Looking Ahead by Matt Berry, Tree Division Manager at Cleary Bros.

tree in hand

Fall and winter are rapidly approaching. So, it’s time to start thinking about how best to care for your communities trees so they remain a beautiful and valuable part of our landscapes. Where do we start? Tree trimming plans? Proactive disease and insect control plans? Tree fertilization? The answer is “all of the above”. Our certified arborists can assess the health of your community’s urban forest and present you with a comprehensive tree care plan. Our objective is to provide your communities with the most up to date information that will help you make informed decisions regarding the health of your trees. Give Cleary Bros. a call. We’re ready to be your tree care professionals.

Pleasanton opts for new smart meters to save water – Mercury News

PLEASANTON — Residents soon will be able to look at their water use in real time, a move that city officials hope will help conserve thousands of gallons of water every day.

The $7 million project to replace nearly all of the 22,000 water meters in the city is set to begin next month. These smart meters will send out data about once an hour to a cloud-based computer system, which will then translate the information for users at home, said Leonard Olive, assistant director of operation services for Pleasanton.

Residents could then sign onto their accounts and look at, for example, how much water they just used that morning for a shower, Olive said. They can even compare their use to months before or years before on a computer or smart phone.

Gone are the days when workers had to physically go to each home’s water meter to read it and then collect the data for that residence’s water bill every two months.

About 17,000 to 19,000 meters will be replaced by March, he said. The others will be retrofitted to add on the technology that will also transmit data to the cloud, so customers can still log onto the system, called SUS, and check their water use.

Customers also can easily see if there is an unusual amount of water being consumed, an indication that there’s a leak in their system.

Although this technology would have been helpful when drought restrictions last year forced residents to limit water use or face fines, Olive said that because of the drought the project was delayed.

Source: Pleasanton opts for new smart meters to save water – Mercury News

Cleary Bros in the media again! Martin Cleary on irrigation

How Cleary Bros. Landscape helps clients save water and adapt to drought conditions.

Drought hit California hard in 2012 and continues to plague the state. While the worst of it seems to be over, Martin Cleary says it’s a time that most residents won’t soon forget.

“The drought persisted for five years, so it’s pretty much burned into everybody’s memory,” says the president of Cleary Bros. Landscape, in Danville, Calif., which has been serving the Bay Area since 1987. “Now when people think of their landscape, they think of water. They are synonymous, at least here in California.”

Fortunately, water management is something Cleary Bros. Landscape has been practicing and promoting for decades. So, the company was well prepared for the changes that needed to be made once water became such a limited resource. The $17.3-million (Actually, it’s $19.2m) company offers a menu of services that can reduce clients’ water usage by an average of 30 percent while maintaining attractive, healthy landscapes. The company serves a mostly commercial and municipal clientele, doing 47 percent mowing and maintenance, 13 percent irrigation, 13 percent tree care, 14 percent enhancements and 13 percent design/build services.

“All of our customers want to save water either because it’s the right thing to do, it’s financially what they have to do or they were mandated to by the water agencies,” says Cleary, who became a certified water auditor through the Irrigation Association in 1994. “It’s very politically incorrect right now to have a broad, deep-green lawn in California.”Turf conversions are a reality for Cleary Bros. Landscape’s clients.

Spreading the Word

While his clients wanted to save water, Cleary says most of them simply didn’t know where to start when the drought reached its peak, comparing them to “deer in headlights.” With three California Landscape Contractors Association-certified water managers and two certified water auditors on staff, the company began having conversations and educating clients about the different things they could do to reduce how much water it takes to have a healthy lawn and landscape. Cleary says they also utilized marketing materials and social media to help inform customers.

“A lot of customers, particularly the (homeowners associations), were not sure what to do, so there was a bit of a panic,” he says. “We started giving people information and having conversations with them to let them know what their options are to have healthy landscapes that are less thirsty.”

The company also stressed the importance of smart water management to its staff and crews. In 2012, it launched an internal marketing campaign to drive home the importance of being a water-conscious company. Employee newsletters always contain information about smart water use. Crew members are publicly praised for practicing smart water management. Each maintenance and irrigation truck is plastered with laminated sheets stressing the importance of saving water. Of the 21 points on the company’s quality assurance inspection performed after each maintenance job, at least five of them are water-related.

“We knew if we weren’t aggressive about it we were going to have problems,” Cleary says. “In maintenance, there is so much repetition that people would start doing things a certain way and it would be hard to change those habits.”

“We were trying to brainwash our guys into saving water,” he adds with a laugh. “And it’s worked.”

These efforts have paid off in more ways than one. The company’s proven track record of smart water use helped them secure new business, as customers looked for contractors who could not only save water but also save them money as the price of water increases.

“We saw a lot of maintenance contracts go out to bid around 2012 because of water concerns,” Cleary says. “We picked up about 30 accounts, most of which said saving water was one of their top-three drivers for choosing another contractor.”

Steps to Saving

When Cleary Bros. Landscape takes on a new account, an irrigation team is sent to assess the property. Within 90 days, the company presents the client an overview of the property, called a “takeover report,” which includes a list of ways the company can reduce the account’s water use. Cleary also provides the client a study that shows each option’s return on investment. From there, clients can choose what steps they’d like to take. The company also works with each client to create a multiyear plan to reduce water use in phases.

“Plans can be made for either irrigation upgrades, turf conversions, replacing older plants with drought-tolerant varieties, tree preservation or any combination of these,” Cleary says. “If there are budgetary constraints, we will focus on the things that have the most impact. But taking an integrated approach to everything tends to be the most effective.”

Cleary says reducing the amount of turf on a client’s property is the most effective way to cut back on water use.

“Lawns use the most water in your landscape,” Cleary says. “Converting turf areas to low-water-use areas has the biggest impact because turf is thirsty.”

Cleary says it’s equally important to evaluate the property’s current sprinkler system, making sure it runs as efficiently as possible and incorporating new technologies in controllers, sprinkler heads, nozzles and controllers wherever possible. Cleary Bros. Landscape checks its clients’ irrigation systems regularly at no charge and also monitors their water meters, making sure water—and money—is not being wasted.

The company pays close attention to the plants it incorporates into landscapes, plant placement and mulching. It also mitigates drought stress on trees by using growth regulators, which stimulate fine root hair growth for better water and nutrient uptake.

“Most of our upgrade and enhancement work is either entirely or partially aimed at reducing water,” Cleary says. “We’re not putting in lawns right now.”

As the state’s infrastructure continues to be stretched and water costs continue to rise, Cleary says smart water practices are here to stay.

“The rules of the game have changed,” Cleary says. “Water is a much bigger piece of it now, and it’s always going to be that way.”

Source: Adapting to drought conditions : Landscape Management

Save a Life, Improve Your Landscape

Cleary Bros Landscape property

Roger S. Ulrich, Ph.D., of Texas A&M University notes in a study, “The fact that there is limited but growing scientific evidence that viewing gardens can measurably reduce patient stress and improve health outcomes has been a key factor in the major resurgence in interest internationally in providing gardens in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.”

Ulrich also notes that, “There is considerable evidence that restorative effects of nature scenes are manifested within only three to five minutes as a combination of psychological/emotional and physiological changes.”