SYNKD SOUTH November|December 2022

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SUSTAINABILITY Luxury Caribbean Resort | EDUCATE Intentional Design | COMMUNITY Grounds Guys | BUILD Porous Paving Benefits | TECHNOLOGY Electric Equipment Nov. | Dec. 2022 $6.99 USD SOUTH DO YOU WANT PRINT COPIES TO CONTINUE? Answer by scanning the QR Code.


Welcome to the second southern issue of SYNKD. We just returned from Equip Expo and Hardscape North America in Louisville, Kentucky. We were happy to see so many new and old friends and meet people we’ve only been on Zoom calls with so far and to catch up on the latest technologies and products in the industry. If you haven’t looked at our social media, please do, as you’ll get the tiniest glimpse of the cool products—although we were too busy learning and trying out equipment to record too much. It was so exciting to tell new industry members about our mission to bring the design + build + maintain sectors together in one publication and one yearly event—and hear their reaction to this. We are grateful for how supportive everyone has been!

Columnist Debby Cole explores the health benefits of giving back and how it can positively impact your business.

Industry veteran, Tommy Aiello, shares how he got started in the industry and found a lifelong passion for landscaping, while explaining the importance of building a lasting reputation founded on integrity.

A couple in Louisiana started a Grounds Guys franchise in 2018 and found themselves part of the cleanup crew after 2020’s Hurricane Laura hit the area. Their hard work paid off, because they built new client relationships after displaying their work ethic.

A Florida landscape architect and designer worked on the project of a lifetime, overseeing the transformation of a fishing island outpost into a luxury resort. The plans incorporated wind and solar power to meet its energy needs.

We also follow up on a previous education piece from Coldspring USA with information on installing natural stone pavers to last by starting with intentional design and building with the end in mind.



Angelique Robb


EDITOR Cindy Whitt




In this issue, we share examples of how the industry is giving back to the community, and by “building to last,” we are acting in a sustainable manner and choosing products that give the best outcome to our projects.

We are gearing up for SYNKD LIVE, our education conference and expo held February 6-7, 2023, in Atlanta, Georgia. The central location makes it easy for you to attend! Tickets are on sale now. See page 11 for a handful of our speakers that will be there, and we will have updates on the rest soon. Visit live-event for updates.

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WATERFALL & POND FEATURE BY SMITH DESIGNSCAPES Cover image courtesy of ©Land From Design Group, INC. Anne Marie, Angelique, Caitlyn & Aimee at Equip Expo 2022
www.synkd.ioSeptember|October 20224 synkd | our community our inspirationalcommunity works 08 10 12 News Industry News and Dates to Save Q+A How do you give back? Industry Leader Tommy Aiello Get to Know Fun interviews from our audience Benefits of Giving Back Deborah Cole Deborah Cole Connections Built to Last Brooke Inzerella Horticare Landscape Company Errors & Omissions Joe Samnik Horticulture Consultant Peer Group Networking Jeffrey Scott Jeffrey Scott Consulting 18 20 21 23 24 30 34 Curated Design Carmen Johnston Gardens Chasing Waterfalls Smith DesignScapes SOUTH COVER STORY PROJECT OF A LIFETIME Landform Design Group Transforms A 72Acre Island Into A Private Resort 26 For Latest Content, To View Digital Issues & To Find Out About Upcoming Events, Visit 34 30 INSIDE 15 GROUNDS GUYS

323 Polk Street Lafayette, Louisiana 70501

OWNER/MANAGING DIRECTOR Angelique Robb (337) 247–9497

ADVERTISING & TRADE SHOW COORDINATOR Aimee Almaguer (337) 247–9337

EDITOR Cindy Whitt (919) 667–4569

COPY WRITER Mary Kate Carson (903) 283–0513



Anne Marie Fruge

SUBEDITOR Erin Z. Bass PRINTED BY Allen Press Inc. Published by © SYNKD

SYNKD is published six

to 5,000

members of the

Postmaster: Send address changes to 323 Polk St., Lafayette, LA 70501. SYNKD verifies information as much as possible.

expressed by

contributors and the

herein are not necessarily endorsements of

publishers. Reproduction of any part of this magazine is strictly forbidden.

www. synkd .io 5September|October 2022 synkd | our community @synkd.landscape @synkd_landscape @synkd-landscape
raise the November|December bar 44 45 49 AlterNative Raleigh Darnell The Importance of Porous Paving Marianne Davidson Invisible Structures Natural Stone Pavers To Last Coldspring USA FEATURE STORY GAS VS. ELECTRIC Ariens Co. Explains The Four Factors Driving The Gas-To-Electric Movement @synkd_landscape
2022 41 45 49
times a year and distributed
green industry.
The views
products advertised

Joe Samnik

the founder and president of a

firm with multiple locations throughout Texas,

has learned the importance of a peoplecentric leadership and communication.

now devotes herself full time to speaking,

consulting with a heavy dose of


Brooke Inzerella is a licensed landscape horticulturist and owner of Horticare Landscape Company in Louisiana. As one of the area’s leading landscape companies, Horticare is known for superior service,

pools, landscaping and outdoor


and arboriculture.

in the

Raleigh Darnell

Darnell is a production editor for the

Program and

pursuing his passions as a writer, native plant propagator, horticulturalist and

With a bachelor’s in Natural Resources

a master’s of

www.synkd.ioNovember|December 20226 BUTORS
24 44 Raleigh
International Ocean Discovery
English, he has worked across the country in a variety of roles. CONTRI As
commercial landscape
Deborah Cole
writing and
visual storytelling
included. 20 21
living spaces. 23 Jeffrey Scott, MBA, is a leading authority on growth and profit maximization in the landscape industry.
Deborah Cole Brooke Inzerella
Jeffrey Scott Want to be featured in the January|February issue? Scan the QR code or visit our website to learn how you or your company can be a part of SYNKD!
Joe Samnik is entering his 57th year of practice as a horticultural consultant and testifying subject matter expert witness



www.synkd.ioNovember|December 20228 synkd | our community INDUSTRY NEWS 11-14 16-20 6–7 NOVEMBER JANUARY FEBRUARYASLA CONFERENCE GREEN & GROWIN SYNKD LIVE San Francisco, California Greensboro, North Carolina COBB Galleria in Atlanta, Georgia 2023 20222023 NUFARM CONTINUES SUPPORT OF GREENCARE FOR TROOPS VERANSA EXPANDS ITS FOOTPRINT WITH MW
Nufarm will continue to support GreenCare for Troops, a need-based program for active-duty deployed service members. The initiative connects military families with complimentary lawn and landscape services. Nufarm’s $75,000 investment helps create healthy, sustainable green spaces across the country and contributes to the improved social, mental and physical well-being of military families. GreenCare for Troops is part of Project Evergreen, a nonprofit that creates green spaces for communities. V eransa Group Inc., a Floridabased, zero-waste leader in transforming green and wood waste into beneficial reuse products on an industrial scale through vertical integration of waste collection/ recycling centers with organic products manufacturing facilities, announced the acquisition of MW Horticulture. “The acquisition advances Veransa’s FLORIDA-FRIENDLY LANDSCAPE RECOGNITION PROGRAM T he Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Program recognizes landscapes that use sustainable landscaping practices that minimize the use of potable water for irrigation, avoid the runoff of excess fertilizers and pesticides from the landscape and provide habitats for wildlife. Recognitions are offered for three different categories of landscapes, including commercial and new construction. strategic priority to expand its footprint and reinforces future growth. It allows us to expand further into the rapidly growing south Florida market while supporting our commitment to producing superior quality organic products, such as our soilregenerating organic compost, with a zero-waste approach to production and an unwavering pledge to sustainability,”
CEO Marc Owensby.


