Gardeners’ Guild Helps Girl Scouts Pick Up Christmas Trees in Sonoma Valley

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Last weekend, Robert Mercado, Manager at Gardeners’ Guild helped the Girl Scouts of Sonoma Valley pick up Christmas trees from 42 residents. The troop also collected $300 in donations. Christmas trees, (shown below) are loaded in Robert’s trailer headed for recycling. Troop #10240 brought much end-of-holiday cheer to residents glad to have one item crossed off their 2018 To Do list!     

Solutions to 4 Landscape Drainage Problems

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I’ve updated our post about drainage from March of this year. We talk again about solutions to landscape drainage problems. There is additional detail added including graphics that describe the drainage problems and solutions. One of the solutions described below is a dry creek bed. It was a project of Gardeners’ Guild at Spring Lake Village. 1. Hardscape with Standing Water Includes patios, pavers, driveways, parking lots and steps. If these areas have had standing water for some time it could be due to these issues listed below Improper grading Your hardscape may not have the proper slope and is directing water toward the building foundation.  Blocked drains Tree roots, leaves, mulch and other debris can blow into the drain from winds and rain Corroded pipes Over time, your drainage pipes deteriorate and will eventually collapse. The Risks Water can put your structure’s foundation at risk. Storm water carries with it chemicals, debris, dirt, pesticides and other toxins. Solutions for Standing Water  Regrading.  Over time a property will settle. Clear out drain grates and pipes (make a plan for their regular future maintenance) Arrange gravel around the perimeter of drain grate to deter debris from blowing in. On larger hardscaped commercial property areas more drains may be required. 2. Flooded Turf The culprit can be grading but a more likely offender is compacted soil. Summer drought conditions and degraded soil will shrink pore space that normally accepts water and nutrients. High foot traffic will also contribute to soil compaction. You can identify it by its hard surface. Soil texture needs to be loose enough to allow water to pass through. Clay soil, common in the San Francisco Bay Area is the opposite! The Risks When water pools on top for a prolonged period, turfgrass will decline and rot. You can observe it by smell – foul odor.  You will also notice grey, red or orange spots and insects. Solutions for Flooded Turf Re-grading Aeration. The soil is perforated which opens up its pores to allow nutrients and moisture. (See graphic above) Build a dry creek bed.  It is a gully or a trench usually lined with stones and edged with plants to mimic the look of a stream.  They are beautiful and will help with drainage. See example below. 3. Flooded Planter bed and other planted areas   A planted area or bed should be designed to allow the water to flow out and be distributed to other areas.  A proper slope needs to be calculated with a site level during the design process. The Risk Plant root damage will occur if soil is saturated for a prolonged period. When soil’s abililty to absorb water is tapped out it is considered saturated. Solutions for Flooded Planter Beds Re-grading will help with slope problem. Correcting this involves directing surface water to the lowest spot on the property which will empty into a drainage ditch, catch basin or well. Good options include: Creed beds (illustration above) French drains Bioswales. Increasingly popular and […]

Will San Francisco’s Street Tree Maintenance Timetable Work For You?

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San Francisco Street Tree Maintenance Implementation Schedule The passage of Proposition E last November, was welcome news for San Francisco property owners. There is, however, a lengthy start up period as San Francisco’s street tree maintenance implementation doesn’t begin until 2019. Depending on the type, health or age of the tree, waiting until that time could be problematic. Consider That Trees Should be Evaluated Annually It is ideal to have an Arborist evaluate a tree’s condition and advise if pruning is necessary. Generally, some trees may need annual pruning. Others bi-annually and others an “as needed” basis. Reasons for pruning a tree. Maintain its health Reduce risk of failure from dead or weak branches Improve tree structure Save a storm or wind damaged tree Safety Provide clearance Mitigate risk that weak branches could fall Other reasons Improve aesthetics Manage flower or fruit production San Francisco’s Responsibility – A snapshot Effective as of July 1st San Francisco Street Tree Maintenance Responsibility Includes Maintaining all San Francisco street trees within The City limits Any sidewalk repair due to tree root damage Any injuries and property damage resulting from failure to maintain the trees Street Tree Maintenance Implementation Schedule Order of Priority First – trees in decline or that pose safety threats. This work is expected to last two years. Routine pruning schedule will be posted July 2018 Routine pruning will not start until 2019 Trees will be subsequently scheduled for pruning every 3-5 years. Exclusions Any tree pruning requests from The City prior to July 1st. The property owner is responsible for that work. Sidewalk repair not due to tree roots. San Francisco’s Urban Forest Vision Proposition E, the ordinance describing The City’s street tree maintenance program is Phase I of an overall vision for growing San Francisco’s Urban Forest. It was a collaboration of SF Public Works, and Friends of the Urban Forest.  Trees were inventoried and placed on a map Friends of the Urban Forest highlights their goals as Increase The City’s street trees by 50%. There are currently 125,000 street trees. Improve maintenance efficiency and effectiveness Ensure a more equitable distribution of trees throughout San Francisco’s neighborhoods If You Choose to not Wait Until 2019 for Routine Street Tree Pruning Guidelines haven’t been formalized. You can have your trees evaluated and/or schedule work without opting out.  The City only asks for information that assures them that your Arborist conforms to ISA standards.  It can be sent in an email that includes Name of the Arborist Description of work and location A statement that asserts that the work will meet ISA standards Gardeners’ Guild is consulting with clients and non-clients whose trees have not been tagged but want work done now. Call us if you have questions about tree care. (510) 439-3700. SF Department of Public Works will also answer your questions. (415) 554-6700  

