End of Summer Care Tips

The leaves are slowly changing, and the days are slowly starting to get shorter, it’s a sign that fall is on the way. Many are starting to think about closing down their pools and packing in their lawn furniture. From barbeques and gardening to fetch with the pup and outdoor get-togethers, Michigan yards tend to endure a lot of activity, especially in summer. Even though fall is almost here, this is no excuse to not tend to your lawn. It still needs maintenance and a little TLC here and there. So to help you prepare for fall, here are a few end of summer lawn care tips to consider to make the colder months here in Michigan just a bit easier.

Trim Trees and Hedges
Luckily, we’ve had a fairly wet and sunny summer here in Michigan this year. Grass and vegetation have been plenty which may also mean your trees and bushes have grown. Before fall comes, time overgrown branches and other spots that may cause a mess to clean up come spring. Another pro tip we can offer is to stay up on your leaf clean up. The fewer leaves you leave for winter, the less clean up you’ll have when the snow finally melts.

Continue Mowing
Be sure to continue mowing and giving your lawn the care it needs. Continue to mow at the appropriate times and lengths throughout fall. The grass will start to grow slower and slower the colder it gets so it can be good to keep the mower handy and adjust your lawn care schedule as needed to accommodate the weather.

Nutrient-Dense Care
Prepare your lawn for the colder months by supplying it with the nutrients it needs to promote growth and recover from winter. Like most things, your lawn is strongest at its roots. Fertilizing your lawn at the proper times is crucial to keep the root as healthy as possible. Give us a call to find out when the best time for you to fertilize and irrigate are.

If you’re looking to prep your lawn for fall and the colder months ahead, and need some help or advice, give us a call or fill out the form below. HTA Companies offers a variety of services and seasonal services to supply Michigan residents with the best lawn care possible.

Summer Lawn Care Tips

As Michiganders, we wait all year for summer to roll around. Although, it’s a great time of year for us, that’s not always the case for our lawns. The heat paired with low rainfall contributes great stress to our lawns. But don’t worry, there are measures that can be taken to keep your lawn in top shape. Here are a few summer lawn care tips to foster a green and healthy landscape over those warm summer months.

Fertilization & Weed Control
Synthetic fertilizers and some weed control sprays can burn a lawn easily during the summer months. So, remember that a little bit of weed control can go a long way when the temperatures are high, and rain is low. HTA Companies lawn care technicians are trained to properly spot spray weeds during this time of year to keep your lawn looking great while getting the job done.

Mowing
Depending on the weather here in Michigan, mowing can become a weekly thing or once a month thing. Most lawn care professionals recommend sharpening the blades on the mower and raising the mower deck to the highest setting. This helps the blades of grass stay longer, which allows for thicker and healthier grass.

Watering
When it comes to watering your lawn, mornings are the most ideal time. Watering in the early morning allows for the grass to dry quicker and cuts the risk for diseases to take over. To check if your lawn needs watering, look for cracks in bare dirt or get in touch with us, we’d love to discuss some options with you.

Keeping a lawn green and vibrant throughout summer is not impossible. You just need to know the proper maintenance and practices to implement. The summer can be stressful on any landscape, no matter where you are located. It is always a good idea to consult with a lawn care professional to help prevent and protect against summer stresses. We offer a total solution to keeping your lawn and landscape at its best. Get in touch with us today to get an on-site consultation.

Why You Need Professional Lawn Care Services

Lawn care is an important aspect of homeownership and most think of lawn care as only watering and mowing. However, there is way more to it than that. Most don’t realize that lawn care requires knowledge and training. Lawn care, when done properly, takes time and effort. And, if your goal is to have a healthy, beautiful lawn, hiring professional lawn care services is the way to go.

Here are a few compelling reasons why you need professional lawn care services for your lawn.

Professional lawn care services in your area are knowledgeable about the grass types and vegetation in your state.

Using professional lawn care services is less stress and physical labor for you.

A professional lawn care service can save you from causing unnecessary damage to your yard while keeping your lawn healthy.

A fresh and professional landscape is perceived as added home value.

Show your lawn some love this spring and consider getting some professional lawn care services from our highly experienced and qualified team. The HTA team designs, installs and maintains beautiful properties all over mid-Michigan. Our company is known for utilizing the best materials and equipment available to bring our customers the very best results. We will work with you to bring your vision to life.

