Ecoscraps – Grow Gardens, Not Landfills!

outlook_E18_banner“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

~ Native American Proverb
 
Ecoscraps recycles food waste into nutrient rich garden products. Instead of clogging landfills and gassing the air we breathe, Ecoscraps products enrich your soil, helping you grow healthier plants in the most environmentally-friendly way.
 
The Story
 
At an all-you-can-eat buffet, two college students noticed how much food was being wasted. They began to search for solutions. They learned that fruit and vegetable waste could be diverted from landfills and diverted into nutrient rich garden products. They started a company. People loved the idea. They called the company Ecoscraps.
 
It turns out that over 30 million tons of food waste is thrown away each year in the United States. That’s enough food to fill the Rose Bowl stadium with nothing but food scraps once every three days. Let that sink in. At the end of the day we waste a lot of food. Over 50% of all the food that we grow ends up in the landfill! This led the founders to find a solution to help with this issue.
 
Food waste takes up almost ¼ of our total landfill space and emits methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more harmful than CO2. Ecoscraps’ all-natural process eliminates methane emissions from the food they collect. A cubic foot bag of their finished product reduces greenhouse gasses as much as parking your car for one week!

Here Are Some Pros To Ecoscraps Products:
  • Materials are high in organic content, nutrient levels more naturally balanced, less disruptive to the soil’s natural ecosystem.
  • Nutrients are slow release and from organic origin.
  • Nearly impossible to cause nutrient overload.
  • Original nutrients present in the material are nearly preserved and have not been digested nor removed by an animal or human.
  • Improves soil quality.
What started as a dorm room project (with blenders and dumpster diving) has grown into one of the 25 most promising social ventures in America as named by Bloomberg Business Week. We all have the opportunity to help our environment around us. How can you help with stopping the growing of landfills and instead growing gardens?
 
Ecoscraps Products
 
A little bit about the actual product, Ecoscraps organic soil and compost is moisture retaining which aids water and nutrient retention in sandy soils, aerates and loosens tightly packed clay soils. All of these are OMRI listed. So in other words Ecoscraps soils meet the highest organic gardening industry standards. Last but not least, no poop and no chemicals. The compost is derived from wholesome produce, so you don’t have to worry about harmful effects to kids, pets, or your garden. The soils and compost include organic compost mix, organic potting mix and organic garden soil.
 
Ecoscraps plant foods will  help with increased growth. Their unique blend provides plants with essential nutrients they need. With the help of Mother Nature, Ecoscraps has cracked the code to bigger, healthier plants. The plant foods are also naturally nutrient dense and made from a variety of the highest quality, natural ingredients with the perfect mix of nutrients fort healthy, sustained plant growth. The plant foods include All-purpose, Fresh Start, Tomato, Herb and Vegetable, Rose and Flower, Compost Accelerator, and Citrus and Avocado.
 
Natural liquid fertilizer helps improve your plants ability to absorb certain nutrients aiding in the development of a stronger, more extensive root system, which makes water absorption and utilization more efficient. The liquid fertilizer contains no poop or synthetic chemicals and is made from fruits and vegetables. With that said, you don’t have to worry about kids or pets playing in the yard, garden, or landscape during or after applications. The liquid fertilizer includes the All-purpose and Lawn Saver.
 
Order Now Using Program Number: E18S4

Overwintering Plants

outlook_banner_a01fGardeners are keenly aware of seasonal effects of temperature, particularly freezing temperatures, on the growth of landscape crops. Woody plants are able to survive freezing temperatures because of metabolic changes that occur in the plant between summer and winter. Terms such as cold hardy, frost hardy, and winter hardy are used to describe woody plants that can survive freezing temperatures without injury during winter dormancy.

Cold hardiness is determined by the genetic capacity of a plant to acclimate (transformation from a non-hardy to hardy condition) to freezing temperatures. This capacity can be influenced by plant care practices. While the cold hardiness of a species is usually considered to be the lowest midwinter temperature plant tissues can endure, injury frequently occurs during autumn or spring when the plant is not at its maximum hardiness. Thus, injury can occur during the autumn, winter, or spring seasons depending on the extent of acclimation or deacclimation (process of transforming from hardy to non-hardy condition). Winter injury may be manifested as excessive browning of evergreen foliage, injury or death of flower buds, splitting of bark, or death of roots. The extent of injury is often difficult to determine, and may only be exhibited as delayed bud development or slightly reduced growth.

