Native Land Design Blog

Erosion Control Options for Houston Commercial Properties

Ben Collinsworth

Understanding erosion control is critical to any Houston commercial property manager who has to deal with slopes on their properties, has a site located near waterways or must fight occasional extreme weather conditions. In fact, not following erosion control processes and procedures can be very costly.

Many city and state municipalities have ordinances in place to minimize the level of sediment and other pollutants carried off by runoff into lakes, streams and wetlands. Erosion impacting storm sewers and right-of-ways can even cause inspectors to take notice of erosion control measures on your property.

First, let’s better define erosion. The word erosion means the detachment of soil, sediment or rock/stone fragments caused by water, wind, ice or plain gravity. When this soil is washed away, so are other things in the soil like pesticides and fertilizers. And this is where local municipalities take notice and can fine properties not following proper measures.

Water is the biggest culprit of erosion in Houston. In fact, Houston receives an average rainfall of nearly 53 inches each year—35 percent higher than the national average and 48 percent more than the average rainfall in Texas, says.

But what makes water even more damaging is when heavy rainfall follows extreme drought that makes the ground so hard and dry, lacking the absorption capabilities to properly and quickly soak up rain water before it can wash soil away.

Then when soil is carried away, it can cause uneven ground in the form of cracks, ridges and rises that can actually become safety and tripping hazards on busy commercial facilities.  

Protect your Houston commercial property with these four erosion control options.


Employee Close-up: Sandra Leija

Ben Collinsworth

When Sandra Leija thinks back to a great day at work, she only has to think as far back as yesterday.

"A guy came in and asked me for a raise," she says. "I asked him if he'd like to take classes to be an irrigation technician. He was so excited — you'd think I offered him a great trip to somewhere.

“He said nobody had ever offered him a chance to learn something, or thought he could do something like that,” she says.

She loves that she was the one.

"He asked me if I could find the class in Spanish. I told him yes, I would.”

Sandra has lots of happy stories, gathered during her nine years at Native Land Design.

She's done everything here from administrative work to marketing to managing accounts. She’s been instrumental in establishing the company’s branch in Mission, oversees work in the valley and does administrative work in Houston. Her degree from the University of Houston in business administration with a focus in IT prepared her to handle all kinds of tasks.

Soon, she’ll have a new title to reflect the scope of her work: regional manager.

The 3 Benefits of Lawn Aeration

Ben Collinsworth

Having an amazing expanse of lawn—one your commercial property neighbors are jealous of—isn’t something that just happens overnight.

In fact, those envy-causing lawns require adequate and regular maintenance.

Look at your Texas commercial property lawn. Notice any areas of poor drainage, brown spots or a lack of response to regular fertilization treatments and watering?

Proper mowing, consistent fertilization, adequate weed control, watering and insect and disease scouting and maintenance are all essential lawn care strategies. But to make sure all this is happening seamlessly takes aeration.

No point in adding water or nutrients to a lawn if they aren’t actually making it to their destination: the plant structure in the soil beneath your lawn.

Here are the three main benefits of lawn aeration.

Employee Close-up: Jose Ventura

Ben Collinsworth

Jose Ventura tried working at a factory once, making the sturdy pipes used in oil fields.

"I lasted two weeks," he says with a laugh. “I was not made to be inside. I need to work outside.”

So the world of lush landscaping, innovative irrigation and paver projects suits him perfectly, as director of operations at Native Land Design.

Jose has led the Houston branch for seven years, after coming to Native Land Design as an account manager.

“When we expanded into Houston, Jose was the first person I called,” says Stan Johnson, Native Land Design president, who knew Jose when they both worked for TruGreen. “He's the kind of guy you look for. He's done every job — he started at the bottom as a laborer and worked his way up. He knows every aspect of the business.”

That means he has lots of credibility with his crews, Johnson says.

“If Jose says a job can be done in three hours, they know it can be,” he says. “He didn’t read that from a book. He’s done it himself.”

Employee Close-up: Greg Yount

Ben Collinsworth

When Greg Yount isn't overseeing the latest high-tech software programs, he might be out taking cool drone photos of landscaping projects.

Or filming one of his kids' sporting events, editing it and posting it on YouTube for other families to enjoy.

Or pondering how to set up his house as a "smart home," with lights and music that operate with a click on his smart phone.

Seems Native Land Design picked the right guy to be chief technology officer.

Greg really loves this stuff.

Greg has been chief technology officer for two years, after working for several years as Native Land Design accounts manager, then director of maintenance operations.

