Commercial Landscaping Spring Spruce Up.


You do not get a second chance to make a first impression.  Your landscaping is the first thing that a prospective client sees, so don’t underestimate the benefit of having a tidy and well maintained landscape garden at your business.

Spring is probably the best time of the year in Phoenix to make the most of your commercial landscaping. Also the time you want to spruce things up by planting, fertilizing and weeding.  Adding color to your landscape creates a great first impression and a refreshing work environment.  Doing this can save you money since healthy plants are better able to cope with rigors of the harsh Phoenix summer.

This is the time to feed, trim and shape your trees. Each tree will need to be treated according to its age, type and the soil conditions so this will require some specialist knowledge. Our technicians can take the headache out of this for you at a very reasonable cost.

Watering schedules need to be progressively adjusted to compensate for the warmer weather and the change in the seasons. A thick healthy lawn will not only add a welcome splash of color to the desert landscape but also a refuge from the searing heat of gravel landscaping.

Planting Rye grass is common to maintain a great looking winter garden, but as spring progresses and temperatures warm up, the Rye grass will die back and the Bermuda begins to reactivate.  In spring, depending on the weather, your lawn watering schedule will have to be continually adjusted. Rye grass needs to be watered about twice a week where Bermuda only needs water once a month. Overwatering at this time of year is liable to promote the growth of fungus that will weaken your lawn and make it vulnerable to the coming summer heat.

Warm weather causes weeds to sprout and the spring rains make them sprout even more. Spring is the time to attack weeds. Pre-emergent treatments destroy seeds that are getting ready to sprout so is best done in early spring. Post emergent treatment destroys plants that are already growing. It is best to do a post emergent treatment as soon as possible while the weeds are young and vulnerable as the treatment is better able to target shoots while they are tender.  

Why not let Sunstate Lawn’s technicians take all the guesswork out of these tedious tasks so you can make a great impression for your clients and a rejuvenated environment for your employees? Contact us for a quote.

Our mission is to keep your landscaping looking its best at all times, without headaches and within budget.

Summer Commercial Landscaping Tips

As we all know, the Sonora desert summers are very severe.  Like all the other seasons here in Phoenix Summers have their own demands and requirements. Prudent commercial landscaping design will balance keeping your property looking inviting and attractive with maintenance and above all, water consumption.

Using plants that stand the heat and low humidity well is key to having a good looking property.  However many commercial properties have grass lawns to create softer feel to the work environment and surroundings. The extremes for summer and winter requires significantly different approaches in commercial landscape maintenance.  For instance, while the watering times and schedules need to be adjusted for plants and trees, it is especially important to properly water your lawns in order to keep your lawns as healthy as possible while conserving water.  Your commercial landscaper should set this up automatically but Water – Use It Wisely has great tips on how to conserve water in Arizona all year round.

Property managers should be aware of the watering schedules for your properties. Walking your properties regularly is a good way to make sure that your irrigation system is set up correctly and working properly. Things to look out for:

  • Lawn is healthiest when water reaches the roots. Watering during the day is generally inefficient it as the water will not get a chance to penetrate the soil well. Watering an hour or two before sunrise is far more effective since the sun is not yet up, the ambient temperature is generally at the lowest for the day and the irrigation water won’t evaporate as quickly.
  • Once you have established a good irrigation run time, your landscaper should make regular adjustments based on the changes of the seasons.
  • Overwatering not only costs money by wasting water but can damage your plants and lawn. The lawn is getting too much water if any area is mushy, or mushrooms and fungus is growing.  Let your landscaper know.
  • Your landscaper should do this, but it is prudent to periodically check your sprinkler heads to make sure that water is coming out, they are not being obscured by untrimmed plants or lawn, and that they are directed to the right area. Some runoff may be unavoidable, but a significant amount is a sure sign of water being wasted.
  • Watering is far less effective when it’s windy
  • Lawns should be mowed regularly to look their best and remain healthy.

Contact us to At Sun State Lawn and we would be happy to show you how we can keep your property looking its best, under budget and without headaches!


Fall Commercial Landscaping Tips

Commercial Landscaping In the Fall

Since Phoenix is a desert environment, it is very harsh on commercial landscaping and the Fall is no exception. As always, water is a scarce and expensive resource and it is important that it is used as efficiently as possible to keep property maintenance costs to a minimum and to conserve our resources.

