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Belknap Landscape Offers Nationally Recognized Apprenticeships

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It seems a perfect storm is brewing in the workforce of the Lakes Region. As the cost of attending college rises, the shortage of skilled labor persists, and New Hampshire is challenged with retaining or attracting young residents, a renewed focus on workforce development has been growing in our area. Now, there is another option for young workers to learn and grow into a career.

This week Belknap Landscape Company of Gilford is celebrating National Apprenticeship Week with their first apprentice, Garrett Peaslee. A 2019 graduate of Gilford High School, Peaslee is the first participant in the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) apprenticeship program in New Hampshire. He began the 2-year program in April, is gaining on-hands training at Belknap Landscape and classroom course instruction through online classes provided by Colorado State University.

Garrett Peaslee, NALP Landscape Apprentice

“The program helps you to gain general knowledge on all the topics within the trade. From weed-whacking, to reading blueprints and setting grades. I have been surprised to see how many layers there are to this industry.” Says Peaslee

This apprenticeship in landscaping joins dozens of other apprenticeship programs offered to New Hampshire residents. For several years high school graduates have had their choice from HVAC, culinary, hospitality, healthcare and construction apprenticeships just to name a few, but landscaping apprenticeships did not exist in the state. This year Belknap Landscape joined the NALP program to fill this void.

“Our industry requires a diverse set of skills, and we needed to find a way to fill some complex roles,” said Jeff Sirles who manages recruiting for Belknap Landscape. “We have always tried to support education and training in the area, so this program was a great fit.”

Apprenticeship programs have an important effect of our local workforce. They provide young adults an option of continued education and professional development outside of the traditional university system, allowing them to live locally. While most apprenticeship programs do require classroom learning, often these costs are covered by the employer, and the ability to gain real-world experience while also being paid for their work makes continued education obtainable for virtually anyone. Finally, they help develop local workers, providing our local businesses with the skilled employees we need to continue to prosper.

For more information on Apprenticeships in New Hampshire visit apprenticeshipnh.com or to learn more about landscaping apprenticeships email [email protected].

Belknap Landscape Acquires Carroll County Landscape

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To our wonderful Clients, Community, and Partners,

 

For over 30 years Belknap Landscape has enjoyed building relationships and servicing some of the most beautiful landscapes in the Lakes Region. Over those years we’ve grown though careful planning and consideration of the values we possess, while being mindful of what is best for our clients, employees, and community. I’m happy to announce we’re still growing.

Last week Belknap Landscape Co. completed an acquisition of Carroll County Landscape Inc., located in Wolfeboro.

This decision was the result of careful consideration regarding what both organizations value, and how joining the two companies will facilitate the most ideal results for everyone involved. Both companies have decades of experience, certified technicians, and a proven track record of providing exceptional quality. We both also have a history of supporting our communities by hiring local workers and supporting local causes.

As we move forward, our intention is to make no significant changes over next several months. You can expect to see the same faces, equipment, and methods of service on your property. We plan to retain all of the staff and maintain the same properties in Gilford, Belmont, and now Wolfeboro. David Alessandroni, the founder of Carroll County Landscape will be assisting us in these efforts during the coming months as he looks forward to a well-deserved retirement.

Please know we will consider your needs first throughout this process. Our clients have made these opportunities and successes possible, and we are grateful for your support. We look forward to continuing building a business that’s worthy of that continued support.

 

Kind regards,

 

Hayden McLaughlin, Principal

Belknap Landscape Company, Inc.

Can I leave the leaves and other Fall facts you should know.

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The trees in the Lakes Region are awash with color in autumn, as the days become shorter and the nights become cooler. This season brings many things that should be done on your property, and we’ve found there’s no shortage of opinions or misinformation on these topics.

So today we’re going to address a few of these topics, and hopefully, add some clarity to maintaining your property this season.

Can I Leave the Leaves?

We get it. Nobody enjoys raking leaves. Some say it’s not needed, whereas others advise to mulch them, and still others demand all leaves that need to be removed. Who is right? Well, a little bit of everyone.

One of the worst things you can do for your lawn allows it to be smothered by a carpet of leaves through the winter. Lawns need to breathe, and leaves can prevent that. Leaves can also encourage disease and fungus growth, so don’t just leave you leaves.

Removing them eliminates the concern of smothering your lawn, but you may be missing an opportunity. Leaves contain valuable nitrogen which is important to the growth of your lawn. Mulching correctly can both reduce the need for removing as many leaves, and introduce these nutrients into the soil.

To mulch correctly you must:

  • Use a mower with a mulching blade.
  • Only mulch dry leaves.
  • Mulch 3-4 times over the season. Don’t wait for all of the leaves to fall.
  • Make several passes over the leaves. You want to make enough passes so that the leaves are broken down to under ½ inch, ideally ¼ inch pieces. This also helps encourage leaves to be forced downward into the soil layers.

