Archive for December, 2008

New Jersey Farmers Will Miss Departing Agriculture Secretary

Monday, December 29th, 2008

As a NJ landscaping company and tree farm, I would like to acknowledge the New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Charlie Kuperus . Secretary Kuperus gave his farewell speech last Wednesday in Flemington NJ. In his speech he noted the importance of “greater conservation programs and a re-energized farmland preservation effort.” As he finishes his seven year term Secretary Kuperus will be remembered for his efforts in connecting the products of the New Jersey farmer and the Jersey Fresh brand to community markets, restaurants, food retailers and schools.  As New Jersey farmers face the greatest economic challenges in generations, it’s the efforts of the public officials like Secretary Kuperus that will help farmers survive the tough road ahead.

Landsape Construction, Cutting Edge, Not Cutting Roots!

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Cipriano Farms embraces sustainability and adopts the latest techniques in large tree moving, resulting in increased survival rate of larger trees.

Air spade technology, which was originally developed to locate landmines in war zones, is a  technique that utilizes compressed air to unearth the root system and tree trunk, which keeps all of the fibrous roots intact. Barerooting a tree with an air spade retains up to 95 percent of the root mass, as opposed to spaded or hand dug trees, which only retains 30 to 50 percent.

Arborists and professional tree surgeons, initially used the air spade to locate the flares of trees that were planted too deep in the ground and to reduce root compaction commonly occurring during construction  which could eventually kill the trees.

In addition to keeping fibrous roots intact, the air spade reduces the time necessary for the tree to re-establish itself in the new location and allows the tree to be planted in different soil types without the risk of hindering root growth. Without a cumbersome rootball, the air spade method allows landscapers the ability to move much larger trees with a lot less difficulty. Smaller equipment can be utilized resulting in reduced machinery and clean-up costs.

Traditionally, the normal digging time for deciduous trees is limited to the spring and fall. Airspading allows certain trees in full leaf to be transplanted without any signs of stress, regardless of season.

While not all trees are suitable for bare root transplanting, the simplicity of the process, numerous benefits and the overall cost savings make air spading a trend that is sure to take root in the landscape design and nursery industries for years to come.

Most B&B nursery stock you find have root balls that have been mechanically spaded. Tree spading is a method in which metal blades are hydraulically driven into the ground in a circular pattern to scoop up the rootball. The rootball is then wrapped in burlap and put into a wire basket.

The two most common causes of damage associated with mechanical spading are rootball compression and  undersized rootballs. Off-center spading is also a common issue which tends to cause severe branch loss and dieback. As the size of the trees increase, the recovery time also increases and if the tree has not properly dug it will have a hard time recovering. Due to the indiscriminate cutting of roots during the spading process, we seldom uses this method on specimen trees and don’t recommend it.

Our preferred method of transplanting large caliper trees has been hand digging. Also known as drum lacing, this method utilizes manual labor to dig and secure the trees rootball. After digging, the rootball is wrapped in burlap and tightly drumlaced with sisal for support.

Amongst the benefits, the digger can selectively cut the roots of the tree thus preserving important portions of the root system. For top specimen tree growers, this has been their preferred method of transplanting for many years.

A major limitation with the hand dug method is that conventional machinery is known to have difficulties managing large rootballs, which can weigh upwards of 15 tons. Mishandling can cause the dirt to shift within the root ball resulting in root shearing which is detrimental to the tree.

We have had great success with bareroot digging large caliper trees on our 10 acre farm in Mahwah NJ. and are extremely excited to offer this service to landscapers and homeowners.

Carving Stone in "Red Sox Nation"

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

On Monday December 15th we will be attending a stone carving exhibition in Boston, Massachusetts. This exhibition will Feature the latest techniques in natural stone carving, cutting and engraving. Myself and three of our top stone masons will learn about the new uses of chemical solutions in stone carving and how the latest laser technology is now being implemented in stone cutting and engraving. We are all excited to implement these new techniques and products to our own line of custom stone countertops, corbels, mantels and our new carved natural stone floors.

Visit the Custom Stone Cabinetry™ page on our website to view ways on how to create the most detailed custom outdoor kitchen and living room projects.

We plan on carving the New York Yankee emblem on every piece of stone we can get our hands on! If you want one just e-mail me. Go Yanks!

Hiring The Right Landscape Design or Swimming Pool Firm in a Poor Economy

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

By Chris Cipriano – Cipriano Landscape Design

In today’s economy, money is tighter than ever before. Unfortunately, there are some businesses that use the tough economic times as a means of taking advantage of consumers.

Only a month ago, a landscape contractor from Mahwah, New Jersey was taking deposits on projects knowing his business would soon close. Recently, a swimming pool builder from Haskell, New Jersey was using other pool contractor’s swimming pool images on his website as advertisements of his own work. A family in Haworth, New Jersey, hired a pool builder from a magazine ad, and because their credentials went unchecked, they ended up with a pool that did not meet the contract requirements or safety standards. The pool needs to be demolished.

In all of these situations, a little due-diligence and research on behalf of the homeowners would have avoided these problems. For example, if the clients would have called the landscape contractor’s vendors, it’s possible they could have learned that the company was in poor standing and drowning in debt. Thus, they would have avoided hiring them. On another occasion, if the clients would have visited the company’s in-progress and completed projects, they would not have been misled by phony advertisements.

In a time when every dollar counts, consumers must be more cautious when hiring a contractor. Getting recommendations from family or friends is good start. For those without references, here is a list of criteria that every quality luxury NJ landscape architecture company should be able to satisfy. Don’t settle for anything less or it may cost you a lot more in the long run.