In order to keep the grass areas on your property’s landscaping looking their best during Winter, it is general practice to trim back the summer Bermuda grass and over-seed with Rye Grass for the winter. As always it is important to manage the winter lawn by irrigating it properly. There are cost savings to be had since a well-managed winter lawn actually uses less water than a summer lawn.

Your Commercial Landscaper should be continually managing your watering cycles for you and to ensure that the winter grass is properly established and then properly irrigated. If they are not doing this for you, you will need to ensure that at the very least your irrigation schedules are adjusted four times per year to accommodate the changing seasons.

When considering your commercial landscaping layout and irrigation, remember that sloped landscaping areas are difficult to irrigate efficiently since you want to irrigate the landscape with sufficient water to keep the plants healthy but excess irrigation water could run off onto sidewalks and streets.  Sloped areas are best irrigated by dividing irrigation cycles into multiple shorter periods of time spread out during the day.  Doing it this way allows the water to soak into the soil rather than running off.  The most telling sign of an irrigation cycle or layout would be over-watered areas that are constantly soggy, or discolored.  Excess water also allows molds or fungi to grow on the lawn or plants thereby weakening them.

Narrow strips are difficult to water efficiently and require a disproportionate amount of maintenance.  Over spray from sprinklers can hit driveways, sidewalks, streets and cars.  You may want to consider removing these strips of grass as part of a long-term upgrade.

Commercial Landscaping: Things to do during the Fall

Fall and Winter are great times to work on your landscaping since your plants will not be growing as strongly and the cooler weather is kinder to all concerned.

This time of year is great to check, and repair or upgrade your irrigation systems. Check for leaks and adjust irrigation schedules for the season.

Winter is a good time to prune landscape shrubs. Your landscaper will trim most of your plants as part of the regular maintenance, however they will also carry out annual selective pruning to trees and larger shrubs that will produce a more natural-looking plant that will bloom to its full potential.  You should wait until late February or March to prune the more tender plants such as bougainvillea or lantana that might be damaged by frost.

Fall is the perfect time to plant new areas, replace plants that have died or to do upgrades to lower maintenance landscaping and plants. Planting in the fall gives roots a chance to establish in the cool months before the hot summer temperatures hit. There are many low water use plants to choose from and your landscaper is best placed to make recommendations as to upgrades that will save you money in the long term..

As always weeds remain a problem in the desert and fall is a great time to get a handle on your weed problem. Your commercial landscaper will be managing this for you, because well managed weeds saves them work and you money – all while keeping your property looking its best.

Many water conservation offices also offer free landscape and irrigation workshops in the fall.  Check out this link for tips and techniques for effective water use

Are Smart Watering Systems for Commercial Landscaping Too Good to be True?

If you are like most property managers, your commercial landscaping contractor is a star, you have an easy life going from property to property, socializing with tenants who have only good things to say about their facility and who would gladly pay more rent if only you asked them to.

OK, I can almost hear the howls of dismay followed by a list of issues saying that this is nothing like what a property manager faces in the current environment!  So back to reality, property managers are under extreme pressure to contain and reduce costs but our actual point is that a GOOD commercial landscaping contractor is well placed to help on both fronts.

The biggest commercial landscaping challenges here in Phoenix are  the extremes in climate and to create a landscape that is both pleasing, cost effective and climate appropriate.  Most commercial property owners do not realize that designing a good layout and maintaining healthy plants will save them money in the long run.  Nor do they realize that over-watering and improper watering regimes are the main contributors to unhealthy plants as well as being a significant unnecessary cost.

The question is what scope exists to fix this?

Most commercial property managers are comfortable with the irrigation systems and controllers that they have been using and especially in the current economy there does not appear to be a compelling argument to spend money to fix or upgrade something that is not “broken”.  Many landscape contractors are scared to broach the subject for fear of putting the landscaping contract up for scrutiny and possibly losing the work by being undercut by some gypsy.  After all the extra money is coming out of your pocket not theirs – so why should they bring up the subject at all?

Turns out that there is a lot that can be done that will yield savings immediately, and even more that will save money going forward when it is time to extend or upgrade portions or even the whole system.