Your Poinsettia Order Will Help North Bay Fire Victims

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Order Poinsettias help North Bay fire victims Gardeners’ Guild is launching this campaign for the 2017 holiday season because of the catastrophic effects the wildfires have had on San Francisco North Bay residents.  It will take a lot of support for survivors to rebuild their lives.  And, Gardeners’ Guild wants to help.  The “how” of – Order Poinsettias help North Bay fire victims.   Gardeners’ Guild will donate 10% of each poinsettia order to help North Bay fire victims.  When to Order Poinsettias Now.  Our nurseries grow limited quantities and to ensure availability Order by the second week in November. Readers Digest calls the Poinsettia “the official flower of Christmas”.  Their cheerful colors and air cleaning properties are a winning combination.  What is included* Poinsettia delivery to your office. Maintanence from November 28th through first week in January.  Removal is the first week in Janary *See more details below about Poinsettia options colors and sizes. Gardeners’ Guild Interior Division Our interior division services San Francisco, East Bay including Richmond, Emeryville, Berkeley, Oakland; as well as Marin. We do interior plant maintenance as well as installation of plants and containers.  Lease or purchase options. Poinsettia Care Poinsettias are temperamental. They need just the right light and moisture to last through the holidays.  Leave it to us to maintain expertly. They need strong indirect light, love moisture but not too much and warmish temperatures.  How to order Interior Account Manager Angela Wrath can take your order and answer any questions. Direct: (510) 439-3707

San Francisco Bay Area – Fire Safety Tips, , , , , ,

Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by the north bay wildfires. Massive swaths of Santa Rosa decimated within hours.  Countless numbers of residents now homeless.  Other evacuees, anxiously praying for a home to return to. October, with its notorious Santa Ana winds, is upon us. Below are tips for keeping your property and family as safe as possible from fire damage. Keeping Property Safe – What We Can Do We can’t outrun Mother Nature.   But, there are actions we can take to blunt her effects. Example. It was impossible to stop the fire’s path of destruction on Sunday with 50 MPH winds.  But, we can minimize danger by creating a buffer between trees and structures.  The Cal fire website is loaded with educational materials on fire prevention. They advise on creating a “defensible space” around your home or building.  This is the best protection from the ravages of fire.  Secondarily, they suggest replacing highly flammable plants with those known to be more fire retardant. Summary of Cal Fire’s Ready Set Go Action Planner. Minimize nearby plants and create a buffer zone Zone 1 – Priority – Create a 30 foot buffer between your structure and any nearby wildlife by Trim all nearby tree canopies, remove leaf litter, and all vegetation near windows Cutting back low level flammable vegetation that can ignite a nearby tree Zone 2 – Create a 30 to 100 feet buffer Remove what Cal fire terms “ladder fuels” including low level grasses and other debris Secondary Actions to Safeguard your Property Cal Fire has a list of the most fire retardant construction materials They recommend touring a fire-ready home Included are details on advance planning for evacuation and a checklist Check out their handy infographic with tips on one page. Stay safe.

