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COVID-19 Update-Our Status as an Essential Business

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To our valued clients and community,

 

We want to give you an update on our standing regarding the recent COVID-19 response in New Hampshire.

Beginning on March 28, New Hampshire is under “Stay at Home” orders intended to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This order prevents businesses from opening or conducting general operations unless deemed as an essential business. Belknap Landscape, based upon services provided, is an essential business under the current state designations.

The following statement by the National Association of Landscape Professional explains some reasons why landscaping is essential.

Landscape professionals maintain and protect the living environments around hospitals, government facilities, housing areas, parks, schools, and more; protecting public safety by:

  • performing regular maintenance to mow, prune control weeds, and inspect for safety and security issues;
  • performing essential treatments to reduce the spread of dangerous and deadly diseases through pests like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas;
  • removing fallen trees and mitigating overhead hazards from wind effects;
  • providing maintenance and plant removal to assist in fire abatement;
  • managing invasive species; and
  • keeping public and private pathways free from obstruction and potential risk.

Additionally, in many instances our operations include the construction or repair of properties to remove hazardous situations, improve egress, reduce standing water, address flooding or erosion concerns, and proactively address conditions that influence the safety and wellness of our clients and community.

Being an essential business carries a responsibility we take seriously, with safety being the paramount consideration. We are following OSHA guidelines in addition to those from other government and professional organizations to ensure the safety of our employees and the community. Fortunately our work enables our employees to maintain social distancing, utilize tools assigned only to them, and regularly sanitize themselves, their tools, and work area.

OSHA’s Guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19 states “Lower exposure risk (caution) jobs are those that do not require contact with people known to be or suspected of being, infected with SARS-CoV-2 nor frequent close contact with (i.e., within 6 feet of) the general public. Workers in this category have minimal occupational contact with the public and other coworkers.” p.20.

We will also maintain the spirit of openness and collaboration with our employees that we’ve followed for decades. These values will facilitate employees bringing safety concerns to our attention while enabling us to best support one another. These values include the behavioral agreements below that encourage our employees to advocate for themselves and their peers.

  • We commit ourselves to treat each other like we treat our customers.
  • We celebrate each other’s successes, bear each other’s burdens, and collaborate by working with the perspectives of others to create better outcomes
  • We are proactive in bringing concerns forward in a positive manner so that they can be examined, discussed, and resolved.
  • We focus on business values, standards, and agreements, not on personal disagreements and/or frustrations
  • We are all resources for each other, and from that standpoint, we work together regardless of title or position.

Through working together, our team will hold one another accountable to the processes that will keep them safe and curb the spread of this virus. This will allow us to best serve our clients and communities in following through on the functions which make our work essential. Our efforts and behaviors will continue to evolve as new guidance and best practices become available.

Finally, we feel it is important to consider ways that together we at Belknap Landscape, and those reading this message may show support for one another and our community. These quick messages from edenprojectcommunities.com and uschamberfoundation.org are great things we should all consider to help one another as we progress through this difficult time.

Please know we value your wellness and are here to help. Should you have questions, concerns, or need our assistance we will be available for you. The best way to reach us during this period is via email at [email protected], or you may call our office for urgent matters at 603-528-2798.

 

Stay Safe,

Everyone at Belknap Landscape Co.

Update on COVID-19 Response by Belknap Landscape Co.

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To our valued clients and community,

 

Here at Belknap Landscape we are concerned for the well being of our staff, clients and community during this trying time COVID-19 has presented us all. I’d like to update the efforts we’ve taken to continue to provide the Belknap Experience our clients expect, while helping to curb the spread of this virus.

Fortunately our work is typically conducted outside, which affords our staff the opportunity to maintain a safe social distance as outlined by the CDC. You may notice some differences while we service your property, and I wanted to take the time to share some of these changes as we utilize some best safe practices for our staff and clients.

Our staff is disinfecting their trucks and equipment on a daily basis. We also have limited the number of employees per vehicle to one person. As a result you may experience more vehicles at your property than you are accustom to seeing.  We will be mindful of where we park in order not to create an inconvenience to your or your neighbors. This allows us maintain a social safe distance with our staff.

