The Latest at Focal Pointe
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Planning for a Successful 2022
It’s that time of year when corporate executives and facility managers are pulling together budgets for next year. This includes grounds maintenance and landscape improvement services for their property. Here are some steps that managers of facility grounds or landscape services should take to ensure a successful landscape season that showcases their facility for their employees, customers, and guests:
Review your outside landscaping and grounds. Physically walk the property with your current landscape maintenance contract in hand. Are your expectations being met? Do the grounds reflect your company’s style and the image you want for your …
Highlights on Fall Planting
Why do we plant in the fall? Back in the days before nursery plant production converted to container production, all tree planting took place in the fall. This is because trees were bare rooted out of the ground, had their roots pruned, and were mudded back into their new home. Things have come a long way since then, but fall is still the best time to plant most species of plants.
The exception to this rule of thumb is broadleaved evergreens, such as hollies and boxwoods. These plants are much more susceptible to winter desiccation from …
‘Tis the Season to Aerate!
By summer’s end, your turf has been driven on, played on, and walked on for the last five months of the primary growing season. It is exhausted. It’s time to open it up and let it breathe – time to aerate!
Aeration of turf/soil is an important practice. It aids in creating the proper growing conditions for your turfgrass system. It’s all about the roots!
During core aeration, plugs of grass and soil are removed by the aerator. The plugs will break down over time and the holes will fill back in. But prior to the holes …
Low-Budget High-Value Landscape Enhancements
Enhancing landscapes adds to both the value and our enjoyment of commercial and residential properties. And, while it seems there is always more that can be done, the funds to do so are sometimes short. To help bridge the desire to improve landscapes with budget constraints, we have put together a few cost-saving ideas for property enhancement that owners and managers can use to make wise investments in their property.
Utilize what you have – Late winter into spring is a great time to …
Consider the Cycle of Summer Annuals as Winter Wears On
Annual planting beds provide the explosion of color that can make the difference between an adequate landscape and a truly exceptional display of nature. But you may ask, why we would post an article on Summer annuals in the dead of winter? At Focal Pointe it is a year-round project to enhance our clients’ properties with the most dramatic impact from annual planting beds. For example, we’ve just completed the ordering process for most of the summer annuals that we’ll plant this spring. Ordering is just one phase of a continuous annual cycle.
Ordering – Focal …
Let It Snow Rodeo!
Focal Pointe is Snow Removal Ready and Prepared to Plow
According to weather.com, the average date for the first snowfall in St. Louis isn’t until December 3rd, but we’ve seen snow as early as October 22nd. Focal Pointe’s team and equipment are ready. Last week, Focal Pointe held its annual “Snow Rodeo.” A day when snow removal teams get a refresher on policies and procedures. Our teams rotate through five classroom and hands-on training sessions. They receive specific instruction on the safe and efficient operation of Focal Pointe’s extensive collection of snow removal equipment. Classroom topics …
A Purpose for Every Pumpkin in the Patch
The pumpkin is one of the most visible signs of Fall’s arrival, making it an ideal element in fall landscape décor. Harvested in October when they reach their brightest orange, pumpkins have been grown in North America for over five thousand years.
Jack-O-Lanterns originating with an Irish folktale Jack of the lantern, were originally carved from turnips and potatoes. When Irish immigrants discovered pumpkins in America a lasting Halloween tradition was born. Over the years crude carvings of creepy countenance have given way to elaborate designs featuring portraits and pets.
Decorating with pumpkins does not necessarily require …
Cool Color for Fall Landscapes
We are fortunate to live in the Midwest where we experience four distinct climatic seasons. In a 2005 survey Gallup Poll found that Fall ranks only behind Spring as American’s favorite season. It is perhaps because these more moderate seasons provide relief from the sometimes harsh extremes of summer and winter. Those who love the outdoors also enjoy times of transition in our landscapes. As shorter days and cooler temperatures take their toll on our spring planting, now is the time to rejuvenate our landscape and outdoor spaces with cool-season varieties for fall.
Some ideas of …
Prime Time for Cool-Season Turf
As the cooler evenings of Fall arrive, we can sometimes be tricked into believing that the need to focus on landscaping ends with the long warm days of summer. Spring is often thought of as the beginning of the growing season. However, the cool-turfgrass season begins in early September. What we do during the Fall actually has a greater impact on our lawns next year, than what we do in the Spring. Fall provides an important opportunity to rejuvenate turf, after hot and often dry summer months that are the most stressful for fescue, bluegrass, …
Focal Pointe Celebrates Smart Irrigation Month
Focal Pointe Outdoor Solutions is celebrating Smart Irrigation Month by helping customers save water, save money, and see better results.