Low Temperature Injury
 
Low temperature injury, often called freeze damage, can be caused by intra- or extra-cellular ice formations within the plant. When intra-cellular ice is formed, crystals originate within the protoplasm of plant cells. This type of ice formation occurs infrequently and only when the temperature decreases very rapidly. If the ice formation is extensive or ice remains for a long period of time, cells rupture and die.
 
The second type of freeze damage occurs when extra-cellular ice forms during normal winter conditions. When freezing conditions exist, water moves out of plant cells in response to the low temperature and back into cells when the temperature rises above freezing. This type of freeze damage is not lethal to most woody plant species that have been properly acclimated. Injury can occur; however, if the cells are dehydrated for relatively long periods of time, or subjected to very low temperatures.
 
Desiccation Injury
 
Desiccation injury occurs when water is lost from evergreen plants to the atmosphere faster than it can be replaced through absorption of water by roots.
 
Injury is a function of the degree and length of time that stress is imposed. When leaf and air temperatures are low and the relative humidity high, little moisture loss occurs. However, when leaf and air temperatures are high and relative humidity is low (as often occurs in winter), moisture loss can be excessive and injury extensive. Further injury can occur if water cannot move within the plant to replenish desiccated leaf and stem tissues or when insufficient water is absorbed by roots from cold or frozen soil. Wind movement across plants may increase the rate of moisture loss.
 
Environmental Effects
 
Most landscape plants acclimate or develop hardiness to freezing temperature in response to changes in light duration and temperature. Acclimation is a two-stage process. The first stage is initiated by decreasing day length and results in partial hardiness. The second stage is initiated by subfreezing temperatures and results in full hardiness and acclimation.
 
Light Duration
 
For many species, the shortened photoperiod (hours of daylight) of late summer initiates the hardening process by slowing vegetative growth. The time it takes for plant growth to stop differs widely. Some plants stop growing in July or August and others continue to grow into autumn. These differences are due to hormonal balances in the plants controlled by day length and modified by temperature.
 
Leaves are the receptors of the short-day signal. After growth stops, the short-day photoperiod triggers a hardening signal that is transferred from the leaves to the stems and branches. The short-day signal results in partial cold hardiness. The timing and rate of hardening can be altered by temperature, while day length is predictable by calendar dates. The hardening response in a single plant may vary from year to year because of temperature differences.
 
Temperature
 
Cool temperature initiates the accumulation of sugars, modification of proteins and changes in cell membrane permeability that are associated with an increase in cold hardiness. While most plants require short photoperiods and lower temperatures to develop full hardiness, some harden only in response to low temperature regardless of photoperiod.
 
Freezing alone contributes to hardiness. Once leaves and stems of evergreens harden enough to withstand freezing, being frozen makes them hardier. The freezing response is strictly localized and is not translocated. In other words, if lower leaves are acclimated to freezing, that does not necessarily mean the upper leaves are also hardened.
 
Although autumn temperature above 60 degrees F reduces root hardiness, it appears that cool temperature contributes to slowing or stopping root growth. Roots cannot acclimate to the same extent as shoots, so it is fortunate they are protected by a large volume of soil which serves as insulation.
 
Moisture
 
The water content of woody tissues decreases as acclimation to winter conditions proceeds. Most research, however, supports the practice of irrigation late in the growing season to assure the normal rate of cold acclimation. This practice is especially beneficial for plants, such as rhododendron, which continue growth late into the season and are susceptible to early freeze damage. Since woody plants appear to have a built-in mechanism to reduce water levels when they acclimate, reducing soil water may not benefit the development of maximum midwinter cold hardiness.
 