  1. Insist on visiting completed custom projects. Also, visit projects that are under construction. Seeing the projects in person will give you a sense of the company’s craftsmanship and viability, and weed out contractors who are not credible. Beautiful swimming pool and landscape pictures are great, however, you must be sure that they belong to the company you are interviewing and are not just deceitful advertisements.
  2.  

  3. Research Landscape design firms on the Internet. Search by name and see what recent information was posted. A simple Google search will go a long way in avoiding bad contractors. Check for current licenses, better business bureau standings and rip-off reports.
  4.  

  5. Only accept bids from firms with the best credentials. You wouldn’t let a proctologist perform brain surgery on you! Certified Building Professional is the top credential for custom swimming pool builders. Certified Landscape Architect credentials can be confirmed on the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs website, njconsumeraffairs.gov. If you’re looking for an outdoor kitchen, fireplace or unique swimming pool, you will want to see numerous examples of each component. For example, a stone masonry expert will have thousands of feet of natural stone patios or veneered walls for you to view. He may also claim to be custom pool builder, but without the right expertise, his work may result in people getting injured or killed because safety standards were not kept!
  6.  

  7. Use a contractor who will perform the work themselves. Avoid loosing control over sub contractors whose quality may be questionable. Subcontractors may not be in business a year from now and they tend to be harder to hold accountable for future problems. A “We do it all” claim implies there are little if any outside contractors used on the job. To protect yourself, make certain you get a list of any subcontractors listed in your contract prior to signing to avoid grey areas.
  8.  

  9. Select a financially secure contractor. Avoid large upfront payments; no more than 5% should be due at signing. Have set milestones based on completion of work. Always ask for vendor references to check their financial status and to ensure you are not investing in a sinking ship!
  10.  

  11. Watch out for misleading information. If any part of the presentation or contract seems deceptive, avoid that swimming pool or landscape design firm.
  12.  

  13. Make sure your contractor has the right insurance. It is imperative to be named on a certificate of insurance for liability and workers comp. For custom pool builders, it is essential that they hold a swimming pool policy or endorsement! If it is not listed, the contractor is not covered and as a result, you are now liable. A landscape gardeners policy will not cover pool construction.
  14.  

  15. Avoid the “free” design trap! If you have ever done any sort of home renovations or new construction, you know that if you have a poor set of plans, your extras end up costing you more than the original contract! Professionals get paid to do their due diligence. A good set of plans prepared by a Certified New Jersey Landscape Architect will include the necessary detailing to avoid the “unforeseen” pitfalls and unexpected expenses. Remember, a free design means pay more later.
  16.  

  17. Hire a luxury pool or landscape company that has the owner involved in the day to day construction process. The best customer service comes from an active business owner. Don’t buy from a salesman. After he has made the sale, he is gone and is harder to hold accountable.
  18.  

  19. Make sure your contractor has a good and fair contract with little or no grey areas. A good contract should include start and finish dates, payment schedules, termination agreement and warrantee information. Also, agreements for dispute resolutions should be clearly defined.
  20.  

Above all, be attentive and do your homework to ensure you get a quality job at a fair price. With a little effort on behalf of the consumer, the homeowner can go a long way in ensuring a quality outdoor renovation.

Buying your Christmas Tree this week?

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Get a Sneak Peek at my Good Day New York Interview!
With the help of Roshler’s Nursery in Allendale NJ (www.roshlers.com), Cipriano Landscape Design met with Good Day New York on Tuesday to discuss the perfect Christmas tree for this Holiday Season.
Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Are you looking for a tree that will hold its needles longer so you are not vacuuming everyday? You may want to consider these trees:

Nordmann Fir- This tree has soft green/blue needles, and the longest lasting needle retention of all the Fir. It is also “Jersey Grown”, and purchasing a Nordmann Fir will help support our local farmers.

Fraser Fir- One of the most popular trees, has soft blue/silver needles which are long lasting, so less clean-up.

Do you want a tree that makes your house smell festive this time of year?
Consider these trees:

Douglas or Fraser Fir both have sweet scents, soft needles and are sure to fill your home with the aroma of Christmas. But keep in mind, the Douglas Fir are not ideal for heavy ornaments, The Balsam Fir is a good substitute if for some reason neither are available.

If you have young children or pets to consider while picking out your Christmas tree, you may want to stay clear of the Norway or Blue Spruce. The Norway Spruce has poor needle retention and requires a lot of vacuuming. The Blue Spruce has sharp, rough needles that make it hard for small children to decorate and enjoy.

How do you get the most out of your tree?
For an easier set up before you venture out to purchase your Christmas tree make sure to measure the depth of your tree stand so you can have the branches at the base removed. Make sure the tree is given a fresh cut, about a half-inch thick at the time of purchase. Once the tree is set up, water it immediately and check the water levels daily. A common misconception is that drilling a hole in the trunk will aid with water uptake. This is untrue. Keeping your room temperature around 69 degrees and the tree away from heat sources like fireplaces and heaters will help prevent needle loss and fires.

Are you considering a “Green” Christmas tree?
The eco-friendly consumer trend is the living Christmas tree. This tree has its root and soil sealed in burlap and placed in a pot. After the holiday, instead of throwing the tree away, the tree can be planted in your yard to enjoy for many years to come. There are a few things to consider with a living tree. They are very heavy-a six foot tree will weight as much as 250 pounds and are about 20 % more expensive, the cooler the environment, the better also around 69 degrees. Keep the roots moist, but not flooded, and do not remove the burlap. After Christmas, do not go from indoors to outdoors immediately; allow the tree to re-acclimate to cold by putting it in the garage for about a week.

Whatever your preferences, be sure to ask your tree salesman which tree will fulfill your needs in providing you with lasting tree enjoyment throughout this Christmas season.