STIHL Inc. announced the winners of the 20222 Hearts of STIHL program, an initiative to care for the environment through the preservation of US. state parks. The awarded grants will be managed by America’s State Parks Foundation, ensuring that all funding will support environmental efforts and educational progr amming. More than 25 parks applied for the grant, with a broad variety of funding and support needs.

The recipients of the Hearts of STIHL grants include parks in Alabama, Tex as and Kentucky. The program expands STIHL’s relationship with Ameri ca’s State Parks. For more than a decade, STIHL has been a sponsor of the National Association of State Park Directors Leadership School, providing scholarships for park personnel to attend.


The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)’s TurfMutt Foundation is proud to announce a renewed partnership with “Mission Unstoppable” and “Lucky Dog” on CBS.


More than 80 arborists from Bartlett Tree Experts’ offices across the U.S. donated a day of tree work on September 28 to honor America’s military service men and women during the 8th annual Saluting Branches Day of Service.

From coast to coast, Bartlett arborists from 19 local offices volunteered their time to benefit the largest volunteer event of its kind in the tree care industry. In addition to donating their expertise and time to safely provide tree care services at 15 national and state veteran’s cemeteries and properties, Bartlett made a financial donation to Saluting Branches.

Saluting Branches was created by Rainbow Tree Care in 2015 and is now a nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing and honoring veterans.

Filming began at Lucky’s Mutt Madness, a national dog adoption event held during October’s Equip Exposition, the international landscape, outdoor living and equipment exposition, in Louisville, Kentucky.

The TurfMutt Foundation and its spokesdog, Mulligan, the “TurfMutt,” are dedicated to educating people on ways to create purposeful and environmentally-responsible living landscapes that everyone, including pets and wildlife, can enjoy. Read more at

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Cindy Code

Executive Director of Project EverGreen

Mentor, Ohio

Project EverGreen is the green industry’s platform for giving back to communities and families in need. Our initiatives, GreenCare for Communities and GreenCare for Troops, provide a healthy park or public green space to an under-resourced community, or lawn and landscape services to a deployed military family. We know how healthy, green spaces make people feel, and sharing that gift with those who need it most is a wonderful way for lawn and landscape professionals to grow and protect thriving green spaces in communities that don’t have the resources. The end result is healthier, happier people and communities.

Nakita Shim

Florida Keys Branch Manager for BrightView Landscape Services Homestead, Florida

The Good Health Clinic provides free health care to Florida Keys residents who are in need, including uninsured residents, boat captains, part-time servers, maintenance/hospitality workers and more. Once a year, they coordinate the “Luau for Health” fundraising event for local supporters of the organization. The “Big Kahunas” are local people who raise money for the clinic. The person who raises the most money is named “The Big Kahuna.” BrightView raised money toward the cause, which totaled over $232,000 in 2021.

Mike Haynes

Founder & President of The LOVING Companies Charlotte, North Carolina

I believe we were placed on this planet to use the platform we have been given to positively impact the lives of others. Industry COLLECTIVE is a service project program designed by landscapers, for landscapers, to make serving communities easy.

Service projects arrive in a box and typically take less than 20 minutes to complete. We believe that the positive impact that is possible when we come together as an industry is limitless.

Qwww.synkd.ioNovember|December 202210 synkd | our community
THE FUTURE OF OUR INDUSTRY IS AT CONNECTING THE SECTORS OF For Professionals That Want To: • INNOVATE by using new products & services • CHALLENGE the old ways of working • SUPPORT the next generation of landscaping professionalsDESIGN BUILD MAINTAIN SPEAKERS F ebruary 6–7, 2023 Register at: or scan the QR code COBB Galleria Atlanta, Georgia (Back) Malcolm Miller, Joe Langton & Mike Haynes (Front) Deborah Cole, Mario Cambardella, Kelly Dowell &Jim McCutcheon LA CES credits will be available – schedule will be updated as the courses are confirmed!

Industry Leader


Tommy Aiello’s love for the outdoors and nature were evident from an early age. As a kid, he would visit his grandparents during the summer months in south Jersey, where his grandfather instilled in him a passion for growing, planting and appreciating a job well done. He first learned how to mow a lawn by pushing an old Toro, long before selfpropelled machines were even available. Despite the work being hard, especially for an eight-year-old kid, his grandfather reminded him that “when you are done, you should pull up a chair, have a lemonade and

appreciate what you did.” These words of wisdom have remained with Tommy throughout his life, and the memories he made during those summer visits would eventually lead him to a very successful career in the landscaping industry.

After his family moved to a golf course community in Severna Park, Maryland, in 1966, Tommy started working as a caddy and developed a love for the game. Some of the clients he regularly caddied for soon asked him to start mowing their yards as a side job. Although the mowing

jobs provided him extra income, golf continued to be what life revolved around and where he thought his future would lead.

After a stint in college, Tommy had the realization that it was time to get a “real job,” since professional golf wasn’t going to pan out. With no industry experience, he ended up landing a residential design position at a local mom-and-pop garden center. He quickly learned the ropes out in the field, taking five or six calls a day. Eventually, Tommy knew it was time to move on. He was ready for new challenges and a warmer climate.

In Jupiter, Florida, an old friend of Tommy’s worked at a reputable, wellknown landscape company, so Tommy reached out to the sales manager to see if there were any job openings. In 1984, he interviewed for a position and soon after, he received a formal offer of employment, which he eagerly accepted.

A few years later, at the urging of friends and professional acquaintances, Tommy took a leap of faith and decided to break out on his own. He headed to the local Ford dealership and bought an F250 pickup truck and then went to Home Depot for the essentials like shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows. On September 8, 1994, Aiello Landscape was officially open for business.

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In the late 1990s, Aiello Landscape got awarded a commercial job in Vero Beach, Florida, installing landscaping for a large condominium that was under construction. Vero Beach was an hour north of Hobe Sound, where Aiello Landscape was originally housed, so logistically the project was done in phases. In 1999, Tommy decided to open a second location in Vero Beach and relocated his family there in 2004. The Vero Beach office started with just four people in a small warehouse but has continued to grow, now employing 112.

Over the years, Tommy brought on two

partners in Vero Beach, Dan Crisafulli and Pete Benedict, and sold his Hobe Sound location to Dan Pedersen in 2018. Dan and Pete handled most of the day-to-day managerial tasks, while Tommy was more of a nuts-and-bolts guy. Although some of his responsibilities required him to work in an office, he was still happiest when he was out in the field getting his hands dirty with the crew.

“I like to be out on the job, laying plants out,” says Tommy. “Until recently, if the guys needed help, I would stay out for a few hours and work with them. I just still enjoy that aspect of it.”

While recognizing the blessings associated with the growth of his company, Tommy also had a standard to which he held himself and his employees to. “You can

Training Crews in 2000

train the horticulture part,” he explains. “To me, character and personality … those were items that were more important to me than whether [an employee] knew what a hibiscus or sago palm was.”

He says his main goal was to maintain his reputation in the industry—a reputation built on providing quality services while maintaining honesty and integrity. One thing that Tommy learned years ago while working for Roy Rood of Rood Landscape was that reputation was more important than the bottom line. “I’d rather break even and maintain my reputation than have a bad reputation and make 10 percent [profit],” he says.

Over his career, he has had opportunities to work with and interact with the best of the best in the industry, learning skills and

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tricks of the trade along the way. Legends such as Edward Durell Stone Jr., Dick Brickman and John Grissim have helped mold him into the professional he is today. Tommy recalls that being in the presence of these great men “was like being with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.”

