There is an upside and a downside to outsourcing lawn tasks. By ‘outsourcing tasks’ we are referring to the situation where, rather than undertaking the tasks by yourself, you decide to contract them to one of the firms that have lawn care as their core business. That is an increasingly popular way of doing things, as an ever growing number of firms opt to ‘concentrate on their core competencies’ while contracting other ‘distracting tasks’ to firms that specialize in them. Of course, the idea of outsourcing is not open to businesses alone. Individual home owners who can’t find the time to do their own lawn care, and who don’t feel that they should directly employ full-time or even part-time lawn care staff either, are increasingly opting to outsource lawn service care in Cincinnati. The same is the case with non business organizations, that don’t feel they have to concentrate on lawn tasks, whilst possibly ignoring their core tasks on which they should be focusing their energies.

As it turns out, though, there are several advantages and disadvantages to this outsourcing of care of lawn tasks to firms that have such lawn care as their core business.

Starting with the advantages, it turns out, for starters, that chances of getting the care of lawn well done are indeed very high when you task it to competent landscaping and firms. In other words, thanks to the fact that this is what they do on a day to day basis, most of these firms end up becoming very good at it, as they over time develop an idea on which practices are truly effective. Still on the advantages, it emerges that, in most cases, getting care of lawn done by these ‘specialist’ firms may prove to be a more cost-effective way of doing it. That is the case even when it is a personal (home) lawn we are looking at, where keen calculations may show that the sums of money you pay to the lawn care firms are nothing compared to the sums of money you earn in the time you would have cumulatively spent caring for the lawns. Where the alternative is to employ care of lawn staff (as in organizational lawns), you may find the prospect of having your lawns being cared for without having to deal with human resource management issues of the lawn care staff attractive.

But there is a downside to such outsourcing of lawn care to the firms as well. For starters, it may emerge that since the staff at these firms have to care for lawns at many locations, they are unable to give your lawn the personalized attention it could get from your (or from your own dedicated care of lawn staff). To them, yours could be ‘just another lawn’ among the many they have to care for. Further, if you are a gardening enthusiast, you may find that tasking lawn care to these firms would amount to ‘giving away the fun,’ which could very possibly beat the whole point of having a lawn. There are also cases where the rates charged by the care of lawn firms turns out to be too high, even compared to what you would have spent on part-time (dedicated) care of lawn staff.

As an itinerant stump grinder for these past dozen years, I have experienced a variety of stump removal scenarios. I haven’t written this with the intention to impress, nor has it been written as the “be all to end all stump grinding method”. I felt there to be a need for a written description of what I do, amongst the plethora of visual and pictorial information out there. Perhaps this humble piece will inspire other stump grinders to make an effort with their written descriptions of how they grind away stumps with their machinery. If this collective information, was compiled and indexed, it may prove to be a valued written source of reference for all future stump grinders. I am fortunate to be able to draw upon my own unique mix of experiences (not necessarily connected with this subject), complemented with an ability to put this into writing — although how it is interpreted, remains to be seen. This is a detailed description of how I remove a tree stump with a professional stump grinding machine.

There will be deviations from this main topic, also describing my reasons, methodology, and events which led to the present action taken. Unlike many of my stump grinding peers who have relied upon YouTube videos to demonstrate stump grinding, nobody has yet—as far as I am aware— written a definitive procedural description on the salient points of this operation, for placement in the open domain. It is understood there are many other views with many other variations in procedure, reflected by variations of equipment types. My intention of basing my procedural description with a modified Carlton 2300 stump grinder, is to keep it simple, without all the “bells and whistles” of modern stump grinding machines. However, this old (1997) model has been updated with a Lombardini diesel engine to give it performance approaching modern machines. I have added a number of my own “bells and whistles” in the form of various gauges which I feel are important to gain a general understanding of machine performance. Further, old fashioned finger type cutter teeth are used. This is a personal preference based on cost alone. I also recognise the OEM improvements made to modern stump grinders, and do not intend for these writings to diminish those improvements in any conceivable way. Again I re-emphasise the use of an old model Carlton 2300 is to keep it simple in spite of the below listed changes to the machine. My wish, and hope is that some of this will spark additional thoughts and improvements to increased safety, and productivity in a potentially hazardous operation. Stump grinding is inherently a hazardous operation to people, pets, and property. The scope of this procedural description assumes a familiarity with all necessary safety equipment, and will only make occasional reference to such equipment within the context of my operational method and procedure. I will begin with a list of modifications made to this old Carlton 2300 including reasons:

  • brackets for securing a 2.5 mtr. horizontal, flood light mast at the machine’s top, and along its length. When working any distance away from base, It isn’t cost effective to complete a job on a second return to site if it is possible to complete within one journey. Winter evenings at the solstice here in England, begins at about 16:00. Working a few extra hours in the dark, will make a considerable cost savings. This prompted installation of a flood light attachment. to the machine.
  • pivoted brackets mounted in place of mud guards for securing rubber screens suspended from steel arms. Some manufacturers of stump grinders may now provide these screens. None were available at the time, so I made them up. After experiencing a broken window, as a result of stones being projected diagonally from the cutter wheel, such a screening provision became very immediate. I never operate without my mud guard mounted screens.
  • pivoted bracket assembly for securing a vertical mast of a three meter parasol used for all lengthy stump grinding jobs—rain or shine. A comfortable stump grinder, is a productive stump grinder.
  • bracket for securing a proper oil pressure gauge—not an idiot light! Most modern stump grinders have automatic switches to shut down the engine when oil pressure is lost. If this machine had one–I would still install an oil pressure gauge. An idiot light will not sense a reduction in oil pressure as when the engine warms up from cold, or when a possible leak may occur. Further, it can indicate approximate engine temperature once experience is gained with normal pressure/temperature comparisons.
  • bracket for securing an engine oil temperature gauge. This was a temporary installation because the oil dip stick had to be substituted with a sensor bulb immersed in the sump oil to gain accurate data. With a clear cool air intake, my engine was running at 90 C. That is quite hot and proves the point how important it is to keep cool air passages and air intakes clear and clean. I have nearly 4000 run hours on my diesel engine with NO black or white exhaust smoke!
  • bracket securing hydraulic oil temperature gauge. This is also a current temporary installation while data is collected and can be more accurately referenced against the pressure gauge. A permanent installation with a combination oil level and temperature indicator will be installed at a later date.
  • A sheet metal screen separating the operator from hydraulic hoses was installed just behind the hydraulics control levers. Most modern models have enclosures for hydraulic hosing, and must meet CE certification.
  • welded angle, supports for cutter wheel’s hinged (guard) shroud. When this guard is down in its operational position, it nestles between two welded angles giving it lateral support. The addition of these angled supports was found to be necessary when the guard makes contact with a portion of uncut stump which remained beyond the swing limit of the cutter wheel.
  • brackets to secure a permanent electric winch above steering wheels. A twelve volt winch has been recognised as an essential on-board equipment. Occasions have required a winch to assist machine manoeuvrability, to fix a static position on a slope where driving the machine’s own stake into the ground is impossible. and to extract the machine from difficult terrain.
  • installation of lockable key operated emergency stop switch. CE compliance requires this switch.
  • installation of a fixed means to secure the cutter wheel’s hinged shroud in the down or operational position. CE compliance requires this.
  • central point greasing hub located within a cutout on the machine’s decking. Armored, sheathed, flexibile, hydraulic grade pipe, is connected to four underside (difficult to reach) grease nipples
  • fine mesh insect screen installed over engine cooling intake fan opening, complemented with a steel grid support fixed within air intake shroud. This eliminated the need to frequently remove th engine’s cool air ducting to the finned cylinders, for cleaning away debris caught between cylinder cooling fins. This was a frequent and essential task to prevent “hot spots” and to maintain efficient engine cooling for such a hot running air cooled engine. A water cooled engine has distinct advantages for operating in such a dirty environment.
  • A thick neoprene gasket placed beneath the chain drive cover. This gasket is a great improvement with keeping out contamination, and extending chain life. ( Modern stump grinders have hydraulic motor hub drives for each wheel. Chain breakage was always a risk, with the possibility of a runaway machine. That can’t happen with hydraulic motors at the drive wheels.)
  • complete sheet metal encasement of ‘V’ belt drive. Required for CE compliance.
  • Improved fixing/support bracket for shallow screen located directly behind cutter wheel. This bracket was made in one piece of steel stretching the length of the rubber screen. It provides additional screen support, and is quicker /easier to remove for screen replacement due to wear.
  • heavy duty spiral banding was wrapped around all exposed hydraulic hoses. A CE requirement to protect the operator from a hydraulic hose burst
  • Installation of thermocouples to the bearings for determining their average normal running temperature and to indicate excessive bearing play yet to be installed.

