7 Tips For a Better Lawn This Summer

7 Tips For a Better Lawn This Summer

SUMMER 2017 LAWN CARE 

Lawn care in the spring is all about getting your lawn healthy and green, and this year, it has been great to actually have experienced the first “real” spring we’ve had in quite a few years. The prolonged wet weather and cooler temperatures have done their bit in creating healthy turf, and now that the weather has warmed and dried out (hopefully), summer lawn care is all about keeping it that way!

 

Summer weather can often bring about quite a lot of stress to your grass. Hot temperatures and drought conditions can damage your lawn, as can the slower natural growth of the grass and even lots of activity on high traffic areas. That is why it is important to take the following steps to best care for your lawn during the summer months.

 

7 Tips For a Better Lawn This Summer:

  1. Mow your lawn correctly, and that doesn’t always mean cutting it short! Set your mower blades higher (3” or more) as taller grass is far more tolerant to drought, grows deeper roots and can reduce weed growth.

  2. Mulch your grass clippings to help keep moisture levels steady.

  3. Keep your mower blades sharp to minimize stress to the turf, you want to cut the grass blades, not tear them.

  4. Water your lawn wisely by watering deeply and less frequently to encourage drought-tolerant roots. Water earlier in the day to reduce evaporation and fungal growth.

  5. Do not over-saturate when you water, this can promote disease in the turf. Most lawns will require about an inch (2.5 cm) of water per week to maintain good health.

  6. Don’t over fertilize your turf; applying fertilizer in the heat of summer can burn your lawn, so if you are going to apply, make sure to use a slow release product. Or wait until the fall to fertilize again!

  7. Weed your lawn regularly to remove them before they bloom and send out more seeds for next year. Hand (or tool) removal is still the best option for most residential lawns.

Amex large turf area

The summer is also a great time to make adjustments to your irrigation system settings if an automatic system is being used. The ability to “fine tune” the amount of water being used, at the optimal time of day is of utmost importance to increase the health of your turf.

 

– Ken Jorgenson

Backyard Technology for Bird Lovers

THE BACKYARD BIRDCAM 

I recently came across an innovative product that seems perfect for a fun, interesting and educational project for the yard; quite literally, a photo booth for birds!

The various “birdcam” feeders are affordable ($60 – $180), can be set up quickly & easily, and will take professional quality images of the birds from just inches away. Available at Bird Photo Booth, there are two options for setup.

Option 1 uses their 4k motion-activated, wi-fi bird camera that is specifically designed for their Bird Photo Booth weatherproof enclosure.

Option 2 uses your own IOS / Android phone (or GoPro) inside the weatherproof enclosure with a Bluetooth remote control, or even your phones own motion detector App.


By adding water and different types of bird seed (to attract different types of birds) to the feeder, and having positioned the feeder in an attractive, safe location, the camera will automatically take photos of the birds that you attract. Photos can be accessed at any time with your phone or tablet, and the camera is quickly charged when necessary with your own charging cord!

 

There is plenty of information and helpful tips on the company’s website, along with a selection of photos and videos to illustrate what the bird cams are capable of. I have ordered one for myself, and will let you know how it all turns out (hopefully with lots of photos too).

 

– Ken Jorgenson

Emerald Ash Borer Devastation

THE CONTINUED DEVASTATION OF THE EMERALD ASH BORER

 

GTA Emerald Ash Borer

Introduction

The emerald ash borer (EAB) is a highly destructive insect (originally from Asia) that feeds on ash trees, usually killing them within 2-3 years. The EAB was first discovered in the GTA around 2005 and has continued to devastate the ash tree population ever since. It is estimated that the City of Toronto will eventually lose almost all of its 860,000 ash trees (source: Landscape Ontario) and the outlook for York region is not much brighter.

The Emerald Ash Borer

The emerald ash borer’s worm-like larvae feed between the sapwood and bark along the entire length of the tree’s trunk, and on branches more than 2 cm in diameter. Larvae can be found under the bark during the summer months, although some can be found all year round. It is the feeding by the larvae (there can be hundreds even thousands of larvae in a single tree) that cuts off the flow of nutrients, which eventually kills the tree. The larvae leave an “S-shaped” or “zigzag” gallery of damage behind as they feed.

