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Happy New Year!

January 10th, 2011

Some people look forward to the new year for a new beginning.  Other people are just happy that last year is over (good riddens, huh?). 

In the landscaping business, the cold weather that December and January brings forces us to take stock of our customers’ plants and trees and develop a gameplan to match them.  You couldn’t help but notice that every bouganvillae, lantana, natel plum, hibiscus and ficus tree in the valley have been burnt to a crisp by the multiple nights of freezing temperatures.  I guess you could say that this is nature’s way of “cleansing.”

Unfortunately, the “ugliness” that the cold weather brought has to be addressed in a logical and timely manner to ensure that further damage is not incurred.  We at Paramount Landscape are implementing programs that have us reducing some of the dead material now for plants such as lantana, but waiting until we’re assured that no more frosty nights occur for others like bouganvillae.   So, over the next couple of months, you will be seeing our crews address things accordingly.

Also, we haven’t forgot about the turf.  In order to try to stimulate some new growth, we are currently in the process of fertilizing the overseeded lawns with nitrogen rich fertilizer.  Along with the “warmer” weather we’re having this week, you should see the ice-caused yellowing ease away.

Since the beginning of December, we have been applying pre-emergent weed control to all of our customers’ landscaped areas.  The chemical we apply has a yellow tint to it so don’t be alarmed if you notice anything.  By getting this down now, we are able to suppress the germination of new weeds that typically come with the cool, wet weather.  By the way, if you didn’t overseed, this same process can be applied to the lawns as well as these areas are fertile breeding grounds for new weeds.

Lastly, if you haven’t heard from your Paramount Landscape representative lately, you will!  In an effort to truly understand the needs and desires our our customers, we are intending to meet with everyone of you over the next month.  Of course, if you have something more pressing, you certainly don’t have to wait for us to call you. 

So, may the new year be a happy and prosperous one to all of you!

New Opportunities with Smart Controllers

November 3rd, 2010

As Paramount Landscape continues our efforts on managing our customers’ water use, we are constantly in search of new technologies that will make the job easier. With that in mind, one of the latest and greatest technological advances to come along are the new Smart Controllers.

Smart Controllers use weather information from local weather stations to determine how much and at what frequency water should be applied to your plant material. Specifically, they download on a daily basis from satellites the local temperature, humidity, wind speed, envirotranspiration, et. al. and compare it to pre-programmed information about your site such as type of plant, type of soil, sunny or shady conditions, etc.

With this information, the controller calculates exactly how much water is required to keep your grass/plants healthy without overwatering. When installed and employed properly, these controllers by themselves can save up to 20% of the water used on any given property. If utilized in conjunction with some low cost irrigation system upgrades, water savings can easily approach 50%! 

Recently, Paramount has hooked up with a Smart Controller Developer, AquaManagement, to be able to offer our customers this technology with very little upfront costs.  You see, for a small setup fee and fixed monthly fee, AquaManagement will provide all of the hardware.  Once installed, the customer (you and/or us) can utilize the internet to monitor its use and make changes (have you ever wanted to shut off the running sprinklers during a monsoon?). 

So, if you’re interested in being proactive on water usage, contact Paramount Landscape today for a free Smart Controller assessment and/or proposal.

Assertiveness vs. Aggressiveness

October 25th, 2010

Even though this is a landscape resource, every now and then I come across an article that I think would be helpful to everybody even though it is not related to landscape.  So, the following article is a reprint from JP Horizons Inc., P. O. Box 2039, Painesville, OH 44077, regarding the differences between Assertiveness and Aggressiveness.  I think that it is especially appropriate given the political divides that exists in our country right now regardless of which side of the spectrum you are on.  So, read and enjoy…  I think you might learn something!

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND

Learning the delicate balance of communicating our thoughts and feelings without stepping on the toes of others can be both a challenge and a tremendous asset if developed with care. It is the subtle distinctions between being assertive or aggressive, passive or pushy that pave the way to great personal and professional relationships.

Have you ever dealt with people that seem to get what they want while gathering the support and resources of everyone around them? They seem to know how to communicate their needs in a way that causes others to cooperate willingly. They are able to express their thoughts, feelings and beliefs in a direct, honest and non-threatening way that shows they have respect for themselves and others. They are generally looking for a win/win solution in any situation and even if you don’t agree with what they are saying or asking for, you can still admire the level of confidence and assertiveness they use.