Acclimating Plants for Overwintering
 
Gardeners can assist, to some degree, in plant acclimation to winter conditions. The amount of nitrogen fertilizer applied should be reduced after mid-July and stopped by late summer. Commercial growers decrease the rate of nitrogen fertilizer by approximately one-half and double the rate of potassium application in late summer. Plants should enter the autumn season as healthy as possible, but not rapidly growing, or acclimation may be affected.
 
Tissue desiccation during the winter, especially with evergreens, is one of the most common forms of winter injury. The soil in which evergreens are being grown should be well-irrigated in mid-to-late autumn, before the soil freezes. If the landscape where evergreens are located is in a dry site, sandy soil, or under the overhang of a roof, the soil should be irrigated in midwinter when the temperature is above freezing.
 
Protecting Plants in the Landscape:
Mulching
 
Apply a layer of mulch, 2 to 2.5 inches deep, after the soil freezes to keep the soil cold rather than protect the soil from becoming cold. This practice will reduce injury from plant roots heaving (coming out of the soil) because of alternate freezing and thawing. Plants that benefit from this practice include perennials, alpine, rock garden plants, strawberries and other shallow-rooted species. A mulch maintains a more even soil temperature and retains soil moisture.
 
Apply bark products, composts, peat moss, pine needles, straw, hay, or any one of a number of readily available materials from the local garden center. Pine boughs or remains from Christmas trees can be propped against and over evergreens to help protect against damage by wind and sun.
 
Tying
 
Multiple leader (branched) plants such as arborvitae, juniper and yew may be damaged by the weight of snow or ice. Prevent plant breakage by fastening heavy twine at the base of the plant and winding it spirally around and upward to the top and back down in a reverse spiral. This technique is needed more as plants become larger and begin to open at the top.
 
Anti-transpirants
 
Narrow and broadleaf evergreens lose moisture through leaves in winter. Since the soil moisture may be frozen, plant roots cannot absorb what is lost and the foliage desiccates, turns brown, and may drop. This can be serious with evergreen azalea, holly, boxwood and rhododendron.
 
Applying an anti-transpirant, also called anti-desiccant, reduces transpiration, and hence, damage to the foliage. At least two applications per season, one in December and another in February, are usually necessary to provide protection all winter. A number of products are available in most garden centers for this use.
 
Wrappings
 
A wrap of burlap or canvas can offer protection to plants against desiccation from sun and wind and drift from de-icing salts applied to drives and streets. Wrap the “body” of the evergreens, but do not cover the top of the plant as some light is necessary during the winter.
 
Rodents
 
Some landscape plants, especially during a time when there is an extended period of snow cover, become a food source for rabbits, mice, or moles. When their normal food supply is covered with ice or snow, rodents turn to the bark and young stems of apple, flowering crabapple, mountain ash, hawthorn, euonymus and viburnum, among others. Complete girdling of stems by rodents will kill the plants and partial girdling creates wounds for borers and disease organisms to enter, as well as weakening the plant itself.
 
Protect stems and trunks of these plants in late autumn with plastic collars cut in a spiral fashion so they can be slipped around tree trunks. Hardware cloth can also be used as a stem wrap along with aluminum foil.
 
Trunks, stems and lower limbs can be sprayed or painted with rodent repellents. A number of these materials are available in most garden centers. Repeat the application at least once during a warm period in midwinter. Mixing the repellents with an anti-transpirant often results in extended effectiveness of these products.

Intensive Organic Gardening

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Intensive organic gardening offers a means to produce large quantities of fresh vegetables in a small area without the use of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. It is an excellent gardening method for city dwellers who have limited yard space and who do not wish to expose themselves, their children, or their pets to potentially dangerous chemicals. It is also well-suited to small market garden operations.

Why Garden Organically?

 
Many people choose to garden organically because of concerns about the use of synthetic chemicals on their food. In addition to having possible health effects, these chemicals can affect the environment on farms and in neighboring areas through disruption of beneficial insect populations and through groundwater contamination. Fresh food grown locally may also have higher nutritional value than food shipped long distances.

