Category Archives: News

Santa Clara Rebates for Lawn and Water

How To Renovate Your Yard (And Get Paid To Do It)

Did you know:  You can get paid $1-$2 per square foot to convert your yard to a more sustainable landscape. Yep, it’s true.

Because of the extensive drought affecting California for the past several years, an old program that pays property owners to make their landscape more sustainable has been reinstated. By removing non-native, water-intensive plants and replacing them with approved plants that grow naturally without extra water you can qualify for a cash rebate from the water district.

What’s the catch? Well, first, you have to live in Santa Clara County in California. The program is run by the Santa Clara Valley Water District with the San Jose Municipal Water System, City of Morgan Hill, and the City of Cupertino joining as partners.

Depending on the type and size of your property and the city you’re in, you could receive up to $2,000-$3,000 for a single family dwelling or up to $20,000-$30,000 for a commercial property.

To qualify, commercial or residential property owners must call and request a pre-inspection to receive approval for inclusion in the program. Once approved, property owners must replace high water usage plants (like irrigated turf grass) with at least 50% plant coverage using plants from the water district’s approved plant list.

Check out the Santa Clara Water District website for all the rebate details and numbers to call for pre-inspections.

Even without the Santa Clara Water District rebate, converting your landscaping makes a lot of sense. The benefits of a sustainable landscape are many:

  • Spend less money on water and fertilizer – Lawns are especially thirsty, and often require a fair amount of fertilizer and weed mitigation to thrive in soil they aren’t adapted for. By contrast, native plants are accustomed to the local environment. That allows them to thrive with little to no help from your pocketbook.
  • Reduce time spent doing maintenance – You can probably think of a few things you would rather be doing than mowing the lawn (again). Pretty much all landscaping is going to require some maintenance, but grass in particular is pretty time-intensive compared to succulents or shrubs.
  • Increase energy efficiency – As the previous points suggest, plants that can survive on their own are require significantly less energy. Water, fertilizer, maintenance, all of these things require energy to transport, create, and apply.
  • Restore habitats – Native vegetation is the cornerstone of a vibrant, healthy local ecology. That helps to promote and protect local food supplies by, for example, increasing the number of pollinators needed for crops. A more natural environment also contributes to our own mental well being.
  • Enjoy the unique beauty of local flora – Why should your outdoor space look the same as someone who lives in the Midwest or East Coast? Bay Area cities like San Jose and Santa Clara are home to all sorts of unique plants. For some idea of the incredible variety of California’s native plant life check out Cal Flora.

The value of sustainable landscaping has never been higher, and the timing has never been better to make the switch. Bayscape has helped numerous clients update their residential landscape, improving aesthetics, efficiency, and the value of the property.

If you’d like to discuss options for your property don’t hesitate to give us a call!

How To Mulch Flower Beds

Amazing Benefits of Mulching Flower Beds

You’re not just mulching a flower bed for aesthetics. It may make the flower beds look pretty, but mulching has great benefits!

Stop pulling weeds

Ever wonder why a bare patch of soil loves to grow weeds? That’s just mother nature protecting her soil from blowing or washing away. Mulching is a chore that will save you time and headache from pulling weeds. It keeps weeds down, mainly by blocking out light they need to grow.

Mulching can help control erosion

Mulching conserves soil moisture by reducing evaporation, and helps prevent erosion caused by rain and wind. Bare soil often gets a crust on it that prevents rain from penetrating easily. Also, the bare soil can lose about 5 times as much sediment as soils covered with mulch.

Mulch moderates soil temperatures

Mulch keeps soil cooler in summer and helps to reduce the risk of damage to plant roots in winter.

Mulch keeps top soil loose and airy

Organic material adds all-important humus, the organic component of soil, formed by the decomposition of leaves and other plant material by soil microorganisms. Great for plants!

How to Lay Mulch in a Flower Bed

  • If re-mulching a bed, remove some of the old mulch. Sometimes mulch has been added to the beds 3 or 4 times. Take out some of the mulch that has built up over time.
  • Layer mulch 2″ to 4″ deep over bare soil around your plants. Don’t put it right on top of perennials and keep it from direct contact with the bark of trees and shrubs, as excess moisture right up against the bark can cause rot or disease.
  • When you get close to an edge, such as pavement, stone or tiles, be sure to thin out the mulch so the presentation is even.
  • What season to lay mulch? Preferably early spring, before hot weather comes and while your annuals & perennials are still small enough to work around.

