Did the recent pandemic take a toll on you? Has it been difficult to get back into the daily grind? Spending time outdooors has been proven to be therapeutic and reduce stress levels. A healing garden is a traditional cure for the ailments of busy modern life.
The idea of adding landscaped spaces that promote tranquility is becoming popular with homeowners and other property owners in busy urban areas. At hospitals across the country, landscape architects are being asked to create special gardens that promote healing for patients.
The work of one such landscape architect, Mikyoung Kim, who designed The Crown Sky Garden on the 11th floor of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, is highly renowned. A second garden, Project Ripple, was designed and completed by Kim for the Jackson South Community Hospital in Miami.
The theory behind such gardens is to add natural spaces that are quiet and inviting, which can induce feelings of wellness and relaxation. The garden can be large, such as the 5,000-square-foot Crown Sky Garden, or scaled smaller to fit into the backyard of a home in a suburban neighborhood.
Design plans that interweave natural features and sculptural elements can lay the groundwork for a pleasing landscape that serves as an outside shelter from stress. Gardens can be created to blend in seamlessly with the area, or stand out as a restorative oasis separated from busy urban environments.
A home garden or other landscaped area can allow the owner to get outside of daily activities by providing a place to sit, think, read or enjoy a quiet meal.
To design an outdoor room or space, selectively plant trees and other foliage to create a natural barrier between the garden and the outside world. Tall shrubs and vine-covered trellises are both also good choices to create such spaces.
If the garden blossoms with interactive experiences, a person can participate in naturally soothing activities such as cultivating herbs or tending to flowers.
A well-designed landscape might also have plants selected to attract birds, squirrels and other animals. Berry-producing bushes, for example, are a great choice for adding attractive colors and food in the yard.
Sculptural elements — such as benches, stone pathways, birdbaths and water features — invite garden visitors to sit or stroll while adding visual interest.
You may also want to add heating lamps, stone fireplaces and other elements to make your garden inviting year round. The goal is simple: To make your yard a tiny bit of paradise. Once you have designed your healing space, be sure to install the latest in water control technology to keep the area lush, vibrant, and serene.
Now, more than ever, water conservation is critical. Not only can it help the environment, it can also save money for the homeowner or property manager and can improve the health of the yard. Water conservation is something that every household and business owner can contribute to.
Here are some tips to help your household conserve water through the hot summer months.
Indoor water conservation
Turn off the tap when brushing. Leaving the water running while you brush wastes up to four gallons of water each time. Same goes for hand-washing, which is on everyone’s minds these days.
Shorten showers. Shortening your shower time by a minute will still get you clean, and save up to 150 gallons of water every month. Keep a bucket in the shower to collect some of the cold water that comes first. You can use it to water your plants indoors or outdoors.
Keep drinking water in the fridge. Instead of running the faucet until the water is cool enough to drink, keep a bottle or a pitcher in the fridge. This means not only water conservation, but colder drinking water.
Fix leaky faucets and toilets. A slow drip from a single bathroom or kitchen faucet can waste several gallons of water every day. Replace worn washers, or replace the whole unit with a washerless faucet with a lifetime guarantee.
Plant native flowers and grasses. Plants that are native to your area and that are adapted to our hot, dry climate, and need far less water than most turf grasses.
Don’t over-water. Most lawns need 1 to 1.5 inches of water every day, which takes 20 to 30 minutes of sprinkling. Overwatering can actually be harmful to the lawn, putting it at risk of fungus and disease. Excess water will run off onto the driveway or street, a complete waste. To measure an inch of water, put an empty, clean tuna can on the grass when you begin to water, and turn off the sprinkler when the can is full.
Choose a smarter watering system. Smart Rain offers both hardware and software that changes the game when it comes to watering large patches of lawn. Our smart water systems work with our Smart Rain SmartApp™ to inform you about water flow, moisture levels and more.
Water conservation does not need to be complicated. With a few simple steps that will save the homeowner money on monthly water bills, everyone can achieve water conservation. Get in touch with SmartRain today to learn more.
Proponents of conservation ask people to turn the lens on themselves to understand the impacts each of us has on our environment. Many little things we do throughout the day help reduce use and strain on resources — turning off lights, unplugging electronics, choosing to recycle, using technology to manage irrigation on your properties. And little things add up to big things.
