Partner Post: Gardening Without a Garden: Ideas for Your Patio or Balcony

It’s a common story: You have a balcony, but you don’t really use it like you could. It might be because it’s an awkward space or that it lacks privacy, but don’t fear – we have tips to outfit your balcony and transform it into a lush retreat you’ll want to spend time in (and your neighbors will be jealous of). Start with the furniture. It’ important to think about how you’ll use your balcony. Do you want a space to enjoy your meals, a cup of coffee, or glass of wine? Or are you looking for a place to lounge and read a book on a gorgeous sunny day? Be sure to select comfortable outdoor-friendly furniture that suits your style. Here, we brought in a vintage bistro table and a couple of chairs — fun flea-market finds — to create a space where you can enjoy an al fresco meal or start your weekend off the right way. To give the balcony more character, we added a coat of paint to the floor. The soft blue contrasts the beige walls and gives the impression there’s an outdoor rug. To enhance that feel, we use stencils to add a subtle design to the floor. Want something softer? Feel free to use an outdoor-friendly rug! There’s a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors available, making it easy to personalize%2

Source: Partner Post: Gardening Without a Garden: Ideas for Your Patio or Balcony

Unique Ways to Celebrate Father’s Day

Father’s Day could use a little more creativity, steering away from another bottle of after-shave or a tie. Put a little more time and thought into dear ol’ dad’s gift this year. Think about something he loves and work up a fun day dedicated to it. If that “something” is enjoying a good meal, plan a brunch table set with his favorite “feast.” Grill his favorite burger and perhaps go German with a beer served in a stein. Set the table using brown or earth tones and masculine themes. Use another stein to drop some deep orange roses in for a centerpiece. Go all out with every detail. Just for dad Show your father that you love him with these unique ideas: Book a tee time at his local golf course or reserve a pool table and deliver the invitation with a note tied to a bottle of spirits. You booked your mother a spa day — why not send dad in for a day of pampering treatments that range from a soothing shave to a golf-themed massage? Pick movies you know your father will love. Invite family and friends ahead of time and arrange the room so there is plenty of theater seating. Create a concession stand or bar area, buy every candy you can think of, and make fresh popcorn. Turn down the lights and create a preview that includes a video message from the family dedicated to Dad.

By Clare Miers

Source: Unique Ways to Celebrate Father’s Day

Prescribed Fires Reduce Tree Death from Drought

THREE RIVERS, Calif. — A new study from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service shows that thinning forests with prescribed fire can reduce the effects of drought. Climate change is expected to amplify drought conditions in California so using science to better understand the impacts of drought is of great importance to resource managers such as the National Park Service. Drought-related tree mortality at a low elevation forest in Sequoia National Park. Public domain “There is a lot of research showing that climate change is already increasing drought frequency and severity,” said Phillip van Mantgem, USGS forest ecologist and lead author of the study. “Our study indicated that when some trees were removed using prescribed fire, the remaining trees were more likely to survive during the drought. The use of prescribed fire prior to drought may help forests by allowing the remaining trees to have more water during times of stress.”

Researchers studied low elevation conifer forests in areas that had recently experienced severe drought in Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks, examining data from almost 10,000 individual coniferous trees, including familiar species such as ponderosa pine, white fir and Douglas fir. They used this information to estimate the risk factors involved in tree mortality, and found greater tree mortality in forests that were not burned before the onset of drought in 2012. The study is published in the journal Fire Ecology.

“If current warming trends continue, we can expect to see more frequent tree deaths following drought, which can lead to substantial changes in forests,” said Dr. van Mantgem. “But managers may be able to blunt the effects of drought by using prescribed fire as a tool for forest health.”

The analysis only considered the impacts of drought in 2012 and 2014, and future research is planned to include the continued effect of drought in 2015 and an understanding of how lower numbers of trees might influence tree survival. This ongoing research addresses key uncertainties facing future forests, and will include areas outside of the southern Sierra Nevada.

“Understanding the relationship between drought, fire, and tree mortality from fires adds some important wrinkles to how we manage forests,” said Tony Caprio, a fire ecologist with Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and study co-author. “One of our goals is to reduce risks of undesirable wildfire using prescribed fire. Maybe prescribed fire can also help prepare these forests for a drier future.”

Source: Prescribed Fires Reduce Tree Death from Drought

Cleary Bros. trains employees weekly

landscape skills training


The photo is of a morning training session.  We take time after the morning warm-up to present  skills and safety.  Here an experienced foreman reviews how to properly use a string trimmer.  If used correctly, these are very effective tools.  One of our Core Values is Constant Improvement.  If we are not moving forward, we move backward.

Californians’ Water Conservation Stays Strong at 26% in April | Association of California Water Agencies

water drip hose

Californians’ Water Conservation Stays Strong at 26% in April Submitted by Pamela Martineau on Mon, 06/06/2016 – 3:39pm in Water Supply Challenges All Water News Californians’ water conservation remained strong in April with residents statewide reducing water use by 26% over the same month in 2013, according to figures released today by the State Water Resources Control Board. Officials with the State Water Board praised the strong conservation figure and encouraged water agencies and residents to keep up the good work. They said 60% of the state remains in severe drought and many reservoirs and groundwater basins remain depleted. They also stressed that the state’s shift away from a state-mandated local conservation target to a locally developed target does not mean st

Source: Californians’ Water Conservation Stays Strong at 26% in April | Association of California Water Agencies

CCWD Removes Drought Mandates, Temporary Drought Charge

CCWD Removes Drought Mandates, Temporary Drought Charge Contra Costa Water District customers did a remarkable job conserving water and helping the District through the recent drought.For the month of April, you used 33 percent less water when compared to 2013. Since June, you have used 34 percent less water than in the same period in 2013. Together, we exceeded the goal of saving 28 percent. Because of your efforts, a decent winter and the state easing state-wide drought regulations, the District’s Board of Directors made some important changes to the conservation program established last year. Here are the changes you need to know: Elimination of a Mandatory Conservation Target For the past year, we required you to conserve a specific percentage of water when compared to your 2013 use. This requirement has been eliminated. Elimination of Temporary Price Adjustment Last year, the District implemented a temporary price adjustment, seen on the bill as a Drought Charge. In keeping our promise to customers, this temporary price adjustment concludes with meters read on or after June 6. Please note bills for meters read before June 6 may arrive mid-June. Elimination of Two-day Per Week Limit on Outdoor Irrigation You are no longer required to limit outdoor watering to two days per week. Water

Source: CCWD Removes Drought Mandates, Temporary Drought Charge