Quick Tip! If you have a few spare 1 or 2 gallon containers, put them over the top of your plants first. Then, shovel the mulch material right onto your bed without worrying about covering them or dirtying leaves! Lastly, don’t forget to mulch around your trees. Learn more about the benefits of tree mulch here.

commercial property landscape design

To Plant or Purchase? When is a Planting Contract Beneficial?

There’s an undeniable trend of “doing it yourself” sweeping the country these days – from YouTube tutorials to Pinterest boards to home-renovation shows, there’s a guide available for almost anything you want to do yourself. There’s even a DIY television network!

This surge is a great thing, allowing DIYers to save money and flex their creative muscles. But in most disciplines and industries, there are still situations and circumstances when you may want to consider bringing in a professional.

In the landscaping industry, one of those instances is when considering whether to plant and maintain yourself, or whether to bring in a professional. Planting contracts are one popular way to do that. So, how do you know when a planting contract might be advisable for you?

Check out some of the things that might signal that a planting contract would be a good fit:

  • You lack access to a diverse or large selection of trees, shrubs and plants, or to the size (think mature trees) of some plants that you’ll need, due to geographic area (or any other reason).
  • You don’t have access to good pricing – for example, a local and well-stocked wholesale nursery.
  • A professional and/or polished look is important for your landscape. If you’re comfortable with or able to embrace a whimsical, “rough,” or otherwise unconventional style, you may be able to do it yourself. But in many professional situations, like for an HOA landscape maintenance plan or a high-end office building property, the landscaping may be need to be streamlined, professional, or even formal.
  • You don’t have experience with planting and maintaining the plants and trees you’re using. If you’re an experienced gardener or green thumb, you may be able to handle it on your own.
  • You need the services of a person who can balance aesthetics with sustainability. Professional landscaping companies should be able to find a healthy balance of aesthetics and sustainability, and have substantial experience with concepts like smart irrigation.

 

If any of these situations fit you, you might be a good candidate for a planting contract with a professional landscaping company. Visit our portfolio to view our planting projects, or call us for a consultation!

Landscape Install for Large Residential

Bayscape Take Top CLCA Trade Honors

For Immediate Release

Bay Area landscaper wins recognition for “green” residential, large commercial work.

ALVISO, CA – For the 10th year in a row, Bayscape Landscape Management took top honors in two categories of the California Landscape Contractors Association’s (CLCA) annual Trophy Awards.

The awards included recognition for the landscaper’s conversion of a drought-resistant residential property, and ongoing maintenance for a large-scale commercial property.

“This award from the CLCA is a special honor to us, as it is represents recognition from respected peers and a trade organization that’s invested in what we do,” says Tom Ellington, president of Bayscape Landscape Management. “Bayscape has always been guided by the principles of sustainability and excellence, and we are proud of the fine work that our teams produced for clients this year in both the residential and commercial sectors.”

Bayscape’s awards, presented in a November 2015 ceremony, include:

Medium Residential Installation: First Place Natsuhara/LaRue Residence (Sunnyvale, California)

This four-month project was part of the Santa Clara Valley Water District landscape rebate program, to incentivize residents to remove their lawns and reinstall with drought-tolerant plant materials. The Bayscape team, comprised of Construction Manager Rick Gallo and the construction crew, teamed with Julie Orr Design and Unique Concrete to completely renovate the front and rear yard of the residence. Hardscape work included the concrete walk, driveway, and wall, bluestone step stones, and decomposed granite paths. The woodwork included an arbor and raised planter beds, planting and irrigation installation, and low-voltage lighting.

When faced with construction of the heavy timber arbor’s jointing beams, the team was able to notch the beams, hiding all the connection points that lock the beams together. “This was a very clean and modern design that integrated an outdoor living space with a working vegetable garden,” says Gallo. “We enjoyed working alongside our clients to see their yard transformed.”

Large Commercial Maintenance: Outstanding Achievement Heritage Model Homes (San Jose, California)

Bayscape has been the maintenance provider for the Heritage Model Homes complex since it opened in 2014, providing landscape maintenance service and quarterly annual color installation.

