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BUDGETS: A Necessary Evil?
 

Most of us consider the job of creating a budget a necessary evil. To achieve financial success, budgets are indeed necessary but don’t have to be considered evil. The same is true for creating a budget that identifies landscape requirements and associated costs for your property. This budget preparation can be successful and painless if you consider three guidelines; timing, planning and knowledge.

 

 

The time to prepare a landscape budget for next season is now while the property is colorful and alive. Plant materials, turf conditions, seasonal color rotations, irrigation needs and tree care are best evaluated while they are active and thriving. It’s more effective to make decisions about summer annual flowers during the 

summer instead of trying to remember during the dead of winter.

 

 

Planning your landscape needs, should not only include next season but two or....

 

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Summertime in Chicago
"And the Living is Easy"
 
Another 4th of July holiday has come and gone and we are enjoying the family vacations and outings that characterize the summer months. Extended daylight hours and warmer weather inspire us to enjoy the outdoors and that favorite summer vacation destination. It’s fascinating how our weather influences our lives and daily plans.
 
Our weather this spring and summer has been a big challenge for landscape professionals. After one of the wettest spring seasons in 150 years precipitation has continued consistently in most Chicagoland communities. Weekly landscape maintenance schedules have been difficult to uphold and while plants enjoy the moisture for flourishing growth, our maintenance teams have been working overtime to keep up with it. With this wet, humid climate, we need to be on the lookout for seasonal pests and diseases.
  

Increased populations of Japanese beetle, Slugs, Aphids and Grubs are sure to be in abundance with the increased foliage to feed on. Turf diseases (fungus) will be almost inevitable this year. Fungus requires 2 conditions to survive; dampness for 12 or more hours, and humidity. We’ve had both in abundance.

 

 

As we near the half way point of our growing season our team is on the job for you. Our experienced technicians and supervisors are looking out for potential problems as a result of our weather. We are here to offer proactive maintenance practices and solutions to these challenges.

 

 
Consider discussing the following services with your Account Manager today: ....
 
 
 
Balanced Gives Back
 
 phi·lan·thro·py
   
  noun
 
  1. the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by goodwill to fellow members of the human race
  2. an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes

 

 
Over the years, Balanced Environments has contributed to many organizations and causes that create big impact on groups and individuals needing help. Two recent events demonstrate our desire to give-back and make a difference where we can.
 

 

 

 

“Second Chance” Plantings
The re-use of appropriate plantings is becoming a popular movement toward sustainability. Each spring, we identify properties where spring pansies and over 2500 tulip bulbs are re-purposed and given a “second chance”. New tulip bulbs which are planted in the fall and removed after they bloom in the spring can be re-used if stored properly during the summer. This spring we donated over 500 tulip bulbs to Roberti Community House (RCH) in Waukegan, Illinois. RCH is intended to be a gathering place, a safe haven, where neighbors of all ages can come together to develop and share their skills and talents and celebrate their successes. 

 

 

 

Camp “I Am Me”
Sponsored by the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance (IFSA), Camp I Am Me is a special and unforgettable one-week camp experience for children and teenagers who have experienced injuries from burns. Through the generosity of donors, supporters, and volunteers, since 1991 the IFSA offers this camping opportunity at no-cost to campers; including lodging, meals, activities, and transportation to and from camp (YMCA Camp Duncan - Ingleside, IL). Through our membership in IREM (Institute of Real Estate Management) we donated our time during the 2017 Camp I Am Me Fun Fair on June 21st. Activities, games, treats and prizes were a huge part of the day to help make a memory of a lifetime for the campers.

 

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 "Spring is nature's way of saying, "Let's party!"
 
 The beauty of this spring has once again been an amazing show of color and life as our landscapes are reawakened from the slumber of winter. Each spring, countless plant varieties perform a show unlike any other season of the year. Early blossoms of crocus, daffodils and pansies provide an overture to the waves of varying colors that follow. Our Midwestern climate provides a perfect setting for spring bulbs such as snowdrops, tulips, hyacinth, and allium to name a few. Our woody trees and shrubs provide some of the most dramatic color shows of the year. These include forsythia, spirea, azalea, rhododendron, lilac, weigela, witch hazel, magnolia, redbud, flowering crabapple, and serviceberry. Perennial flowers emerge as they are reborn each spring surprising us with their persevering lifecycle. Phlox, iris, lenten rose, violet, columbine, bleeding heart, lungwort and bluebell make up a partial list of the early blooming perennials that perform well in our region.

