7 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring A Snow Removal Provider in the Lakes Region

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New Hampshire winters invariably bring snow and ice, and with it, inconvenience and safety concerns. Fortunately, Belknap County has a variety of companies that can help when these storms arrive. Unfortunately, not all of these companies are the same, and it’s important to consider several questions when you’re choosing a provider.

Here are 7 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring A Snow Removal Provider in the Lakes Region

Are they experienced?

Snow removal is a service that has an influx of new providers every year, and invariably during or shortly after the season, these new companies disappear, commonly leaving clients struggling to find a new provider. Additionally, plowing snow requires practice to do it effectively, safely, and without damaging your property.

Ask providers how many seasons they have plowed snow. Will they be plowing, or will one of their employees be plowing? Do they have a training program? Can they provide you with references?

Are they insured?

Do not hire a service provider who is not insured. Insurance is not optional for a professional provider, and a lack of insurance is a glaring warning sign. If they are insured, do they have enough coverage?

Someone working on your property should have you, their customer, as well as their own company’s and employee’s protection in mind. As a good practice, they should carry commercial coverage in the following types at the following limits:

  • Commercial General Liability of at least $1,000,000 for each occurrence and $2,000,000 general aggregate coverage.
  • Commercial Auto Liability of at least $1,000,000 combined single limit. Some small businesses assume their personal auto insurance is enough. However, if they are using a personal vehicle to do business, their personal policy will not cover them in the event of an incident.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance of at least $500,000 because if they do not have it, and something happens, the customer may become liable. Even a sole proprietor should carry this, even though the state of NH does not require them to have it.
  • To cover any higher claims in any of these areas, it is a good idea to carry Commercial Umbrella Liability coverage of at least $1,000,000.

A customer can ask the contractor for a certificate of insurance from their insurance company, and it can be faxed or emailed to them so they can be sure the contractor has the proper coverage. It comes directly from their insurance agent.

Do they have the proper equipment?

While a small pickup truck with a 6′ plow may work fine for removing snow from many driveways, professional equipment is a good indication of a professional organization. Professional equipment is built to withstand the rigors and abuse of recurring use and is better able to provide the demands of the task. Larger properties, in particular, will require professional equipment.

Similarly, how much equipment do they have. If your snow removal service provider only has one plow truck, what is the plan if the truck breaks down during a storm?

Are they certified?

There are many certifications snow and ice management professionals can have. In New Hampshire, there’s one, in particular, that is important. Living in the Lakes Region, we understand how important water quality is for our lakes, and salt runoff is a serious concern. Lakes like Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Squam, and Newfound need the safeguards a mindful, certified ice management company can provide. That’s why we believe Green SnowPro certification for salt applicators is essential. Through a partnership with the NH Department of Environmental Services, and the UNH Cooperative extension, Green SnowPro provides education, resources, and accountability that help us protect our lakes and waterways. Providers holding this certification have attended the aforementioned training, maintain a knowledge of best practices, and follow local and industry standards to reduce salt runoff into our fresh waterways.

How many employees do they have?

It’s not unusual snow to fall continuously for over 24 hours in our area. If your provider does not employ enough people to operate snow removal equipment in shifts, they may either need to work for an unsafe number of hours to cover the storm or abandon their plowing routes for rest. The prior is dangerous, and the latter may mean they are unable to meet obligations in some instances. A good practice is a minimum of 2 employees per piece of equipment, with more being desirable to cover emergencies, sickness, or other challenges in staffing.

Do they actually provide the service you expect?

Some providers offer full-service snow and ice management. This offers a comprehensive 24-hour service and is the best option for property owners or managers who expect a proactive and responsive solution. This service does require periodic proactive monitoring of the client’s property. If you’re considering this service, inquire about the monitoring practices of the service provider. How often do they check the property? How do they keep track? What exactly do they look for? Do they pretreat surfaces?

What if you need Out-of-Scope of work services?

In many instances, general snow and ice management is sufficient for most properties. There can be instances that a unique service may need to be performed, and it’s helpful to know if your service provider can assist in these circumstances.

Can your provider assist in pushing back snowbanks? Sometimes larger snowbanks may need to be pushed further back as they encroach on the driving and parking areas. Large snowbanks can be very heavy, and some smaller equipment may not be able to achieve this task.

If you need snow hauled away, are they capable of doing this, or do they have a relationship with another contractor who can? Snow hauling is typical in large commercial spaces, and it can take a lot of resources to achieve. Most small service providers do not have the internal resources to do this on their own.

If there are slips and falls on your property, can they provide you with detailed service information? Many service providers utilize GPS and camera systems to track their equipment and services provided. This tracking is especially common for providers who offer slip and fall coverage as part of their service agreements.

Do they remove snow from rooftops? As snow accumulates, the load burden on roofs can create a dangerous situation. Many snow and ice management companies offer this service, but it’s helpful to know about this option before you realize a need. Scheduled services with existing clients are typically less costly and better performed than emergency services performed by whoever is available.