History

 
Intensive organic gardening has its roots in the French market gardens of the 19th century. Parisian gardeners at this time were able to grow over 100 pounds of produce annually for every person in the city. They achieved this remarkable productivity through the use of raised beds (up to 18 inches in height) built with horse manure, which was abundant at the time, close plant spacing, and the use of glass cloches to allow for growth even in the winter. These techniques were brought to the United States by Alan Chadwick in the 1930s, and have continued to be refined and promoted by John Jeavons. Simultaneously, J. I. Rodale began demonstrating organic practices on his Pennsylvania farm. Rodale emphasized the creation of healthy soil through the use of organic amendments. The Rodale Institute now promotes the same philosophy of soil management for small gardens as well as farms, and Rodale Press has published much literature on organic gardening.

Intensive Organic Gardening Practices

A key element in intensive organic gardens is the raised bed (Figure 1). These beds are made of loose rich soil that provides excellent growing conditions for most vegetables. They should be narrow enough that a person standing on the path can reach comfortably to the middle of the bed. Raised beds can be permanently defined by landscape timbers (the use of non-treated lumber is recommended), boards, bricks, or any number of other materials. They may also simply be shaped out of the soil. The latter practice makes it easier to build a curved bed shape which increases the relative growing area. The soil in a raised bed is typically turned and amended at the beginning of each growing season. This can be done with a rototiller, by hand, or through the process of double-digging.
 
Double-digging involves loosening the soil to a substantial depth, and amending the top layer. The steps in double-digging (Figure 2) are as follows:
  1. Spread a layer of compost and other soil amendments on the surface of the area to be dug.
  2. Using a spade or short-handled shovel, remove a trench of soil approximately one foot deep and one foot wide along the narrow end of the bed.
  3. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the trench with the shovel or a spading fork. Avoid mixing soil layers as much as possible.
  4. Dig a one foot by one foot trench next to your existing one and place the soil removed on top of the loosened soil in your first trench.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 along the length of the bed.
 
This process will create a raised bed simply by loosening the soil and incorporating additional organic matter. The bed can then be shaped with a rake to achieve a rounded surface. It is important not to double dig when the soil is too wet, as this will create large clumps. A lightly moist soil is ideal. An initial double dig is quite demanding, but in future years the job becomes easier.
 
The second most important element in an intensive organic garden is a close planting pattern. Close planting shades the soil, keeping it cooler and moister for good root growth, and discourages the growth of weeds. Instead of planting in rows, use triangular or hexagonal spacing to maximize the number of plants that can be fit into the bed (Figure 3). Make use of those rounded edges. Also, consider intercropping. Carrots, for instance, can be planted in the spaces between lettuce. The lettuce will shade the soil and keep it moist, allowing for easier germination of the carrot seedlings. Then, when the lettuce is harvested for the season, the carrots will grow up and fill the space. Through intercropping, two or more crops can grow in the same area of bed in a single season.
 
To maintain the fertility of the soil, intensive organic gardeners use crop rotation, cover cropping, and compost. Crop rotation means alternating plantings each year between heavy feeders (most vegetable crops), soil-building crops (such as nitrogen-fixing legumes) and light feeders (most root crops). More elaborate rotation schemes are possible. Cover crops are soil-building crops that are not harvested, but are composted or tilled back into the soil. They can be part of a crop rotation, or can be used over winter to prevent soil erosion and improve fertility. Examples of winter cover crops include winter rye and hairy vetch. Composting is the breakdown of organic materials, typically in a bin or pile. The finished compost is then used as a soil amendment in the garden. In addition to composting all healthy garden wastes, intensive organic gardeners may grow certain crops specifically to put in their compost because of their high nutrient content. Compost crops include stinging nettles and fava beans.
 
Additional fertilization can be provided by foliar (leaf applied) fertilizers, the incorporation of specific amendments into the soil near certain plants, and through manure or compost teas. Specific amendments used include fish meal and blood meal for nitrogen. Many recipes for fertilizing teas exist, requiring various levels of equipment and sophistication. A simple recipe is to fill a bucket or trash can 2/3 full with manure or compost. Fill the container with water to a few inches below the rim. Cover with a sheet of plastic tied around the rim and leave in the sun. Stir every day or two until the contents are rank and bubbly (around a week). Strain out the liquid, dilute at a concentration of 1:10, and water the entire garden with this “tea.”

Pest Management

Pest management in the intensive organic garden begins with the soil. Healthy soil leads to healthy plants that are better able to withstand damage. Garden design is also important. Some plants and varieties of plants are more susceptible than others. Learn what grows well and what does not grow well in your area. Plant a number of different crops so that losses of certain varieties will not mean the loss of the entire garden, and plant enough of each variety to share with the pests. Plants such as marigolds, sunflowers, and dill can attract beneficial insects that will help control pest populations. Crop rotation can reduce the build-up of certain pests.
 
If pests are present, it is important to assess whether or not they are causing sufficient damage to warrant taking measures against them. Also note whether their predators and parasites are present. Measures taken against the pests can negatively affect these populations as well. Maintaining a low level of pests actually encourages the predators and parasites to stay in the garden.
 
The first measures taken against pests should be physical. Rodent pests can be trapped or fenced out of the garden. Birds can be kept off with netting. Tomato hornworms and many other bugs can be picked off the plants and squashed. Aphids can be controlled by spraying the affected plants with a hose. Horticultural oils will smother pests such as scales. Yellow sticky traps capture large numbers of white flies.
 
The next step is to make the plants distasteful to the pests. Solutions made by soaking garlic or hot peppers in warm water can be applied to the leaves of affected plants. Preparations of animal urine to discourage mammal pests are also commercially available. All of these products will need to be re-applied often to achieve effective control.
 
Enhancing the natural biological controls of the garden is another possibility. Predators such as ladybugs and praying mantises can be released, though they seldom stay in the garden long enough to provide long-term control. Release of parasites such as trichogramma wasps can be effective, though it may not be worth the expense for small gardens. Application of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) can control populations of certain caterpillars.
 
If recourse is taken to chemical controls, begin with the mildest options. The classic low-toxicity control is insecticidal soap. Insecticidal soaps containing pyrethrin (derived from a daisy) are commercially available. Sprays made with water and a small amount of liquid dish detergent are equally effective against soft-bodied pests. Home-grown preparations of Nicotiana (tobacco) are also mildly insecticidal. All of these are contact insecticides, so be sure to spray the pests themselves and check the undersides of plant leaves.
 
More highly toxic preparations of pyrethrin and rotenone (an extract from certain leguminous plants) are available. Be aware, however, that these are broad-spectrum insecticides and will kill beneficial insects and soil organisms as well as pests. Many organic gardeners choose to lose certain plants or varieties entirely rather than resort to toxic sprays.

Conclusion

Intensive organic gardening is a set of practices and techniques that allows for the production of large quantities of fresh produce in a limited area in an environmentally-friendly manner. It is ideal for backyard gardens, community gardens, and small-scale market operations.

Yes, There Really Is A Scenic Road

outlook_R82_bannerIt all started in 1977 in a small barn out on Scenic Road in beautiful Lancaster County, PA. The barn was on a farm owned by Mr. Lapp, a man whose family had been working the land in the Amish way for generations.

 
Needless to say, Mr. Lapp knew a thing or two about farming, and about creating products that would make the job more efficient. A two-wheeled wheelbarrow that remains the industry standard today for ease of use, strength, and longevity—he was the first to market it, way back in 1982.
 
How about a 10 cubic foot wheelbarrow that is designed to be 32″ wide and easily fit through a standard stall gate? He solved that one too, back when the industry standard width for 10 cubic foot wheelbarrows was 36″.
 
When you do the job yourself, you learn a lot about what works and what doesn’t.
In 2003, Mr. Lapp chose to return to his first love: farming. He sold Scenic Road Manufacturing to David Esh, a long-time employee who continues to run the company today.
 
In keeping with its roots, Scenic Road Manufacturing remains a privately-owned Amish business, always true to its strong values when it comes to family and faith. Customers are always welcome to visit.
 
Our Wheelbarrows Are Built To Outlast And Our Warranties Prove It.
 
It’s the last wheelbarrow you’ll ever buy and the one you’ll hand down for generations. In fact, Scenic Road is so confident in their products that their Scenic Road series comes with a ten-year warranty and every product in the Scenic Lane series is guaranteed for five years, no questions asked.
 
Why Are They So Confident?
 
Each of their wheelbarrows is made from top quality American parts and is assembled in Lancaster County, PA. All steel parts are finished with a durable powder coating.
 
Their extra-heavy-duty Scenic Road Series high-density polyethylene trays with UV stabilizers are up to 50% heavier than the competition, their extra-thick 2” lacquered handles are made of top-grade American Ash, and all of their undercarriages are built with heavy structural steel—no sheet metal here. These extra-heavy-duty wheelbarrows have an 800 lb. load capacity, and their unique braces provide improved stability.
 
Order Now Using Program Number: R82E1

Casa Verde Trellises

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Train and showcase your climbing vines, flowers and vegetables in style.

Casa Verde trellises are made from recycled plastic composite that is durable and strong for even the harshest of elements. This simple to use accent accessory is practical, but is also an economical way to stylize any home. It’s available in traditional and fashion colors, and a variety of styles and heights from 2 to 6 foot. Built to last with the longevity of composite compared to wood, it will endure the weather for many years without rotting, splintering, or fading. Waterproof, mildew and insect resistant. No assembly required. Made in the U.S.A and ISO 9001 certified.
 
From Traditional Elegance to Whimsical Color
 
Available in this year’s top color picks for outdoor living décor, like “black and white” and “brights” trending as this year’s favorites, according to 2014 Forecasting Reports, including the Arett-Outlook Trend Report.
 
Color & Trend Alert!
 
Orchid is the hot garden color for 2014, according to Pantone; and plum was voted #1 by Sherman Williams.
 
“We’re using trendier colors, like acid/bright green and amethyst, as accent pieces”, says The Director of Color, Style and Design at Shaw Industries. Try our violet trellis to support this trend.
 
Journalstar.com picks cobalt blue as this year’s color. Try our cobalt blue trellis to support this trend. White and black are trending for modern and geometric designs.
 
“Sand, which is a lightly toasted neutral, conjures images of the beach and the carefree days of summer,” says, Pantone Color Trend Report 2014. Try our cedar trellis for this affect.
 
Casa Verde Bright Trellises Casa Verde trellises keep vined plants, vegetables and flowers neat and manageable, while meeting the “lifestyle” demands of today’s home owner and economical shopper.
 
People are “decorating their yards.”****. Fueled by social trends, like lawn parties and BBQs, there is a growing emphasis on outdoor spaces as an extension of today’s home with a driving demand for garden art, and decorative planters. Record growth is expected in 2014.
 
Outdoor space is becoming a statement that reflects personal style****. Now that the economy is getting better, people are sprucing up their homes – both inside and out. There will be a shift back to “decorating” gardens with plants and accessories.
 
Easy Outdoor Living Updates
 
“Staycations.” Getting away while at home through visually pleasing outdoor space. Coordinated by theme and color to express one’s vacation-destination preference – seaside cottage, Caribbean/tropical, spa, English garden, rustic, modern, artsy, traditional, campy…
 
Multi-use Innovation!
 
POP Displays and artwork are available to help educate and inspire end-users to incorporate trellises indoors and outdoors alike. Hobbyist and creative spirits, college students and thrifty individuals will be amazed at all the possibilities using economic trellises to brighten, accessorize and organize too!

Appealing to Additional Markets (New, Emerging and Untapped)
  • Opportunity to appeal to younger home-owner audience (Gen Y) with innovative products and colors.
  • Opportunity to appeal to Hispanic, college, hobby, home accessory, and coastal markets with colors, form and function!
Realizing Composite Plastic – Opportunities and Benefits
  • Limitless colors & finishes only possible through composite material.
  • Easy to customize exclusive shapes, colors, styles and heights.
  • Wood price going up.
  • Effortless maintenance.
  • Many years of use without weathering, fading, splintering, insect degrade, or rotting.
Macro-Economic Statistics – Trellis Market
  • Total Market Size: $16,900,000
  • 80% of households are single-family with yard, 36% have a flower garden*
  • Total Market Growth Per Year:  8%*
  • Home Gardening Growth: 19%*
  • Seed sales up 40-46% (trellises needed)**
  • Building Materials & Garden Supplies Sales up 6.3%***
  • Home Improvement Market Size:  $275.6 billion
  • Home Improvement Market Growth:  5.4%
  • Gas/Food price at premium increasing home-gardening, off-the grid living, self-sustainable lifestyle
About Casa Verde Trellises and the Loxcreen Company, an M-D Building Products Company
Casa Verde Lawn and Garden Products, established by Loxcreen, an M-D Building Products Company is celebrating 67 successful years proudly made in America and ISO 9001 certified. Casa Verde products include Privacy Fence Slat, Bender Board Lawn Edging, Bark Guards, Stakes and Trellises; all constructed of the highest quality plastic composite and backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
 
