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Archives for April 27, 2014

RCF Group ready to reach new milestone

Scott Robertson remembers it like it was yesterday.

In February 2003, Procter Gamble brought its various suppliers downtown and split them into two groups. In one room were CEOs like Robertson, who then ran Globe Business Interiors. In the other room were CEOs of minority-owned companies like Carl Satterwhite, then president of Infinity Services Inc.

PG’s message was straightforward: It wanted to do more business with minority-owned suppliers. Those suppliers, though, had to have the scale and sophistication to service the Fortune 500 giant.

PG suggested that the CEOs in each room start talking and exploring joint ventures, but Robertson and Satterwhite were ahead of the game. The two were already talking about combining companies, and the PG meeting accelerated their efforts.

The result was RCF Group, an office-furniture and workplace-design firm that opened for business in 2004 and has tripled its revenue over the succeeding 10 years. The growth is more remarkable considering that the combined revenue in the industry has fallen 40 percent during that time.

Now, RCF Group is poised for a new phase of growth.

This month it acquired a Cleveland company – the Cuyahoga Companies Inc. – giving it access to that market, which is home to organizations including KeyBank and Cleveland Clinic. RCF already is doing work with KeyBank.

Robertson, owner and chairman of RCF Group, said the company also is studying growth opportunities outside of Ohio. The chance to add new clients is not important just to his company, but also will benefit its existing customers in this region. Among them: Western Southern Financial Group, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, PG and Great American Insurance Group.

“KeyBank will do things different than Procter, and we’ll bring back those learnings,” Robertson said.

“That exchange of knowledge, that sharing of information fundamentally has a huge impact on what we can deliver across so many different clients. Whether it’s Cleveland or whatever market we go to in order to develop new corporate clients, that helps our existing client base.”

Mission from the get-go: building a great business

In one sense, RCF Group reflects the efforts of Cincinnati’s top business and civic executives. They made growth among minority businesses a priority following the 2001 racial unrest and today categorize diversity as a core part of economic development.

RCF Group was the first joint venture facilitated by the Minority Business Accelerator, an economic development initiative created by Cincinnati Community Action Now in 2003 and run by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. Fast-forward and RCF Group is purchasing a majority-owned business, which is unusual for a minority-owned business.

The bigger story, owner and president Satterwhite said, is what happens when companies focus on building a great business, period. That’s been RCF Group’s mission from Day One. It’s why Satterwhite, Robertson and chief operating officer Bryan Lindholz are particularly proud that RCF Group was one of six firms in 2013 to receive Jones Lang LaSalle’s Supplier of Distinction Award.

“Business is fierce, business is tough. If diversity or minority status matters to a client, that’s one checked box somewhere. But we’ve never won any business because we were minority owned,” Satterwhite said.

“A long time ago we decided that, while we happen to have minority ownership, we have to be a highest-quality, best-in-class company. We always benchmark ourselves against those stronger than us. In our industry, those stronger than us happen to be majority firms. Servicing Fortune 500 firms is not easy, and you have to deliver to those corporations.”

The furniture industry is a territorial business, which can limit growth. Furniture makers have individual relationships with suppliers in various geographic territories, and so, while RCF group can service PG buildings anywhere in the country, it cannot go into another city or state and solicit business from a new company unless it’s invited. In those cases, Robertson said, RCF Group doesn’t take the work unless it can partner with a local company. That’s a central part of its go-to-market strategy.

“In the long run, the amount of business we give up if we can’t partner with somebody is dwarfed by the business we do when we find a partner,” Robertson said.

RCF Group’s expertise is key as companies redesign offices

The acquisition positions RCF Group to compete for business in Cleveland and introduce its unique business model to that market.

In addition to providing and maintaining office furniture, RCF Group has expertise in interior architecture – everything from flooring to noise control – as well as landscaping and facilities management. It’s a strong model as a growing number of companies redesign their spaces to generate more innovation and collaboration.

