Get Your Landscaped Beds and Mulch Ready

  • By Phil Grande
  • 24 Apr, 2014

How can you keep up a maintained look without spending all Spring and Summer pulling weeds?

landscaping bed products
Ok, so your yard has been cleaned up, the grass is finally growing, and now you are looking at some stale old mulch in the landscaped beds around your property. What should you do? Add more mulch, clean out the old stuff? How can you keep up a maintained look without spending all Spring and Summer pulling weeds? Hopefully with some planning and a little bit of work now, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

A good approach to maintaining your landscaped beds includes cleaning them up, fertilizing the plants, and managing weeds. Soundview can help with all of this. We suggest starting with an edging spade to clean up your beds.
bagged mulch
Then, make sure all of the old mulch isn’t piled up too high on the plants. Mulch will do more damage than good if you cover too much of any plant or tree. We have a variety of bagged mulch products for your projects.  Of course, we always advise against making the mulch volcano.

After you’ve edged the beds and scraped out any old mulch, make sure to compost the waste or bring it to us for recycling . Now that the soil is cleaned up, evaluate your plant material. Clean out any winter damage, make sure the soil isn’t compacted and lightly fertilize everything. We recommend using a slow release organic fertilizer, like   Dry Roots , Holly Tone, or a new line of products we are carrying called   Sanctuary .
These products don’t burn, are easy to apply and often can be used on a variety of different types of plants with good results.
By Phil Grande 01 Jul, 2014

As it turns out, we’ve had quite a long Spring.  Independence day is just around the corner, and the warm weather seems to be holding on.  I seem to remember that last year, we ran the air conditioner starting in May, then continued through the summer.  If the hot weather starts to bother you, just remember back to the winter and how the cold and wet gripped us right through March.  I’m resolved to hold off on any warm weather complaining until the end of July, at least.

At this point in the season, Soundview has a few Lawn care recommendations which can be followed in order stay on track with your efforts thus far.  Our 21-0-4 Lawn Fertilizer with Mallet  will provide you with a slow release feeding as well as insurance against grubs later in the season.  The japanese beetles are going to be in flight soon, laying eggs for the next lifecycle of their grub.  Bear in mind that the beetles find lush, irrigated turf to lay their eggs.  Our fertilizer with Mallet, applied now and watered in, provides the best protection against grub damage when the eggs hatch in late August or September.  The active ingredient is similar to Merit Insecticide which has been the proven grub preventative for many years now.

Are other problems starting to show up on your lawn?  This time of year, insects or fungus can also plague an otherwise healthy turf.  We offer a variety of Insecticide  or Fungicide  solutions to help manage any problems which may arise.

Lastly, as the weather remains dry, watering will become a vital part of any turf management strategy.  If you have automatic irrigation, check to see that your heads are making adequate coverage of lawn areas, and that no leaks are occurring while you are asleep.  Set your timer for enough duration to soak the lawn through any thatch and into the soil without excess runoff to the driveway or street.  If you irrigate manually, remember that deep, infrequent watering is better than a little bit every day.  This means that a good drench every few days that allows the water to penetrate deep into the root zone will be more helpful than a little mist twice a day.  The deeper the water goes, the deeper the roots will follow, and your lawn will stay healthy and green for a longer period of time during any dry conditions.

As you enjoy picnics, the beach, pools or just some time off, reflect on the efforts and dedication of our patriotic ancestors who gave their all for our continued freedom and liberty.  God Bless America!

By Phil Grande 29 May, 2014

This year, we’ve already experienced some changes in business at Soundview Landscape Supply. Increasingly, we see homeowners acting as general contractors on their projects. Acting as a contractor would mean that the individual knows what to expect when it comes to running a project. All too often, problems arise when the homeowner/general contractor doesn’t have experience managing the process. More specifically, a lack of experience can lead to unreasonable expectations in ordering materials, finding and scheduling qualified installers, and coordinating the process from beginning to end.

Today, I think it would be helpful to cover a few of the major issues we observe from a sales point of view. It may help you with a project if you are a homeowner, or it may help a contractor to understand the customer’s point of view.

Preparation & Planning

In speaking with my friend Prisco, who owns an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation Air Conditioning) supply company, he indicated that the HVAC industry is experiencing the very same phenomenon as our Green Industry. Lots of folks want to work and call themselves contractors, but more and more of the end use customers are making selections on products and services directly with the wholesalers. During our conversation, Prisco indicated that when non tradespeople contact his company, he is careful to point out that the heating and cooling products are not always the most critical part of a job. Instead, he stresses, working with the right contractor will help offer a good outcome for your project. It is important to work with a company who will not only show up to work, but one which ensures that responsible, qualified professionals will be working with the products chosen by the consumer.