As the larva grows, it moults four times. At the end of the fourth moult, before becoming a pupa, the larva is J-shaped and has a slightly thicker and shorter body. This stage is called a pre-pupae and is first observed in September. An “exit” hole in the tree bark indicates when an adult has dug itself out to fly away and infest other trees.

Spot the Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms are indicators of insect attack. A sign is physical damage to a tree, such as a gallery, a hole, or a feeding notch in the leaf, resulting from attack by the insect. A symptom is a tree’s response to insect attack and includes premature yellowing of foliage, dead branches, thinning crowns, or bark splits and cracks. It is important to be aware that similar signs and symptoms can be caused by other pests, drought, or cold stress and therefore you need an expert to verify that emerald ash borer is present in the tree.

New infestations of emerald ash borer are very difficult to detect. Usually by the time you detect these signs and symptoms, the tree is already heavily infested. However, if you identify these infested trees, there may be time to protect lightly infested trees in the area or slow the spread to other areas. This is why early detection is so important.

GTA Emerald Ash Borer Beetle

What are my options?

If you have an ash tree in your yard or on the city owned property in front of your home, you should learn about your options before taking any action. Visiting the website of your municipal and/or regional forestry departments will inform you of any programs that exist surrounding the control of EAB, and will indicate what measures are in place regarding trees planted on publicly owned land, including boulevard trees.

If your tree appears to be healthy…TREATMENT
While heavily-infested ash trees will ultimately succumb to the pest, healthy ash trees that are not yet infested or in the very early stages of infestation, can be treated. Currently TreeAzin, derived from the neem tree, is the only product registered for use in Canada against EAB. It is injected into the tree near the base and must be done by a licensed applicator. If your ash tree appears healthy, consider treatment with TreeAzin injections.

If your tree is infested…REMOVAL

If you decide to remove a tree on private property, you will have to incur the cost yourself. There may be removal permits required — check with your municipality. In many municipalities, infested trees that are located on the city-owned property in front of homes will be removed by municipal/regional forestry staff and replaced at no cost to homeowners.

REPLANTING. We encourage everyone who has space to plant new trees to replace those that have been or will be lost to EAB. Even if you haven’t personally lost a tree to EAB, planting new trees can help maintain the overall urban forest canopy.

– Ken Jorgenson

Do you have an Emerald Ash Borer Infestation?

 Click HERE to learn about MPS’s Tree Care Services

 

Dandelion Season Coming to a Close

While the beloved robin used to represent the first sign of Spring, now, unfortunately, it is the pesky and prodigious dandelions that ushers in the season…

For those who love a well-manicured, lush, green lawn, there is nothing worse than seeing the towering, yellow weeds slowly (then rapidly) taking over every available green space and destroying the turf in the process. Producing copious amounts of seeds which blow around everywhere, the dandelions grow rapidly from a single, deep “tap root” and flower in the spring. With all of the cool, wet weather we have seen this year, dandelions have managed to have two cycles of abundant growth, and have become a real nuisance for landscapers. We have seen dandelions pop up and grow twice as high as the grass within just 1 or 2 days of mowing, producing an unfortunate and frustrating unkempt look.

Dandelions in turf

Dandelion growth only 2 days after cutting!

With the provincial pesticide ban in place, there is very little that can be done to effectively control dandelions and other weeds. So-called “green” or alternative products just don’t work, producing results that range from being totally ineffective to only slightly effective on dandelions. These products are also prohibitively expensive, and require multiple, repeat applications that actually lead to a deterioration of turf strength and quality. In other words, they can actually make the problem worse!

Digging out each & every dandelion by the root is great for a small section of turf, but would require a tremendous amount of labour (and cost) for a significant area. So, what can be done to manage the dandelion problem?

The simple answer is to keep your turf as healthy as possible and maintain it at that level as long as possible. The thicker & healthier your grass is, the more successfully it can withstand the inevitable dandelion invasion.