Smart Irrigation Month is an initiative of the Irrigation Association, a non-profit industry organization dedicated to promoting efficient irrigation. Each July (traditionally the month of peak outdoor water use), this public awareness campaign highlights simple practices and innovative technologies to:
Make maintaining green spaces easy and convenient.
Minimize overwatering while keeping lawns, gardens, and landscapes beautiful and healthy.
Save money on utility bills.
Help protect community water supplies for today and the future.
Property owners and managers often overwater, unintentionally wasting …
Midwest Dollar Spot
Summer 2020 is finally in full swing after an unusually cool and wet spring. The summer heat and humidity are great for warm-season grasses, but the season also can prove challenging for cool-season turfgrasses, which most of us have in our yards.
Many fungal diseases thrive in wet, humid conditions, and we have had an abundance of these conditions this spring. May was extremely wet and cool, and we went directly into the heat and humidity of summer without giving the turf much time to harden off. Our Plant Health Care Technicians have recently spotted some areas …
Spring Mulching Tips
Spring is a time for renewal, and our gardens and planting beds are no exception. When used correctly, mulch can benefit your landscape, both in terms of plant health and aesthetics. If you are planning to add mulch to your landscape this spring, here are some tips.
A layer of mulch can help suppress weeds, retain moisture, and prevent erosion in your planting beds. But when it comes to mulch, less is more. When added year after year, too much mulch can inhibit plant growth by creating an impenetrable layer that doesn’t decompose.
What kinds of …
Not Our First Rodeo: A Look Inside ‘Snow Rodeo 2019’
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, our region can expect below-normal temperatures this winter with above-normal snowfall. No matter how much snow and ice Old Man Winter sends our way, Focal Pointe crews are prepared.
We recently held our annual Snow Rodeo, where all production members of our snow team participated in the following training sessions and demonstrations:
Shop Talk: This training covered how to conduct pre-event equipment inspections, proper installation of plows and spreaders, and best practices for post-event equipment cleaning.
Snow Preparation & Hand Crews: Employees reviewed appropriate snow event clothing, as well as bringing extra clothing and …
Fall Turf Rejuvenation
As we near the end of August, many areas are seeing the effects of summer weather conditions on the appearance of turf. After nearly three decades in the industry, a couple of things come to mind:
There will always be an ebb and flow of environmental conditions that have a range of positive and negative impacts on the appearance of turf.
The issues that are prevalent this year will most likely not be an issue next year for reasons noted above.
This summer, a variety of diseases have plagued our turf causing a “crater effect” …
Water Conservation Goes High-Tech
2019 has brought us a longer rain season than we have seen in recent memory. With an abundance of wet weather, the thought of irrigation is often pushed to the back burner; however, that is exactly when we should be thinking about our irrigation systems.
Excess rain encourages a wave of plant diseases, and the problem is only compounded when irrigation systems are overwatering. The good news is that irrigation technologies are available to help us make these systems more efficient. From basic rain sensors to full-blown weather data information, the irrigation industry has made great strides in …
Midwest Dollar Spot
Though it sounds like a fun place to shop, Dollar Spot is nothing of the sort. It’s actually a common fungal turfgrass disease that appears as small silver dollar-shaped circles and can spread throughout a lawn.
As with any fungus, when the conditions are right, symptoms can appear. The conditions that fuel Dollar Spot’s spread are high temperatures combined with high humidity and extended moisture.
In St. Louis, our spring and early summer weather has created the perfect environment for Dollar Spot. We’ve experienced extended periods of rain, …
A Rainy Spring
What does all this rain mean for your lawn?
If it’s true that April showers bring May flowers, is it possible for there be too much of a good thing? Clearly, the families and businesses impacted by flooding believe so, and so does your lawn.
The media is drawing comparisons between this year and the great flood of 1993, but in terms of local precipitation, this year reminds me more of 1995. The flooding of 1993 had a lot to do with the amount of precipitation our neighbors to our north experienced, but I recall locally heavier …
3 Tips for a Successful Hardscape Installation
Outdoor hardscapes can be a valuable addition to your home or property. According to Inman.com, an updated landscape/hardscape can increase the value of your home by as much as 15%. These updates often involve making a sizable investment in your property, so it’s important to choose the right landscape contractor.
When choosing a landscape company to do your hardscape work there are a few things to keep in mind. How many years of experience do the installers have? What type of product is best for my property? Is the base under the pavers important? Let’s look …
Did You Know? Tips for Spring Fertilization and Mowing
Now that spring has arrived, temperatures are starting to rise. Although this year hasn’t been a typical spring, the time is still right to apply your first round of turf fertilizer with crabgrass pre-emergent.