Commercial Landscaping Irrigation Industry Trends

Traditionally, irrigation systems were broken down into zones each of which is controlled by a valve.  Each valve is wired and controlled independently and each zone received the amount of water determined appropriate for that zone regardless of the actual requirements of the plants at each sprinkler head.

The complexity and extent of the traditional system’s wiring in larger commercial systems makes them very expensive and makes maintenance a significant challenge.  Given that these multi-core wires fade in color over time and are rarely marked, compounds the issue.  Generally these wires are run through the landscaping which makes them susceptible to damage, making maintenance of these systems a nightmare.

For these reasons the irrigation industry has come up with two revolutionary products:

  • Smart systems
  • 2 wire controllers

The advantages of these technologies have been recognized by landscape architects and property owners, so most new large commercial projects are specifying these systems up front.

Smart Irrigation Controllers

Most commercial landscaping comprises a diverse range of plants to create a rich diversity of textures, fragrances and colors.  Each of these elements have differing requirements and often plants get over-watered in order take account of irrigation system design flaws and to meet the needs of the least hardy of the plants in that zone.

Smart Controllers are a new generation of irrigation systems that address these issues by delivering water efficiently and effectively to your commercial landscaping.  And they are capable of automatically adjusting to a weather normalized pattern of usage, as required. This means that a smart irrigation controller will adapt to meet the actual needs of the plants in each hydra-zone effecting significant savings by minimizing runoff and optimizing water consumption.

Two Wire Controllers

Imagine that you could quickly and easily control or optimally adjust each individual sprinkler head while saving money on the wiring too?  Two wire systems make that possible.  Sound too good to be true, we assure you it is not!

With a 2 wire system each individual valve is connected to the control box by only two wires and these same two wires can feed signals to all of the valves in the system!. This is possible since the controller sends encoded messages down these wires, telling each head in the system when to run. Since the signals are encoded to trigger only a specific head it is not necessary to run individual wires to each zone, but rather wire runs can simply be extended by daisy chaining them from an existing head or they can even looped back to the controller to ensure continuity so  the system will still run even if one leg gets accidentally cut. If a wire does get cut then there are simply two wires to join  – no fussing around trying to figure out which wires in the bundle are broken and which wires in the whole mess feeds which zone!

Commercial landscaping irrigation systems tend to be large and typically on a system larger than 20 zones, the cost of the hundreds or thousands of feet of wire a conventional system uses far outweighs the cost of purchasing a decoder for each valve.

Although many do not realize it, two-wire technology can make expanding a conventional system just as easy as expanding a two-wire system. This is accomplished by transforming a small portion of the existing system into a two-wire system, and splicing off into the newly landscaped area from there. The conventional system will work seamlessly hand-in-hand with the two-wire system.

Another distinct advantage is the minimization of disruption to run new wiring. For instance, if there’s already a branch of the existing irrigation system located beyond the parking lot, you can convert that branch to two-wire technology. The system expansion can daisy chain from there, saving you the cost and hassle of having to dig up the parking lot to get wiring back to the controller.

Contact Us for information on how we might be able to save you money and give you a great looking landscape year round.


Pre-Emergent Weed Control in Commercial Landscaping

Phoenix experiences extremes in weather and while Bermuda Grass goes dormant in the winter months, weeds remain a problem.  With the onset of spring, conditions improve for all growth and weeds begin to emerge.  Seeds can remain dormant amongst your landscaping for extended periods especially in commercial properties where they tend to be amongst open areas where weeds are not closely controlled.  Sun State Lawn has been controlling weeds in commercial landscaping for over 30 years.

One way to attack a weed problem is to target them before they germinate and start growing.  This is called pre-emergent weed control.  A pre-emergent weed killer is a chemical treatment that will prevent seeds from germinating.  This can be applied in either liquid or water based granular form.  Often a colorant is added as a temporary indicator that will show where the treatment has been applied assisting in attaining effective coverage.

Pre-emergent treatment is a part of our protocols since it is extremely effective.  If applied at the correct time, it greatly reduces the amounts of weeds that germinate. Pre-emergent treatments are effective on lawn and gravel areas.