If we need to gain access into your home for irrigation services, or other reasons, the service technician will be wearing a mask and gloves as a safety precaution. In the event you are under home quarantine, or prefer we do not enter your home for one of these services, kindly call us at 603-528-2798 and we’ll schedule an alternative service time.

We do understand that you may be working from home more frequently in these coming days, and we will do our best to not interrupt this time.  If there is something that you would like from us while you are spending more time at home, please do not hesitate to reach out to us, and we will do everything that we can to meet your requests.

As you know, this is uncharted territory for all, and we understand that things could be changing as we move forward. Our goal here at Belknap Landscape is for you not to see any change in the high level of service which you are accustomed to receiving.

We are examining and working towards changing other procedures that we do on a daily basis, in order to continue the service that you value from our staff.  We appreciate your patience, and we hope that you do not experience any disruptions in the servicing of your property during these challenging times.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the timing of your services or the staff while on your property, please do not hesitate to contact your account manager, project manager, sales professional, or contact our office and we will do everything we can to address them.

Again, Belknap Landscape is committed to the safety and well being of our staff, clients, and community. I do wish you the best for you and your family as we move forward through these difficult times, and I share a wish that things may return to normal as soon as possible.

We hope to continue a high level of communication with you as always.

 

Thank you,

Hayden McLaughlin

Principal , Belknap Landscape Co.

4 Ways the Spring Thaw Can Impact Landscapes

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The Lakes Region will soon be well into spring thaw. Ice out will be called on Winnipesaukee, Gunstock will stop running the lifts, and there will be slush, mud, and water everywhere. As a result, this season can have a significant effect on your property. Here are some things you should know about the spring thaw.

Standing Water and Ice

Melting snow and Ice introduces significant water to our properties in the Lakes Region. In ideal situations, this water can naturally find its way into existing manmade or natural water drainage areas. If you have standing water on your property, there can be a few causes.

In some cases, there isn’t a natural way for the water to drain. This is common in properties where a low spot seems to flood annually and the ground becomes too saturated to remove the excess water. A common way to know if this is occurring on your property is to note if this situation occurs year after year, or after heavy rains. Solutions for these instances may include the addition of material to raise the low spot, the addition of drainage channels or swales, and even drains or pumps.

If a natural or manmade drainage system exists, something is preventing the movement of water to, or through the system. We find the most common causes are the accumulation of ice, snow, or debris. A good way to know if this is the cause of your standing water problem is to note if this is an uncommon occurrence. Does it typically only occur in the spring thaw season? Is there noticeable build-up near the deepest areas of the standing water or around a drain?

When ice, snow, or debris is causing standing water the removal of these items should allow drainage to occur. It is important to address the causes of the build-up to prevent reoccurrences. You must be mindful of keeping drainage areas clean of debris. Take note of how water drains off of your property and ensure that snow is not plowed to amass in that area. If you have catch basins or manmade drains ensure they cleared of debris regularly.

Regardless of the cause, standing water on your property should be addressed provided it is not a protected wetland. Standing water creates a hazard on your property which could leave you liable should someone get hurt. Standing water is a breeding ground for pests like mosquitos. Standing water creates adverse conditions for the growth of many plants including turfgrasses and trees. Standing water problems will lower the value of your property.

Melting snow and Ice can carry pollutants

When snow and ice melts it flows over and through your property, it invariably absorbs different things. Salt, Sand, oils, sediment, and other pollutants the water picks up will either make their way into our watershed or end up in areas on your property as water is absorbed. This sediment and chemicals often have damaging effects.

Water carrying things like salt or chemicals onto your property can lead to the loss of plant life due to a change in soil conditions. Salt, for example, can change your soil Ph levels, or even how your plants can absorb water and conduct photosynthesis. Sand and sediment can change the soil consistency and water retention properties. Oils and chemicals can poison both plant and animal life.

This water can also make its way into our watersheds and ultimately into lakes like Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Squam and Newfound to name a few. The introduction of these contaminants harms the lake ecosystem and the viability of the lakes we enjoy and depend on. There are ways property owners can help mitigate these problems.

