Environmental Insights

Capital Improvement vs. Maintenance and Repairs in the Landscape

Posted by Tim Lake on Sep 13, 2017 11:26:16 AM

Here’s a question that comes up a lot: “Will my landscape project qualify as a capital improvement?”

Whether the improvements are made to a home or business, all capital improvement projects are tax deductible. However, repair and maintenance projects are not. For larger projects especially, it’s a good idea to determine in advance whether or not a landscape project is a capital improvement.

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Topics: Commercial Landscape Maintenance

Your Commercial Landscape: Remaining Relevant in a Rapidly Changing World

Posted by Tim Lake on Aug 30, 2017 7:04:00 AM

My my, hey hey, Rock and roll is here to stay...It's better to burn out than it is to rust...  -Neil Young

Traveling about this summer, it has struck me how some formerly thriving businesses are in a death spiral, while others are vibrant and on a rocket-like trajectory toward success.

Whether retail, service, restaurant or hospitality, the common thread appears to be relevancy.  Those businesses that reinvent themselves to remain relevant in the marketplace thrive.  Those that keep plodding along as they always have, resting comfortably on what used to be, just kind of rust away into oblivion.  (The same can be said for marriages and churches, by the way.)

So, next time you sit down to do your commercial landscape budget planning,  consider taking an observant sweep of the world out there, and then taking a good look at your business.  What do your people and processes communicate?  How do your building and grounds represent your organization to the marketplace?  

Have you looked at your facility as one of your #1 marketing tools?

All you need to do is take a good look at some of the popular chain restaurants and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not hard to pick out which chains that are thriving and which ones are falling back. Take Chick-fil-A, for example. They have curb appeal, because they’ve made it a priority. They refurbish continually, and grade their people on how well they do it. And they are crushing it in sales. Of course, Chick-fil-A owes its phenomenal growth to more than just appearances, but how they present themselves is an integral part of the success mindset that has rocketed them into the big leagues of the fast food industry.

People are attracted to vibrant places and vibrant people.  

That’s what makes them feel good, which is super relevant to most people. Whether you run a restaurant, a strip mall, an apartment building, or a church, if you act like it’s dying and let it start looking tired and old, people will naturally drift away to your competitor or neighbor across the street who has refurbished their building, refreshed their landscape, replaced their signage, and trained their staff to be courteous and friendly.  

Today’s consumers are more educated than ever, and have more resources than ever to check you out. They know what the trends are. They know what they like. If you want to remain relevant, you have to keep an eye on those trends, all the way down to color schemes inside and out and the materials you use.

For instance, does your company appear environmentally responsible to today’s consumer? The younger generation coming along has a very different sense of ethics about the environment than the Baby Boomers do. They are rising in economic influence.  If we are to remain relevant and vibrant in the marketplace we should pay heed to their concerns. And that’s just one example. There are many more disrupters in the marketplace coming at a faster rate than ever before.

How can you keep your landscape relevant?

Staying relevant doesn’t have to break the bank. What it does require is an honest assessment of what you have going for you and what just doesn’t make the cut. If you still have those plasticy hollies and juniper you’re way behind the curve.

Today’s look is more naturalistic in character. Here are some of the most impactful landscape design trends to consider:

  • Low-impact landscape
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Sound design in the landscape
  • Architectural lighting
  • Hardscape and stone work

Strategic and tasteful  incorporation of these and similar elements can give your property a more modern, updated look that will instantly signal to your customers that you care about your business and about doing things right.

Are you relevant or are you rusting away?

Again, the statement you make is more important than how much you spend. It may be that  just a little pressure washing is all you need to freshen up your entire facade. Or maybe simply re-doing the bed at the sign or adding some color will make all the difference. Or perhaps you really would be ahead of the game to redo your landscape entirely.

It can be hard to look at yourself as other people see you. But we all need to do it if we want to stay relevant. If you feel you could benefit from an experienced eye to help you assess how your property stacks up in a changing world, by all means give us a call. You can reach us at 478-750-7733 or contact us here online. We’ll be glad to assist.

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Erosion Control For Construction Sites

Posted by Tim Lake on Aug 23, 2017 10:41:45 AM

Erosion control is a major concern on construction sites for a wide variety of reasons: safety, aesthetics, cost control, and environmental concerns. There are many ways to address and prevent erosion problems, many of which I addressed in detail here. But today I’d like to delve a little deeper into the concept.

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Topics: Water Management, Environmental Services

Why Large General Contractors Should Feel Confident Working With T. Lake

Posted by Tim Lake on Jul 10, 2017 5:19:00 AM

We’ll be the first to admit it: T. Lake is not the biggest guy on the block. We’re a local company with local roots and local values. We like it that way.

But, that doesn’t mean we can’t play nice with the giants.

In a recent post, we discussed 5 compelling reasons for commercial real estate developers to feel comfortable working with T.Lake. But not all developers play in the same ballpark. When you start talking the biggest of the big, you’ve got to up the ante.

Very large, national and international contracting companies have unique concerns as well as a more corporate approach to doing business that doesn’t always mesh with the way small business operates. Does T. Lake have what it takes to work successfully with them?