Keep these tips in mind as you ponder ways you can make a difference:
Saving water saves energy (and more!)
We’ve mentioned in previous blogs the inextricable tie between water conservation and energy. The less water you use, the less energy goes toward treating it, heating it and pumping it. And the less energy used for these processes, the less air pollution is generated. This circles back around to protecting the health of all of our natural resources, not just on our property but also regionally, nationally and globally.
Review Your Company’s Conservation Plan
Training and educating staff on ways to conserve energy should be a mandatory. If you don’t have an existing conservation plan that is active, now is the time to start brainstorming. Call your team together to come up with ways they have personally incorporated such approaches into their lifestyle, or study the tactics embraced by a business you admire. Earth911 shares these eight ideas businesses can use to “build a culture of conservation:”
1 – Provide Filtered Water Common Areas. No more individual plastic water bottles in the trash! Definitely include recycle bins for plastic, just in case. Consider providing each employee with a company glass when they’re hired to encourage use.
2 – Encourage Electronic Communication in Lieu of Printed Materials. Can it be said in an email or text? If yes, err on the side of using technology to get your point across.
3 – Choose Your Lightbulbs Wisely. Some are more energy efficient than others. As the consumer, the ones you choose will help determine which ones are produced. Use the power of the purchase!
4 - Embrace the Telecommute. COVID-19 showed us that WFH (work from home) is not only possible, it’s often preferable. Limit office work to essential workers and tasks. This will help cut your overhead on utilities, saving you money and energy at the same time.
5 – Get Some Plants. Bring a bit of the outdoors in. Plants are aesthetically pleasing and mutually beneficial for our breathing.
6 – Power Down. Though there’s been debate about this in the past, it is a good rule of thumb to power off your electronics while not in use.
7 – Make Recycling Bins Accessible. If people can’t find them, they can’t use them.
8 – Reduce Travel. Another lesson learned from COVID-19 – we have lots of ways to communicate virtually. No need to jet set or drive when you can hop on a video platform and connect with people near and far.
Get Residents Involved (Property Managers – this one is for you!)
Be sure all residents are aware of the existing policy, including any recycling do’s and don’ts, conservation tips and ongoing regulations related to yard or lawn maintenance. Some property managers choose to leave residents in the dark about these things. But a solid partnership and commitment by those that live on the property is really the only way a plan turns into action. Consider having residents or neighborhoods create an energy committee to keep communication open and encourage participation in green living.
Put systems in place
Instead of constantly monitoring individual sprinklers, let Smart Rain’s cutting-edge irrigation system save you millions of gallons of water, just like it’s done for other properties. Contact us today to see how!
Do you ever get your water bill and wonder how on Earth you and your family can use so much water in just one month? Many families don’t realize that leaky faucets and toilets and other water-gobbling problems and habits can cost them a lot of money each year. The good news? Many common water wasters can be fixed quickly and inexpensively. Here’s what to look out for:
Little leaks. A dripping faucet can send gallons of water down the drain every day. It’s estimated that 10 percent of all homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day! Make sure your faucets don’t drip.
Inefficient shower heads. Installing new, water-saving shower heads can have a big impact on your water usage and your bill.
Taking long showers. Speaking of showers, reducing your shower time by just a few minutes each day can save hundreds of gallons per month. So can NOT running the water the entire time you’re brushing your teeth.
Problem toilets. Older toilets can use a lot more water than newer models. Toilets manufactured prior to 1993 can use two to six gallons more than toilets being manufactured today! Most toilets being made today use only 1.6 gallons per flush.
Leaks can be another issue. Take a few minutes to inspect each toilet in your home; you can typically hear and see evidence of leaks. Speaking of toilets, don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket. That wastes up to 5 gallons per flush.
Using your hose as a broom. Using the garden hose to wash down sidewalks, instead of using a broom, can use more than 10 gallons of water each minute!
Hand washing dishes. You can use up to 27 gallons of water per load when you wash dishes by hand versus as little as four gallons of water with a newer dishwasher. That’s because most people wash dishes with running water. If you are washing dishes by hand, fill your sink with water and dish soap and wash your dishes. Run the faucet only to briefly rinse the dishes.
Landscaping with plants and trees that use a lot of water. One-third of residential water use goes toward watering the lawn and garden. Native plants and drought-resistant lawn varieties require less water. Thankfully, there are better ways to water lawns these days, such as smart irrigation systems from Smart Rain. At the touch of a button, you can control your irrigation systems from anywhere in the world, any time of day. With our smart app, you’ll be able to get notifications of issues and be able to adjust for changing weather conditions. Learn more here: https://www.smartrain.net
You don’t need to have the world’s best green thumb to go ‘green’ in your landscaping. Simply picking the right plants, shrubs and trees for your climate and investing in a smart watering system can help you create a sustainable and attractive landscape while saving you water, money and work. Here are four ways to plant and maintain a sustainable landscape at home or at your business:
When you think about it, we often associate audits with bad things, such as an unwanted registered letter from the IRS. However, there are times when audits can be good – even great. This is especially true if you’re a property manager. You need to see where your properties’ energy is being wasted … and where you can save it.
Why do an energy audit?
If utility bills are taking increasing chunks out of your HOA’s (Homeowner’s Association’s) budget, you may have to raise the HOA fees. This irritates current owners, and even worse, can turn away potential home buyers who are looking into your community.
What if there’s no money for upgrades?
Many property managers assume that an energy audit would be a waste of time because it would recommend upgrades they can’t afford. But that isn’t necessarily true. Energy and cost savings may be available immediately with just a few tweaks. But if you fail to complete an energy audit, you’ll never realize their potential.
Go with a professional
If you do decide to do an energy audit, you need a professional who has the knowledge, experience and certification in their field to recommend changes to you. Someone who specializes in multi-family dwellings is ideal.
How much “audit” should you get?
There are many different types of audits, and you usually get what you pay for. A more detailed audit will probably be more expensive, but will show greater detail as to where your energy is being wasted, and where you can save. In addition, check if your utility company offers free energy audits, or full or partial reimbursement for them.
There are tons of ways to save energy
There are many ways that you can help save energy in the community you manage. A state-of-the-art irrigation system is just one of them. Contact Smart Rain today, so you can start saving as soon as possible!
Is it spring yet? No, it most decidedly is not. But that doesn’t mean it’s not time to think about what you’re going to do differently once the weather warms up. Many of us are looking forward to the warm weather and tackling projects that the ice and snow kept us from — planting the garden, fixing up the lawn and repairing all the damage winter wrought on the outside of the house and the yard.
While you’re planning your springtime repairs and home improvements, consider making more environmentally sustainable choices for your house and garden. They’ll reduce your community’s ecological footprint and could save you money, as well.
The sustainable yard
As you plan what you’re going to plant this spring, choose plants that are native to your area. Exotic imported flowers, shrubs and trees need more water, fertilizer, care and time to thrive.
Fertilize with organic compost, preferably from your own compost bin or pile. It’s free, reuses products that you’ve already used, and doesn’t damage surrounding plants or threaten animals.
After planting flowers and other plants, cover the flower beds and vegetable gardens with organic mulch. It looks pleasant, plus it helps conserve water and keep out pests.
Collect rainwater using rain barrels or tanks. You also can keep a bucket in the shower to collect some of the water that you don’t use, and re-use it to water your plants. Even if you don’t put a barrel under your downspouts, make sure they’re not leading water onto the driveway or paved path — that’s just wasting a valuable resource. Direct water onto your garden or lawn, instead. You’ll reduce the amount of watering you’ll have to do in dry periods.
In the spirit of not wasting water, check your outdoor faucets and replace any worn and leaky washers so that you don’t waste water outdoors.
Compost garden cuttings and kitchen scraps, which you can use to fertilize next year’s garden.
Once the warm weather weather returns, it’s time to make some simple changes that can reduce not only your environmental impact, but your bills, as well.
Start by turning off the clothes dryer for the season, and hang your laundry on a line outdoors, instead.
Replace light bulbs in outdoor lights with low-energy LEDs. They use a fraction of the energy of incandescent bulbs and even less than compact fluorescents. Or take it a step further, and install solar-charged outdoor garden lights.