Reduce the amount of salt, ice melt, and sand used on your property. By reducing less of these items to your property, less will be absorbed into the seasonal thaw. It’s exceedingly common for property owners and untrained service providers to over-treat ice to remove it. Overtreatment serves no real functional purpose, is not cost-efficient, and of course, is bad for your property and surroundings. We suggest you utilize only SnowPro certified snow removal experts, or for DIYers to treat sparingly over a few applications. You can always add more, but you cannot easily remove the product once it has been applied.

Next, be mindful of spills, drips, or accumulated sediment on your property. If you can clean up oils, sweep up sands or ice, and generally remove any contaminants before the that has generated water runoff, those items will not be introduced to other areas.

Finally, whenever possible encourage the water from spring thaw to follow pathways where contaminants may be filtered out. This could include municipal stormwater treatment area, or swales and catch basins on your property where the contaminants can be collected and isolated from other areas.

Potholes and Heaves

Potholes are caused by water beneath the ground surface freezing and thawing. As water freezes, it expands, and when the ice melts it contracts. This causes outward, and in the case of potholes vertical pressure and movement of the ground. If you have pavement, concrete, pavers or any sort of solid ground cover, this movement will cause cracks and heaves, while the shifting of material and water will introduce voids, leading to potholes.

The solution to potholes is removing as much water from beneath the immediate surface of the ground as possible and using materials that can help absorb the pressures created in the freeze-thaw cycle. This means utilizing good construction and drainage practices in the construction of hardscaped surfaces. If a driveway, walkway, or patio is to last, the subsurface needs to be prepped appropriately. In many cases, this means the removal of some existing material to allow for the addition of drainage solutions and aggregate as a foundation for preventing potholes, heaves, or cracks.

 

Be on the lookout for budding life

The thaw coincides with the time when much plant life will begin to “wake up” from winter dormancy. Sometimes this encourages property owners to uncover their plants by removing the accumulated snow thinking this will hasten their growth. Resist this temptation.

In our area snow can help protect budding plants from evenings that are still bitterly cold. Removing the snow will expose these plants to these conditions early, which is detrimental. Simply let nature take its course, and allow the thaw of your gardens to occur naturally. The only time you should take significant action during the thawing season is if there’s clear abnormal and damaging conditions.

You may notice some “early risers” begin to grow in March. Check out this article from the UNH Cooperative Extension to learn more about these plants https://extension.unh.edu/blog/early-risers.

Spring thaw is a wonderful time in New Hampshire, and we hope you’re looking forward to spring as much as we are. As always, if the thaw has created problems or needs for your property we’re here to help.

The Top 3 Landscape Winter Damages to Look for This Spring

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It may not seem like it, but spring will be here soon. One of the most important things you can do as we transition to warmer weather is to inspect your property for winter damage. Finding problems and resolving them is step one in proactively caring for your outdoor spaces. Here are some things to look for as the seasons shift.

Ice Damage

Ice damage is often the most apparent and destructive type of winter damage. Common Ice damage can include broken or fallen limbs of trees or shrubs, areas where poor drainage allowed for standing water and ice to accumulate, or even damage caused to your home from ice accumulation along the gutters or roof.

Upon finding ice damage, the first thing to do is to address the immediate area of deterioration. Pruning, removing limbs, or felling trees or shrubs is common, as is regrading or repairing roadways. In many cases, a professional should be consulted or hired to resolve these issues. In this event, should ice still be present before the expert can diagnose the problem, take several photographs to help illustrate the issue.

Once the immediate damage is corrected, property owners are best-served by assessing the underlying cause of the ice damage. A proactive plant and tree health and management program will identify at-risk plant life and resolve potential issues before next winter. Standing water and icing can be resolved through effective drainage installation or repair, and many structural problems can be repaired through proactive maintenance or thoughtful repairs.

 

Pest Damage

In New Hampshire, common pests that can cause damage in the winter include deer, squirrels, mice, moles, and voles. As these animals prepare for and survive the winter, their activities may be damaging to your property. While squirrels and mice are commonly known to damage structures, moles and voles may harm landscapes and landscape features such as irrigation systems and even areas of the lawn through their burrowing and feeding behaviors.