If you are the customer, do your best to set reasonable, attainable goals. Layout your plans and be able to communicate clearly with your contractor. On the contractor side of the equation, ask customers about their goals and expectations. Don’t just assume that they ‘want the job done’. Everybody wants the job done, most people want it done correctly, once!

Scope of the Project

Before beginning any landscape project, it is important to determine the scope of work. Responsible contractors can identify what needs to be done as well as other important factors. What kind of extra work or charges might occur? What are the limitations of the products chosen by the customer? When will the job be considered complete by both the customer and the contractor? These are all items which need to be nailed down at the onset of even a small project. At Soundview, we can help in all of these cases. We can explain the products we sell. We know the limitations of the block used for  patios and hardscapes . We can help you calculate what materials might be needed for a particular pattern or style walkway you might choose. We know what types of plants work in certain conditions, but often times we don’t know what those real world conditions are. We are happy to help customers and contractors answer questions before a project starts. What is difficult from the suppliers’ point of view is a review of conditions at your particular project. Can our delivery trucks and equipment get in and out of the site or will a temporary road be needed? Are there physical limitations on the site like septic systems, buried utilities, overhead wires, etc. Who is responsible for knowing all of these variables? Well, if the homeowner is acting as a general contractor, that responsibility falls on them. If the contractor owns the entire scope of work, this should be specified in the written agreement.

Contractor Qualifications

Many contractors have industry specific licenses and registrations. By and large, landscaping is not regulated by these same rules. In Connecticut, landscape contractors need to have a Home Improvement Contractor’s registration with the Department of Consumer Protection. This is merely a registration that gets paid for annually. It doesn’t really prove any skills or competency, but it is a starting point, and registered companies are required to provide contracts with terms that meet State standards including a timeline for starting and completion. If a landscape company applies  lawn care  products the Company, Supervisors and Operators all need to be licensed with the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Here is a list of common requirements in Connecticut that most contractors ought to meet:

  • Secretary of State – Business Registration – Annual
  • CT Department of Revenue Services – Multiple Tax Registrations
  • Business Entity Taxes need to be paid
  • Sales Tax needs to be collected for landscaping work and remitted to DRS.
  • Companies with employees need to register and withhold payroll taxes.
  • Companies or Individuals may be subject to income tax requirements
  • United States Treasury – IRS – Multiple Tax Registrations
  • Company Tax Returns must be filed annually
  • Companies with employees need to register and withhold payroll taxes
  • Insurance – Proof of Insurance is generally easy to obtain, for general liability as well as Worker’s Compensation. Workers should not be allowed to perform jobs on your property without it. Ask your homeowner’s insurance carrier what contractors should have for a policy to protect you and your home.
  • CT Department of Labor – If a contractor shows up with more than just himself, the company needs to be registered with the DOL in order to comply with Unemployment compensation regulations.
  • CT Department of Motor Vehicles – Trucks and Trailers require commercial registrations and may even require Commercial Drivers Licenses.

Before you embark upon a project, verify that your contractor has at least the relevant items from this checklist. If the price sounds low, the contractor probably isn’t complying with these basic requirements. Do you really want someone in that position working at your home or business just to save a few bucks?

Payment and Terms

When dealing with a contractor, or acting as a general contractor don’t be afraid to spell out the business terms. How and when will payment be made? Is the job large enough to justify progress payments or is a deposit and payment upon completion enough? What benchmarks determine how much progress has been made? Is there a Warranty or money held as a retainer for a certain period of time? These items need to be sorted out ahead of time, not at the tail end when the contractor is ready to move to the next customer. You’ll notice I mentioned warranty in the payment terms. This is often a question we are asked when selling products. Are your plants guaranteed for a year? Soundview is a re-wholesale nursery, which means we sell primarily to the trade. You don’t have to be a contractor to make purchases, but it is important for you to understand that plant sales are ‘as-is’, no warranty. From our point of view, warranties are the responsibility of the contractor and homeowner. Our plants come from farms, not factories. There is no recourse on our end of the sale in order for us to make claims after the material leaves our yard. Factors like soil conditions, planting technique, watering, etc. all contribute to the success of a planting, and they are out of our control. We recommend to contractors that 30% of the planted cost of an item be added for a warranty if they accept any responsibility. I think that would be prudent for you to plan for as well. It doesn’t mean you’ll use the funds, but you might as well bank it, like insurance, and in a case of damage or loss, you’ll be covered.

