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Wednesday
Oct032012

Zucker Hillside Hospital: Commercial Landscape Overhaul

Robert Rodler started working at Hillside Hospital before Goldberg & Rodler even existed with J. J. Levison. Levison handed it over to Goldberg & Rodler in the early sixties and we did a ton of work there. Then we did bits and pieces here and there, sprays, tree work, etc. until 2009. The new facilities manager wanted the campus renovated and he contacted us. Maintenance had been getting progressively worse, to the point where the campus was covered in poison ivy, the original design was almost impossible to discern. You can still see the cherry trees, dogwoods and sycamores on the campus that we planted back in the 60's but they were in desperate need of pruning. Limbs wider than a person's leg were dropping dangerously to the ground. The baseball field, apple orchard and formal rose garden had been razed for additional parking as the facility grew. Increased paving was causing massive drainage issues. People would park anywhere they could find a spot, including on the grass, off the road in the woods, there were no curbs or barriers to prevent it. 

BeforeAfterIt was unrecognizable and a perfect example of how maintenance issues can affect more than the landscape. Employees and family member's of patients were extremely unhappy. There was no place to eat or take a break, no place for people to sit, the gazebo was unsafely enclosed by overgrown plants, and one building was hidden behind overgrown yews. 

Gravel for DrainageSandbag DrainageOur first job was the poison ivy removal and pruning and removing hazards in the trees. People had been dumping garbage in the woods so our next task was to clean that up. We redesigned several areas, focusing on the core and most visible parts of the campus first.

 

Gazebo BeforeGazebo AfterWe fixed the drainage issues so they no longer had to pile sandbags in front of the doors (it isn't recommended by health professionals to block hospital doors, in case of emergencies) or deal with a mosquito farm in a swampy lawn area. Many overgrown plantings needed pruning for security reasons, who wants to eat lunch completely enclosed on all sides so you can't see who is approaching? We added curbs and boulders to the areas people were driving and parking in that were unpaved. We made elegant gravel shapes and used water tolerant plantings in areas where runoff collected. 

We sited a lot of trees as part of the Million Trees Project in NYC's boroughs. We redesigned outdoor recreation areas for the patients. We transplanted and relocated plants for the construction happening on the campus. We even installed fountains in the lobby with interior plants. Right now we're working on designs for patients' roof gardens and a parking lot to add more parking. It's in Queens, there's never any parking! 

Friday
Sep282012

Fall & Winter Services

Sign up now for our Fall/Winter Services. If you haven't given a thought to protecting your broadleaf evergreens yet, it isn't too late! An anti-desiccant spray can reduce water loss through the leaves during a time when your plants can’t take in water from the frozen ground. Reapply in mid-winter.

Make sure your gutters are clear. During a heavy snowfall, ice dams can form and water may back up under the flashing behind the gutters. This can cause leaks and if not treated, mold growth.

Road salt can damage your plants. You won’t see the damage until Spring when it is too late. Make sure to pile contaminated snow away from your plants. Try calcium chloride; a less harmful chemical to melt the ice. Calcium is a nutrient plants can tolerate but still minimize the amount you put down.

2-3” of shredded bark or compost at the bases of trees and shrubs can insulate shallow roots and conserve moisture before the soil freezes.

Make sure the flue is clear in your chimney so you can snuggle by the fire all winter.

Did you wrap up or store your furniture? We offer shrink wrapping for outdoor furniture, barbecues, pots and even boats.

Who's doing your holiday decorations and/or lighting? Sick of getting up on that ladder every year? Let us do it for you while you stay inside with a cup of hot cocoa.

 

Thursday
Sep272012

Goldberg & Rodler Wins National Maintenance Award!

Goldberg & Rodler has won a national PLANET award for maintenance. Goldberg & Rodler has recently expanded our services in the past few years (the original G&R Gardeners would be proud) and now offers a multitude of property maintenance services. Read on to find out more!