Upon finding pest damage, the repair should occur only after the pest problem has been addressed. A quality landscape company can either address most pest problems or recommend a company for this problem.

In many cases, proactive measures can help mitigate pest damage for future winters. The location of wood and brush storage, food sources, the types of plants on the property, overhanging tree limbs, and even how a lawn is mowed in the fall are all factors that can influence pest damage in the winter.

 

Frost Heaves Damage

The expanding force of freezing groundwater causes frost heaves. This powerful force can disturb the soil, cause pavement or crack and create potholes, and damage landscape features. It is also a primary cause of the failure of retaining and rock walls.

Frost heave damage can be the most intensive to repair and prevent. As a result, unless there is a safety concern, we recommend that these repairs only occur after the underlying cause has been addressed. Causes can range from poor underwater drainage to shoddy construction practices.

When a landscape feature like a patio, driveway, or retaining wall is installed, the footing and back-fill are installed to allow for both water drainage and to allow the base material to absorb movement and pressure. If these aspects are absent in the construction, it needs to be addressed, or the damage from frost heaves will continue year after year. In these instances, prevention involves hiring a qualified contractor to follow industry best practices in repair and installation. We recommend utilizing certified contractors.

Regardless of the cause, winter damage is an indication that something on your property needs attention. The way you respond to, and proactively prepare for winter damage will have a large influence on the chances the damage will repeat next winter. Consulting a landscape or property management professional for damage repair and prevention is a good first-step to protecting your property.

7 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring A Snow Removal Provider in the Lakes Region

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New Hampshire winters invariably bring snow and ice, and with it, inconvenience and safety concerns. Fortunately, Belknap County has a variety of companies that can help when these storms arrive. Unfortunately, not all of these companies are the same, and it’s important to consider several questions when you’re choosing a provider.

Here are 7 Things You Need to Know Before Hiring A Snow Removal Provider in the Lakes Region

Are they experienced?

Snow removal is a service that has an influx of new providers every year, and invariably during or shortly after the season, these new companies disappear, commonly leaving clients struggling to find a new provider. Additionally, plowing snow requires practice to do it effectively, safely, and without damaging your property.

Ask providers how many seasons they have plowed snow. Will they be plowing, or will one of their employees be plowing? Do they have a training program? Can they provide you with references?

Are they insured?

Do not hire a service provider who is not insured. Insurance is not optional for a professional provider, and a lack of insurance is a glaring warning sign. If they are insured, do they have enough coverage?

Someone working on your property should have you, their customer, as well as their own company’s and employee’s protection in mind. As a good practice, they should carry commercial coverage in the following types at the following limits:

  • Commercial General Liability of at least $1,000,000 for each occurrence and $2,000,000 general aggregate coverage.
  • Commercial Auto Liability of at least $1,000,000 combined single limit. Some small businesses assume their personal auto insurance is enough. However, if they are using a personal vehicle to do business, their personal policy will not cover them in the event of an incident.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance of at least $500,000 because if they do not have it, and something happens, the customer may become liable. Even a sole proprietor should carry this, even though the state of NH does not require them to have it.
  • To cover any higher claims in any of these areas, it is a good idea to carry Commercial Umbrella Liability coverage of at least $1,000,000.

A customer can ask the contractor for a certificate of insurance from their insurance company, and it can be faxed or emailed to them so they can be sure the contractor has the proper coverage. It comes directly from their insurance agent.

Do they have the proper equipment?

While a small pickup truck with a 6′ plow may work fine for removing snow from many driveways, professional equipment is a good indication of a professional organization. Professional equipment is built to withstand the rigors and abuse of recurring use and is better able to provide the demands of the task. Larger properties, in particular, will require professional equipment.

Similarly, how much equipment do they have. If your snow removal service provider only has one plow truck, what is the plan if the truck breaks down during a storm?

Are they certified?

