCA Annual Holiday Gala and Landscape Achievement Awards Dinner at Macaluso’s in Hawthorne, NJ

Topic: Equipment Maintenance

Topic: TBD

Membership meetings are free to NJLCA members. Non-members may attend one free meeting. Please call NJLCA at (201) 703-3600 or e-mail to RSVP before attending events.

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