“This is a marketing tool for the developer,” says Gallo. “So we had to be vigilant in all aspects of the details of the landscape, through superb training of the crews and insightful oversight by the account manager.”

The Landscape Industry Trophy Awards, presented by CLCA in the fall of 2015, aim to “encourage interest in landscaping, recognizing craftspeople who produce outstanding landscapes, create pride in superior workmanship, and to bestow public recognition on companies, institutions, municipalities, and residents for their interest in a beautiful California.”

Santa Clara County Holiday Events

The Ultimate Holiday Event Guide for Santa Clara County, CA

Even the Grinch would have a hard time staying cold-hearted this holiday season with the plethora of spirit-lifting events around Santa Clara County this month! So bundle up in that snowflake sweater and get ready for the warm fuzzies, which are sure to abound when you check out one of these holiday-themed events this month!

December 2015

Enjoy a “Fantasy of Lights” all month long, with this fantastic ode to all things twinkly. Prepaid tickets required nightly, at Vasona Lake County Park in Los Gatos. More information available at parkhere.org or by calling (408) 355-2201.

December 8, 2015

You’ve seen the mean Mr. Grinch, but have you seen his story in puppet form? Check out this holiday classic with a twist at the Northside Library as the Northside Puppet Company presents “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”

December 10-14, 2015

There are nativities, and then there is “Experience the Birth” – a 30-minute live performance retelling the birth of Jesus. Featuring “music, drama, lights, and exotic animals,” the journey through Bethlehem will take viewers from Joseph and Mary’s search for an inn to the three wise men searching for the King. Five performance nightly; free admission. Santa Clara Baptist Church, 3111 Benton Street, Santa Clara, website: http://bethlehemsc.com

December 12-13, 2015

The Santa Clara Players’ “The Christmas Mouse” will delve into the world of Mrs. Robinson and a Christmas Mouse, who – in the midst of searching for food for his family – ruins the woman’s prized gingerbread house. Life lessons abound in this feel-good holiday story! Dec. 12 at 3 and 7 p.m., Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. Free admission. 1505 Warburton Avenue, Santa Clara (408) 248-7993

December 13 

The annual Chanukah lighting at the Pacific Commons Shopping Center in Fremont is back for the third year, and this free event promises to be the best yet! Starting at 5 p.m., families can enjoy music, tasty foods (like jelly donuts, matzoh ball soup) and hot drinks, fun kid-friendly activities, free raffle prizes, and a giant menorah lighting. 5-6:30 p.m. Free admission. Pacific Commons Shopping Center, 43951 Boscell Rd., Freemont (510) 770-9798

December 13 and 20

The historical ranch house at Joseph D. Grant Park is festively decorated and open for holiday tours! Commune with nature, take a walk through history, and enjoy a free beverage and snack. Call (408) 274-6121 for further details.

How To Avoid Holiday Decorating Disasters

How To Avoid Holiday Decorating Disasters

Every year, in the midst of what should be a season of warmth, togetherness, and joy, thousands of people are sent to the emergency room – sometimes with life-threatening injuries.

 

THE CULPRIT? Seemingly innocent holiday decorations, which can pose a threat to you and your loved ones, pets, and property.

THE SOLUTION?  A little knowledge goes a long way. Gear up on some of the most common holiday decorating hazards and how to avoid them.

Fires:  Whether they’re started from brittle Christmas trees, stockings too close to the fireplace, or candles (responsible for 71% of December home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association) left unattended, fires are one of the most common and dangerous hazards of holiday decorating. Make sure real trees are fresh and well-watered, and kept far from the fireplace (artificial trees should be labeled “fire resistant.”). Hang stockings three feet from the fireplace, and move them away when there is an active fire. Consider using LED “candles,” but if there is a flame, NEVER leave them unattended – and always remember to blow them out.

Faulty Cords and Electrical Equipment: Faulty, old, or overloaded electrical equipment can elevate the risk of both fires and electrocutions. Always check that cords are tested by a group like Underwriters Laboratories, and are neither frayed nor showing other signs of excessive wear (check out this handy infographic from the Electrical Safety Foundation International [EFSI] with more cord safety tips). Don’t let outlets get overwhelmed, either – tone it down a little with those holiday lights!

