Summer Residential Newsletter

SUMMER 2016

 

13556860_1635522533431269_1573686452_nSummer is here and so is the heat! In southern Ontario we had the driest June in over 25 years and July has kicked off with week-long heatwaves. If the long range forecasts are correct we are headed for a hot & dry summer. So, this issue we’ve included some tips on staying cool this summer! Here at MPS we are also embracing the heat and modifying our work to keep our employees working safely.

In other news, MPS has had a very busy and productive spring. Our construction crews have completed their first major projects of the summer and are moving right along. The Grounds Maintenance crews had a busy spring, and are settling into a normal schedule as the grass is slowing down. In the office we have added two new staff members, Matt Raguseo 13422808_249607065423099_843651063_n(1)as Sales Associate and Jenna Monk as HR Coordinator and Multi-Media Outreach. In June, MPS staff attended the 19th Annual Snow & Ice Management Symposium in Providence, Rhode Island. MPS received its 9th consecutive Snow Safety Awards and had the opportunity to meet, network and learn from the leading contractors and suppliers in the industry.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Total Modern Refresh 

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33This home got a full modern overhaul this summer! These clients contacted MPS in the fall of 2015 to redo their back
patio and steps leading to the basement. It was a unique walkout because the original basement was sunken and the owners had excavated and put in a pressure treated timber retaining wall and steps. They came to us looking to replace the decaying wood with a new product that would be strong and visually appealing. Our solution was an industrial product made by Oaks Pavers calledProterra Natural Split. After excavating the area for the new larger steps, each stone was individually lowered into place. The 15results are a modern, clean looking set of steps that will stand the test of time. In the backyard we also expanded the existing patio, installed new stone window wells, river rock detailing around the perimeter, Halton-natural stepping stones, installation of new gardens and new sod.

The back project began in the spring of 2016 and soon after the owners requested quotes to redo the front yard as well. Our designers quickly drew up plans and adjusted the schedule to seamlessly transition from the back to front yard without delay. In the front we replaced their out-dated interlock driveway and steps with Ridgefiled Plus Executive stone to match the back. Permacon Esplanade steps replaced the dilapidated steps and were framed with large armour stone on either side. The old gardens were renovated with the addition of two small gardens. This property was brought out of the past with these modern upgrades. 35

 


Summer Planters

website 9
Flower planters are a great way to add colour and beauty to any outdoor space. They are also great because in the fall and winter, the planters can be reused to make decorative seasonal touches. Check out our blog post to see step-by-step how we created these beautiful planters!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Trevor Little

Construction Crew Leader| Fleet Manager

 
Trevor Little 2Trevor Little is a man of many talents, which is why he has several essential roles at MPS including shop manager and landscape construction crew leader. Trevor joined MPS Property Services in 1998 before going off on his own and then re-joining the company in 2008. Trevor specializes in our outdoor carpentry; he designs and builds all of the decks, gazebos and woodworking projects that MPS constructs. Trevor is very experienced with interlocking and concrete work as well, which can be showcased in some of our bigger landscaping projects. During the fall and winter months Trevor can be found in the shop, taking the role of shop manager. He organizes, winterizes and keeps our machines in tip top shape. Another pivotal role that Trevor is heavily involved in, is the training of large equipment operators for MPS. The staff all enjoy his delicious baked goods that he contributes on Coffee & Timbit Fridays! On his free time Trevor built his own custom home, spends his summers at the cottage and is involved in motor cross, snowmobiling and boating.

 

Summer Commercial Newsletter

 

SUMMER 2016 

13181378_286182758385347_738845535_nSummer is here and so is the heat! In southern Ontario we had the driest June in over 25 years and July has kicked off with week-long heatwaves. If the long range forecasts are correct we are headed for a hot & dry summer. So, in this issue we’ve included some tips on staying cool this summer! Here at MPS we are also embracing the heat and modifying our work to keep our employees working safely.