Transporting A Stump Grinder:

There are two ways of getting your stumpgriner down the road to a site; either by loading it onto a trailer, onto a truck, or into a van. I chose a VW medium wheel base, high top, turbo-diesel, panel van for the following reasons, and a description of how the stump grinder is stowed:

  • VW vans represent dependability for me. I’m onto my third change of van (all purchased second hand) and have never had a breakdown that wasn’t my fault.
  • the trailer option seemed to be hassle, with access down narrow driveways, turning radii too narrow, and a great deal of unnecessary monoeuvreing
  • I dont have a large enough lock up garage, which would require outside storage for the stump grinder and trailer making it subject to theft.
  • my van is dedicated to storing the stump grinder where It stays onboard.
  • I do all of my servicing and repairs with the stumpgrinder onboard. I carry all necessary tooling to perform minor field repairs e.g. changing a drive chain to the drive axle, or wedge belts for the cutter drive.
  • the stump grinder and tools are secure in the van with the vans additional security, eg. immobiliser, alarm, wheel clamp, and additional door and frame strengthening which has already prevented someone trying to lever the base of the rear doors upwards in an attempt to gain access.
  • I keep a set of steel ramps stowed onboard. These are also useful for gaining access in gardens with steps, or at a higher level.
  • a steel wire cable is installed between opposite anchor points next to the steel bulkhead separating driver from loadbay. At the cable’s centre is fixed a steel ring, through which the stump grinder’s stake enters, when the machine is stowed. This cable has two purposes. First use is when uploading the grinder. By extending its tongue to reach the steel ring fixed at the centre of the wire cable, then passing the machine’s stake through the steel ring, allows the machine to pull itself into position when retracting the tongue. This entry method is preferred over reliance on the grinders wheel traction which is minimised on wet days, and also because its wheels must climb over, and on top of screening stored on the vans floor. Second use is as a secure fixing point while the van is in transit.
  • within the rear of the loadbay, is a steel saddle fixed to the floor. ( looks like an upside down double “TT” ) It is bolted through the van’s floor, and through square plates pulling against the chassis underside. The machine’s cutter wheel nestles between two verticle plates. A pin passes through both verticle plates and a cutter wheel bolt hole, where the tertiary pockets use to be fixed. ( they didn’t do any work, so use was made of their intended bolt holes )
  • the machine is firmly stowed using this method. Indeed, it stayed in place, with my van on its side in a drainage ditch! ( the ultimate test )

Downloading the Stump Grinder By The Numbers

  1. open rear doors, unsecure ramps from their stowed position, slid out ramps, and fix them to door sill with pins
  2. open sliding side door, start the stump grinders engine, retract tongue slightly to pull against steel cable thus allowing release of tension on cutter wheel stowage pin, for its removal, and raise the cutter wheel away from its floor saddle.
  3. engage axle drive or “free wheel” valve, reverse machine slightly, just enough to allow release of tension on steel cable allowing extraction of machine’s “T” stake from the steel ring fixed to the cable.
  4. pin the machine’s stake to its normal stowed position, and drive stump grinder down the ramps.

Determining Safe Access

  • after stopping the grinders engine (remove key), do a “walk-through” along the machine’s intended route to the stumps. Depending on machine’s width (owing to extension dual wheels fitted) determine an easy unobstructed access.

For information on Stump Grinding Southampton click here.

Introduction to Landscape Design

The Definition of Landscaping

Improve the aesthetic appearance of (an area) by changing its contours, adding ornamental features, or planting trees and shrubs.