 

 

 

As the spring gives way to the warmer summer months, flower variety is still present through woody plants, perennial flowers, and annual flower displays, but no season matches the standing ovation that is deserved for the performance of our spring flowering plants.

 

Of the numerous flowering plants listed above, how many do you have incorporated into your landscape? Have you accounted for....

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TULIP
 
tu·lip   /ˈt(y)o͞oləp/ ( noun)
 

a bulbous spring-flowering plant of the lily family, with boldly colored cup-shaped flowers

 

 

 

We recently received this question from one of our clients: 

 

“For how many years will tulips perform well after they are planted?”

Unfortunately there is not a short, concise answer to this question. Much of their success is based on where they are planted...

 

 
Tulips planted within a perennial flower planting
 
 Image courtesy of DeVroomen Garden Products
 
  • First year – great display
  • Second year – minimal display
  • Third year – maybe 5% will bloom
In general, tulips are sensitive to wind and rain (color petal drop) and have a short bloom period when there is variation in weather conditions. When not properly protected, tulips are sensitive to winter salts and critter damage. Deer eat them like lollipops!  

 
(Example of tulip bulb performance after second season)
 

Bulb displays within perennial flower plantings can be accomplished with daffodils instead, as they last for decades and multiply as they age. For best results....

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Spring Turf Awareness 

Timing is Everything   

 

Spring has sprung as we turn our focus to the outdoors and prepare our landscapes for the new growing season. Landscape professionals follow specific guidelines and recommendations relating to the care of turf areas. We have prepared a basic list of guidelines for you to consider relating to spring turf awareness.

Even though the fall planting season is preferred over the spring for turf seeding, there are times when we are just not willing to accept a summer with thin, bare, unhealthy lawn areas. Spring seeding can still be successful, as long as the timing and other success factors are strictly adhered to. 

 
 Spring seeding timing factors:
  1. Do not apply a pre-emergent herbicide (designed to control crabgrass) in the areas where you will be planting turf seed. This herbicide will prevent the new turf seeds from germinating.
  2. Spring seeding should be completed early (April 15th - May 1st target) which will allow for complete germination (2-4 weeks) and increased plant establishment prior to summer heat. Turf seed will begin germinating after the ‘soil’ temperatures reach at least 60 degrees.
  3. A consistently moist seed bed will increase the germination process resulting in a stronger plant sooner (to withstand the upcoming summer heat). Most turf varieties need 6-12 weeks of ideal growing conditions to produce an adult stand. – U of I Extension
 
                                
 Spring seeding success factors:
  1. Soil-to-seed contact is an important factor in seed germination. Lightly cultivating the soil prior to sowing and lightly raking the seed after sowing will increase this soil-to-seed contact.
  2. Add organic matter (compost, peat moss, leaf mulch) as soil amendments to help improve the soil structure and increase the nutrients in the soil.
  3. Increase the germination percentage by lightly covering the newly planted seed with straw blanket or paper mulch designed to help retain moisture, reduce evaporation, and discourage birds from feeding.
  4. Select a seed blend that is appropriate for the lawn establishment. Light exposure, disease resistance, stress tolerance, and use factors should be considered when selecting varieties.
  5. Newly seeded lawn areas need Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium in a much different combination than an already established turf area. Make sure to select a “starter” fertilizer. Remember, do not use ....

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Are we in for an Early Spring?
 
If so, what does this mean for our landscapes?
 

Records dating to 1887 show Punxsutawney Phil has now predicted more winter 103 times while forecasting an early spring just 18 times — including last year.

The handlers of Pennsylvania’s most famous groundhog, say the furry rodent has “predicted” six more weeks of winter after seeing his shadow on February 2nd.

With the recent rise in temperatures and the “unprecedented snow drought” described    by the National Weather Service in Chicago, six more weeks of winter is pretty difficult to believe at this time.

 

For snow lovers, it’s been a disappointing season here in Chicagoland but for snow haters, the signs of an early spring are music to their ears. Should we be worried or concerned that this mild winter will have a negative impact on our landscapes?