• During peak dandelion season, cutting the grass twice weekly will improve its appearance
• Don’t cut the grass too short – keep it at t least 2 ¾ – 3 inches long (7 – 7 ½ cm)
• Topdress & overseed your lawn annually to replenish the soil and encourage new turf growth
• Aerate at least once per year to improve nutrient/water flow, root growth and general health of the turf

Finally, please understand that without a change in provincial legislation, dandelions are here to stay. The battle now is to limit their population by doing everything possible to increase the health of your turf.

– Ken Jorgenson

When Should I Plant Annual Flowers?

The Victoria Day weekend usually coincides with the planting of annual flowers, but after the cold & wet spring that we’ve received in southern Ontario- when is the right time to plant?

Annual flowers are the perfect way to add eye-catching colour and foliage to your garden or planters. Annuals have one long growing/flowering season, and then die off in colder weather (hence the name, since you plant them annually). In comparison, perennials are planted once and return year-after-year, but they have a shorter flowering season.

So although the days are getting warmer, and garden enthusiasts are eager to get outside, when is the right time to plant annuals?

When to plant?

The right time to plant annual flowers depends on two things: the specific annual flower and the climate. Annuals are categorized based on their hardiness and ability to survive in cooler temperatures. To find out what climate your garden is in, click here. The average frost-free dates for southern Ontario are between May 1st -10th, which is why the Victoria Day weekend is usually a safe bet to plant annuals. However, this spring has been colder than average, and therefore it’s advised to wait a couple more weeks to plant tender/ tropical annuals. So although the annuals are flourishing inside the warmth of the greenhouse, our current cold spring nights and the potential for frost, would cause them to perish.

Hardy Annual Flowers- grow best in cool soils with mild temperatures, and have the ability to withstand fairly heavy frost. By mid summer hardy annuals don’t thrive as well as tender/tropical annual flowers, and are usually replaced. Hardy annuals are perfect for early spring and fall, with the most common being Pansies.

Tender/Tropical Annual Flowers- grow best in warmer temperatures, and they must be planted after the threat of frost has passed (since they will die in cold temperatures). Tender annuals are usually planted in late spring or early summer, when the nights are warmer. The most common tender annuals are: Marigolds, Zinnias, Impatiens, Alyssum, Coleus, Geraniums, Ageratum, Petunias, and Salvia.

Annual Flower Light Requirements

Another important detail to think about before planting, is the amount of direct sunlight the annuals will receive. Be sure to always read the information tag for the specifications of that plant. Flowers will not reach their full potential or they may die if they don’t receive the proper light requirements. The majority of annual flowers prefer sunny locations, however there are a few that will survive in shaded gardens.

Sun Loving Annuals

Ageratum, Alyssum, Asters, Carnation, Celosia, Coleus, Dahlia, Dusty miller, Geraniums, Marigolds, Morning Glory, Petunias, Portulaca, Salvia, Snapdragons, Sunshine Impatiens, Verbena, and Zinnia

Semi-Shade Loving Annuals

Ageratum, Alyssum, Begonias, Browallia, Coleus, Dusty Miller, Geraniums, Impatiens, Lobelia, Marigolds, Morning Glory, Nicotiana, Pansy, Petunias, Salvia, Snapdragons, and Vinca

Shade Loving Annuals

Begonias, Browallia, Coleus, Fuchsia, Impatiens, and Lobelia

 

– Jenna Monk

Emergency First Aid & CPR


MPS FIRST AID TRAINING 

MPS Property Services is dedicated to the Health & Safety of all our team members, with a vigorous program in place that focuses on prevention, hazard recognition, safe work practices & procedures, and accountability.

A significant Health & Safety responsibility for MPS management is ensuring that we are fully compliant with the regulations set forth in the Ontario Health & Safety Act. The Act requires that each
workplace shall have a competently trained and certified First Aid provider (and First Aid kit) present in the event that a personal injury, accident or other health related emergency occurs.

For a facility with only one building or workplace involved, this is much simpler to manage. But what do you do when the vast majority of your work is performed off-site, by a dozen separate crews, at numerous different workplaces throughout the day?
The answer is to make sure that at least one person on each and every MPS crew has received the required training & certification. This is a simple reflection of the philosophies extolled in The MPS Way.

