Your website visitors want instant answers: Live Chat offers just that

Your website visitors want instant answers: Live Chat offers just that

The way that customers are communicating with your business has changed—yet again.

While it might not seem that long ago that you first added a contact page on your website to accept incoming communication, the truth is, it has been a while. These days, people are often looking for quick answers. They don’t necessarily want to fill out a contact form or even pick up the phone. That’s driving the increasing popularity of Live Chat on websites

Live Chat is a form of messaging software that allows customers and company representatives to speak directly to one another in a pop-up chat window. Chances are, you have experienced some form of this in your own life when dealing with a company or a service. While visiting a company website, you might have noticed a chat box pop up.

Whether you liked it or not could have caused you to develop a bias that may not be in line with what today’s consumers want. But Chad Diller, Director of Client Success forLandscape Leadership says that companies who are hesitant to add this type of communication to their website might be missing some valuable opportunities.

He has had a number of clients add Live Chat with much success, including Rock Water Farm, a landscaping company based in Aldie, Virginia. A screenshot from their homepage is shown above.

Live Chat is not the same as a chatbot

First and foremost, Diller says it’s important to differentiate the fact that Live Chat and chatbot are two different things. Though similar in nature (they both generate a pop-up window to facilitate direct communication), chatbots use automated responses and don’t have a live person on the other side.

A chatbot aims to save a company (and the customer) time by quickly answering standard questions that get asked frequently.

Diller says that both options have their place. Chatbots can save a lot of time for people but are sometimes the reason that people have frustrating experiences using this type of technology. Sometimes people are annoyed by the idea of talking to a robot—particularly if they aren’t getting the answers they want.

“Chatbots can be part of the communication process, but they should not replace humans,” Diller says. “This technology is most effectively used to start a conversation and route it to the right team member at your company.”

Diller says that lawn and landscape business owners who are considering using chatbots should make sure they are well designed and also ensure that website visitors can switch to a live person easily.

lot of customers want this form of communication

If your main reason for not adding Live Chat is that you assume your website visitors will be turned off by it, Diller says that’s not the case. Today’s customers really do want quick answers and many of them like this option.

“People don’t like playing phone tag, having to leave voicemails, or sending multiple emails,” Diller says. “They appreciate that Live Chat can get them a quick answer to information they’re seeking. However, if you cannot be super responsive with Live Chat, it’s not going to be worth it for you. You need to have someone internally on top of it, or it will defeat the purpose.”

Diller says to treat Live Chat the same way as someone walking into the office (with the same level of attention and passion). If you do that, Diller adds, you’ll crush it.

Live Chat can be set up in a way that’s not obtrusive to website visitors. You can have an icon displayed in the bottom corner of your website page, giving visitors this option if they want it. Or, you can have it set up to pop up right away or after a certain amount of time that customers spend on your website. The choice is yours, says Diller.

Setting up Live Chat

The logistics of setting up a tool like this aren’t overly complicated, Diller says. His Landscape Leadership clients use HubSpot, which has a free tool with a setup wizard for this very feature. He says that it usually takes his clients about 30 minutes to set it up and about 30 minutes to become fully trained on it—and they’re up and running.

“It’s also easy to manage,” he adds. “Great Live Chat platforms have strong reporting tools where you can monitor how your company representatives are handling these conversations. It can also be turned off when people are taking a lunch break or attending a company meeting and nobody is available to respond.”

The bottom line?

As communication continues to evolve, Diller says it’s important that lawn and landscaping companies are keeping up. Adopting new practices or new technology can be difficult for some, but it’s necessary if it means keeping up with the way that potential clients like to communicate.

“When your potential clients can get a quick answer to their questions, they’re likely to start thinking of you as someone who can solve their problems—and that drives sales and builds trust with customers,” Diller says. “While this should not be your only form of communication, it should definitely be an option.”

Did you miss our previous article…

Aspire announces intent to acquire Go iLawn and LandOne

Aspire announces intent to acquire Go iLawn and LandOne

Aspire Software, a ServiceTitan company and a leading software provider for professional landscaping companies has announced definitive agreements to acquire Go iLawn, an online property measurement tool, and LandOne Software, a cloud-based digital takeoff, and design tool.

“The addition of Go iLawn and LandOne will help meet Aspire’s goal of providing end-to-end services and solutions to the landscaping industry,” said Mark Tipton, CEO of Aspire Software. “By adding online tools for property measurement and design, we’re one step closer to that goal. Our plans to integrate both solutions with Aspire’s business management software will give landscapers yet another reason to switch to Aspire as their core operating system.”

Upcoming integration

Aspire announces intent to acquire property intelligence tools Go iLawn and LandOne.