It was a brand new position, "started from scratch," he says.

Why does a landscaping company need a chief technology officer?

He knows what you mean.

"Hardly anybody looks at the green industry and thinks ‘technology,’" Greg says. "People think landscaping is just guys pushing mowers. They think, ‘How difficult can it be?’"

Get Residents More Involved in Your HOA Using These 4 Tactics

Ben Collinsworth

If you’re a Texas homeowners’ association (HOA) property manager, you know community management is about more than landscaping, lawn care and tree care.

It’s about creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere that promotes safety, sharing and community for all of the residents.

Native Land Design works on HOA properties all the time, and we’ve seen some great strategies HOA property managers use to get residents more involved in their communities.


The Top 3 Reasons to Plant Trees and Shrubs in the Fall in Texas

Ben Collinsworth

Now that the dog days of summer are over and you’re feeling that little bit of nip in the air that screams, “Autumn,” it’s time to start planting in your landscape.

Yes, we said planting … and, we know, it’s not spring.

There is a misconception that spring is the best time for planting, but, contrary to popular belief, fall is actually a better time.

Plants and trees not only add aesthetic value to your Texas commercial property, but they also do a lot of good for your community by removing pollution from the air, reducing heating costs and lowering stress levels.

Set your plants up for success by planting them at the appropriate time of year. Here are the top three reasons autumn can help get your plants and trees off to the best start.

Building Landscape Careers Through Education and Training Programs

Ben Collinsworth

As the landscape industry grows, so does the need for employees in roles such as laborer, landscape designer, irrigation professional, arborist, installation crew member, foreman and account manager — to name a few.

Texas commercial businesses and homeowners need their properties to look well-groomed and offer great curb appeal. Properly installed and immaculately maintained landscaping and hardscapes can go a long way toward meeting property owner’s and manager’s goals.

A lot of opportunities exist to “dig” into the landscape profession.

Native Land Design offers career paths to help guide employees’ ways as they move into various company roles, as well as a management training program for those interested in supervisory roles.



5 Ways Choosing the Lowest Bid Could End Up Costing You Money

Ben Collinsworth

As a Texas commercial property manager, you rely on bids in response to your requests for proposal (RFPs) in order to determine which landscape contractor is best for your job.

However, unless you’ve given the bidders the exact specifications for your job—for instance, property maps and drawings, material lists or requirements and minimum expectations on everything from hours spent on the job to the thickness of mulch to the number of flower installations and flats—the bids you receive are educated guesses on how each landscape professional interpreted your RFP.

These guesses—or assumptions—and the resulting prices could be vastly different solely based on how they interpreted the bid.

As a minimum, your RFP should include a property map, indicating which areas of the property need serviced; a service list, sharing the list of tasks you want performed on your property; and a budget range. Assuming these details are in order, the bids that come in should only reflect a 10% and 15% difference in price.

As the bids roll in, you may notice one that is irresistibly low. Though this may seem like luck, there are serious concerns with just choosing the cheapest bid. In fact, it may cost you more money in the long-run.

Here are 5 ways choosing the lowest bid could end up costing you more in the end.

The Pros and Cons of a Multi-Year Landscape Maintenance Contract

Ben Collinsworth

As a Texas commercial property manager, you know that regular and adequate maintenance is essential to optimizing the benefits your landscape provides to your property and your brand. You also recognize the convenience and peace of mind in knowing your landscape will be continually maintained and is something you don’t have to stress about.

Having a multi-year landscape maintenance contract is one way to achieve this goal.

Here are some of the pros and cons of a multi-year commercial landscape maintenance contract to help you better understand how they work.

The Effects of Standing Water and Flooding on Trees and Landscape Plants

Ben Collinsworth

Hurricane Harvey caused what the National Weather Service described as “catastrophic flooding” in Houston and across southeast Texas.

“This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced,” the National Weather Service said.

Some downtown areas of Houston were knee-deep in water, and some highways were shut down as a result of flooding from as much as 10 feet of water. In fact, some parts of Houston and just west of the city possibly received a Texas record of 50 inches of rain. Since making initial landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in southeastern Texas, Harvey dumped an estimated total of 20 trillion gallons of rain on the Houston area.

This was truly catastrophic to homes, vehicles and people. And, as the flooding recedes, you might be wondering what this excess and longer-standing water is also doing to your commercial landscape trees and plants.

Here is some insight into what standing water and flooding does to plants and what we can do to help.