Falls: Ladder falls are no laughing matter; they lead to many serious injuries – the ESFI says 5,800 falls a year come from falls associated with decorating. Keep lights low, or consider hiring a professional to hang them outdoors if you want to go all out. (Falls can also happen because of people tripping over cords run under carpet!)

Toxic Plants: Misteltoe and holly are holiday traditions; unfortunately, they can also pose a toxic threat to both young children and curious pets. Care should always be exercised around children and pets, as small ornaments and holiday décor can be dangerous if swallowed. Long tinsels, ribbons, and garlands can also pose a strangulation hazard, so if they’re used, make sure they’re out of little arms’ or paws’ reach. There are also several helpful resources available online for free – the Consumer Products Safety Commission has a good “Check the Halls for Holiday Safety” guide – that can help you and your family stay safe and enjoy a very happy holiday season.

Annual Biennials Perennials Definition, Bayscape

Annual, Perennial, Biennial: Do I Even Care?

If you can’t keep your Symplocarpus foetidus straight from your sphagnum, you’re in good company.

The gardening lexicon ranges from obscure Latin names to the I-should-probably-know-that-but-I-don’t, and whether you’re looking to start a backyard veggie garden or convert a green lawn to a drought-tolerant landscape, you’re likely to come across some vocabulary that needs defining.

Some of the most common gardening terms are those related to plant type: annual, biennial, and perennial. And while the words themselves are ubiquitous, they’re not always commonly understood – as in, “Hmm, is ’bi’ twice a year or every other year?’

Here, a quick review of these oft-seen gardening terms:

 

Annual: One and done! Everything about this plant happens in a single season, from its initial growth and taking root below to its producing and flowering on top. Lots of vegetables, like corn, peas, and lettuce qualify, as well as flowers like marigolds, geraniums, and zinnia.

 

Biennial: It takes two – seasons, that is. The lifecycle of a biennial plant will begin to flourish in its first planting season, and complete in its second. After the growth and flowering in season two, the plants will die. Common examples? Parsley, carrots, cabbage, and Black-eyed Susans. (Check out this quick and helpful video from MIGardener to see how onions are a great example of a biannual – and for a good review of all three terms!)

 

Perennial: Keep on keepin’ on. These plants – like Peruvian lilies, roses, oregano, blueberries, bananas, and avocados – bloom, appear to die in winter, and make an appearance again the next season (and the one after that!). One thing to note with perennials: they can be sensitive to climate zones. So, a perennial plant that fares well on the West Coast may, in fact, need to be replanted seasonally by a gardener in Wisconsin.

5 Steps to #Save20Gallons and Even More Money

Everybody understands that California’s water shortage is a serious issue facing the state, but Santa Clara Valley residents may not all realize that our water district has undertaken a great public program to reduce water usage in the county – Save20gallons.org.

 

Not only is this good news for the environment – it’s great news for Santa Clara Valley Water customers.

Why? Because the program offers fantastic rebates when you follow a handful of steps. They even produced some informative videos to help you get started saving water and money. (Bonus: Look for appearances by our Bayscape Landscape Crew in the “Step 2 – Lawn Removal” video and also in the “Step 4 – Drip Irrigation” video!)

 

Check out the step-by-step instructions for participating in the Save 20 Gallons rebate program here:

 

Application Process: The first step will include filling out an application, which SCVW says is a pretty straightforward process. They need some basic customer information and an overview of your project, such as what kind of landscape design you’re doing and the plants you’re considering. There will be a pre-project inspection, and they are always available to walk you through this and any part of the process (including resource lists for accepted plants, irrigation controllers, etc.).

 

Lawn Removal: According to Bayscape President Tom Ellington, there are two main types of removing an overly thirsty lawn: using a lawn cutter to remove a thin layer of grass and soil, and employing sheet mulch. Lawn cutting is faster, and sheet mulching is more involved but also more economical. Both are effective for reducing weed growth, and eliminating weeds means that the drought-tolerant plants get more of the water meant for them.

 

Plant Selection: One criteria of the rebate program is that customers must use plants with low or very low water usage. SCVW has a list of qualifying plants. There are lots of good California native plant options, as well as non-native plants that can adapt to and thrive in our Mediterranean climate (dry, hot summers and cool, wet winters).  SCVW will require you to have at least 50 percent plant coverage.