The planned integration of both Go iLawn and LandOne with Aspire’s platform will enable Aspire users to seamlessly use property intelligence tools directly within Aspire to measure, design, estimate, and bid on new jobs and enhancements.

Founded in 2009 and acquired in 2010 by industry veteran Mike Rorie, Go iLawn enables thousands of companies in the U.S. and Canada to get fast, precise property measurements with parcel boundaries using aerial and satellite imagery, all stored in the cloud.

“Go iLawn is thrilled to join forces with the Aspire team to deliver best-in-class software to the landscaping industry,” said Rorie. “With Aspire’s support and resources, we’ll be able to invest more in product development, enabling our customers to measure properties anytime and anywhere, quickly quantify materials and equipment needed for jobs, and boost job site efficiency and performance with detailed mapping.”

Founded in 2018 by Joshua Martin in Opelika, Alabama, LandOne Software offers simple, easy-to-use digital takeoff and design tools that allow its customers to spend less time in the office and more time in the field. Today, LandOne is used by hundreds of companies to profitably bid, manage, and complete thousands of takeoff, irrigation design, and landscape enhancement projects each month.

“Becoming part of the Aspire team is an exciting opportunity for us,” said Martin. “We’ll be able to more rapidly expand our product and scale our mission to serve contractors by giving them the simple tools they need to quickly deliver accurate bids, proposals, and designs.”

Moving forward

Following the close of both acquisitions, all Go iLawn and LandOne employees will join Aspire as part of the planned acquisitions. Both Go iLawn and LandOne will continue to be sold as stand-alone solutions, powered by additional product investment from Aspire and ServiceTitan to accelerate the development of both technologies.

Use these tips to winterize your equipment

Use these tips to winterize your equipment

As we near the end of the season, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to your mowers and trimmers. These tools are essential to your landscaping business, so you want to make sure they are cared for properly right up until it’s time to give them a break. As things wind down, you can also use this time to perform some regular check-ups and routine maintenance.

Maintaining the mower

“Landscapers should check their blades and the blade condition to make sure they’re in good shape and will be ready to go the following season,” says Glenn Lovell, senior technical services technician at Oregon Products, which is part of Oregon Tool. “If blades are bent, it is time to replace them. Blades will also become dull in time.”

Lovell says that ahead of storage, give mowers a thorough look over.

“You should also check all of the belts to ensure they’re in good condition and have no cracks,” he continues. “This is a heavy wear-and-tear item and now is a good time to notice if something needs to be fixed.”

Lovell says that landscapers can also perform a check of the spindles and all of the pulleys.

“If you have a spindle, make sure you put two pumps of grease in the grease zerk,” he adds.

Before putting your mowers into off-season storage, also be sure to clean the deck and undercarriage. Disposing of excess grass clippings is important.

Maintaining trimmers

According to Lovell, trimmer line blades also need some care and ongoing maintenance. As you continue to use your trimmers during the autumn season, be careful not to let them get dried out.

“Trimmer line dries out relatively easily, so our recommendation is that you wet it with a sponge that you’ve rung out,” Lovell says. “You don’t want it dripping wet. You can also set it on the sponge for a few hours to allow the line to absorb some moisture so that it won’t become frayed or break.”

When it comes to storing string trimmers, Lovell says that they can be stored vertically or horizontally. But vertical storage does allow for better use of space.

Finding a proper place for storage

It will also be critical that you find the proper place for storage so that all of your equipment is protected and safe in the off-season. Rust and corrosion can build up on machinery so it’s important to store it in a low humidity environment free of moisture.

Also, be cognizant of storing equipment in a way that it doesn’t pose potential accidents. Store it in a position where no sharp edges or blades can cause any injury to crews.

Did you miss our previous article…

Rock On: Incorporating large rocks and boulders in landscape design

Rock On: Incorporating large rocks and boulders in landscape design

Over the years, there has been a continued trend toward more naturalistic landscaping with the use of large rocks and boulders. But incorporating these materials onto a client’s property isn’t exactly easy. It can require specialized equipment and a lot of maneuvering. Still, when it’s done right, the payoff can be amazing.

Blanchford Landscape Group based in Bozeman, Montana, has always used a lot of boulders and large stone slabs in their designs. In their Southwest Montana location, these types of additions really fit the region. But Garden Designer Mason Shaffer says that the investment in a pneumatic paver lifter has made these large rocks much easier to manage. This has given them more opportunities to incorporate boulders and rocks into their landscape designs.

Creative ways to use boulders in landscape design

Natural stone is the perfect material for steps.Blanchford Landscape Group

Using boulders for a rock wall or even a statement piece on its own are two ways that these materials are commonly used in the landscape. Shaffer says that they often build retaining walls or border walls out of large rocks or boulders because it really does fit in with the surrounding natural landscape.