The Best Trees to Add to Your Landscape

With summer just around the corner, you may be looking to update your yard landscape? Adding trees can provide beauty, shade, fruits, flowers, and privacy. Not to mention, trees are always a good investment. Depending on what you are looking to accomplish and the level of maintenance you’re willing to put in, here are a few helpful tips and trees you may be interested in adding to your yard this year. Keep in mind, since different trees thrive in different climates, you should make your selection based on the area in which you live.

Best Small Trees for a Yard

If you want to add some beauty and interest to your front yard, opt for one known for its flowers and fruits. These species are for their spring blossoms and beautiful foliage in the fall. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Serviceberry
  • Crabapple
  • Chinese dogwood
  • Japanese maple
  • Weeping cherry

Best Trees for a Shady Yard

Looking for a little shade for the house or do you envision sitting under a large shady tree in your front yard? If so, it’s best to choose one that will mature into a tall, lucious tree with a large canopy. Although shade trees take years to fill in and require regular pruning to maintain a healthy shape and size, below are some of our top picks for the best shade:

  • Oak tree
  • Larger Maples
  • Golden Rain tree

Best Trees for Yard Privacy

The ideal way to achieve a natural privacy screen is with compact conifers. Some of the best options for this purpose include:

  • Arborvitae
  • Spruce
  • Pine

For expert help deciding which trees to plant in your front yard or if you’re looking for a fresh look for your yard, HTA Companies is here to help. Whether you’re needing help with design, irrigation, landscaping or care for your site, you’ll want to have an HTA Pro visit with you Schedule a free consultation today.

Protecting Your Investment

During the brutal Michigan winters, your commercial parking lot and sidewalks are what suffers the most. The shovelling, plowing, and the wet coldness that these surfaces endure for months on end all shorten the lifespan of parking lots and sidewalks. But a proactive approach with regular maintenance can help save and extend the life of these surfaces. By taking these precautionary measures to protect your investment, you can also cut down on major repairs and costs.

As a property owner, it’s important to ensure your employees, customers, and every patron that visits your establishment have safe and full access to your business. We at HTA Companies, know what a struggle it can be when your parking lot or sidewalk doesn’t make it easy for customers or deliveries to reach your business. To help take that stress off of you, we’ve created a dedicated parking lot division that will keep your investment clean, safe, and open for business.

The parking lot division knows to take into consideration various factors before starting maintenance services. We at HTA Companies offer a complete line of parking lot services. From small and simple to complete year-round services, our experienced and expert staff will help keep your parking lots and sidewalks in the best shape possible. Your parking lot says a lot about your business, so might as well keep it in good shape.

If you’ve ever worked with HTA Companies before, you know we value our relationships with our customers. Our team is known for responsiveness, attention to detail, and customer satisfaction. All of our services are performed “in-house” by our experienced team, so there will be no outside contractors to add delays or excuses. Give us a call to discuss some options.

Green: The Most Important Color to Your Landscape

With the number of colorful flowers, shrubs and trees available today, it’s easy to overlook the simple beauty of the color green. Having elements of different colors and contrasting tones in your garden looks good and adds that extra flare most are looking for. However, green is just as important when it comes to garden design. Green is a natural complement that adds to any color and landscape, including green itself when combined with different tones and shades.

Green is a peaceful color that can calm the nerves and soothe the soul which makes it perfect for gardens. There is a reason why we associate green with nature. It’s because of the crucial role it plays in nature. It also brings color to the garden when everything else fades away when fall/winter sets in. Although different colored flowers and plants look beautiful, green tones offer a vibrant, healthy look to your garden. Green is the color of spring, it can be cool and friendly while providing a background to which all those colorful flowers and shrubs stand out against. Also, when a plant or grass displays vibrant green colors, it helps ensure that your plants and grass are healthy! The brighter the green, the healthier the plant.

It’s nice to have a good diversity with color in your landscape. Having landscape done allows for you to fill your yard or garden with diverse, vibrant colors. But the next time you look at a garden take special notice of the beautiful green tones. You may notice the importance of the green and the powerful role it plays in the landscape. As spring approaches and summer sets in, consider adding some fun green tones to your landscape this year. From perfectly groomed grass to the most beautiful plants and flowers, HTA Companies can design and construct your perfect garden and landscaping dreams.

