The Green Tips Blog! 
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The GREEN TIPS BLOG!






March 15, 2019

Heavy Duty Hoses With Aluminum Connections?

A word of warning to homeowners buying heavy duty hoses with all ALUMINUM connections-see below:

You'd better use Teflon tape and a good grease because ALUMINUM AND BRASS DO NOT GO TOGETHER!!! 

Even these precautions are only a stopgap.

Why you ask?  Aluminum normally corrodes VERY Slowly over VERY Long periods of time.  You won’t notice any issues for decades with almost any STAND-ALONE aluminum that is not in contact with another metal. 

The problem starts with the cathodic reaction (which is a corrosive reaction where hydrogen ions break down to hydrogen gas and their electrons flow to a conductor-in this example the brass). The nature of the brass as a cathode will ensure that after a short time your new over top expensive garden hose will be permanently joined to your hose bib (and by extension your house).

Get ready to call your plumber to replace the hose bib and DO NOT REORDER AN ALUMINUM FITTED GARDEN HOSE!!

In the future marry BRASS to BRASS or BRASS to Plastic. 
Why a company would sell these is anyone’s guess-and it is costing consumers BIG TIME!






March 10. 2019

Rain, rain, go away - Come again another day

And the rains keep falling…AGAIN this past 2018!


It seemed like every 3-5 days another 1, 2, 3 or more inches fell from the sky.  No one needed their irrigation systems but don’t think this pattern will continue.  Weather has become more unpredictable long term and shows no sign of this predictability problem abating anytime soon.

The soil profiles everywhere were super saturated last year except for the four weeks from late June to late July.  When this occurs, plants struggle in many ways such as lack of air in the root zone which in turn causes stunting and rot.  Another problem is the leaching (washing out) of essential nutrients that the plants depend upon causing all manner of health stress.

During 2018 many of the irrigation systems in use added to this problem by watering when it was obvious that no additional irrigation was needed.  Systems equipped with simple Rain Sensors provided a false sense of security in that the sensors would always dry out before the soil and allow an irrigation cycle to start.  During 2018 this amounted to a huge amount of wasted water-all of which could have been saved (along with the money spent paying for it).

If you haven’t done so yet please visit two other pages on this site for advice and products that will save you water AND money.  The return on your investment is a fast 1-2 years depending on property size and of course the unpredictable weather itself.


So-what are you waiting for?   Since you are already in the site head over to the “Our Services” menu or just click on Water Saving Smart Irrigation Products. But don’t stop there - also click on
WiFi and Cellular Connected Water Saving Irrigation Controller Videos.


You owe it to yourself, your landscaping and your wallet to at least consider upgrading your irrigation system to maximized water conservation. As the saying goes:


Money saved is money earned!






March 1, 2019

 The time is approaching to get out there and prune back woody shrubs and trees…especially if your plants need a MAJOR pruning.

      Trees, woody ornamentals, grasses-the time is near.  There are many reasons to prune such as removing branch weight, shaping, maintaining plant health by redirecting plant energies or just because not enough light is reaching the inside of the canopy.  Dead wood removal is another reason but plan to repeat the dead prune again in mid to late Summer-it will hopefully reduce or eliminate the need for dead branch pruning the following late Winter.

Timing is important here-for example late Fall is NOT the time to prune since there is not enough time for branch wounds to harden before transpiration ceases with the onset of colder temperatures.  When one prunes too late in the year desiccation and disease infiltration can occur.  With deciduous plant and trees, you most likely will not see any damage until Spring but there will be consequences.  I cringe every time I see landscape crews out trimming and pruning just before Thanksgiving-I wonder what they were waiting for when their actions go against every horticultural best management practice.

So what trees, shrubs and grasses should be pruned now?  Pretty much any tree and in particular fruit trees to get them ready to bear the weight of their bounty and to do so before any flower budding happens.  Remember to also look down at the root flair-late Winter is the perfect time to remove girdling roots:


     For both your deciduous and evergreen woody ornamentals such as Barberry, Spirea, Inkberry, Bayberry, Taxus, Juniper, Arborvitae, Boxwood (to name a few on a very long list) any action from minor shaping to major prune back is perfectly fine.  Please remember to give thought to a time frame for each to recover to their best appearance-what that means is some ornamentals such as Barberry and Spirea will fill in in a matter of one to two Spring months after a severe cut back but Taxus and Boxwood will take longer-sometimes measured in years.  Others such as certain Hydrangeas will produce different size flowers and have a different degree of sturdiness (such as after heavy rains) depending on how much old and sturdy stem is left in place.