“A rock wall often doubles as overflow seating around our patio designs,” Shaffer adds. “They also become a place to incorporate container gardens

Blanchford also commonly uses large rock slabs for stairs, Shaffer says.

“Rather than using a manmade paver, a slab stairway fits a lot more seamlessly into the natural environment,” he explains.

Custom designs with boulders

outdoor seating area on rock patio
A carved-out boulder makes a custom fire feature for this client of Blanchford Landscape Group.Blanchford Landscape Group

The company has also gotten creative and designed custom pieces. A boulder fire feature was designed and built for a mountain-based property that needed something very naturalistic to suit the space. The other fire features the clients had investigated had too much of a modern feel.

Blanchford has also used boulders to create unique water features. A cored boulder with some bubbling water can add a natural look to the landscape. A pondless waterfall can also be an attractive addition. With this feature, the flow of water disappears into an underground reservoir.

Shaffer says that they’ve also incorporated landscape lighting into boulders so that it’s somewhat “hidden” but still provides the functionality of lighting up the space.

“With landscape lighting, less is more,” he says. “That’s true everywhere but particularly regions like ours where the nighttime sky is a huge part of the attraction to the area. The last thing we ever want to do is pollute the sky with light and take away from that view.”

Preserving the natural habitat

At the end of the day, Shaffer says their use of boulders and rock goes a long way in preserving the natural surroundings that are so important to homeowners in Montana.

“Using natural materials goes a really long way in creating a design that seamlessly blends into the surrounding habitat,” he says. “That’s always a really important goal for us.” 

Did you miss our previous article…

Hardscape North America award winners and honorable mention recipients announced

Hardscape North America award winners and honorable mention recipients announced

Contractors, producers, and designers had their time in the spotlight at the 2021 Hardscape North America Awards Recognition Presentation on October 21 at the Kentucky Exposition Center. Each year, the HNA Awards recognize exceptional residential and commercial hardscape projects including walkways patios, pool decks, outdoor living kitchens and spaces, and driveways as well as commercial plazas and streets. Hardscape crews received recognition from industry experts for excellence in project design, quality, compatibility, and construction.

The number of entries received from across North America continues to grow. In 2021, a record 178 projects were submitted across 18 hardscape categories, including concrete paver, clay brick, segmental retaining walls, porcelain, natural stone, vintage installation, outdoor living features, and a combination of hardscape products.

The HNA Awards is a well-earned tribute to work that is elevating the hardscape industry in many ways. Being recognized are projects that are the result of exceptional teams delivering creative solutions, quality products, and reliable installations,” said Dr. Marshall Brown, ICPI Chair.

In total, there are 19 categories that highlight a variety of different types of work. Hardscape projects from across the country were entered and competition was steep. 

Monello Landscape Industries, LLC, in Wayne, New Jersey, won for the project photo featured above in the category of “Combination of Hardscape Products- Residential- more than 4,000 square feet.” They also won for that same category, for projects “less than 4,000 square feet.”

GoldGlo Landscapes in Millerburg, Pennsylvania won for the Outdoor Living Features category. They also won for the Concrete Paver Category for a residential project less than 3,000 square feet.

“Rustic Cottage Outdoor Living,” a project by GoldGlo Landscapes won for the Concrete Paver category (Residential, less than 3,000 square feet).GoldGlo Landscapes

Here is a complete list of all of this year’s project winners.

2021 HNA Awards Recipients:

Clay Brick Category

Clay Brick – Residential

Winner – Woodside

·     Contractor: Exterior Pavers Designs, Inc.

·     Producer: Basalite

·     Designer: NA

·     Owner: Marino

·     Project location: Woodside, CA

Honorable mention – Sandhills in Shaker

·     Contractor: Anchor Landscaping

·     Producer: The Belden Brick Company

·     Designer: Anchor Landscaping

·     Owner: NA

·     Project location: Shaker Heights, OH

Clay Brick – Commercial

Winner – Canton Centennial Plaza

·     Contractor: Enviroscapes

·     Producer: The Belden Brick Company

·     Designer: MKSK

·     Owner: The City of Canton

·     Project location: Canton, OH

Honorable mention – Patten Square

·     Contractor: Fischer Brothers LLC

·     Producer: The Belden Brick Company

·     Designer: WMWA Landscape Architects

·     Owner: City of Chattanooga

·     Project location: Chattanooga, TN

Concrete Paver Category

Concrete Paver – Residential (size less than 3,000 sf)