Lindholz notes that ultimately furniture is … well, furniture. That makes customer service focusing on clients’ needs a key differentiator. RCF Group’s relationship with Cincinnati Children’s highlights the point.

During flu season this year, Lindholz got an emergency call at 9:30 p.m. from Children’s, which needed temporary beds. It’s the kind of contingency RCF Group plans for, and a crew delivered the beds within 45 minutes.

“One of the things we talk about is delivering outstanding outcomes, experiences and value for our patients and their families. Those three ideas are what we look for in our supplier partners,” said Michael Fisher, CEO of Children’s Hospital.

Fisher has a unique perspective on RCF Group. When the company formed, Fisher was the chamber CEO and among executives who helped create and implement the Minority Business Accelerator. He’s watched RCF Group grow and become part of the business and civic community.

“Their particular example is so meaningful because, from the get-go, they’ve made it a high priority to give back to the community, both in their own involvement and development of other minority- and women-owned businesses, but also in their civic leadership and philanthropic support,” Fisher said.

“It’s one example, and one the community should be proud of. The good news is there are a number of other stories like theirs. And we would all benefit from dozens and dozens more.” ■

National recognition

RCF Group is one of six companies that Jones Lang LaSalle recently recognized with a Supplier of Distinction Award for 2013.

RCF Group won in the category of Total Cost Management. The company saved a client more than $1 million and delivered an additional $200,000 of year-over-year cost savings.

Jones Lang LaSalle, a financial and professional services firm, evaluated hundreds of suppliers around the world for the award.

Leaders in business, civic affairs

Scott Robertson and Carl Satterwhite are deeply embedded in the region’s business community.

• Robertson is president of the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, which is made up of the region’s mid-sized companies and is focused on economic development, government affairs and education. His board roles also include REDI Cincinnati, which is charged with business attraction and expansion.

• Satterwhite is on the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s executive committee and a board member on the newly formed Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council. The council, which used to be split into north and south factions in Ohio, merged in December and has a strong local presence.

Dwain Carver, PG’s associate director of corporate supplier diversity, is the chair. Denise Thomas, Kroger’s director of corporate supplier diversity, is the vice chair.

• Robertson and Satterwhite also are part owners of the Cincinnati Reds.

Article source: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/money/josh-pichler/2014/04/26/rcf-group-ready-reach-new-milestone/8201841/

No easy answers to health of Gore Creek

VAIL — There are three essential things to know about Gore Creek and its presence on the state’s list of “impaired” streams:

• The stream is still in pretty good shape, considering.

• The problems the stream does have are complex.

• It’s going to take time, and a lot of cooperation between the public and private sectors, to get the stream off the state’s list.

Town of Vail officials recently hosted a lunch meeting to discuss some ideas for helping the creek, inviting people who do landscaping, spraying and similar work in town, along with residents.

The presentation featured a discussion of problems facing the creek, including parking lot runoff, landscaping that causes stream bank erosion and spraying that can kill the small insects that fish depend on for food.

Given the audience, a lot of attention was paid to mowing and spraying.

Town landscape architect Gregg Barrie said the town has already changed its practices along the stream. Town officials and Vail Recreation District officials are still talking about ways to protect the stream through the town’s golf course. But the town and the Recreation District only own or control about half the property along the creek through Vail. More than 40 percent is private property. That’s where the landscaping industry plays a role.

Pesticide Use

Barrie said that because of waves of bugs that have attacked lodgepole pines, spruce trees and now aspens, there’s been a lot of spraying in order to protect trees in town.

The town and landscaping companies have a lot of tools at their disposal, but some property owners still spray their trees from the top down, almost inevitably leading to pesticides getting into the creek and killing beneficial bugs.

Mowing to the stream bank can also harm those bugs, taking away natural habitat and shade for fish.

“We’re trying to reduce or change pesticide use in town,” Barrie said, adding that town officials are asking private property owners to both stop widespread spraying and leaving “no-mow” zones along the stream banks.

