After an uncharacteristically hot and dry June, Mother Nature just sent us a harsh reminder of her ability to restore rainfall statistics rapidly.
Unfortunately for many homeowners and businesses, this reminder came in the form of a seven-inch downpour over a 24-hour period that is still causing overflow and flooding around local rivers, lakes, and retention ponds.
While it is difficult to predict and prevent the kind of flooding issues that are created by such catastrophic weather events, these events serve as a reminder to property owners, both commercial and residential, to be more aware of the impact that water flow has around your property. Having a well-conceived and expertly executed drainage system around your buildings and grounds can mean the difference between staying high and dry through any weather event, or dealing with flooded yards, basements, parking lots, and roadways.
Generally, rainfall is the catalyst for creating drainage issues but ground water, specifically the location of the water table, can also play a role in the ability of water to move by design. Where land is flat, soils are dense (clay), or the water table is high, a well-designed drainage system is a priority. Consideration of grading, water flow, and proper drainage is essential to prevent minor issues during normal weather and to minimize major damage during catastrophic events like the one we experienced here in northern Illinois last week. Without proper drainage systems in place, water can enter and undermine structures, damage drives and roadways, cause erosion issues, and drown expensive plant material.
It is not always enough to rely on the original drainage plans that were created for your property when it was first developed and constructed. Typically, the more recent the development took place, the better the chances are that the drainage systems were designed and constructed to effectively move water around the property. Older properties may have experienced settling, ground shifts, changes in water tables, neighboring development, or many other factors that can influence the effectiveness of these systems. New or old, it is a good idea to observe and review the water flow issues on your property before a major problem occurs.
SURFACE WATER is one of the more common problems associated with improper or inadequate drainage systems. Sites with clay soils will likely have issues with lingering surface water. By design, developed land should be graded to drain so that water flows through swales or sheet drains across turf or pavement to the curb or storm drain. The reality is that builders don’t always get their grades right and water becomes trapped, causing puddles on pavement, backflow against foundations, soggy zones in lawns, and muddy planting beds.
Downspout/sump pump discharge is a huge contributor to surface water issues. Enormous amounts of water can come off a building’s roof or be channeled into a sump pit during a typical rainfall. This water is often just re-directed back along the foundation of a building where it can go right back into the sump pit or collect on the surface of the ground around the structure.
SUB-SURFACE WATER collects underground, and becomes trapped when there’s poor drainage due to the existing soil structure or high water tables. When it freezes and expands, the potential for damage increases. The frozen water pushes against your foundation and paved surfaces, causing heaving, cracking, and structural damage.
Solutions to improper site drainage can range from the very simple to much more complex depending on the nature of the issue and its underlying cause. Conceptually, solutions fall into two basic categories.
Please make note that whenever you are redirecting runoff, you must send it to a suitable outlet. Discharging runoff to an unsuitable area will just move the problems downhill. Be aware that redirecting runoff without collecting it or allowing it to percolate into the soil can negatively impact neighboring properties.
The first step in solving drainage issues on any property is discovering that they exist. Problems like foundation seepage and erosion might not be obvious until a major issue develops at which point resolution can be expensive and complicated. To become aware of potential trouble spots, walk your grounds after a rainfall event and look for places where water has collected.
Does it take more than an hour or two to dissipate after a heavy downpour?
Are there signs of erosion around the downspouts or sump pump discharge points?
Are you finding soft, wet spots in the common turf areas that do not dry out readily?
Are you seeing a decline in the health and appearance of plant material located in the collection areas?
These are just a few of the signs that water is not percolating or moving appropriately around the grounds of your development or commercial property. Time to consider having an expert come out and assess the problems. ILT can do simple visual inspections or accurately read existing grades by laser transit to establish the exact topography no matter how flat the site may seem.and determine precisely where and why water is moving the way it is on your property. From that information, we can evaluate and present potential solutions for your consideration.
While last week’s flooding can serve as a reminder of the devastating impact heavy rainfall can have, it does not take a seven-inch downpour of water to cause damage around your property. Finding and resolving water flow issues before they become expensive problems is always a better solution.
Call ILT Vignocchi today and we can start a conversation about resolving water flow issues at your HOA or commercial building.
Think you have fungus on your hosta?
Consider another possible diagnosis based on the plants’ exposure to sun. Although some can tolerate more sun than others, hostas are basically known as shade loving plants. Their vascular systems tend to only be able to handle a lower level of transpiration.
Transpiration is the transfer of water from the roots, through the plant’s vascular system to tiny pores underneath its leaves where it changes to vapor and is released into the air.
Non-sun tolerant hostas when put in sunny conditions are being asked to replace water at a rate that their vascular system cannot handle. Hence sunburn.
Here are a few tips about using hosta in sunny conditions.