         For decorative grasses of any size leave the foliage alone all Winter (unless it hangs over egress areas) and do the necessary prune back in the late Winter also.  Grasses are the fastest plants to grow back.

 

Major prune back examples:

A further note on the Taxus is in order here as they are the most incorrectly pruned shrubs by a wide margin.  Many landscapers and homeowners are afraid to regularly prune back the top sides so that light will reach the lower sides.  This results in a “mushroom like effect” where the top is wider than the bottom and the lower plant devolves into woody branches devoid of foliage.  Left alone to years of poor pruning and there remains only two choices-a severe correction to shape that will take years to fill in or the plant’s removal.  Think twice before butchering that hardy evergreen!

         Not every plant is meant for late Winter pruning, in particular Azaleas and Rhododendrons (and others that rely on a hardened bud to bloom in the Spring).  These plants should be severely pruned (if needed) within two weeks of their blooms dying off.  They can be pruned back anytime as long as you are not depending on a full bloom the following Spring-again it is all in the timing.  I prefer to hand prune my Azaleas and Rhododendrons within that two-week window and periodically break off BY HAND the assorted stalks that grow out all season long.  This preserves the buds for bloom on the main canopy and the raw break helps to stunt the branch into giving up its quest to rise above the rest of the main canopy.  A clean cut would merely signal the branch to continue reaching anew for the sky when no one is looking.

         The following diagrams help to illustrate proper reasons for and the results of pruning for trees: 

Ornamental shrubs are basically no different than trees-you are pruning to let light in, to shape the plant, to take some weight off and allow the plant to give us the appearance it was meant to have.  Proper pruning will mean healthier landscapes and less replacements needed.  To me this is a no-brainer.  If you are unsure of how to do this vital landscape function there are numerous how to videos out there-and many are plant specific.  The proper tools are not expensive so what’s holding you up?  Besides it’s a great reason to get some sun and air after being cooped up all Winter!  Plus make sure to keep all pruning blades SHARP-plants recover much faster.

         Some final notes-your plants will want a little food to grow out and shine again-apply a generous layer (about ½ inch) of stabilized organic compost around the base of any ornamental plants out to the diameter of the canopy.  This will slowly enter the soil profile and get down into the root zone and make all your efforts worthwhile.  After applying the compost put a 1.5 to 2-inch layer of quality mulch down and just wait out the new growth!

         For trees you may want to go a bit further with fertilizer spikes or in the worst case a deep root feeding.

I don’t recommend deep root feeding ornamentals after a severe pruning as this may cause growth to spike too far and too fast-let the compost do its job.



February 20, 2019

 Keeping Busy with Continuing Education, Recertifications, Trade Shows, Teaching and Webinars

Winter is a great time for me and it should be for everyone in the “Green Trades”.  Most of us save those that are in “snow business” have plenty of time on our hands to devote to equipment repair, business building, customer contact and two staples of our trade.


Education and Trade Shows

     Last December I had the privilege of spending a week teaching nationally for the Irrigation Association at our conference in Long Beach CA.  The IA is the worldwide go-to association for all aspects of irrigation such as landscape, golf, sports fields and of course agriculture.  Being invited to teach among such a small and select group of dedicated people was an absolute thrill for me and I look forward to participating in many other national and international education events as well as writing certified courses.  And it’s on to Vegas for December 2019!

     This year I spent two days at the New England Water Works recertifying my Backflow testing credentials.  I thought I knew it all yet I picked up some nuggets of wisdom from an old timer that will serve me well into the future.  We truly are never too old to learn. 