Outside of running his business, Aiello Landscape has also been involved in the Florida Nursery & Growers Landscape Association since 1984. Holding various positions in the organization over the years, Tommy played an integral part in helping develop the association’s landscape certification program. He feels that the certification program, in addition to contractors having access to business development training, especially in the areas of estimating and accounting, are extremely important to the industry.

“Early on, one of my passions was always

raising the bar on professionalism,” Tommy says. He has certainly made good on that promise.

Since technology-oriented careers are now the focus in colleges and universities, horticulture and related fields seem to be losing momentum in recruiting people that are passionate about the field. However, in the last few years, the industry has grown significantly in the use of technology and automation, which means there are new opportunities that aren’t solely based on the labor-intensive, hands-on aspects of the industry. According to Tommy, although much progress has been made in this area, technology will never fully replace the human aspect of bringing landscape designs to life. “[Technology] is never going to be able to pick the plants out for us or go to the nursery and tag the tree,” he says.

It is about finding a balance between the two and inspiring the next generation to see the potential of the industry

The same magic that Tommy discovered as a kid working in his grandfather’s yard still motivates him today.

he says. “It’s seeing the change and then sitting back and seeing what you created when it’s finished.” Like a work of art isn’t complete until it is framed and put on display, a home becomes the painting and the landscaping, the frame, enhancing the beauty by adding something valuable.

On July 27, 2022, Tommy officially sold his Vero Beach office to Dan Crisafulli and Pete Benedict, knowing it would be left in capable, knowledgeable hands. However, he hasn’t quit working completely. He still clocks 20 hours a week consulting and managing a few landscape projects while watching Dan and Pete carry on the Aiello Landscape tradition.

After a successful career that has spanned several decades, one may assume this isn’t the end of the story for Tommy Aiello. It’s merely the end of a chapter.

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I like taking a bare canvas and creating
(Left to Right) Dick Brickman (90),Tommy Aiello & John Grissim (91)


A Lake Charles Couple Launches Their Landscaping Career With The Grounds Guys

In 2018, Nathaniel and Alexis Allured were ready for a career change. After working in corporate sales and health care jobs for nearly 20 years, they were burned out. While dreaming of what their next move should be, their conversations kept turning to landscaping.

“We both loved the idea of beautifying our community,” says Nathaniel. “As a pharmacist, Alexis has a science background and has always been interested in botany. And I’m driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for the outdoors, as well as construction.”

After a lot of research, the couple ended up purchasing a franchise of The Grounds Guys, a Neighborly Company headquartered in Waco, Texas. With 170

locations in the United States and Canada, The Grounds Guys allows its owners flexibility within the various landscaping specialties, which was a draw for the Allureds.

Like most new businesses, they started off small, launching in their hometown of Lake Charles, Louisiana, in October of 2018 with mostly lawn maintenance service. Then, just before their two-year anniversary, Mother Nature changed everything. Hurricane Laura, a catastrophic, category 4 storm, was heading straight for them. They jumped into survival mode.

“I evacuated to New Orleans with our one-year-old while Nathaniel worked to secure everything at home,” says Alexis. “He ended up making a last-minute

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decision to meet us in New Orleans with two work trucks and two trailers of our equipment.”

“I left Lake Charles just six hours before Laura made landfall,” says Nathaniel. “It was close.”

The storm hit the coast of southwest Louisiana just after 1 a.m. and by 1 p.m., Nathaniel and his crew were already back in Lake Charles ready to assist in cleanup efforts. While Alexis stayed in New Orleans with their son, Nathaniel set up a generator in their Lake Charles home, where he and his crew stayed for weeks before power was restored. Each day, they cut fallen limbs with chainsaws, cleared and hauled off debris and lended a hand wherever they could.

“There was a tremendous amount of work that needed to be done, and we went in there and did it,” says Nathaniel.

says Alexis. “And, as a result, The Grounds Guys got a lot of visibility. We created new client relationships, and it ended up being a turning point for our business.”

As the business continued to grow, so did

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It felt good knowing our company was there on the ground cleaning up and helping to rebuild the community

the Allureds knowledge and expertise. The Grounds Guys expanded from lawn maintenance to residential and commercial installation and, due to the unique challenges of Lake Charles, they added drainage and irrigation to the mix. Soaking up as much information as she could, Alexis became a licensed landscape horticulturist and an irrigation contractor (as well as received her chemical applicators license).

Nathaniel says that increasing the level of professionalism in the industry is a big opportunity.

“There are literally guys with push lawnmowers hanging out of the trunk of a Buick calling themselves landscapers,” he says. “We need to educate our clients so they understand that you get what you pay for. You wouldn’t hire an unlicensed plumber to make a mess of your house. The same goes for landscaping. We’re going to work harder to stay on top of new technologies, certifications and construction trends.”

So far, their business strategies are paying off. In just a few years, they’ve tripled their crew, going from two trucks to six. Revenue in 2021 was just short of $1 million, and they hope to reach their $2 million goal by 2023. A big commercial job at McNeese State University has also increased the company’s visibility and prestige. The campus recently completed a major $7 million infrastructure project surrounding Contraband Bayou. The Ground Guys of Lake Charles won the bid for landscaping work in the new plaza areas, including the installation of 8,000 plants to help with drainage and beautification.

The Grounds Guys of Lake Charles are also seeing growth in the residential sector. Nathaniel and Alexis note that unlike the baby boomer generation who typically cares for their own lawns, many young professionals today don’t even own a lawnmower.

“Lawn care and landscaping is another service they’re willing to pay for,” says Nathaniel. “And this means that as

more clients appreciate and see the value in what we do, the margins will increase. Better margins means higher pay and more career opportunities for young people to come in and stay in the industry.”

To get to where they want to be, Nathaniel and Alexis say they will continue to promote their core values and strengthen their company culture, always putting hard work, professionalism and customer service first.

Get In Touch With...

The Grounds Guys of Lake Charles Phone: (337) 242–3903

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We’ve been through a lot and we’ve faced a lot of challenges, but we’ve assembled a great team. We’re seeing the market here in Lake Charles head in the right direction. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry


Brendan Huggins

John Battle

Principal, JBa Land Management LLC Dallas, Texas

Director of Horticulture, Bok Tower Gardens Lake Wales, Florida

What inspired you to get into the industry?

I have always loved the outdoors and, as I advanced in my schooling, I came to appreciate how many of my passions related back to horticulture. After taking an inspiring class my sophomore year and working an internship my junior year of college, I knew I had found the career track I wanted to pursue.

What’s the best part of your job?

I love that no two days are the same and that every day we are challenged to be creative, whether we are using creativity to overcome an unforeseen challenge or create a design that inspires our visitors.

What is something not many people know about you?

I do not have a favorite plant. I believe that every plant has a place. You just have to think it through and make sure it isn’t a problematic plant. With that said, I have a particular fondness for the genus Taxodium.

What is your favorite phrase, slogan?

There is an Aldo Leopold quote: “Our ability to perceive quality in nature begins, as in art, with the pretty. It expands through successive stages of the beautiful to values as yet uncaptured by language.” I think it sums up this industry well.

What inspired you to get into the industry?

Well, I wasn’t inspired. I somewhat fell into the business. I had just started in the trucking industry traveling the U.S. and Canada. On one of my trips into Canada, I visited my uncle in Detroit while waiting to go through customs. We were chatting on his front porch and he told me about a mowing contract in Dallas that was being bid and said I should bid on it. I told him, ‘I don’t even own a lawnmower!’ He said I should at least look at it, so I did, bid on it and actually won. I was shocked but went to work, and 30 years later I’m still here.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?

Getting people to understand that there are so many different areas in this industry that you can make into a lucrative career and that it’s not ‘just mowing grass.’ So many people outside of the industry think, when you say you’re a landscaper, their vision is the guy in a pickup truck with a mower in the back.

