Monthly Archives: January 2016

5 Signs That Your In Ground Pool Needs Repairing/Upgrading

5 Signs That Your In Ground Pool Needs Repairing or UpgradingIn ground pools—like most great things in life—don’t last forever. Liners rip, equipment fails, and more. But an aging in ground pool isn’t the end of the road for your beloved backyard entertainment source. A good remodel, repair, or update can help breathe life back into it and extend its life by a decade.

To help you decide if it’s time to give your in ground pool a little professional TLC, here are 5 indicators…

1. You Don’t Like It

Many items on this list will be about extending the life of your pool, but this one is purely about preference. If you aren’t in love with your pool, either due to its aging style or due to the fact that you purchased your home with the pool already installed—an update can modernize its style. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, contact us for design ideas and pricing on what it would cost to make you love your pool (again).

2. Feature Upgrades

In ground pools really have come a long way in the last decade. New technologies have emerged, and bring with them new features. Possible features to upgrade your in ground pool with include fountains, waterfalls, grottos, hot tubs, children’s areas, walk-in beaches, swim-up bars, caves, in-floor cleaning systems, lighting, steps, accessories, and more.

3. Refinishing

Your pool’s surfacing (lining and/or exterior) is the biggest indicator of your pool’s age, as it degrades the most over time. Refinishing your pool’s surrounding area (whether it be concrete, tile, or another material) and the lining will immediately make your pool brand new. And with the wide variety of finishing options available, it will not only look as good as it did the day you installed it…it will look better.

4. Safety

Whether you just moved into a home with a pool, or you have had a pool for a while—having kids around changes your needs. Safety is a critical element if you have children, grandchildren, or other children regularly around your pool. Updating with safety in mind can vastly decrease the chance of an accident without breaking the bank. Pool safety updates include elements like a non-slip surface, a softer surfacing, and an alarm and/or a pool fence.

5. Energy Efficiency

Pool pumps and heaters can use a surprising amount of electricity. If you have an older pool pump…then you know this already. By replacing an aging pump with a new and modern one, you can save yourself between 30-45% off your pool-related energy bills. Add a pool cover at the same time and you’ll boost your energy efficiency even further.

 

If you’re in the market for pool repairs and/or updating, call the pros here at Blue Tree. We can help you make your pool into the oasis you’ve always dreamed of.

 

How to Protect and Maintain your Commercial Property During Winter

How to Protect and Maintain your Commericial Property During WinterIt’s been a mild winter so far. But the cold will most likely show up soon, and when it does it can freeze your business, both literally and figuratively. Failing to protect and maintain your commercial property when it snows and throughout winter can lead to disastrous consequences—especially when it comes to safety (and therefore legal) issues and productivity loss.

Maintaining your commercial property during winter’s snow and cold isn’t difficult, but it does require proper planning and strategy. Below are some of our tips for keeping your property up and running during the coldest months.

  1. Ensure that your roof has the right weight capacity. Since snow is extremely heavy, it can literally cause a roof to collapse. So ensure your roof is rated for that extra weight—and that it is in good enough condition to stand up to that rating.
  1. Clear your gutters. Ideally, you should clean your gutters before the first snowfall, but you’ll also want to ensure they are clear of debris periodically throughout winter, so as to avoid ice damming and other issues.
  1. Prevent ice dams. Ice dams are extremely problematic, and aren’t just caused by bad gutter maintenance. Ice dams need to be prevented by looking for heat sources that are letting out warm air near the edge of the roof. By finding and diverting the hot air, you can prevent snow from melting and freezing at the roof edges—which then traps in moisture that can ruin your roof and your overall commercial property. While you’re caring for your gutters and ice dams, you’ll also want to check your fasteners and downspouts to ensure they don’t fall off due to the weight of a heavy snow fall.
  1. Protect your pipes. Bursting pipes due to freezing is a huge concern for winter, as it is extremely expensive to fix and can cause tens of thousands of dollars of damage quickly. To keep the water in your pipes from freezing and bursting the pipe, you’ll need to maintain your water flow and temperature.
  1. Create a snow-removal strategy. Ideally you should have your snow-removal contract (from a reputable company) in place well before the first snowfall.
  1. Have a plan for alternative power supplies. Not only is there a chance that you’ll need them, but the continuity it provides can help prevent expensive downtime. This will require portable and/or permanent generators.
  1. Plan for continuity. In addition to having a back-up power supply, you’ll also want to have a plan to inform employees and tenants of building/property closures, provide at-home access to resources, and plan for the reopening of facilities.

 

Following the above plan can save you tens of thousands of dollars in the event of a snow-related incident.