San Francisco 2017 Street Tree Ordinance Simplified, , , , ,

San Francisco 2017 Street Tree Ordinance Simplified What the ordinance is Shifts responsibility of street trees from property owner to the City of San Francisco Sidewalks damaged by trees will also the City’s responsibility (see photo below) Measure E on November 2016 ballot. 80% SF voters approved it. Measure E was the result of pressure from property owners and Friends of the Urban Forest. Start date of change: July 1, 2017 Street trees defined: A tree planted in the public right-of-way. In other words, trees on sidewalks adjacent to a property Who is affected Commercial and residential property owners and managers What Property Owners Need to Know A permit will be required for tree planting that would be in the public right of way They can continue to maintain street trees by “opting out”. There is an “opt-out” application. Street tree ordinance only applies to trees within the City limits A property owner who has received a tree pruning request from the City will still be responsible for that Property Owners can view their tree(s) on the Urban Forestry map Each tree has been inventoried and placed in 3 categories relative to their condition.  When – Plan and Timeline First – High Priority Projects Damaged trees located in the primary path of travel. See map for priority 1 & 2 Bus stops, schools, senior centers, health centers in pedestrian throughway zones Then The City begins catch up on the backlog of deferred tree pruning throughout. Public Works estimates: It could take 3 years for this to be completed A regular cycle of routine pruning will start in 2019. Trees to be pruned on a 3-5 year cycle. SF Public Works will post the schedule in July 2018. Cost $19 million dollars* No new taxes *the cost comes out of the City’s general fund.  Exceptions Sidewalks not damaged by trees are the property owner responsibility If a property owner has already received a notice to address an issue with a street tree, they are responsible for that request. For more information (415) 554-6700 or         

Report on Mosquito Prevention and Deterrents

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4 Common Drainage Problems and How To Fix Them

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The photo above is breathtaking reminder of the toll our rainy season has taken on San Francisco Bay Area residents.  El Niño surprised us with a ferocious encore performance. Many of our properties, roads and highways are still recovering. Highway 37 is an extreme example of what happens when drainage fails. Five feet of water flooded a 3-mile stretch of the highway after the heavy storms this winter. Ditches on either side of the highway act effectively as drains, keeping water from flooding the road in a typical rainy season. But, this year, back to back storms prevented them from draining. Having no place to drain the overflow, efforts by Caltrans to pump the water out were stymied.     An emergency solution included raising a portion of the roadway and fixing the drainage system by installing larger pipes, giving it greater capacity for moisture.  It seems to have worked. No unexpected weather has tested it yet, though. Does your property have any areas of standing water, mulch that is washing away, soggy grass or mosquito problems? If so you probably have poor drainage that winter storms have exposed.   hardscape with standing water Area 1 Hardscape Includes patios, pavers, driveways, parking lots and steps. If your hardscape has had standing water for sometime it could be due to these issues. Improper grading. The photo on the right is an example of pooling water showing improper grading. Blocked Drains  Debris, mulch or plant material could have gotten in from winds and rain. The Risk If the drainage problem is not resolved your structure’s foundation can be at risk. Solution Re-grading. Over time a property will settle. Clear out drain grates and pipes. They should be maintained consistently. Laying down gravel around the perimeter of the drain grate can help in its maintenance. Retaining wall. This can also resolve a slope problem.   Area 2 Turf It can be also be improper grading. But more likely it is compacted soil. Previous drought conditions and/or degraded soil will shrink its pore space that normally allows water and nutrients. You can tell if soil is compacted because its surface is hardened. Soil texture needs to be loose enough to allow water to pass through.  Clay soil, common in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the opposite. The Risk Water will pool on top and you will have soggy mess of plant material.  This is true of all plants.  They will decline and rot.  You can observe this problem by its smell – foul odors. By sight – grey, red or orange spots and insects.     Solution Re-grading can also help. Aeration.  This is perforating the soil opening up its pores to allow nutrients and moisture. Creek beds are another good solution. Area 3 Planter Beds and All Planted Areas A planted area should be designed to allow the water to flow out and be distributed to other areas.  Consider natural water flow. A proper slope needs to be calculated with a site level during […]

