Monthly Archives

November 2016

Sales and 10x life: Meet Grant Cardone

By | Landscaping, Tips | No Comments

Like most landscape professionals, I have a few private clients. Just as I finished my lawn care duties on my bi-weekly run on the Westwood Plateau, I noticed the house next door was for sale. Open house scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. The landscaping looked awful. The owners had clearly moved out.

This is where Grant Cardone comes in. He is a millionaire sales professional, speaker, author and real estate investor in the USA. I have several of his books on audio. I took away two key ideas from his writings.

A) We are all selling

You may not be in sales but it’s guaranteed you are selling daily. If not goods, then ideas and projects to your partner, family, friends, co-workers, etc. I had always considered sales people to be high-pressure hustlers. A bit sleazy. Some are. But I’ve changed. I’m selling my services and ideas all the time.

B) 10x your life

The second powerful idea is to 10x your life. Whatever you are doing, do it ten times better. For example, my side-hustle landscaping income. My study of the landscaping industry.

Back to Westwood Plateau. The home for sale clearly needed some attention. List price: $1.12 million. So I called the selling realtor. A rare cold call for me! She agreed that the landscaping could use attention. Could I cut it on Friday? Of course. She cut me a cheque and left it on the front porch. Done deal. Double what the lady next door pays me!

I cut and edged the front lawns. Blade edging clearly had not been done for months so I re-established all hard edges. Courtesy blow closed out the session. Then the buying agent showed up. His Porsche driving clients wondered if I came with the house. Very funny.



Grass cut, edges re-established, crack weeds buzzed down.


Action steps

Get to know Grant Cardone and improve your sales. Take your life and 10x everything. See what happens.

If you see me hustling on the Westwood Plateau, say Hi.



Abiotic tree injuries: girdling

By | Arborist Insights, Landscaping, Strata Maintenance, Tips | No Comments

Tree girdling

As landscape supervisor and arborist I reported for duty one fine spring day in White Rock. The request was to check on a dead Acer palmatum tree. Great, let’s see. What I found was a classic example of abiotic tree injury: girdling. In this case it was caused by an overzealous bird lover. The bird feeder string was left in place too long. Once the tree grows and “swallows” the string, there is nothing we can do. Nothing.

Tree girdling leads to two huge problems:

a) It restricts the flow of water and nutrients up the tree. The branch above the constriction eventually starves and dies. See the pictures below.

b) Trees fail at the point of constriction.



This tree owner is a bird feeder fanatic. Top area is clearly dead.



The only life is below the girdling zone where water and nutrients can reach.


Forgotten pines


Sadly, it got worse. An adjacent property has a long wild zone fence line. Hidden in the vegetation are staked pines. Staked and forgotten. The result is the same as above or worse, where the whole pine expired. I presume the pines started leaning and someone staked them with ArborTie. This material replaces wire and hose, it’s cheaper, safe, soft and simple to use.

But in the case below the arbortie was incorrectly tied with knots and left. Since the pines were leaning, there was no “play” on the arbortie. It should be checked periodically. Remember this is a low-profile wild zone between homes and a city park.




This pine was one of many; staked and forgotten.


Action steps

What can we do? Nothing against birds but tree owners should be discouraged from installing bird feeders on their trees. But if they must, then let’s at least use appropriate materials and check on the install periodically to prevent girdling. We can’t reverse girdling.



Believe in Bergenia cordifolia

By | gardening, Landscaping, Plant Species Information | No Comments

First contact

My first encounter with Bergenia cordifolia was several years ago with my manager. She bent down and furiously started rubbing the leaves to demonstrate how the plant got its common name ‘pigsqueak’. And so we all rubbed the leaves to learn our lesson. Some no doubt turned their thoughts to bacon.


Fast forward to 2016. Out on a site walk with my boss and the garden liaison, I was shocked when the lady asked us about removing a huge clump of Bergenia. What? Really? One person decides on a large landscape edit? They obviously had not flowered yet and they were in a perfect location close to a sidewalk. Bergenia form nice clumps but don’t spread quickly. Luckily the lady got side-tracked with other projects.

Then, at home one day in summer, seeking happiness by de-cluttering, I ran into a clipping from March 2008. It was a Garden West magazine article by Carol Hall. In it she correctly defends Bergenias. Finally, one person that made sense. Let the pigs squeak. Forever.

Plant details

Siberia and Himalayas native, this early-blooming perennial is tough as nails. Once it is established, it requires very little maintenance. I remove any brown leaves before liaisons get upset; and I remove spent flower stalks. That’s it.

Hall thinks that Bergenia’s lack of popularity stems from being stuck in 4 inch nursery containers. To fully appreciate the plant you have to see it established in your garden. I believe she is right. See my pictures below.

Other than situated by sidewalks, Bergenias are also good for front border definition and as year-round accents in mixed landscaping. You can also mass them under deciduous trees.



A salvaged specimen on my patio. Not much of a show but I love the leathery leaves.



A lonely single plant with flowers




Much better in a clump. Note the only real maintenance: snip out spent flower stalks and remove any brown leaves.



A high-profile church location with Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ above


Give Bergenia cordifolia a chance in your garden.

Landscape maintenance mistakes, vol.3

By | Edging, gardening, Landscaping, Lawn Care | No Comments

Here is volume three examining basic mistakes made in landscape maintenance. Learning from other people’s mistakes is much easier. It speeds up our progress. And to become landscape professionals we must progress. That’s mandatory.


A) Re-fuelling like pigs

Sure, accidents can happen. But unnecessary fuel spills cost money, they pollute the environment and they look awful. Imagine if you park your truck in the same spot once a week. It becomes an eye-sore and a potential source of complaints.

Gas up on tarps. (Stay away from grass as it burns and turns yellow.)




B) Don’t leave deep edging chunks behind

Proper deep edging requires a 90 degree edge. Nothing else will do. As you deep edge you will most likely generate some turf chunks. When you clean up, remove all chunks. Finesse the bed like a pro.



Inadequate clean-up; note weeds and chunks



Much better!


C) Mower collisions with trees

This is horrific. One collision may be fine. The tree will be forced to spend precious resources on fixing the damage, instead of on growing. Repeated collisions will kill the tree as water flow is interrupted. Keep your mowers away from trees. Period. Put up tree guards.



A tight fit. To stay on the curb, the mower deck collides with tree bark. Weekly!?


D) Stepping on frosty lawns

If you can help it, stay off frosty lawns. When the lawn is frosty, the grass blades have little oxygen and water inside. That means they can not bounce back the way they do in summer. They get crushed.



Stay off frosty lawns if possible


photo 3

With little water and oxygen inside frosty grass blades they can’t bounce back and get crushed.


E) Mohawks

Mohawks result from improper overlap. When you finish mowing a line, pivot on the back wheel as you turn. Do not move the back wheel, just spin it around. That should get you nicely lined up.

Mohawks also result from failure to mow straight in laser lines. It takes some practice. The mohawks must be fixed because one week later they will be really noticeable. Practice mowing until you eliminate mohawks forever.



A huge Mohawk. Practice!

Have fun in the field.