 

5 Landscaping New Year’s Resolutions

5 Landscaping New Year's ResolutionsIf you’re in the festive New Year mood for penning resolutions, be sure to add landscaping to this year’s wishlist. Landscaping resolutions are a smart idea as they get your creative juices flowing, and if executed shortly after New Year’s Eve, you can have a solid plan in place for springtime.

To help you start your year and yard off right, here are a number of landscaping resolutions to consider.

(Finally) Start Composting
Composting is one of those things that every gardener means to do but often “doesn’t get around to”. It’s a surprisingly easy habit to get into, requires very little startup costs or setup time, and the benefits to your soil and plants are incredible.

Grow Food and Herbs
Home-based gardening has experienced a renaissance in recent years, especially with the proliferation of community food gardens. This year, make it a goal to grow your own veggies and herbs. They can be pretty easy to grow and your palate will thank you!

Hardscape
If last year’s yard and lawn maintenance was hard on the back or budget, then this year consider implementing more hardscape elements. Hardscaping offers a maintenance-free design, a classy look, and more space for entertaining. Hardscapes designed to be a lawn alternative are also a great way to cut down on the seemingly endless hours of summer mowing.

Declutter
As you continue to embellish your landscape design, it can start to look more cluttered over the years than you had originally intended. Since modern landscaping design tends to be more minimal, and since your taste has likely changed over the years, you may want to take a step back and use an editor’s eye to modify your space.       Every so often it’s important to not only declutter, but to make sure your design aesthetic remains consistent too.

Outdoor Living
If you spent a ton of time last year eating, sitting, and entertaining outdoors, then it might be time to install an outdoor living space. Conversely, if you didn’t spend enough time outdoors, then it’s all the more reason to construct an outdoor lounge and sanctuary to ensure you do. Creating an outdoor living space requires an upfront investment in patio creation, hardscape elements, landscape design, and outdoor furniture—but it is well worth the investment.

 

To help make your landscaping New Year’s resolutions one that sticks, contact us here at Blue Tree landscaping. We can work with your vision and your budget to create an outdoor space you’ll love.

5 Ideas for Indoor Plants and Landscaping

5 Ideas for Indoor Plants and LandscapingIndoor plants and indoor landscape design are perfect for bringing the rustic charm of the great outdoors to your home—especially during our long winters. More than simply mood-brightening, there are countless ways to create a stunning indoor design concept, and here are 5 great ideas to get you started:

1. Living Wall

Living walls are all the rage in indoor landscape design, especially in smaller spaces. Also known as ‘vertical gardens’, these structures run from floor to ceiling with spaces on each level to accommodate various plants. If you’re a real foodie you could make an herb vertical garden to give yourself fresh herbs all year round (a bonus in our seasonal Philly climate).

2. Terrariums 

Terrariums are mini gardens contained within a decorative glass or plastic ball. Open terrariums tend to use succulents, while closed terrariums opt for more tropical plants like moss or fern, so they don’t require much on-going work. By hanging several terrariums in close proximity you can create an enchanting appearance of  floating worlds—much like the floating islands of Pandora from the movie Avatar.

3. Ferns 

Ferns offer a classic look and are perfect for forgetful gardeners, as they don’t require much upkeep; they’re very forgiving if you forget to water them.

4. Indoor Water Gardens 

Indoor water gardens take a little more effort to set up as you need the enclosure and water-based plants (and possibly a small fish like a beta). The effort is certainly worth the reward, as these are true indoor statement pieces.

5. Natural Air Purifiers

There are a number of indoor plants that will act as a natural air purifier. These include plants like mass cane, weeping figs, english ivy, aloe vera, snake plants and peace lilies.

 

While indoor landscape design is certainly a phenomenal way to imbue your home with a bucolic calm, it does require some forethought. As a final thought, here are a few important things to consider about indoor planting before you invest:

Light – You’ll need to select plants based on their light needs in relation to where in the home you’ll be placing them. For example, if you have a somewhat dark hallway then you’ll need to plant a low-light plant like a philodendron, Boston fern, peace lily or another low-light option.

Fragrancy – While the smell of fresh flowers is beautiful, certain plants can be overpowering in smaller rooms. If fragrance is your goal then look for fragrant plants like scented geraniums, Arabian jasmine, eucalyptus trees, sweet bay shrub and passionflower.

Pets – There are many indoor plants that are poisonous to cats and dogs, so if you have pets be sure to choose accordingly. Examples of pet-unfriendly plants are daffodils, easter lilies, English ivy, peace lilies, oleanders, and philodendron.