         Next up I taught four courses I wrote for the Irrigation Association of New Jersey at our Winter Tech Education conference this past January.  The titles were:

Protect Yourself by Avoiding Legal Landmines: One Contractor's Views on Contracts, Licensing & Other Legal Dealings

Dripline Installation - Design Considerations and Methods for Various Situations Plant, Soil & Turf Types and the Implications for Irrigation Contracting Navigating the HOA Maze: Do’s, Don’ts and Methods to Upsell Water Conservation 
 



This March 7th I will also present the last two of the above courses to the Connecticut Irrigation Contractors Association in Meriden.  They are a great bunch to present to and this will be my second appearance there.     My final teaching gig until late Summer Tech will be presenting a webinar for the NJ Landscape Contractors Association March 23 that will be a condensed version of my HOA course. Let’s not short change the Trade Shows-there are two coming up.  The NJLCA Education and Trade Show is this February 26-27 at the Secaucus Convention Center and finally the 50th anniversary of the Aquarius Supply House and their trade show March 1 at the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City-be there or be square! Winters are a blast-there’s nothing quite like it for our industry if you stay engaged.  I urge everyone to take full advantage of all it has to offer!






February 17,  2019  

If I didn’t see it firsthand, I would have thought this was in another part of the country…

A few days ago, I went to my local Advanced Auto parts store to buy a new battery. As I pulled in, I see three police officers from my town and a county sheriff going through a car and the belongings of its occupants. Both the woman and the man were standing there watching. They were African American.

The officer hands the man his back pack after searching it (more like a lunch bag in size) and lets him enter the store. The man, about 25, is livid. I speak with him as he comes into the store and he explains this is the third time this week this has happened. He is waring an Advanced Employee shirt-he works there! He says each time it is a different set of cops that do this to him and the first time when his boss went out to explain that he works here the police ordered him not to interfere.

As I was leaving, they were still rifling the girlfriend’s car. It was going on for more than 20 minutes and they still hadn’t found whatever they were after.

These are dark days indeed when a working man gets repeatedly harassed like this in front of his place of employment. The fact that it happened three times in the past week makes no sense at all unless driving to work while African American is now probable cause to stop and search.

When will this end? This is America where unlike most of the rest of the world there is this piece of paper known as the Bill of Rights.  Don’t let it fade away.



Mar 15, 2019

Heavy Duty Hoses With Aluminum Connections?

A word of warning to homeowners buying heavy duty hoses with all ALUMINUM connections-see below:



You better use Teflon tape and a good grease because ALUMINUM AND BRASS DO NOT GO TOGETHER!!!

Even these precautions are only a stopgap.

Why you ask? Aluminum normally corrodes VERY Slowly over VERY Long periods of time. You won’t notice any issues for decades with almost any STAND-ALONE aluminum that is not in contact with another metal. The problem starts with the cathodic reaction (which is a corrosive reaction where hydrogen ions brake down to hydrogen gas and their electrons flow to a conductor-in this example the brass). The nature of the brass as a cathode will ensure that after a short time your new over top expensive garden hose will be permanently joined to your hose bib (and by extension your house).

Get ready to call your plumber to replace the hose bib and DO NOT REORDER AN ALUMINUM FITTED GARDEN HOSE!!

In the future marry BRASS to BRASS or BRASS to Plastic. Why a company would sell these is anyone’s guess-and it is costing consumers BIG TIME!

Mar 10, 2019

Rain, Rain Go Away!

Rain, rain, go away - Come again another day

And the rains keep falling…AGAIN this past 2018!
It seemed like every 3-5 days another 1, 2, 3 or more inches fell from the sky. No one needed their irrigation systems but don’t think this pattern will continue. Weather has become more unpredictable long term and shows no sign of this predictability problem abating anytime soon.

The soil profiles everywhere were super saturated last year except for the four weeks from late June to late July. When this occurs, plants struggle in many ways such as lack of air in the root zone which in turn causes stunting and rot. Another problem is the leaching (washing out) of essential nutrients that the plants depend upon causing all manner of health stress.





During 2018 many of the irrigation systems in use added to this problem by watering when it was obvious that no additional irrigation was needed. Systems equipped with simple Rain Sensors provided a false sense of security in that the sensors would always dry out before the soil and allow an irrigation cycle to start. During 2018 this amounted to a huge amount of wasted water-all of which could have been saved (along with the money spent paying for it).

If you haven’t done so yet please visit two other pages on this site for advice and products that will save you water AND money. The return on your investment is a fast 1-2 years depending on property size and of course the unpredictable weather itself.





So-what are you waiting for? Since you are already in the site head over to the “Our Services” menu or just click on < ahref="https://www.north-jersey-lawn-sprinkler.com/water-saving-smart-irrigation-productss.html">Water Saving Smart Irrigation ProductsBut don’t stop there-also click on WiFi and Cellular ConnectedWater Saving Irrigation Controller Videos

You owe it to yourself, your landscaping and your wallet to at least consider upgrading your irrigation system to maximized water conservation. As the saying goes:Money saved is money earned!

Mar 24, 2018

To Thatch or Not to Thatch-that isn’t even a question!

Last year was a terrible year for lawns. So now is the time to get outside and make 2018 a great year for your lawn!

My post today is about something most have been ignoring for some time - that nasty layer of thatch buildup in your lawn. Thatch is a layer of living and dead material accumulating in your turf which prevents water and lawn treatments from getting to the “root” zone.

Composed of stems, dead crowns, fibers, surface roots and most importantly-LIGNIN. Lignin is an organic polymer contained in the cell walls of most plants which allows them to stand upright instead of laying flat to the ground.

It’s highly resistant to normal decay channels (via microorganisms) and can build up rapidly due to poor lawn care habits like frequent light irrigation or too much quick release nitrogen fertilizer.

Thatch is detrimental if the layer is greater than ½ inch thick. When less than ½ inch it provides insulation from cold, provides protection from foot traffic cushions impacts on sports fields and keeps weeds from gaining a foothold in lawns.

At thicknesses greater than ½ inch problems can arise. Insect activity, blocking of lawn treatments from getting into the soil, knotting up turf roots near the surface and triggering lawn “scalping” due to mower wheels sinking into the thatch’s spongy layer.

Choosing correct grass varieties keeps thatch minimized. Common turf like Kentucky Blue Grass and Creeping Fescues are prone to faster thatch buildup than Perennial Ryes and Tall Fescues.

Similarly to poor irrigation habits and too much nitrogen is the pH of the soil being too acid for turf (below 5.5), lack of microbial presence from excessive pesticide applications, compacted soils and low earthworm activity also contribute to thatch.

A proper turf management program aims to limit thatch accumulation. This includes mowing only 1/3 of the grass height each cut and mulching clippings. A common misconception is that grass clippings add to the thatch layer-they don’t if the layer is less than ½ inch. If the layer is already too thick then it’s maybe an issue as microbial activity necessary to break down the clippings would be compromised.

So, you have a thatch problem-what do you do? The best thing is to reduce it mechanically via dethatching and/or aerating. Plan on early Spring or late Summer/early Fall when there is at least six weeks of growing time ahead. Dethatching can be done by hand or with a thatching machine:

    

Aeration is less damaging to the turf crowns and is the best go to solution:

It breaks the thatch layer allowing oxygen, water, fertilizers and weed pre-emergent treatments to reach the soil layer. A thatcher will not do this.




So your path is clear - go with the aeration. And don’t forget to over seed with a good Tall Fescue and stay away from that Kentucky Blue Grass!


Mar 23, 2018

Some Tips to Get Going this Spring

1. If you haven’t already pruned back your deciduous trees and shrubs get out there NOW. Time is important especially for barberries, spireas and small ornamentals. Trees can wait a little longer but not too much.




2. The same goes for your woody evergreen ornamentals-now is the time to dig in deep and cut them down to size. You will be amazed at the rejuvenating effect aggressive pruning in late Winter/early Spring has on older plants that you though had outlived their usefulness. Spread some compost around the base to get new growth moving fast and enjoy the results. Keep those tools sharp!




3. Don’t wait too much longer to apply pre-emergent treatments to lawns. Soil temps are getting warmer earlier these past few years and weeds (in particular crabgrass) are much more difficult to control after they sprout. If you are planning on seeding follow directions regarding time periods between applying a pre-emergent and laying seed. Germination may suffer.



4. Do not cut your lawn shorter than normal even if it is only for “the first time”. You may be exposing the turf crowns to a sudden freezing event that could injure them at precisely the wrong time of year.