Spring Lawn Care

It’s that beautiful time of the year when the sun is out, the grass is getting greener, and the flowers are making their annual debut. Spring is the ideal time to start fertilizing your lawn to ensure you have nice thick green grass come summer. A lawn care schedule will vary depending on where you live. Early spring is perfect for here in Michigan. Despite climate differences, yard maintenance can follow a similar schedule with adjustments for when spring starts. However, lawn care seems to start for most people in the early spring when the grass starts to look green again. Get a good start on yard maintenance this spring with a few simple lawn maintenance tips:

Prepare your lawnmower. It was a long winter. Start the season right by making sure your lawnmower is maintenance, sharpen your mower blades and make sure everything is working and ready to go.

Clean up the yard. Use your rake to remove leaves, dead grass, and any other debris in your yard. This process prepares your yard for necessary lawn treatment.

Begin mowing high. As you start mowing for the season, make sure to mow your lawn on the highest setting for your type of grass. Mowing high keeps your grass slightly longer and helps the grass develop stronger roots.

Fertilize your lawn. It is suggested the first time to fertilize is in late spring. Feeding your lawn strengthens the grass and helps to prevent future weed growth. HTA Companies offer fertilization plans that will take care of the lawn treatments for you and give you that curb appeal you are looking for.

Plant your flowers. Spring is also a great time to start planting your flowers and gardens for the year. Liven up your yard with a fresh landscape, colorful flowers, and a sharp lawn.

Whether you’re needing help with design, irrigation, landscaping or care for your yard or business, you’ll want to have an HTA Pro visit with you to bring your vision to life. We’ll be eager to show how we can help. Schedule a quote with us today.

Is Your Parking Lot Customer Friendly?

Collectively, Americans own 250 million cars, and the United States has up to two billion parking spaces to house them. That’s eight spaces per car — more square footage, by some estimates, than exists for housing our population of 327 million people, and five percent or more of urban area in the Upper Great Lakes region. All that asphalt won’t take care of itself, especially when winter comes and the snow starts to pile up. If you’re a business owner, it’s important to keep your parking lot customer-friendly; after all, it’s not as though those cars and their drivers have nowhere else to go.

Making Your Parking Lot a Welcoming Place

So what can you do to blunt the edge on the average of 17 hours per year your customers spend looking for parking?

  • Plan carefully, since the location and layout of your parking lot and the traffic patterns that result, can make a big difference in customer experience; if you’re having your parking lot rebuilt or resurfaced, consider using the opportunity for a smarter makeover.
  • Prioritize safety, ensuring that the lot and surrounding foot paths are well-lit, and also consider security cameras to monitor the area; these simple steps have a deterrent effect on thieves and help customers feel safer.
  • Pay attention to small details, such as installing a cart corral if your business uses carts to prevent damage to vehicles, and ensuring that obstructions like dumpsters are kept in areas they won’t interfere with parking.
  • Build-in designated spaces for motorcycles and compact vehicles, set aside space for the handicapped, and those who are pregnant or have small children.
  • Don’t neglect your lot; parking lot snow and ice management and diligent maintenance year-round goes a long way.

Thinking Ahead: Parking as a Service?

We’ve already got SaaS (Software as a Service). Might PaaS, or Parking as a Service, be next? At least one author thinks so, and sees the opportunity to capitalize on drivers’ (and retailers’, and property managers’) frustrations. While Thomas Hohenacker suggests a suite of sophisticated sensors and IoT-connected LED screens to display available parking spaces (and advertising, of course), most small business owners don’t have the kind of cash, space, or need for a solution that robust. That doesn’t mean that Hohenacker’s solution is without merit; for businesses and service providers with larger parking lots, times of inclement weather can be a good time to provide a human touch to parking. If your lot is large — and especially if it’s shared by multiple tenants — it may be worth your while to consider valet parking. It cuts down on driver frustration, and can reinforce positive feelings toward your business.

Getting Back to Basics

Maybe you’re hesitant to install new lighting, or undertake some of the other improvements listed here. Maybe you haven’t got the additional payroll to spare on a parking lot attendant. We’re small business owners too, so we understand the challenges you face. With that said, one of the ways you can stretch your limited money the farthest is by paying attention to the fundamentals: parking lot snow and ice removal in the winter, reinforced by parking lot maintenance in the warmer months. HTA Companies can help, just as we’ve done for dozens of businesses in Lansing, Bath, Watertown, and the surrounding areas. Why not get in touch today and see how we can help?