Winner – Rustic Cottage Outdoor Living

·     Contractor: GoldGlo Landscapes

·     Producer: Unilock

·     Designer: GoldGlo Landscapes

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Millersburg, PA

Honorable mention – Girvan Pool Project

·     Contractor: Calvin Landscape LLC

·     Producer: Techo-Bloc

·     Designer: Daniel Camacho/Jeremy Burns

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Zionsville, IN

Concrete Paver – Residential (size more than 3,000 sf)

Winner – Lewin Residence

·     Contractor: Hollywood Stones

·     Producer: Mega Bergerac

·     Designer: Landmark Custom Homes

·     Owner: Lewin Brothers

·     Project location: South West Ranches, FL

Honorable mention – Patterson

·     Contractor: Dorantes Landscaping

·     Producer: Calstone

·     Designer: Bill Patterson

·     Owner: Bill Patterson

·     Project location: Carmel, CA

Concrete Paver – Commercial (size less than 15,000 sf)

Winner – Buddhist Temple

·     Contractor: Majestic Outdoors

·     Producer: Belgard

·     Designer: Majestic Outdoors

·     Owner: Temple Venable

·     Project location: Cary, NC

Honorable mention – Marriott Citrine and AC Hotel Palo Alto

·     Contractor: Mr. Pavers

·     Producer: Calstone

·     Designer: James Winstead

·     Owner: Marriott International, Inc.

·     Project location: Palo Alto, CA

Concrete Paver – Commercial (size more than 15,000 sf)

Winner – Alton Town Center

·     Contractor: Precise Paving, Inc.

·     Producer: Belgard

·     Designer: Nick Mihelich

·     Owner: Joe Ragonese

·     Project location: Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Honorable mention – MAPS 3 Scissortail Park

·     Contractor: Ruppert Landscape

·     Producer: Keystone Hardscapes

·     Designer: NA

·     Owner: Oklahoma City

·     Project location: Oklahoma City, OK

Concrete Paver – Permeable

Winner – Palm Beach Zoo

·     Contractor: Precise Paving, Inc.

·     Producer: Belgard

·     Designer: Borrero Architecture

·     Owner: Palm Beach Zoo

·     Project location: West Palm Beach, FL

Honorable mention – LeConte Mountain Range

·     Contractor: Hickory Hardscapes

·     Producer: Belgard

·     Designer: NA

·     Owner: City of Pigeon Forge, TN

·     Project location: Pigeon Forge, TN

Segmental Retaining Walls Category

Segmental Retaining Walls – Residential

Winner – Maiden Lake Road Residence

·     Contractor: JJ’s Cutting Edge LLC

·     Producer: County Materials Corporation

·     Designer: JJ’s Cutting Edge LLC

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Lakewood, WI

Honorable mention – Next-Level Retreat

·     Contractor: Property Pros Land Management, LLC

·     Producer: Belgard

·     Designer: Tracy Cox

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Indianapolis, IN

Segmental Retaining Walls – Commercial

Winner – The Oaks at Portola Hills

·     Contractor: Geogrid Retaining Walls Systems, Inc.

·     Producer: Belgard

·     Designer: Matthew M. Merritt

·     Owner: Baldwin & Sons

·     Project location: Lake Forest, CA

Honorable mention – Foot Works Dance

·     Contractor: Banner Retaining Walls

·     Producer: Keystone Hardscapes

·     Designer: NA

·     Owner: Foot Works Dance

·     Project location: Benbrook, TX

Combination of Hardscape Products Category

Combination of Hardscape Products – Residential (size less than 4,000 sf)

Winner – Symmetrical Natural Poolscape

·     Contractor: Monello Landscape Industries

·     Producer: Techo-Bloc

·     Designer: Joe Monello/Jarret Bernard

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Boonton, NJ

Honorable mention – Freeland Residence

·     Contractor: Lehnhoff’s Landscaping, LLC

·     Producer: Natural Stone

·     Designer: NA

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Freeland, MD

Combination of Hardscape Products – Residential (size more than 4,000 sf)