 
 

 

Some might think that a mild winter with minimal snow is no problem for our Midwestern plants, but landscape industry professionals think otherwise. Snow cover helps insulate plant roots from extreme cold weather. It also releases moisture slowly into the soil during a typical spring thaw. Minimal snow cover can expose our Midwestern plants to dangerous cold and dry conditions.  The chance of a late season “deep-freeze” still exists in February and March. With no snow cover as insulation, our plants are at risk of damage....

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~~ THE VILLAGE TERRACE ~~

 

LANDSCAPE SOLUTIONS DESIGNED

AND BUILT FOR YOU

 

       

                  BEFORE                                       AFTER

 

A Senior Living Community, located in Lindenhurst Illinois, The Village at Victory Lakes encompasses 38 acres of lush prairie landscape. Victory Lakes offers an active enriching lifestyle that provides its residents with life-enriching activities and just the right levels of care. 

As early as 2014, it was determined that a new outdoor activity space was needed for the active residents and staff. Balanced Environments, Inc. was chosen to help guide the committee through the entire landscape process. This decision was based upon a trusting partnership with Cal Isaacson, the community’s Executive Director. “I have worked with Balanced Environments for over 10 years at two different senior living communities. We chose to work with Balanced Environments because all the design, implementation, and installation pieces were all in one place.”

Through an initial ‘discovery’ process, the community administrators, activity and marketing staff specified what they would like to achieve from this project. The overall goal was to create “an outdoor resident activity space that was functional, beautifully utilizing the existing natural setting, yet visually dramatic to the eye.” The design team went to work to create an outdoor space that would achieve these goals and more. The vision included a soothing water feature as the focal point to call upon the senses of sound and touch. A wood burning fire pit with gas starter extends the daily enjoyment into the evening and into the cool fall and winter months. Walking paths encourage residents and family members to experience the hundreds of plant varieties that were incorporated into the design. Subtle landscape lighting was designed to accent the trees and water feature while providing functional illumination of the patio and walking paths for nighttime use. The vision was clear and well received when presented to the resident Landscape Committee.

As with any project, budgets and construction details needed to be ironed out. There were a number of site challenges that required proactive planning. 

     

    

                 EXCAVATION AND PAVER INSTALLATION

 

  1. Two large existing memorial trees were relocated on the campus grounds to provide the space needed for the new construction and allowing these memorials to continue to thrive in greater serenity.
  2. Existing utilities and underground drainage elements were numerous in this space and required accurate location, precise excavation and timely installation.
  3. Troublesome drainage issues needed to be resolved from original site development. The existing storm water drain elevation was nearly six feet lower than the foundation grade. To maintain proper drainage and retention, a sunken rain garden was developed surrounding the storm drain. Moisture loving plants including; iris, fern, native grasses and native wetland button bush were utilized.
  4. To add to the elevation equation, fill was needed to achieve the level base planes required for the water feature, walking paths and expansive patio. Additional site drainage included the installation of underground drain tile, strategically located catch basins, and proper grading to further improve overall drainage and utilization by the graying population.
  5. To accommodate a determinate budget, the project was broken into phases requiring precise scheduling and timing of the various tasks. Sleeves were installed beneath phase one hardscape elements to accommodate lighting and irrigation lines in phase two. Large specimen birch trees were installed early in the construction process well before drainage lines, utilities and hardscapes construction could begin.

 

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During this season, we take time to reflect upon the good things we have... like our partnership with you. We appreciate working with you and hope that the holidays and the coming year will bring you happiness and success.

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Account Managers, ED REIER, ADAM TECZA, JASON SEEBACKER, and JUDY SHORT from Balanced Environments Inc. served up a Lunch-n-Learn for 19 property managers from Hillcrest Property Management in Lombard, IL on Monday, December 5th, 2016. A full overview of all the service lines Balanced Environments offers to our clients as well as why Dormant Pruning is so important for your landscape was presented while the property managers ate a yummy catered lunch.

Balanced Environments Inc. offered their services as crowd control volunteers to help with the VISIT LAKE GENEVA 41ST ANNUAL ELECTRIC CHRISTMAS "CELEBRATE YOUR INNER ELF" PARADE on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016. It was a chilly day but a great time was had by all. The parade consisted of Santa arriving on a dazzling pontoon boat, several marching bands, over 80 floats, an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people in attendance, and 65 rosy-cheeked volunteers.