Evergreen Shrubs are Winter-Proof. Right?

 

Even though your shrubs stay green, or are hearty, doesn’t mean they are impervious to what winter can cause. Evergreens are susceptible to winter damage and die off just like deciduous varieties of shrubs.

Autumn often turns to winter quicker than we expect it, and winter can be a challenging time for the viability of your shrubs. Severe cold, freeze and thaw cycles, wind, and even physical damage from show and ice occur frequently. Often a little proactive effort in late autumn is enough to curb these risks, and we encourage property owners to consider how to best protect their shrubs.

Build wooden coverings for any shrubs beneath your soffit, under trees, or anywhere falling ice and snow may crash onto them. The wooden coverings can be simple A-frames, lean-tos, or anything that will shed the impact of these hazards away from your shrubs. Damage from falling ice in particular is a common cause of winter die-off.

Consider wrapping your shrubs in burlap. Burlap will protect your plant from severe winds (a particular concern for lakefront or high-view properties). Burlap also breathes, allowing for more subtle temperature fluctuations and drier conditions throughout the winter.

Mulching can help protect roots from damaging freeze and thaw cycles. The insulative properties of 2-3 inches of mulch along the ground can make a big difference. Just remember not to pile mulch along the stem or trunk areas. Your shrubs still need to breathe, and this will reduce airflow to this important area.

Oh Deer!

 

The Lakes Region is known for its natural beauty, and that includes wonderful wildlife. While much of our wildlife is preparing to hibernate or migrate during autumn, others may be eyeing your plants like a buffet. We’re of course referring to deer.

We’ve heard story after story of deer doing damage over the winter to valued plants. We’ve also heard almost as many so-called foolproof ways to prevent this from happening. Here’s what we know works.

Keep them out. Install fencing around your property or around your plants. If deer cannot get close to your plants, they cannot eat them.

Fencing can be permanent or temporary, but it needs to be durable enough to not be pushed over by the deer, snowdrifts, or strong winds. It also needs to be tall enough that the deer cannot simply jump over it. This means 8 feet tall in some instances.

Gross them out. Apply repellants commonly found in home improvement or garden centers. These work on detouring the deer through smell, and must be reapplied often. Snow, rain, wind, and general breaking down of the material is enough to reduce its effectiveness. This means reapplying ever 2 weeks on average (more often if it rains).

Repellants are effective in most cases, but they aren’t completely failsafe. If the winter is especially tough, and food is scarce, deer may ignore the repellant and choose to eat what is available.

You can also choose to install plants which deer aren’t prone to eating. When you’re selecting a plant, consult with a nursey, landscape, or horticulture professional on what plants are deer resistant.

Finally, do these things now, in the autumn. You want to prevent deer from even starting, as once deer have begun accessing your property to eat your plants, it’s considerably harder to mitigate the problem. Deer begin looking for alternative food sources once their traditional food becomes scarce. That most commonly begins in the early winter. Take your property off the menu before they begin looking!

Help Your Lawn Recover From the 2020 Summer Drought

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The summer of 2020 brought drought conditions throughout much of New Hampshire and the Lakes Region certainly wasn’t spared from a very dry summer. It comes as no surprise that drought is a particularly challenging condition for keeping your outdoor spaces healthy and attractive. We’ve found that lawns seem to be particularly hard hit by the conditions this year.

Most property owners believe that other than consistently watering their lawn that there’s not much else they can do to help their lawn stay healthy during a drought. Simply put, that’s just not true. While watering is important, several factors affect your lawn health, some of which can help offset a lack of water.

A healthy lawn requires four elements to be viable and attractive; air, nutrients, sunlight, and water.

Air

Air is typically the most overlooked element that your lawn needs. It’s not unusual for us to be called for a lawn renovation where the client believed they were proactively caring for their property through consistent watering, fertilization, and weeding but they failed to be viable and lush.

Lawns need to breathe. Over time the topsoil below your lawn will become compacted and clogged with materials that can no longer decompose as is needed for a healthy ecosystem. This makes it more difficult for the lawn to absorb moisture and nutrients, or shed excess moisture. As a result, turfgrass growth becomes stunted, diseases and weeds may gain a foothold, and over time the turfgrasses are no longer viable. As a result, a good lawn care plan includes dethatching and aeration.

Thatch is the build-up of organic material on your lawn. This organic material is typically comprised of dead turfgrass, parts of leaves, clippings, and more. While this organic material is an important part of the ecosystem, it needs to be managed. Too much thatch becomes a barrier that air, water, and nutrients may not be able to easily pass through, thus suffocating and starving your lawn. Dethatching removes this thatch.