In other news, MPS has had a very busy and productive spring. Our construction crews have completed their first major projects of the summer and are moving right along. The Grounds Maintenance crews had a busy spring, and are settling into a normal schedule as the grass is slowing down. In the office we have added two new staff members, Matt Raguseo as Sales Associate and Jenna Monk as HR Coordinator and Multi-Media Outreach. In June, MPS staff attended the 19th Annual Snow & Ice Management Symposium in Providence, Rhode Island. MPS received its 9th consecutive Snow Safety Awards and had the opportunity to meet, network and learn from the leading contractors and suppliers in the industry.


 SIMA SAFETY AWARD

The Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) is a North American trade association for snow & ice industry professionals.
Their Annual Safety Award is given to companies who promote safe and effective snow and ice removal procedures.  This award is presented to the professionals who maintained exceptional safety standards to help protect their employees, clients, and the public during the snow season.

MPS Property Services takes great pride in being a leader & innovator in the snow & ice industry, and has always emphasized Health & Safety as of primary importance in our winter season operations.13422808_249607065423099_843651063_n(1)
We are very happy to announce that MPS Property Services was a recipient of the 2015-2016 SIMA Safety Award. This marks the 9th consecutive year that we have been presented this prestigious award.

A commitment to Health & Safety is an essential part of how we provide property services to you; it is a key component of the culture and values that drive us to improve and succeed. We would like to thank each and every one of our winter team members for helping us achieve safety success.

Ken Jorgenson
Health & Safety | Training Manager

 


PROBLEM SOLUTION – TRAFFIC CONTROL

traffic controlWith liability and compliance issues becoming more and more a focal point in today’s business climate, making simple improvements or repairs before potential hazards get out of control is always a prudent strategy. Traffic can be just as dangerous in a parking lot as it is on a busy town or city street. MPS Property Services can help you develop control measures that can be easily implemented to keep lots safe for your staff, visitors and clients. These include the following measures:

  • Line Painting – having clearly marked parking spots and directional arrows can optimize your property’s traffic flow and organization
  • Parking lot signage – directional indicators, speed limit posting and other cautionary signs can greatly reduce parking lot driving hazards
  • Pedestrian crossing markers – whether with signage or line painting, this is an effective way to highlight busy pedestrian crossings and reduce the risk to pedestrians on your property when traversing high traffic areas

 


Joe McLean 

Operation Manager | Grounds Maintenance
Joe Mclean
Joe is the Grounds Maintenance division’s Operations Manager, overseeing the equipping and supervision of his assigned staff. Joe has the important role of rallying all of his workers in the morning and supervising their work throughout the day. The staff enjoys Joe’s humor in the morning, whether they are laughing with him or at him (usually due to a coffee overload). Joe has worked at MPS since 2001 and really appreciates working with the management team at the company. As one of our most senior staff, Joe knows the ins and outs of the industry. Not only does he manage and supervise his staff, he is very knowledgeable about the tools and equipment. In his spare time, Joe likes to relax by going to the movies, hiking or spending time with his dog Sawyer.

 

Summer Planters

CREATING BEAUTIFUL SUMMER PLANTERS……

for the first time 

website 9  website 2  Wbsite 2

 

Flower planters are a great way to add colour and beauty to any outdoor space. They are also great in the fall and winter for decorative, seasonal touches. For my first blog post I thought I’d walk you through my very first time designing and planting garden containers, the mistakes I made, and what I learned from this experience.Jenna Monk

I’ve worked at MPS for 5 summers as a Landscape Enhancement crew leader, so I thought that with all of my experience this would be a breeze…..little did I know that planting and designing my own summer planters would have so many challenges. When I ran a crew at MPS I
was in charge of the softscape for most of our commercial clients, including mulching, planting, and pruning. I had planted large commercial planters but never gardens or planters for residential clients, let alone actually designing them myself.