Besides spraying, town officials are asking property owners to re-think their landscaping plans. Todd Oppenheimer, the town’s capital projects manager and a longtime landscape architect, told the audience — which nearly filled Donovan Pavilion — that it’s long past time to stop planting spruce trees. Oppenheimer showed an aerial photo of East Vail from 1980 that showed few homes and fewer trees.

As the neighborhood has built out, property owners have planted trees to the point that branches are overlapping in many areas. That leads to less-healthy trees and also gives bugs an easy path from tree to tree.

Oppenheimer asked landscape professionals to vary what they plant, make sure irrigation plans are appropriate for what’s been planted and properly maintain landscaping.

“More fertilizer isn’t always better,” he said.

In addition to killing bugs, Barrie said some weed-killers can also harm fish and the bugs they eat. That’s important to know when tackling invasive weeds, he said. While spraying often helps, there are times when old-fashioned hand labor works well, and without any environmental damage.

After the meeting, Ted James, a former school teacher in the valley and the current president of the Colorado Watershed Assembly, said he was impressed by the presentation, and the fact there was a good turnout for it.

“Public awareness is important,” James said. “I’m pleased to see adults participating, and not just school kids.”

Mike Earl, of Land Designs by Ellison, has worked for years on the various infestations plaguing local trees. He said he’s seeing progress, particularly when it comes to educating customers about “best practices” for trees in sensitive areas.

The problem, he said, is that alternatives to spraying are effective, but generally they are quite a bit more expensive. In a place like Vail, where real estate near the creek is more expensive, property owners are generally willing to pay for those alternatives.

“If they trust you to choose, you can do it,” Earl said.


Article source: http://www.vaildaily.com/news/11169869-113/creek-town-spraying-stream

Dewhurst lie about Patrick will cost him; desert landscaping is long overdue here – Austin American

Dewhurst lie about Patrick will cost him

Re: April 20 PolitiFact Texas Column, “Patrick name change not related to bankruptcy.”

The age-old political ploy to publish a lie about your opponent, knowing full well it is a lie, can have the opposite effect on voters. Yes, some people will read the lie and never hear the truth, possibly leading them to vote against the “lied about” party. However, many voters are more involved in the process today, and they will dig a little further when a really “out there” claim is made. The bottom line: the teller of the lie is the liar. Shame on you, Mr. Dewhurst! Your big fat one just lost you a supporter and gained one for Mr. Patrick!

SUSAN CHAMPAGNE-MILLER, CEDAR PARK

Desert landscaping is long overdue here

Re: April 23 article, “Appropriate landscaping can help us save our water.”

I am so pleased to see Tom Hegemier’s commentary. With large developments going in all over Austin and the surrounding areas (where every house built seems to have the usual turf-grass sodded lawns with sprinkler systems installed), I began to get concerned that builders were not aware of the fact that we are in a serious drought. It is past time to start thinking outside the “landscaping box,” and surprising that such an environmentally progressive area is not already implementing desperately needed changes. We may need to borrow landscaping ideas from our friends in New Mexico and Arizona!

PATRICIA HEARNE, LEANDER

Safer rules needed for chemical businesses

Re: April 23 article, “Safety panel presents findings on West blast.

Although disaster preparedness and first-responder training is incredibly important, Texas should move more toward disaster prevention by requiring facilities that store, transport, use or manufacture hazardous chemicals are using inherently safer technologies. Public support is on the side of common sense: In October 2013, a national poll by Lake Research Partners showed that a majority of likely Democrat and Republican voters agreed that “the federal government should require chemical facilities to use safer chemicals and processes” when they are effective, available and affordable. Many hazardous chemicals have safer alternatives that can eliminate or greatly reduce the potential for injury or death. In fact, hundreds of facilities have already switched to safer chemicals and processes — like the Clorox Company in their Houston plant. Should we only be preparing for the next disaster, or doing what we can to prevent it?