As such, over a two day period in this month, MPS Property Services provided for over 20 team members to complete the Canadian Red Cross Emergency First Aid with CPR/AED certification training!

 

MPS employees and managers enthusiastically engaged in this training, learning valuable knowledge & skills throughout the process. For many long-time staff, this was the second (or even third) time participating in this type of certification, a testament to the dedication of our workers in helping make each and every work site a safer one!

MPS Property Services is very proud of our team members for successfully completing their First Aid certification, and would like to thank and congratulate them all for their achievement. Keeping our team members safe at work is a priority. Having trained first aid providers on every work site is an important part of our overall Health & Safety program, along with our many other educational & prevention tools.

– Ken Jorgenson
MPS Health & Safety Manager

How To Plant Spring Bulbs

How To Plant Spring Bulbs

Square One…

As a new graduate, who just recently moved out of her parent’s house, I’ve only started digging into gardening as a hobby. Last summer, I tried my hand at some flower planters that you can read about here. This post will be all about my first and possibly disastrous attempt at planting spring bulbs, what I’ve learned and what I’ll try next time!

Admiring some beautiful gardens in Vietnam

If you’re like me, the site of colourful spring flowers brings excitement and a feeling of good things to come after a bleak winter. My mum always planted spring bulbs at my family home, so when I moved out, I couldn’t wait to embrace this tradition. However, I knew almost nothing about spring bulbs…

While out shopping last fall, I became a little overzealous and bought about 120 bulbs from Costco, for the two small gardens where I live. Then, I naturally got busy and totally forgot to plant them until the last week of October- which was a little later than the recommended 6 weeks before the first ground-freezing frost. So I’m just hoping that my bulbs decide to come up!

As I nervously await the hopeful arrival of my spring flowers, I’ve committed to do some research for myself and anyone else interested!

Step 1: Choosing your bulbs

As I mentioned before, I might have jumped the gun and bought a ton of bulbs from Costco before researching the different varieties, local growing conditions, or even how to plant them. I stereo-typically bought bags of bulbs with the prettiest pictures on the front. Evidently, experienced gardeners suggest buying bulbs from reputable nurseries (I’m guessing where I buy my bulk quantities of meat and hot sauce isn’t considered reputable). It’s recommended to buy from nurseries vs. big box stores since the staff at local nurseries tend to be much more knowledgeable about the plants, local growing conditions, and generally take better care of the plants.

In other findings, I’ve learned there are many different types of spring bulbs that require different care and bloom in the early, mid or late spring. If you desire an elaborate spring garden, you could even plant a variety of bulbs that will continuously flower all spring. Here is what else I’ve learned!

Early Spring Bloomers:

Winter Aconite, Snowdrops, Fragrant Puschkinia, Glory of the Snow, Tiny Reticulata


Early-Mid Spring:

 

 

 Tulips and Daffodils

 

 

 


Late Spring:

Allium


Step 2: Planting Bulbs

Spring bulbs should be planted in well-drained soil about 6 weeks before the hard, ground-freezing frost. This will allow the bulbs to establish a root system; if the ground is too wet there is a chance the bulbs will rot.

On the back of the bulb packaging it will usually indicate proper depth and spacing for the specific bulbs. I purchased a “Perfect Pairings” set with Crocus and Daffodils, as well as a package of “Curb Appeal” Tulips. On the back of the package it had exact depths and spacing for each type of bulb, and being the nerd I am, I used a ruler for the first couple of bulbs I planted and would definitely recommend it for any beginner.

When planting bulbs, my research indicates that they should be planted in clusters and never in rows, as it will increase the instability of the flowers and they may fall over. I didn’t know this and planted all 120 bulbs in neat, single file rows- so I may end up with a garden of horizontal flowers…

Once the bulbs are planted, it is recommended to fertilize the soil in the planting area with bulb booster, bone meal, or super phosphate.

Squirrels may love your bulbs more than you, and they’ve been known to remove carefully arranged groups or even to re-arrange your bulbs! Tamping down the soil after planting helps to protect your hard work by concealing the smell of the bulbs. To protect your bulbs from marauding animals, try sprinkling blood meal or critter-ridder over the bulbs before covering with soil. If you’re really protective of your bulbs, some gardeners cover the bulbs, once in the hole, with chicken wire to ward off pesky critters.