Good luck to all this Spring-many challenges are ahead. Let me close with this piece of advice-hire the very best lawn care company you can find and build a personal relationship with the crew and foreman. You will benefit in so many ways.


Mar 23, 2018

Spring is fast approaching so let’s all get ready!



Just a few reasons…









Enjoy the turf everyone! I know this little guy will…and his big buddy!


Aug 08, 2017

And The Rains Keep Falling....

Unlike the past two Summers, every 5 to 10 days it seems as if the skies open up and soak our landscapes just as they are beginning to dry out.

While this is a welcome change from the extended dry periods we endured in 2015 and 2016 there is something that bothers me-how much water is wasted when homeowners (and some commercial properties) irrigate during or immediately following very heavy rainfall amounts.

I see numerous irrigation systems running in the morning and for several days after these events when a simple Rain Sensor shutoff device would save this water for future use. Though these devices are 1980s tech they still do serve as an important component in the water conservation efforts we should all strive to implement.

My personal take is that I do not install Rain Sensors on any new irrigation systems-I install Climate Control systems that go way beyond what a simple Rain Sensor will do. Climate Controls will vary your watering based on weather that occurs on your property (unlike internet based irrigation controls which can easily miss your

particular weather or Rain Sensors that only interrupt a fixed program).

Since you are already in my website go to “Water Saving Smart Irrigation Products” under the Services Menu and check out ways to conserve water and still provide your landscape with its needed moisture. You’ll be glad you did.


Aug 07, 2017

August 10 2017- Classes and Meeting

This Thursday August 10th I will be teaching two 4 credit continuing education courses for the Irrigation Association of NJ at Storr Tractor on Rt. 22 in Branchburg NJ. The course titles are “Scheduling for Water Conservation - Past, Present and into the Future” from 8 AM to 12 PM and “Dripline Installation Design -Considerations and Methods for Various Situations” from 1 PM to 5 PM.

At the same location, the NJ Landscape Contractors Association will be holding their monthly meeting from 6 PM to 9 PM sponsored by the Affinity Federal Credit Union. This meeting is approved for (2) National Association of Landscape Professionals Certified CEUs.

Contact Candi Calderone at the IANJ to attend either of my courses at 973-850-3366.

Contact Gail Woolcott or Maria Albuquerque at 201-703-3600 to attend the evening NJLCA meeting.


Jul 10, 2017

"Rain Sensor" - A Misnomer For Sure!

If I’ve heard this once I’ve heard it thousands of times-

“Those rain sensors don’t work-I’ve seen sprinklers running while it’s raining!”

Well let me put that notion to bed once and for all-THE FACT THAT IT IS RAINING HAS NO BEARING ON WHETHER A RAIN SENSOR WORKS (or not).

The device does not actually “sense” rain-it measures it. After a preset amount (be it 1/8, ¼, ½ of an inch or more) it will react and shut down a system or prevent it from activating until the sensor dries out. The device saves an amazing amount of water if set properly-just let it do its job without judgement.

That being said remember that Rain Sensors are 1980stechnology-they will not adjust your irrigation program.

For that you will need a Climate Control system witheither an onsite weather station or an internet based controller. I recommend both but prefer the onsite model for accuracy. For more info check out my “Water Saving Smart Irrigation” page and click on the Climate Logic video-your path to saving water is a phone call away!



Feb 28, 2017

CAN YOU DIG IT?

This blog is for all my friends in the Landscaping trades.

If you're not Attending Trade Shows, Taking Classes or Watching Webinars YOU ARE FALLING BEHIND!

“Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence”.

Abigail Adams (1744-1818) First Lady of the United States.



“The secret in education lies in respecting the student.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) U.S. poet, essayist and lecturer.



The quotes above are as true today as they were in times past. It applies to our industry today with a renewed emphasis due to the changing demographics of the client, new products and the instituting of never ending regulations. Now more than ever we all better arm ourselves with the one substance that will keep us ahead of the pack-KNOWLEDGE! Teaching adults is different from children-we tend to possess deeper base knowledge and thus concepts are understood quickly. We learn better with short burst instruction. When we see-do-think it allows us to remember-understand-learn.