There are many certifications snow and ice management professionals can have. In New Hampshire, there’s one, in particular, that is important. Living in the Lakes Region, we understand how important water quality is for our lakes, and salt runoff is a serious concern. Lakes like Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Squam, and Newfound need the safeguards a mindful, certified ice management company can provide. That’s why we believe Green SnowPro certification for salt applicators is essential. Through a partnership with the NH Department of Environmental Services, and the UNH Cooperative extension, Green SnowPro provides education, resources, and accountability that help us protect our lakes and waterways. Providers holding this certification have attended the aforementioned training, maintain a knowledge of best practices, and follow local and industry standards to reduce salt runoff into our fresh waterways.

How many employees do they have?

It’s not unusual snow to fall continuously for over 24 hours in our area. If your provider does not employ enough people to operate snow removal equipment in shifts, they may either need to work for an unsafe number of hours to cover the storm or abandon their plowing routes for rest. The prior is dangerous, and the latter may mean they are unable to meet obligations in some instances. A good practice is a minimum of 2 employees per piece of equipment, with more being desirable to cover emergencies, sickness, or other challenges in staffing.

Do they actually provide the service you expect?

Some providers offer full-service snow and ice management. This offers a comprehensive 24-hour service and is the best option for property owners or managers who expect a proactive and responsive solution. This service does require periodic proactive monitoring of the client’s property. If you’re considering this service, inquire about the monitoring practices of the service provider. How often do they check the property? How do they keep track? What exactly do they look for? Do they pretreat surfaces?

What if you need Out-of-Scope of work services?

In many instances, general snow and ice management is sufficient for most properties. There can be instances that a unique service may need to be performed, and it’s helpful to know if your service provider can assist in these circumstances.

Can your provider assist in pushing back snowbanks? Sometimes larger snowbanks may need to be pushed further back as they encroach on the driving and parking areas. Large snowbanks can be very heavy, and some smaller equipment may not be able to achieve this task.

If you need snow hauled away, are they capable of doing this, or do they have a relationship with another contractor who can? Snow hauling is typical in large commercial spaces, and it can take a lot of resources to achieve. Most small service providers do not have the internal resources to do this on their own.

If there are slips and falls on your property, can they provide you with detailed service information? Many service providers utilize GPS and camera systems to track their equipment and services provided. This tracking is especially common for providers who offer slip and fall coverage as part of their service agreements.

Do they remove snow from rooftops? As snow accumulates, the load burden on roofs can create a dangerous situation. Many snow and ice management companies offer this service, but it’s helpful to know about this option before you realize a need. Scheduled services with existing clients are typically less costly and better performed than emergency services performed by whoever is available.

Regardless of your specific snow and ice management needs, a little bit of homework and asking the right questions can save you a lot of time and problems. From Gilford to Tilton, Laconia to Meredith, there’s many options in central New Hampshire for your winter maintenance needs. Don’t feel like you need to settle for a service provider who cannot meet your needs.

 

Winter is Safety Season at Belknap Landscape

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This January has proven to be an active one for snowstorms in the Lakes Region. Still, the Belknap Landscape crew has been able to find time between plowing, shoveling, and sanding to learn about safety and emergency preparedness. An integral part of our company identity is our safety culture, and we’re always up for continuing education. Here’s what we’ve been up to this month.

In early January, with the help of Hebron Fire Department, many of our crew members received training on CPR, First Aid, and Stop the Bleed processes. We spent two days at the Gilford Community Center learning about how to respond to these types of emergencies, and ways we can help save life or limb should the worst-case scenario happen.

Last week, we participated in OSHA 10 training provided by a safety instructor from the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Over two days at the Laconia Country Club, we learned about identifying hazards on the job, methods of preventing injury or death, and how we as professionals can ensure the safety of our teammates, and those who share our work spaces. As a result of this training, 32 crew members will soon receive their OSHA cards.

Additionally, last week Mark Cote and others from Cross Insurance in Laconia shared a presentation with our crew members on ways they can better be safe at work regarding illness, injury, allergic reactions, and winter driving. Discussion topics included safe vehicle following distances, safe speed, skid and spin recovery, and myriad other safe-driving issues.