Aeration is the introduction of small voids into the topsoil. The voids puncture the topsoil to both loosen compacted areas and introduce a pathway for air, water, and nutrients to make their way into the soil and thus the roots of your lawn.

During periods of drought, it is still important for your lawn to breathe. Perhaps even more important your lawn needs to be ready to best absorb water and nutrients when they do arrive. Dethatching and Aeration are excellent ways to assure your lawn can breathe, absorb, and recover from drought conditions.

Aeration and dethatching are most commonly done in the spring and autumn. Based upon the drought conditions we’ve been experiencing in the Lakes Region; we recommend aeration and dethatch this autumn if your property has not received either as recently as last spring.

Nutrients

Nutrients are typically introduced to your turf through the addition of fertilizers and compost. Fertilization typically requires adding a mixture of materials that contains ingredients like Nitrogen and Phosphorus to the top of the lawn. Composting, also known as top-dressing, consists of spreading organic compost onto your lawn to a depth of approximately ¼ of an inch.

Both practices typically occur in either the spring or autumn while the days are warm and evenings are cool. We’ve found combining these practices with dethatching and aeration makes them most effective.

Nutrients may also be reintroduced to your lawn through mulching your grass clippings. As your grass grows, nutrients are utilized in the growth process and are contained within the turfgrass blades. When you mow, bagging and removing the clippings removes those nutrients from the lawn ecosystem. Utilizing a mulching lawnmower helps break down the clippings and reintroduce them to the topsoil, thus reintroducing those nutrients.

Nutrient care is important during periods of drought due to the role water plays in the absorption and retention of nutrients. Water is an important conveyance vehicle for the nutrients in the lawn and along the topsoil to be introduced to your plant roots. Water also is an important factor in the absorption and use of nutrients in photosynthesis.

In drought conditions, it’s common for nutrients to stay on the surface areas of your lawn. As they dry out, they are susceptible to be blown away, degraded and rendered ineffective, or simply not absorbed. As this continues nutrients slowly become less available to your lawn for when the drought ends. The careful and mindful reinstruction of nutrients through fertilization and compost can help relieve this condition.

This autumn in particular we recommend the utilization of top-dressing composting to help your lawn recover from the drought.

Sunlight

Sunlight provides the energy needed for the photosynthesis process turfgrasses need to survive. Different turfgrasses, just like other plants, require different amounts of sunlight. While a drought also adversely affects the photosynthesis process, planting the correct turfgrasses based upon sunlight exposure can help reduce those effects.

We recommend considering sunlight exposure when installing a new lawn or over-seeding an existing lawn.

Sunlight can also exacerbate drought conditions due to evaporation and breaking down nutrients. A good lawn care program that helps water and nutrients make their way into the topsoil easily can help reduce these effects. Thus, a total health program that includes dethatching, aeration, and the introduction of nutrients is important, especially in high-sun exposure areas.

Water

The top concern during a drought is water. We’ve covered some ways of preparing your lawn to be best able to absorb and utilize water when it does rain, but it’s important to understand ways to get the most out of the water you may choose to introduce to your property through irrigation, sprinkler systems, or hand spraying.

First, water in the morning before the sun has fully risen. Sunlight evaporates water. By watering in the dawn light hours your lawn has more time to absorb water before the stronger, direct sunlight has an opportunity to begin evaporating the water.

Do not water at night. While evaporation from sunlight does affect water absorption, it can also be advantageous by removing excess water. Excess water can limit the airflow and nutrient absorption for your turfgrasses while also creating conditions for diseases Watering at night allows excess water to remain in place for longer durations, which is hazardous to turfgrass viability.

Water with less quantity and more frequency. Water absorption takes time. This can result in water not being absorbed fully if large quantities are introduced over a short period. Instead, create a watering regiment which introduces smaller quantities of water more frequently. If you plan to introduce 50 gallons to water to an area a week, consider watering at a rate of 10 gallons across 5 mornings as opposed to a one-time introduction of 50 gallons. This will facilitate better absorption as well as replace evaporated or lost moisture more frequently.

Consider an irrigation system. An irrigation system may seem like a luxury or may seem expensive, but some solutions are both affordable and help protect your plant life which would be difficult to replace. Many irrigation service providers, like Belknap Landscape, will provide an irrigation system quote for your property free of charge.

The best time to install an irrigation system is in the spring or early fall during the slower growth cycle of your turfgrasses. If you’re considering the addition of an irrigation system, now is an excellent time to get a proposal and quote.

 

The Pros and Cons of Installing a Heated Driveway or Walkway

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Winter in the Lakes Region means the arrival of snowy and icy conditions. This arrival brings additional efforts, costs, and headaches associated with keeping your property safe and accessible. We’ve been removing snow and ice from residential and commercial properties for decades, and we know that will continue for decades to come. We also know that for some property owners, there may be a better way.