You have also undoubtedly encountered others that can arouse resentment and defensiveness in an instant with a single aggressive statement. An aggressive person is more apt to put their own wants, needs and rights above those of others, and is prone to allow selfish motives to drive them across the line of courtesy and respect. Where an assertive individual looks for ways to clearly make their point while allowing both parties to choose and move forward, an aggressive person is very satisfied with a win/lose scenario just so they are the winner and are getting the results they want.

A third type of individual to consider is the nonassertive person that passively allows others to violate their rights of expression and puts out a clear message of inferiority. This type of individual lacks the self-respect to communicate their thoughts and needs and will very often settle for a lose/win scenario, opting to be the victim over putting themselves on the line to handle an upset or a conflicting opinion.

Whether it is in communicating with a spouse, child, employee, associate or friend, assertiveness can serve as the vehicle for positive results. When we each realize we have the right to our own values, beliefs, opinions and needs, and the right to express them in a positive and appropriate way, relationships flourish.

Tufts University suggests using “I” messages for positive, assertive communication. An “I” message is a good way to let people know what you are thinking. It is made up of three parts.

  • Behavior - what it is, exactly, that the other person has done or is doing?
  • Effect - what is happening because of their behavior?
  • Feelings - what effect does their behavior have on your feelings?

By using this kind of message, you are giving another person complete information, leaving no room for second guessing or doubt.

An example: “When you come late to the meeting (behavior) I feel angry (feelings) because we have to repeat information the rest of us heard (effect).”

This is much more productive and assertive than simply ignoring the problem or just expressing your anger or frustration.

The words you choose often determine if you are giving an assertive response or an aggressive one.

Use factual descriptions instead of judgments.

Compare the following:

“This is sloppy work.” (Aggressive)

“The pages in this report are out of order.” (Assertive)

Avoid exaggerations.

Compare the following:

“You never are on time!” (Aggressive)

“You were 15 minutes late today. That’s the third time this week.” (Assertive)

Use “I” not “You.”

Compare the following:

“You always interrupt my stories!” (Aggressive)

“I would like to tell my story without being interrupted.” (Assertive)

Express thoughts, feelings, and opinions reflecting ownership.

Compare the following:

“He makes me angry.” (Denies ownership of feelings)

“I get angry when he breaks his promises.” (Assertive and owns feelings) 

The words you choose often determine if you are giving an assertive response or an aggressive one.

Use factual descriptions instead of judgments.

Compare the following:

“This is sloppy work.” (Aggressive)

“The pages in this report are out of order.” (Assertive)

Avoid exaggerations.

Compare the following:

“You never are on time!” (Aggressive)

“You were 15 minutes late today. That’s the third time this week.” (Assertive)

Use “I” not “You.”

Compare the following:

“You always interrupt my stories!” (Aggressive)

“I would like to tell my story without being interrupted.” (Assertive)

Express thoughts, feelings, and opinions reflecting ownership.

Compare the following:

“He makes me angry.” (Denies ownership of feelings)

“I get angry when he breaks his promises.” (Assertive and owns feelings)

HOW TO BE MORE ASSERTIVE

Assertiveness is more than the words you use. If you are hoping to become more assertive, become aware of your nonverbal cues such as voice tone, facial expressions, eye contact, and posture. If your body language says, “I am confident and I have something important to say,” others will listen and you will have an impact. Remember that exercising assertiveness doesn’t necessarily mean you are the one in control, but you are an active participant in the discussion, willing to both state your view and listen to others.

Paramount Landscape Likes Customers

October 3rd, 2010

I know what you’re thinking, “What company doesn’t like customers?” I’m not trying to imply that there are companies out there that don’t like customers… I’m just trying to clarify what we mean when we define our primary customers as “Commercial Properties and Homeowners Associations Landscapes.”

You see, I often get asked if I know a company that can do this or that because many of you believe that because we specialize in providing maintenance on commercial properties, that we do not do any services for residential properties. Well, as it turns out, we do! And we’re damn (oops, sorry) good at it, too!

Being in business for 15 years, we developed the capacity for many capabilities, that although they are regularly utilized in support of our commercial operations, we do offer them to other interested parties as well. In short, they consists of those items that are typically “one shot deals.” Things like irrigation repairs, tree trimming, weed control and “small” relandscaping jobs that do not include masonry are all areas where we are ready, willing and able to assist our “small” friends.