Regardless of your specific snow and ice management needs, a little bit of homework and asking the right questions can save you a lot of time and problems. From Gilford to Tilton, Laconia to Meredith, there’s many options in central New Hampshire for your winter maintenance needs. Don’t feel like you need to settle for a service provider who cannot meet your needs.

 

Winter is Safety Season at Belknap Landscape

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This January has proven to be an active one for snowstorms in the Lakes Region. Still, the Belknap Landscape crew has been able to find time between plowing, shoveling, and sanding to learn about safety and emergency preparedness. An integral part of our company identity is our safety culture, and we’re always up for continuing education. Here’s what we’ve been up to this month.

In early January, with the help of Hebron Fire Department, many of our crew members received training on CPR, First Aid, and Stop the Bleed processes. We spent two days at the Gilford Community Center learning about how to respond to these types of emergencies, and ways we can help save life or limb should the worst-case scenario happen.

Last week, we participated in OSHA 10 training provided by a safety instructor from the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Over two days at the Laconia Country Club, we learned about identifying hazards on the job, methods of preventing injury or death, and how we as professionals can ensure the safety of our teammates, and those who share our work spaces. As a result of this training, 32 crew members will soon receive their OSHA cards.

Additionally, last week Mark Cote and others from Cross Insurance in Laconia shared a presentation with our crew members on ways they can better be safe at work regarding illness, injury, allergic reactions, and winter driving. Discussion topics included safe vehicle following distances, safe speed, skid and spin recovery, and myriad other safe-driving issues.

Finally, to complement these training programs, a number of our leaders have attended Tree Care Industry Association classes on crew leadership. These classes provide excellent general leadership instruction and the classes’ focus on professionalism and training, which enables our leader to better promote and execute on our safety culture. Safety involves everyone in our company, and our leaders are especially important to set, maintain, and encourage our safety standards.

Safety is an ongoing practice here at Belknap Landscape. We’re fortunate to have the cooperation of local organizations and industry associations to help us continue our safety legacy. January 2020 has been an important safety training month for our team, and we’re proud of their efforts and accomplishments this winter and we look forward to more training throughout the year.

7 Fun Things To Do In The Lakes Region During Winter

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The Lakes Region is a wonderful place to visit or live. All of our lakes, from Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Squam, and others, beckon us throughout spring and summer with the promise of great experiences. But what about in the winter? The colder months see many of our local attractions and restaurants closed, the lakes freeze over, and the snow cover draws over the landscape. What’s a local or visitor to do? Here are some great ideas.

Gunstock

Gunstock Mountain in Gilford, NH, has long been a staple for fun in the Lakes Region. With 48 trails and incredible views of Lake Winnipesaukee, the picturesque slopes are perfect for snow sports. Gunstock offers tubing for those not inclined to ski, lessons for those who’d like to learn, and a variety of activities for all ages.

Tanger Outlets

With over 52 brand outlets, the Tanger Outlet Center in Tilton, NH, has something for every shopper. From the Gap to Bass, Polo to Old Navy, this easily accessible retail center has proven to be a destination. Newer additions like 5 Guys Burgers and Starbucks provide respite for those looking for a tasty treat during the winter chill.

Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center

Prescott Farm in Laconia, NH, is a fantastic resource for the local and tourist community to enjoy spring and summer programs like organic gardening classes or day camps for kids. But, you may be surprised to learn they are open year-round. With indoor offerings that include painting, soap-making workshops, and cooking classes, the farm is a fun and engaging place to experience in the winter. Their ever-changing list of programs and courses are sure to offer a unique opportunity for your next visit.

BarnZ’s Cinema

Hollywood makes its way to the Lakes Region at several locations, with BarnZ’s being one of our favorites. Located in Meredith NH, this cinema offers leather reclining seats, fresh popcorn, and blockbuster movies, yet it still maintains the small home-town cinema feel.

Funspot

Just outside of the Weirs is a New Hampshire staple. Billed as the Largest arcade in the world, Funspot features over 600 video games, bowling, indoor mini golf, and bingo. For the young, or those young-at-heart, Funspot cannot be missed on a trip to the Lakes Region.

Pop Whalen Ice & Arts Center

The town of Wolfeboro operates this beautiful ice rink inside the Abenaki Ski Area. While it’s home to many area teams for hockey and curling, there’s a variety of events and open skating times that are open to the public. You can also rent the arena for your private event.

The Back Room at the Mill

If you’re over in the Newfound Lake area, Bristol has a great entertainment option on Friday nights. The Back Room at the Mill restaurant hosts an open mic year-round. Treat your taste buds to the grilled cheese sandwiches voted as NH’s best while taking in a variety of local talent in one of the best small venue music spots around!