Things to Ask Before Choosing a Landscape Contractor

How did you hear about them or where have you seen them?

Ads may not tell the whole picture. Have you admired a newly finished landscape or one in progress? Whose trucks do you see all over town and take note of the Contractor doing that work? Ask people you trust to find whom they have used or would recommend.

If a Landscape Contractor is referred by a friend, family, or neighbor; you could probably stop searching. People don’t often refer someone that has disappointed them. If this Contractor’s schedule and expertise match your needs, we recommend acting on the referral.

How long have they been in business?

Every business had a beginning! A new Landscape Contractor may be a perfect fit if your project is small and undemanding. A complicated project commands a more established and experienced Contractor. Don’t be a Guinea Pig, because it costs serious money to correct the mistakes of the inexperienced!

Are they licensed and insured? Any certifications or affiliations?

What is their background?

Once again you need to look at experience. Do they have training in Landscape Design?

Do they have working knowledge of proper planting, construction methods and industry standards? Years of mowing doesn’t automatically qualify them as an experienced Landscape Designer or Contractor. 

Have they done something similar?

As soon as you walk them through your wish list, they should be able to recall a similar project and tout their success. You don’t want to hear “I think we can” or we’ll try”; but “I know we can because we’ve done it!”

Are they experienced Landscape Designers?

Landscape Design isn’t just placing a plant or patio where it looks good. The proper selection of materials can make or break a job, because not knowing how large a plant will get or if the retaining wall will hold without failing, are examples of what an experienced designer must consider before construction ever begins. Mistakes in design can result in years of costly repairs and higher maintenance.

Don’t be afraid to ask to see examples of what they can do. With today’s technology, they probably have pictures of landscapes they’ve designed or installed, right there on their tablet or phone. Pictures really are worth a thousand words and they’ll be thrilled you asked to see their work!

Do they charge for their design?

Most accomplished Landscape Contractors will charge for their design. You are, after all, paying for their talent & experience, to pull your wish list together in a creative way and make it a reality. Their unique knowledge of selecting the right materials and construction methods will be invaluable if you want your landscape to stand the test of time.   

Many landscapers will credit back all or part of the design cost if you have them do the work. Even if they don’t; it’s money well spent!

Do they subcontract any of the work?

This is actually a very important question to ask. Contractors that can do everything with their own experienced crews, will be able to offer a seamless flow of work from start to finish, without delays or excuses from subcontractors. 

What is their schedule & can they complete the job on time?

If your project is time-critical, you should make this point right upfront when you’re calling for an appointment. Trustworthy Landscape Contractors should be able to tell you right then if they can meet your deadline.

Larger contractors may have more crews at their disposal and can have multiple projects under construction at the same time. The smaller a company is, the longer you may have to wait, because they must finish the job or jobs just ahead of you.

This isn’t necessarily bad though. If you’ve asked all these questions and feel comfortable so far, it could be worth the wait, if you’re not up against any deadlines.

Can they stay on the job until it’s completed?

This isn’t a dumb question! Their scheduling problems are not yours. If they start your job, they shouldn’t have to pull off to do something else, with the promise of coming back another day. This often turns into more than a few days, if not weeks.

Can they provide references? (Referred contractors should make this step unnecessary)

This isn’t a bad question to ask, but please try and keep things in perspective. Try to imagine how you would respond if someone called you as the reference. Please keep the scope and dollar amount of your project, in balance with the reference you’re asking for.

If your project requires an expensive outdoor kitchen, a glowing review of having two trees planted may not provide the affirmation you’re looking for in a reference.

Be content with one or two. Some Contractors may gladly offer several, while others might guard their references with a great deal of discretion. Don’t wear out a company’s hard-earned references.

Besides, if you’re not comfortable with a Landscape Contractor by this point, a reference probably isn’t going to sway your decision anyway.

How many bids should you get?

There is no magic number! A good Rule of Thumb is no more than 3. If your project requires a Landscape Design or Master Plan, and you don’t have anyone referred to you, we recommend talking to 2 or 3 Landscape Contractors, using the above guidelines to evaluate the best fit for your project.

After this evaluation, select One Contractor to move forward with and avoid putting yourself in the position of having to compare 3 different designs and bids. Every Contractor will have a different vision and approach to your project, making it difficult to choose. The designs become rather subjective at this point and it’s often too easy to just give up and make a decision based on price. The best solution, and not necessarily the least expensive; may have just slipped through your fingers, when you choose by price alone!