What is your favorite phrase, slogan? Do it right … the first time!

What’s the best advice you have received for your career?

‘You can do it.’ Not being intimidated by large contracts, thinking they’re too big. Break things down into manageable pieces and just do it.

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Dr. Hossein Saedi Nicole Plunkett Damon Abdi

Design Researcher & Landscape Designer, North Carolina State University Raleigh, North Carolina

What is the best part of your job?

When the project is finished and I see a smile of satisfaction appear on the client’s face.

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited?

Barcelona and Budapest are among the top places, but ultimately I have to say south Spain, especially Málaga.

What would you blow your money on? A trip to Maldives, Mykonos, Ibiza or the Canary Islands.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?

Sharing some information and insight with the individuals who think they know a lot about this profession in a way that they become willing to lower their guard and have a dialogue about that subject.

What are you most proud of?

I received the Best Research Paper Award for a study obtained from my Ph.D. research at the Environmental Design Research Association conference in Greenville, South Carolina. This award is a testimony to the importance of my research topic and the quality of the research execution. Since 1968, less than 53 individuals have received this award.

Partner, Cotleur & Hearing Jupiter, Florida

Assistant Professor in Landscape Horticulture, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center Hammond, Louisiana

What inspired you to get into the industry?

I’ve always loved the outdoors and the environment. Landscape architecture allows me to have a creative outlet that can positively affect changes in a community.

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited?

In college at the University of Florida, I spent a semester studying European landscape architecture in Paris. I fell in love with Paris, and it is one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced professionally?

Learning from past failures has strengthened all aspects of my career and skillsets.

What are you most proud of?

The professional relationships I’ve created throughout the years. I’ve learned how important it is to have amazing mentors and friends in my industry.

What is something not many people know about you?

I’m freakishly good at the classic Microsoft computer game, Minesweeper.

What inspired you to get into the industry?

I knew I wanted a career that allowed me to enjoy nature and spend time outdoors.

What’s the best part of your job?

Working alongside green industry professionals, solving challenges with research and, of course, visiting gardens.

What would you blow your money on?

Lots of acreage for a farm, heavy equipment and a boat.

Who do you most admire in the industry?

Everyone that puts their best foot forward every day to make a difference.

What’s the key to great design?

Keep the client’s desires at the forefront; the rest falls into place.

What’s your ideal Saturday?

College football and tending to my barbecue pit.

What advice would you give to someone entering the green industry?

Learn from those who have already been where you seek to go.

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Your Business

Deborah Cole Explores The Benefits Of Giving Back

Recent studies show that generosity—demonstrated through philanthropy, volunteerism or simple kindness to others—can be directly tied to longevity and good health (physical as well as mental). And when you add the collaborative element of giving as a team, many more people reap the benefits of needs met, better health and better business.

Generosity has been shown to reduce stress, support personal physical health, enhance a sense of purpose, fight depression and increase lifespan. Numerous studies by universities and independent surveys show these outcomes to be very real. And what if giving improved employee retention? According to an abundance of research presented in peer-reviewed journals, an environment of giving, whether to co-workers (in-reach) or those outside the business (outreach), makes people feel more committed to their work and less likely to quit. This sounds like the trifecta of winning to me.

Generosity (any relational giving) is a confidence-builder and a natural repellant of self-loathing. And couldn’t we all use a bit of a boost when it comes to how we feel about ourselves? Think of the last time you did something nice for someone, especially if it was an unsolicited kindness.

Recall a time when driving in traffic, you slowed to allow someone to enter a line of cars. Makes us feel good, right?

How can we encourage caring, generosity and giving in the workplace on all levels? As with so many behavior-changing actions, when leadership models it, everyone pays attention. How can we encourage a workplace of generosity (remembering that we aren’t just “being nice,” we are encouraging good mental health, good physical health and retention)?

1Everyone can do good deeds in the workplace. Leadership can model a workplace of caring, generosity and sharing.

2Recognize and reward acts of kindness. Develop programs where caring, giving and teamwork (some are more comfortable using this term) are recognized and rewarded.

3Accept and acknowledge others’ generosity. Accept and show appreciation and gratitude. Gratitude practices also reap all of the same benefits as kindness and giving. Gratitude is an important part of the equation.

Along with giving/generosity within the workplace, the same benefits are achieved when outreach and in-reach are a part of company culture. Financial gifts

to the many charities in a community should be a part of every company’s budget. Although we tend to believe that large amounts of money get the biggest bang for the buck, every dollar shared with deserving organizations reaps benefits.

Along with financial giving, in-kind gifts are desperately needed. Goods donated to select groups help them achieve their goals of helping others; yet, thinking of the physical and mental benefits of direct giving, we might also consider involving our employees in “hands-on” giving. Many charities can use people power in so many ways. In this manner, the charities benefit AND our employees benefit.

Generosity is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Each day, life presents us with hundreds of opportunities to be generous. By modeling a lifestyle and a workplace out of generosity, we can do ourselves and others a world of good.

About Deborah Cole

Deborah Cole is the founder of a commercial landscape firm with multiple locations throughout Texas. She now devotes herself full-time to speaking, writing and consulting.

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When I started Horticare over 13 years ago, I was not focused on a longterm vision for my company. It was hard work just getting through the day. But, a few years ago, I slowed down enough to realize that I had built a successful company, and although we still face many day-to-day challenges, my focus has shifted to strategies that will help sustain the company for many years to come. These times of reflection made me focus on what made us strong. Each time I reflected, it always came back to the most important ingredient to our longterm success: people. Simply put, the relationships I have maintained over the years with clients, vendors and employees have been the key ingredient to my long-term success. They are the main reason I am still here today and why we are still relevant.

I remember Horticare’s first job, starting the day I opened for business. It was a very big landscape installation that, to be perfectly honest, should never have been mine based on experience alone. The project’s scope was massive, but I went into it with a strong referral. After meeting with the client, it became apparent that the client trusted me and believed in me. That, in turn, gave me a great deal of confidence and in the end, we performed

extremely well on the install. Since that initial meeting, not only has he been a valuable client, he has also given me solid business advice over the years and is a valuable friend and mentor. He just so happens to be a large commercial contractor, so his experiences are relatable and common to a degree. In fact, my relationship with him led me to explore pools and outdoor kitchens, as this was a space in which he had some experience years ago. Since then, this has become a major service line for our company and I have him to thank for getting me ahead of the curve when I started pursuing these services. My conversations with him and his encouragement gave me the groundwork I needed to go for it.

I value these strong client relationships not only for the work and referrals they send my way, but also because my employees see firsthand my commitment to people in general. They see me in action, honoring my word and trying my best always to show integrity and honesty—and that’s good for my relationships with them as well. We do have a certain amount of staff turnover, but it is not as high as some of my competitors. I have a trusted group of long-term employees that know I am as committed to them and their success as I am to my valuable clients. My vendor relationships are strong, too. I treat these

relationships the same way as the others. I’ve worked out payment processes and timing that are not always easy or beneficial to me, but my vendors know that they can depend on me for timely payments and that I will always honor my word. And in this chaotic industry with ever-shifting deadlines and unpredictable weather events, having strong vendor relationships has been a huge asset and, frankly, on occasion, has gotten us out of situations that are just a natural occasional product of what we do.

At the end of the day, like most small business owners, I am trying to do my best to keep the business healthy and running smoothly. It is rarely easy. Long-term planning sometimes falls off of the to-do list. But I am very lucky and grateful for the long list of valuable relationships I have formed over the years. They have been, and will always be, the most valuable asset I own and how I built my company to last.

