‘Homeowner Talk TV’ explores maintenance, irrigation

January 29, 2013 -  By
Classic Landscapes and Tree Solutions vice presidents Matt Borkowski, left, and Pete Luna chat with Homeowner Talk TV Executive Producer Andrea Behrens.

Classic Landscapes and Tree Solutions vice presidents Matt Borkowski, left, and Pete Luna chat with Homeowner Talk TV Executive Producer Andrea Behrens.

LAS VEGAS—A recent episode of “Homeowner Talk TV,” a local weekly TV program that explores important issues facing homeowners in the Las Vegas Valley, focused on landscaping and irrigation issues.

Hosts David Stone, president of Nevada Association Services, and John Leach, partner in the law firm Leach, Johnson, Song & Gruchow, examined proper landscape maintenance in residential yards and common areas. Also, in the community spotlight, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman gives viewers a peek at her private backyard retreat, and discussed what it took to create a private oasis in the middle of the city.

“Homeowner Talk TV” is Nevada’s only television program devoted exclusively to topics that affect homeowners and homeowners associations. Past episodes have focused on Neighborhood Watch programs, insurance, collections, HOA issues and more. Viewers are encouraged to write in with questions, which hosts answer each show.

The episode explored various landscape maintenance issues with the help and expert advice provided by local landscape and tree care companies Classic Landscapes LLC and Tree Solutions. One of the major trends in landscape maintenance locally is increasing water supply for trees, said Jay Stauss, president of Classic Landscapes and Tree Solutions.

“A lot of the communities were going into turf conversions and learning to save water and that’s still important, but a problem that’s come up recently is trees going into decline,” Stauss said. “Throughout the valley, we’re talking about thousands of trees that are dying because of inadequate irrigation.”

Stauss said there are two main sources for this problem. First, the developer installed an irrigation system that provided adequate water for the young saplings, but which does not provide enough water for a mature tree. The second common cause is decreased water and nutrient availability following a turf conversion.

“We’re recommending to a lot of the homeowners associations is get in there, get busy and get proactive on getting water to the root systems of these trees,” Stauss said. “Trees are a big investment for these communities.”

Another trend is catching up on deferred maintenance, Stauss said. “Replacement slowed during the recession but in the past two years there’s been an uptick in interest in re-investing in their communities and plant replacement, tree replacement, irrigation retrofit, rock replacement,” he said.

Stauss said many homeowners associations are updating their irrigation systems, not only because of changing needs of maturing plants, but also because the technology has become more advanced and efficient.

An issue facing private homeowners and homeowners associations across the valley is improper tree pruning. Stauss said tree pruning is like a science and establishing a pruning regime is best left to the experts. He recommended tree owners hire a licensed and insured contractor and certified arborist to address any problems with trees and to be proactive in preventing problems. A qualified expert can ensure each type of tree is pruned in a way that is appropriate for that species and that it is done at the right time of year — a common and potentially expensive error.

“Once it gets hot, you really don’t want to do a lot of pruning,” he said. “Maybe you can do a little bit of lifting here and there, but when the trees are under the most duress you don’t want to prune.”

The show also featured a closer look at proper irrigation and plant care. Matt Borkowski, vice president of Classic Landscapes and Tree Solutions, discussed proper drip system, pruning and fertilization regimes that are appropriate for trees.

“There are several things you need to consider when looking at mature trees,” Borkowski said. “Certainly you want to look at irrigation on a mature tree. With our desert climate, oftentimes trees have outgrown their irrigation. So you want to make sure you have enough emitters to your trees.”

Borkowski said most saplings are planted with only four emitters, which are fine for young trees, but that mature trees can need up to eight or 12 emitters. Because of the area’s oil, trees often also need advanced fertilization to keep trees looking healthy.

Some mature trees also need regular pruning, he said. Palm trees should be pruned at the end of June, after all the seeds have come out, Borkowski said. Most other trees can be pruned in late fall, he said. He advised homeowners and communities to hire an expert, though, as over-pruning or topping could kill a tree.

One major issue facing homeowners associations and private homeowners is stunted growth. Borkowski advised those who have trees that don’t ever seem to get bigger to call in an arborist to assess whether changes should be made in the watering or fertilization schedule.

The best way to ensure good tree growth, though, is to select species that do well in the desert climate. Borkowski recommended homeowners and communities plant drought-tolerant trees that will be able to handle the heat and full light.

Another important landscaping issue for homeowners and communities is water conservation. Pete Luna, vice president of Classic Landscapes and Tree Solutions, discussed easy ways to avoid wasting water in your yard or common areas. He said he sees two common sources of water waste: run-off or water leaking from sprinkler systems and overwatering.

Luna said that one of the most common side effects of turf conversion in the valley is a loss of nutrients that trees formerly got when the lawn was fertilized. When the lawn is removed and mature plants are watered by drip irrigation system, they need to get the fertilizer from another source. Luna recommends installing a fertilization system that feeds fertilizer into the drip irrigation system, so plants are fertilized every time they are watered.

Luna stressed that hiring a qualified landscaping contractor can save money in the long run, because they will prevent common landscape problems. “One of the easiest ways to save money is to always be sure to invest, renovate and inspect the irrigation system to make sure it’s operating in the most efficient manner possible,” he said.

To watch the episode, click here.

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