Heating your driveway or walkway is an effective way to eliminate the need for plowing, shoveling, or the use of chemicals to keep your lanes of travel free of ice and snow. Historically these systems were expensive to install, problematic to operate, and occasionally unreliable. Today we find there has been significant progress in radiant heat technology utilized for this purpose, eliminating many of those concerns and making this a viable choice for many homeowners. Here are some common pros and cons regarding heated driveways and walkways.

The Pros

Property owners with these systems have the peace of mind knowing that their system will keep their property few and clear of snow and ice with little need of help or assistance from them.

Once installed, some systems such as the electric varieties require little maintenance. They have few, if any moving parts, and can last for decades.

Property owners may realize long-term savings after installing these systems versus the costs associated with hiring a snow removal contractor. Savings may also be realized in insurance rates based upon the decreased likelihood associated with slip and fall claims due to slippery travel paths.

The addition of a heated driveway or walkway is a desirable feature for property owners, resulting in greater resale value for the property.

Heated driveways melt snow and ice without the use of chemicals. This means the chemical impact from your property is significantly reduced. This is an important consideration for waterfront and watershed properties.

Your driveway may last longer. The freeze-thaw cycle is tough on hard surfaces like driveways and walkways. By reducing the frequency, or eliminating this cycle you’ll reduce stress on the surface. This will help increase how long these surfaces last.

The Cons

The installation of these systems often represents a significant up-front investment. This is especially the case if a system is being retrofitted into an existing driveway or walkway, or if the driveway is particularly large. The best time to consider this upgrade is when you are installing new or performing a significant restoration of your driveway or walkway.

These systems require energy and will result in increased utility bills. Often the increase in utilities is less than the cost of snow removal services.

These systems can be expensive to repair. If the radiant heating pad, tubing, or underlayment requires repair, the system will need to be unearthed. This can be costly. Proper and careful installation is the best way to mitigate this risk. Also, be careful to understand and follow loading limits for these features to help prevent damages.

As systems age, they may become obsolete causing repairs to be difficult or impossible. This is especially common in hydronic (forced liquid) systems. Electric systems tend to have fewer parts to repair, and can be retrofitted with new parts more easily.

Who is a good candidate?

Those who tend to get the best return on investment regarding a heated driveway or walkway tend to have a number of these characteristics below.

They are considering an installation on their primary residence, or a residence they plan on using during the winter months.

The driveway and/or walkway are being newly constructed or will be undergoing a significant renovation soon.

They hire a snow removal contractor to maintain their property or are looking for a solution that eliminates the need for removing snow themselves.

Their driveway has average traffic which does not include consistent and recurring heavy machinery or trucks, especially if you utilize a hydronic system.

Other things to know

Radiant heating systems can be installed in any hardscape feature. This can include a patio space to allow safe use of your patio, fire pit, or other landscape features year-round.

Many heated driveway systems are compatible with a variety of hardscape materials. There are solutions for use with natural stone, concrete pavers, poured concrete, asphalt and more.

These systems are not for the DIYer. Correct installation will have a significant effect on the reliability and effectiveness of the system. These systems also require an electrician and in some cases a plumber (for hydronic systems).

Permitting is likely required. A quality landscaping firm can assist you in this process.

We’ve found electric systems, such as those from ProLine Radiant Heat are the best solution for both residential and commercial applications. These systems are often more durable, cost effective, and provide the expected results.

As always, Belknap Landscape will be here for our clients and their winter property needs. If you’re interested in finding out if a heated driveway is right for you, or if you require traditional winter property care as part of your proactive property maintenance plan, we can help you find the right solution. Give us a call 603-528-2798

 

6 Reasons You Need a Proactive Landscape Maintenance Program

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Your property is likely one of the biggest investments you’ll make, and like most investments, it’s important to do what you can to protect or increase its value. Improvements are a good way to raise the value. Proactive maintenance is a good way to protect value, but it’s often overlooked or misunderstood. Belknap Landscape has the expertise to offer solutions for both, we’d like you to know why proactive maintenance is important, and why you should consider hiring a professional.

Here are 6 reasons a proactive landscape maintenance program is the best way to protect your property.

Better care 

Your landscape likely contains a variety of plant life. Ornamental plants, turfgrass, trees, and other plants each have different needs. As with all living things, adequate care may require more than a “set it and forget it” approach. Do you know what adequate care is for all the plants on your property?

A professional can prepare and recommend a service plan to assure appropriate care occurs for all the plants on your property. A good plan will assure the plants receive the nutrition and care they need while identifying and discouraging disease. Well cared for plants are consistently more attractive and viable, beautifying your property and protecting your investment.

