Winter Landscape Ideas: Four Tips for Getting the Most out of the Cold Months

When most people think of landscaping, they think of lush, green grass and a breadth of floral diversity. For the central and northernmost regions of the U.S., however, the winter months provide opportunities for some surprisingly charming landscape ideas to come to life. Below, we’ve listed some of our favorite winter landscape ideas to focus on over the holidays:

winter landscape ideas

Lean on the hardscape aspects of your property

A trellis, some well-placed benches, decorative arches, and ornate sculptures can find new life in winter, and don’t need the same maintenance as seasonal plants. Smaller fixtures, such as window boxes, hanging baskets, and various pots and jars can all be updated to fit seasonal styles as well. Who said plants have to be the focal point of your winter landscape this season?

winter landscape ideas

Take advantage of the beauty of evergreens

Not only do evergreens last through all sorts of weather, they provide color for your winter landscape in a season that struggles to maintain a diverse palette. While green is the most popular color for these beauties, they actually come in a range of pigments: the Gold Thread false cypress has yellow overtones, while the dwarf blue spruce adds some icy blue tones to your property. Evergreens aren’t just great for winter: they’ll last all year, so they’re a staple for four-season climates.

winter landscape ideas

Fall in love with four-season foliage

Evergreens aren’t the only all-year-round landscape champions. Some perennials, such as ornamental grasses hellebores, and dianthus, have evergreen foliage. Looks for plants with this winter foliage to make sure you can enjoy them in every season.

winter landscape ideas

Focus on the B’s: Bark, berries, and bird-feeding

Most properties don’t just have evergreens. Deciduous trees are at their most vibrant in the warm months, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored in the winter. Find trees with distinct, aesthetically-pleasing bark, so you can enjoy them as part of your winter landscape as well. Include berries somewhere on your property as well; not only are they great for feeding non-migratory birds, but greenery like crabapples and holly bring a bit of color to your landscape’s winter look, and keep things feeling festive.

Whatever your landscape needs this winter, the experts at Alfresco can help you get it. For more great winter landscaping ideas, call 616.453.2530 to schedule your free consultation now. We’re accepting new clients for 2017!

3 Things You Should Know About Your Snow Removal Contract

Are you aware of everything included (or not included) in your snow removal contract? Before signing the legal documents involved, don’t forget to discuss these essential matters with your chosen snow plow company:

#1 Clearly Define All Expectations

 snow removal contract

It is the responsibility of everyone involved to know what is and is not included in the contract.

Are all parts of the property covered for plowing/salting, or just the driveways/parking lots?

What about sidewalks?

What are the minimum accumulation standards?

The considered company should be clear and upfront about all aspects of the job, but always check the paperwork to make sure it lines up with discussions on the matter.  

#2 Consider Unpredictable Weather

 snow removal contract

Weather patterns all over the country have become increasingly erratic in recent history, and this winter will be no different. Make sure your snow removal contract accounts for these by outlining all extra charges that may arise.

Will your provider require extra compensation for serious blizzards that far exceed the average snowfall?

Will they have to extend their time past the designated plow time set out in paper?

And what about dangerously low temperatures– does your contractor still guarantee plowing services below zero degrees fahrenheit?

#3 Discuss- and Debate- Liability

 snow removal contract

If there’s one thing you should take away from a snow and ice removal agreement, it’s making sure you know who is liable for possible damages or conflicts.

Who takes responsibility if your sidewalk is damaged by a scraper?

What if your spouse, or a walking passer-by, slips and falls on an ice patch that was under-salted?

Be honest, and make sure to define areas of your property with pre-existing damage, such as a cracked curb or damaged landscaping, so this doesn’t arise as a liability issue for your provider. Also read their policies thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about their stances on certain liability issues.

Discussing this with you snow plow contract provider is the most crucial thing you can do to protect both parties and keep things as clear cut as possible between you and the company you’ve contracted.

Receive Your Free Snow Removal Quote!

Get 10% OFF by completing the form below:

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How much does snow removal cost?

How much does snow removal cost?

It’s that time of year! Time for us to answer some of our most frequently asked snow removal questions. We’ll cover contract dates, costs, payment, salting services, and more! If you have a question about our snow removal service that isn’t answered, please feel free to shoot us a call or email.

snow-removal-sidewalk

 

What determines my snow plowing cost?

Whether you have a single, double, or triple car driveway will affect the cost of snow removal, but so will may other factors, such as having a circle drive or a turn-around. Whether you have a gravel or paved drive also makes a difference, as well as what neighborhood your property is located in. Call now and get a free snow plowing quote. We’re giving 10% off to the first 100 snow removal clients, so don’t wait!

When is payment due?

Full payment is due with your contract, so you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the winter. We accept new contracts until routes are full.

How do I pay?

Check and credit are both acceptable forms of payment. There are no discounts with credit card payments.

 

snow-removal-cost

Is there a seasonal snowfall limit?

Unlike with other snow removal companies, there’s no inch limit: we just need to be able to get your driveway plowed in 23 pushes or less.

What will it cost me once the limit is reached?

Any additional pushes are $10.00-16.00 depending on drive size. They get invoiced on a bi-weekly basis should they be needed.

Do you have a one-time snow removal rate?

We do not have a one-time rate for snow removal. However, our snow plowing contract allows you to get this service taken care of before it even snows, so you’re covered all winter long.

snow removal contract

Is there a minimum snowfall amount required for plowing my driveway?

Our Service is 24 hour. We start plowing anytime of day, as soon as it is needed. Plowing will occur once per 24 hour period when falling snow has accumulated 1-1/2″ or more.

What time of day will you plow?

We will attempt to have all drives plowed by 7:00 am, but this depends on what time the snow event starts.

Will you come back and fix my driveway after the city plow?

We will return to clear the approach of your drive after the city plows have come through. Clearing the approach does not count as a push. Don’t worry; we also take responsibility for staking your drive and for repairs to landscape in the spring due to snow plow damage.

Do you having salting services?

We like to keep our winter service list as comprehensive as possible, so we provide salt service as well as shoveling and snow haul away.

Receive Your Free Snow Removal Quote!

Get 10% OFF by completing the form below:

Schedule Appointment

3 Ways You Save by Hiring a Lawn Care Professional

We’ve all seen a do-it-yourself lawn care project go horribly wrong- another paycheck’s worth of supplies, tutorials, and craft glue in the trash. What happens when you try to DIY your lawn? Before answering that question on your own, take a look at our list of 3 things you’ll save by hiring a lawn care business to work on your lawn instead:

Money

Lawn Care Grand Rapids Alfresco

Yes, hiring a professional to work on your lawn saves you money. No more trial-and-error with lawn products that don’t work. No more spending money or tools you don’t need or gimmicks you “must have” that turn out to be duds. A professional knows what to use and when to use it, and can cater to a variety of lawns using their expertise. They can even tell you which specialty products work the best, such as organic lawn products. This saves you money in the long run, and keeps your yard looking better than a do-it-yourself effort.

Time

Lawn Care Grand Rapids Alfresco

Even more valuable than your money, your time is precious these days. Most people need every extra moment they can get to finish up that work project, do the chore they said they would do last week, or spend a little extra time with family. Take back those extra moments from your day by hiring someone else to take care of your lawn for you.

Hassle

Lawn Care Grand Rapids Alfresco

Tied to both saving money and saving time, saving yourself the hassle of trying to DIY your lawn will also keep you from the pain of the DIY project. Keep your lawn from becoming a failed science experiment by letting the experts take care of it. They’re the ones that have done this time and again. No one has more experience than they have, and no one knows how to take care of your space better than the pros.

To find a lawn care professional in the Grand Rapids area, look no further than Alfresco.

Call 616 453 2530 to schedule a free lawn care quote.