 

Drip Irrigation: To qualify for the rebate program, SCVW requires customers to remove all overhead irrigation. Hand-watering is accepted, though drip irrigation can be an efficient way to reduce water use. Pop-up sprinklers need to be removed (and preferably marked ahead of time with flags). Sometimes functioning/non-leaky valves from overhead irrigation can be salvaged – thus, avoiding digging up all pipelines and throwing out usable materials. In that case, it’s important for a pressure regulator to be installed to the existing valve.

 

Post-Inspection: The final step in qualifying for the rebate program is the post-inspection, when SCVW will send out interns to make sure that all terms and conditions are met. They’ll measure the site and make sure the appropriate square footage of lawn was removed, as well as check the irrigation system and ensure that there is 50 percent plant coverage and 2-3 inches of mulch where needed (wood bark mulch, gravel much, and cobble all qualify).

You’ve seen how Bayscape helped the customer in these videos qualify for their rebate program – give us a call today and see how you can start saving money, and water!

Smart Irrigation by Bayscape

Why Smart Irrigation Controllers are the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

California’s drought is now more than a regional story: coverage of the emergency conditions – and our response to them – spans from international news outlets to this week’s TIME magazine. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), almost 9 billion gallons of water is used every day in the United States for residential outdoor water use, primarily for landscape irrigation. The agency estimates that 50 percent of that water is wasted due to overwatering.

Fortunately, there are relatively simple measures you can take to save water that are friendly to the earth, healthier for your plants, and easy on your wallet. One of the newest technologies available to smaller-scale landscaping systems is smart-controlled irrigation systems. 

What are smart irrigation control systems, and how do they work?

Though smart-controlled irrigation systems have been used for many years on larger scales – like sprawling, 18-hole golf courses – the technology has recently become available for smaller properties and homeowners.

There are two types of smart controllers, climate-based and sensor-based, and they utilize your area’s weather and site conditions to manage irrigation needs. Instead of relying on you, or a programmed timer, to regulate your landscape’s irrigation needs, smart controllers customize water flow and frequency based on data like weather changes, soil moisture, slope, wind, and plant type.

How effective are they?

The Irrigation Association, which conducts third-party testing of smart controller irrigation products, says that pilot programs have shown a 20-40 percent annual savings over properties that utilize standard sprinkler systems. And the EPA, whose Watersense labeling program monitors and certifies smart controllers for efficiency and effectiveness, says the water savings amount to 8,800 annual gallons per household. The agency puts a big-picture perspective on the issue: if each household in the United States using traditional irrigation made the switch, we’d look at a $435 million and 120 billion-gallon savings nationwide. 

It’s important to have your smart irrigation system installed and maintained by professionals, so contact us today to learn how you can get started.

Planting Bare Roots Bayscape

When Planting Bare Roots Sends You Running For Cover

 

February – the season of Valentine cards and chocolates, presidential birthdays, and Girl Scout cookies.

 

The second month of the year may be known for its holidays and special occasions, but it’s also still a great time to plant bare root plants and trees.

 

Bare root plants, whether the fruit trees, berries, or flower varieties, are dormant: they’ve been taken out of the ground and are free of soil but have been kept moist. Because of this, they’re generally able to adapt to and thrive in their new soil more easily, and are also often less expensive to ship (and thus, happily for the consumer, they’re less expensive to purchase).

Don’t be intimidated by planting bare root plants if you’ve never done it before. There are just a few basic steps that will allow you to enjoy all the benefits this type of planting has to offer.

 

  • Ready the Roots

Gently loosen and untangle the roots, trimming away any dead or broken segments. Depending on the plant, its roots will need to soak in water from one hour to overnight. Whatever the needed soak time, make sure they don’t dry out.

 

  • Prepare the Soil

Dig a shallow, wide hole – approximately three feet in diameter – removing grass and loosening the soil all around it.

 

  • Introduce the Plant

Arrange the roots horizontally in the hole, with the top of the plant inches above the soil. Refill the soil, so that it is firm but not too compact. Water generously.

 

  • Nurture

Water consistently in the coming weeks, making sure to water more if you’re not getting much rain. Fertilizer and/or mulch can eventually be added at the base of the plant, but it shouldn’t touch the base of the plant (or trunk of the tree).

 

And if you’re still scared of taking on this job alone, contact Bayscape!