While pre-emergent treatment is very effective, seeds are continually distributed and also some may have already germinated so will show up as the weather warms.  For this reason Post-emergent treatment is also done periodically.  This is best done early in the growth cycle to prevent unsightly growth and so as to prevent the weed from flowering and forming more seeds. Post –Emergent treatment is usually done by spraying a selective herbicide which targets broad leafed plants while leaving grasses unharmed.  Again colorant is sometimes added as a temporary indicator of which areas have been treated.  The colorant is biodegradable and will break down and fade within a matter of days.

Fertilization of grass helps with weed control since many weeds struggle to compete with healthy and strongly growing grasses.

We are proud to have specialist staff that is amongst the most highly trained in the industry.  They have specialized equipment that allows them to safely handle and apply.  Our crews often work at night since it is often less windy at night and liquid spray does not dry out before properly targeting the weeds within your landscaping.

At Sun State Lawn we customize treatments to offer you the best protection for your property, keeping it looking its best, without headaches and within budget.


How to get the most out of your commercial landscaper

commercial landscping of retail areasKeeping your commercial property looking good is a priority for every property owner.  It is all about curb appeal.  Tenants prefer good looking properties and you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression on prospective tenants or your tenant’s visitors.  Especially in this economy, professional landscaping can make the difference between an occupied and unoccupied property.

Commercial properties are businesses too and property managers are budget conscious and want to get the best possible landscaping and service for their money. There are many possibilities but what is the right approach for you property and how exactly can you be sure that you are getting good value and service out of your commercial landscaper?

At Sun State Lawn we believe in keeping our client’s properties looking their best, without headaches and within budget. We believe the following tips will help maximize your landscaping dollars.

Evaluating and Understanding Your Property

Without a thorough understanding of your property, you will not be able to judge what you are being offered. Each landscaping company you might contact will offer you different services.  Unless you know your property in reasonable detail, you may well think you are getting a good deal but actually wind up with sub-standard service and much less than you bargained on.

The process of gaining a good understanding of your property, will give you the ability to have a meaningful discussion with your landscaper as to what of the existing landscaping is an asset and what needs to be changed as well as being open to a professional opinion on low budget enhancements that you had not considered.

Unhealthy or poorly maintained plants reflect poorly on your property.  Items that take a long time to establish and grow to their full potential like trees and shrubs need to be properly placed and planted in an environment that will suit their needs.

The climate in Phoenix is harsh and there is a misconception that only cactus’ and scorpions do well here. There is a wide range of indigenous plants that can provide a lush and colorful backdrop, screen, sound dampening barrier or simply to properly frame a stunning view. A professional landscaper can help you to designing your landscaping to truly enhance your commercial space in an artful and enduring manner. A benefit is that professional landscapers will be able to help to avoid maintenance or potential safety problems with trees, fence lines and public access ways.

Irrigation is the heart of any landscaping. A professional will know how best to group plants and also how to set up and program your irrigation systems for optimum results.  A properly laid out and programmed irrigation system will save you money while ensuring your property looks stunning.


Winter Lawn Care

Lawn CareAround half of all water used in Phoenix is used for watering domestic and commercial landscaping.  By caring for your lawn areas properly by watering wisely, you will not only have a great looking landscape but will save money and help to conserve a precious resource.

Watering lawn during the cooler hours is a good idea in both summer and winter since it reduces evaporation losses and generally winds are light which makes for more thorough irrigation, since sprinkler patterns do not get distorted.

In cold climates it is generally recommended that irrigation take place at temperatures above 40 degrees.  However Phoenix rarely sees snow and sustained freezing conditions so irrigating lawn early in the day during winter here gives the water the most time possible to soak in before nighttime temperatures drop down and the possibility of freezing arises.

As a rule, watering less often promotes deeper lawn root growth which makes the grass more durable and therefore lawn care easier.  Bermuda grass goes dormant in the winter which is why Rye Grass is commonly used for winter lawns in Phoenix.  Rye Grass thrives in the cooler weather and crates the intended accent year round.  Established Rye Grass lawns need little care and watering  (3 to 7 days).

Depending on the soil type and aeration; it is easy to over-water grass in the winter making lawn care messy and difficult. Doing so often produces muddy or soggy patches that are more susceptible to disease, root-rot, and fungus and can create breeding areas for mosquitoes.