About Brooke Inzerella

Brooke Inzerella is a licensed landscape horticulturist and owner of Horticare Landscape Company in Lafayette, Louisiana.

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Brooke Inzerella On How He Built His Company To Last

Afunny thing happened on the way to the marketplace. We forgot to define something. We use it every day in our marketing and advertising, but nobody knows the definition. Worse yet, we claim to be practicing it, but we’re not. The building blocks necessary to practice this undefined concept are either completely misunderstood or totally lacking in fundamental knowledge. Those building blocks are then assembled to define and present a work product to our clientele, which will and does fail.

The word is sustainability. And collectively, the green industry cannot define it and therefore cannot put it into practice. Yet our advertising and claims all use the word. If the product or the claim of the product is not sustainable, it won’t sell. Everything has become sustainable.

The defects are being designed into our work products. No aspersions or fingerpointing; however, the first building block in defining sustainability, and putting it into practice begins with the specifications and landscape notes that dictate the conduct of the installation and the maintenance.

Design criteria must begin to include soil pH, cation exchange capacity (CEC) and


A Matter of Design

Joe Samnik, Horticulture & Arboriculture Subject Matter Expert

resultant fertilizers and fertilization. Too many green industry professionals do not grasp the basic meaning of soil pH and its effect in and on plants. Soil pH can’t be changed to any appreciable degree or amount of time. It can, however, be managed. If we were farm-producing edibles, it would be a different story. But we are not growing food. We are growing a way of life to an appreciable degree of beauty, but, alas, not sustainability. The matter of soil pH is being conveniently handed off by one professional group to other professional groups, and the problem never gets solved.

CEC is seldom, if ever, mentioned in design criteria. Yet this phenomenon will dictate the fate of critical nutrients in soils, either applied or inherent by nature. Knowledge of CEC is necessary—what it does in soils and how to manage in a better fashion than ignoring it. Get the soil right should be the standard-bearer for all professional work products at the fundamental level.

Fertilizers and fertilization are treated much like soil pH issues—from one desk to another. The driver of our collective specificity must grasp, or seek others to grasp for them, the basic principles of fertilization. Fertilizer ratios must be differentiated from fertilizer analysis,

driven by rates of application, all of which are missing in today’s professional work products.

Like a three-legged stool, which of the three legs is most important? It is a learned circle that must be completed before sustainability can be stamped onto our work products. And it must be a collaborative effort. The science is there. All the questions have already been answered, but no one person knows it all.

When these three sciences are brought together under one work product, sustainability shall be realized. The result will be commercial landscapes that can be fertilized once every other year with the highest of curb appeal. Pest control would be an anomaly. Water consumption would be cut in half at the very least. Therein lies the definition of a sustainable landscape that can be realized in today’s marketplace.

About Joe Samnik

Joe Samnik is entering his 57th year of practice as a horticultural consultant and testifying subject matter expert witness in the field of horticulture and arboriculture.

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You are familiar with the phrase “peer pressure.” It can have a negative connotation in many circles, but I have found it can also be very positive.

With the right kind of peer pressure and support, you can grow your business quickly and efficiently.

This is the reason I have become such a big proponent of peer groups over the past 25 years.

It is the most productive way to grow your contacts, knowledge and results.

A Short History on Peer Groups

A forerunner to peer groups is the “Mastermind” concept. It was made famous in the book Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. He spoke of individuals and professionals getting together to foster each other’s thinking and planning.

After WWII, the idea of a structured peer group became part of our mainstream— for example, among automobile dealers. Their groups were called “Dealer 20” and helped the auto industry for years.

Structured peer groups have become an accepted method for accelerated learning, problem solving and sharing.

Not All Groups Are the Same

The quality of a group’s members is the key to success.

accountable for the execution of your plans over time. And this accountability increases with the more time you spend together.

In all cases, you will establish strong bonds that will outlast your participation in the group itself.

“Working with (Jeffrey’s) peer group has provided me with financial benchmarking and operational feedback from other leaders he has cultivated,” says Blair Walton, owner of Element Outdoor Living in North Carolina. “This has given me the visibility and awareness that we are heading in the right direction.”

Better and Best Practices

This requires members to put their egos aside and be committed to the group and to the process.

Your Best Board of Advisors

A strong group will help you work through both strategic and urgent issues (growth strategies, key hiring, acquisitions, recruiting, people issues, etc.). The best members will share their proven resources and give honest feedback.

More importantly, members will hold you

The side benefit of participating in a peer group is that it raises each member’s leadership abilities—following the advice of Tom Peters, who states that “leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

About Jeffrey Scott

Jeffrey Scott, MBA, is the leading authority on growth and profit maximization in the landscape industry. For more information on how you can grow your landscape business, please visit

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Jeffrey Scott on the Positive Effects of Peer Pressure
You need ambitious members who are willing to be accountable and deal with their issues openly in a private setting


LandForm Design Group, INC. | Transforming A 72-acre Island Into A Private Resort

Malcolm Miller is no stranger to the Caribbean. As a landscape architect and designer based in Florida, he has frequently made the trek to the islands to install a project or oversee plant materials. In 2009, he had the opportunity to help transform a fishing island outpost in the Bahamas into a luxury tropical resort powered by wind and solar energy harnessed by three wind turbines and a 1.5-acre solar field.

As the site director, Malcolm designed, specified and oversaw the hardscaping, decks, plant installation and irrigation for select areas throughout the island. Working abroad has its challenges with

logistics, additional taxes and duties, but Malcolm knew that Over Yonder Cay was the project of a lifetime. He worked on-site during the week and made trips home on the weekends for over two years.

With a work site about 200 miles from the Florida coast and uninhabited by people, Malcolm’s first task was assembling a crew. He transported 100 workers to the island to stay for the duration of construction and had an additional 30-40 brought in daily on boats from neighboring local islands.

With a crew living on-site, he had to ensure they had food, water and shelter. Materials were delivered to the island on

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Build Time 2+ years Size of Project 72-acre island Awards 1. “Most Outstanding Landscape” Florida Nursery & Landscape Grower’s Association 2015 2. New Installation Environmentally Sustainable Site 3. Roy Rood Award for Most Outstanding Entry PROJECT DETAILS www.synkd.ioNovember|December 202226


ships and seaplanes, so the team built service roads so shipments could be moved to their staging areas. When he requested supplies, Malcolm ordered more than he needed so they would not have to stop in the middle of a build or install.

“We had to learn very early that whenever you send your list of things [you need], make sure you have at least one or two extras of everything that you order because it’s not like you can just run down to the store and pick something up,” he says.

The first resource they needed to find was water for plant materials, concrete and for the crew to drink. They used reverse osmosis water makers to turn the seawater surrounding them into purified drinking water. Rainwater and runoff were collected into cisterns across the island to use for plant irrigation.

Malcolm’s plant palette needed to work in tropical conditions. He sourced trees and plants from nearby nurseries and tree farms in the Bahamas and Miami. He chose drought-friendly plants using the principles he learned working in Florida so they could withstand island weather conditions, including hurricanes.

“Having done a lot of hurricane work throughout the Caribbean, I learned construction methodologies on how to prepare for storms,” he says. “I learned a lot about erosion, erosion control, sustainability and restoration.”

Malcolm also incorporated existing vegetation into the design to limit the amount of material shipped. Knowing that maintenance crews may not be on site

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after the project was completed, he chose plant material that would not need to be cut back or fertilized.

The hardscaping materials were selected to work with the landscape but provide a luxurious feel to the property. Florida keystone, Dominican coral stone and Florida oolite stone were imported, but Malcolm also used native limestone sourced on the island.