 

 

Step 3: Caring for your Spring Bulbs

Good news, spring bulbs are mostly maintenance free! After the bulbs have bloomed you may want to dead head them, but leave the stems and leaves standing. The foliage needs to die back naturally, allowing the sun to convert oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium into food that is stored in the bulb for next year. Spring bulbs should flourish and come back for years to come if they are planted in well-drained soil, allowed plenty of sunlight, and you’re able to stave off hungry squirrels!


Your spring bulbs didn’t bloom?

Sometimes bulbs don’t come up at all, or they might come up but won’t blossom. Here are some common reasons why:

  1. Squirrels or voles have made a nice meal out of them
  2. They were too small: Smaller bulbs need to reach a certain size before flowering
  3. Too much or not enough fertilizer: Always fertilize flowers with a low nitrogen fertilizer; nitrogen encourages the growth of leaves which can be at the expense of flowers.
  4. Not enough sun: Bulbs need about 6-8hr a day of direct sunlight
  5. Poor drainage: Excessive wet soil causes the bulbs to rot
  6. Competition for nutrients: In an area with fast growing plants, or evergreens, it can cause crowding or shading that will reduce the nutrients for bulbs. The most compatible plant for spring bulbs are Hostas.

So, now that I can pinpoint everything I did wrong while planting my own spring bulbs, hopefully I’ve educated and inspired you to try your own hand at it!

While I sit back and await my spring blooms, I’ve started to think forward to next fall. I think I’ll try my luck with a layered bulb container (pictured above), or maybe even try to bring some spring colour inside during the winter months, by forcing bulbs in a vase (pictured below).

 

 

FUN FACT: To force bulbs in a vase, they’re required to be stored for 12-15 weeks in a fridge or other cold place, to receive enough ‘cold-sleepy’ time (yes, that’s really what it’s called). However, the bulbs cannot be kept near apples, as they expel gases that prevent the bulbs from blooming! Who knew apples were so perilous..

 

 

– Jenna Monk

Successful ISO SN 9001 Stage 2 Field Audit

MPS's ISO SN-9001 Certification

MPS Property Services is very pleased to announce that we have successfully completed the final phase of our Stage 2 ISO 9001 / SN 9001 audit; with our recent, fully compliant “in-event” Inspection Audit.

This final Stage 2 verification of our ISO processes and procedures involved bringing in a third party auditor, from Smithers Quality Assessments, during an actual snow event, to inspect, assess and evaluate our performance. You can read about the first part of our Stage 2 audit here.


The Process:

As part of the audit, a random selection of properties, based on a percentage of the total number of sites that we service, were chosen. The applicable client contracts and site maps were then examined to confirm that all necessary and correct information was present and being communicated to our workers in the field. The auditor was then taken out into the field to perform site inspections to confirm that the work being performed matched or exceeded the standards and specifications outlined contractually and by the site maps.

Finally, the auditor examined both “in-event” and “post-event” documentation and site visit logs in order to assess if ISO standards were being met for this process. At the end of this day long audit, we were all thrilled to receive the news that the audit was successful, without any non-conformities being found, resulting in our three year ISO Certification being confirmed.

The Benefits of being ISO Certified:

MPS has chosen to become ISO Certified in order to improve our Quality Management systems and customer service satisfaction. By making continual improvements to our internal sales, training and operations processes, we hope to keep our customers happy by making consistent gains in our quality of work.We look forward to working hard towards maintaining our ISO 9001 / SN 9001 Certification, improving our internal systems, and continuing to focus on client satisfaction as we go forth towards another season.

– Ken Jorgenson 

Commercial Spring Newsletter 2017

Snow Removal with a CAT 416 Loader

SPRING is finally right around the corner but before we can all begin to enjoy the warmer weather and all the great things that go along with the season’s change, it is always prudent to spend some time and take care of a little “Spring Cleaning” on your commercial property.

While statistically this past winter was average when measured for snowfall amounts and number of service events, it was most unusual in other ways that may have affected your property in a negative way.