5 organic lawn care tips to keep your yard- and your family- healthy

Adding “organic” to any task makes it a little more nerve-wracking. Will this be more complicated? More expensive? Incredibly time consuming? No, no, and no. With these 5 organic lawn care tips from Alfresco, your lawn and your loved ones will thank you for keeping them happy and healthy!

organic lawn care

  1. Choose a local grass

Just planting new grass on your new lawn? Local is always better. Local grasses are fit for the environment, and ensure that your lawn gets off to the best possible start. A lawn care expert at Alfresco can make recommendations on the best grass for your landscape, as well as the best local plants for the rest of your property.

organic lawn care

  1. Water sparingly

Yes, there is such a thing as over-watering. In fact, it’s incredibly common, not to mention wasteful and expensive. Most lawns only require about 1 inch a week, and do best when watered in the early morning- but consult an expert on your specific lawn. Until then, there are changes you can make for major impact. Place your irrigation cycles far apart; Allow your grass to dry (wilt) in between waterings to help deepen the roots of the plant (keeping it green longer); and set your sprinklers to water in short spurts, rather than allowing all the water out at once.

organic lawn care

  1. Give your trees a trim

Not only does trimming your trees keep them healthier and prettier, it also allows more sunlight to reach your grass. Grass thrives with sunlight, so the less disruptive shade from plants and trees, the better. The improved openness can also increase air circulation, cooling your lawn down on those hot and humid summer days.

organic lawn care

  1. Let it grow

The taller your lawn’s grass is, the longer it’s going to last on its own. Tall grass provides shade for the soil surface, which means the soil will dry out less quickly, allowing you to water the lawn less frequently. Adjusting the height of your mower can easily improve your lawn’s vitality- ask your lawn care provider what the best height is for your climate. A common range is 1.5 to 2 inches for southern climates, to 3 inches for the northernmost lawns.

organic lawn care

  1. Buy organic!

Our biggest tip for lawn owners is to simply switch out their multi-chemical, environmentally-unfriendly products for organic, natural lawn care products. Alfresco has a variety of organic solutions for your lawn, including natural pest control and fertilizer (which just happen to be the same formula- it works that well). Paul Burd and his employees take client care and lawn care both very seriously, and switching to organic is the best way to maintain both of those principles.

 

As you can see, lawn care can easily become organic with a few minor changes to habits and products. To learn more about organic solutions, or to request a free lawn care quote from Alfresco, call 616-453-2530 to speak to one of our specialists.

3 Ways Great Lawn Service Can Get You Top-Dollar For Your Home

As the home market continues to grow, today’s buyers have more to choose from in the way of inventory. Any home that’s up for sale must make a positive first impression to would-be buyers, making curb appeal more important than ever when trying to sell. Exterior remodeling projects typically deliver the greatest return-on-investment to home sellers, because people aren’t just buying the house itself: they’re also buying the landscape. We’ve listed 3 of the essential ways a professional lawn servicing company can help you earn the most profit when selling your home this season:

lawn service grand rapids

1. Planting & Maintaining Trees

The benefits of having your lawn care provider plant and maintain trees on your property are endless, from the money savings to the environmental factors. Shade trees like maples and oaks can decrease your summer cooling costs by up to $250 a year, and reduce winter heating costs by acting as windbreakers. Trees of all kinds also block and absorb water runoff, and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. You can calculate an approximate value of the tree’s currently on your lawn by using this tool.

Even trees that are merely ornamental increase your property value up to 15 percent, and can increase the value of your neighbor’s property. Aesthetic and flowering trees, such as Japanese maples, flowering cherries, and dogwoods are all desirable for an engaging landscape.

lawn service grand rapids

2. Incorporating Native Plants

Emphasis on the word “native”. A study by Applied Ecological Services Inc., a Wisconsin ecological consultancy, shows that maintaining an acre of native plants over 20 years costs $3,000, compared with the whopping $20,000 price tag of maintaining a lawn of non-native turf grass. There’s a slow but steady increase in buyers seeking these wildlife-certified properties, making them more requested by lawn care clients everywhere.