While you may not be worried about cold air now that the weather is getting warmer, check the weather-stripping and caulking around doors and windows. Remove and replace any that’s chipped or cracked. You’ll be air-conditioning before you know it, and this will save you money in the warm weather, as well.
Looking to get water smart this year? If so, get in touch with us today at https://www.smartrain.net
Renters in 2021 are very different from how they were just 10 or 20 years ago. In the past, renters concentrated their checklists on safety and affordability, but these days, there is another consideration they take into account when renting.
Today, many apartment renters expect their units to match their commitment to sustainable living. So in order to reach the lofty goal of full occupancy, you have to think outside the box. If you don’t, you may lose renters to property owners who made the effort. Check out a few eco-friendly ways to attract renters to your building.
Indoor air quality
Renters almost take for granted that the units they live in will have good indoor air quality. Be sure to update your air filtration system and swap out filters on a regular basis. Doing so shows your commitment to keeping things safe and orderly around your properties.
In a recent survey, the majority of respondents said they were “interested” or “very interested” in living in apartments that have certificates for energy efficiency or sustainable design. Consider doing an energy audit to see where your properties could cut down on waste and cost.
In addition to energy efficiency, even more respondents of the aforementioned survey said that buildings with recycling programs and other sustainability initiatives were very attractive to them. Make sure all residents know how your properties recycle different materials, and post the information prominently in common areas. Encourage your renters to compost their food waste, as well, as an added green bonus. They’ll be amazed how much waste piles up just from old food scraps.
Finally, consider wowing potential renters with an ecologically-sound irrigation system. Our systems have saved millions of dollars in water costs while giving property owners complete, 24/7 control over their irrigation systems. Give Smart Rain a call today!
With winter in full swing and the pandemic still impacting social activities, you probably spend a lot of your days curled up on the couch with the fireplace roaring and your Netflix queue keeping you company. Or maybe reading with a hot cup of tea is more your style.
In any case, if you’re lucky enough to kick back and ride out quarantine, that’s great! But more time at home might translate into higher power bills this winter. The same goes for the tenants in the properties you manage. How are you helping them conserve energy? Below are a few tips on how to do just that.
Do some fine-tuning
The furnaces and boilers on your properties will be working overtime in the next few months, if they’re not already. Cleaning them, as well as completing any overdue or necessary maintenance, will keep them at top efficiency throughout the season.
How low can you go?
Do you really need all the heat and light that your properties are currently supplying in the winter? Keeping indoor spaces warm and well-lit can really take a bite out your association’s budget, so look for ways to reduce heat and light use in common areas. Examine occupancy patterns, and keep thermostats and bulbs turned down as needed.
Audit your energy
It’s hard to cut down on your winter energy use if you don’t know where it’s going in the first place. If you’ve taken the obvious steps above (such as fine-tuning furnaces and boilers and then working to reduce energy needs in unused areas), an “energy audit” of your properties by your local utility company may find other ways you can cut back.
If you serve as a property manager, you already know your day-to-day work life is extremely hectic and stressful. Time seems to fly by, and at the end of the day, you haven’t gotten anything done. It’s OK. Take a deep breath. Below are a few time-saving tips that will make your life easier.
One resident at a time
Resident interruptions are a major part of the job for any property manager. How can you be expected to handle one resident’s issues if another one keeps disrupting the process? But there are ways to cope. Unless it’s an emergency, tell the second resident you’ll get back to them. Take care of the first resident’s issue, then go on to the next one.
When residents keep calling
Some residents can be very persistent in calling or stopping by the property manager’s office over and over. Not only is this a form of interruption, it’s a drain on your energy and time. However, you can set up a system with this resident in the event they continue to have issues. The system may involve not calling or coming to the office more than once a day, for instance.
Use time-saving technology
Technology can definitely save you time by automating many of your daily tasks. Imagine if dealing with the water system could be taken care of just by touching a few buttons. Or monitoring it meant merely looking at your computer screen. Technology can make these time-saving tricks a reality. Here at SmartRain, we’re proud to offer smart irrigation systems that can be accessed 24/7, wherever you are in the world. Take a look at our options and see if one fits for the properties you manage. Interested? Get in touch with us today to see how we can start saving you both time and money this year.