Finally, to complement these training programs, a number of our leaders have attended Tree Care Industry Association classes on crew leadership. These classes provide excellent general leadership instruction and the classes’ focus on professionalism and training, which enables our leader to better promote and execute on our safety culture. Safety involves everyone in our company, and our leaders are especially important to set, maintain, and encourage our safety standards.

Safety is an ongoing practice here at Belknap Landscape. We’re fortunate to have the cooperation of local organizations and industry associations to help us continue our safety legacy. January 2020 has been an important safety training month for our team, and we’re proud of their efforts and accomplishments this winter and we look forward to more training throughout the year.

7 Fun Things To Do In The Lakes Region During Winter

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The Lakes Region is a wonderful place to visit or live. All of our lakes, from Winnipesaukee, Winnisquam, Squam, and others, beckon us throughout spring and summer with the promise of great experiences. But what about in the winter? The colder months see many of our local attractions and restaurants closed, the lakes freeze over, and the snow cover draws over the landscape. What’s a local or visitor to do? Here are some great ideas.

Gunstock

Gunstock Mountain in Gilford, NH, has long been a staple for fun in the Lakes Region. With 48 trails and incredible views of Lake Winnipesaukee, the picturesque slopes are perfect for snow sports. Gunstock offers tubing for those not inclined to ski, lessons for those who’d like to learn, and a variety of activities for all ages.

Tanger Outlets

With over 52 brand outlets, the Tanger Outlet Center in Tilton, NH, has something for every shopper. From the Gap to Bass, Polo to Old Navy, this easily accessible retail center has proven to be a destination. Newer additions like 5 Guys Burgers and Starbucks provide respite for those looking for a tasty treat during the winter chill.

Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center

Prescott Farm in Laconia, NH, is a fantastic resource for the local and tourist community to enjoy spring and summer programs like organic gardening classes or day camps for kids. But, you may be surprised to learn they are open year-round. With indoor offerings that include painting, soap-making workshops, and cooking classes, the farm is a fun and engaging place to experience in the winter. Their ever-changing list of programs and courses are sure to offer a unique opportunity for your next visit.

BarnZ’s Cinema

Hollywood makes its way to the Lakes Region at several locations, with BarnZ’s being one of our favorites. Located in Meredith NH, this cinema offers leather reclining seats, fresh popcorn, and blockbuster movies, yet it still maintains the small home-town cinema feel.

Funspot

Just outside of the Weirs is a New Hampshire staple. Billed as the Largest arcade in the world, Funspot features over 600 video games, bowling, indoor mini golf, and bingo. For the young, or those young-at-heart, Funspot cannot be missed on a trip to the Lakes Region.

Pop Whalen Ice & Arts Center

The town of Wolfeboro operates this beautiful ice rink inside the Abenaki Ski Area. While it’s home to many area teams for hockey and curling, there’s a variety of events and open skating times that are open to the public. You can also rent the arena for your private event.

The Back Room at the Mill

If you’re over in the Newfound Lake area, Bristol has a great entertainment option on Friday nights. The Back Room at the Mill restaurant hosts an open mic year-round. Treat your taste buds to the grilled cheese sandwiches voted as NH’s best while taking in a variety of local talent in one of the best small venue music spots around!

Four Seasons of Giving: 2019 A Year In Review

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This year was a milestone year for Belknap Landscape. We celebrated our 30th anniversary, took time to design and adopt new programs, and reached new levels of community support. Reflecting on the wonderful and eventful months behind us, we are grateful to celebrate the many new friends and knowledge we gained along the way. Our goals of better serving the Lakes Region and our clients were realized, and we can’t help but fondly remember some of the things we had the opportunity to do because of you—our wonderful clients and partners in central New Hampshire.

As a client, partner, or friend of Belknap Landscape, you’ve helped support many vital programs within the community. Our primary focus, as you will see, is supporting children’s programs that provide unique opportunities to learn and grow. We hope you’ll join us as we remember some of these great experiences.

Spring

In the spring, we had the pleasure of working with Winnisquam Regional Middle School in Tilton. We partnered with them to help prepare the grounds for a new hoop-house, which would allow students to receive diversified hands-on learning in agriculture. We were able to donate time, equipment use, and materials to this project in conjunction with others like Nutter Enterprises, making this project have little-to-no cost for the school.