Feb. 2017 temperature fluctuations

The constant swing from cold to unseasonably warm temperatures throughout the winter and the high volume of freezing rain that fell, both stood out in what was otherwise an unexceptional snow season. Unfortunately, each of these circumstances may have produced hazardous conditions that can cause problems at your site.


1. Trip Hazards

sunken walkway from seasonal changes, creating trip hazard

Heaved or sunken sections of interlock paving, caused by our seasonal freeze-thaw cycle, can create a significant trip and fall hazard on your walkways and patio areas. A quick “lift & relay” repair of the affected section or area will not only improve the aesthetics of your property, but also make it much safer for pedestrian traffic.

2. Tree Damage 

tree damage caused by freezing rain and ice storms

Damage to trees caused by excessive ice build-up during freezing rain storms should be examined, with dangerous or broken branches removed as a precaution. In addition, maintaining optimal tree health by regular pruning, dead-cutting and deep root fertilization will maximize tree health and lifespan, and minimize potential health & safety hazards.

3. Parking Lot Dirt and Debris

Debris left from snow pile

Power sweeping is a quick and efficient way to get rid of the unsightly dirt and debris that is inevitably produced by snow plowing and piling operations.


MPS COMMERCIAL SERVICES

MPS is proud to offer these and other additional services that can be used to improve the look and safety of your property. These services include:

  • Power Sweeping / Washing – having your parking lot areas mechanically swept and washed is a greatway to remove unwanted dirt & debris which can be both an eyesore and attract weed growth, especially near snow piling locations.
  • Annuals/Flower Planting – bright, colourful flowers can almost instantly beautify any property! Perennial plants, flowers & shrubs of all types can also be quickly installed by MPS crews to bring that “wow” factor to your site.

  • Line Painting – having clearly marked parking spots and directional arrows can optimize your property’s traffic flow and organization.

  • Top Dress & Seed – this process is a great way to promote a healthy lawn by reducing weed infestation and encouraging vigorous turf growth.

  • Irrigation System Service & Repair – you can make your existing irrigation system more efficient and save water by having your timer and spring heads updated regularly and/or having a rain sensor installed.

  • Vacant Lot Cutting – if you own or maintain a vacant lot that needs cutting just a few times per season let us know; we can easily take care of it for you!


Check Out This Commercial Project!

The installation of new gardens, retaining walls, interlock pavers, and armour stone steps have completely changed the look of this commercial property. Incorporated into the design of the patio were designated emergency walkways, outlined in darker interlock, leading from the emergency exits on the building. Not only is this design beautiful and updated, it serves a safety purpose! For more pictures of this newly completed commercial projected, click here! 

Residential Spring Newsletter 2017

Snowdrops

Another winter is coming to a close, and everyone at MPS is starting to switch gears in preparation for spring and summer. With winter 2017 being fairly average, this allowed the management team at MPS to focus on some important internal changes and upgrades.

MPS gained some valuable new employees over the winter, including: Jordan Brown; full-time landscape designer, Christine Burtch; part-time bookkeeper, and Richard MacMillan; full-time landscape construction crew leader. These new additions fit right in with the MPS team.

The second major change created this winter was introducing the idea of the ‘MPS Way’, a change in the company’s culture that represents MPS’s mission, vision and values. With these attributes in mind, the HR team has been busy recruiting new employees, signing contracts with existing MPS teammates, and getting ready to kick-off summer 2017.

We think this will be our best summer season yet!


Thinking about a landscape project this summer? Don’t delay!

To get a full summer of enjoyment out of your new landscape, have it completed this spring. We’re booking up quickly for spring/summer 2017, call now to schedule a meeting with our professional designer for your design assessment and quote. MPS specializes in:

  • Front Entrances
  • Full Backyard projects
  • Decks
  • Patios
  • Poolscapes
  • Retaining walls
  • Garden Installation and Renovation

 Check out our helpful Landscape purchasing guide!


Updated Front Entrance 

With help from the MPS team YOU can completely update the look of your front entrance this season. Our designers create personalized quotes that are tailored to your home, budget, and lifestyle. This front entrance was transformed in less than 2 weeks!

Click here to see more!

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