Four Seasons of Giving: 2019 A Year In Review

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This year was a milestone year for Belknap Landscape. We celebrated our 30th anniversary, took time to design and adopt new programs, and reached new levels of community support. Reflecting on the wonderful and eventful months behind us, we are grateful to celebrate the many new friends and knowledge we gained along the way. Our goals of better serving the Lakes Region and our clients were realized, and we can’t help but fondly remember some of the things we had the opportunity to do because of you—our wonderful clients and partners in central New Hampshire.

As a client, partner, or friend of Belknap Landscape, you’ve helped support many vital programs within the community. Our primary focus, as you will see, is supporting children’s programs that provide unique opportunities to learn and grow. We hope you’ll join us as we remember some of these great experiences.

Spring

In the spring, we had the pleasure of working with Winnisquam Regional Middle School in Tilton. We partnered with them to help prepare the grounds for a new hoop-house, which would allow students to receive diversified hands-on learning in agriculture. We were able to donate time, equipment use, and materials to this project in conjunction with others like Nutter Enterprises, making this project have little-to-no cost for the school.

We also continued our business sponsorship of Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center in Gilford. Through these efforts, we aided the organic gardening program, which allows members of the community the opportunity to learn and practice organic gardening techniques. Each summer, Prescott Farm hosts a day camp for area children, crafting relevant programming for them to learn about our environment, make friends, and enjoy the outdoors.

Summer

As part of our initiative to help local children experience a variety of educational opportunities, we stopped into Alton Central School to spend some time in the classrooms and to donate and install a sugar maple. We enjoyed participating with the children in this hands-on educational opportunity, as they not only helped install the tree but utilized ideas they learned in math and sciences classes in a real-world application.

Autumn

As the warm days transitioned to crisp nights, we responded to a request from the Belknap House in Laconia to assist in preparing their property to receive families in need. The property was overgrown, and we were happy to respond by donating time and resources. As one of the only family shelters in Belknap County, they are an essential asset we are glad to support.

In October, one of our favorite annual events took place. New Hampshire Construction Career Days (NHCCD) is committed to exposing high schoolers throughout New Hampshire with potential career choices in the construction industry. As a sponsor and a participant, we were proud to be among the many companies that helped thousands of young adults in NH see options for their future.

Late fall soon approached, and an opportunity to support educational opportunities for children in Gilmanton revealed itself. The school recently constructed raised garden beds to help teach children about agriculture, and needed materials to help the program launch for the spring of 2020. We responded to the request to fill the beds with compost and had a team of happily willing BLC crewmembers fill the containers within a week. We cannot wait to return in the spring and provide more support and see how the kids enjoy this chance at experiential learning.

Winter

As we close out another year, we turned our eyes to the long-supported and regional favorite—the Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction. The auction first began in 1982, not long after Belknap Landscape was formed, and has since then grown into a multi-faceted drive to directly support families throughout the area. As a team, we participated in Pubmania at Patrick’s Pub in Gilford, operated the phones at the auction in the Belknap Mall in Belmont, and, of course, received donations directly from our clients and friends.

Throughout 2019, because of you, we were fortunate to continue support causes which are stewards of the lands, lakes, and communities of central New Hampshire. These include NH Lakes, Squam Lakes Science Center, the WOW Trail, Gilford Youth Center, Lake Wentworth Watershed, Winnipesaukee Muskrats Baseball, The Boys and Girls Club, Gunstock Ski Club, Advantage Kids, and many, many more.

On behalf of all of us, thank you, and here’s to another year of giving in 2020!

Snow Shoveling Tips From The Pros

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Mother Nature always seems to have more than a few winter snowstorms for the Lakes Region. Many of our clients are fortunate enough to have our services for plowing, shoveling, and sanding, and, as a result, we’ve learned a thing or two. Take some snow shoveling tips from us this season—it might just help you stay healthy enough to hit Gunstock or ice fish on Meredith Bay!

Dress for the weather

Begin with wearing appropriate clothing. Warm clothing choices are a great start, but ensure your clothes and boots are also water repellent or waterproof. Wet clothing transfers heat from your body quicker than dry clothing, making you get cold faster.

Stretch and move

The likelihood of sustaining an injury during physical activity is reduced when you stretch and loosen up. Take the time and focus on your back, abdomen, shoulders, and legs before you pick up your shovel. Your body will thank you.

Keep your cool

We’ve covered the importance of staying dry while shoveling with water-repellent clothing. You also should be mindful of sweating. The best way to combat sweat? First, dress in layers. If you begin to feel too warm, you can remove a layer and cool off. Second, don’t over-exert yourself. Your goal is to complete your work safely. Shovel smaller loads and pace yourself.

Watch your form

Lifting is an inherent part of shoveling snow, and as a result, proper lifting technique is imperative.

