Monthly Archives: October 2014

Inspiration from Net Zero Water

Our industry is one that produces a lot of waste and from our equipment, a good bit of pollution.  I’ve always found it ironic that we as individuals are driven by an overwhelming love of the beauty of nature and all it provides, but as one large machine, we seldom exercise a desire to protect that which we love on a larger scale.

To a certain extent we are limited pursuing greener methods on all sorts of fronts, state and local ordinances, competition, even our customers.

However, I recently heard about a project in Oregon that inspired me to push back on those restrictions to better do our part in saving our planet.

There is a new proposed development in Oregon that will have no carbon footprint.  Seriously. Think about that.  100 percent of the developments water will come from captured precipitation or reused water that is appropriately purified without the use of chemicals.  In addition, 100 percent of all stormwater and building water discharge will be handled on site.  The development will also create 100% of its energy on site through self-sustaining energy generation and distribution systems.

The kicker…this is a 200,000 sf facility.

Now think about your water usage and the amount of water run off at your home.  Say your home is 4,000 sf.  This development will deal with 50 times the amount of water that you are.  It is mind boggling yet undeniably inspiring that the developers and investors involved decided to pursue sustainability on this level.  If they have the dedication to a more conscientious way of living, think about what we could accomplish in our own small spheres.


1.Grow your own vegetables: Even if all you have is a balcony you can achieve tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, herbs…

2.Frequent your farmers market and begin to buy local.

3.Use a rain barrel to water your garden.

4.Bring bags to the grocery store and everywhere else:  I see so many folks bring reusable bags to the grocery store but rarely at places like Target, Walmart and other stores they could be used.

5.Embrace thrifting: The ultimate in reduce, reuse and recycle.



Newly installed patio and seat wall in Glenview, IL

The hardsurface industry has made some gigantic strides in terms of creating concrete products that resemble more closely natural stone.  When these products first hit the market decades ago, they were long lasting, but still looked like concrete and had a hard time holding their color over a long period of time.  Eventually turning “concrete grey.”

Today products have evolved in both reliability, quality and aesthetics.  Since we view ourselves as very picky about such things we are thrilled to continue to introduce and install these products for our customers.

Below is a recent installation in Glenview, Illinois, that we are pleased to announce will be submitted for Unilock’s Awards of Excellence competition.

Furnishings and annual flowers by others

Furnishings and annual flowers by others

Unilock Double Border (color: Courtstone)

Unilock Double Border (color: Courtstone)

Unilock Rickcliff patio (color: mix of Dawn Mist & Pebble Taupe)

Unilock Rickcliff patio (color: mix of Dawn Mist & Pebble Taupe)

Patio Glenview Patio Glenview Patio Glenview Patio Glenview

Unilock Rivercrest Piers & Seat Walls (color: Coastal State)

Unilock Rivercrest Piers & Seat Walls (color: Coastal State)

Why Leaves Change Color

fall maple

During the growing season, chlorophyll, essential for photosynthesis, is continually being produced and broken down and leaves appear green. As night length increases in the autumn, chlorophyll production slows down and then stops and eventually all the chlorophyll is destroyed. The carotenoids (responsible for orange, yellows and browns in things like bananas and clementines) and anthocyanins (responsible for reds and purples in items like cherries and berries) that are present in the leaf are then unmasked and show their colors.

Both chlorophyll and carotenoids are present in the chloroplasts of leaf cells throughout the growing season. Most anthocyanins are produced in the autumn, in response to bright light and excess plant sugars within leaf cells.

A succession of warm, sunny days and cool, crisp but not freezing nights seems to bring about the most spectacular color displays. During these days, lots of sugars are produced in the leaf but the cool nights and the gradual closing of veins going into the leaf prevent these sugars from moving out. These conditions-lots of sugar and lots of light-spur production of the brilliant anthocyanin pigments, which tint reds, purples, and crimson. Because carotenoids are always present in leaves, the yellow and gold colors remain fairly constant from year to year.

The amount of moisture in the soil also affects autumn colors. A late spring, or a severe summer drought, can delay the onset of fall color by a few weeks. A warm period during fall will also lower the intensity of autumn colors. A warm wet spring, favorable summer weather, and warm sunny fall days with cool nights should produce the most brilliant autumn colors.

Some of my favorite places to enjoy the onslaught of fall color?  Visit now and often over the next few weeks and watch the marvelous display.

Independence Grove (shown in photo above)

The Morton Arboretum 


Professionalism is key

As a recent addition to the Illinois Landscape Contractor’s Association Board of Directors, I found the most frequent conversation amongst my peers was professionalism, or really the lack there of, by a large number of companies classified as landscape contractors.

This is a group of people who have risen to the top of their profession by providing sound, reliable products and services, following the rules, both municipal and moral, as well as making certain their staff is pursuing certifications and continuing education.

It is discouraging to be reminded that unprofessionalism is not just something that our company runs into.  It is something that plagues most of the trades.  Our association, as are others, are constantly trying to develop ideas to raise the professionalism of the landscape industry as a whole.

25% of our business comes from fixing other contractor’s mistakes.  

What I tell consumers…our advice is to rely on word of mouth, check ILCA’s website and see if your contractor is a member, ask about professional certifications, check to make certain they have insurance, and my favorite…go with your gut.  If someone comes across as not trustworthy, regardless of their price, they probably aren’t.

At ILT Vignocchi, we live by my father’s motto…”take the high road, there’s less traffic.”