We retain knowledge better when we are presented with instructional steps that are linked to our senses. Seeing and Hearing will only take us so far - Saying and Doing brings us full circle.

Thankfully most all educational offerings in the landscape field be they short presentations at trade shows, association meetings or webinars are geared to adult learning.

The catch? You must make an effort to seek them out and open your mind to learning. When attending classes or other venues ask yourself these three questions: “How would I apply this concept, product, design or method in the field?” “Why would I want to do this?” and most importantly “How can I improve my company and my bottom line?” Answer these questions honestly and you will find a desire to open your mind to other educational opportunities as they arise.

The end result of seeking knowledge is that it makes you THINK. Thinking leads to new ideas. New ideas can make your company (and you) more efficient, profitable and respected by your peers.

Educational opportunities abound in the landscape industry and the topics are as varied as the services we offer. If you haven’t attended the numerous venues available to you than it is time to get on that horse and ride into a better future. Look forward not backward.

Bio:

John Raffiani has been in the industry since the late 1950’s when he started to work at his grandfather’s shrub farm and greenhouses. Since 1965 he has installed numerous landscape, lighting, drainage and irrigation systems throughout the U.S. He also teaches irrigation, soil amendments and business courses for the Irrigation Association of NJ and others.


Feb 25, 2017

SOIL AMENDMENTS CAN MAKE (OR BREAK) YOUR PLANTING AND TURF INSTALLATIONS



To amend or not to amend - that’s not even a question. If the soil is tired and depleted of essential organic matter, the pH is incorrect for your plant material, compacted, leans towards all sand or all clay then the answer is always “yes”!

Soil amendments can be organic or inorganic and are utilized for improving water holding (or drainage), salt leaching, deeper root systems and nutrient enhancement. A soil test from njaes.rutgers.edu/soiltestinglab will give you a definitive answer of what is needed (Their slogan-“Don’t guess-soil test!”). In lieu of a soil test you can do your own pH and soil texture tests and amend accordingly so let me be product specific in this limited venue.

For the maximum effect the best time to add the following products is after aeration.

FOR HEAVY CLAY AND COMPACTED SOILS:

Black Gypsum DG from The Andersons company. It is fast dissolving, loosens clay, increases calcium and sulphur without pH change, reduces soil salinity, improves soil structure and reduces thatch.



FOR SANDY SOILS WITH LOW ORGANIC MATTER:

Humic DG from The Andersons. Also fast dissolving it stimulates beneficial organisms, stabilizes pH, improves soil structure and enhances air, nutrient and water movement.



To add organic matter regular HUMUS works well but should be tilled or raked in. Don’t overdo it-too much is as bad as too little. Another product I like for adding organic matter is a pelletized compose - it dissolves fast, works topically and one that is derived from leaf and yard trimmings-no manure.

In closing one final product I like is BIOCHAR. The following says it all:





Happy amending to all and have a great season.



Feb 18, 2017

NJ Landscape Contractors Association 40th Annual Trade Show



On March 8, 2017, the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association will be presenting its 40th Annual Trade Show and Conference at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ.

I will be hosting two events that day. The first between 7:00 am and 8:00 am is a group round table discussion on the subject of protecting yourself with your contract. The contract, clauses and insurance discussion is topically different from my second presentation between 10:10 am and 10:55 am. At the later event I will be discussing in detail what you may be either ignoring or be unaware of pertaining to your contracts and requirements from a Home Improvement Contractor Registration Act standpoint.

The information presented may be eye opening to many of you when you actually see how vulnerable you are to a world of trouble while simply plying your trade. And I found something potentially unsettling in a recent law that adds one more level of regulation we really don’t want or need.

Remember when you register for the Trade Show to also PRE-REGISTER for the 7:00 am round table discussion as seating is limited to the first 10 to sign up.

Call 201-703-3600.

Join us on at the Trade Show March 8th by registering at: njlandscapeshow.com

See you all there!

Nov 01, 2016

Teaching at the NJTA Green Expo and Trade Show

I will be teaching two Water Conservation courses at the Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City December 7, 2016 for the New Jersey Irrigation Association at the NJ Turf Associations Annual Green Expo. The first one is “Plant, Soil and Turf Types and the Implications for Irrigation Contracting”. This multi-level course covers the basics of soil science, plant selection and the associated influence on irrigation programming.