  • Bend from your knees or hips, not your back.
  • Lift using your legs.
  • Avoid twisting by waiting to throw the snow after you’ve returned to a standing position.
  • Lift snow immediately in front of you—do not stretch to reach snow out or your comfortable range.
  • Keep your back in a neutral, unbent position. For most people, this is a straight back.

Take a breath

Believe it or not, we often see new shovelers stop breathing. For some, when we exert ourselves, we hold our breath. Do not do that—be mindful to keep your breathing full and at a regular rate. During winter, the air is thinner, colder, and drier, and proper breathing efforts are especially important in these conditions.

Similarly, take a “breather”. Again, your goal is to complete your work. Give yourself enough time to do the job safely, and take breaks. Allow your body moments of recovery, and your risk of injury or an adverse event will be substantially reduced.

Shovel often

Why do we remove snow several times throughout snowstorms? One important reason is to balance the workload. Simply put, shoveling a foot of snow throughout a storm three times instead of once means we only shovel four inches at a time. This makes the work significantly more manageable and reduces the chances of injury. It’s also substantially less wear on our equipment.

Use the right equipment

If you’re going to shovel snow, use a shovel designed for snow. Go to your local retailer and find a snow shovel which feels comfortable to use. Try it out by shoveling pretend snow in the store to ensure it’s an ergonomic fit for you. Keep in mind, snow can weigh 20 pounds per cubic foot, so a smaller shovel surface may be better for you.

Know when to stop

Shoveling your own snow can be an economical and rewarding choice. Still, these attributes disappear the moment you are hurt or have an adverse event. Understand your limits and be mindful of your body while you shovel. Take breaks, ask for help, and hire a professional when it’s needed.

Bonus Tip: Did you know coating your snow shovel with a light mist of cooking spray will help snow slide off readily, making snow shoveling easier? It’s true! Try it next storm and see the difference for yourself.

Must-Know Info For Your Fresh Christmas Tree

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From wreaths on lampposts to garland on staircases, looking around towns in New Hampshire, it is easy to see that there are few things as festive as a real Christmas tree. Lighting ceremonies are held in village squares for the larger trees, while homes play guest to a variety of evergreens each year. At Belknap Landscape, we proudly help our clients with holiday décor throughout the Lakes Region. From festive wreaths and trees to warm lights and colorful bows, we’ve learned a thing or two about getting the best results for your enjoyment during the holidays. Here’s our advice for making your real Christmas tree last the entire season.

 

Pick out a tree that fits your needs and appears healthy. The biggest challenge in making your tree last the longest is keeping the tree hydrated. This means you need to start off with a tree that is as hydrated as possible.

Avoid trees with clearly dehydrated areas. Look to avoid limbs that are turning brown, as well as needles that shed easily or are particularly brittle. Take the time to gently brush the limbs to see if they retain some elasticity, and the needles remain in place.

When you get the tree home, cut off about one inch from the base of the tree before you bring it inside. This fresh cut will allow the trunk to absorb water more efficiently. If you cut your tree yourself and are immediately bringing it home, this may not be necessary, but if you’re unsure how long it has been since the tree was cut—take this step.

 

Consider spraying your tree with an anti-transpirant such as Wilt Pruf. This will reduce moisture loss through the needles into the ambient air. As the most significant variable to making your real tree last the longest is hydration, this step can prove valuable. Follow the instructions on the container and allow your tree time for the product to dry before moving your tree indoors. This is also an excellent step for your fresh wreaths.

Set up your tree away from heat sources. Close sources of heat will dehydrate your tree faster, but another consideration is safety. A fresh tree is flammable, and as the season progresses and the tree dries, they become more of a fire risk. Keeping your tree away from heat sources is the best way to mitigate the fire risk.

 

After you’ve installed your tree, water it immediately with enough water to keep the base of the trunk submerged. You do not need to add anything to the water, but you must check the water regularly to ensure the base remains submerged. A fresh tree uses a surprising amount of water, with around a gallon a day usage being common in many instances. At a minimum, we suggest checking your tree’s water daily.

When it’s time, dispose of your tree responsibly. Remove all decorations, including tinsel, and follow the policies your local municipality has in place. Throwing your tree in the woods, along a road, or in a body of water is littering.  While the material is organic, it is irresponsible and detrimental to the environment.

Tree Care Info for Property Owners

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Trees add a beautiful, dynamic dimension to any outdoor space. Several things however, can affect the health and viability of your trees, and an unhealthy tree can be a hazard. It’s essential to take the time to check on your trees for safety and health. Here’s an easy guide to tree care basics. Please be aware of these symptoms before surveying your trees, and use care in approaching or standing under a problem tree.

Is your tree leaning?

Trees can grow to be quite large, and their mass must be well supported. A healthy and safe tree has a network of roots that not only gather water and nutrients but also anchors the base of the tree into the ground. A leaning tree can put stress on the anchoring abilities of its roots.

