Friday, October 30, 2009

Protect your concrete from salt damage

We all know how damaging salt can be to concrete driveways and walks. Protect your concrete against salt damage by hiring CM’s apply a penetrating sealer to your concrete surfaces.
Penetrating sealers can protect your concrete from corrosive winter ice melt products. These products can be applied to a surface temperature as low as 40 degrees. Most of the time, these sealers can be applied for as little as $1.00 per square foot and last for years. If necessary, the degreasing and cleaning of concrete areas can be completed before sealers are applied.
Please call Chuck at 738-1718, ext 671 if you are interested.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spotlight on Sprinkler Winterization

With the fall season fast approaching, it seems like a great time to revisit the sprinkler winterization process. Click the following link to view a diagram of a typical PVB setup. If you are comfortable with the setup, you can prepare your system for the winterization process prior to CM’s coming to your property. This is a time-saver for you and CM’s. By draining the interior, you no longer have to be home when we show up! Feel free to go shopping, go to a soccer game, or stay at work if you must. When you return home, you will have a notice in the door that we have been out to winterize your system. That is when you will complete steps 5 and 6. With that, your system is officially hibernating, something that many of us wish we could during the long Nebraska winter!

Listed below are a few helpful Q&A’s regarding sprinkler systems in general.

Enjoy the fall!


Q. What is a check valve?
A. A check valve is a device that is installed in a sprinkler head that keeps the water from exiting the head when the zone is not running. Heads with check valves prevent the water from draining out of the sprinkler heads when the system is not in use therefore conserving water and preventing low head drainage or puddles.

Q. What is the copper tubing extending from the house to the ground?
A. This is the copper that leads from your valves to your pressure vacuum breaker (PVB.) The PVB prevents water from flowing back into your potable water supply once it has passed by the device. Some systems may be installed with a reduced pressure assembly (RP.) The RP serves the same purpose as the PVB but is used in situations where a PVB will not adequately protect the potable water supply.

Q. Is my system a self-draining system?
A. If you do not have sprinkler heads with check valves installed, the system is self-draining to the extent water will naturally flow out of the heads due to the slope of the terrain. The valves are self-draining as they have a reverse pressure drain in the valve box. The drain opens up when the water is shut off. If you do have heads with check valves installed, the system is not self draining. Either way, we strongly recommend having the system completely winterized and evaluated each year.

Q. Should I drain and blow out the system?
A. Yes! It is good idea to have CM’s drain and blow out your system at the end of every watering season. Please call our office at 738-1718 to schedule this service. Our systems include drains, but blowing out your system insures there is no water left in the system and that all your lines, valves, and PVB will be ready for spring. If you do have heads with check valves installed, the system is not self draining.

Q. Will the pipes crack or freeze?
A. Poly pipe expands significantly, so small amounts of water can be tolerated and most lines drain to the lowest head on the zone. However, the vacuum breaker or backflow preventer, copper pipe, or PVC pipe around the valve box may crack if they are not winterized. That being said, any system where the heads are installed with check valves will crack and freeze if not winterized as check valves will cause the poly lines to retain water.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

CM's Custom Lawn & Landscape now on Facebook

CM's has recently joined Facebook. One of our many goals is to make communication easy for you. This is great way for us to share photos and resources in a quick and easy way. Do you have a question for us? Post it on Facebook. Do you want to see what we have been up to all summer? Check it out on Facebook.

To become a fan of CM's Custom Lawn and Landscape click the link below:

While you are there I encourage you to check out Concrete Countertop Innovations too! They have some fantastic projects going on right now. To become a fan of Concrete Countertop Innovations click the link below:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

RSS Feeds

RSS Feed – a technical tool for you

We are in full Spring Swing at CM’s. We are working hard in the field and in the office to make your experience with CM’s the best possible. I wanted to take a minute to point out a handy feature of our blog, an RSS feed. Now don’t stop reading just because I used nerd language. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.” A website that has RSS feeds will have the “RSS logo either in the top toolbar of your internet browser or the RSS icon on their page. It usually looks like that orange icon next to the title above. An RSS feed is great for many reasons. In this instance it becomes easier for you to follow our blog! The information comes directly to you. So when Jeff posts important information about sprinklers, or Andy is providing an update on Low Impact Development, or I am unveiling customer service enhancements, you have the information right away. How great is that? The next question of course is, “How do you subscribe to an RSS feed?” There are many ways; however I will highlight the steps used if you are using Internet Explorer, since that is most often used.