Winner – Lodge Living

·     Contractor: Monello Landscape Industries

·     Producer: Techo-Bloc

·     Designer: Joe Monello

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Wayne, NJ

Honorable mention – Custom Reno Residence

·     Contractor: Sierra Flatworks

·     Producer: Belgard

·     Designer: Sierra Flatworks

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Reno, NV

Combination of Hardscape Products – Commercial

Winner – Wallis & Baker

·     Contractor: PavePro

·     Producer: Keystone Hardscapes/Ragland Clay Pavers

·     Designer: SMR Landscape

·     Owner: Billingsley

·     Project location: Grapevine, TX

Honorable mention – Simon Fraser University Campus Renovation

·     Contractor: Apex Granite & Tile

·     Producer: ROMEX

·     Designer: Public Architecture

·     Owner: Simon Fraser University

·     Project location: Burnaby, BC

Porcelain Paver Category

Porcelain – Residential

Winner – Jupiter Island Home

·     Contractor: Magnificent Hardscapes

·     Producer: Mirage/Belgard

·     Designer: Paul Catania

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Jupiter, FL

Honorable mention – 156 Spyglass Lane

·     Contractor: Magnificent Hardscapes

·     Producer: Mirage/Belgard

·     Designer: NA

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Jupiter, FL

Porcelain – Commercial

Winner – Gotham 1&3

·     Contractor: Blondies Treehouse Inc

·     Producer: Mirage/Belgard

·     Designer: HM White Landscape Architects

·     Owner: Gotham 1&3

·     Project location: Long Island City, NY

Honorable mention – Inlet Shore – Westshore Marina District

·     Contractor: Standard Brick Pavers

·     Producer: Mirage/Belgard

·     Designer: Ardurra

·     Owner: WCI Communities, a Lennar Company

·     Project location: Tampa, FL

Natural Stone Category

Natural Stone

Winner – Patio Bliss

·     Contractor: Premier Outdoor Environments, Inc.

·     Producer: Buechel Stone/Unilock

·     Designer: Kevin Barnes/Nathan Filip

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Elmhurst, IL

Honorable mention – JB Farm

·     Contractor: Metrolina Landscape

·     Producer: Quarry & Klin

·     Designer: Metrolina Landscape

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Lincolnton, NC

Outdoor Living Features Category

Outdoor Living Features

Winner – Modern Mountain Resort

·     Contractor: GoldGlo Landscapes

·     Producer: Natural Stone Quarries

·     Designer: GoldGlo Landscapes

·     Owner: Residential owner

·     Project location: Millersburg, PA

Honorable mention – Twin Rooftop Outdoor Living Courtyards

·     Contractor: Monello Landscape Industries

·     Producer: Cambridge Pavers

·     Designer: Joe Monello/Jarret Bernard

·     Owner: Metro

·     Project location: Bloomfield, NJ

Vintage Installation Category

Vintage Installation

Winner – The Plaza at Kenan Hall

·     Contractor: Paverscape Inc

·     Producer: Pine Hall Brick Company

·     Designer: Sharon K. Hauber, PLA, ASLA

·     Owner: Flagler College

·     Project location: St. Augustine, FL

Did you miss our previous article…

Get in the spirit with these fall landscaping ideas for your clients

Get in the spirit with these fall landscaping ideas for your clients

With the autumn season officially here, your clients might be looking for some ideas and inspiration for fall landscaping ideas. With the fall being a time of year that many people embrace, they often want to get in the spirit by creating landscaping displays that highlight everything there is to love about the season. This is particularly true at commercial properties, where landscaping displays can draw visitors, residents, or guests in.

Joseph Barnes, marketing director for Yellowstone Landscape, a national landscaping provider headquartered in Bunnell, Florida, says that the front entrance is the most obvious and impactful area to consider fall landscaping ideas. This is where you’ll get the most wow factor and be able to create enticing aesthetic appeal.

But other locations on a commercial property that could benefit from fall landscaping include any employee gathering areas at office or building complexes, intersections that get a lot of car and foot traffic, and even building interiors such as lobbies.

“Any area that is a gathering space or that people tend to walk or drive by could be a good location for fall landscaping enhancements,” Barnes says.

It never hurts to make suggestions to property or facility managers who might be looking for some inspiration.

Incorporating fall flowers

The fall can still be a time for bursts of color.Yellowstone Landscape

There are a variety of flowers that can work well in a front entrance flower bed. While mums are valued for being hardy and available in a range of colors and are definitely a top pick, they aren’t your only choice, Barnes says.

“Ornamental kale or cabbage, various ornamental grasses, pansies, and violas are all popular fall flower choices and can work nicely with mums,” he says.

The addition of items like pumpkins, hay bales, cornstalks, and other fall décor is also a really simple upgrade that can have a big impact. Barnes says that most clients add these items themselves, but Yellowstone will also handle it if they get a special request.

Don’t forget that you can also incorporate container gardens to add fall color, Barnes adds. These can be propped up on haybales or added to ledges or retaining walls around the property. Fall container gardens are a great way to add color to an employee gathering area that is mostly hardscaping.

dding interest inside, too

landscaping at HOA by Yellowstone Landscape
This HOA, landscaped by Yellowstone Landscape, has all the fall feels.Yellowstone Landscape

When your clients think of fall landscaping, they likely think of the exterior of their property. But adding some interest to the interior can go a long way.

