Aug 16

Micro-Climates Within the Landscape

Posted on August 16, 2017 at 11:33 AM by Adam Testa

One of the challenges in managing a landscape is to understand the subtle changes to the micro-climate as plant material matures. During original installation, most plants, trees and turf have full sun and the Arizona heat to deal with. As the landscape matures, especially the trees, it will experience issues not originally anticipated during the first several years. As tree canopies grow, they will throw shade on turf areas and plants underneath them. The change in the micro-climate will cause the plants and turf to suffer.

Turf: Bermuda grass, which is the base turf species in Arizona, will need 8-10 hours of full sunlight to thrive. As tree canopies grow adjacent or in turf areas, the shading of turf will cause the Bermuda to become thinner each year and eventually become non-existent. There are several solutions to this problem. Remove the tree causing the shading issue, thin and open the tree canopy to allow more sunlight to the turf or eliminate the turf below the tree. All three are viable solutions, and a community will need to decide the best course of action in the years to come.

Plants: Most plants start their life in full sun in a brand-new landscape. As trees mature, the shade begins to develop with the larger canopy. Plants used to having full sun early in their lifespan will begin to grow leggy in search of the sun to continue the process of photosynthesis. At this point, it’s best to replace plants with more shade loving species.

A lot of time and money can be spent fighting this process with limited results.  It’s best to find species that thrive in shade rather than fight the process.

Aug 09

Choose the Right Plants for Your Landscape

Posted on August 9, 2017 at 4:53 PM by Adam Testa

One of the questions moving forward with landscape in Arizona is how do we maintain for future generations. With the water shortage we’re experiencing in the western United States, it’s important we make wise choices regarding choice of plants, turf locations and style of maintenance.

Plant choices: Choosing desert-adapted plants will save with water usage and trimming needs and still add color during all seasons here in Arizona. Forcing plants into the landscape that are not native will increase costs to maintain and use extra water to try and help them survive. 

Each city in the Phoenix area has plant palette recommendations to help with our choices. Use these plant choices and save water and maintenance and add color to your landscape.

Turf locations: In Arizona, turf should be functional and aesthetic. By functional, we mean useful for recreation or dog walking. Aesthetic turf would be entrances to communities or focal points adding a softening to the desert palette.

When you look critically at turf, determine whether it meets both criteria; if it doesn’t, you may want to eliminate to save water usage and weekly maintenance needs that don’t go away.

Style of maintenance: Natural pruning is the best, most economical style of pruning in the desert.  Sustainable Landscape Maintenance (SLM) prefers this style, as desert plants, when spaced and located in the landscape properly, require little pruning. It’s only when we jam plants together, the need for separation and shearing occurs.

These simple thoughts will help us to provide a good-looking landscape at an affordable cost for years to come.

Aug 02

Sustainability in the Landscape and Beyond

Posted on August 2, 2017 at 11:52 AM by Adam Testa

One of the key components of any project or property is sustainability for the future. Sustainability can be defined as reducing functions that do not bring value to a property and keeping costs in line with assessments.

In every facet of maintaining a property, there are value-engineered decisions to be made without going against the original design intent of the developer. From plant choices and locations, types of paints to be used for common area walls and evaluating each amenity to provide the best solutions to problems as they arise with maturity and aging within a property.

The choices made early on have a great impact for the future, and solutions can be arrived at by well-thought discussions on where the property wants and needs to go. These discussions should be at the forefront for planning and budgeting for the future, as they will greatly impact future plans on how to maintain all facets of the community.

The lifecycle of Vistancia is at such a time when most of the community has been developed for some time, but there are plenty of home sites being developed for new residents to join this vibrant association. The best management style is to incorporate successes of the past and integrate those into the newer designs and eliminating issues that have been created that are now causing some maintenance expenditures for the community.

Vistancia is a beautiful community; let’s work together to keep it moving forward.