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The Big One: Thinking green

December 1, 2021 -  By
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Company: Myatt Landscaping
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.

With 1,600 acres, 1,650 residents, 20-plus preserved parks, two schools and a shopping center, Briar Chapel was designed as a large, planned community of National Association of Homebuilders-certified green homes.

Myatt Landscaping started performing full-time maintenance at the site in 2011. Now, three crews of 14 staff members are on-site year-round and take care of mowing, fertilization, seasonal color rotation, weed management, pruning and snow removal.

“Briar Chapel was our first large community,” says John Davis, maintenance account manager. “It started on the install side of things. That led to us maintaining those areas we installed, and it blossomed from there.”

Challenges include working around other trades because the community is still under construction; considering water restrictions; and community regulations stating that only organic products can be used. Having dedicated crews on-site every day allows the company to take care of the weeds in the turf and beds without traditional chemical controls and to accommodate the limitations on irrigation.

“Briar Chapel has always had a ‘green’ mindset, so we’ve adjusted,” Davis says. “We’re also trying different electric and battery-powered equipment to see if that’s a good fit.”

The project won Myatt Landscaping a Silver Award from the 2020 National Association of Landscape Professionals’ Awards of Excellence program.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

There are roughly 500,000 square feet of tall fescue and 500,000 square feet of zoysia throughout the public spaces within the Briar Chapel community. The company maintains these spaces weekly, and there are separate schedules of fertilization, fungicide, aeration and overseeding for the warm-season and cool-season turfgrasses.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

There are 3,000 square feet of seasonal flower beds throughout the community, which Myatt Landscaping maintenance crews installed and maintained, including more than 4,000 bulbs installed every November. Around 800 cubic yards of shredded hardwood mulch and 21,000 bales of pine straw are installed in the landscape beds every year.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

The Veranda is the retail center included in the community. Crews maintain the frontage along the highway and the entrances. The additional pedestrian, vehicle and bicycle traffic as well as stormwater runoff from the highway, make turf and erosion management challenging.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

Because the Veranda is adjacent to a major highway, it is important to keep the extensive seasonal flower and landscape beds looking great. Crews follow a seasonal pruning schedule that keeps all shrubs and trees healthy and looking their best.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

There are miles of walking and biking trails throughout the community. Myatt’s team keeps the paths, which are surfaced in Chapel Hill grit, carefully raked and leveled, and the company adds additional grit as needed to fill areas that wash out. Crews maintain the miles of rustic trails through the woods. Washed out areas are repaired and fallen trees and tree branches are removed.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

In addition to seasonal flowers and shrubs, there are extensive perennial plantings in many of the public parks and along the roadways. These are maintained by hand weeding, organic fertilization and yearly pruning.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

There are multiple playgrounds incorporated in the 20-plus parks within Briar Chapel. Crews keep these areas clean, make sure the mulch remains at regulation levels and maintain the turf areas, which take a lot of wear and tear both from children playing and from community events hosted in the parks.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

There are multiple picnic shelters and pavilions available for community use. Crews keep the plantings and turf around these areas well-maintained, empty the trash receptacles, and keep all the hard surfaces blown off.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

Deer are a constant challenge when it comes to the seasonal flower plantings. Many of the beds are netted to help prevent damage, and other beds are treated with animal repellent.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

Crews cut back thousands of ornamental grasses and perennials every spring. The bulbs and winter flowers provide plenty of color while the rest of the landscape is being prepared for spring.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

There are 48 stormwater retention ponds throughout Briar Chapel. Many are planted with native grasses and perennials to provide habitat for wildlife and filtration for pollutants in the water. Crews focus on managing the vegetation and keeping the ponds looking neat.

Landscape project at Chapel Hill (Photo: Brian Mullins)

Photo: Brian Mullins

The visitor center and pool area are an important feature of the community due to the high volume of foot traffic from both residents and future residents. Crews keep the hard surfaces clean, maintain the turf, landscape beds, street trees, seasonal flower beds and containers looking great with weekly and seasonal services.

 

Sarah Webb

About the Author:

Sarah Webb is Landscape Management's managing editor. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Wittenberg University, where she studied journalism and Spanish. Prior to her role at LM, Sarah was an intern for Cleveland Magazine and a writing tutor. She can be reached at swebb@northcoastmedia.net.

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