Step 1- Planters:

First I went and scouted out the right type of planters. I was looking for something durable, modern and simple, to go with the style of the house and existing landscaping. I went to Home Depot and Sheridan Nurseries but found that Home Depot had less selection and poorer quality planters. When investing in a planter you might want to consider paying a little bit more for something that will last for several years, in all types of weather conditions.

website 3I ended up choosing a brand called Veradek, a Canadian company located in Toronto, which is sold at Sheridan Nurseries. The plant containers are made of resin, contain 70% recycled materials and are fully recyclable at the end of their lives. Their products are made to retain soil moisture and are fully resistant to the elements.

I used two 28” Midland Planters retailing for $99.99 which will accent the main door and then a 13” and 18” Nobleton planter for the side door. The Nobleton planters retailed for $59.99 and $69.99 respectively. I decided to go with different heights for the side entrance to add character.

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Step 2- Planning:

It is a good idea to have a rough plan before heading to the nursery and becoming overwhelmed by the beautiful selection. Social media and Pintrest have thousands of ideas and styles of planters. I knew I wanted my planters to have more flowers thanwebsite 5 greenery to add lots of colour. My original plan before going into Sheridan was similar to something like this –>

One important factor to consider is how much sun your flowers will be receiving. Certain flowers prefer all sun, some sun or little to no sun at all! Looking back now I realize that partial sun and full sun are not the same and it really does matter. My planters face south and only receive morning sun until around noon, some of the flowers I choose definitely require more sun and have not done as well because of it.

Step 3- Buying the Flowers:

I knew I wanted to have a tall grass in the middle, taller flowers surrounding the grass and then some shorter flowers with hanging vines/ wave petunias. Nevertheless as soon as I got to the nursery I was completely overwhelmed, even though I had been there a million times and thought I knew what I wanted. There were just so many eye-catching colours and different flowers! After changing my mind countless times, picking up flowers and putting them back down, I ended up going with an assortment of different blossoms, in a variety of colours, nothing like my original plan. This is why it is important to go in with an idea because the amount of flower they have can be a little overwhelming! I ended up purchasing:

My Plant List:website 6

  • Pop Star Bidens (x4)
  • Silver Helichrysum (the licorice plant) (x4)
  • New Guinea Impatients (x12)
    • White
    • Lilac
    • Pink
  • Rocky Mountain Orange Geranium (x4)
  • Dummen Orange Geranium Brocade (x4)
  • Potato Plant (x4)
  • Blue Wave-Petunias (x4)
  • Red Star Spike (x4)

Total = $250.00

** Helpful Tip: keep your plant tags/take a picture of them, or write down the plants used in case you decide to do the same arrangement next year!**

Step 4- Preparing the planters:

Since the Midland containers were so tall, I didn’t want to fill the whole planter with soil. So I added gravel to the base of the planter for weight and then inserted a bucket that was flipped upside down to take up the space. Adding weight to the bottom is important to prevent the planter from falling over in a storm or heavy wind.

website 7The soil I bought for the planters is a special 3-in-1 planting mix. You can use top soil or triple mix,
however triple mix can get saturated very easily and top soil may not hold the moisture as well. Potting soil includes peat, composted bark, sand, perlite and even some added slow-release nutrients and fertilizer. Potting soil can be bought at home depot, Walmart, Canadian tire and any garden store.

 

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Step 5- Planting:

Once the planters were ready to go, I started to arrange my flowers. I put the Red star spike in the middle of each planter with 2 geraniums on either side (one with green leaves and one with the green and white leaves). I planted the overhanging plants in each of the corners; the wave petunias, potato plant and the silver helichrysum. Then I filled the gaps with the New Guinea impatients and Pop Star Bidens. The end result is a beautiful, and colourful planter with lots of texture and interest. It will fill-out beautifully throughout the summer.