So, the next time you have a landscaping need for your home, don’t hesitate to contact us. If we can’t help you, we do have a list of people who can.

Random Thoughts

September 19th, 2010

Every now and then we like to throw out thoughts and ideas that we’ve been contemplating.  Although we try to keep them landscape related, we do like to throw in items that aren’t related to the green industry at all.  So, enjoy all of the tidbits that have been rolling around in our heads.

  • Paramount Landscape has made the decision to NOT make any pricing adjustments for 2011 (we’re all in this bad economy together).
  • Now’s a good time to trim them trees that have been neglected…  get’em before they drop all them leaves.
  • Bermuda grass starts to go dormant when the NIGHT time temperatures hit 65 degrees.
  • We’re looking forward to the next election!
  • Paramount cuts back Mexican Birds of Paradise in October…  This gives them a little time to grow back before they go dormant in December.
  • Speaking of cut-backs, did you know that the following plants are all candidates for doing some hard pruning?  Lantana, Sages, Cassias, Ruellias, Bouganvillae, Yellow Bells, Orange Jubillee and Oleanders can all be done, but be careful about when you do it as each have different sensitivities to different types of weather.
  • Even if you don’t overseed your lawn, you still want to operate your lawn sprinklers about once every other week for just a minute or two in order to keep your valves operating properly.
  • Healthcare “reform” has us worried.  Lots of costs…  Lots of benefits???
  • Paramount spends a lot of money on training.  Just in the last year, we’ve hire a private tutor for all of our non-english speaking foreman, sent our managers to a week-long “Turf School” sponsored by the UofA Extension and sent our irrigation technicians to several troubleshooting courses.  All for you…
  • We love football.  This past summer, Paramount provided turf renovation services to two local high schools’ football fields. (We do baseball fields, too!)

Sure were random, weren’t they?

Preparing For The “Best”

September 5th, 2010

Can you believe that the summer is almost over? I know the recent high temps don’t make it seem that way, but history has shown (no I’m not a history major) that cooler weather is on the way…  Meaning the “Best” is yet to come!

Most people know summer is ending because the kids are heading back to school (yeahhh), but not me…  I know that it’s almost over because we’re getting ready for overseeding of the turf with perrenial rye grass.

At Paramount Landscape, we utilize a process for overseeding that begins in early September, lasts the whole month and culminates with the seeding during the first week of October. This process was developed to minimize the damage that can be done to Bermuda lawns when they are hacked, whacked and seeded all at the same time. By slowly reducing the amount of water being applied to the lawns along with a gradual lowering of mower heights, we eeeease our lawns into dormancy, which aids in the transition when the Bermuda returns in the spring.

For those customers who choose not to put in winter lawns, Paramount will simply continue to maintain the lawns to the same high standards that we’ve been doing all summer. As you know, your lawns will typically stay green through October and we typically apply one more application of fertilizer. What you might not know is that weeds can take over unseeded lawns in the winter with the combination of big open areas, airborne seeds and wet winter weather. To combat this, Paramount can apply a pre-emergent weed killer just like we do for the landscaped areas. Just let your Account Manager know if you’d like an estimate to provide that service for you.

So, while you’re enjoying a great Labor Day, rest assured that Paramount is not “taking a vacation” from managing your properties!

Summertime Tree Growth and Maintenance

August 9th, 2010

I’m sure that you all have notice how quickly your trees have grown lately, especially the desert species like Mesquites, Palo Verdes and Acacias. 

This years’ growth, which seems to mimic the rate of Jack’s famous beanstalk, is primarily due to the really wet winter that we had last year that saturated our soils with a lot of moisture that got released as soon as the weather warmed up and the trees needed it.  As you all know, this high growth rate translates into a lof of extra maintenace, both in terms of the tip growth and the interior.  As you also know, if this extra weight is not addressed, the results can be loss of limbs as well as loss of complete trees when the monsoon winds hit.

At Paramount Landscape, we have working hard to keep the tip growth trimmed up in order to keep the canopy height at the minimum 10′ height requirement and have been trying to bring to our customers’ attention any interior pruning that is required.  As the interior growth typically needs to be handled by tree trimming professionals and is usually at an extra cost, we will provide a free estimate. 