“If your clients have a lobby, childcare drop-off, or a hang-out area, these are all great spots to add some potted mums or seasonal décor like pumpkins,” Barnes suggests.

While Yellowstone doesn’t necessarily handle interior work, they can set up these items on special request.

“This is something that is really easy for a facility manager to do and even if we don’t handle it, we might suggest it as an idea,” Barnes says. “It is a very simple way to brighten up a building whether it be a commercial office complex, a clubhouse at an HOA, or some other commercial property.”

Barnes says that Yellowstone Landscape is constantly thinking about their clients’ properties and how they can improve upon them—even if it’s in the form of making helpful suggestions. Clients see them as providing a lot of value by being helpful partners in keeping the landscaping looking its best no matter what the season.

Did you miss our previous article…

Industry roundup: Danuser introduces new post driver and stump auger

Industry roundup: Danuser introduces new post driver and stump auger

Danuser, a leading manufacturer of attachments for construction, landscape, and agricultural equipment, has announced the launch of a new Post Driver and Stump Auger. The Hornet is a quick and powerful post driver. The jack hammer-style power cell offers a controlled, high-speed driving performance. With Danuser’s one-man grapple option, it is an all-in-one driving solution. 

According to the company, there are two models available: T7 and T80RR.

In addition, Danuser’s new Stump Auger is a standard 2” hex auger attachment that planes away stumps without requiring large, specialized equipment. A threaded pilot digs into the stump and large cutting blades then shaves the stump away.

Stanley Black & Decker to acquire Excel Industries

Stanley Black & Decker has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire zero-turn mower specialist Excel Industries. Based in Hesston, Kansas, Excel is a designer and manufacturer of commercial and residential turf-care equipment under the brands of Hustler Turf Equipment and BigDog Mower Co. Excel serves approximately 1,400 equipment dealer outlets that stock, sell and service Hustler and BigDog products.

RC Mowers on extensive “Great American Road Show”

RC Mowers, makers of remote-operated robotic mowers, has been traveling in a “Great American Road Show” all over the United States to give commercial landscapers, public works departments, state and federal park systems, and others a close look at its mowers. The company has visited more than 30 cities so far in 2021 and will be traveling to at least 10 more before the end of the year.

Did you miss our previous article…

Making the case for sodding in the fall

Making the case for sodding in the fall

Sod is often referred to as an “instant lawn” and it’s easy to see why. If your clients have been struggling with bare spots or maybe more weeds than healthy turf, they might be thinking about starting over with a sod installation project. Laying sod will give them a brand-new lawn without the downtime of growing grass from seed.

While many of your clients might think of springtime for a sod installation project, there are a few good reasons to push for this work in the fall. There’s a misconception that sod must be installed during the primary growing season, but this isn’t the case at all.

Your clients are likely to have more success with their new sod if they opt for an autumn installation.

Why fall?

There are several reasons why fall makes a great time to install sod.

For one, the temperatures are cooler, but the grass is still growing. In the spring, the days can sometimes still get quite hot—and the scorching summer sun is just around the corner. By installing sod in the fall, you give it lots of time to become established before having to stand up to the harsh summer sun

It’s also noteworthy that fall grass growth is quite different from spring growth. The blades of grass may not grow as quickly but this is a time when roots are actively growing deep into the ground. This uptick in root growth is just what you want when it comes to getting sod established.

Increased rainfall in the fall also means your clients won’t need to irrigate as much. When sod is installed in the late spring or summer, lack of irrigation is often the biggest downfall to the overall success.  If you’re installing sod in the fall, it will also soon be going into a natural state of dormancy, during which it will also require a lot less upkeep to maintain. Clients will not have to water the grass in its state of dormancy since it’s not doing anything.

Sod laying tips

When it comes to your success, those who install sod have had said mixing compost in will help improve the composition of the soil. You’ll also want to apply fertilizer specifically made for freshly laid sod. This will all help to get your client’s sod off to the best start.

Be sure to inform your clients that they’ll need to properly care for the sod as it becomes established. The first few weeks are absolutely critical. Even though it is fall and the temperatures are milder, they will still need to water once or twice daily if it’s not raining.

The goal is obviously for the sod to take root and become established in its new location. Your clients can test out whether sod is taking root by gently pulling up on a corner and seeing if there is any resistance. If it’s been several weeks and the entire piece of sod lifts up, inform your clients that they should get in touch with you so that you can figure out what’s going on.

At the end of the day, you want to help your clients have as much success as possible with their new lawn. Sod is an expensive investment but when it becomes well-established will give your clients instant gratification with their beautiful new lawn.

Did you miss our previous article…

Industry roundup: Stihl announces new battery-powered equipment

Industry roundup: Stihl announces new battery-powered equipment

Stihl has introduced new battery-powered equipment into its lineup to meet the growing demand for these products.