I hope some of this insight proves helpful as you consider hiring a contractor, or even if you operate as a contractor. There are so many fly by night operations these days that sometimes my associates and I think that the underground economy has superseded the actual economy. Don’t fall for the perils that we’ve outlined here.

By Phil Grande 08 May, 2014

The grass is growing, plants and trees are starting to bloom, and the pollen count is rising. Spring is in the air! By this point in the season, you’ve hopefully had a chance to finish any spring cleanup and determine what your planting needs are for the season.

After a harsh winter, many plants will show signs of stress. Sometimes simply piled up snow crushes delicate plants. Other times plants get damaged because of harsh, ice cold, drying winter winds. In either case, you may wish to consider plant replacement. This time of year offers a wide selection of plants in our nursery. Since the material is all in containers or balled and burlapped, it can be picked up and planted any time now.

The Chamaecyparis on the right suffered winter damage. It was probably the wind and cold temps that dried it out. The example on the left is from our new stock nursery plants ready to go for your projects.

Time To Rejuvenate

Our Shrub collection offers something for every need, whether you want to plant a hedge, screen between properties, or just add some color to freshen up the landscape.

In early Spring, we enjoy the early bloomers, like Forsythia, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Viburnums and more. A selection of Perennials have started to arrive as well in case you want to add some color or texture to an area. As we get closer to the summer, we expect to have fresh items arriving with later blooms. The next show of plants will be Ornamental grasses, Lilacs, Roses, and a wide selection of Hydrangeas. As our suppliers finish off new stock, we’ll be sure to make it available to you.

Azaleas are always a great show in the early Spring. A welcome sight after a harsh winter.

By Phil Grande 24 Apr, 2014
Ok, so your yard has been cleaned up, the grass is finally growing, and now you are looking at some stale old mulch in the landscaped beds around your property. What should you do? Add more mulch, clean out the old stuff? How can you keep up a maintained look without spending all Spring and Summer pulling weeds? Hopefully with some planning and a little bit of work now, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

A good approach to maintaining your landscaped beds includes cleaning them up, fertilizing the plants, and managing weeds. Soundview can help with all of this. We suggest starting with an edging spade to clean up your beds.
By Phil Grande 16 Apr, 2014

Finally some warm weather has come our way! The forsythia blooms are just about ready to open, and that is usually an indicator that soil temperatures are going to be on the rise. “What does this mean?”, you might ask. Well, it means that grass is going to be greener soon. As the grass greens up, crabgrass seeds from last year start to fill in the bare spots around your yard. It is time to think about a strategy for the upcoming year.

Soundview’s options for Step 1, fertilizer with Crabgrass pre-emergent include higher or lower Nitrogen fertilizer with Evade (aka Barricade) pre-emergent.

You can also choose between a higher and lower rate of the Evade. Lower Nitrogen means less top growth, and maybe a little less mowing. Less Evade means you can split your step 1 applications over 6 weeks for longer control. The higher rate of Evade can be used if you would like to make only 1 initial treatment of the lawn and perhaps don’t expect crabgrass to be a big problem. We also offer some products with Dimension Crabgrass pre-emergent. Tell us your lawn story and we’ll make a recommendation just for you.

If you want to have a greener, more lush lawn, but don’t want to use an combination products or pesticides, ask us about a straight fertilizer programs to suit your needs. We stock several formulations of fertilizer which can make even a low maintenance lawn look great. We can tailor a plan just for you.

Lastly, if you haven’t spread lime in a while, these next few weeks are a perfect time to spread some pelletized lime. We always recommend getting a   soil test   first to determine how much lime you need. Usually if you need some lime, you’ll need 1 50 pound bag for every 1000 square feet! That means 20 bags on ½ acre of lawn.

By Phil Grande 07 Apr, 2014

We are all looking forward to a bright and sunny Spring, Especially after such a long, cold winter. Cabin Fever doesn’t begin to describe how some of us feel about getting outside and back to work. I’ll take cool breeze as long as there is some sunshine coming down.

