Diamond Certified Blog

Category Archives: Landscaping Tips

Diamond Certified Experts: Tree Care 101

From pruning and irrigation to addressing risk factors, tree care involves several crucial aspects. Photo: World Tree Service, Inc. (2017)

Despite being the largest of all plants, trees are surprisingly easy to overlook. Maybe it’s because their serene, stationary disposition causes them to blend in with their surroundings; maybe we just don’t look up often enough. Either way, like any plant, trees require water, nutrition and ongoing maintenance, so it’s important to take care of the ones on your property. To learn about some tree care basics, we’re joined by six Diamond Certified Expert Contributors in the tree service and landscaping fields.

Tree irrigation and nutrition
The first step in caring for a tree is simple: water it. However, as Chris Chapman of Horticultural Services, LTD explains, tree irrigation is something property owners often get wrong. Continue reading “Diamond Certified Experts: Tree Care 101” »

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Tip Sheet: Five Guidelines for Gardening

Spring is coming – are you ready to grow? Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2017)

Following the heavy (and much needed) rainfall of the past winter, gardening enthusiasts in the Bay Area can look forward to a bounty of opportunities come spring. In addition to the finer points involved in planting flowers and crops, here are some basic guidelines to consider for optimizing your gardening experience.

Plan for all seasons. While many assume gardening is only for the spring and summer, if you plan correctly, you can keep yours looking beautiful through the fall and winter seasons as well.

Remember, plants grow. A common mistake gardeners make is installing plants that don’t fit within the schemes of their gardens. Don’t be a victim of “cute in a gallon can” syndrome—just because a particular plant looks good at the nursery, that doesn’t mean it’ll be right for your garden. Continue reading “Tip Sheet: Five Guidelines for Gardening” »

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The Causes of Landslides

By Christopher Wilhite, chief engineer and co-owner at Engineered Soil Repairs, Inc.

As we approach the rainy season, it’s time to start paying attention to what rain can mean for the Bay Area. While rain may ease our persistent drought, it can also cause issues for Bay Area residents, especially after so many dry years. One consequence of rain after a drought is the increased likelihood of landslides—a familiar problem in this beautiful but hilly region. Debris flows (a type of landslide more commonly known as “mudslides”) have caused millions of dollars worth of property damage in the Bay Area. More importantly, people can and have died as a result of these fast-moving landslides. Bay Area residents: it’s time to get informed and prepared. To start the conversation, we asked Christopher Wilhite, chief engineer at Engineered Soil Repairs, Inc., to explain precisely what causes landslides. 

Landslide repairs in Lafayette

Engineered Soil Repairs, Inc. repairs damage from a landslide in Lafayette. Photo: Engineered Soil Repairs, Inc., 2016

Continue reading “The Causes of Landslides” »

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Savvy Consumer Tip: Trees & Privacy

If you want more privacy at your home, consider the benefits of adding trees to your property.

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All About Outdoor Kitchens

If you enjoy dining alfresco, an outdoor kitchen can double your pleasure by allowing you to cook outside as well. Photo: Riptide Construction, Inc. (2016)

If you enjoy dining alfresco, an outdoor kitchen can double your pleasure by allowing you to cook outside as well. Photo: Riptide Construction, Inc. (2016)

With Alain Joske, owner of Inscapes

With the beautiful weather in the Bay Area, it’s no wonder that one of the biggest local home improvement trends is to extend one’s living space to the outside with add-ons like decks and covered patios. However, even though these exterior additions are great, you can take your alfresco experience to a whole new level by building an outdoor kitchen, which will allow you to prepare meals and dine under the sun or stars. To learn about the process of outdoor kitchen construction, we’re joined by Alain Joske of Inscapes.

Plan way in advance. An outdoor kitchen isn’t built overnight—it’s a lengthy process, and the actual construction is often the shortest part. Continue reading “All About Outdoor Kitchens” »

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Tip Sheet: 5 Things to Consider When Designing a Landscape

When redesigning your landscape, it's important to consider practical as well as aesthetic aspects. Photo: Jerry Allison Landscaping, Inc.