Open Internet Explorer (IE).

1. Go to the site with the RSS Feed. In our case we’ll be going to:
2. In the top of the IE toolbar you’ll notice the orange “RSS” logo I was talking about earlier. Click the logo.
3. An HTML preview of the feed you are going to subscribe to now appears. Click the Subscribe to this Feed link.
4. A pop-up window will appear. Click Subscribe and that’s it!

Now Internet Explorer will be notified when new blog posts are available for you to read. To see if there is anything new to read, follow the steps below.

1. If Internet Explorer is already open, click on the star or Favorites Center at the top left of your screen.
2. Click Feeds.
3. The CM’s Blog will be listed there and will be bold if new information is available.

Personally, I love using Outlook 2007 as a reader. I just find it easier to get my RSS feeds in email form vs. having to open up Internet Explorer. The nice thing is if you have setup the feed through IE it appears in Outlook automatically. I love things that are automatic and easy.

So now that you have setup your first RSS feed with CM’s and know how RSS feeds work, have some fun with it. Go to some of your other favorite sites and subscribe there as well!

Remember how I mentioned, customer service enhancements? Add the following link to your favorites and enjoy the ease of paying your bill online at:

Happy June!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Rainwater Harvesting: Utilizing our Precious Resource

Rainwater harvesting is easily defined as the catching of rainfall in a container for later use. It is a simple step that you can take to create a more sustainable life for yourself. Some initial questions probably come to mind when I make such a bold statement. Why should I harvest water when all I have to do is turn on my faucet? Will the collection system look ugly? How much work is involved? What are the costs? Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues to better understand water harvesting.

First of all, Mother Nature always knows what’s best for the environment. It is no secret that plant materials respond much better to rainwater than to municipal water. Take a look at your yard after a good soaking rain and see how quickly it greens up. Then look at it after irrigating from municipal water and you will see the response is not as quick or even as green. It may not be feasible for all irrigation needs to be met with a rainwater collection system. Rather, a combination of harvested rainwater and supplemental municipal water is the likely solution. After all, what mother doesn’t need a helping hand every once in a while?

The simplest and most cost effective means of harvesting is through the utilization of a rain barrel. There have been a number of manufacturers that have come out with their own lines of barrels that you can buy online or at local retailers. Rain barrels come in a variety of shapes and colors because of the popularity that they are experiencing. There are barrels that have planters on the top of them so annual plants can grow and drape over them. Some come in unique shapes, and others are designed to look like pieces of art. If you wanted to create your own barrel, you can customize it to any color, texture, or placement to fit your needs. This can potentially help lower costs and gives you the satisfaction of building it yourself.

The costs vary greatly depending on the type of harvesting project that you want to undertake, so it is important to consider your end-use plans before taking the plunge. Most rain barrels hold about 55 gallons, and will usually fill up in a very short time with runoff from your roof. If you want to move up to a larger system that can supply your irrigation for planting or even your turf, that would require the installation of a larger tank with a minimum capacity of about 500 gallons. The larger size will allow you dramatically cut down your outdoor water use (which can be about 40% of your water bill in the growing season) and also harvest much more of your runoff instead of letting it go down the gutter. These systems can be adapted to supplement existing sprinkler systems or be their own stand-alone system.

1,000 square feet of roof during a 1-inch rainfall can yield 600 gallons of water. Considering our seasonal rainfall average is 30 inches, we’re talking about a total of 18,000 gallons of water! When you use municipal water, you are not only being charged for the water, but your sanitary sewage charge is based on the amount of water you use. MUD is expecting large increases through 2017, reaching an estimated $50 per month according to MUD.

This all sounds good but now you may be wondering about what happens once you install a system. Retrieving water from a collection system can be as easy as turning a spigot. Larger systems may require pumps or more sophisticated filtering processes. Rain harvesting systems are meant to be low maintenance. They will require periodic inspection to look for debris build up, proper pump operation, and winterization (depending on setup of your system). One good investment that I would recommend to make maintenance easier would be a gutter protector. This will make cleaning your gutters much easier or even not needed, and result in less debris making its way to the water harvesting system.