The Best Indoor Plants If You Have Allergies

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  Interior plants are good for your health! A ton of research proves it.  Interior plants help improve air quality, and office productivity.  Research published by NASA explains how plants clean toxic chemicals from the air such as: benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene.  These chemicals are emitted by paint, computers, carpeting, cleaning fluids, etc. A few of these plants, however, can exacerbate allergies or asthma.  If you are a sufferer and purchase plants for your office or home, this information can help.  There is a plant ranking scale, developed in 200 by Thomas Leo Ogren, called OPALS. Their rankings consider scent, pollen and contact-with-skin allergies. And, they rank plants on a scale of 1-10, 10 having the highest propensity to offend. Don’t worry.  There are plenty of alternative plants to choose from! Why do some plants aggravate allergies? Pollen. It generally comes from flowering plants and floats in the air.  While it can irritate people who are allergic it is not a big problem with indoor plants.   Dust. This is the most aggravating culprit.  Dust contains allergy causing molds, fibers and dust mites. Some plants are dust magnets. Sap. The list below highlights 2 plants with sap that can irrigate allergies. The Best For People with Allergies Notice that all these plants have smooth, glossy leaves.  It makes it harder for dust to hide.  And easier to clean. Pothos Great air purifiers! Pothos are hardy and fast growing.  Hung in containers they will trail beautifully.  Orchids What’s not to like? Besides being beautiful, they are easier to care for than you might imagine. Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllum) NASA says they are an excellent air purifier.  They remove all 5 of the most toxic chemicals. They generate a low amount of pollen.  They like bright indirect sunlight and regular water.  In fact, Spathiphyllum should never be put in direct sun light, as the rays of sun may lead to leaf burn. Sansevieria Also referred to as mother-in-law’s tongue.  This sturdy plant can thrive with low lighting.  A row of Sansevierias affects a modern architectural look to an office or lobby. Dracaenas They look tropical; have lustrous leaves and will thrive in low lighting environments!  Dracaenas quite literally pull allergens from the air and absorb them. Take Extra Care With These Plants Some Thoughts to Keep in Mind We don’t intend to confuse with this information.  Plants have an important role in purifying our air. The best way we can articulate our advice is to say: some plants can affect some people who have allergies.  The attributes of the plants listed below can trigger an allergic reaction.  Juniper (Bonsai) Members of the juniper and cedar family can irritate people with tree allergies when inside a home or office.  Juniper can also cause rashes if the skin is pricked. Wear gloves when pruning.  English Ivy Note: NASA endorses this plant because they remove 4 of the most dangerous chemicals from the air.  However, some people have skin reactions to English ivy similar to those from […]

5 Things to Know About The Bamboo Plant

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About Bamboo Adorning the perimeter of many commercial buildings, the willowy Bamboo stands, in containers and planter beds, providing screens and landscape focal points. Its reputation as a renewable resource for flooring to furniture and even fabric, make it emblematic of the sustainability movement. We maintain several sites in San Francisco with Bamboo plants and we appreciate their beauty, first-hand. They are finicky though, and need to be planted in just the right micro-climate.  Because of its heightened interest we thought you might be interested to know more about them. Each Bamboo will have slightly different characteristics so in the interest of brevity we are providing general tips that apply to most Bamboo plants. Types of Bamboo There are numerous varieties of Bamboo.  One clarification – Lucky Bamboo is actually not a Bamboo.  It comes from the Dracaena family.  Bamboo grows by spreading horizontally through “rhizomes”.  Rhizomes are modified stems running underground horizontally.  They represent a part of plant production and also store nutrients. Below to the right is a simple illustration that points out the main parts of a Bamboo plant: the Culm and Rhizome.   Clumping Bamboo One of the challenges of Bamboo is that it can be invasive.  The benefit of Clumping Bamboo is that its rhizomes do not spread so rapidly.  They are also slightly more drought tolerant.    Running Bamboo They have long Rhizomes which enable them to spread rapidly. This type of Bamboo is considered invasive.     The Best Environment for Most Bamboo Full sun. That means 5 hours of sun. Well draining soil is preferred. Amend clay soils to improve drainage. Water once or twice a week for a young Bamboo. After that time once per week or less should be sufficient Bamboo does not tolerate soil that is too saturated.  Roots that sit in water can rot.     What Stresses a Bamboo? Abundant sun combined with dry wind can stunt the growth of a Bamboo and cause winter burn. Frost can also damage a Bamboo Over-watered Bamboos can be excess yellowing foliage, rotting new canes Too much sun and heat Lack of water their leaves will curl in a “v” shape   Planting Bamboo in Containers The larger container the better.  One source suggests 18”x18” and 18” deep box is the smallest size container they recommend.  Your container should be wider than it is tall. Potting soil dries out more quickly and it needs to be moist (not wet).  Make sure your container has drainage so the plant is not sitting in water.   About Bamboo Maintenance Bamboo is dormant in the winter. Best time to fertilize is spring and summer. They need occasional pruning and thinning. Once any part of a Bamboo is cut, it will not grow back. Bamboo leaf litter is actually good for the soil. Although in urban environments it may make the base of the plant look messy. Because of how the Bamboo grows it will usually have a mixture of new and dying or […]