“the site has been tastefully landscaped”.

What is Landscape Design?

Landscape design is not something that anyone needs to be fearful of, if you have an idea for your landscape or garden space you will be able to make it a reality with a little bit of research and desire to create something beautiful.

As a potential Landscape Designer, you need to be aware that your backyard masterpiece is going to be a living and growing thing that will change as the plants grow and develop, the environment changes through the season and you and your family use the space you have created. You will also grow as a person and landscaper as you learn through the experience and as a direct result of your personal growth and confidence in your ability your landscaping ideas and designs will also advance dramatically.

However you choose to Landscape your garden the priority is always to create something that you love, it will be your space and you will create something that is visually pleasing, functional and ultimately a landscape that works for you and for your garden.

What are the Landscaping Elements?

The first step in any design process is to put the ‘Elements’ in place for your Landscaping Space, obviously this changes for every single project because of the size of your space, the level of the ground, the conditions of the site and the soil and what is already there and may need to be worked around.

You, as the landscaper, need to sit and draw a rough plan of your space and place in any fixed feature that you may be required to work around (eg. a manhole cover). I would recommend doing a rough scale map of the area you have available to work in. It does not have to be fancy but a plan that is easy for you to work on and visualize your landscaping ideas.

When you have your basic plan (make sure you make a few copies) you can start to organize the hardscape materials and plants. Hardscape and Plants are referred to as features.

What are the Landscaping Principles?

The principles of Landscaping are the guidelines that we use to arrange and organize the features to create a beautiful landscape, the fundamental concepts of landscape composition are proportion (always remember that plants grow over time), order (remember size and color), repetition (how large or small a space do wish to cover with a certain effect), and unity (will they and do they work together).

Understanding the Elements and Principles of Landscaping Design is the basic foundation of all landscaping Design, at this stage you just need to put your ideas down and think about what you want to create.

If you are brand new to landscape design do not be afraid, just apply your thoughts, ideas and what you are wanting to create to your design and deal with the details as you research and progress further into your landscaping experience.

Most people know only about landscaping as a way to maintain their gardens like pruning some plants or taking out the weeds. But landscaping services can do so much more for a garden whether it’s big or small.

Landscaping is changing the appearance of a lawn or backyard. It can involve trimming the grass or pruning some branches of a tree but it can also entail building or adding on some structures to give a lawn or backyard more appeal. Landscaper in San Jose can even add or remove some of the soil just to alter the feature of the whole layout of the land.

There are so many ways for landscaping to improve the appearance of your backyard. Your backyard doesn’t even have to be enormous for it to have potential. Some people equate landscaping with mansions or large fields but even the most modest lawns can turn out to be wondrous landscapes if the design is right. With the right amount of budget and a little creativity, you could have a beautiful lawn or backyard in no time.

Before you start looking for an expert in landscaping, try visualizing first how you want your backyard to look like. Better yet, look at photos of beautiful landscapes online or in magazines so that you could have a more concrete idea on the appearance of your lawn.

When you’re ready to meet with a landscaper, there are a few details you should know first so that you’ll be able to choose the right person for the job. First, pick a landscaper that has experience. Landscaping can be quite expensive so be careful in choosing a landscaper so that you won’t end up remodeling your lawn a number of times. A landscaper with experience has clients that could vouch for his or her professionalism. Ask around about the landscapers you are canvassing and you might be able to discern which one is the most efficient.

Picking the most affordable landscaper is just as important as picking the most efficient. If you want to pick a landscaper that you can afford, try asking your roster of landscaping firms to place a bid. This way you could see which landscaping firm can do the job at the most decent price.

After you’ve chosen a landscaper to your liking, the next thing to do is to discuss the details on your lawn. You and your landscaper must be on the same page with everything otherwise you’ll have problems in the near future. No detail is trivial and you should discuss everything with your landscaper. From the kind of grass you want to use up to the kind of water feature you want installed, every detail should be discussed with your landscaper.

When you’re working the designs with your landscaper try your best to hear their opinions even if it means getting rid of some of your designs. Landscaping services providers are experts in figuring out what water feature or backyard structure works best with the lawn so let them help you with your lawn.