Upon completion attendees will gain the ability to diagnose turf and plant issues and share the resulting information with their clients. We all know that a little bit of knowledge can go a long way to building the trust between a contractor and their customer as well as closing the initial sale.

The second course is “Scheduling for Water Conservation -Now and for the Future”.

It begins with conventional scheduling concepts then moves into plant/soil based, weather adjusting, moisture sensors, ET and concludes with Internet enabled/assisted programming.

Attendees will become familiar with the multiple methods available to not only reduce water use but to also stand out in their client’s eyes.

To register for these courses, contact the Irrigation Association of NJ at 973-850-3366 or online at ianj.com.

Also, consider attending the Green Expo show at the Borgata December 6-8, 2016. There are numerous courses available over the three days that will inform and educate those of us in the green industry so that we can improve our knowledge of all things plant and turf (plus add to our bottom lines).

To attend the Green Expo, contact the NJ Turf Association at 973-812-6467 or online at njturfgrass.org.

May 14, 2016

Do You Suffer From O. M.?

Hopefully you don’t due to the fact that O.M. is extremely detrimental to your shrubs, flowers and perennial plants. So what is it? It’s OVER MULCHING! Since mulching is one of the simplest and most beneficial practices you can use in the garden one would assume that more is better-WRONG! Mulch is simply a protective layer of a material that is spread on top of the soil.

It should be no more than 2-3 inches thick to allow water to easily penetrate to the soil below. It helps to minimize weed growth and maintain soil moisture. When a layer of mulch is more than 3 inches thick the benefits of mulching rapidly decline. See examples below:




This is called a “mulch volcano” for obvious reasons. Note the plants root flare is suffocated which stunts the plants ability to be healthy and thrive.




Your plants don’t stand a chance unless you relieve the O.M. Allowing the root flare to be exposed to the air is important for plant health.




Mulch has many benefits other than moisture retention not the least of which is decoration. A properly mulched planting bed gives a finished look to any landscape:








So don’t O.M.-your plants will thank you by showing off their full potential.

May 12, 2016

Those Pesky WEEDS!

The past two months may have been the perfect combination of weather for our lawns to thrive but there is a major consequence-WEEDS! Thankfully the thick spring turf grasses have for the most part choked out turf weeds but our planting beds, sidewalk cracks and driveway edges have not been as fortunate.

Here in the North East we were much warmer than normal from October 2015 thru mid-April 2016. And the weeds came along for the ride thus insuring a plentiful crop for the rest of 2016 unless controls are employed. See images below:















No need to name them-we’ve all seen them and numerous others. Do your best to get a handle on them before they take over your yard. Manual weeding is best for the environment but if not feasible then herbicides may be employed.

Think about hiring a licensed pesticide contractor to apply a pre-emergent next year that will stop them before they start.

May 10, 2016

What a Spring for Turf Grass!

The warm weather the North East received this past March and early April with periodic rains were followed by a cooler period with more damp conditions. This climate pattern produced something that will benefit our lawns going into the summer heat-Deep Roots!

The resulting root growth stands in stark contrast to the past two Springs when our turf grasses remained frozen until late March. The thaw was followed by too much rain at the wrong time and warmer than average temperatures that inhibited root development. And then came the Summer...

From my observations 2015 produced some of the worst lawns I’ve seen outside of the drought years (1985—1995—1999—2002). Nothing seemed to work. The few really good looking lawns were most likely over fertilized. This year is different for the above mentioned reasons and the fact that grasses were infrequently mowed (and allowed to grow tall). See image below:



Add in aeration and our turf is now ready to outperform this season.





May your pasture be lush and green!

"SMART IRRIGATION MONTH" in New Jersey is officially the month of JULY. In North Jersey at Raffiani's Automatic Sprinkler Service SMART IRRIGATION MONTH is every month and runs all year long! Make your existing lawn sprinkler system "SMART" by upgrading to the IRRITROL Climate Logic weather sensing system-you will notice a smaller water bill and healthier lawns and gardens! Our mission is to make your NEW or EXISTING lawn sprinkler system efficient, durable and reliable! See our coupons page and call us for more information - you'll be glad you did!