ALCC news center
Mari Medrano honored for labor perspective article Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Wednesday, July 13, 2022 04:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

The challenge of finding seasonal workers in the landscape industry and other seasonal industries has been an ongoing challenge for at least a couple of decades.

Mari Medrano, human resources director at CoCal Landscape, Denver has more than 20 years’ experience working with foreign workers on H-2B legal guest worker visas. In spring 2021, Medrano wrote the article, H-2B: An Employer Perspective for Turf magazine and in spring 2022 her article received first place from the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association.

This editorial/opinion article highlighted her real-life experiences, and subsequent learning, from two decades of working with foreign workers on H-2B visas. She said the process is time-consuming and there are no guarantees a company will be granted workers from the program. “If you think you know what you’re doing, this program— with constantly changing government regulations and attacks from H-2B opponents—will knock you to your knees. It’s anguishing, hair-pulling, frustrating and dumbfounding, but also very fulfilling and rewarding,” she wrote.

Medrano thinks of the people who depend on her to get those visas, most especially the ones who have returned over many years. On top of the pressure to complete the process correctly and quickly, she also feels a personal burden for the workers and their families who depend on the visas.

Five nursery pros share their perspective Email
Written by Becky Garber-Godi   
Wednesday, July 13, 2022 03:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

The diverse plant palette you once enjoyed with consistent availability and a range of sizes may not only be up in the air this year, but for years to come. What to expect going forward depends on more complex scenarios than how rising fuel costs in 2022 drove up freight costs and then plant costs.

Behind-the-scenes insights came from two reps for wholesale plant growers and the owners of three wholesale nurseries along the Front Range: Wholesale grower reps Kent Broome (Rocky Mountain Horticulture Services) and David Dickey (DWD Plant Sales) joined Front Range nursery professionals, Dan Wise (Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery), Stanley Brown, Jr., (Alameda Wholesale Nursery, Englewood) and Matt Edmundson (Arbor Valley Nursery, Brighton) to share perspectives.

What’s up with plant supply?

Wholesale growers and nurseries have risk-taking in their DNA. They live or die by the weather as it’s either their best friend or their worst enemy. As Stanley Brown, Jr., notes, “Hail and drought will always be factors beyond our control. Hail can destroy an entire operation in an afternoon.”

Then there’s demand. Wholesale growers say they do their best to assess future demand and plant trees and shrubs accordingly. And sometimes information they get changes. “There is a disconnect between the supply side and the demand,” shared Matt Edmundson. For example, “Cities wanting more diversity in their tree canopy specify trees and after those trees are in the ground for a while, they change from one oak variety to another. We growers can’t hit a switch for instant change.”

3 water-minded businesses celebrate anniversaries Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Wednesday, July 13, 2022 02:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Ewing celebrates 100 Years

Saving water is their mantra. Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply, Inc., hit the 100-year milestone this year with celebrations in branches from coast to coast and among the Ewing family members who have led its successes across four generations. For more than 25% of those years, Ewing has had a major presence in Colorado through selling irrigation products, exhibiting at ProGreen EXPO, supporting Day of Service projects and more.

Ewing’s first Colorado store offered irrigation supplies beginning in 1996 with the Highlands Ranch location, which is still operating. Most recently, Ewing chose Colorado as the launching point for expanding its products into Ewing Landscape Materials, which offers a full range of bulk landscape materials and hardscaping products. Ewing’s first bulk supply location in the country opened here in March 2018.

According to Scott Atwell, regional manager for Colorado, offering additional products that meet more than irrigation needs “rounds out our opportunity to become a one-stop shop for our customers.”

DBC Irrigation Supply marks 75 years

John Alderman, the man behind this Colorado company’s ongoing success, admits he didn’t understand irrigation when he got into the business. When the original Denver Brass & Copper Company was founded, the inventory consisted of plumbing pipe and industrial supplies. By 1995, the company was already refocusing as an irrigation supplier when Alderman closed on the purchase.

“Now I appreciate what irrigation can do for the environment and our communities,” alluding to water shortages in Colorado due to growth and drought. “We are up to the challenge of spreading water more effectively across a wider population,” he confirms. Now a “recovering accountant,” he has a passion to help the industry deliver water efficiently via water-saving products and training.

Edmundson elected to AmericanHort board Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Wednesday, July 13, 2022 01:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

AmericanHort recently announced the election of four new members to the board of directors, including Matt Edmundson, president at Arbor Valley Nursery in Brighton.

The official welcome and installation took place at Cultivate’22 during July, in Columbus, Ohio. “We are excited to welcome these leaders who come from various segments of the green industry and encompass diverse experiences, skills, and backgrounds,” said Ken Fisher, president & CEO of AmericanHort.

Edmundson is a second-generation nurseryman and a third-generation owner of Arbor Valley. He has served in various leadership roles in the industry including Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association (CNGA), for which he currently serves on the board, the Colorado Horticulture Research and Education Foundation and the GreenCO legislative committee. He is an associate member at ALCC.

AmericanHort, a national organization, has the mission of unifying and cultivating successful horticulture businesses across the numerous segments of the industry—including greenhouse and nursery growers, retailers, distributors, interior and exterior landscaper professionals, florists, educators and more—and for the industry to enhance people’s lives through the benefits of plants.

Why hire women? Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Wednesday, June 22, 2022 04:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

With workforce being the #1 challenge within the landscape industry, some recruiters feel the immediacy of tapping into the half of our population that is poorly represented in landscape jobs at all levels. What would happen if women rose from only 10% of those employed in landscape jobs to 30 or even 50%? How much more work could get done?  

Char Farley Chacon, residential construction team manager, Designscapes Colorado, and her team of women volunteers from other ALCC companies are taking on the challenge to recruit and help more women be successful in the industry. As the “Women in Green” luncheon at ProGreen EXPO 2022 showed, women at all levels throughout the industry are ready to move on in their landscape careers and to bring other women along with them—including women who currently know nothing about the industry.

“There are things the men, who own 83% of landscape companies nationwide, may need to know about having more women employees and the strengths they bring to their work,” says Chacon. Women by nature are caregivers. “Many of us are moms” and often sandwiched between caring for kids and aging parents. Yet, they still work outside the home. The women who are juggling many plates in their personal lives while holding down a job also know a thing or two about management— both people and things.

Working in the heat? Tips to stay safe Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Wednesday, June 22, 2022 03:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

If you are working outside in the heat, be cautious and attentive to signals of your body. You are more likely to become dehydrated and get heat-related illness. If you feel faint or weak, STOP all activity and get to a cool place [Español]

To help protect people’s lives, CDC (Centers for Disease Prevention and Control) provides the following guidelines. More details can be found here.

  • Prevent heat illness with acclimatization. Gradually increase exposure to working in the heat over several days and know that acclimatization loses effectiveness if exposure not exposed for about a week or more.
  • Drink plenty of water, and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing large amounts of sugar.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Ask if tasks can be scheduled for earlier or later in the day to avoid midday heat.
  • Wear a brimmed hat and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Spend time in air-conditioned buildings during breaks and after work.
  • Encourage co-workers to take breaks to cool off and drink water.
  • Follow additional tips on how to prevent heat-related illness.
Six underutilized trees and shrubs in Colorado landscapes Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Wednesday, June 22, 2022 02:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Dr. Jim Klett, CSU professor, department of horticulture and landscape architecture, believes these six plants shown to be successful in Colorado CSU trials should be used more in landscapes. Horticulture and forestry students help maintain the test sites with support from Colorado Horticulture Research and Education Foundation (CHREF), J. Frank Schmidt Charitable Trust, Bailey Nurseries, Inc., Colorado Agriculture Experiment Station and numerous local and national nurseries. Visit these woody plants in person in Fort Collins or see more in the May/June issue of Colorado Green magazine.

Acer saccharum ‘Barret Cole’ – Apollo Sugar Maple - Obtained from J. Frank Schmidt and Son Co. in 2014

This clone of sugar maple has a narrower columnar growth habit maturing to about 25 feet tall and about 10 feet wide. Foliage is dark green in the summer with impressive yellow-orange to red color in fall. Flowers are not important.

Acer saccharum ‘JFS – Caddo 2’ PP 23361 – Flashfire Maple - Obtained from J. Frank Schmidt and Son Co. in 2010

This sugar maple clone has an impressive yellow to orange reddish fall color which matures even darker during the fall. It matures to about 40 to 50 feet in height and 30 to 35 feet in width. Overall, it develops into a broad oval growth habit.
It's getting hot out there! Help your lawn beat the heat. Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Wednesday, June 22, 2022 01:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Looks like temps are heating up again. Your lawn might start to look brown or stressed but resist the urge to simply water more. There are good reasons NOT to turn up the water until you check what's going on with the lawn. There are fungus problems that can turn your lawn brown—almost overnight. And if you crank up the water, you'll only make it worse.

When lawns begin to stress, the color turns blueish gray before it looks like straw. If you walk across it and can see footprints 30 minutes later, it's stressed.

Try the screwdriver test
Use a screwdriver to make sure the soil really is dry. Push a screwdriver into the soil, and if it goes easily into the soil, don't water more. Let the soil dry out a little before you water next. Water-logged soil can damage the lawn more than letting it get too dry.

If you have brown patches and the screwdriver doesn’t go in easily in those patches, you may have a sprinkler problem that's keeping water from reaching that area. Don't make your whole sprinkler system run longer just for a few brown spots.

Test your sprinkler system
Run your sprinkler system during the daytime to see what is going on. The problem could be as simple as the sprinkler shooting in the wrong direction. Hot weather can reveal the weak areas of our sprinkler systems, and sometimes a little hand watering of stressed areas is all you need to do.

If you have to increase watering times in a heat wave, remember to adjust it back when temperatures cool again. Reduce watering times by running each cycle a couple of minutes less.

Reduce lawn stress with proper care

Water between 10 PM and 6 AM to lose less water to evaporation and to avoid fungus problems.