Woodland PatioOur client loves living in the woods but she wants a woodland feel without a woodland mess. She is the CEO of a large corporation and has a demanding workload. When she comes home to her 2-acre estate, she wants to spend time with her family and enjoy her property. She prefers a natural look and feel, (everything is hand-pruned) and she wants ease of access to her entire property keeping it a safe environment for her children and grandchildren to explore. 

Woodland PathOn a weekly basis we mow the lawn, pick up the pet-waste, weed the beds and play area, police the property for deer and mole problems, and check on the drains, gutters, downspouts and drainage paths.  The plants are inspected for damage from disease, insects or water issues. Our crew maintains a service access path on the side of the property to get to the rear yard. This prevents us from damaging the lawn, plants, and patios with repetitive traffic. We make sure the 2-story tall evergreen screening is maintained, pruning throughout the seasons after plants flower. We avoid a massive seasonal pruning job by pruning a little each visit, keeping the maintenance costs down for our client and adding to the natural look of the property. Bed edging is kept to a minimum to balance neatness with the woodland aesthetic throughout the property.

Summer ColorEvery spring we power wash all paving, the roof and walls of the house, and the furniture and pots that we wrapped and stored for the winter. We plant the evergreen shrubs from the pots in the landscape. We start up the irrigation system and inspect pool equipment. We install annuals and tropical plants for the summer months, concentrating a huge display of color in the pool area.  Our client looks forward to seeing something different and unique each year. She has no window treatments in the residence to maintain open views of her property.

Annual PotWe install fall annuals such as kale and mums around entryways. Our crews divide and transplant perennials and make sure all the light fixtures are clear and working during a nighttime test. Before winter starts we apply organic compost around the major trees and shrubs to prevent soil heaving and apply an anti-transpirant to the broadleaf evergreens to guard against moisture loss and desiccation of the foliage. We pre-treat the pavements before snowstorms and plow and shovel during and after the snow falls. Our client has knee problems so we take extra care to ensure those surfaces are as clean and dry as possible. After a heavy storm two years ago we even went up on the roof and removed the snow deposits to make certain that ice dams would not form and cause leaks.

Summer ColorWe maintain a gravel strip along the road with a short decorative iron fence to delineate the property in a neighborhood without curbs.  This also prevents the neighborhood dogs from using it as a bathroom. In the back of the property, a section of woods remains untouched. If a tree fails in the wooded area we take it down and leave it to decompose naturally and provide wildlife habitats away from the main living areas.

Spa & PoolAfter redoing the pool a few years ago, we rototilled the lawn area and added compost and topsoil. However, after failing to get a thriving lawn even with the amendments, during a maintenance visit we took a shovel and dug a test pit. We discovered that the pool company had backfilled with very poor soil and a 3-foot layer of clay was preventing the water from draining. Using a backhoe, we broke through the compacted clay layer and got the drainage flowing properly. Thanks to our weekly visits we were able to nip the issue in the bud and avoid replacing the lawn every year.

Graduation PartyThe homeowner likes to entertain at her residence and we organize the events for her from planning and setup to post-party cleanup. She likes having a garden theme and we create seasonal cut flower arrangements. We add tropical foliage plants and after the party take them to her corporate office to decorate the lobby. We also do the maintenance at her office building as it is very important to her that her employees enjoy their work atmosphere. The office building and grounds has a more manicured look to offer a pleasant but corporate feel to the property.

 

Photos by Susan Sotera

Tuesday
Sep252012

Goldberg & Rodler Wins National Landscape Award!

Plan: Click to enlarge

Goldberg & Rodler has won another national award (from PLANET) for one of our projects.We're so pleased that the judges recognized our team's hard work on the design and the installation of this residence. Read on to discover exactly what we did and to see pictures, before and after, of the project.

When our clients bought this waterfront residence it was virtually un-maintained for several years and needed a complete overhaul. Their wish list included making the steep and narrow driveway easier to navigate, creating inviting entertaining spaces, a putting green, a BBQ, removals of invasive plants, renovating the leaking gunite pool, extensive outdoor lighting, better dock access and storage space for recreation items.