“To build the foundations for the new wind towers, we had to excavate a 30 by 30 foot hole to hold the wind generators. With that, we brought in trenchers and cut out a grid of limestone,” he says. “We popped those blocks out and used them



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for retaining walls, which gave us a more natural look.”

The Over Yonder Cay project took two years, thousands of hours of labor and multiple trips back and forth to the states for supplies, but Malcolm would not trade the experience.

“I’m very proud of the work that we did. On every project we take on, we have the attitude that we try to give our 110 percent,” he says. “That’s what is rewarding about being in the industry.”

Get In Touch With...

LandForm Design Group, INC.

Malcom Miller, ASLA

Phone: (954) 461–6191


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Johnston Gardens

From overall aesthetics and curb appeal to meticulous design of outdoor living spaces and gardens, Georgia-based landscape designer Carmen Johnston and her team provide comprehensive installation for new construction and existing homes. When drawing up plans for clients, Carmen considers the whole picture, factoring in function for how each family will utilize their new space, as well as a long-term investment and potential phases—for example, grading space for a future pool or other design elements.

Georgia River Home Transformation

“Designing lush, beautiful spaces that engage the senses while also creating a backdrop for unforgettable family moments is my driving passion,” she says.

For this river home in Columbus, Georgia, Carmen and her team initially met with the clients in March 2020 to look at photos and design inspiration. Then, she spent several weeks focusing on an intentional, curated plan for their outdoor spaces, which included a stone terrace and fire pit area overlooking the water. After the final plan was nailed down,

Carmen and her team completed phase one of the installation, including the fire pit terrace and total back yard makeover.

In August 2021, Carmen began installing a month-long phase two refresh at the home, implementing fresh design for the front exterior and porch, including a reconfigured driveway, gated entry and the addition of plants to create a lush, established feel.

“My goal is to weave timeless, classic, colorful designs into outdoor living spaces,” she says.

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Build Time 2 months Size of Project 2.85 acres PROJECT DETAILS

Ultimately, her aim is to extend living space into the landscape while creating an integral relationship with a client’s home.

“These wonderful clients were so thankful they made the investment in their landscape and outdoor spaces because they spend nearly every weekend and all summer here, enjoying the gorgeous surroundings and making memories with their children,” Carmen says.

While Carmen worked with these clients in person, it was not long after this install that the pandemic forced a change in her business plan. With families spending

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They have so many options for entertaining , and their home is now a place they can enjoy year-round

more time at home, many turned their attention to their outdoor spaces. While they wanted Carmen’s design expertise and instruction, it just wasn’t possible for her to travel all over the southeast at the time. So, she created Bespoke Garden Plans, a full-service remote landscape design that allows Carmen to work with clients anywhere in the country.

The process takes images and dimensions from the current property and inspiration photos from the client’s curated wish list. After meeting virtually via FaceTime or Zoom, Carmen collaborates with a network of landscape designers throughout the U.S. who specialize in detailed hand drawings and 3D renderings to deliver customized landscape plans tailored to each client’s needs.

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“You don’t want a landscape plan that can be done in two days or a week,” Carmen says. “We take this very seriously, and we really think long and hard about what will work for each space. It’s important to invest in a solid landscape plan. Not only does it save money in the long run, but you also won’t be moving plants around or discovering that something doesn’t work in a particular location after the fact.

These designs are truly customized for every single client

After completion, clients receive a full-scale color rendering of the plans, as well as a detailed planting schedule, botanical and common plant names, and quantity of plants needed—including the thought process behind the choices.

“Clients can opt to have a landscape professional install the plan all at once or in phases as their budgets allow,” Carmen explains. “We work with installers to make sure it’s done well and it’s done right. Clients can even DIY if they prefer. We’ve made mistakes and we know what works and what doesn’t. That’s why we believe in a truly collaborative process, and we’re going to hold their hands and make sure they have a beautifully bespoke design experience.”

A bout Carmen Johnston

Carmen Johnston and her team provide comprehensive landscape design and installation for new construction and existing homes. Over her 15-year career, her work has been featured in Southern Living, Country Living and on the Today Show. She is the outdoor living designer for the HGTV Smart Home.

Phone: (706) 284–1114


Social: @CarmenJohnstonGardens and @BespokeGardens on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok

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Richard Smith is a hands-on designer. He plays an active role in both the design and installation of landscaping projects at his company Smith DesignScapes. With that kind of dedication and attention to detail, he can handle the most challenging jobs.

A recent challenge was building a pond and dual waterfalls on a new residential estate. The completed project moves 75,000 gallons per hour (gph) of water through two disappearing streams that have five- and six-foot falls into the pond in a woodland setting of native trees.

The project had its share of issues, and work conditions were not ideal, but Richard was not deterred. Part of the property drained to the installation area

and the project was completed during a particularly rainy winter in Tennessee, so the ground was a muddy mess. The client’s new home was being constructed at the same time, so it was louder and more chaotic than a usual work site.

Richard and his crew had to work around the weather to finish the installation, which took about 45 days and spanned several months. His team also completed landscaping on other parts of the property and installed nine acres of irrigation before they even started the pond and waterfall features.

After meeting with the client, Richard spent time on the property to take in what he says photographs and sketches cannot capture. He invited the homeowners to other job sites so they

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Cost of Waterfall $150,000 for waterfall feature only (does not include the irrigation system) Build Time 45 days over the course of several months Size of Project: 1 acre PROJECT DETAILS


could see the type of stonework he proposed and better understand how the feature would look. With a project of this magnitude, he wanted to make sure he captured the client’s vision before he even began buying materials.

When it came time to select materials, Richard literally left no stone unturned. He selected each boulder, rock and slab from the Arkansas mountains and had the estimated 48 tons of stone hauled back to the site in multiple tractor-trailer trucks.

He was on site for the total installation, handpicking where each rock should go. There is little room for error in a project this large, because each boulder and slab have a specific purpose in directing the water flow. According to Richard, precision is key when selecting and placing materials because it eliminates rock waste and speeds up installation.

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Even though it was a large project, he kept the install team small because of the space limitations.

“With a project like that, it’s a confined space. Since I’m picking out every rock, we generally only have a few people,” Richard says. “If you have more than that, you’re either standing there watching or you’re in the way.”

Richard knew his biggest challenge was having a large water feature in a wooded setting, and the client wanted to preserve as many native trees as possible. The usual water filtration system would not be sufficient, because eaf litter would clog a surface skimmer and require constant maintenance to keep 75,000 gph of water flowing.

He had to get creative, so he designed a custom filtration system that would keep the pumps running at full capacity, even when the leaves drop at the peak of fall.

“The pumps draw all the way across the pond from the bottom, so the leaves can fill but they can never stop the pump,” he says. “It always has places to draw water from because what we made was basically a snorkel system through the pond.”

The skimmer basket is usually the last line of defense in keeping debris out, but with this system, the leaves never make it that far. Maintenance is easy, too. The pond only needs to be skimmed with a net a couple of times a year to remove fallen leaves.

On “performance day,” when everything is constructed and the pumps are turned on for the first time, Richard and the homeowner got to see—and hear— the project on full display.

“The system moves approximately 75,000 gph, so with that amount of water compressed and falling from these heights, it creates a sound that can be heard from quite some distance,” Richard explains. “Surprisingly to most, it is not a water feature you stand next to and hold a conversation if you want to be heard.”

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inspirational works

The homeowners originally wanted to have the feature behind the gates of their estate, but when they saw the outcome, they decided it was too beautiful not to share with their neighborhood. It has become a popular backdrop for special occasions.

“In the spring, during prom season, there will be 100 people down there on Fridays and Saturdays taking photographs,” Richard says. “If there’s a wedding, people are there taking photos. It gets a lot of exposure.”