Leans can be caused by tree growth patterns, weather events, changes in soil conditions, and a variety of other factors. When checking on a leaning tree, it’s important to note the severity of the lean. The ground around the base of the tree should also be inspected. Are there cracks, swells, or disturbed areas in the ground? These could be evidence of the cause of the lean, or a problematic symptom caused by the lean.

Regardless of the cause, a leaning tree can be dangerous and is more likely to fall. Unfortunately, in many cases, depending on the severity of the lean, a leaning tree may need to be felled.

 

How does the foliage look?

Dead, thinning, or missing foliage (leaves or needles) is a clear indicator there’s a problem with a tree. It’s important to note the extent of the foliage issues. Is the entire tree experiencing this problem, or is it isolated to a branch or section?

In some cases, foliage problems are indicative of a disease or fungus problem. If caught early, diseases and fungi can undergo treatment and you may potentially save the tree. If allowed to persist, illness can render a tree unsavable, and, eventually, a safety issue, so don’t delay!

Sometimes foliage problems are caused by trauma. A rotten, dead, or dying part of a tree needs removal for a few reasons. First, these are safety hazards. As dead limbs age and decay in a tree, they are more likely to fall, causing property damage or personal injury. Second, dead or dying areas of trees are a detriment to the healthy part of the tree. A tree will continue to attempt to support dead areas with nutrients that could be utilized in good areas. Finally, these dead or dying areas on a tree can harbor pests and create avenues for threats to the overall health of the tree.

 

 

Is the trunk in good condition?

The trunk is the backbone of your tree. It is the conduit for water and nutrients to pass from the roots to the canopy. It is the structural foundation off of which grow the roots and branches, and of course, it supports the weight of the tree. Trees need healthy trunks to remain viable and safe.

Check your trunks for structural problems like voids or deep cavities. These can create problems for a tree to support the significant weight of the tree or may be indicative of other issues. Press on the trunk to see if it feels firm to the touch and not rotten. Finally, utilize a mallet to knock on the trunk and check to see if it sounds hollow. It’s not unusual for trees to experience problems causing them to have no visible structural issues outside, yet harbor significant problems inside.

Look for missing bark. While small patches of bark may be missing for a myriad of reasons, large areas of missing bark could indicate a significant health issue or trauma. A good rule of thumb is to seek help in the following instances. First, if the missing bark exceeds 25% of the tree surface. Second, if there are indications that bark is missing due to disease or pests. And, third, if the missing bark area presents additional damage such as a large gouge or rot.

Does your trunk have signs of fungi or pests? Look for mushrooms or lichens. Fine or coarse sawdust can be an indication of pest activity. Both pests and fungi will erode the health of a tree’s trunk, causing it to topple or die if left unchecked.

 

Are there cracks or splits?

With the significant weight associated with tree limbs, exposure to weather conditions, and other events, it’s not unusual for cracks or splits to occur in many areas on a tree. In particular, look where branches shoot off from the trunk, where branches have offshoots to other branches, the exposed roots, and the trunk.

Splits and cracks represent significant weak spots in a tree, as well as areas that may develop into more problematic conditions. In many cases, splits can be repaired, or portions of the tree removed to ensure the long-term viability of a tree. If these conditions are left to persist, they typically evolve into situations that can create a hazard for the tree’s health, property damage, or even personal injury.

 

Are there fallen branches and limbs around the base of the tree?

The occasional fall of a branch is normal. If a tree seems to be shedding branches regularly, or if you find larger limbs, this could indicate a problem.

Branches and limbs could fall due to a health condition causing them to weaken in the canopy and break off easier than if they were healthy. Your tree may also need pruning. Pruning a tree will enable better light and air penetration, resulting in healthier limbs, a more attractive tree, and less shedding of branches and limbs.

It’s important to note that if you have a tree that is chronically shedding limbs, it may not be safe to inspect the tree from the base. In these instances, utilizing binoculars to examine the canopy is a best practice to consider.

 

Know when to call help

Tree care can be a complex and dangerous project to undertake. In many cases, a property owner may see better results by consulting a professional. When choosing a professional to diagnose or work on your property, there are a few things to consider.

Nationally Certified Arborists have the training and expertise to care for your trees. In instances of disease, fungi, or any other challenges, this expertise cannot be substituted.

Tree pruning and felling are inherently dangerous. As a result, it is wise to ensure the professionals you welcome on your property are fully insured, trained, and have a safety program. A professional landscape or tree firm can, and will gladly provide information or documentation on these items upon request.

Finally, there’s a difference between tree-care professionals and general laborers. Tree care is a profession that requires technical education, training, and years of practice to master. As one would expect from an electrician, plumber, or any other skilled tradesperson, the differences in ability and results between a tree care professional, and general laborers are significant. While an unskilled tradesperson may claim they can perform tree work, that doesn’t mean they could or should. And without trade specific insurance, you may be liable for accidents or incidents on your property. Hire a professional for your own protection and peace of mind.