Considering all of the rain Mother Nature has blessed us with over the last few months, automated irrigation systems are hardly first and foremost on most of our minds right now. However, summer heat and dry weather will be upon us soon and keeping landscapes lush and green will once again be the focus of commercial landscaping contractors and property owners. But that lush greenery comes at a price; hand watering takes time, costs money, and maybe most importantly, wastes a lot of water. In case you were wondering how you can save money this season through more efficient watering methods, read on:
Water conservation is not simply a “green” issue promoted by environmentalists, made even more prominent in the wake of recent severe droughts in the United States and abroad. Fresh water conservation is an obligation shared by everyone on the planet. Installing and maintaining an automated sprinkler system will help to avoid wasteful over-watering, ensuring a safe and healthy water supply for future generations; and by the way, will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
Water conservation, through the use of automated mechanical systems, will save significant amounts of time, money, water; while still keeping your grass green, your flowers bright, and your ornamental plant material healthy and hearty. Hand watering can waste more than 50 per cent of the water used due to over-watering, runoff, and evaporation. An automated system can be programmed to water during the cool, dark overnight hours thus minimizing evaporation. The system components will direct water to specific areas and, when timed properly, high efficiency nozzles will disperse only as much water as the plant can absorb in any one watering. Saving money, doing the right thing environmentally, while still protecting the investment you make in your landscaping are all solid reasons to consider installing an automated irrigation system.
The irrigation industry has made tremendous advances in the way of technology over the last several years. Manufacturers now provide more cost-effective, efficient, and reliable materials and designs than ever before, making it a great time to reconsider installing a system around your business or homeowner’s association grounds. Even if budget constraints force you to restrict your system to flower beds, monument sign plantings, and high visibility turf areas at first, the technology is such that add on revisions later are simple and relatively inexpensive once the main water lines are in place and controllers with multi-zone potential have been installed.
With the advent of smart controller technology and wi-fi capability, water management can be monitored and managed from virtually any location, giving you and your service contractor greater flexibility to adjust your system from virtually anywhere at any time. All landscapes are different and therefore the irrigation needs of your specific landscape must be assessed and evaluated to ensure that your system is designed and installed according to those specific needs. The key is to get a professional design that appropriately combines the basic components of a modern automated system (high efficiency nozzles, drip lines, rain sensors, etc.) with the available smart controller technology.
Once you have made the commitment and installed your system, it will only be an effective water conservation and money saving tool if it is managed properly. A mismanaged system can still result in enormous amounts of wasted water. Broken heads can lose thousands of gallons of water unnecessarily; timers without rain sensors can still kick on in the rain; and broken lines underground leach out water into the soil with no benefit to your plant material. Modern technology allows you and your contractor to monitor your system remotely and be alerted to these issues immediately, allowing for timely repairs with minimal lost water/money.
If you haven’t considered installing an automated irrigation system or thought it was too expensive the last time you looked at it, now would be a great time to reconsider. With today’s modern materials and more efficient means of installation, it may be much more affordable than you once thought. And the money you save over the long run can be put towards improvements and upgrades in your landscaping or elsewhere around your business or HOA grounds.
Contact ILT today and find out how you may benefit from automating your watering efforts.
As an founding ambassador in NALP’s Education Foundation (National Association of Landscape Professionals), a scholarship in our name is given to a qualified candidate who is enthusiastic about learning and contributing to our industry.
Most years we receive a kind not of gratitude tell us a little bit more about the student who receives the funds. This year was no exception as you can see below.
In Case You Were Wondering…how to get rid of the soggy areas around your property that never seem to dry out and create a muddy nuisance where grass won’t grow, read on.
Most commercial buildings and multi-family communities have storm drains and retention/detention ponds to accommodate the water that is trapped when the natural landscape is replaced with buildings and impervious surfaces such as asphalt parking lots, streets, and sidewalks; and rain can no longer be absorbed by the ground.
These solutions work well to divert or capture large volume runoff, provided the drainage systems are designed effectively to carry the water to the drains and/or holding areas.
But what about the areas around your property that never seem to drain off? When water is diverted into a low area that has no outlet or is not suitable for drainage, water will begin to pond, and over time the weight of the water will compact the soil and create a deeper pool, allowing more water to sit. A rain garden can be a very practical and effective means of addressing these drainage issues; particularly where downspouts are not placed appropriately or do not run off properly; settled ground has created depressions that trap water; or the ground has become so compacted that water simply no longer infiltrates the soil. Grass, ornamental plants, and trees eventually die off from the excess moisture leaving you with wet, unusable areas around your property that never dry out.
A rain garden is a shallow depression that captures rain water and holds it for a short time until it is absorbed into the ground, evaporates, or is taken up by plants. The rain garden is an innovative and eco-friendly landscaping solution that’s gaining in popularity, particularly in office parks and multi-family communities. An increasing number of property managers and commercial property owners are discovering how a rain garden can be an inexpensive and effective solution to these unsightly, unusable areas; while at the same time help to decrease erosion, improve water quality, create wildlife habitat, and provide aesthetic benefits.