SARA SMITH, AUSTIN

Is jail cell too hot? Don’t commit crime

Re: April 23 article, “UT report: Prison heat a violation of rights.

We recently read your article and truly have an issue. First and foremost, what part of “prison” do people not understand? You break the “law of the land”, you go to prison. Why should we the taxpayers make your life comfortable while there? Don’t we pay enough to provide you with a bed, shower, food and oh yeah, lest we forget, you get free medical and access to training and schooling if you want and all on we the taxpayers’ nickel. So if you break the law, do your time and stop crying. Don’t break the law, live at home and pay your own way!

R. L. SANDY COOPER, GEORGETOWN

Article source: http://www.statesman.com/news/news/opinion/letters-to-the-editor-for-april-27-2014/nfhqC/

Property to be named Project GREEN Gardens

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Article source: http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/local/2014/04/26/property-named-project-green-gardens/8235673/

Annual pond show an explosion of color – Post

By Karen Caffarini
Post-Tribune correspondent

April 27, 2014 12:00AM

Visitors check out one of the pond displays Saturday, April 26, 2014, at the 13th annual Illiana Garden Pond Expo at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point. | Karen Caffarini~for Sun-Times Media

If you go

The 13th Annual Garden Pond Expo hosted by the Illiana Garden Pond Society, continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 889 S. Court St., Crown Point.

Admission is $5.


Article Extras





Updated: April 27, 2014 2:07AM

CROWN POINT — Steve Kenniger said he starts every day opening the blinds at his Hobart home and looking out at his pond, even during the winter when it’s covered with snow.

On Saturday, he was carrying bags full of plants that will add color and greenery to his peaceful two-tier pond with a waterfall.

Kenniger was one of about 3,000 people expected to visit the 13th Annual Illiana Garden Pond Expo at the Lake County Fairgrounds during its two-day run, Saturday and Sunday.

“The fish made it through the ice and snow this year, but the plants don’t make it through the winter,” Kenniger said.

The show, hosted by the Illiana Garden Pond Society, features several completely landscaped ponds and waterfalls, as well as hanging baskets, flowers, herbs, vegetables and flower bulbs, garden art and accessories and landscaping ideas.

“I think everyone’s ready to see gardens and flowers. Everyone’s ready for winter to be over,” said Sara Legler, president of the garden and pond society.

Rich Forster, of Valparaiso, was at the expo Saturday with Karla Eder, of Hammond, getting ideas. He said he has one pond, but is looking to build a second one.

“There are some new ideas this year,” Eder said.

The theme of this year’s expo is “Color Your World,” and many of the 57 vendors at the show played it up with bright orange and yellow hanging baskets of flowers, bright red geraniums, lilac azaleas, deep purple peonies and other flowers for sale or dotting their landscapes. One vendor took the theme to the next step, making fountains that looked like different colored crayons.

Business was good at Unique Bulb’s booth. The Indianapolis-based vendor carried such unique flower bulbs as Voodoo Lillies and Liatris Spicatas, most of which already had growth sprouting.

“We try to carry bulbs other people don’t,” said employee Leslie McGuire.

McGuire said the company goes to a number of shows in different states, but the one in Crown Point is one of her favorites.

“This is the most peaceful, and it’s all about plants,” McGuire said.

Article source: http://posttrib.suntimes.com/news/lake/27036832-418/annual-pond-show-an-explosion-of-color.html

Flowers, fruits, shrubs and trees – News

The folks at Mann’s Lawn and Landscaping, Moffet Nursery and Garden Shop and Knee Deep in June are three of the many local businesses gearing up to help gardeners and homeowners seeking to add variety to their yards and gardens.


For those who like hot, hot peppers, Mann’s and Moffet’s have a new variety that’s supposed to be akin to fire when bitten into.

“It’s called the Ghost Pepper and it will be the hottest pepper until someone develops the next latest and greatest pepper for next year,” says Krystin Kleinlein, an herbaceous specialist at Moffet’s.

For those who like tomatoes, Moffett’s recommends the new “Sweet Seedless” tomato. “It has more meat, less pulp and no seeds, Mrs. Kleinlein says.

Knee Deep in June cultivates its yards with hellebore and pulmonaria. They’re plants for those who want to see blooms in early spring.

The pulmonaria generally have pink, purple, lavender and white flowers, but the foliage is nice all year long, and they are good companion plants to go with other varieties, says Bev Hoyt, one of Knee Deep’s owners.

Mann’s and Moffet’s say the annual that everyone seems to like is petunias, and there are lots of new colors.

Moffet’s “rose man” Charles Anctil says roses are easy to maintain and hearty. He recommends drift roses. But if a drift rose isn’t the right thing, he says there are 55,000 registered rose varieties, and Moffet’s has between 1,500 and 2,000 different ones.

“Roses aren’t as hard to take care of as people think,” Mr. Anctil says.

Nicole Armendariz, Moffet’s landscape design specialist, recommends two trees — Dragon Eye Pine and Waterlily Magnolia with its white star flowers. The pine tree’s long soft needles have green and yellow stripes, Ms. Armendariz says.

Oaks and maples are still recommended, says Lisa Potter, Mann’s greenhouse manager.

A visit to Knee Deep, 16th and Boyd streets, in May will give visitors a chance to see sun-loving iris and shade-loving hostas. Both plants are low-maintenance.

After 30 years of hybridizing, the iris Lydia Safen Swiastyn is really getting interesting with its gold and purple colors, says Mitch Jamison, a Knee Deep owner.

Moffet’s (located on Missouri Highway 6 east on Frederick Boulevard) will have vessels for container gardens, and Mann’s (located on north U.S. 169 in Andrew County) will have a variety of specialty products for walls and other landscaping projects.

Stores all along the Belt Highway will be gearing up in the coming weeks with sales for homeowners looking to start new gardens or landscaping projects.

Article source: http://www.newspressnow.com/life/article_a25c92e0-004a-5ecd-9522-fc28732e4957.html

Gardening Guru Tips — Elevate Your Gardening Success – Juneau County Star

Don’t let a sore back, bad knees or lousy soil stop you from gardening. Elevate your garden for easier access and better gardening results. The simple act of creating a raised bed improves drainage in heavy clay soil. Add in some organic matter to further increase drainage and improve the water-holding ability for sandy soils.

And if your soil is beyond repair or you don’t want to wait, a raised garden allows you to bring in quality soil and create a garden right on top of the existing soil or even paved areas. The quality soil and easy access will allow for dense plantings without pathways. This means greater yields, up to four times more, in raised beds than in-ground gardens.

Raised beds also help conserve water. You’ll concentrate your growing efforts in smaller areas and that means less water wasted. Increase the benefit by using soaker hoses or drip irrigation in order to concentrate water application to the soil nearest the plants, right where it is needed.

Make your raised bed a comfortable height. Elevating the garden minimizes bending and kneeling. Design raised beds in corners or edges suited for sitting or areas narrow enough to set a garden bench alongside for easy access.

Design raised gardens so they are narrow enough for gardeners to easily reach all plants growing within the garden. Or include steppers or pathways if creating larger raised garden areas.

Add a mowing strip around the edge of the raised bed. A narrow strip of mulch or pavers set level with the soil surface keep the area tidy and eliminate the need for hand trimming.

Select a material suited to your landscape design. Wood, brick and stones have long been used to create raised beds. Consider using materials that are long-lasting and easy to assemble, like Lexington Planter Stone (lexingtonseries.com). These stone sections can be set right on the ground, fit together easily, and can be arranged and stacked to make planters the size, shape and height desired.

Start a raised bed garden by measuring and marking the desired size and shape. Remove the existing grass and level the area. For taller raised gardens edge the bed, cut the grass short and cover with newspaper or cardboard prior to filling with soil. Be sure to follow directions for the system being installed.

Once the raised bed is complete, fill it with quality soil. Calculate the volume of soil needed by multiplying the length times the width times the height of the raised bed, making sure all measurements are in feet. Convert the cubic feet measurement to cubic yards by dividing it by 27 – the number of cubic feet in a cubic yard. For a 4×8-foot raised bed that is 2 feet deep you would multiply 4 x 8 x 2. This equals 64 cubic feet. Divide by 27 and you will need just a bit more than 1 cubic yard of soil. Don’t let the math overwhelm you; most topsoil companies and garden center staff can help you with the calculations. Just be sure to have the raised bed dimensions handy when you order your soil.

The best part is that this one-time investment of time and effort will pay off with years of gardening success.

Article source: http://www.wiscnews.com/juneaucountystartimes/lifestyles/community/article_5f93edbe-2ffc-5125-b8d4-2102a0995469.html

Lawn & Garden Feature: Spring Planning Tips

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Yard Works 728x90

Spring means that the garden centers are packed with people, and car trunks are packed with plants. Everybody has dirt on their knees, dirt under their nails, and are excited about gardening. To make certain that this excitement yields positive results, let’s discuss the basics of spring planting.

Installing new plants and having them grow successfully is not difficult, nor is it as complicated as some would have you think. Is it as easy as just digging a hole and setting the plant in? Yes, it certainly can be.

Let’s start with BB plants. BB is short for balled in burlap. Closely examine the ball on the plant that you have purchased. Did the diggers wrap twine around the ball to hold the plant secure? If they did, you should at least cut the twine and lay it in the bottom of the hole, or remove it completely. Pay close attention around the stem of the plant where it emerges from the root ball, as diggers often wrap the twine around the stem several times as they tie the ball. This is extremely important because if the string is nylon, it will not rot and will girdle and kill the plant two or three years from now.

When BB plants are stored in the nursery for extended periods of time it becomes necessary to re-burlap them if the bottom starts to rot before the plants are sold. If the plant that you buy has been re-burlaped it is possible that there could be nylon stings between the two layers of burlap, check the stem carefully. As long as the nylon string is removed from around the stem of the plant, it is actually harmless around the rest of the ball, and you do not have to remove it.

Is the root ball wrapped in genuine burlap, or imitation burlap made of a non-biodegradable plastic material?

Genuine burlap will rot quickly underground and does not have to be disturbed before planting. If you’re not sure or suspect a poly type burlap, you don’t have to remove it completely, but should loosen it around the stem of the plant and cut some vertical slices around the circumference of the ball.

Now here’s the critical part. What kind of soil are you planting in?

If your soil is heavy clay, I highly suggest that your raise the planting bed at least 8” with good rich topsoil. If you can’t do that for some reason, install the plant so that at least 2” or more of the root ball is above the existing grade and mound the soil over the root ball. Keep in mind that plants installed this way could dry out over the summer, but planting them flush with the ground in heavy clay can mean that the roots will be too wet at other times of the year.

The “experts” suggest that when planting in clay soil you dig the hole wider and deeper than the root ball and fill around and under the plant with loose organic material. That sounds like a really great idea doesn’t it? Some of these experts also recommend that you dig the hole extra deep and put a few inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage. Where do you suppose they think this water is going to “drain” to?

Keep in mind that most BB plants are grown in well drained soil. That means that the soil in the root ball is porous and water can easily pass through. Now imagine if you will, a root ball about 15” in diameter, setting in a hole 30” diameter. All around and under that root ball is loose organic matter. Inside of that root ball is porous soil. Now along comes Mother Nature with a torrential downpour. There is water everywhere, and it is not going to soak into that hard packed clay soil, so it is just flowing across the top of the ground searching for the lowest point.

When it reaches our newly planted tree surrounded by loose organic matter, it is going to seep in until the planting hole is completely full of water. (Remember my article on getting rid of standing water and the French drain system?) By using this planting technique we have actually created a French drain around our poor little plant that cannot tolerate its roots being without oxygen for long periods of time. Because the bottom of this hole is clay, even though we’ve added gravel for drainage, there is nowhere for the water to go, and this plant is going to suffer and likely die.

If you cannot raise the planting bed with topsoil, and are planting in clay soil, I recommend that you install the root ball at least 2” above grade and backfill around the ball with the soil that you removed when you dug the hole. Backfilling with the clay soil that you removed is actually like building a dam to keep excess water from permeating the root ball of your newly planted tree. The plant is not going to thrive in this poor soil, but at least it will have a chance to survive.

Once again, raising the bed with good rich topsoil is the best thing you can do to keep your plants healthy and happy.

No matter what kind of soil you have, be careful not to install your plants too deep. They should never be planted any deeper than they were grown in the nursery. Planting too deep is a common problem, and thousands of plants are killed each year by gardeners who just don’t understand how critical planting depth is.

Visit http://www.freeplants.com for more articles by Michael J. McGroarty

 

Article source: http://gantdaily.com/2014/04/25/lawn-garden-feature-spring-planning-tips/

4 Tips for "Green" Gardening from Avant Garden Decor




PHILADELPHIA, April 26, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — What can be more natural and beneficial to the earth and the environment than Green Gardening? When gardeners use eco-friendly gardening techniques, they can get better results and save their gardens from damage done by chemicals.

A few simple gardening habits are all it takes to get started on the journey to “Green.”

1.) Efficient Watering: Cut down on water evaporation and waste by watering your gardens in the early morning or evening. Apply mulch to your garden beds to retain water moisture in your plants while also decreasing weed growth.

2.) Say Goodbye to Chemicals: Get rid of pesticides and chemical fertilizers and instead turn to organic weed killers and compost. Safer Brand has a line of organic products that is well-loved by gardeners for its effectiveness, in addition to its organic attributes. Most Safer Brand products are OMRI approved. Safer Brand EndALL kills over 40 different plant-attacking insects while keeping the environment safe. (http://www.avantgardendecor.com/store/insect-controls/b5102)

3.) Composting Made Easy: The hero in “Green” Gardening is the compost pile. By using leaves, grass clippings, fruit and vegetable skins, you can make compost and give your gardens a nutritional super-sized meal. This will not only cut down on waste and save money on expensive fertilizers, but will also enhance the soil with all necessary nutrients.

Start the composting process with Ringer Compost Plus Compost Maker, which uses a range of natural microorganisms to aid in material breakdown. In particular, Ringer Compost Plus combines thermophilic organisms that work at higher temperatures and contains specially designed nutrient sources that start the compost process more quickly and efficiently.(http://www.avantgardendecor.com/store/composting/2b3050)

4.) “Green” Hanging Flower Baskets: Flower gardening can get in on the “Green” movement as well when gardeners use the EcoLiner for their flower baskets and pots. EcoLiner is made with recycled materials and has higher water retention than traditionally used coco liners. In addition, the smoother lining of the EcoLiner gives flower gardeners a new and elegant look for their potted flowers. In addition to its eco-friendly attributes, it has the added benefit of being “Made in the USA.” (http://www.avantgardendecor.com/store/ecoliner/plb14)

These four, simple gardening habits are easy for every gardener to embrace as part of a “Green” gardening plan. By putting these tips into practice, the environment will be one step closer to sustainability for future generations.

Avant Garden Decor is a premier brand of innovative outdoor living decor, including the CobraCo Brand. From stylish planters and baskets, to flower boxes, plant stands, and fire pits, the CobraCo Brand is the outdoor entertainer’s choice for outdoor decor. Avant Garden Decor also offers Gardener’s Blue Ribbon brand of garden helpers, such as garden stakes, accessories, and various plant saucers that meet the demands of both gardening hobbyists and enthusiasts alike. Gardeners can contact Avant Garden Decor at www.avantgardendecor.com or 800-323-5800.

This press release was issued through 24-7PressRelease.com. For further information, visit http://www.24-7pressrelease.com.

SOURCE Avant Garden Decor

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Article source: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/4-tips-for-green-gardening-from-avant-garden-decor-256818231.html

Turning gardens into healing sanctuaries: Walnut Creek to host landscape …

WALNUT CREEK — Sarah Sutton’s no stranger to the relationship between healing and nature. Growing up on the Peninsula, Sutton and her sisters appreciated the wonders of nature — forests, landscapes, beaches and gardens. Then and now, Sutton had always regarded the earth’s treasures as a natural art form that helped to calm the mind, body and spirit.

“Our Dad would take us out to be immersed in nature, whether it was hiking in the forest, walking in Huddart Park, the beaches along Half Moon Bay,” said Sutton. “We were three little girls tidepooling.”

From her father, Sutton learned the art of de-stressing in nature — something she’s cultivated as a landscape architect, ecologist and artist.

The author of “The New American Front Yard: Kiss Your Grass Goodbye” will be presenting “Healing Places, Restorative Spaces: Creating Landscapes and Gardens that Sustain Ourselves and the Planet.” The book received a Silver Nautilus Award for Green Living/Sustainability and an Honorable Mention Award at the 2013 SF Green Book Festival).

At the April 30 event at The Gardens at Heather Farm, Sutton will show people how to regard home gardens and landscapes as much more than window dressing — they can be sustainable, restorative healing places.

Sutton admits that while she grew up reading Sunset Magazine, which first instilled in her a love for gardens, she initially wasn’t an avid gardener at the time. She thought about becoming a commercial artist but a college counselor pointed her toward pursuing a degree in landscape architecture. Suddenly, it all made sense–this career integrated her childhood love for nature with her love of art.

Sutton, who is also a Certified Natural Health professional, will discuss how garden designs and what you plant in your garden can help you create a healing sanctuary in suburbia. Topics will include how to holistically manage your garden, front yard foraging, regenerative landscape design and using Feng Shui principles in your garden.

While Sutton has painted oil and watercolor pieces, she considers the healing design projects she’s helped create to be a different kind of art medium. She’s applied holistic garden design principles to park plazas and gardens for family and friends.

Suzanne R. Schrift, a longtime colleague and a friend, said Sutton has a broad understanding of ecologically sound landscape principles and cutting edge practices, and is committed to teaching people how to think and act sustainably in the landscape.

“Her new book is an easy to read yet extensive guide that will change the way people see the landscape around them,” Schrift said.

Gail Donaldson, who’s known Sutton for nearly 20 years as a colleague and friend, said Sutton’s work has always combined her passion for the natural environment with her love of art and design. Sutton’s book, Donaldson said, is a guide “to restoring the planet one yard at a time.”

“The book contains a wealth of information on sustainable design, clearly presented in a lively and engaging way,” Donaldson said. It is chock full of ideas, images, references and information, valuable to novices and experts alike. Presenting a step-by-step approach to transforming a front yard, I find that I can open this book to just about any page and find an inspiring idea or image.”

At first, trying to apply her knowledge to her own home garden was a challenge, said Sutton, who lives in Berkeley.

Eventually, she learned to design a healing garden tailored to her own needs. She’s also learned how to make tinctures and healing salves made from herbs from her own garden.

When she experienced some health issues, Sutton gravitated toward natural remedies that included using herbs and plants from the garden.

“The realization was that I learned about propagating, harvesting and growing my own plants to use for healing,” said Sutton, who obtained a certificate in Therapeutic Healing Garden Design from the Chicago Botanical Garden. “I could dig up dandelion and make my own tea. It was a real epiphany.”

Article source: http://www.contracostatimes.com/lamorinda/ci_25622268/turning-gardens-into-healing-sanctuaries-walnut-creek-host