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Landscape Maintenance Approach

LANDSCAPE “SCIENCE”
Paramount Landscape’s current maintenance philosophy has evolved over the past 13 years as a result of listening to our customers’ likes and dislikes, incorporating scientific principles into our everyday work habits, and educating our personnel on proper horticultural practices.

Since 1994, Paramount Landscape has incorporated this blend of science, technology and experience to develop qualitative landscape maintenance programs designed to sustain the overall health of landscaped areas while preserving the intended design concept. It was developed with the knowledge and experience of Dr. Robert Golembiewski, a Phd. Horticulturist who was employed at Paramount Landscape from 2000 to 2006 and is now a Professor at the University of Minnesota, to design and implement processes that account for property specifics such as plant/tree types and ages, lawn type and size, and overall property acreage.

With this information, Paramount Landscape can develop a comprehensive plan for your community that includes maintenance schedules for tree care, “hard” pruning or trimming of plants, lawn care including fertilizing, core aeration and overseeding with rye grass, and weed control activities.

Plants/Shrubs
The desert provides us with the opportunity to enjoy the natural color and beauty of the many plants that thrive here. However, like other landscape companies, Paramount’s early maintenance practices were primarily conducted reactively based on the growth patterns of the plant material or the complaints of customers. Properties were being maintained sporadically based on the individual experience of the crew foremen as there was no detail schedule or process for completing regular landscape maintenance activities.

After a few years of struggling to improve quality and customer satisfaction, we took on the task to “automate” the maintenance practices in an effort to reduce process variability and improve quality. We engaged in the observation of the crews’ maintenance practices, analyzed the schedule of activities, and studied the plant material and environmental conditions of the southwest.

Today, Paramount Landscape employs a detailed “52 Week” schedule for customers who require a holistic, natural approach to maintenance. It rolls together customers’ wants, plant health, environmental issues and employee training into a comprehensive proactive maintenance program. The schedule is constantly being analyzed, maintenance processes being monitored and modifications being made as required to balance customers’ needs with optimum plant health and property aesthetics. It is important to reiterate that this program incorporates horticultural science principles and that there is a reason for each task that is completed as well as how and when it is to be completed.

The goal has been to match the various plants with trimming cycles in order to minimize stress and maximize growth, thus allowing for healthy, natural-looking plant material. A few key benefits that are integral to the success of our landscape management plan includes:

1) Plenty of color (aesthetics).
2) Healthier plants and trees.
3) Reduced irrigation requirements.
4) Predictable and controllable costs.

For customers who prefer the “groomed” look of plants, Paramount still offers this approach since our goal is to deliver the service and quality that each of our customers’ prefer!

Trees
Like the plants/shrubs, the trees of the desert also offer beauty, and in some cases, color that add to its appeal. Also like plants, trees need to be maintained properly in order to maximize their beauty while minimizing the risk of losing limbs or complete trees. Therefore, it is imperative that professional arborists prune the trees as needed in order to minimize potential storm damage and fallen debris. This work is required and needs to be done, preferably on an annual basis and no less than biannually, regardless of which grounds maintenance approach the board approves regarding the care of the plants/shrubs.

As a part of our routine maintenance, Paramount does maintain clearances and visibility as needed up to an 10-foot height. In addition, we ensure that all suckers and volunteers are removed on each cycle through the property.

Grass
Although there are several warm season turfs in Arizona, most commercial properties will likely be populated with either Common Bermuda or a hybrid Bermuda known as Midiron. The main difference between the two types of Bermuda is the allergenic effect that accompanies Common Bermuda, which has been “designed” out of the Midiron. Other types of warm season turf include varieties of Tiff like Santa Ana and Tiffway as well as shade tolerant turf like St. Augustine.

Of course, each of the varieties of grass has its own characteristics that define it. However, the health of the grass is defined more by soil composition and irrigation of it vis-à-vis the needs of the specific variety than of the variety of turf itself. As such, Paramount utilizes several scientific approaches to address each of these needs. Specifically, we use soil sample analyses, agronomic practices and irrigation techniques that improve the health of lawns. Examples of irrigation techniques are discussed below under Water Conservation and examples of our agronomic practices follow:

Core Aeration
Core aeration helps the lawn’s health and vigor, and it reduces maintenance requirements. All turf areas are aerated in April to assist with spring transition and improve overall turf grass health. Aeration, technically speaking, is the naturally occurring process of air exchange between the soil and its surrounding atmosphere. Practically speaking, aeration is the process of mechanically removing small plugs of thatch and soil from the lawn to improve soil aeration. The following are other benefits of core aeration.