Step 6- Care:

My grandmother who we refer to as our ‘Martha Stewart’, gave me her secret to beautiful healthy planters- she said “feed, feed, feed” (that’s also how she treats all her grandchildren). She recommended a flower fertilizer to help keep the plants healthy, and produce great colour and blossoms all season long. The nutrients required for plant growth are:

  • Nitrogen (N): enhances stem and leaf growth (for most plants, nitrogen ends up being the most important nutrient)website 9
  • Phosphorus (P): contributes to flower production, fruit production, seed production and root growth
  • Potassium (K): ensures general vigor; helps plants resist disease

Just be careful not to add too much food! After I planted my flowers, I decided to water them and mix in the fertilizer, I didn’t read the instructions very well and instead of adding 3ml of fertilizer/ L of water, I mixed in 30ml…… It didn’t kill my flowers but it was touch and go for a couple of days. I choose the Parkwood Flower Plant Food 15-30-15.

The planters should be watered at least every-other day depending on the weather and the amount of rain and sun they receive. The dead heads of the flowers should be pulled in order to encourage new growth and blossoms!

What I learned through my first planter experience: Looking back on my first experience, I made some minor mistakes and learned a lot despite ending up with pretty nice summer planters. Here are the notes and tips I made for myself, for next summer.

  • Use a taller grass in the center of the planter, the Red Star Spike gets lost between the leafy and tall geraniums.
  • Don’t fill the planters as much as I did, not enough room for the flowers to grow. Because there is so much squished into the planters, my New Guinea Impatients are completely lost and not tall enough to compete with the other plants.
  • The potato vine is very large and I don’t know if I would use it again for these particular planters. I would probably go with something smaller that still grows out.
  • I think I probably used too many different types of flowers and colours and it makes less of an impact
  • The yellow Star Bidens did not do well in the conditions provided. Although it says sun- part shade and drought resistant maybe the overcrowding effects them.IMG_7951

Well that’s it! I hope you found this a bit insightful and can learn from my trials and tribulations of planting my first summer flower planters.

Jenna Monk

Enhancing the Work Environment

From Enhancing the Landscape to Enhancing the Work Environment- MPS’s 1st HR Position

Hey again! Last blog post I quickly ran through some of the big changes MPS is going through and briefly mentioned the re-vamp of our HR.   One major change change we’ve made at MPS is the creation of a specialized human resources position.  In the past, individual operations managers have been in charge of interviewing, hiring and training their own staff.  After all – they’re the ones who have to organize and oversee the work their team performs, so it made sense that they would choose their own people.  As we’ve grown, however, the time requirements to deal with an ever increasing staff began to be too much, and started to impact our manager’s ability to actually manage their crews.  So we looked in-house to one of our long time summer students, Jenna, to fill this role.  Just finishinJenna Monkg her 4th year at Queens University, Jenna was a natural for this position. Jenna worked as a Landscape Enhancement Crew Leader, enhancing many of our commercial site through mulching, planting, and pruning, to enhancing MPS’s work environment. Already knowledgeable about the inner workings of MPS, Jenna leverages her naturally out-going personality to recruit, interview, hire and on-board all of our new staff.  With a systematic employee review program, we’re able to effectively evaluate and reward our high-performing staff, and provide residual training to those who require it.

Jenna’s also been tasked with increasing opportunities for our team to interact in more social situations such as “TimBit Fridays”, where everyone starts their Friday at the office with coffee, donuts, and an opportunity to get to know their fellow workers, or talk to their IMG_7849managers in a non-pressurized environment.  We’re also doing a company outing to a Blue Jays game later this month.  With enough time to dedicate to this function, we’re already seeing an overall improvement in our staff’s morale and performance.  Landscaping can be a tough job, but little things can help make it more enjoyable.  The end result of a happy, engaged staff is a better landscape installation, or higher quality grounds maintenance.  We think you’ll be able to notice these results!

 

 

 

 

Jim Monk | President

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