Among these new products are the STIHL FCA 135 curved shaft edger and FCA 140 straight shaft edger, which are built for extended use in noise-sensitive environments. With the high blade speed of the FCA 135 and the high torque of the FCA140, these edgers offer commercial-grade power and durability. The FCA 135 offers maneuverability ideal for flower beds or well-maintained edges while the FCA 140 is built for uncut edges or packed soil. These edgers feature durable construction with weather-resistant designs.

“Whether you choose the FCA 135 curved shaft or the FCA 140 straight shaft, these edgers are sure to be a welcome addition to your professional fleet of Stihl products,” said Mike Poluka, Stihl, Inc. product manager. “Equipped with an onboard battery slot and a range of product features, you’ll have everything needed to cut through packed soil or simply maintain existing flower beds.”

The lineup also includes battery-powered trimmers. 

Part of the new Stihl 135 professional battery platform, the FSA 135 and FSA 135 R battery-powered trimmers feature an on-board battery slot that can support both an on-board battery or a backpack battery for even longer run times.

Paired with a brushless motor and the same drive and cutting components used in proven Stihl professional gas trimmers, these units deliver professional cutting performance comparable to Stihl gas units with zero exhaust emissions and low noise. These trimmers are versatile for different cutting applications, including trimming, cutting, and weed clearing.

Steel Green reveals new spreader/sprayer options

Steel Green Manufacturing unveiled new options for 2022 models at GIE + EXPO last week.

Steel Green displayed its 2022 spreader/sprayers that come standard with a newly redesigned foot-activated parking brake. The wheel motors have integrated drum brakes on both sides that can now be activated with the operator’s foot rather than by hand.

For added hillside security, Steel Green introduced a new accessory that locks the front caster wheels. Steel Green announced that its hillside stability system is patent-pending and now available as an option for new machines or can be installed on older Steel Green spreader/sprayers.

Other new customization options included a pressure control system and a 12’ boom. The pressure control system maintains spray pressure while turning on and off nozzles. The new boom option provides an adjustable spray width of up to 12’ and is available on the SG52 and SG46.

The company also featured the SG Attachment Kit designed to transform the Steel Green spreader/sprayer into a multi-purpose machine. The kit includes the hydraulic system, joystick valve, hoses, brackets, and fittings and is compatible with the SG Snowplow as well as two attachments that will soon be available—a rake and aerator.

Hitachi introduces ZW100-6 Wheel loader

Hitachi Construction Machinery Loaders America Inc. (HCMA) continues to expand its ZW-6 wheel loaders in North America with the upgrade of its popular compact model, the ZW100-6.

Developed for use in a wide variety of applications — including landscaping; excavation work; and more — the small, yet powerful ZW100-6 wheel loader features an operating weight of 17,042 lbs (7,730 kg), bucket capacity of 1.4 yd³ (1.1 m³), and a 101- hp (74-kW) Tier 4F engine. This new ZW-6 model also boasts a spacious cab with 360-degree visibility, ride control, and onboard technology that enhances operator comfort and increases productivity with quick and efficient cycle times.

Advanced technology developed by Hitachi is at the heart of the ZW-6 wheel loader lineup, which now includes the ZW100-6 in North America, impacting everything from the wheel loader’s environmental performance to the comfort and safety of its operator to its cost of ownership.

For example, each ZW-6 wheel loader comes equipped with a diesel after treatment system that eliminates the hassle and costs associated with diesel particulate filter (DPF) systems, plus onboard technology and an advanced telematics system to help contractors better manage their fleet and operating expenses. This technology-led approach enables Hitachi to meet the evolving needs of the construction industry while improving its customers’ experience with this new generation of wheel loaders.     

Did you miss our previous article…

What you should know about hebe plants: Planting, pruning, and maintenance

What you should know about hebe plants: Planting, pruning, and maintenance

While your clients probably love the colors and scents that flowering shrubs provide to borders, they don’t want fragile plants that take up their time. Named after the Greek goddess of youth, hebes are low-maintenance plants that maintain their decorative (often variegated) foliage all year round. Most hebes bear purple, pink, red, or white flowers that are similar to a bottlebrush’s spike of flowers.

Hebes commonly have small rounded leaves and grow up to 1-3m in height and width. Originally from New Zealand, South America, and the Pacific Island, some hebe varieties are suited to coastal areas since they are able to withstand salty winds. These types of hebes are suitable for hedges. This article will show you how to grow and care for hebe plants. We’ll also consider a few of the most common hebe species for landscaping uses.

Is hebe a winter plant?

