Posts Tagged ‘Value’

toddler picking and eating strawberries

Picking strawberries at “our” CSA farm


I usually listen to Chris Brogan‘s podcast because he has great stuff to say about being a human doing business with humans. But I have to share yesterday’s episode with you because he’s talking sustainability with John Blue of Truffle Media. Listen here.

The real juicy part for me was around minutes 18-26, where John goes into some background on the National Organic Program, and the increasingly meaningless use of words like “natural”, “sustainable”, “local”, and “family-owned”.  At least when it comes to food, “organic” still has a technical meaning as defined by the USDA & NOP. (As of now, there is no organic certification for landscaping — more on that here).  Those other buzz words are just as meaningless in the grocery store as at the garden center. Nonetheless, companies from Whole Foods to Walmart are responding to the consumer interest in organics, and to the extent that we continue to be smart consumers and vote with our wallets, that’s probably a change for the better.

You (if you’re like most of our clients) choose natural and organic because it’s good for your body, your family, and the earth. You choose sustainable and local because it’s good for the environment and community. But as Chris points out in his podcast, to really know what you’re feeding your kids, you have to go to the farm to see the happy hens scratching in the chicken tractor, getting the fallow fields ready for planting. And to know the impact of what you’re feeding your soil and plants, you have to know the folks who you are inviting into your yard.

As it often does with the Human Business Way podcast, it ultimately comes back to the human side of business: taking care of people (employees, clients, community-members, partner businesses) makes the business sustainable, strong, stable. We couldn’t provide custom maintenance plans tailored to each customer and property without investing in training each employee on soil conditions, hand-pruning of different types of shrubs, identification of pests and diseases. Without relationships with industry associations who keep us current on new codes and technical specifications, we would be foolish to provide our lifetime guarantee on the patios, driveways, and walls that we build. And most importantly, being responsive to feedback from clients and design partners drives us to constantly improve.

It’s our 25th year in business. We’ve got some cool stuff to share with you this year. But for now, let us know how we’re doing. Does this stuff matter to you? Reply in the comments, post on Facebook or drop me an email at carolyn (at) ayardandahalf (dot) com.

Read Full Post »

team member pruning with loppersIn addition to choosing us for installation of beautiful patios, long-lasting driveways, and colorful plantings, many of our design-build customers turn to us for their regular landscape maintenance. What sets our maintenance service apart as a complete Outdoor Lifestyle Management program is the attention our maintenance customers receive, and the way that they are connected to a multitude of valuable services.

A dedicated account manager is on-site with the crew, and serves as liaison to coordinate all of your landscape maintenance, construction, and planting projects.  He or she makes sure you get priority service – preferred scheduling for a pre-party garden spruce-up, emergency tree removal, or landscape improvements by our own experienced construction & planting crews.

Our standard year-round maintenance contract includes:

  • Spring clean-up
  • Mulching & hand-edging
  • Lawn mowing
  • Organic lawn fertilization
  • Ongoing hand-pruning of shrubs & small trees
  • Perennial bed maintenance
  • Fall leaf clean-up
  • Winter plant protection (mulching, wrapping, etc.)

Additional services on request :

  • Compost pile maintenancesummer vegetables
  • Vegetable garden planting and maintenance
  • Container planting and seasonal color
  • Irrigation start-up, check, and winterization
  • Rain barrel set-up and winterization
  • Low-voltage landscape lighting maintenance & installation
  • Carpentry and fence installation/repair
  • Holiday decorations and lighting
  • Special event garden clean-up and decoration
  • Interior plantscaping
  • Pond maintenance
  • Vacation watering

Horticultural Mentoring – Want to do your own vegetable gardening, hand-pruning, or annual containers? Let our Master Gardener teach you!

Sustainability audit and landscape improvement plan – recommendations to reduce your energy and maintenance costs, improve health and safety, make your outdoor space more pleasant and usable, and increase the value of your home; along with a plan for phased implementation by A Yard & A Half Landscaping Cooperative.

Interested?  Fill out a short questionnaire to arrange a free estimate.

Read Full Post »

Angie's List Super Service Award Badge

We’re pleased to announce that A Yard & A Half Landscaping has again won the Angie’s List “Super Service Award”.  This award recognizes companies who maintain a consistently superior service rating on Angie’s List, a member-based, consumer rating website.  According to Angie’s List, winners of this award represent the top 5% of companies in the Boston market.

We value this award because we value our customers.  Angie’s List ratings come directly from customer experience — companies don’t pay to be listed, nor can they remove negative reviews — and we work hard to ensure that our customers have a great experience with us, whether we’re installing a complete landscape design or providing weekly maintenance.

Read Full Post »

A prospective client gave me the opportunity to help him make sense of the various quotes he received today for lawn installation and bed preparation.  He’s a smart consumer, and not the source of the title quote, “Isn’t it all just dirt?”  But I’ve definitely heard the question before, even from others in the trade.  So, here are some excerpts from my reply to him:

Loam (sometimes pronounced “loom” in MA) technically refers to soil composition, not necessarily soil quality.  it should have approximately equal parts of sand, silt and clay, but may or may not have a high organic content.  “Loam” in the trade refers to any harvested soil (usually dug up from housing lots or fields prior to development).  As sold, it is typically low in organic matter, though it may be screened to remove large rocks & debris.  More organically-rich topsoil is harvested & sold separately, at a higher price.  Compost is made of decomposed plant material, and is high in organic matter, microbial life, and nutrients.

So, what’s the big deal about compost?  Many weeds thrive in nutrient-poor, compacted soil, while turfgrass and many other cultivated plants like rich soil with pores to hold air and water.  Addition of compost makes lawns more favorable to grass and other desirable plants than to weeds.  In fact, we’ve seen weed reduction in lawns over time primarily due to regular addition of organic matter.  When compost is added as a topdressing instead of tilled in, it becomes incorporated into the top few inches of soil over time through the activity of worms and beneficial insects (assuming that you don’t use pesticides that kill the bugs you want with the bugs you don’t want).

What about peat moss as a soil conditioner?  Because we’re accredited in organic landcare by NOFA, we voluntarily adhere to their standards, which frown on peat.  It’s a harvested, non-renewable (short-term, anyway) resource.  It also acidifies the soil, requiring application of lime to counterbalance it’s effects (vs. compost, which has a nearly-neutral pH).  Conventional contractors use peat moss because it is very light, therefore cheap to install.  It also holds a heck of a lot of water, making it less likely that the seeds will dry out before germination if someone forgets to set up a timer on the sprinkler.  However, at the rate it’s usually applied, it adds a negligible amount of organic matter to the soil.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: