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With the summer months comes intense heat that can be hard to avoid as your landscaping crews strive to accomplish their many tasks during the growing season.

There are several heat-related illnesses your employees can encounter, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. In your efforts to keep your staff cool, you may have heard of cooling towels or seen them used by athletes.

So, the question is, are they effective and should you include them in your summer personal protective equipment? 

Do cooling towels work?

Cooling towels are designed to help workers regulate their body temperatures. They are typically placed on the neck and shoulders, but they can be placed anywhere on the body that needs cooling.

The towels cool the body through evaporative cooling. They direct heat away from the body, just like sweating does.

To use one, the towel should be placed in cold water, and then rung out so it is not dripping. The temperature difference between the towel and the user will cause the heat to transfer to the towel and the heat is lost via evaporation.

Yet this evaporative cooling is only effective in low to medium humidity environments since the rate of evaporation is faster in drier air.

“In humid environments, the towel will still absorb heat from the body, but since the air is saturated with humidity, the water from the towel will not evaporate, effectively storing the heat,” writes Safeopedia. “So, the cooling effect will be short lived. In these environments, you will have to soak the towels in cold water more frequently to ‘recharge’ it when it warms or dries up.”

There are many versions of cooling towels, with some as bandanas or wraps, but it all comes down to the same principle.

Consumer Reports even compared two cooling towel brands versus a regular smooth-weave dish towel and found that they all cooled to within one to two degrees of each other over multiple tests at various temperatures and humidity.

“People have been doing this for millennia,” Pat Slaven, a textile expert, tells Consumer Reports. “It’s not new. It’s science.”

Long story short, cooling towels do help cool people down on a hot day given the humidity is low, but you don’t necessarily have to invest in a particular brand for it to work. Any towel will do the job.

Tried and true methods

If cooling towels seem too gimmicky for your taste, there are a number of more traditional methods you can implement that will ensure your landscaping crews are safe over the summer.

One option that many landscaping companies take advantage of is scheduling work to take place earlier in the day. Starting early allows crews to call it quits later on if the day becomes too hot to safely work. The coolest part of the day is between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Encourage your crew members to stay hydrated and take breaks as necessary. By having a company culture that doesn’t shame a worker when they need to rest for a bit in the shade, you can ensure your employees feel comfortable to take care of themselves.

Providing plenty of water at the jobsite will also make it more likely they’ll stop to get a drink when they need it. Checking in on crews and encouraging supervisors to remind individuals to get a drink every once in a while, can help with hydration levels, as thirst is not always the best indicator.

Lightweight, light-colored employee uniforms can also minimize the effects of heat.

Acclimation is one critical element of protecting workers in the heat. It generally takes five days of working at least 1½ hours per day for the body to become acclimated to higher temperatures. Try to schedule less demanding tasks during heat waves and know when to call it a day if things simply become too hot.

This will vary based on your location and the job at hand, but a good rule of thumb is to monitor the heat index.

If the heat index is between 91 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit there is a moderate risk level. If the heat index is between 103 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit, there is a high risk for heat-related illnesses. A heat index greater than 115 degrees Fahrenheit has an extreme risk of heat-related illnesses.

At the end of the day, it is still the employer’s duty to protect workers from heat hazards so make sure everyone knows how to recognize early signs of heat stress.

If it’s extremely hot outside and a co-worker seems disoriented, call 911 immediately because they may be suffering a heat stroke. While you’re waiting for paramedics to get to the scene, attempt to move the co-worker to a cooler area, remove any unnecessary clothing, provide drinking water and turn on a fan in their direction, or mist them with water.

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If possible, test the compact excavator you’re considering under real-world conditions.
Photo: Bobcat

When it comes to landscaping, nothing beats the practicality and versatility of a compact excavator. Having a range of attachments transforms your mini excavator into a multi-purpose tool, giving you the capability of performing tasks beyond its conventional role.

The hydraulic coupler system makes replacing attachments quick and efficient. This quick swap system makes the compact excavator a powerful all-in-one tool for landscapers.

Here are some jobs that you may not have thought your compact excavator could do:

Breaking concrete (demolition)

You can use tools like stone cutters, grinders or jackhammers to break small pieces of concrete, but if you plan to break large pieces of concrete like garden paths or retaining walls, you can rely on your mini excavator.

For this job, you will need a concrete breaker attachment, like a ripper or a pulveriser. A hydraulic pulveriser adds a lot of power to a compact excavator. It performs rapid pulverization by allowing the crush to flow through the pulveriser’s jaws.

The pulveriser is made primarily for demolishing concrete structures. These attachments allow you to tear through driveways, old swimming pools, paths and old retaining walls, for easy loading and clearing and for reducing waste into smaller and more manageable chunks.

Compacting soil

There are many pieces of efficient compaction equipment to choose from, such as tamping rollers, smooth rollers, pneumatic-tired rollers and vibrating rollers.

Alternatively, you can fit your excavator with a plate compactor that is designed for compressing soil. You can also equip it with a packer wheel attachment to compact soil. These two attachments can compact soil much faster than hand-operated compaction equipment.

Building retaining walls

Compact excavators can be used to lay rocks, pavers, logs and other heavy materials for retaining walls.

Different attachments can break rocks into smaller pieces to fit the wall, and claws can pick up and maneuverer logs. Once the wall is started, a grader or bucket attachment can back fill the soil against the wall.

If a retaining wall requires maintenance, use the attachments to deconstruct the wall down to the point that needs fixing. After the new piece is in place, you can use the excavator to rebuild the wall.

Placing fence posts and planting trees

You can use your compact excavator for planting trees and erecting fence posts. If you want to install fence posts, poles or piers, you can equip the excavator with an auger. With this attachment, you can use the compact excavator for precision digging.

One great advantage of using a compact excavator with an auger is its great reach. It can reach over shrubs, fences and holes, and it can position the auger accurately without disturbing the surrounding area or ground. Because of this reach, the compact excavator can tackle difficult jobs without driving on uneven ground.

The auger can dig holes with depths of around 60 inches. It can also use bits as small as six inches up to as large as 42 inches, and operators can also use hex or round bit shafts.

If you need to plant a lot of trees, like replanting a native vegetation area, the auger on a compact excavator will make the task much easier.

You can also equip your excavator with cutting blades, as these blade attachments allow you to cut fence posts to size. They can also be used to cut up trees for easy removal or to be used as firewood.

Grading

Using your backfill blade will transform your compact excavator into a useful piece of grading equipment. You can use it to reshape terrain and bring your work area to the desired elevation and shape. You can also use it to smooth slopes and shape ditches.

Use the tilt swing feature on your excavator bucket for backfilling trenches, grading or leveling terrain, as a tilt swing gives the bucket enough leverage to shape contours and create slopes.

Mowing and clearing

With a flail mower attachment, your compact excavator will excel in clearing brush and thick plant growth. It is also perfect for mowing large areas of grass, especially if on a slope, such as in a large drain or creek.

For speed and efficiency, you can use your compact excavator to remove trees and large shrubs. Equipped with a grab or bucket attachment, clearing becomes a breeze.

Grabs with clamps, three-tined grapples or midsize buckets equipped with teeth are best because these attachments enable the excavator to pull, grab or drag rooted undergrowth.

Loading

It is common to see compact excavators loading materials and debris onto dump trucks, and you can add extendable arms to enhance its reach and attach clamps for efficiency.

Use a thumb attachment to remove debris like tree stumps, rocks and other items from an area because a thumb attachment allows the excavator to function like a giant clamp and move heavy loads.

Always make sure an attachment is sized correctly for the job and excavator. Know your maximum reach requirements and the density of the load that you want to move.

Build paths and trails

Another application for which you can use the compact excavator is in the development of trails.

If you intend, for example, to create biking or walking trails across a property, you can make use of the compact excavator. You can use its general-purpose bucket together with its grading blade to clear and contour trails.

You can use it to clear, grade and apply fill materials for prepping pathways as wide as 5 feet. The compact excavator can precisely lay out the trail, and it can also sculpt the path through hill and add or remove slopes.

Final thoughts

The very first hydraulic excavator was used in 1897. Since then, hydraulic technology has greatly improved the efficiency of jobs for many landscapers. It’s versatility and lifting power often reduces the need to have several employees.

Integrating hydraulic technology and the improved coupler systems has enabled it to perform many different tasks. Compact excavators are no longer confined to the traditional roles of excavating and digging.

With the right attachments, the compact excavators can now perform jobs that you would not imagine it could do several years ago. It can now be used for everything from mowing grass to building retaining walls.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article written by Justin Easterbrook and was provided by ShawX Manufacturing. http://www.shawx.com.au

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Photo: Matt Lavin/Flickr

In the summer, clients want a lush emerald lawn to enjoy for all their outdoor activities and one of the weeds that can be a problem is yellow foxtail.

This annual grassy weed has the same lifecycle as crabgrass or goosegrass. It may not be as common as these other weeds, but it can prove to be an eyesore when it does appear. 

How to identify it

Yellow foxtail (Setaria pumila) is a warm-season non-native grass that thrives throughout majority of the country. It originated from Europe and was introduced to North America in 19th century. It can be found growing in ditches, fields, gardens, yards or any other area with disturbed soil.

Photo: Matt Lavin/Flickr

It grows in moist, fertile soil during the mid- to late growing season. Blooming takes place from June through December, according to the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program. It can tolerate a variety of soil types but prefers full sunlight and does not last long in shaded areas.

It is one of the three common foxtail species, with the others being green foxtail (Setaria viridis) and giant foxtail (Setaria faberi). The seed heads on green foxtail are typically green or purple-tinted while the giant foxtail seed heads are the largest and tend to drop in an arch shape.

Yellow foxtail grows about 1 to 3 feet tall and forms clumps. The leaf blades are 2 to 12 inches long and most have a spiral twist. The blades are smooth aside from some whitish hairs on the upper surface near the leaf base. It has flat leaf sheaths with a reddish tint at the base.

The seed head is 2 to 3 inches long and is a bristly panicle that turns yellow at maturity. This tufted seed head is where the weed gets its name from, looking like a fox’s tail.

While a seedling, yellow foxtail is hard to spot without its seed head as the leaves grow parallel to the ground.

In Massachusetts, yellow foxtail is listed as a prohibited noxious weed. The grass spreads by reseeding itself and can spread aggressively in areas that have been disturbed. The seeds can remain dormant for three years. They will germinate between temperatures of 68- and 95-degrees Fahrenheit.

How to control it

The best way to control yellow foxtail is to maintain a healthy, dense turfgrass. It cannot find a foothold typically when the lawn is dominated by a thriving turfgrass. This is why yellow foxtail is more commonly found in along roadsides and in utility turf, as these are not cared for as closely.

Like crabgrass, yellow foxtail can be kept in check with a timely application of pre-emergent herbicides. Active ingredients such as dithipyr, pendimethalin, benefin and oxadiazon, have all been noted as capable chemical pre-emergent controls. These should be applied one to two weeks prior to germination in the late spring or summer.

If the weed is already actively growing, post-emergent controls with active ingredients such as ethofumesate, foramsulfuron, quinclorac and sulfentrazone have been shown to be effective.

If your client is against chemical controls, there is the option of pulling the seed heads before they can spread their seeds and digging up their long roots.

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Photo: Pexels

Before any project, whether it’s a landscaping job or not, one thing between the customer and the merchant should be clear: their expectations. Both parties should know exactly what the business will provide and what the client will pay in return. If everyone has upheld their end of the bargain, then they’ll all walk away pleased with what they did and what they got.

As such, expectation-setting is a vital part of any landscaping business since you work so closely with clients and their personal or commercial properties. Not only will it help you finish the job as promised, but it will also serve you as you maintain your work — and your relationship with the customer for years to come. Here’s how to do it.

1. Agree on the level of service required

Not every landscape job is created equal. You will have some clients with grandiose plans for their yards that will cost them tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Others will want routine lawn maintenance and perhaps a few new trees or plants added each year.

You won’t treat these customers any differently, of course, but you will have to match the service you offer with the price they pay. For instance, landscapers may strive to make high-paying clients’ timelines work, even if they’re short. In other words, their expectations will be high if they fork over a large amount of money for their landscaping project, and you have to work to match that in your quality of work and speed.

For more routine jobs like a fall lawn care package, be sure you are being clear about what all included in that. The last thing you want is a customer assuming it includes a service such as aeration, and then they are disappointed when you don’t provide.

2. Build a highly qualified staff

Not everyone has a green thumb, but your employees should. Their work will be what proves your clients have, indeed, set the right expectations for the project. Build a talented team that has the proper landscaping training, as well as the creativity to pull off bigger, more artful projects.

You’ll probably find your employees perform better when they’re motivated. As such, limit your hiring pool to those who have a genuine interest in the job, rather than on-boarding those who just want to work.

Ultimately, you have to remember that your staff will be a reflection of you, an extension of your business and what you’ve promised to the client. Without the right people on the team, you will be setting unreasonable expectations since they won’t be able to deliver.

3. Think about future maintenance

A landscaping job doesn’t end once the last plant takes root. Instead, the property owner will have to maintain your work themselves or hire someone to do it for them. Sometimes, they’ll do the latter, and they’ll do it with another landscaping company if you don’t offer maintenance services.

Even if you’re not the one responsible for maintaining your work, you should make it easy for whoever’s in charge to do it. Plantings should be strategic so they’re not too hard to mow around. Ensure overhead shading doesn’t get in the way of plants that will grow outward into such areas. Use nature to your advantage, and your client will thank you for it, whether by hiring you for another job or referring you to another of their friends in need of a similar service.

4. Always be honest

Perhaps the best way to set expectations is to be honest about what you can and cannot achieve with the size and skill set of your operation. Even with a great team on hand and all the proper tools for your business — everything from lawn mowers to trimmers to trailers to tree spades — you can’t always create what your client has in mind or meet their unrealistic timeline.

If you promise to do it anyway and find yourself unable to deliver, you’ll fail to meet their expectations. This won’t bode well for your reputation or future referrals. Only promise what you know you can provide and work from there. It’s unfair to your team, your client and your business’ reputation if you’ve oversold your abilities.

5. Build a strong relationship

With expectations set, you can fulfill your end of the bargain and make your client’s vision a reality. They’ll trust you for future jobs, and they’ll have no problem referring you to others in need of a similar service. Expectation setting and fulfillment will allow you to cultivate lasting customer relationships that can guide you to more jobs and an even more respected reputation in the future. It’s worth being honest and working your hardest — your clients and your business will be better for it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Holly Welles. Welles is a freelance writer with an emphasis on contracting business and commercial real estate. She regularly contributes to sites like Kaplan Real Estate and Construct Connect as well as publishing weekly updates on her own blog, The Estate Update.

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Photo: Out Teach

We talked yesterday about the importance of getting students involved in the green industry and how you as a professional landscaper can lend a hand by partnering with groups like Out Teach, a non-profit organization that helps build outdoor classroom spaces.

Today, we’ll take a look at what you need to do if your company decides to try and get more involved in your local schools to help maintain these spaces, as well as what students can learn about the green industry by working in these spaces daily.

Adding this as a service?

For landscapers wanting to get more involved with schools and get their names out into the community, Evan Dintaman, landscape architect and senior manager of projects and partnerships with Out Teach in the Mid-Atlantic region, says maintaining an outdoor classroom area could prove to be the perfect solution.

The first step he recommends is finding an organization like Out Teach that has already established a connection and relationship with your local school district, as they will be more willing to work with and help the organization than a random person asking to be involved.

Dintaman adds that organizations like these will also already have a running list of schools that are willing and able to participate, which will cut down on your search process.

“School districts often trust the organizations that they’re working with to do school gardens, and if a relationship can be built there, that makes entry into the market a little bit easier,” he says. “School districts often have a lot of requirements regarding background checks of employees and making sure contractors are registered as an approved vendor with the school district.”

The second step he recommends is to go ahead and check the requirements for involvement, fill out the necessary forms, perform any background checks and become an approved vendor. This will help cut down on a lot of clearance time if and when you do get involved with an organization.

Keep in mind that since students will be involved in these spaces every day, certain school districts may have strict regulations regarding the use of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals. To keep all of this as uncomplicated as possible, Dintaman says Out Teach tries to avoid using these substances unless it is absolutely necessary.

“We view these spaces as not perfectly manicured outdoor landscapes but more as learning laboratories that need to have some problems for students to solve,” he says. “So, a few weeds here and there actually become a good learning tool, or erosion issues actually present a spot for them to take a look and start becoming those experts in stormwater management or start coming up with creative solutions.”

Student involvement

In his time working with Out Teach, Dintaman says he has seen, 100 percent of the time, that students become more engaged, show more interest and utilize their critical thinking skills more once they get outside in the outdoor classroom space.

“It’s totally different from the indoor classroom experience,” he says. “Students immediately engage with their natural surroundings when they get outside. And the ability to pick up concepts happens so much more quickly in the outdoor space when you’re looking at a real-life example of what you’re trying to learn instead of in a textbook or a whiteboard.”

While Dintaman agrees that programs like these would prove beneficial in higher education settings, Out Teach specifically caters to elementary schools to try and get students invested in the green industry as early as possible.

“We feel like (the elementary level is) where the achievement gap as far as student achievement, getting prepared for higher grades, is happening,” he says. “As an organization, we feel that if we can do the professional development on the elementary level, we can start closing that achievement gap and preparing students for higher grades.”

One specific feature Dintaman says Out Teach installs in many of the outdoor spaces is an erosion board or an Earth science area that allows the students the chance to study erosion and look at the effects of runoff. This, he says, gets them involved early on with learning about stormwater management practices.

“It’s amazing to see a fourth grader or fifth grader already thinking critically about how we might slow runoff, capture runoff or filter stormwater,” he says. “They are understanding concepts that are being taught at the college level just by going outside and seeing these kind of green infrastructure problems.”

Dintaman says it’s mandatory as green industry professionals to ensure that a heavy importance is placed on getting kids outside in nature to work on these hands-on projects because there’s no doubt in his mind that what they are participating in now is generating interest in the green industry already.

“Partnering with Out Teach was a strategic decision,” Maisha Riddlesprigger, principal at Ketcham Elementary School in Washington, D.C., told Out Teach. “By providing students with alternatives to ‘sit and get’ in the classroom, we’ve increased student satisfaction, made students feel more connected to the school and made learning fun. And when students are able to apply what they’re learning in a real-world environment like the outdoor learning lab, the content sticks, they understand it more deeply, retain the information longer and are able to apply it to different situations. That shows up on their evaluations.”

Dintaman believes that up until they’ve had the chance to participate in the Out Teach program, many of these teachers and students have never had the opportunity to get involved in a project of this caliber, which makes seeing their excitement during the process and their involvement and willingness to participate exciting for him.

“It’s creating memories that these kids will take on through their careers and their lives, and it’s creating opportunity and equity in education,” he says. “Equity is important in education to make sure that all students, no matter which neighborhood they live in or the city they were born in, have the same opportunities to get outside and have these educational opportunities.”

Currently, Out Teach is located in five different regions across the United States: Georgia, Washington, D.C., Texas, North Carolina and Maryland. To find out more about or become involved with Out Teach or similar organizations, click here.

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Finally.

Nearly 18 months after announcing the engine as a powertrain option for the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 coming late in the 2019 model year cycle, and being unable to ship it on time, GM has finally provided details on its new 3.0-liter Duramax diesel along with the promise that it will ship with the launch of the 2020 models.

The new engine is priced identically to the 6.2-liter V8 and is a $2,495 premium over the 5.3L V8, and a $3,890 premium over the 2.7L turbo inline-four.

The first inline-six turbo diesel ever offered in a Chevy half-ton truck, the 3L Duramax delivers 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, delivering 95 percent of peak torque at 1,250 rpm. Chevy says peak torque is sustained from 1,500 rpm through 3,000 rpm.

The 2020 Silverado 1500’s 277 horsepower is currently the most offered by a diesel engine in the half-ton segment.

The engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission and has exhaust braking—a huge feature for anyone who has wished towing and hauling were a bit more comfortable with Chevy’s half-ton pickups.

GM calls the engine a “clean-sheet design” featuring a lightweight aluminum block and cylinder head, a variable geometry turbocharger, electronically variable intake manifold and a few features that assist in cold weather performance and start-up.

You can read Chevrolet’s more exhaustive details on the 3L Duramax and all its features below.

More details from Chevrolet

All-aluminum construction and tough rotating assembly

The 3.0L Duramax cylinder block is made of a cast aluminum alloy that provides the strength required to support the high combustion pressures that occur within a diesel engine, while also offering an approximately 25 percent mass savings over a comparable cast iron engine block. Iron cylinder liners are used within the aluminum block to insure truck durability.

There are seven nodular iron main bearing caps that help ensure the block’s strength under those high combustion pressures, while also enabling accurate location of the rotating assembly. A deep-skirt block design, where the block casting extends below the crankshaft centerline, also contributes to the engine’s stiffness and refinement. It’s complemented by a stiffness-enhancing aluminum lower crankcase extension attached to the main bearing caps.

The rotating assembly consists of a forged steel crankshaft, forged steel connecting rods and hypereutectic aluminum pistons. The alloys in the respective castings for the rods and pistons make them lightweight and durable. Silicon is blended with the aluminum for heat resistance and tolerance within the piston cylinders, which enhances performance and makes the engine quiet.

A thick piston crown — the top of the piston — and reinforced top ring add strength to support the tremendous cylinder pressures enabled by turbocharging and the engine’s high 15.0:1 compression ratio.

DOHC Cylinder Head and Rear Cam Drive

Overhead camshafts offer a direct, efficient means of operating the valves, while four valves per cylinder activated by maintenance-free finger followers with hydraulic lash adjusters increase airflow in and out of the engine. This arrangement is integrated on the Duramax 3.0L’s lightweight aluminum cylinder head, which is topped with a lightweight composite cam cover that incorporates the crankcase ventilation and oil separation systems.

A pair of lightweight, assembled camshafts actuates 28.35 mm diameter (1.12-inch) intake and 24.55 mm diameter (0.97-inch) exhaust valves. The camshaft drivetrain is uniquely located at the rear (flywheel side) of the engine, for greater refinement and packaging considerations for the comparatively long inline-six. A crankshaft-driven chain drives the high-pressure direct-injection fuel pump, while a chain driven by the fuel pump drives both intake and exhaust camshafts. A smaller belt drives the variable flow oil pump from the crankshaft.

Additional Technology Highlights

Variable geometry turbocharging enables the Duramax 3.0L engine to deliver class-leading horsepower with minimal effect on overall efficiency. The system uses closed loop controlled vanes position and sophisticated electronic controls to automatically adjust boost pressure to the desired value based on engine running conditions and instantaneous power demand. The liquid-cooled turbocharger features a low-friction ball-bearing shaft and is mounted close to the exhaust outlet of the engine for quicker spool-up of the turbine and quicker light-off of the exhaust catalyst. A water-to-air intercooling system produces a cooler higher density air charge for greater power. Maximum boost pressure is 43,5 psi (300 Kpa) absolute.

Low-pressure EGR: The Duramax 3.0L utilizes new low-pressure Exhaust Gas Recirculation to optimize performance and efficiency. The EGR system diverts some of the engine-out exhaust gas and mixes it back into the fresh intake air stream, which is drawn into the cylinder head for combustion. That lowers combustion temperatures and rates.

Traditionally, EGR systems in diesel applications recirculate exhaust gases between the two high-pressure points, the exhaust manifold(s) and intake manifold. However, it generally requires efficiency-robbing assistance from the turbocharger or other supporting elements to achieve the pressure differential required for sufficient EGR flow rates.

The new low-pressure system adds to the high-pressure system, supporting continual adjustment of exhaust backpressure for more efficient operation. It recirculates gases between the low-pressure points in the exhaust system (downstream of the particulate filter) and after the compressor inlet.

When the low-pressure EGR is activated by an electronically controlled valve, the engine burns exhaust gas that has already passed through the particulate filter. That increases the turbocharger’s efficiency, which helps overall vehicle efficiency without deteriorating the rate of particulate matter emitted by the engine.

A variable intake manifold offers dual air intake pathways for each cylinder. Electronically controlled flaps — one for each cylinder — shorten or lengthen the airflow to each cylinder. This optimizes the airflow into the engine and improves performance and responsiveness across the rpm band, particularly at lower engine speeds.

A variable-pressure oiling system with a continuously variable-displacement vane oil pump enhances efficiency by optimizing oil pressure as a function of engine speed and load. With it, the oil supply is matched to the engine requirements rather than the excessive supply of a conventional, fixed-displacement oil pump. The engine uses low-friction Diesel Dexos 0W20 oil.

Oil jets located in the block are employed for performance and temperature control. They target the inner core of the piston with an extra layer of cooling, friction-reducing oil. The jets reduce piston temperature, allowing the engine to produce more power and enhance long-term durability than engines without the technology.

Active Thermal Management helps the engine warm up quickly to achieve and maintain its optimal engine temperature for performance and efficiency over the entire engine operating range. The system uses a three-actuator rotary valve system to distribute coolant through the engine in a targeted manner. It sends heat where it’s needed to warm up the engine to reduce friction and heat the passenger cabin or cools when needed for high-power operation. The Duramax 3.0L also features split cooling between the block and head.

Common rail direct fuel injection of 2,500 bar (36,250 psi) helps generates class-leading horsepower and torque. The system’s pressure is generated by an engine-driven twin-piston pump sending fuel to solenoid-activated injectors with nine-hole nozzles that support precise metering of the fuel for a smooth idle and lower combustion noise. The fuel system is capable of multiple injections per combustion cycle — up to 10 times per injector — for more consistent and stable combustion performance that translates into smoothness and refinement, particularly at idle.   

Electronic throttle valve: The Duramax 3.0L features an electronic throttle valve to regulate intake manifold pressure in order to optimize exhaust gas recirculation rates. It also contributes to a smooth engine shutdown via a more controlled method of airflow reduction.

Ceramic glow plugs used in the Duramax 3.0L heat up more quickly and hotter than conventional metal-based glow plugs, helping the engine start and heat up more quickly in cold weather. The Duramax 3.0L achieves unassisted and assisted starting temperatures of -22 F (-30 C) and -40 F (-40 C) respectively.

Stop/start technology helps optimize efficiency in city driving. The driver-selectable system shuts off the engine at stoplights and other stop-and-go situations. The engine automatically restarts when the driver takes their foot off the brake.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wayne Grayson is the online managing editor of Equipment World, another Randall-Reilly publication. 

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While many landscaping companies get the majority of their new business from word of mouth, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t fool with having an integrated marketing plan in order to find new customers.

The consumer journey is not as straightforward as it once was, with a considerable increase in touch points between an individual first discovering your business to finally making a purchase.

“Consumer touch points can be anywhere,” says Mike Tinz, VP of franchise training for Money Mailer. “As an example, if you’re looking at an acquisition vehicle, such as direct mail, you know that that’s a single touch point right there. If a consumer looks at a direct mail product and they go, ‘Oh, I like this idea. I like this landscape business,’ What is the next step that they’re going to take? Generally, what they’re going to do is they’re going to research the company.”

Some of the possible next steps the homeowner might take is searching landscaping in general, looking up that particular landscaping business’s website, looking for reviews on Yelp and researching the offer further before moving forward to make a purchase.

“Today they’re doing more research,” Tinz says. “They’re doing more homework because they want to make sure that the business that they’re working with is trustworthy and they have a good reputation.”

When you think about marketing, you may only be considering your digital channels, but Tinz stresses that landscapers shouldn’t forget about their print options, like direct mail.

“Direct mail is a very key part of acquisition referral to get that consumer buying, to trigger them to start to look at something or to purchase something,” he says.

Why direct mail is still viable?

Photo: Money Mailer

Tinz admits that there is a perception that direct mail isn’t worth a landscaping company’s time, but he says there are case studies where businesses have dropped or reduced their direct mail campaigns and it has had a direct impact on their business.

“Because they didn’t use an acquisition type tool, it didn’t get their name out there in front of new consumers to get them to go through buying process,” he says.

Tinz argues that while you may have a great website, how will a homeowner know to Google your business if they’ve never heard of you in the first place?

“You have to have those trigger or touch points,” he says. “Those types of vehicles are very important in the media mix for any business today.” 

How to get the most out of direct mail

If you do decide to try direct mailings out, it’s important to do it the right way or odds are you won’t receive the return on investment you’re looking for.

There are several different factors that come into play when it comes to getting the most out of a direct mail campaign. According to Tinz, one of the main ways to keep your mailer from being tossed out like any old junk mail is targeting the right audience.

“Consumers have to be ready, willing and able to buy,” he says. “It’s an affordable way to target affluent homeowners with higher disposable incomes. It helps introduce consumers to their business.”

Photo: Money Mailer

Aside from just mailing to the right potential customers, landscapers have to find the right volume and frequency of mailers in order to build trust with the consumer and stay top of mind when they are ready to purchase. Tinz says for a landscaping company, they should be sending mail to households at least six to eight times a year.

“The more they do that, the better,” he says. “If they want to try something once, save your money. That won’t work.”

Tinz says it is important to research direct mail companies to identify which business will be able to reach the right demographics for your landscaping operation.

As for the design of the direct mail, there are three main important elements. The first is having a headline that has a consumer benefit to drive interest. The second is having an illustration that allows the homeowner to quickly identify your services.

“When a consumer looks at any kind of direct mail ad, you’re only going to have a few seconds for them to identify with who it is, the benefit of what it is and see the offers to trigger response,” Tinz says. “So, you want to make sure that you have an illustration so they can identify with it.”

Photo: Money Mailer

The third element is having broad based offers. Using multiple offers that appeal to different consumers will also help trigger a response. Tinz adds that the fewer offers you have, the fewer opportunities you have to sell somebody. He encourages offering discounts on services that can turn into repeat business so there is a higher return on the advertisement.

“Always try to use dollar savings versus percentages because it’s going to make it easier for the consumer to understand the value,” he says.

Tinz also suggests using offers that focus on specific times of the year and that match consumer behaviors.

“Seasonality is also important for landscapers depending on the market,” Tinz says. “Make sure, again, that you’re focusing on the right offers and advertising illustration, which is going to entice the consumer to act on your ad, and it will drive interest to purchase. Those are really key things.”

Tinz stresses that the offer must be attractive enough to trigger a response. Having weak offers or none at all on a direct mail piece will not be worth your time or money.

“I would never recommend that you run an ad without an offer,” he says. “Because, again, in the direct mail industry, consumers are looking for values and savings.”

When combined together, the headline is what will draw the consumer in, the illustration is what will get them to identify with the business and the offer is what will get them to respond.

“Anytime you’re dealing with any type of advertising, you have to keep the consumer in mind,” Tinz says. “You have to keep the type of consumer in mind, you have to have offers that are relevant that are going to get them to say, ‘You know what, I think I’m going to give this company a call,’ or ‘You know, I’m interested in buying their products,’ or ‘I think they have something that I might want.’”

Call to actions that can be included as well on a direct mail piece are expiration dates on the offer or the next step the consumer needs to take.

“I would highly recommend telling the consumer what to do,” Tinz says. “Call now, call this number now, call today. Go online at…so you have to direct the consumer to do something.”

Photo: Money Mailer

When it comes to tracking the effectiveness of your direct mail campaign, Tinz advises having different offers online versus what a consumer might see in print so the landscaper can identify where the touch point started.

“In today’s environment, the trigger points to get a consumer interested need to be tracked and credited from all sources of media to ensure you clearly understand where the first touch point came from,” he says.

Tinz says it’s a good idea to have offers online as well since you never know where a customer is going to have their first touch point.

“If there’s 35 touch points today, they may have gotten a referral from a friend, right?” Tinz says. “And they went on to the website and you want to have enticing offers. But if you have the same offers, they’re not going to be able to track what media source it came from. So, I would always make sure that anytime you’re using multiple media sources, try to switch up your offers on each one you can look at where they have come from.”

“When a business buys their campaign correctly, their response can be great,” he says. “If they’re not willing to invest correctly, it will not work well for them.”

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Photo: Out Teach

One of the big green industry topics professionals are focusing on nowadays is how to get more students involved and interested in careers in these fields.

Experts agree that one of the best ways to spread the word about what all the green industry can offer is to get involved with local schools to provide hands-on learning experiences that show them what being part of the green industry is all about.

If your landscaping company has ever considered trying to find ways to get involved with local school systems to spread the word about what you do and why it’s important, take a look at what one organization is doing across the country to get the word out there in a fun and interactive way.

Hands-on learning

Since the need to spread the word about what green industry professionals actually do is on the rise, Out Teach, a non-profit organization, has stepped up to this challenge by working with low-income elementary schools and school districts to create outdoor classrooms, dubbed outdoor learning labs by the organizers, that bring learning experiences to life.

“At Out Teach, we believe that an outdoor learning lab can be taken outside and you can create an enriching experience for students,” says Evan Dintaman, landscape architect and senior manager of projects and partnerships with Out Teach in the Mid-Atlantic region.“What makes our organization really neat is that we actually don’t only design and help build outdoor classroom space, but we also train teachers and do a professional development program on how to actually utilize those spaces all across the curriculum.”

Dintaman says that one unique aspect about Out Teach is that not only are the math and science classes incorporated into the curriculum, but also English, history, language arts, dance and more.

“We find that both students and teachers are more engaged in the subject matter, and the outdoor space is a great place to collect data, experiment and do that real hands-on, outdoor learning,” he says. “We think you can teach anything in the outdoor gardens.”

Photo: Out Teach

Regardless of what subject they teach, Dintaman says each participating teacher will receive one-on-one training with an Out Teach member to help them understand how they can properly teach their subject matter in the outdoor learning labs.

“I still remember the last lesson I did with my coach watching a parts of the plant lesson,” Gaby Lopez, second grade teacher with Sope Creek Elementary School in Marietta, Georgia, told Out Teach. “By reviewing the parts of a plant by identifying their importance, we gave my English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students a wealth of new vocabulary and word usage. And they really responded to comparing the functions of different parts of the plants to parts of the human body – which part is breathing?  Which part is drinking? How is it moving nutrients?  It’s all so much more meaningful and relevant in the real world.”

Preparation process

Dintaman says the preparation process for these outdoor classrooms begins with an application process where all interested schools can apply for the program, as well as the professional development program.

Once Out Teach interviews and finds the schools that they deem a good fit for the program, the organization holds two events called the Student Design Challenge and the Design and Dine. At the Student Design Challenge, every student in the school has the opportunity to draw their ideas for an outdoor space, and they are encouraged to be as creative as they want to be.

“We want all students to have the opportunity to express themselves and get their thoughts heard,” says Dintaman.

After this, Dintaman says a handful of students are chosen and invited to meet with the teachers and community members that are involved at the Design and Dine event. At this event, the three landscape architects on staff with Out Teach will take these submitted design ideas and work to create an overall vision of the outdoor space while at the event.

From there, Dintaman says he then creates a master plan that takes into account the available space at the school, the budget, sun exposure, topography, drainage, etc. to make sure they are creating a space that can be easily maintained and set up for success from the very start.

Participation and maintenance

Once the plans are finalized, Dintaman says he then takes these plans and a set of construction documents that will go to permit through the county and school district.

Once these permits are acquired, licensed contractors will come to the site and build any components of the project that required permitting. When these are all complete, the group will then hold another event called the Big Dig, which invites teachers, students and community members from the area to volunteer their time to install all of the other non-permitted elements of the outdoor classroom, such as mulch, plants, drainage stones or gravel.

Photo: Out Teach

When choosing plants for the space, Dintaman says they take into account which plants are native to the area and try to stick mainly with these options, as it can help cut down on maintenance.

“Teachers’ lives are busy and school district lives are really busy, so we try to make it as low-maintenance as possible by using plants that don’t need a ton of extra water,” he says. “Once they are established, they can usually sustain themselves.”

Since each outdoor classroom space can range anywhere from 2,000 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft., Dintaman says that each classroom could potentially have anywhere from two to four different types of gardens present, such as a butterfly garden, rain garden, meadow garden, perennial garden, herb garden and raised beds with fruits and vegetables.

“We try to incorporate as many different small garden environments as we can to create an immersive, large scale outdoor classroom space,” he says.

As far as maintenance is concerned, Dintaman says a lot has changed over the years. When the organization first started off, he says maintenance fell to the school districts and the school itself, but more recently the group has seriously considered partnering with local professional landscapers to try and lend a hand with routine maintenance.

“As the industry for outdoor classrooms and school gardens grows, I think along with it is growing the industry for school garden maintenance,” he says. “I think school garden maintenance takes on a totally different look than professional landscape maintenance, but I think school garden maintenance could fill a lot of gaps in scheduling that professional landscape maintenance crews might have.”

Check back tomorrow for part two, where we’ll talk about what professional landscapers can do to get involved with local schools and see the impact these projects can have on students. 

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Photo: John Deere

John Deere’s new 3D Series compact utility tractors are designed to tackle a multitude of jobs, including pulling, hauling, cutting and tilling.

The 3025D, 3035D and 3043D have a gear-drive transmission and two ranges and four speeds each. The gear shift lever is located to avoid awkward shifting gears between the knees.

The series has three horsepower levels: 25 horsepower, 35 horsepower and 43 horsepower. Each model has a weight of 2,778 pounds and a hauling capacity of 4,000 pounds.

“Our customers need rugged, tough machines that can tackle a variety of jobs, just like they do,” says DeMark Cole, product marketing manager, John Deere. “Customers are demanding a gear-drive transmission in the compact utility tractor market, and our 3D tractors provide just that – a simple, dependable, affordable gear-drive machine.”

The tractors have a long wheelbase and wide stance for improved stability and a smooth ride over rough terrain. The series has a tight turning radius and hydrostatic steering for easy maneuvering.

The 3D Series features a rear-mounted fuel tank that can hold 10 gallons. All the models are compatible with the all new John Deere Quik-Knect System. This prevents twisting or forcing to line up the splines when attaching rear implements. Operators can now slide the tractor and implement connectors together until they click in place.

The models are available with a 300E loader for added versatility. The tractors also have a three-point hitch that can lift nearly 1,600 pounds.

The tractors come with a standard two-year/2,000-hour warranty. The power train has a 6-year/2,000-hour warranty.

Step-N-Secure offers pickup truck bed handle accessory

Photo: Step-N-Secure

Step-N-Secure has launched a new pickup accessory that adds safety and security features to the bed of all Ford, GM and Dodge trucks.

The product Step-N-Secure installs into the truck bed stake hole, serving the dual purpose of providing a handle for those stepping into the bed of their truck as wells as serving as a raised-tie-down for securing cargo loads.

“As someone who has always owned and driven a pickup, I wanted to develop a simple, yet rugged accessory that made climbing into the back of my truck easier and safer, while also doubling as a raised tie-down point for large cargo loads,” says Joe Brielmann, co-owner of Step-N-Secure. “This product is designed to make life easier for any pickup truck owner, whether you’re a weekend warrior doing jobs around the house or using your truck for daily work.”

The dual handle and tie-down accessory is easy to install on your own and has an MSRP of $29.99. To learn more, click here.

Sipcam Agro USA introduces herbicide for pre- and post-emergent weed control

Coastal Herbicide, a Sipcam Agro USA product, has been federally registered and serves as a pre- and post-emergent control for both broadleaf and grassy weed control on the four major southern turfgrasses.

Costal has three active ingredients combined and can be used without the need to tank mix, making it an efficient solution when having to treat multiple lawns.

“It was our intention to deliver a more simplified and economical solution without compromising performance,” says Samuel Wineinger, manager, T&O marketing & formulator business, Sipcam Agro USA. “We believe Coastal will deliver the knockdown results needed for an effective integrated weed management program.”

In preliminary trials conducted by Mississippi State University, University of Georgia, University of Tennessee, North Carolina State University, Louisiana State University and Texas A&M University, Coastal had considerable control over Poa annua and Kyllinga as well as control over broadleaf weeds such as white clover and henbit.

It can also be applied at various times and still be effective, providing flexibility with application timings.