Spring is the best time to apply a pre-emergent to your lawn for the control of the dreaded crabgrass that can show up in your lawn in mid-summer. The pre-emergent with fertilizer does two things: first, the fertilizer helps feed your lawn as it comes out of a winter sleep. This fertilizer treatment thickens the grass, allowing it to shade the soil …
Oh, Deer!: Choosing Deer-Resistant Plantings for Your Spring Garden
Although deer are beautiful creatures, most of us would prefer they dine somewhere other than our gardens. Many St. Louis neighborhoods are seeing increases in deer populations, much to the dismay of home gardeners and property owners. There’s nothing worse than watching your early plants emerge in the springtime only to be eaten to the ground. Some of deer’s favorite garden snacks include hostas, tulips, pansies, and rose buds.
While it’s true that if food is scarce enough, deer will eat almost anything, there are a number of plant varieties that they don’t care for. By …
Tips from the Field: Rejuvenation Pruning
When a bush, shrub, or tree becomes unwieldy and overgrown, it’s not always necessary to remove the entire plant and replace it. Rejuvenation pruning is a cost-effective way to renew an overgrown landscape without the cost of plant replacement.
The objective of rejuvenation pruning is to remove the older growth, leaving behind a younger and more vigorous plant. When this is done properly at the right time of year, the tree or shrub will often experience new, healthier, and more manageable growth that same season.
The best time to perform rejuvenation pruning is in early spring before …
Selecting Plant Material for Your Landscape
Though it’s winter now, here at Focal Pointe we’re thinking about spring and are already designing new landscapes. There are several factors I always consider when working with a client to plan their landscape. Selecting plant material is one of the most important factors. It’s my job to select plants that are attractive to my client, complement their home, and are well-suited for their new environment. Below are a few tips on selecting plant material for your landscape:
The first thing to think about is how much maintenance you are willing to do. All plant material …
Tips from the Field: Tree and Shrub Fertilizing
The health and appearance of trees and shrubs can greatly benefit from fertilizing, which supplies nutrients that may not be readily available from normal soil conditions. Tree fertilizer applications may reduce (but cannot eliminate) environmental stresses such as low water availability, soil conditions, and competition with turf and other plant material.
Trees and shrubs have their greatest need for fertilizer and nutrients in the spring, so the best time to fertilize is anytime after leaf drop but before they leaf out in the spring. The nutrients are stored in the roots and become immediately available …
Landscape Planning: 6 Things Property Managers Can Do to Prepare for Next Season
What steps does a property manager need to take to be prepared for the next grounds maintenance season? Here are 6 things you can do at year’s end to help your property look its best next year:
Budget for Next Year. Create a grounds maintenance budget for the year, along with a dollar amount planned for enhancement (additional landscape) work for the season.
Perform a Physical Review of the Property. Recall any landscape maintenance issues that may have occurred during the past season. What worked? What didn’t? Were there any distinct pain points that you or your …
Creating Winter Interest Containers
While the rest of the landscape goes dormant during the winter months, your planting containers can still be full of color and life. Filling them with winter interest plantings is a great way to keep your property looking beautiful.
Using a combination of cut evergreens, winter berries, pine cones, gilded branches, holiday ornaments, and other winter items, containers that usually display annuals can be vibrant and attractive. Beautiful winter arrangements are not just for the holidays – the right materials can accent your landscaping from late fall through late winter.
A mix of materials makes for a …
Irrigation System Winterization
“Nothing burns like the cold.” – George R. R. Martin, Game of Thrones
With the cold temperatures of winter quickly approaching, it’s time to winterize your irrigation system. Winterizing removes any remaining water from the system to minimize the risk of freeze damage to pipes, valves, and fittings.
Focal Pointe begins winterizing irrigation systems in mid-October, completing all shutdowns by mid-November. In our area (Illinois and Missouri), that is the optimal timing to complete the work prior to the arrival of freezing temperatures.
Focal Pointe uses the blowout method to winterize systems for both commercial and residential properties. …
Top 4 Things Property Managers & Owners Should Look for in a Landscape Maintenance Company
Property managers and owners have many choices when it comes to finding a landscape maintenance provider. How do you find the best fit for you and your property? Here are four of the top things to look for:
1 – Quality Work With Attention to Detail
Landscape maintenance consists of many services: mowing, pruning, fertilization, mulching, and bed maintenance, to name a few. The best landcare companies pay close attention to the details of a property. In addition to providing crisp bed edging, clean beds, and vibrant annual flowers, they notice and care for the small details, …
Top 5 Things Commercial Property Managers Should Look for in a Snow Provider
Though it’s still warm outside and the kids have just gone back to school, it’s time to start thinking about snow and ice! Late summer/early fall is the ideal time for commercial property managers to procure snow management services for the upcoming winter season. Here are some top things to consider as you look for a provider:
1 – Experienced & Available
Availability is paramount. Snow and ice can be unpredictable – you need a company that offers early and late hours as well as 24/7 emergency response.
It’s also important to know that your property will be …