Casa Verde Retail Sales Support!
 
  • Innovative sales support & materials across multiple mediums (e-mail, print, mail, web)
  • Flyers, catalogs, ad artwork, presentations, innovation videos, online brochures
  • Storyboarding / coordinated style concepts for indoor and outdoor decorating ideas
  • Multiple images – lifestyle images, accessorized with home, potted, multiple use innovations
  • In-house creative for customizing POP materials, co-operative artwork & advertising designs
 
Order Now Using Program Number: M16S2
 
* National Gardening Association
** Homechannelnews.com & lawn &garden performance group
*** National Retail Association/Census
**** Garden Media Group- Garden Trends 2014

Half-Built on Success

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By Pete Mihalek, Managing Editor, Lawn & Garden Retailer

While finished displays are great, the staff at Hill Country Water Gardens uses a half-built approach to encourage and educate their DIY customers.
 
Hill Country Water Gardens keeps a lot of pottery in stock — approximately four containers worth — and for good reason. This business turns 40 to 50 percent of it into disappearing fountains, “which is a top-selling item for us and something we’ve sold since day one,” says owner Steve Kainer.
 
Disappearing fountains look great in a landscape or worked into a pottery display, but if a customer is new to the concept, they might not understand how it works and what is takes to get them running.
 
Kainer and his staff introduce this water feature through their half-built disappearing fountain displays.
 
“Basically, this means we’ve taken a feature that would be installed in a customer’s home and instead of showing how the finished project would look, we do not completely install it into the ground,” Kainer explains. “We only cover half of it with gravel, leaving parts exposed that normally wouldn’t be.” This way customers can see the grates, the mesh and the kit that makes the fountain run.
 
Building Their Confidence
 
After seeing something day in and day out, year after year, sometimes we can get into the habit of thinking something’s stale or obvious. But Kainer says it can be a very neat thing to witness a customer see a disappearing fountain for the very first time and not quite understand how they work.
 
“Our Learning Center will play host to four to six instructional seminars in the spring and summer on disappearing fountains, which typically draw 30 to 40 people,” he says. “At any given time, though, this area is also a great sales tool, too.”
 
Set toward the back of Hill Country’s layout, ponds, water gardens, half-built disappearing streams and rainwater collection systems are also on display for better understanding.
 
He adds, in this area, customers will walk up to a half-built display and get an easy “aha!” moment and go, “Oh, I get it now.”
 
Staff of Experts
 
During the peak season, Hill Country will have 25 to 30 staff on hand. Part of their training is the disappearing fountain’s road to a sale.
 
“Our staff is great at interacting with customers who are still unsure of how a disappearing fountain works,” Kainer says. “They’ll walk the customer back to our learning center to see the concept ‘in the works.’ There, they’ll receive a pamphlet and checklist detailing the project.”
 
This is a multi-faceted project that includes a reservoir, pump, gravel and the feature, which can be pottery, travertine stones and boulders.
 
Making Sense
 
Once customers leave the Learning Center, they are now able to walk the yard with a better sense of how this water feature can work for them.
 
Kainer says, “They’ll say, ‘Okay, now I know how they did that. It’s easy enough for us to do it, too.’”
 
They also know the cost of the disappearing fountain kit. There’s no gray area. All shoppers have to do is add the feature (pottery, travertine stones and boulders) and they’ll know exactly what they’re spending.
 
(Article provided by Lawn and Garden Retailer.)