Mow the lawn a little higher. If you mow at 3 inches or a bit higher, the grass blades will shade the soil to retain moisture and reduce heat stress.

Make sure the sprinkler system is in top working order. Making simple adjustments and quick repairs ensures that your lawn is being watered properly.

Get ready for pollinator week Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Tuesday, June 07, 2022 04:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Pollinator Week, an initiative of Pollinator Partnership, is celebrated June 20-26 this year. According to Pollinator Partnership, this annual dedication to pollinators is to recognize and promote the “valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, moths, wasps, and flies.”

Pollinator health is a growing concern among consumers, and homeowners are often looking for ways to support pollinators in their landscapes. Landscape companies can use Pollinator Week—and the weeks leading up to it—to promote pollinator-friendly practices as well as other sustainable practices.

Several resources are available suggesting pollinator-friendly plants. It’s best to make plant selections that are either native to Colorado or have been shown to work well in this climate. Check and the Colorado Native Plant Society for recommendations. Also, Pollinator Partnership offers Ecoregional Planting Guides.

Pollinators love Silver Fountain butterfly bush Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Tuesday, June 07, 2022 03:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

One of the largest pollinator shrubs for western landscapes is Plant Select’s Silver Fountain butterfly bush (Buddleja alternifolia ‘Argentea’). When in bloom, thousands of lavender flower clusters explode every couple inches down the tips of cascading branches. This large plant can resemble the finale of a fireworks display when planted in full sun. In shadier situations, the curvature of sun lusting branches offers a mystic or spooky appearance. Each planting can be unique depending on placement, maintenance and maturity, but in all situations, the massive number of flowers will attract bees and several species of butterflies. The quarter-inch tubular flowers with darker violet centers radiate out in clusters at every leaf node making the Silver Fountain butterfly bush a show-stopping garden plant from mid-May to mid-June. The nectar from these pleasantly fragrant flowers is enjoyed by monarchs and several species of swallowtails.

Landscape contractors: do you have your nursery license? Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Tuesday, June 07, 2022 02:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

Landscape companies, as entities that sell (including resale), distribute, or advertise with the intent to sell or distribute nursery stock, must be licensed, and registered annually with the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA). CDA is reaching out to those who are not registered.

According to the CDA: Companies that sell or distribute nursery stock for commercial purposes must register as a “nursery” with the CDA. All growing nurseries (including sod farms), retailers that sell nursery stock, landscape contractors, brokers, and collectors must register if selling or distributing nursery stock for commercial purposes.

If you overseed or hydroseed, you will need a retail seed dealer license as well.

According to Rich Guggenheim, Plant Health Certification Manager of the Division of Plant Industry, “Any contractor who is selling any seed, would need to have a retail seed license. This is like the big box store or small garden center that sells bags of turf seed or packages of vegetable and flower seed to customers. We will not differentiate under the Seed Act if the contractor applies the seed to commercial or residential sites. Anyone retailing seed, regardless of amount, needs a retail seed license.”
GreenCO legislative update – 2022 session Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Tuesday, June 07, 2022 01:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

The Second Regular Session of the 73rd General Assembly concluded as of May 11th. There were 657 bills introduced this year, 418 by the House and 239 by the Senate. There were 143 bills Postponed Indefinitely or died on the calendar. Throughout the session GreenCO continued to weigh in on multiple pieces of legislation that effect both the industry and the business community as a whole.

GreenCO tracked over 50 bills that covered many different issues including, workforce development, employer mandates, water, and simplification of sales and use tax just to name a few. GreenCO took positions on multiple bills.

Now that the 2022 session is over, the interim looks to be a busy one. It will be filled with interim committees, rulemakings, as well as gearing up for the 2022 elections in November. It is anticipated to be an important election year as it is will be the first election since redistricting and the Republicans are looking to close the gap in the House and in the Senate. As usual, GreenCO will be conducting candidate interviews in August and deciding which candidates to support/endorse.

Below is a list of some of the high-level bills that GreenCO worked on during the session.

Zak George Landscaping hires HR manager Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Tuesday, May 24, 2022 04:00 AM

Colorado Green Now

When is the right time, you may ask? Zak George, owner of Zak George Landscaping (ZGL), Fort Collins, says “In my opinion, once you cross the 50-employee mark it’s worth having an HR department, if the company has a growth mindset.”

In 2019 he thought it was time for his company to establish a formal HR department. But he took his time. He wanted the right fit. “We want to attract the best possible talent to the company,” George says. “That meant we needed someone who knows the people side of things. It’s a different skill set, one our leadership team thought would complement the rest of the team and help the company grow to the next level.”

At the time, ZGL had around 30 year-round employees with numbers growing to nearly 80 when including seasonal employees—both H-2B and nationals.

In late 2019, ZGL hired David Curtis as the company’s first HR Manager. “People were probably curious to see how it would work out,” Curtis reflects. “I have a degree in psychology, not HR, and this was a new position at the company. Among other factors, I think Zak hired me because of my experience managing a branch within a large corporation where I often handled the HR functions.

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