Rain gardens were originally developed to slow down the flow of storm water runoff created when buildings and pavement cover the ground and prevent water absorption as soil becomes compacted and the natural landscape changes from diverse native vegetation to mowed and manicured lawns. These factors decrease the amount of water that soaks into the landscape after a rain and increases the volume of water that flows across the terrain and into storm drains that empty into local streams. This increased water flow (both in terms of volume and velocity) leads to more erosion, more flooding and
more pollutants being washed into streams and reservoirs. Rain gardens provide a solution to these problems by helping to slow the flow.
Additionally, rain gardens provide a practical and effective solution to the smaller scale drainage issues described above. A well-functioning rain garden traps and cleans storm water and reduces its volume (through rapid absorption) once it enters the garden. Properly designed and maintained, rain gardens are also attractive landscaping elements that function like native ecosystems and can look as naturalistic or as formal as you like. The plants in the gardens absorb excess water and provide important habitat for pollinating insects, birds and other wildlife while also adding visual appeal to the land around your community or your business.
But you’re not merely building a catch-basin that’s going to turn into a pond every time it rains. Far from it. With sound design, (the appropriate soil/gravel, knowledgeable plant selection, and correct installation), water is absorbed quickly – usually within a few hours.
And, in case you think your rain garden will provide a new breeding area for mosquitoes – think again. A rain garden doesn’t retain water long enough to make it a viable area for mosquito development. Depending on temperature, it takes 24-48 hours for mosquito eggs to hatch. After the eggs hatch, the larva must live in water for several days. A properly installed and maintained rain garden does not hold water long enough to accommodate the development of mosquito larvae.
Contact ILT today and find out how the installation of rain gardens can help you solve some of the drainage issues around your community or business. By creating a rain garden(s) you can eliminate those problem areas of your landscape while helping to keep some of the rain that falls on your site contained on site, the way nature intended. And in addition, you can help improve water quality in local streams/rivers, save water, reduce pollution, and help wildlife.
About 20 years ago we sold our facility in Prairie View, IL and relocated to two new facilities, one in Wauconda and one in Island Lake. Our facility in Island Lake is home to our production teams, mechanics and outside material storage. Our facility in Wauconda started as a corporate headquarters and evolved, thanks to our very entrepreneurial founder, into an impressive shrub, perennial and groundcover wholesale nursery…Montale Gardens.
To those in the industry, the evolution from landscape professional to nurseryman is a natural one. Most of the companies I know who have done it do so for a myriad of reasons…cutting cost, controlling quality, and revenue growth.
My father and I are very proud of our little sister nursery…she has the same culture and values as her big brother landscape company. Those of service, fun, integrity and quality.
This winter, under the new leadership of Melisa Bell, Montale got a brand facelift. When it comes to our image (we are Italian so the vanity runs quite deep) we are emotional and opinionated. So the process was argumentative yet fun, painful yet invigorating.
When all was said and done, we are all so proud of the end result. Here is a peak at the evolution, starting with my father’s original ILT logo, it’s next incarnation, Montale’s new logo, and their new look on display at the very popular industry trade show, ilandscape.
For all intents and purposes, the winter that came in like a lion is going out like a lamb. It is time to start thinking about using the landscaping around you again. Yes, I said “using” the landscaping.
In case you were wondering how you can personally benefit from using the landscape around you today, read on…
Stress and stress-related illnesses, as reflected in medical records, have increased dramatically among adults and children in Western societies. We have probably all heard of one study or another linking exposure to nature to reduced stress, lower anxiety levels, and help with symptoms of depression. The studies all underscore what we already intuitively know. We can relax in quiet, natural settings much more than we ever could in our offices or typical urban settings. Consequently, in addition to being a huge contributor to the overall value of your commercial property and providing significant marketing appeal, well designed and accessible landscaping can provide a valuable oasis for your employees and residents.
The simple fact is that our fast paced, plugged in, always “on” lifestyles give us brain fatigue. It makes our brains tired of constantly being alert and aware (how many times did you check your smart phone since you began reading this piece?). A “walk in the park” can go a long way to clear up the resulting brain clouds.
While natural settings do still engage our brain, the engagement is effortless. You don’t even necessarily have to enjoy nature or walking to get the benefit. Exposing oneself to nature, even during the winter, or even looking at images of nature engages our so-called involuntary attention, which comes into play when our minds are inadvertently drawn to something interesting that doesn’t require intense focus, like a pleasing picture or a pleasant landscape feature. We can still talk and think while our brains are noticing and appreciating the element, but it holds our attention while it induces reflection.
AS THE SAYING GOES – YOU DESERVE A BREAK TODAY!
The science behind this theory is real, and probably nothing new to you so allow this to serve as a reminder. Go for a walk in a green space around your building or in your community, or find a window where you can just sit and gaze out at some greenery. This is not unproductive lollygagging. On the contrary, it is likely to have a restorative effect on your brain, recharge your mental batteries, calm your nerves, and make you more productive. If nothing else, a walk in the park will give you the ability to stop “doing” all the time and start “being” some of the time.
“Take a walk outside, it will serve you far more than pacing around in your mind.”