Overgrown, dead and invasive plantings were the first big challenge with the site. Removing hemlocks infested with wooly adelgid, controlling invasive English Ivy, removing Poison Ivy and essential pruning for the property's shade trees. Most existing retaining walls on site were failing and had to be replaced or repaired. The leaking gunite pool needed extensive renovation. Raccoons had made the dock their personal bathroom. The current drainage pattern was down the driveway (about 20 feet higher than the house at the street), straight to the house.

Before: Click to enlarge

After: Click to enlargeWe re-graded the driveway changing a 17% slope to a 15% slope and built boulder walls at the road and below for guest parking. A custom Belgian Block Cobble culvert, strip drain and surface drains catch runoff coming down the driveway and direct it into 3 new drywells. A shed off the parking stall holds family bikes and there's space for one-on-one basketball.

Green: Click to enlarge

Waterfall: Click to enlarge

A cozy putting green sits below the pool area. A large brick and bluestone patio surrounds the renovated gunite pool, complete with a new bluestone coping. We added a swim out to the deep end and converted the existing pond to a reservoir that spills into the pool, circulating the water. Random bricks break up the sheet of water into tranquil white noise.

Pool Area: Click to enlargeLighting: Click to enlargeA new composite deck with glass paneled railings keeps the view unobstructed. The steps lead to irregular bluestone with lawn joints out to open lawn. A custom railing and gate keeps raccoons from wreaking havoc on the dock. We designed an extensive lighting plan to highlight the landscape and make the property usable all day.

BBQ: Click to enlargeWater View: Click to enlargeAll of the bluff planting was retained to ensure slope stability and we selectively pruned along the bluff to maintain a dramatic view to the water. As part of our philosophy, we try to reuse as much of the existing vegetation and materials as possible. Existing daylilies were transplanted along the top of the slope to help prevent washout erosion and we rehabilitated and transplanted rhododendrons from the pool area to a woodland setting where they could thrive.

The property had many dilapidated boulder structures scattered about, built years ago by a monk, and had sentimental value to our clients. We salvaged and repurposed every boulder for new boulder and gabion walls and also for rip rap in various places to retain slopes.

Difficulties during construction included a massive rainstorm in the middle of the driveway construction. The basement flooded and we discovered the previous owners had concealed a major issue: they had built a false wall in the basement to hide the fact that there was no waterproofing on the foundation. We worked through the night with the family to empty the basement of water and came back the next day to waterproof the foundation. Also, gutters were pitched incorrectly and downspouts were broken or clogged. We replaced all leaders and gutters and calculated drainage capacity for the new drywells. Other discoveries included rotten wood and a leaking roof which were both replaced with high tech, low-maintenance materials (a slate substitute and Azek columns) to maintain the historic look of the house.

 

Photos by Susan Sotera

Monday
Sep242012

The Time Is Now

We're already thinking about Memorial Day at Goldberg & Rodler. It's a common deadline for landscape construction. People want to have parties, family gatherings, use their outdoor spaces to the fullest when the sun is shining. Our office gets flooded with calls when spring rolls around, usually when the crocus and daffodil pop up. Nobody thinks about summer flowers and sitting out on their decks and patios or going swimming when there's snow on the ground. Get a head start with a landscape design in the fall or winter and you can break ground in the spring. Get a head start on construction and you can be having fun in the spring!

If you're building a new home or an addition, think about installing screen planting now. As long as the trees and/or shrubs aren't in the way of the contractors the plants will have a whole season's head start on growing. When your construction is complete the screen planting will be there to provide privacy to enjoy your new space.

If you already have a plan and the ground hasn't frozen yet, get a head start on the construction. If you have concrete work in your plans, start pouring before the winter sets in. Concrete takes a long time to cure and getting a jump on it helps when spring comes and you're ready to set the pavers or mortar a veneer. It also allows time for the sub-grade and/or backfill to settle.

Fall is the time to start planning, planting and building. It gives you ample time to get necessary permits approved. If a permit is denied to either need to revise and resubmit or apply for a variance. Either way it is a long process. It never hurts to plan ahead! Once the weather warms up, you want to be out there enjoying your property, not watching from inside while it get's ripped up and put back together.