We also continued our business sponsorship of Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center in Gilford. Through these efforts, we aided the organic gardening program, which allows members of the community the opportunity to learn and practice organic gardening techniques. Each summer, Prescott Farm hosts a day camp for area children, crafting relevant programming for them to learn about our environment, make friends, and enjoy the outdoors.

Summer

As part of our initiative to help local children experience a variety of educational opportunities, we stopped into Alton Central School to spend some time in the classrooms and to donate and install a sugar maple. We enjoyed participating with the children in this hands-on educational opportunity, as they not only helped install the tree but utilized ideas they learned in math and sciences classes in a real-world application.

Autumn

As the warm days transitioned to crisp nights, we responded to a request from the Belknap House in Laconia to assist in preparing their property to receive families in need. The property was overgrown, and we were happy to respond by donating time and resources. As one of the only family shelters in Belknap County, they are an essential asset we are glad to support.

In October, one of our favorite annual events took place. New Hampshire Construction Career Days (NHCCD) is committed to exposing high schoolers throughout New Hampshire with potential career choices in the construction industry. As a sponsor and a participant, we were proud to be among the many companies that helped thousands of young adults in NH see options for their future.

Late fall soon approached, and an opportunity to support educational opportunities for children in Gilmanton revealed itself. The school recently constructed raised garden beds to help teach children about agriculture, and needed materials to help the program launch for the spring of 2020. We responded to the request to fill the beds with compost and had a team of happily willing BLC crewmembers fill the containers within a week. We cannot wait to return in the spring and provide more support and see how the kids enjoy this chance at experiential learning.

Winter

As we close out another year, we turned our eyes to the long-supported and regional favorite—the Greater Lakes Region Children’s Auction. The auction first began in 1982, not long after Belknap Landscape was formed, and has since then grown into a multi-faceted drive to directly support families throughout the area. As a team, we participated in Pubmania at Patrick’s Pub in Gilford, operated the phones at the auction in the Belknap Mall in Belmont, and, of course, received donations directly from our clients and friends.

Throughout 2019, because of you, we were fortunate to continue support causes which are stewards of the lands, lakes, and communities of central New Hampshire. These include NH Lakes, Squam Lakes Science Center, the WOW Trail, Gilford Youth Center, Lake Wentworth Watershed, Winnipesaukee Muskrats Baseball, The Boys and Girls Club, Gunstock Ski Club, Advantage Kids, and many, many more.

On behalf of all of us, thank you, and here’s to another year of giving in 2020!

Snow Shoveling Tips From The Pros

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Mother Nature always seems to have more than a few winter snowstorms for the Lakes Region. Many of our clients are fortunate enough to have our services for plowing, shoveling, and sanding, and, as a result, we’ve learned a thing or two. Take some snow shoveling tips from us this season—it might just help you stay healthy enough to hit Gunstock or ice fish on Meredith Bay!

Dress for the weather

Begin with wearing appropriate clothing. Warm clothing choices are a great start, but ensure your clothes and boots are also water repellent or waterproof. Wet clothing transfers heat from your body quicker than dry clothing, making you get cold faster.

Stretch and move

The likelihood of sustaining an injury during physical activity is reduced when you stretch and loosen up. Take the time and focus on your back, abdomen, shoulders, and legs before you pick up your shovel. Your body will thank you.

Keep your cool

We’ve covered the importance of staying dry while shoveling with water-repellent clothing. You also should be mindful of sweating. The best way to combat sweat? First, dress in layers. If you begin to feel too warm, you can remove a layer and cool off. Second, don’t over-exert yourself. Your goal is to complete your work safely. Shovel smaller loads and pace yourself.

Watch your form

Lifting is an inherent part of shoveling snow, and as a result, proper lifting technique is imperative.

  • Bend from your knees or hips, not your back.
  • Lift using your legs.
  • Avoid twisting by waiting to throw the snow after you’ve returned to a standing position.
  • Lift snow immediately in front of you—do not stretch to reach snow out or your comfortable range.
  • Keep your back in a neutral, unbent position. For most people, this is a straight back.