When the winters are as cold and frozen as we’ve seen recently, Spring cleanup work is inevitable. Thankfully, last Fall through the Winter didn’t bring any superstorms, excessive ice on branches or crazy wind. So the type of cleanup is a little different, finally, and we aren’t faced with enormous trees scattered about or stumps popping out of huge craters in the ground. Lawns and landscaped beds are a little stale and some yards just need to be refreshed. The easiest way to plan for the upcoming season is to assess each area and plan your approach.

Take a look at some of the equipment we employed to shear and grind those big stumps and logs from last year into  Outback Mulch  for this year.

Soundview is ready to accept your yard waste material as long as it is clean wood, brush, stumps or leaves.  Material needs to be separated so we can process it correctly, so don’t mix rocks and soil with leaves and brush please.  Our convenient, State of CT DEEP permitted recycling facility will allow you to recycle material and leave with a load of some fresh mulch or plants to get your next project started.

The Soundview one-stop shopping experience provides everything you need for small or large projects. If you have a really big job, or don’t have a dump truck,  perhaps we can provide a container  and trucking for your recycling needs.  We offer roll-off style containers from 8-30 yards in size to load at your convenience.  Need some soil or mulch?  We can usually deliver something when we provide the empty container.

Really, it’s ok if you don’t have a dump truck.  We can bring a container to you!

By Phil Grande 21 Mar, 2014

After what has been a particularly cold and stormy winter, we are finally closing in on Spring. With the Daylight Savings Time change in our rear view mirror, temperatures are bound to rise and with that comes the volume of work that hits us each Spring. Before the barrage, take some time to do a little spring cleaning of your own.

I started last month by emptying out my entire office. The cold, dark and snowy winter was less than inspiring. I figured that some new surroundings would help change my mood. Only when you start on a project like this do you realize how long you have lived with something. Not to say I had any big issues, but 15 years of the same layout, same furniture and same decor were really getting stale. I decided to take a fresh approach and designed an industrial garage inspired office. I’ll be moved back in soon, and I can’t wait. Come and check it out if you want some inspiration.

What I realized during the office renovation process was that mostly everything we do could use a little revitalization every now and then. I’m not suggesting anything radical here, but how many times do you go to look for something only to find a whole bunch of other things you don’t even remember owning! If you haven’t used it for a while, maybe it is time to toss it or recycle it. Just the experience of a new fresh coat of paint in the office, around the counter and on our racks makes the place feel like new. It even smells better and looks brighter. We took this attitude around the shop and will continue into the nursery this Spring.

With this Spring attitude in mind, we were able to place our orders for material based on some new ideas and inspiration. Look for more branded plants as well as an increased number of containerized trees.

We expect these types of products to trend positively this Spring and are prepared to hit the ground running over the next few weeks. Maybe your office or shop could use some Spring Cleaning too.

How about your customers? Are they ready for a new landscape or enhancements to their property. Take advantage of some Spring Fever to get your season off to a strong start.

By Phil Grande 04 Dec, 2013
Soundview has switched gears into winter mode as we approach December and the thermometer dips. We are fully stocked with all kinds of options for your winter work.

One of the most common questions we respond to during the winter is: “which product or combination of products should I use?”. The answer depends upon a few different variables which we’ll discuss here.

What are your goals? Do you expect an ice control product to prevent ice or snow build up, or are you trying to melt ice which has already formed? In many cases, we’ve seen a shift over the past few years to pre-treatment. Frequently, near the shore, ground temperatures and air temperatures often combine to provide for a frozen slush mess. With temperatures in the upper twenties, even a basic application of straight rock salt before an event will provide for a decent level of control, especially on asphalt surfaces like driveways or parking areas. Pre-treatment helps stop the snow and ice from bonding to the pavement, making cleanup easier and more thorough. Are colder temperatures expected? If so, use a treated salt product like the Blizzard Wizard or Rock Salt treated with Ice Ban (Bulk Product). Do you have hills or slopes to be concerned with? This is when you might want to consider some sand for traction assistance.

Application Tip – Who gets to decide when and if applications are made to a property? Who owns that liability? Work out the answers to these questions before the winter and you’ll have fewer surprises or anxious nights.

What are your environmental conditions? What are you or your customer asking for? Sometimes, basic Rock salt just won’t do the job. Some of the treated products or higher end salts like Magnesium or Calcium Chloride are specified for longer control with less environmental impact. These higher end products often provide control for a wider range of lower temperatures. This is important because of re-freezing conditions. Once the ice is melted, usually during the day, the runoff will find every little crack and crevice in your sidewalk or pavement. Once the night time temperatures dip down, the water will turn back into ice unless the better products are in place to prevent the re-freeze. In concrete, when the icy water flows into cracks and pores then re-freezes and expands the concrete cracks and deteriorates. This is called spalling. You and your customer may need to pay a little more for some better control, but the long term unseen benefits will be immeasurable.