The Landscape Permitting Process

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Landscape permitting can be a complicated process. Thankfully a good landscape contractor can make this process quicker, easier, and less expensive. If you’re considering hiring a landscape contractor, have a conversation with them about permitting. Make sure you’re clear about who is responsible for permitting. Good landscapers will happily complete this process for you and provide awareness of the following aspects.

Be Patient

landscape design and permitting

Landscape permitting can be a unique, and creative process. All properties have characteristics unique to themselves, and these characteristics can cause the permit review process to take longer than expected. For example, properties on Lake Winnipesaukee, or in the Lake Wentworth watershed, may involve different local, state, and even federal permitting agencies to be involved. Meanwhile, property in downtown Laconia may require less review. Practice patience to accommodate your unique property and its features.

Be Prepared to Make Changes

Do you love the idea of a large patio on the lake? You may need to change your materials from stone to permeable pavers, or you may need to reduce the size of the patio. Are you in love with the idea of a specific flower in your garden? That flower may not be able to survive in our climate zone or native soils.

As the permit process develops, changes in the landscape plan may be required. Specific conditions on your property, including climate, soil Ph, sun exposure, and wildlife, will play a significant role in your landscape plan. A well-practiced landscape contractor will know how to navigate these challenges to help you find a solution you’ll love, and still comply with permitting rules.

landscape design

Beware of Invasive Species

The introduction of new plants into a landscape can be an eye-catching and essential aspect of your design. Unfortunately, not all plants can or should be added to your property. Invasive species plants, for example, are non-native plants that can propagate beyond your landscape, and compete with native plants. These species place strain on the environment, and once introduced, they can be a challenge to remove.

Your landscape contractor should be well-versed I invasive plants and able to offer you varied alternatives.

Find out more on invasive species.

Size Matters, Sometimes

Smaller square footage projects can move through the planning and permitting process faster, however, this is not always the case. The complexity of design and impact on the environment are significant influencers on time required for planning and permitting. For example, installing sod and a dozen trees on a nearly level two-acre property several miles inland from a water body is a fairly straightforward wetland permit application. It will likely take less time than, for example, a 300 square-foot patio that features a 20’ natural stone retaining wall, landscape lighting, and a built-in outdoor kitchen on a lakeshore. The property example on the lake requires planning for the installation of electric and gas features, and will take longer to be fully permitted for a key reason. In this instance, the Department of Environmental Services, the local town agencies, and perhaps even the Army Corps of Engineers may need to issue a permit.

waterfront landscapes in the lakes region

Consider the Environment

An educated landscape contractor will fully understand how changes to your property can affect the surrounding area. An ethical landscape contractor will work with you to create a landscape which both creates the space you desire, and also minimizes the impact that space has on the environment. Finally, an effective landscape contractor will work with you to educate you on the importance of these factors and find solutions that work.

For example, having a lush green lawn that traverses your property up to your shoreline may be your preference, but that may not be your best option. Maintaining turf can require ongoing fertilization and irrigation. These practices can create runoff, which will shuttle chemicals into the lake. These chemicals can and likely would harm the lake’s health.

Which would you rather have: a beautiful lawn or a beautiful lake? Thankfully there are laws and regulations regarding how close chemicals can be applied to the shorefront. As a result, many times, a lawn isn’t as viable a choice as other plant life right at the shore.

Permitting is a Requirement

Too often, we see property renovations in ways that are contrary to the laws and regulations of New Hampshire. Often in these cases, the homeowner is either unaware that the permitting process is required, being avoided, or, worse, they encourage this behavior to get their desired outcome.

Eventually, both of these behaviors will cause a problem. Non-permitted work, when discovered, will be required to be brought into compliance. As a result, further expense is placed upon the property owner. This, paired with any citations, can prove to become a significant financial burden. In these instances, the final result may be more expensive, less functional, and lacking in aesthetic desirability. Following the proper permitting process can help avoid this and create the best outcome for your landscape. An early compromise is better than the later forced solution.

Before You Buy, Research

Landscapes that are in permit violation, poorly constructed, or contain invasive species, become the burden of the property owner. When you are purchasing a home, do your research to ensure you will not inherit these complications.

Local municipalities can assist you to be sure all recent work on the property was correctly permitted. A home inspector can help you diagnose some potential issues. A good landscape contractor can review the property for invasive species and acceptable construction on landscape features.

Inspecting the land as well as the building before you buy is important and can save you problems and expense down the road.

 

 

 

Fall Landscaping Tips from the Pros

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The change of seasons can be a critical time to care for your landscape. Changes in temperature, lighting, and precipitation have significant effects on your outdoor spaces. Today we’ll cover some tips and reminders to get the most out of, and best protect, your investment in your landscape this fall.