Take a breath

Believe it or not, we often see new shovelers stop breathing. For some, when we exert ourselves, we hold our breath. Do not do that—be mindful to keep your breathing full and at a regular rate. During winter, the air is thinner, colder, and drier, and proper breathing efforts are especially important in these conditions.

Similarly, take a “breather”. Again, your goal is to complete your work. Give yourself enough time to do the job safely, and take breaks. Allow your body moments of recovery, and your risk of injury or an adverse event will be substantially reduced.

Shovel often

Why do we remove snow several times throughout snowstorms? One important reason is to balance the workload. Simply put, shoveling a foot of snow throughout a storm three times instead of once means we only shovel four inches at a time. This makes the work significantly more manageable and reduces the chances of injury. It’s also substantially less wear on our equipment.

Use the right equipment

If you’re going to shovel snow, use a shovel designed for snow. Go to your local retailer and find a snow shovel which feels comfortable to use. Try it out by shoveling pretend snow in the store to ensure it’s an ergonomic fit for you. Keep in mind, snow can weigh 20 pounds per cubic foot, so a smaller shovel surface may be better for you.

Know when to stop

Shoveling your own snow can be an economical and rewarding choice. Still, these attributes disappear the moment you are hurt or have an adverse event. Understand your limits and be mindful of your body while you shovel. Take breaks, ask for help, and hire a professional when it’s needed.

Bonus Tip: Did you know coating your snow shovel with a light mist of cooking spray will help snow slide off readily, making snow shoveling easier? It’s true! Try it next storm and see the difference for yourself.

Must-Know Info For Your Fresh Christmas Tree

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From wreaths on lampposts to garland on staircases, looking around towns in New Hampshire, it is easy to see that there are few things as festive as a real Christmas tree. Lighting ceremonies are held in village squares for the larger trees, while homes play guest to a variety of evergreens each year. At Belknap Landscape, we proudly help our clients with holiday décor throughout the Lakes Region. From festive wreaths and trees to warm lights and colorful bows, we’ve learned a thing or two about getting the best results for your enjoyment during the holidays. Here’s our advice for making your real Christmas tree last the entire season.

 

Pick out a tree that fits your needs and appears healthy. The biggest challenge in making your tree last the longest is keeping the tree hydrated. This means you need to start off with a tree that is as hydrated as possible.

Avoid trees with clearly dehydrated areas. Look to avoid limbs that are turning brown, as well as needles that shed easily or are particularly brittle. Take the time to gently brush the limbs to see if they retain some elasticity, and the needles remain in place.

When you get the tree home, cut off about one inch from the base of the tree before you bring it inside. This fresh cut will allow the trunk to absorb water more efficiently. If you cut your tree yourself and are immediately bringing it home, this may not be necessary, but if you’re unsure how long it has been since the tree was cut—take this step.

 

Consider spraying your tree with an anti-transpirant such as Wilt Pruf. This will reduce moisture loss through the needles into the ambient air. As the most significant variable to making your real tree last the longest is hydration, this step can prove valuable. Follow the instructions on the container and allow your tree time for the product to dry before moving your tree indoors. This is also an excellent step for your fresh wreaths.

Set up your tree away from heat sources. Close sources of heat will dehydrate your tree faster, but another consideration is safety. A fresh tree is flammable, and as the season progresses and the tree dries, they become more of a fire risk. Keeping your tree away from heat sources is the best way to mitigate the fire risk.

 

After you’ve installed your tree, water it immediately with enough water to keep the base of the trunk submerged. You do not need to add anything to the water, but you must check the water regularly to ensure the base remains submerged. A fresh tree uses a surprising amount of water, with around a gallon a day usage being common in many instances. At a minimum, we suggest checking your tree’s water daily.

When it’s time, dispose of your tree responsibly. Remove all decorations, including tinsel, and follow the policies your local municipality has in place. Throwing your tree in the woods, along a road, or in a body of water is littering.  While the material is organic, it is irresponsible and detrimental to the environment.