Relaxation

Property care takes time and effort. The time you spend maintaining your property is time not spent enjoying your outdoors with family and friends, and doing things you enjoy. Your free time during the summer, evenings, and weekends could be better spent not doing chores.

A proactive landscape maintenance plan will take into consideration when and how you’ll be utilizing your outdoor space. This means the timing, scope, and method of work performed will reduce the impact on your day-to-day life, especially during periods you’ll want to be outside enjoying your property.

Peace of Mind

The most important aspects of a landscape maintenance program are designed to offer peace of mind. Simply put they are expertly crafted, proactive, and regularly evaluated to eliminate problems. They eliminate the problem of assuring your property is healthy and viable. They eliminate the problem of planning for service times and execution. They eliminate the problem of potential asset damages or headaches. Property owners who benefit from landscape service plans are often most happy with the peace of mind they receive.

Money Saved

We’ve already mentioned how a qualified landscaper, executing a good maintenance plan can help assure the health of your plants, and it’s important to consider the costs associated with plant loss. Plants that have not received appropriate care, are more likely to require replacement. The costs associated with removing a plant, acquiring a new one and the associated labor can add up. It’s by far more efficient and less costly to reduce this occurrence.

In addition, plants help keep your property healthy overall. Plants help reduce erosion concerns. They can help curb damages associated with wind and rain, and discourage invasive species or bad soil conditions. Protecting your plants and property through good maintenance will help prevent these costly problems from occurring.

A Comprehensive Approach

In the Lakes region, there are dozens upon dozens of landscape services companies, each with different abilities and scopes of work offered. Some companies specialize in only lawn care, others in fertilization or tree services. While this ala-carte approach may have benefits, a good landscape maintenance plan is comprehensive.

Comprehensive approaches are more efficient, and as a result typically more economical. By utilizing this approach, many tasks can be completed on a property in the same visit, reducing duplication of efforts, and the time cost associated with this type of service.

Comprehensive approaches are more effective. This is due to the ability for tasks to be completed in the best possible order. For example, an overseeding is more effective after a dethatching. A dethatching is more effective after a lower mow cycle. Lower mow cycles should be achieved gradually to reduce shock on the turf grasses. If you employ different overseeding and mowing companies, you’ll need to make an effort to coordinate this yourself and hope they can accommodate your needs.

Finally, a comprehensive approach assures accountability. The more vendors you employ, the more chances a mistake may occur, or worse the more likely finger-pointing will occur if a mistake does occur. A landscaper who provides and executes a comprehensive plan owns the result and owns any mistakes or short-comings.

Expert knowledge and observations 

Quality Landscape maintenance companies have account managers, industry specialists, and service professionals who have a keen eye for aesthetics and potential problems. Their experience and training offer an understanding of what is occurring on your property that the typical homeowner doesn’t possess. This means they can identify problems early before they can cause costly damage or dangerous situations. They can also assure the service you receive is conducted in the correct way, assuring the best results.

Look for service providers which consistently walk your property to check for problems. There’s a difference between providers who simply complete tasks, and those who offer this type of care. It’s smart to choose the latter.

It’s also important to ask about licenses, certifications, and experience. Licensed, certified, and experienced service providers have the training and knowledge to know what to look for, and how to resolve issues on your property effectively.

At Belknap Landscape, all our property maintenance clients receive a dedicated account manager tasked with regularly reviewing your property, assuring quality, recognizing problems, and offering proactive solutions. They have the benefit of a stable of licensed, certified, and experienced professionals acquired over 30+ years, on whom they can call upon to best care for your property.

Beat the Heat! How to keep trees and shrubs healthy in hot, dry weather.

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We all know how to keep ourselves healthy during the hot and dry summer days. It’s important to try and keep cool, stay hydrated, and eat well. Did you know that’s great advice to follow for your trees and shrubs as well?

Trees and shrubs sometimes need additional care when the weather changes. Unfortunately keeping them cool can be a challenge, but keeping them well hydrated, with good nutrients is possible, and typically all that’s needed to keep them healthy.

Signs your trees and shrubs may need additional attention during hot and dry weather may include; wilting, leaf or stem discoloration, slow growth, dry or brittle leaves, and dry soil.

Here are things you can do to care for your trees and shrubs during hot and dry weather.

Get them hydrated

The root systems of many trees and shrubs grow broad and deep enough to sustain their water needs in most instances. However, in times of extended dryness, the subsoil isn’t replenished with water and eventually, there isn’t enough moisture for the root systems to absorb. Even in instances when it has rained recently, if the subsoil is particularly dry there may not have been enough precipitation to adequately replenish the moisture.