About Smith DesignScapes

Smith DesignScapes is a full-service design, build and maintenance landscape company specializing in water features. Based in Jackson, Tennessee, they serve surrounding areas, including Memphis and Nashville.

Phone: (731) 234–2306

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With over 230 stocked locations nationwide, Ewing is ready to help you prepare for your next job! Ewing goes beyond products and has created a variety of benefits for on and off the jobsite. From exceptional blue counter customer service to online resources and rewards programs like the ProAdvantage Program, you can lean on Ewing for all your green business needs. Scan for more information

Reinventing The Wheel

Finally a wheel that does more than measure straight lines

The way people estimate jobs hasn’t changed much. You are either using a tool that costs thousands of dollars or using a measuring wheel to be quick. PLOTT changes that..

With the current tools you are either sacrificing efficiency and money to be more accurate or you are sacrificing accuracy for efficiency. This is becoming more of an issue as the cost of materials is skyrocketing and even difficult to get in a lot of cases.

No more guesstimating or squaring off projects to get an estimate

How it Works

Simply connect Carta to your phone with the LetsPlott app and wheel around any shape curved or straight and it will instantly map it out on your phone, show you the shape and give you the square footage, perimeter, cubic yards and other linear data.

Carta is the perfect happy medium where you can estimate, design and quote easily. You won’t have to overspend on material or be caught having to reorder products that may no longer be available.

Carta lets you quote more jobs and close more business by being more efficient in a time where costs are skyrocketing and labor is difficult to come by

Carta is the only measuring wheel that is capable of measuring and mapping out your estimates and able to create a digital as-built for your projects.

Know exactly how much material you need so you no longer over or underestimate your bid. Build out a quote in the app and share it with the customer so they know exactly what they are getting.

Customers are saving thousands of dollars by not over quoting jobs. Going from 3 leftover pallets of sod to just a few rolls, to knowing exactly how many cubic yards of concrete, mulch, top soil and more.

Carta can even help map out where outdoor lighting or rotors on an irrigation system will go and exactly how many you need.

Carta will save you time, money and headaches by eliminating the need to do complex math on the job. Easily map out sod, turf, mulch, hardscape, irrigation, lighting and more digitally.

• Draw paths in real time

• Calculate sq. feet & cubic yards

• Spray attachment for marking

• Add notes & images digitally

• Crea te, store, export digital “as-builts”

www.synkd.ioSeptember|October 202240 (973) 434–4348


The demand for electric landscaping equipment is continuing to grow. Several factors are driving growth in the market, according to Mark Linkletter, manager of business development, commercial products at AriensCo, the parent company of Gravely, an electric equipment manufacturer.

Working from Home

Since the pandemic, noise ordinances have increased in residential areas, corporate campuses and municipalities. With more people in the remote workforce, electric mowers offer lower decibel levels to keep residents happier with virtually no noise. Companies also can benefit with longer mowing hours, because electric mowers fall under decibel restrictions for many neighborhood noise ordinances.

Sustainability Drivers

Corporations with green initiatives who

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AriensCo | Four Factors Driving The Gas-To-Electric Movement GRAVELY PRO-TURN EV ELECTRIC STAND-ON MOWER

contract landscape crews want to work with companies that provide ecofriendly lawn care, which includes using electric equipment. Many municipalities are seeking a green footprint around schools and parks that includes quieter equipment and environmentally friendly landscaping maintenance.

Tax Breaks

Recent legislation passing tax incentives for purchasing electric equipment has also increased interest. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 includes a tax credit of 30 percent or up to $7,500 for commercial electric lawnmowers. The incentive is a push for landscapers to begin incorporating electric equipment in their fleets. The credit is available on purchases from January 2023 through 2032 and can go a long way toward transitioning a traditional fleet to electric.

Employee Health

Mark has heard positive input from operators who have used Gravely’s electric, zero-turn mowers. Operators say they do not feel as worn out and do not have ringing in their ears after a day’s work. Labor is an ongoing issue for landscape maintenance, so companies with electric equipment can highlight the benefits to potential hires.

What’s the Cost Difference?

The cost of maintaining an electric mower is less compared to gas-powered equipment. There are no costs for gas, oil changes, filters, belts and pulleys. Electric equipment has fewer moving parts that break and need repair. The batteries in an electric mower can even outlast the equipment itself, depending on its usage. With that in mind, the batteries in some commercial mowers can be removed and placed in new equipment.

The price for electric equipment that is as powerful as gas is higher than gas-

powered equipment, but the long-term savings are there. Mark explains that a company will pay for everything up-front rather than over time with fuel and maintenance. Factoring in the cost of gas with fluctuations can be a headache for a business owner. The price to power an electric mower is more stable.

Plus, a feature on some electric equipment is the ability to change a battery if the power runs low during a job—without the hassle of gas tanks and the potential of fuel spillage.

Unraveling the Myth

There is an unfortunate myth that electric equipment does not perform like gaspowered mowers, but this isn’t true. Today’s electric mowers are designed with quality and performance in mind. They are built to work like gas-powered equipment but with different benefits.

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Resource: en-us/roi-calculator Get In Touch With... Mark Linkletter Manager Business Development, Commercial Products AriensCo Phone: (815) 900–8942 Email:
Our covers are made to fit a wide variety of uses Simply input the surrounding hardscape into the cover Seamlessly blend into the surrounding landscape info@wundercovers.comTel. 775-400-2883 WunderCovers™ seamlessly blend manhole, drain, or utility access covers and vaults Custom covers, built to order, low volume, any size or configuration Transform your customer’s outdoor living space with high-performance outdoor lighting. Coastal Source lighting systems are easy to install, reliable, and profitable. Best of all, Coastal Source’s flexible fixtures will guarantee the perfect lighting solution for the ultimate outdoor retreat. Lighting fixtures displayed above: Coastal Source Niche Bullet Light with Surface Mount OUTDOOR LAUNCH INTO LIGHTING Available through authorized dealers and contractors. | 800.719.1996 Play outside long after the sun sets.

ALTER Native

Possumhaw Holly As An Alternative To The Invasive Scarlet Firethorn


This native holly is easily confused with another native cousin, Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), but Possumhaw holly is just as desirable and just as hardy. This holly does well in clay, sand and loam. This holly can also handle full sun or partial shade. Possumhaw grows wild and abundant throughout the Southern U.S., including Midwest states like Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.


The mature form of Possumhaw often makes a shrub or small tree. This plant works well as an understory plant, where nearby trees provide some shade. Possumhaw can also be planted in full sun when desired, as an isolated grove or as a border grove to any property.


Pyracantha coccinea is invasive in parts of the region due to being readily seed dispersed by wildlife that eat the fruit.

Leaves are persistently green till the fall, with inconspicuous flowers in the spring. The horizontal branching pattern of this plant showcases the leaves and smooth, light-gray bark. This plant also lacks thorns. As a deciduous plant, Possumhaw is not evergreen. Yet, the leaves make way for holly fruit in the winter.

The female form of Possumhaw holly is a showstopper during the wintertime. Fruits develop in clusters close to the branching stems, maintaining a healthy color and luster. Wild and cultivated varieties of Possumhaw produce fruits in vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. This plant is a stunner in winter gardens. The bold contrast in colors from fruit to bark will liven up any winter landscape.

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ILEX DECIDUA, POSSUMHAW HOLLY Illustration by ©Caitlyn Wallace

The number and cost of weatherrelated disasters are on the rise in the United States. This is due to increased exposure, greater intensity and damage caused, along with the rate at which these events are occurring. Reports from the Climate Change Committee attribute much of this increase to climate change. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, the number of billion-dollar disasters in 2020 came from 22 separate events. The cost of these events exceeded $95 billion in damages. Of these, 13 were related to severe storms. The strain of stormwater events is especially hard on urban areas, where the landscape and the population are dense.