Rain water harvesting will save you money. It will limit your runoff contribution to the storm sewer system; it will improve your plant health; and it can become a beautiful addition to your landscape. I’ve only touched on a little of what water harvesting can do for you and its benefits, so I highly recommend looking into it more.

When you add the financial and environmental benefits of rain water harvesting to the aesthetics of a healthy, lush landscape, you may start to wonder why you didn’t consider rainwater harvesting earlier. Feel free to contact me for more information on the topic.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sprinkler turn-ons in full swing

With old man winter finally going away, now is a good time to give your sprinkler system a thorough spring check-up. It is important to go through each zone and make sure each head is adjusted properly. You want to take care not to spray your sidewalks or driveway as it will be wasting water. Beware, adjusting sprinklers can be a cold,wet job. So why don't you let us adjust your sprinklers and make sure they are adjusted appropriately while you stay nice and dry. Our technicians will also adjust your controller for proper watering during the spring season and check your rain sensor to make sure it is working.

If you do not have a rain sensor, call us to have one installed for a peace of mind knowing you are not one of those people whose system is running while it is raining. The rain sensor will also save you money on your water bill from those needless waterings. Another product that is currently available is Solar Sync. It will perform all the monitorings of a rain sensor plus monitor the temperature of the air. It also will automatically adjust your controller throughout the season leaving you with a true maintainence-free operation. Call us today to schedule a Solar Sync installation and if you mention this blog, we will take 15% off the total price. Note, some controllers will need to be upgraded at an additional cost to Hunter Pro-C in order for this product to work.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fix a Leak Week

The Environmental Protection Agency designated March 16-20 as Fix a Leak Week. Did you know that the average home wastes 11,000 gallons of water a year? Most of these leaks are typical household fixtures such as running toilets and leaking faucets.
Your sprinkler system can play a large role in wasting water since they can sometimes not be so obvious. When the weather is consistently warm enough to run the sprinkler system, it is important to walk around the yard and check your sprinkler system for any breaks or leaks. Better yet, call us and have us come out to turn on and check your system out. We will be able to repair any breaks and leaks, as well as adjust the sprinklers to avoid spraying inorganic materials that do not require water. Lets work together to save a limited resource, both your money and our precious water.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Omaha Home Show

Come stop by and see us at the Omaha Home Show between March 26th through March 29th. We will have a booth set up for you to come and get ideas for your yard as well as showcase new landscaping technology. So stop by and say Hello!

Now that the season is just about to get underway, we will be posting Blogs more frequently so don't forget to check back in!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Nice Days Have Their Price

Bright, sunny, warm, and balmy considering how cold it has been here in Omaha for most of the winter so far. Love these days during the winter, but I have also come to dislike them as well.

Even though we haven't had much snow this season, there are still snow piles all around parking lots, streets, and driveways such as mine. Those lovely piles of black and gunk really start melting on days like this. On my driveway, the snow melt runs across the width of my driveway and REFREEZES during the night. Tonight, after a nice dinner, I returned home and parked in the driveway, unwittingly right over where the snowmelt had refreezed. I spun around like an ice skater, but not as gracifully, and caught myself on the car instead of on the pavement.

Why does it have to be like this each winter season?

The main goal is to replace my driveway with permeable pavers so that I don't have to put up with it anymore. What are permeable pavers? They are just like most any other paver you have seen in a patio, driveway, or parking lot application, but instead of water running off of them, the rain and snow melt goes between the joints of the pavers and filters through aggregate to the soil below or to pipes to take it away. No more slips, falls, or heaven forbid a legal issue.

For now, the first phase of my driveway project uses a rain garden to catch any runoff from even getting to the driveway. So along the edge of the driveway, I am building up a berm to hold water back in a flat bottom garden so that the runoff filters into the soil and not onto the driveway. The rain garden is going to give me a lot of color as well as help out with limiting the number of times I become an ice skater.

Both the permeable pavers and the rain garden I mentioned above fall under a type of design that is called Low Impact Development. Just as the name implies, whenever we do a project, whether in the landscape or with a building, we should have as low an impact as possible. Managing the stormwater that we displace with our roofs and driveways is at the heart of LID. Just as I experienced today, utilizing LID properly not only is beneficial at the onset of any project, but also yields benefits way into the future.

I will continue to write and discuss various landscaping and LID topics here on the blog, so always check back and join me in utilizing LID more and making it the standard by which we design. Thanks!