Appropriate irrigation is a good way to ensure your trees and shrubs have the moisture they need, but not in excess. Most newly planted immature trees need 20 gallons of water a week applied to the root ball. Mature trees have a more established root system and require less direct watering, but should be watered every 2 weeks during dry periods. For shrubs, make sure they receive water weekly. If it has not rained recently, water your shrubs slowly to allow moisture to penetrate the soil more effectively. We recommend trickle irrigation or using a hose with a slow trickle.

The easiest way to see if there’s enough moisture in your soil is to test the soil by trying to penetrate it with a trowel, pick, or screwdriver. If you’re able to easily penetrate the soil 4 or more inches, your soil has adequate moisture. If it’s difficult to penetrate, you need to water.

Maintain Hydration

Heat and direct sunlight are some of the top challenges in maintaining soil hydration. One of the best ways to combat this is through the use of mulch. While mulch provides an attractive look, it also has a practical purpose. It provides a barrier between the soil and sunlight, heat, and dry air, thus assisting in maintaining the soil’s moisture.

When installing mulch, 3 inches is a good standard depth to work to achieve. Be careful not to mulch directly onto the base of a tree trunk as this area needs to be left exposed so the tree can breathe. Finally, keep your mulch fresh and hydrated. While dry mulch may still do an adequate job keeping your soil moist, excessively dry mulch can be a fire hazard and is prone to blowing away. As mentioned prior, a good irrigation program can help assist in both maintaining your soil moisture and also the freshness of your mulch.

Nutrition Matters

Moisture is an important conduit to help your trees and shrubs realize their nutrient requirements. Sometimes, during hot and dry weather trees and shrubs experience challenges in absorbing and utilizing proper nutrition.

During hot and dry periods we recommend considering the use of bio-stimulants such as Fish Hydrolysate, Humic Acid, Mycorrhizae, and Seaweed Extracts. These can help provide benefits to growth, development, and stress response in your trees and shrubs by enhancing nutrient uptake and altering the way your plants utilize nutrients. They also encourage stronger and healthier growth, making your plants more robust and able to survive difficult weather patterns.

The use of bio-stimulants can be challenging. We recommend seeking the help of a professional, or taking the time to educate yourself on proper application techniques, and going slow for the do-it-yourselfer.

With general care and proactive maintenance, your trees and shrubs can thrive even during hot, dry spells. If you’re unsure of how, or what to do our certified arborist and team of plant health professionals is available to help service your property needs.

Outdoor Kitchen Features to Consider Before You Build

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The weather is fantastic, the scenery is beautiful, and you want to spend as much time outside enjoying yourself with the ones you love as possible. Many landscape features are well suited for this scenario, and one of the most popular and versatile is the outdoor kitchen.

When designed and executed correctly, an outdoor kitchen can provide an area for entertaining guests that is hard to beat. They may provide an area for the preparation of food and refreshments, staging and storage areas for entertaining, and in some cases spaces for seating and socializing. When considering an outdoor kitchen, it’s helpful to consider what features you’d value in the space. Here are some of the common features to consider.

Grills, Griddles, Smokers, and Cooking Areas

Grills are the most requested and installed feature in outdoor kitchens. They are typically gas, but charcoal, electric, and even wood-fired grills are available. Grills offer the “Backyard BBQ” feel to entertaining with your outdoor kitchen.

Griddles, similarly to grills are typically gas but have similar alternative options to grills. Griddles offer the versatility of cooking options you usually cannot realize with just a grill. Those who opt for a griddle find they use it as frequently as they do the grill. It’s worth noting that many grill manufacturers offer griddle attachments or grill/griddle combination appliances.

Smokers are relatively new to the outdoor kitchen marketplace in New England. If you like traditional slow-cooked barbecue, a smoker cannot be beaten!

It’s important to not overlook the usefulness of other cooking areas. The addition of burners will allow you to cook nearly anything in your outdoor kitchen (like lobster for example) that you would on your indoor stovetop. Warming trays or drawers can also be a useful addition if you entertain frequently.

Pizza Ovens

Pizza ovens are a feature that works better outdoors than indoors in most cases. The best ovens allow the internal temperature to reach around 800 degrees, with wood being the most popular type of heating source, but charcoal and other heat sources are available.

Pizza ovens can also be designed for a dual-use as an outdoor fireplace. This makes them popular for utilitarian and social functions.

Drink Stations

There’s virtually no limit to what you can add to a drink station. Traditionally drink stations include a refrigerator to begin, but we’ve seen ice makers, beer taps, wine refrigerators, soda fountains, and even full bar setups.

Skinks

Often the unsung hero of an outdoor kitchen, clients who install sinks are surprised just how handy they found them! A sink makes an outdoor kitchen truly independent from your indoor kitchen, and will often save you from making trips back indoors.

Counter space

Counter space is the most overlooked, and most frequently missed feature of an outdoor kitchen. It gives you places to prepare meals, stage, or display food and is one of the easiest features to include and install. Just like an indoor kitchen, counter space should be a top consideration in your design. If you neglect it, you’ll miss it.