Most cities use municipal separate storm sewer systems. These are networks of ditches, curbs, gutters, sewer pipes and outfalls solely dedicated to moving runoff from everywhere in the city to the natural waterways that eventually carry it away. However, in the event of extreme rainfall, these waterways are not equipped to manage a deluge of water. Additionally, pollutants from the streets are washed into the waterways. Some cities have added concrete to the inside of channels to increase the water flow, but this diminishes the natural beauty of the landscape and does nothing to pull pollutants from the water.


solutions to better mitigate the effects of stormwater and reduce pollutants in our water. Among these is requiring a certain percentage of porous surface in new development and redoing existing impervious surfaces. Many design professionals are opting to use permeable paving on areas that have traditionally been paved with concrete or asphalt in order to achieve these goals.

Permeable paving is a type of pavement or under-surface structure that supports the passage of rainfall or water runoff through the surface of the sub-surface below it. They are designed primarily to support the heavy load of traffic while also protecting the surface from compaction and allowing drainage. Permeable pavers can support a wide range of traffic types, from pedestrian foot traffic and residential parking to emergency vehicles. The depth of the base course beneath the pavers determines the weight the pavers can support. With appropriate base course, permeable pavers can far exceed H-20 loading and have a psi of over 15,000.

There are different types of permeable paving: concrete paving blocks, porous

concrete or asphalt, rigid plastic porous pavers and flexible plastic porous pavers. The functionality, flow rate, maintenance and aesthetics vary with the type of porous paver used; the use, weight and frequency of traffic determine what type of paver can be used.

It is important to create surfaces that are pervious for several reasons. Permeable pavers can not only reduce flooding, but the water is absorbed back into the earth, filtering out pollutants and recharging ground water. Urban areas can decrease areas covered in concrete and asphalt and increase natural surfaces and green space. This can reduce both heat and sound. There are also cold weather benefits, as the air trapped in the pavement can store heat and release it to the surface, speeding the melting of snow and ice. Once melted, the snow will dissipate back through the pavers.

Pedestrian paths, parking lots and fire lanes can all be made using porous paving, creating areas around buildings that will drain instead of pool or send runoff to other areas. Certain porous pavers, namely ridged or flexible ones filled with aggregate or topped with grass, can add green space to

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the design, thus making an otherwise single-purpose area into a multifunctional space. Grass pavers can also reduce CO2 emissions.

While using any permeable paver in lieu of concrete or asphalt is an environmentally better choice, rigid and flexible plastic pavers will have the greatest impact on extreme rain events, making them the best option in urban areas. They also have the greatest void space so will offer the highest flow rate and, because they are used in conjunction with aggregate or grass, they offer the greatest environmental benefits. These pavers can also be used in conjunction with underground water storage systems for maximum impact. Because natural bioremediation occurs when the water runs through sand, these systems can provide the opportunity for water reuse, further increasing the environmental benefits.

As populations continue to grow in urban areas, adding porous surfaces, along with

other low-impact solutions, will be increasingly important. Implementing building and design practices that will help to mitigate stormwater events will aid in cities being more resilient. In moving toward greener urban planning, we can better preserve and protect the future of these cities.

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Vice President, Marketing Email:

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Marianne Davidson
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Part Two—


Natural stone pavers maximize a project owner’s investment due to their beauty, durability and longevity. They are a popular hardscaping choice because they can withstand the elements in various environments . Natural stone is the original building material of the Egyptian and Greek monuments that are still standing today.

Natural stone is cost-effective when it comes to maintenance. It is also environmentally friendly because the sourcing process has less impact than manufacturing, and natural stone can be reused. There is also versatility in the aesthetics. Stone can be rustic (riven surface) or contemporary (honed) and can be used in endless shapes and designs.

We started discussing how to properly

install paving in the July/August 2022 issue on pages 39-41. Installation is one step in ensuring that pavers will last to their full potential, but proper maintenance will help keep them functional and beautiful for the long haul. The secret to ensuring the longevity of pavers is remembering that maintenance considerations start with the initial design and intent of the space.

Mother Nature’s Influence

Handing over hardscaping maintenance may seem straightforward, but it gets more complicated when natural stone sees a variance in weather. A stone that might be appropriate in south Texas or southern California for a paving application is not necessarily a material that would be appropriate in Chicago or St. Louis, where there is a high number of freeze-thaw cycles. The climate factor is important, as selecting the right materials with the

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Proper Maintenance Of Natural Stone Starts With Intentional Design

appropriate physical properties to withstand the elements will be critical.

Microclimates, where a small area differs from the surrounding climate, are also an important consideration. Microclimates are defined by the moisture, temperature and winds of the atmosphere near the ground, vegetation and soil, in addition to the latitude, elevation and season.

The Science Behind Stone

When a stone’s physical properties take a backseat to design and aesthetics, proper maintenance can be an impossible goal,

affecting the project’s overall quality. Knowing the physical properties before selecting a stone will help ensure your structure looks as impressive in the coming decades as it does on day one.

Each type of stone has specifications that may or may not work with the application.

For instance, limestone, marble, granite and Travertine pavers perform well in low-traffic and warm climates that do not experience freezes and thaws, so longterm maintenance is minimal. It also matters if the paving regularly has water on it and the region you are in—or how

easily the stone is worn or smoothed by foot traffic.

Using those same materials in an environment with harsh weather makes them susceptible to decomposition if exposed to ice salt acids. Silica-based materials are less absorbent and will withstand those conditions with minimal impact.

One key to understanding natural stone’s physical properties is working with a natural stone supplier who can provide guidance early in the design process. A design team may have a specific aesthetic goal in mind, but you should consider if the choices will perform in the environment. Understanding each stone’s properties will ensure the right stone has been selected for the project and bolster the architect’s case for their choice of stone.

The American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) created two testing methods to determine a stone’s physical properties by absorption rate and abrasion resistance to help decide if the material will work in the environment. ASTM develops standards for materials to provide a consistent and realistic set of testing procedures for stone products and is recommended as a first step in deciding on a stone type.

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Proper Installation

Even with the right stone, if it has not been correctly installed, there will be issues. However, sometimes the issue comes up as a maintenance problem, even though it was probably due to a shortcut during installation.

Consult with experienced stone setters for specific nuances, such as proper air gaps in vertical installations like retaining walls. Air gaps can eliminate the effect ofwater moving through the soil and leaving behind salts on the natural stone.

In exterior locations, natural stone does not need a sealer. Sealers cannot allow a material used in the wrong location to survive—it is more appropriate for other types of paving. Our best advice is to leave the stone natural and not apply a sealer, as this can compound other

issues. If a sealer is used, it can wear off over time, leaving the stone full of spots.


Natural stone pavers are easy to maintain if the right materials are used—and the installation is done correctly. General maintenance can be scheduled once a year. This is an excellent time to check for cracks or broken seals that can prevent damage from dirt and othe environmental elements.

Water is the ideal way to clean and remove debris and restore materials. A light pressure washing annually goes a long way in maintaining your surface. Pay special attention to joints that can be impacted over time. Building elements, like joint compounds, will need to be re-caulked every four to eight years because they naturally shrink away, and the gaps allow water in. Mortar, on the

other hand, lasts longer unless it is used in an area with a colder climate.

The design, material selection and installation process should start with the end in mind. Maintenance may be the last step in preserving a hardscaping project, but it should not be the last thing to consider.

Get In Touch With...

Bryce Kock

Phone: (830) 730–6765 Email:

www. synkd .io 51November|December 2022 synkd | raise the bar
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