Your lawn service professional can assess your property to see what local plants are best for your landscape. They’ll know where to plant, when to plant, and how many to plant, as well as how to take care of your new flora. Having plants pruned and checked at the proper time and in a specific manner not only maintains their presence, but also the health of the plants.

lawn service grand rapids

3. Outdoor Lighting

Outdoor lighting consistently tops the National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) list of most wanted outdoor features in its annual “What Home Buyers Really Want” survey: 41% rate it “essential” while 49% say it’s “desirable.” Most lawn care and landscape service providers can give you tips on where lighting will be most beneficial on your property, and can seamlessly install your new lighting for you.

Bonus:

Below are some of the non-essential (but still desirable) landscape additions your lawn service procan implement:

  • Fencing and block or brick privacy walls can add anywhere from $1500 to $5000 worth of value to your home.
  • Irrigation systems and sprinklers are a big plus for maintaining gardens and lawns.
  • Driveways, patios and walkways should be in good condition to make access to the house easier, and add to the curb appeal of the property.
  • Retaining walls and terracing control erosion, and instantly add texture and interest to any landscape when done correctly.

There are many factors to consider when trying to get a top-dollar return on your home investment. For more advice from one of our talented lawn care and landscaping professionals, call Alfresco Landscapes today at 616 453 2530. We would be more than happy to meet you at your home and discuss your landscape options.

 

 

Lawn care that keeps your yard vibrant and lush

To some, lawn care is a chore that is pushed to the end of the to-do list. To others, lawn care is a delicate art that keeps yards flourishing for the enjoyment of the homeowner and neighbors alike.

No matter how you view lawn care, you can follow these simple best practices to keep your lawn looking healthy and to make the most of the summer months outdoors.  

Lawn care that brings your grass back to life.

  •         Choose grass seed that’s right for your lawn.

You may think any type of grass seed will work in your lawn. But the environment of the lawn greatly affects the growth and wellbeing of grass. Some need wetter conditions. Others grow fine in drier climates. Some can’t handle the colder and varying temperatures we face in the Midwest. For your lawn, within our beautiful state of Michigan, consider Kentucky Bluegrass.

  •         Leave lawn renovations and seeding for the fall.

Fall weather presents the perfect recipe for successful lawn seeding: Cooler temperatures plus plenty of sun and rain helps seeds germinate before hibernating for the winter. Seeding is simple with the right preparation and watering. Then when spring and summer come, your fall work will shine beneath your feet.   

lawn care grand rapids

Maintaining a stunning lawn — simply.

  •         Cut your grass to the most-ideal length.

Grass that is cut too short is susceptible to weeds and disease. Grass that is left too long provides a habitat for pests and critters. Learn the most-ideal length for your grass. Kentucky Bluegrass, for example, is best maintained at 1 to 3 inches.

  •         Vary your mowing pattern.

When you mow your lawn with the same pattern each time, your mower’s tires will wear down a path in your grass. So get creative. Change up your mowing pattern each time you undertake this routine lawn care task.

  •         Leave some grass clippings.

There’s a whole ecosystem of living things and valuable nutrition in your lawn’s dirt. These aren’t of the pest variety — these are what help your lawn grow and prosper. When you leave some grass clippings behind on your lawn, you’re helping give back some nitrogen to the soil that is necessary for your lawn to maintain its magnificence.

  •         Pull weeds so they won’t come back.

Roots matter. When you pull weeds, be sure you’re pulling up the whole weed, otherwise it will continue to grow back. The best and easiest way to fight weeds, though, is a thick, healthy lawn.

Lawn care doesn’t have to be a constant struggle. If you follow these best practices, caring for your lawn can be a fruitful endeavor. Or, if you’d rather let the professionals handle it, call Alfresco for a free lawn care quote!