Application Tip – Bagged Calcium and Magnesium are pelletized products which flow easily through push spreaders for sidewalk applications.

Consider the site. What are your application methods? Are you spreading a small amount of product on some walkways and sensitive areas or are you trying to cover 2 acres of parking lot surface in the most efficient way possible. The answers to these questions will help determine which product(s) you’ll need to stock up on. Straight Bulk Rock Salt has become the most popular choice, surpassing Sand and Salt mixtures as the choice for truck mounted spreaders. Treated Rock Salt is an improved alternative which provides longer coverage to a lower re-freeze temperature. Sand and Salt mix is still the choice for budget conscience customers or folk who want to be sure the customer can see the application as it is tracked around their site.

Application Tip – Remember to close your hopper or spreader opening when applying premium products. In most cases less product is required over the same are in order to do a better job!

Ice Melt  guide and summary:

Sand Salt mixture  is a budget conscience choice.  It is effective for temperatures in the high 20s up to freezing, provides some level of traction control, leaves a messy residue which is visible to customers.

Straight Rock Salt
 is a good economical choice.  It is effective for temperatures in the lower 20s and is a popular option for commercial contractors.  Useful as pre-treatment for asphalt, no Spring Cleanup or sand accumulation, available in bulk by the yard, or truck load.  Also available in 50# bags or by the Pallet.
By Phil Grande 15 Nov, 2013

Summer went by way too quickly! I feel like it was just yesterday we were baking in the sweltering heat, begging for cooler temps. Well we have them now! When I look out into the yard here at Soundview Landscape Supply, I have slightly mixed emotions… Although I’m a little sad that summer is over, I love the nip in the air and the beautiful colors on the trees. I even look forward to the freezing cold and snow (crazy, I know). Winter can be a time of rest, it’s when we would rather stay inside our homes where it is warm and cozy. It does get a little boring though and just when we think we can’t handle another day of cold, Spring arrives! While Winter has a few benefits for us, it’s necessary for plants in our climate to be cold and rest over the Winter. They just need a little help from us to prepare them properly.

Here at Soundview, we need to take very careful steps over the winter to protect our nursery stock. There are also a few simple steps that you can do for your own garden or a customers garden to prepare for its winter rest. All of these measure are fairly basic, but very beneficial.  If you take these simple steps, you will be happy you did when Spring gets here.

Although leaf cleanups can be a tiring and tedious process, they are necessary not only because it’s aesthetically pleasing to your landscape, but also because it is healthier. Leaves can hold fungus which may damage your lawn or gardens. So make cleaning the leaves a priority and if you can, make it fun! You’re never too old to jump in a pile of leaves!
After you have raked up the leaves and the lawn is clear, apply a  winter fertilizer and lime  your yard so it has nutrients readily available in the spring.

After you have taken care of the leaves, tend to the gardens. If you have perennial plants most will need to be cut back. But be careful because there are some that have special requirements, such as Heuchera, which can be pruned in the Spring. You can rip out the dead annual plants and the weeds in the garden as well. It’s also a good time of year to take care of bulbs. Some bulbs will need to be removed and properly stored over the winter, such as gladiolus. Other types of bulbs can be planted for spring blooms like daffodils (my fave), hyacinths (another fave) and tulips (ok, who am I kidding? They are all my favorites!). It’s great to be able to look forward to the bright and cheerful flowers they will be in the spring!

It is not recommended to fertilize your plants at this time. Ideally, you should avoid fertilizing plants any time after late summer. This is because  fertilizer  can cause plants to push out new growth at the wrong time – being very susceptible to winter damage.

Another very important step is applying an anti-desiccant like Wilt-Pruf to evergreen shrubs such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Mountain Laurels, especially if they are new plantings. This will help the leaves retain moisture and prevent winter burn. Very delicate plants or plants in a high wind area may also need to be wrapped in burlap for extra protection.

After you have finished the steps above, you may also want to put a thin layer of  mulch  over the garden to ensure that your plants stay warm and cozy over the winter – just like you!

Now, when your yard and gardens are covered by snow and ice, you can be assured that they are well prepared!

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