So, if you think that your trees are in need of some TLC, don’t hesitate to give us a call.  By the way, if the monsoons cause damage before peventative maintenance is concluded, we also can help with storm damage clean-up.

Arizona Summers… Gotta Luv’em (or Leave’em?)

July 12th, 2010

Back in May I talked about the hot spell of weather that we were having and how it was impacting Paramount’s ability to manage your landscapes and water use. Well, here we are again!!! This month’s streak of 100+ degree days is having several impacts on the landscaping that makes us earn our keep and in turn, makes it tuff for us to save you money.

First, although much of our plant material has no problem with these arid conditions, many plants/trees do. Any of you with Queen Palms or Pine Trees noticing some yellowing and wilting? How about those of you with Hibiscus or even Oleanders? These problems are hard to overcome when we have high winds and hot temps as the combination causes the plant material to “perspire” in order to try to keep cool (just like us).

Also, the lawns take a hit under these conditions as well. Earlier, I spoke about the transition from Rye to Bermuda and how that naturally occurs in the spring. Well, those of you with Rye located in very shady conditions (under trees, adjacent large buildings, etc.) probably thought that you were spared… Wrong! The evaporative cooling effect was keeping it alive until now when the humidity and temps are high enough to prevent enough cooling to keep it alive. Thus, it makes it appear as though the grass just all of the sudden died.  Fortunately, there are some new products available for reseeding these areas so if you’re interested, just contact us.

Now, I know you’re all wondering how this is costing you money and why we’re not doing anything about it anyways. Well, as we try to keep up with the heat and lack of monsoon rain, we need to continue to increase the amount of water that is being applied to everything! That doesn’t mean that we’re just cranking up the water wrecklessly as we are still using our moisture probes to determine exactly what is needed. However, it does mean that the usage could be high unless the skies open up and start deliverying the free stuff.

Lastly, I have a commercial… Paramount is very much interested in continuing to add new customers. So, if you or one of your friends is looking for a company where “Service and Integrity are Paramount,” please give them our info. We won’t let them or you down!

Paramount Is In The Movies!!!

June 28th, 2010

OK, OK, I know what you’re all thinking… Paramount has been in the movie business for years.  I mean, haven’t you ever seen that logo with a snow-capped mountain within and a bunch of stars around it? 

Well, like the big picture guys, Paramount Landscape has entered the movie business as well.  Although we won’t be competing with the Hollywood guys any time soon, we’re still pretty proud of our new production.  Since I know you’re all dying to see it, it can be found on our website at www.ParamountLandscape.com/video.php or if you’re a YouTube kind of person, you can go there and check it out as well.

The basic content of the movie is an introduction of our company including the hows, whys and whens of providing landscape maintenance services.  We hope that you will be willing to forward this to any friends or colleagues that you have that may have a need for a landscape maintenance company that is focused on providing high quality services. 

Lastly, from all of us at Paramount Landscape, we wish you a Happy 4th of July!!!  Be safe and have fun!

The Big Picture…

June 13th, 2010

In our last installment, we talked about the spring transition of our lawns from the winter rye to the summer bermuda.  What we didn’t talk about, however, was how Paramount Landscape’s approach is part of a larger agronomic plan for our lawns in these tuff Arizona climates and soils. 

You see, Paramount’s approach to dealing with the spring transition is actually a part of a broader plan that has its roots (pun intended) in our overseeding activities in the fall.

Confused? Let me explain… At Paramount, we look at the process of transition in the spring AND the planting of winter rye as a cycle. Unlike most other landscapers, we actually dethatch our lawns in the spring for two reasons. First and most importantly, is because it causes minimum harm to the bermuda in contrast to the damage that occurs when it is done in the fall, thus ensuring a healthier tranisition to the bermuda in the spring. Second, which is kind of the reason for this whole article, is that it removes the dead rye, thus clearing away the thatch that prevents the much needed air, water and fertilizer to get to the roots of the bermuda.

One last thing… If you happen to have new grass or sod, i.e. less than one year old, dethatching is not recommended. In these cases, we’ll simply scalp the grass to remove as much as we can.

Thus, as a customer of Paramount, you can see that your property’s health and aesthetics are a primary concern and that Paramount has the education and experience to deliver them.