As a matter of fact, we do.

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Topics: Commercial Landscape Maintenance, Landscape Construction

How Much Does a Residential Landscape Renovation Cost?

Posted by Tim Lake on Jul 3, 2017 10:14:50 AM
The landscape is the first thing you see when you drive up to your home. It sets the tone for your whole experience being there. A tired-out landscape leaves you feeling just that: tired or dissatisfied. But a landscape that looks vibrant and inviting lends a positive feel to the home. When you start getting that tired feeling every time you look outside, it’s time to start considering landscape renovation .

In our area, we have a ton of homes that were built in the 1950’s—1970’s. A lot of these are still sporting tired old plants and patios from decades past; needless to say it’s just time.

In other cases, the property might be turning over to younger buyers who need a yard that suits their lifestyle. Same goes for homeowners who are approaching their golden years: they want to consider how the landscape can support their changing needs.

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Topics: Residential Landscape Design

How Green Industry Software Leads to Happy Landscaping Clients

Posted by Tim Lake on Jun 14, 2017 7:03:00 AM

Imagine this: you need some landscaping done so you find a landscaping company in your area and give them a call. They are very friendly over the phone, and agree to come out to give you a quote.

And then you never hear from them again.

Or, perhaps you get your quote, but the crew doesn’t show up when they are supposed to. Possibly the wrong materials are delivered to your jobsite, or no one seems to know who is responsible when you have a question.

Many of the problems people experience with landscape contractors have nothing to do with the landscape work itself. Dealing with a company that isn’t on track with its internal communication and organization can be every bit as annoying and frustrating having one deliver shoddy work. In fact, lack of organization is very often the underlying cause of substandard performance.

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Why Commercial Real Estate Developers Should Feel Comfortable Working With T. Lake

Posted by Tim Lake on Jun 14, 2017 6:11:00 AM

A commercial landscape should look beautiful and inviting. However its benefits go deeper than mere aesthetics. A well-designed commercial landscape also offers many benefits related to safety and security,  cost control, sustainability, compliance with government regulations, and other areas.

In the same way, a good commercial landscape provider is one whose expertise encompasses far more than simply the ability to create an aesthetically pleasing landscape. When choosing a commercial landscaper to work with, it pays to look deeper into the company in question and find out what else they’re made of.

If you are a commercial landscape developer, here are a few reasons to consider working with T.Lake:

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Topics: Commercial Landscape Maintenance, Landscape Construction

How Our Core Values Continue To Shape Our Business

Posted by Tim Lake on May 23, 2017 6:28:00 AM

I was asked recently to define T. Lake’s core values. And the best I can say is that our values are derived first and foremost from the land.

Both of my grandfathers and theirs before them and theirs before them were farmers and timbermen. They loved the land. They made a living from the land. They appreciated and valued it. It took care of them, and they took care of it. That’s the attitude I grew up with.

I consider myself part of the lineage of the first job God gave a human being, and that's to tend the garden. Humankind’s first job was to get our hands in the dirt. We’re here to be good stewards.

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Topics: Commercial Landscape Maintenance, Residential Landscape Maintenance, Environmental Services

Success by Design: Why Good Landscape Design Doesnt Just Happen

Posted by Tim Lake on May 4, 2017 10:05:00 AM

Across these twenty-six years of practicing my craft, I have spent countless hours rescuing clients from disappointing—and sometimes downright atrocious—projects created for them by someone else.  While it is gratifying to play hero and leave the client with a smile, it is also painful, considering the money such a client has already spent on work that ultimately had to be re-done. While some of these botched jobs have involved poor workmanship, all have been cases of poor design, or the lack of design at all.

It’s easy to think of design as simply the act of placing pretty things on the page or in the ground. But it goes far deeper than that. Good design is the act of creating spaces that function for their intended purpose and elevate the mood, well-being, and/or productivity of those who interact within them.  A well-designed site or landscape is carefully planned to result in the optimal well-being and safety of the user or occupant. It’s not something that happens by accident.

In design, the whole is always more important than the parts. Every feature can positively or negatively affect every other, as well as the overall impact of the site. This is why trained and competent landscape architects never simply “place” trees, shrubs, stones, statuary or any other physical elements on a site unless they truly serve a functional purpose or are essential to the creation of the space.  

In landscape design, nothing is arbitrary. In fact, there are immutable elements and principles of design that are universal to the creation of spaces and must be used with knowledge and sensitivity for optimal results. Here is a quick introduction:

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Topics: Residential Landscape Design

French Drain Vs. Trench Drain Vs. Swale

Posted by Tim Lake on Apr 27, 2017 8:33:31 AM

Water is essential to life, and vital to the progress of civilizations. It is delightful to sip on a hot summer day or to watch falling gracefully into a fountain basin. However, water becomes an insidious foe when it decides to start pouring into your basement or collecting in sodden pools on your lawn.

Drainage, therefore, is a constant concern in the landscape. There are various devices designed to direct water over and through the landscape. Sometimes the terms can get confusing, so today I’d like to clarify the difference between three of the most common water diversion mechanisms: trench drains vs. French drains vs. swales.

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Topics: Water Management