When redesigning your landscape, it’s important to consider both practical and aesthetic aspects. Photo: Jerry Allison Landscaping, Inc. (2016)

Redesigning your landscape is a great way to enhance both the beauty of your home and the enjoyment of your outdoor living space. However, according to Diamond Certified Expert Contributor Jerry Allison, to ensure a good result, you’ll need to take several practical considerations into account, including the following: Continue reading “Tip Sheet: 5 Things to Consider When Designing a Landscape” »

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Green Building: Eight Ways to Make Your Home Improvement Project Environmentally-Friendly

Last fall, we published a long piece about how to make different types of Bay Area homes more energy efficient (download the free e-book here). This month, we’ve distilled the wisdom offered in that post and added a few more Green tips in honor of March, the greenest of months. Enjoy!

Green building

Go green! This month, take steps to make your home remodeling project eco-friendly. Photo: Reilly Designs, 2016

1. Implement a whole-house solution
Richard Hiteshew of A-1 Guaranteed Heating & Air, Inc. says people who want to “Green up” their homes should “reduce before they produce.” Continue reading “Green Building: Eight Ways to Make Your Home Improvement Project Environmentally-Friendly” »

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Turn on the Bright Lights: Exterior and Interior Lighting Basics

When it comes to upgrading your home’s lighting, careful consideration will help you achieve your desired effect. Photo: Knights’ Electric, Inc. (2015)

When it comes to upgrading your home’s lighting, careful consideration will help you achieve your desired effect. Photo: Knights’ Electric, Inc. (2015)

Have you ever been in a seemingly well-lit room and suddenly found yourself straining to see? If so, you know how frustrating bad lighting can be. And yet, many people continue to regard lighting as purely one-dimensional, not realizing there’s a lot more to it than its most basic function. In reality, it’s not merely our ability to see in the dark that counts, but how well we’re able to see, as well as how lighting makes us feel. By comprehending the true complexity involved in achieving good lighting, you can make the most of illumination in both your interior and exterior living spaces. Continue reading “Turn on the Bright Lights: Exterior and Interior Lighting Basics” »

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Drought Busters: Expert Tips on Landscape Water Conservation

california-drought-water-conservation

With the current drought conditions in California, it’s time to rethink the way we approach landscape irrigation. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2015)

For more information on water conservation, visit our drought resource page here.

In light of the ongoing drought in California, the government has called for a 30 percent statewide reduction in water usage. While measures like minimizing shower durations and running dishwashers less frequently will help, in order to achieve this goal, we need to focus our conservation efforts where the lion’s share of our water is expended: outdoors.

There are several ways to conserve water on a landscape, but these can be boiled down to three primary aspects: rethinking conventional watering methods, upgrading inefficient irrigation equipment and implementing drought-tolerant landscaping techniques. To address these points, we’ve asked four Diamond Certified Expert Contributors to weigh in with some professional insight.

Amend your watering habits
Californians have a tendency to overwater lawns, trees and plants, but with the current drought conditions, this is no longer a luxury we can afford. That’s why Jeff Sheehan of Confidence Landscaping, Inc. proposes a switch from conventional watering practices to a “need-based” approach. Continue reading “Drought Busters: Expert Tips on Landscape Water Conservation” »

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Tree Service Overview: Q&A with Justin Greer

arborist-tree-care

Justin Greer is an 18-year veteran of the tree service industry and Director of Operations at Western Tree Removal Specialists, a Diamond Certified company. Photo: American Ratings Corporation (2015)

Justin Greer has been servicing trees for Sonoma County residents since he was a teenager, and today, he’s the director of operations at Western Tree Removal Specialists. We took a few minutes to speak with Justin about his field of expertise and gain some helpful knowledge.

Q: Do trees really need to be serviced? Can’t we just let them be?
A: There are a couple reasons why trees need to be serviced, both of which are tied to changed environmental factors. Before humans came on the scene, trees grew in fierce competition for resources, which kept growth in check. Picture a forest where not a drop of light gets through the broad canopy and the trees grow so close together that they’re practically holding each other up.

Flash forward to today, where the circumstances are reversed: Trees are often situated alone or in small groups, and they’re able to get all the water and sunlight they need—not to mention the synthesized nutrients we feed them via fertilizers, which are basically plant steroids. Altogether, this causes trees to grow much faster and larger than they had under previous circumstances. Continue reading “Tree Service Overview: Q&A with Justin Greer” »

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