Fall is the best time to seed your lawn

Lawns invariably benefit from over-seeding by replacing old, dying plant material with younger and more resilient seedlings. An over-seeded lawn typically produces a more healthy and viable turf while also discouraging the opportunity for weed growth.

In New Hampshire, fall brings cooler ambient temperatures while the soil conditions remain relatively warm. This provides an environment where new grass seeds can germinate in favorable conditions while having less competition because of a lower weed population. As a result, the seeds are more likely to mature into healthy turf.

Seasonal Fall Decor

Fall annuals and seasonal displays 

Due to the incredible variety of tree species in New England, we typically do not experience a shortage of color and beauty during the fall. As a result, we can overlook or underutilize our existing planters, gardens, and outdoor spaces. Once the leaves have fallen from the trees, our outdoor spaces can turn drab and unappealing quickly. But there are things you can do to keep your property beautiful year-round.

Seasonal décor can include frost resistant organic additions like chrysanthemums, harvest items like cornstalks and pumpkins, or decorative fixtures like holiday lighting or festive features. These items can turn an otherwise drab property into an eye-catching, vibrant space you’ll be happy to call your own. Preparation for your decor plan may be necessary. For example, your local retailers or landscapers may have more limited supplies, your homeowner’s association may have restrictions, or you may simply want to have time to view a variety of options.

Adjust your landscape lighting to coincide with daylight saving time and changes in seasonal sunlight

Landscape lighting is a great way to accentuate your property after sundown while also keeping it safe. Either a digital or mechanical timer control many of these systems, and it’s essential to alter the timer as needed for changes in seasonal sunlight or daylight savings. It’s inefficient to have your landscape lighting on when the sun is still lighting your property, or when the light isn’t necessary. Conversely, as daylight periods get shorter, the time landscape lighting should be utilized grows.

There are numerous ways to resolve these challenges. If you have a digital or mechanical timer, adjusting the timer in relation to your specific needs is a quick and economical solution. Installation and utilization of photoelectric sensors is another solution which can provide an “automatic” feature to your landscape lighting cycles. Both of these solutions can be performed by a qualified landscaper, with the latter in particular requiring specific training.

Cut back select perennials

During the fall, certain perennials see health advantages when cut back. These cut backs can help reduce exposure to potential fungus or disease in the late fall and winter seasons. Other perennials are easier and cleaner to cut back after a few frost cycles, but before the plant material dies or becomes limp and difficult to handle. In these instances, the cuts made are crisper, the results are cleaner, and the plant is better prepared for new growth in the spring.

It is important to understand that cut backs are beneficial for only select perennials. A landscape or horticulture professional is best prepared to know which plants would benefit from a fall cut back, and the best method to realize the desired benefits.

Fertilizing shrubs for an extra nutrient boost before winter and frozen ground

Most plants change their physiology based on the season. In many ways, plants like shrubs go into a state that is comparable to hibernation. Much like hibernating animals, a plant’s ability to gain nutrients before winter is vital to their survival in winter and their recovery in spring. 

Fertilizing your shrubs in the fall is important to provide them with nutrients. The soil in the fall is warm enough to absorb water and nutrients while also being able to convey the nutrients to your shrubs. This will enable your shrubs to prepare themselves better to maintain health through the winter, and give them a head start in the summer. 

Apply anti-desiccant on broadleaf evergreens

Desiccation occurs when a plant is unable to replace the water in their leaves quicker than water lost through transpiration. Winter is especially problematic regarding desiccation. This is because as the ground freezes, available water for plants is severely reduces while the ambient humidity becomes very low, and this exacerbates transpiration.

Anti-desiccants are typically best applied in temperatures between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit; this is commonly mid to late fall in New Hampshire. This time also happens to be immediately before the winter season when plants are most at risk. We’ve found rhododendrons, holly, inkberry, and boxwood receive good results from fall applications of anti-desiccants.

Deer in the fallProtect your vulnerable plant material from deer

By far, the best way to prevent damage from deer is to select plant material that is unappealing to them. Unfortunately, this may not be an option for you based on your existing plants or preferences. To further complicate matters, as fall and winter persist, deer may be forced to find nutrition from sources other than what is available to them in the spring and summer. Their resourcefulness may drive them onto your property if you have available food sources.

One way to mitigate deer damage is to restrict deer access to your property. Fence installation options may be permanent or temporary. It’s important to ensure the installed fence is both secure and high enough to deter the deer from your property. Otherwise, you may find deer become “fenced in” on your property, which creates new challenges. Another way to prevent deer-related damage is to use a repellant. There are commercially produced repellants, as well as organic items that utilize a putrid smell to deter deer.

Regardless of the solution or mixture of solutions utilized, the best plan is to complete installation of deer protection before the ground freezes and first snow arrives.

Winterize your irrigation system

While daytime temperatures during the fall can remain relatively warm, at night the chances of freezing temperatures increase. As a result, it’s important to be mindful of your irrigation system and garden spigots. Failure to remove water from these systems, typically through the use of compressed air, will likely result in damage to the system. 

In addition to costly repairs, a damaged system will refill with water as scheduled if it is not turned off. This can lead to additional property damage through erosion or environmental damage caused by excessive runoff. In the Lakes Region, we need to be mindful of runoff that can include the results of a damaged irrigation system.

Whether you do it yourself, or hire a landscape professional, the tasks you perform in the fall can have a lasting effect on your landscape for seasons to come.

 

5 Things To Know About A Career In Landscape

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So, you’re thinking about working as a landscaper, and you think you know what to expect. Maybe you do, but there’s a good chance there will be some surprises for you. Here are five things you don’t know about a career in landscaping.

There is a difference between Landscapers and Property Maintenance professionals.

This is a common misconception because in many areas these two professions overlap. Both may perform tasks like lawn mowing, plowing, and even general horticultural tasks, but to group them together is a disservice to both professions.

Landscapers specialize in the improvement of the land. This can include the installation of hardscape features like patios and walls, plant life like perennials and trees, and durable fixtures like irrigation and lighting. These tasks typically require additional knowledge, training, and equipment that a property maintenance company may not possess.

Property maintenance professionals specialize in maintaining the entire property. They may perform tasks that landscapers do not commonly oversee. This includes work such as winterization services, property monitoring, maintaining property features such as a swimming pool, and light repair work. This requires knowledge, tools, and equipment that a typical landscape company may not possess.

When choosing your career path, it’s essential to understand these distinctions so that you can move toward the profession that fits best for you.

CPR Class - Continued Learning - Landscaping

You’re never done learning.

There is a persistent belief that landscapers are more “doers” and less “thinkers.” If you’re looking for a job that will not challenge you to learn and grow, being a landscaper may not be for you.

Landscaping is a career that requires professionals. As in many professional career paths, education and growth are needed to build proficiency. It’s not uncommon for individuals and their organizations to earn professional certifications from a wide variety of development sources. In our company, we have professionals certified in general landscaping, irrigation, hardscape paver installation, dry stack wall building, and tree care, to name a few.

Landscape professionals commonly utilize math and science skills in their daily work environments. The calculation of slope ratios, square footage, volume, and estimation are regular occurrences, as are the identification of plant species, climate conditions, and the water table. When seeking this as a career, you must be comfortable using these skills both for your own career satisfaction and also in support of your clients and business.

You don’t need to “deal with people.”

Landscaping is a service. A landscaper is a person or organization providing skilled labor and services to other organizations or people. By its nature, services require dealing with clients.

While it is accurate that a landscaper’s interaction with a client may be brief or infrequent, it does occur, and excellent service skills should be provided. Landscapers should educate, inform, and interact with their clients regularly to ensure the service being provided is as expected, and fulfills the needs of the client.

Anybody can do it.

If the information mentioned prior wasn’t evidence enough against this notion, the industry facts should be. In an industry poll, 77% of landscape firms responded that their business growth was hindered by the lack of qualified hirable candidates. These companies want to grow, but struggle based on the lack of skilled help. If anyone could do it, they could hire anyone and grow.

The notion that anyone can landscape is a driving force behind the lack of qualified candidates. Some individuals who are considering a career in landscaping believe their willingness to “show up” is a qualification, and as a result, they neglect to learn what the industry views as prime qualifications.

Is it possible to begin a career in landscaping without qualifications? Yes. If you are willing to start in an entry-level position, plan on a learning curve as you gain the knowledge and trade skills to become a qualified professional. Otherwise, you may want to consider joining a horticulture, agriculture, or equipment operations educational program. Many high schools offer these programs, as do colleges and universities such as the University of Massachusetts Stockbridge, Paul Smiths College, or the University of Maine Orono. Some landscape businesses like Belknap Landscape also offer an apprenticeship program as a way to gain the skills you’ll need.

Group Safety Training - Landscape Career

There’s little opportunity or growth.

The Lakes Region Planning Commission, in a study conducted with the State of New Hampshire, predicts that landscape job opportunities will grow by 9.4% by the year 2022, with supervisory positions in landscape also increasing by 8.4%. This is more than double the area average in job growth and outpaces many high demand professions such as nurse assistants, computer programmers, and network administrators, to name a few.

Additionally, landscaping is a career which can present personal career growth opportunity. While working for a landscape company, depending on their size and long-term goals, there may be several levels of supervisory or management opportunities for an employee to achieve. As a landscape company owner, expansion and company growth may be realized. Both are dependent on the acquisition of skills and qualifications required to grow, but as in most careers, motivated difference-makers do have opportunities they could realize.

Landscaping could be a good career choice for you. To learn more, reach out to your local landscaping company and talk to their Human Resources Department. As with any career choice, the more you know and understand before you begin, the more successful and rewarding your career can be!