A few species of hebes show a dramatic color change in foliage as winter approaches. Generally, large-leaved hebes are less hardy than small-leaved hebe plants. Hebes with large leaves are usually unable to withstand temperatures below 25 degrees. Hence, these hebe varieties have to be protected from winter colds. The majority of hebe species are only winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 8 or higher, which includes the southern United States and parts of the coasts. In summer, as well as during the dry spells of winter, water your hebe plants frequently.

What are the best hebe plants for landscaping?

There are a wide variety of hebe species to choose from. Hebe speciosa variegata has purple blooms and cream-edge foliage. It grows up to six feet high. This can offer a tall hedge for your garden. Hebes, with shorter heights, such as “Mrs winder” with its bright purple blooms, can be planted as ground cover, in containers, or used as borders.

You want to choose hebe shrubs based on your landscape design goals. The large-leaf varieties are great for adding dimension and color to an empty landscape while the small leaf varieties offer evergreen foliage of green, gray, whitish green, or variegated green, with flower blooms that come in a variety of colors, depending on the species.

Hebe Speciosa Variegata “Shrubby veronica”

Shrubby Veronica is characterized by variegated greyish green leaves with creamy margins. In early summer to early fall, it bears spikes of beautiful purple flowers. Hebe speciosa variegata can be planted in groups as a hedge or container plant. It grows up to

3 ft (90 cm) high and up to 2 ft in width (60 cm). When planting shrubby veronica, balance its fine texture with one or two coarse textured shrubs, e.g hydrangea to form a beautiful landscape.

Hebe Alicia Amherst

This is a hebe cultivar known to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Similar to shrubby veronica, it grows up to 3-4 inches tall and as wide. And hence, it is suitable for use as a hedge. Hebe “Alicia Amherst”, named after the English horticulturist Alicia Amherst, is frost hardy and thrives in coastal regions when maintained properly. It’s coarse-textured with leaves of about 10cm in length. It blooms spike-like violet-purple flowers between late July to September.

Hebe “Grace Kelly”

This hebe cultivar, named after the American actress, Grace Kelly, was developed in 2007 in Cambridge, New Zealand and introduced in 2011 by Stephen Burton. It is famous for its variegated white and green leaves with yellow tinges at the tips and purple flowers blooming between June and September. The flower racemes are red-purple in color. Grace Kelly grows about 2-3 feet tall and wide.

Hebe Albicans “red edge”

Commonly used as a low edge or in containers for patios and terraces, hebe albicans are round, compact shrubs that grow up to 60 cm in height. They have oval, light green leaves arranged across the stems. Albicans is a Latin word meaning “off-white”, denoting the color of its flowers. Its green foliage darkens to a reddish tint during winter. It is also a hardy shrub that can thrive in the NorthWest.

Hebe “Mrs Winder” or “Waikiki”

Hebe Mrs Winder is also sometimes called Shrubby Veronica. Under good maintenance, it reaches 1.3m in height. But generally, it grows to around 1m in height. It’s usually used as a low hedge. It flowers from late summer to early winter, able to withstand cold. Its flowers are purple-colored with tapered spikes and its leaves are dark green with a reddish-brown color when young. It’s a fast-growing plant suitable for planting in coastal areas. 

Planting hebes

Ideally, hebes should be planted in spring. You can also plant in autumn. However, ensure you can protect your young plants from the winter cold. Here are some things to know about planting hebe shrubs:

1. Use a pot filled with well-drained sandy soil and mixed with compost and some controlled-release feed fertilizer.

2. Position your hebes where they can receive full sunlight. In areas where the plant is shaded, it becomes leggy or stops growing.

3. Hebes are usually planted with seeds or cuttings. When using cuttings, dip the end of the cutting in hormone powder to encourage growth.

4. For potted hebes, you might need to transplant into larger pots after a year to give the roots more room to spread. Planting and transplanting shrubs can be tricky, and you might need the help of a local certified arborist

5. When planting, stick the tip of the cutting deep into thoroughly moistened soil.

6. Keep young hebes indoors during winter and transplant in spring.

Hebe shrubs: pruning and maintenance

Hebe plants aren’t commonly affected by pests and diseases. And they don’t like high phosphate fertilizers. If your plant is dying, that could be because you applied this type of fertilizer. Cheryl Denham, owner of Arizona Florist, a family-owned florist company in Phoenix advises “when your hebe plant starts showing signs of feebleness, you can take cuttings from it instead of buying new plants. To promote growth, dip in cuttings and apply some controlled-release fertilizer around the base. At the end of winter, you want to inspect your hebe plant and prune away damaged stems”.


Hebe shrubs require delicate care when budding but once fully grown, are low maintenance plants with evergreen leaves. They make a nice, colorful addition to hedges and borders.