“Our trial results show Coastal has potential at different times of the year for controlling many weeds in one application,” says Patrick McCullough, associate professor, crop and soil sciences at University of Georgia. “This makes it a good option to add in to a sequential program with other herbicides. It also fits in well with herbicide rotation programs, particularly for turf managers who may be concerned about Poa resistance to products with a single mode of action.”

Ransome Attachments brings Gyru-Star screening bucket to U.S.

Ransome Attachments has reached an agreement to distribute the U.K.-based Gyru-Star compact screen bucket to the U.S. This attachment screens soils, aggregates, sand and compost without the need to shred or crush.

“Many of our customers are looking for cost-effective attachments that can do more with less,” says Eric Ransome, owner of Ransome Attachments. “The Gyru-Star is a perfect complement to our attachment lineup because it not only delivers in these areas, but also brings a slew of additional features at a competitive price point.”

The Gyru-Star stands out from other soil screening systems because it is designed specifically for compact excavators ranging from 2,000 to 50,000 pounds, as well as compact wheel loaders, skid steers and agricultural tractors.

The Gyru-Star’s design has rows of rotating polyurethane stars that separate rocks and vegetation from the material to be screened. The unique shape, flexibility and spacing of the stars also eliminates the potential for clogging.

According to Ransome Attachments, it is best suited for landscaping and smaller scale contracting applications.

The Gyru-Star also uses a single-acting hammer circuit, unlike other screening buckets that require a double-acting hydraulic circuit.

Target Specialty Products debuts Turf Fuel The Kraken wetting agent

Target Specialty Products has introduced a wetting agent, Turf Fuel The Kraken, which is designed for turf surfaces that require the highest level of consistency.

“Through exhaustive university trials and close consultation with our network of industry experts, we have learned that professionals at the highest-level demand control over their soil hydration,” says Mark Jull, head of Turf Fuel Products’ division, at Target Specialty Products. “Kraken combines multiple components to provide ultimate control of hydration and firmness.”

The Kraken can be used at any time of the season and has the ability to hold water consistently deep in the profile, but keeps the soil dry near the surface. It can also be used along with Turf Fuel Cleanse, Abyss and Vanquish depending on the season and soil needs.

Anthony Tesselaar Plants launches redesigned website

Horticultural project management company Anthony Tesselaar Plants has updated its website, so it is easier for visitors to navigate on desktop and mobile devices.

It takes two to three clicks to reach anywhere on the site and there is a considerable collection of photos that show plant closeups as well as in landscape settings. Users can search and view plants by categories like scent, foliage, etc. or by the brand.

Visitors can gather gardening ideas with the “Get Inspired” articles on topics such as attracting butterflies and creating texture in the garden.

Each plant page also has links to Tesselaar’s collection of photos in Flickr, which can be downloaded in either low or high resolution. Tesselaar’s Flickr site includes albums for each plant along with categories such as hedge plants, drought plants, container plants and cottage gardens.  These images are available to garden centers, growers and garden media for use on websites, press releases, blog posts and more. 

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With the burgeoning debate against glyphosate still in full force, Bayer AG has announced that it will pump approximately $5.6 billion (5 billion euros) of its research and development budget into alternatives to its weed killer glyphosate over the next decade; the company is currently battling more than 13,000 lawsuits claiming the herbicide causes cancer.

Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that a final interim determination on the review of the herbicide glyphosate has been reached.

“EPA has found no risks to public health from the current registered uses of glyphosate,” EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said in an online press release. “(The) proposed action includes new management measures that will help farmers use glyphosate in the most effective and efficient way possible, including pollinator protections. We look forward to input from farmers and other stakeholders to ensure that the draft management measures are workable, realistic and effective.”

The EPA reached this determination after conducting extensive human health and ecological risk assessments, and the interim final determination follows the publication of a draft assessment on glyphosate in 2017, which the EPA says also did not find glyphosate to be harmful to public health when used in accordance with label instructions.

According to Science Direct, glyphosate is the most widely used broad-spectrum systemic herbicide in the world. Researchers with Science Direct conducted a meta-analysis that included five case-control studies and the most recent update of the Agricultural Health Study (AHS) cohort published in 2018.

They concluded that when using the highest exposure groups when available in each study, the overall meta-relative risk of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) in glyphosate-based herbicide (GBH)-exposed individuals was increased by 41 percent.

To try and ease the growing concerns about this chemical, Bayer says it will seek more public feedback during the coming safety certification process in Europe. Bayer adds that they want to offer farmers new products to combat weeds while standing behind Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.

“While glyphosate will continue to play an important role in agriculture and in Bayer’s portfolio, the company is committed to offering more choices for growers,” Bayer says in a statement.

Currently, the company says it is working to fix its public image as it battles litigation in the United States and other countries such as Australia. According to Fortune, last month a German company suffered a third straight trial loss over claims that exposure to Roundup had caused cancer.

These claims, Fortune reports, prompted some analysts to raise their estimates for settling the litigation to as much as $10 billion.

Bayer says it’s struggled to deal with the negative outlooks that have come from the litigation surrounding Monsanto, and last month, Bayer hired the law firm Sidley Austin LLP to investigate a surveillance project that the U.S. company launched against European reporters and policy makers.

In Europe, Bayer and other companies that sell glyphosate-based products will need another review in order to keep selling the chemical in the region after 2022, and the last round ended in a re-approval for just five years.

In the European Union, Fortune says that re-registration for glyphosate is due to start later this year, and Bayer says the process this time will include not only public review, but also review from scientists, journalists and non-governmental organizations to contribute to its scientific preparations.

Fortune reports that a U.S. judge overseeing federal lawsuits has appointed high-profile mediator Ken Feinberg to lead settlement talks over the herbicide litigation, and the next case will go to trial in August in St. Louis, Missouri, a district that Fortune says is close to Monsanto’s headquarters but is also considered friendly to plaintiffs.

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