  • Improved air exchange between the soil and atmosphere.
  • Enhanced soil water uptake.
  • Improved fertilizer uptake and use.
  • Reduced water runoff and puddling.
  • Improved turf grass rooting.
  • Reduced soil compaction.
  • Enriched surface soil.
  • Enhanced heat and drought stress tolerance.
  • Improved resiliency and cushioning.
  • Enhanced thatch breakdown.

Annual aeration is beneficial for most lawns. Grass growing on heavy clay or sub-soils, and lawns exposed to intense use benefit from more-than-one aeration each year. It is best to aerate warm season turf grasses such as Bermuda grass in mid-spring to early summer.
Immediately after aeration, the lawn will be dotted with small plugs pulled from the soil. Within a week or two, these plugs of thatch and soil break apart and disappear into the lawn. About 7 to 10 days after aeration, the aerification holes will be filled with white, actively growing roots. On compacted soils and on lawns with slopes, an immediate difference will be seen in reduced water puddling and runoff after irrigation or rainfall.

Fertilization
Paramount utilizes different fertilizers depending on the need of the turf. In the past, all turf areas were fertilized with Super Turf Supreme starting in May. Super Turf Supreme is a slow-release fertilizer formulated to release nitrogen over a period of 6-8 weeks. This timed release of the nitrogen prevents the turf from “burning” during the hot summer months. Today, we also use Organic Fertilizers where the soil is multi-nutrient deficient and/or where the alkalinity is high. These fertilizers also help maintain soils to fertile conditions when the appropriate amount of nutrients already exist.

The winter overseeded rye is fertilized on a monthly basis November thru February with calcium nitrate which is a quick release fertilizer. All of the nitrogen in calcium nitrate is released regardless of environmental conditions and used by the turf grass within a 4-week period of time. Whereas others like to spread out its use and apply heavier rates in order to save labor, Paramount Landscape employs this approach to prevent any tinge of yellow, which is the first sign of being nitrogen deficient.

Winter Rye Seeding
The best time to overseed is when soil temperatures reach 72-74oF at a 4 inch soil depth or when ambient midday temperatures drop to the low to mid-seventies which here in Arizona is usually around mid-October. The overseeding process, however, begins in September with the reduction of irrigation, elimination of fertilization and the weekly lowering of the mowing height. By beginning the process 4-6 weeks before the actual seeding, the stress on the Bermuda grass is minimized as it enters dormancy allowing for a healthier spring transition.

Perennial ryegrass is seeded at a rate of 10 lbs. per 1000 square feet based on University of Arizona research testing of optimal seeding rate for coverage and spring transition. Irrigation is adjusted accordingly. Post-emergent herbicide (Mec-Amine D) is spot sprayed to control broadleaf weeds (i.e. clover) in December if they become prevalent.

We also typically recommend that all non-overseeded turf grass areas be treated with a pre-emergent weed control product in November to eliminate the potential for weed populations and to promote a healthy, uniform stand of Bermuda grass in the following spring.

Summary
In order to achieve success in the maintenance of your property, our approach entails:

  1. Cutting back of certain plant material on a yearly basis while selectively hand pruning throughout the growing months of the year.
  2. Mowing, fertilizing, aerating, and de-thatching grass at the designated times of year while taking steps to ensure a mild but effective transition from summer to fall and winter to spring.
  3. Monitoring and adjusting irrigation schedules according to seasonal and environmental needs.
  4. Applying appropriate herbicides based on the type of weed, growth stage, and the environment (granite, grass, shrub) in which it is growing.
  5. Pruning of mature trees thru predetermined schedules in order to maintain the health and structure of the tree while minimizing debris and the chance for monsoon damage.

TRAINING
In order to ensure that our operational staff learns, understands and can adequately demonstrate their abilities in the implementation of our programs, training is key. Therefore, our employees are continually trained in all of the aspects of landscape maintenance through classroom and on-site instruction.

Our Foremen have comprehensive workbooks that contain amongst other important documents, a reference manual for Paramount Landscape’s Operational Standards and Procedures, which is based on industry “Best Practices.” This manual is full of written and pictorial information regarding Paramount’s standards giving our leaders on-site material to measure themselves against our stringent standards. It also provides information to help them manage their crews efficiently, thereby keeping costs in check. The bottom line is that our Foremen are able to complete their tasks in a timely and professional manner.

In addition, our laborers are provided with on-the-job training to ensure that they understand the expectations of each customer while also knowing how to operate equipment properly. In fact, they are expected to pass proficiency exams in the use of equipment in order to receive merit increases in their pay, thereby providing the financial incentive to grow with the company.