Is there a risk in taking more than one bid?

The economy is booming and every contractor worth hiring is extremely busy. The above tips equip you in making a proper selection, so the risk you run with taking multiple bids is you could lose the one you liked the most because too much time has lapsed and now their schedule is full.

When taking bids, one or two will promptly get things put together and come back to you in a timely manner. There always seems to be the one that can’t get back to you within the time requested, and too often people put the responsive bidders on hold while they are waiting on the slowpoke. Do not put up with this! Chances are if they can’t get you a bid on time, they won’t complete the work on time either!

If you’re impressed with the first company you meet with, there is nothing wrong with hiring them on the spot. The longer you take to decide, the further you get pushed back in everyone’s schedule. Every good Contractor is busy, so please cancel the remaining appointments right away so they can be free to make other appointments.

In Summary…

Just remember a Contractor’s time is valuable too, and they’ll respect you for your thoughtfulness.

The referred contractor is almost always the better path to take. Ask people you know and tell them what you’re doing. If they had a great experience, they’ll be glad to share it with you.

Final Thought…

Check all of the boxes by contacting HTA Companies first!

You’ll be glad you did!

How do I hire a Lawn Care Contractor?

I love my new Landscape… Now what?

The secret to keeping every landscape looking sharp is seeing that it is properly maintained. You may be one of those rare “Green Thumb” warriors that takes pride in maintaining your Landscape, and your yard always looks picture perfect. 

If you have the time and are one of these proud warriors, then take the task head-on, but be sure to ask the Landscape Contractor that installed it, if there are any plants or items that may require special attention, especially for that first growing season. 

What if I don’t have time?

If you’re not one of these individuals or would like to be but just don’t have the time, you should ask the Contractor that installed your new landscape if they would be interested in the weekly and regular maintenance of your property.

This is worth considering because most likely the work is under warranty and your new landscape deserves the proper attention and care to protect that warranty.

We would recommend contracting with the company that installed everything for at least the first year, because the lawn and many of the new plantings will require greater attention during the first year. Some contractors may even extend the warranty period for another year if they are taking care of the property. 

Is there more involved than just mowing?

It is understood that the array of products available to the contractor is vastly different than what the homeowner must rely on, but more importantly, the full-service lawn care contractor will have a whole range of beneficial services you can choose from.

  Mowing & trimming

  Spring & Fall Clean-ups & top-dressing mulch beds

  Fertilizer and weed control for lawns and plant beds

  Aerating & Slit-seeding

  Edging of plant beds, walks, drives, and curbs

  Tree & shrub pruning

  Disease and pest control for lawns and plants

  Irrigation service and repair

These are just some of the services a full-service lawn care contractor can provide and remember there is by law, a great deal of training and licensing required to perform many of these. (Any chemical application besides fertilizer requires a license issued by the State.)

Not only is it important to offer these services, but also knowing when it is appropriate to apply many of the products. Remember we are dealing with chemical applications, and conditions such as wind, moisture, and temperature may dictate when it is safe to apply many of these.

Is paying to have it done worth the cost?

This contractor may cost more than the local neighborhood mowing guy, but they understand what is at stake and will be more apt to notice or recognize when a lawn or plant is needing special attention and can recommend a course of action to protect your investment in the landscape.

This is a definite advantage over the guy that shows up once a week, mows for 10 minutes and disappears… Never picking up on potential problems or even being a contributor to them.

You may need to ask yourself what it would cost to replace expensive plants or repair areas of the lawn if these things aren’t properly maintained. Most warranties exclude replacing plants that are neglected or poorly maintained, so the cost of seasonal care may be the more effective way to keep costs under control.

In Summary…

We mentioned early on that you could be one of those rare warriors who enjoy the effort to maintain the landscape and have the resources and “Time” to see it through. If not, then consider working again with your Landscaper.

You’ve already had experience with the contractor that installed your new landscape and have asked all the right questions about experience and licensing, so this should be a rather easy decision to make.

Your contractor is there to help you enjoy your landscape and your hard-earned time off from work, by taking some of the burden from your plate.

Action…

Whether your landscape is new or old, it needs special attention to keep it healthy and looking sharp! Hiring a qualified Lawn Care Contractor can partner with you and do all the “heavy lifting” and leave you with nothing but time to enjoy your landscape!