Cabinets and Storage

There’s no such thing as too much storage. Fortunately, many outdoor kitchen features like grills, griddles, counter space, and more require a base for installation. In the bases, cabinets can be installed to help facilitate storage items. Be cautious about storing food of any kind in your outdoor kitchen. It will likely attract pests like ants, mice, or even bears!

Seating

Seating at your indoor kitchen allows for comfort while cooking, or the ability to utilize the kitchen as an entertaining space. Seating can be accomplished in many ways very similar to that of eat-in kitchens in homes. This is especially important if you add features like a bar, or if you have limited space to have adjacent entertaining spaces.

Adjacent Entertaining Spaces

Having an outdoor kitchen is a wonderful addition to any property, but as a stand-alone, they are less functional without some manner of entertaining space. Some kitchens can include an entertaining space like a bar or seating area, but otherwise, it’s practical to consider the addition of a patio, deck, or seating area. This will allow you and your guests another space to enjoy the products of your kitchen while enjoying each other and your outdoor space.

Check out photos of some of our outdoor kitchen projects here.

In Case You Missed It: Here’s What We’ve Been Up To This Summer

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Its been a busy month at Belknap Landscape. We’ve worked on many great properties, and we’ve had the opportunity to partner with friends on some fun projects to help inform and educate on important topics for property owners. In case you missed them, check out some of the things we were up to below.

 

Helping Protect Our Lakes

Protecting the water quality of our lakes is important. Much of what property owners, and service providers do on waterfront and watershed landscapes can have a significant influence on water quality. That’s why we partnered with NH Lakes to cohost two webinars of their lake-friendly living webinar series.

NH Lakes is a statewide non-profit organization that is dedicated to keeping our lakes clean and healthy. As their partner in these webinars we discussed how to get the landscape you want, and how to maintain your landscape in ways that help protect our lakes.

In case you missed them, the webinars were recorded and can be viewed by clicking below.

How to Get the Lake-Friendly Landscape You’ll Love

Lake-Friendly Ways to Maintain Your Landscape

 

Working With Others to Give Advice

The summer is an excellent time to take on new projects and assure the health and viability of your landscape. The trees on your property especially benefit from a proactive care plan in the summer. That’s why we partnered with Redfin.com with several other experts around the country to provide a guide to caring for your trees this summer.

Click the link below to see what the industry experts have to say, or as always give us a call. Peter our ISA certified arborist is looking forward to assisting you with your tree care needs.

Expert Summer Tree Care Tips

 

Supporting a Lakes Region Gem

Help us support a Lakes Region Gem!

The annual plant sale is still underway at Kirkwood Gardens. Located on Route 3 in Holderness, Kirkwood Gardens is a part of the Squam Lake Natural Science Center. Proceeds from the plant sale benefitting the science center, and their educational purpose for residents and visitors of the Lakes Region.

Stop by Kirkwood Gardens to pick up a new plant, tour the gardens, or relax for a bit. Admission to the gardens is free and you won’t be sorry you discovered this gem off of Squam Lake.

Click Here To Learn More About Kirkwood Gardens

 

Expert Tips to Prepare Your Trees for Summer

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Summer is an important time regarding the health of your trees. With the help of Redfin.com and some of our friends around the country, here’s some tips for caring for your trees this season.

As we near the end of quarantine and the beginning of Summer many of us are eager to get outside and enjoy our favorite summer activities. Whether you plan to go somewhere or just spend more time utilizing your home’s outdoor space, one important thing to keep in mind is that while the idea of summer sounds sweet to us it isn’t always so sweet to your trees. A proper summer tree care plan is extremely important when trying to make sure your trees survive the harsh heat and droughts that are associated with the summer months. Whether it’s trimming, irrigation, pest control, or fertilization we’ve reached out to the experts in tree care from Miami to Sacramento to provide you with a full Summer Tree care checklist to ensure your treescape is ready for the season.

Photo Courtesy of Redfin.com

Proper irrigation is key

Dry hot summer weather can stress trees.  Now is the time to perform a seasonal automatic sprinkler controller adjustment.  In Southern California, that means increasing irrigation zone run times or frequency where trees are present. Additionally, do not fertilize or prune trees during the summer as that forces the tree to produce new foliage when it is trying to conserve energy during the summer heat.  Wait until the fall to fertilize and prune trees. – Rappoport Development

Established trees need infrequent, deep waterings. Even if you water your lawn or have short cloudbursts, make sure to give your trees a good, long drink once a month or so. If rain is scarce, or you use drip irrigation, overhead watering of smaller landscape trees removes dust and debris and improves their look and health. Summer heat is NOT the time for heavy pruning, planting, or relocating. It IS a good time to sit in the shade and sip a cool drink and decide where you want to plant a tree in the fall! – American Conifer Society