Since water does not evaporate readily in the Phoenix winter, it can easily collect in low spots of lawn like areas that are bounded by paving and have no drainage. Adding soil to these areas will provide a longer term fix and make the lawn easier to care for in summer.

How much water is needed depends on a number of factors and the best way to figure this out is to test the ground by probing it with a 6” screwdriver.  If the ground is too dry, you will struggle to push it all the way in. If it goes in too easily dial back on the watering.

Regular inspection will tell you a lot about how your irrigation system is working and how to adjust your routine and the system to give you an optimal result.  Shaded areas will require less water and remember that it is a waste to water if you have had rain.

You may need to increase times or volumes for areas that are dry or browning. Or look to see if that area is raised and compacted causing irrigation water to run off before it can soak in.  If the problem looks difficult to solve without major work, consider splitting the watering cycle into segments that will allow water to soak in rather than running off.

Fertilizer may be used in your winter lawn care regimen, but will need to be of a different composition than would be used in summer.  Higher nitrogen will compensate for irrigation water rather than rain and Iron will help to green up the grass.   As always if it is used, it should be used sparingly and care must be taken not to burn the grass. Watering well after fertilizer application will ensure that it is dissolved into the soil. This will cause the grass to grow more strongly, which will require mowing.  Be sure to sharpen the mower blade so that it cuts the grass rather than smashing it.

Probably the single thing you can do to help care for your lawn properly is to ensure that the lawn and the sprinkler systems are regularly maintained.  This will ensure that lawn or shrubs do not interfere with the sprinkler heads and that the heads are properly adjusted to give the garden an even watering.  Your garden will look its best and you will be saving money.


What is Smartscaping?

SmartscapingSmartscaping is a form of water wise landscaping, which is highly applicable to the varied climatic regions within the Sonora Desert.

Smartscape gardens are constructed primarily utilizing plants whose natural characteristics and requirements are appropriate to the local environment making them more durable. Further, the layout is designed to be water efficient through the appropriate irrigation design and taking care to avoid losing water to evaporation and run-off.


Commercial Landscaping Tips for Winter

Commercial Landscaping

The extremes of the Sonoran Desert climate generally makes the business-as-usual line of approach difficult for any Phoenix commercial landscaping.  There are many options for creating great looking commercial  landscaping, and with our experience and expertise you don’t have to look too far to find them.

Given the harsh summers (and winters) the trick though is to think out of the box and find ways to incorporate more hard-scape features into your yard. This will reduce the demand for water and maintenance while keeping your commercial landscaping tidy and good looking. Softening the yard with carefully thought out soft-scape, is the real trick.

Your best option is to choose from native plants and other plants for dry areas. You will have to make compromises, but you can still have appealing commercial landscaping, water-efficient courtyards or common areas in your complex.

Winter is the ideal time to set your landscaping up for saving money in the coming year. Contact us and we will be happy to come out and assess your property for ways to optimize your yard.

 Watering Commercial Landscaping

No single schedule of watering can be applied to all soft-scaping plants. Given the extremes in weather, your irrigation system needs to be constantly adjusted to take account of the prevailing conditions. This is an area that presents considerable savings and as part of our service to keeping our customers properties looking their best and saving them money, we continually adjust and optimize their irrigation systems.

In the winter, Bermuda-grass lawns become dormant and therefore need no supplemental watering. Bermuda grass dies down and goes brown, so to keep the grass areas of your commercial landscaping looking lush and green, we over-seed with Rye Grass in winter.    While the Rye Grass is getting established we switch to a light repeated watering cycles, but after the grass becomes established, Rye Grass areas only require watering every 3 to 7 days.

In general you can save water by preventing runoff. Dividing your watering cycles up into shorter periods spread throughout the day will give maximum effectiveness and save you money.

Drip Irrigation

Shrubs are best served by drip irrigation and variable capacity emitters are available to be tailored to suit every situation.  Newly established beds should be kept moist until the plants show signs of growth.  Watering can then be scaled back.  Winter guidelines for drip irrigation are:

  • New Landscape – 3 days a week, 30-60 minutes.
  • Established Landscape – 2 days a week, 30-60 minutes.

Precipitation can be factored in and additional watering and meteorological information is available from AZMET