Every tree requires a different amount of water based on its age, species, planting site, and soil type.  When supplemental summer watering is needed, our arborists recommend watering trees deeply, infrequently, at a slow rate, and near the drip zone while avoiding wetting the bark and leaves.  Allow the top of the root zone to dry out between waterings.  Preventing drought stress in your trees will allow you to enjoy the cool of their shade for years to come. – For The Love Of Trees

Photo Courtesy of Redfin.com

The warmer months tend to bring tree-related problems with them. While you definitely need to keep an eye out for bugs and disease in your trees, making sure your tree doesn’t fall victim to drought can actually help combat other tree issues! Drought effects can be seen for months, and even years, after the first signs are noticed. So here are three quick tips to help your tree steer clear of water stress:

  • Help your tree by properly mulching around the base to conserve water under the soil
  • Use a root stimulator, like Aqua 3-IA for Arbor Care, with fertilizer to expand your root system and allow it to absorb more nutrients and water
  • Water your trees at the drip line (the area under the tips of the tree branches) – MitoGrow

Take roots into consideration

It’s important to be aware of tree roots, especially when trees are near hardscapes like sidewalks, patios and utilities. Root Barriers effectively manage root expansion without compromising tree health or growth and can be used both on new plantings and existing trees. Root Barriers are mechanical guides that were specifically designed to redirect tree roots down and away from hardscapes, preventing costly root damage while preserving the health and beauty of mature trees. – Deeproot

When planting a new tree, it’s important to consider its maximum mature size and the amount of soil necessary to support proper root growth. This consideration can save the expense of future tree removal or repairs to damaged hardscapes and infrastructure. As a general rule of thumb, and assuming a soil depth of 30 inches, for small mature species, such as most ornamental trees, 80 square feet or greater of growing area is adequate. For larger mature species, such as Douglas fir, western redcedar, or western hemlock, 300 square feet or greater is needed. – The Watershed Company

Be sure to inspect

Summer is a great time to inspect your trees for conditions that may influence their long-term viability and catch them early. Look for things like cracks and damage, missing bark or foliage, mold, discoloration, and pests. If you find anything concerning, consult a certified arborist to help you with a treatment plan. – Belknap Landscape Company

Proper pruning every 2-5 years, depending on the tree and its surroundings, is the most effective way to keep trees healthy and problem-free for generations.  Think grooming and hygiene for trees.  It is also the most overlooked because unfortunately most tree pruning is done improperly by poorly trained crews.  It is truly both an art and a science, and good decision-making is the most important part of the process. – Nova Arborist

The right mulch can go a long way

Now is the time to get your trees ready for what is potentially the most stressful event of their year, the summer drought. The water scarcity brought on by a long, hot summer is one of the most common reasons we see established trees struggling. These drought events have always been present in our region but have been increasing in duration and intensity in recent years as a result of climate change. What can you do to help your trees survive this stress? The answer may sound simple but can be incredibly effective. Put down a 3″ thick layer of wood chip mulch on the ground under your trees, ideally extending out as far as the edge of the branches. This mulch performs many functions, but most importantly it helps the soil retain water and moderate temperature. Mulch is available from commercial sources as well as many of your local tree care companies. As an added benefit the mulch will mask debris from your trees, that debris such as seeds and leaves can be left in place to break down into the soil along with the mulch. No more annoying cleanup! – Conservation Tree Care

Photo Courtesy of Redfin.com

Don’t forget to fertilize

The start of the Summer is the best time to fertilize and make sure your trees and plants are ready for the warmer weather. Our seasoned nursery pros recommend our line of custom fertilizers. Use our fertilizers to take care of the entire yard and be able to enjoy your yard all summer long! – Moon Valley Nurseries

Avoid using “Weed-N-Feed” lawn fertilizers under your trees. Lawn fertilizers in general are not suitable under trees, but products designed to kill weeds as well are very risky. Many trees, such as Live Oaks, grow shoots up in your lawn. These are connected to the root system of your tree, and weed control herbicides can poison your tree by affecting these sucker shoots. We have seen folks use Round-Up on these root sprigs and outright kill their tree! If you have weed issues under your canopies, consult an Arborist before treating the issue. – Good Guys Tree Service

Identify the specific needs of your treescape

Homeowners can create and maintain their ideal home treescape for summer by having a nonbiased ISA Certified Arborist consultation and not with a salesman, to walk with you to identify your trees’ needs. Remember that improper pruning trains your trees to fail. Homeowners may visit the International Society of Arboriculture’s website for more information. Lastly, structural supports can be installed to strengthen weak points within a tree. – Signature Tree Care

 

Originally published on Redfin