Winter is coming, and in South Bend, IN, snow is an inevitability. In preparation for the coming winter season, we spoke with Shane Hendrickson, Landscape Foreman for the region, about the process of proper winterization, and the challenges that he and his team will soon face, when snow is on the ground.
Q: How does your crew go about preparing the grounds at our properties for the colder months?
Shane: Winterization of our properties starts at around the first frost, which is usually in mid-October. At that time, we remove all of the annual flowers and plant mums for fall color. We then cut the grass shorter, and apply a special fertilizer that contains nutrients that strengthen the plants and their roots. When the fall mums begin to die off from the cold, we remove them, and plant flower bulbs in preparation for the spring thaw. We also we ensure that damage is not caused to the sprinklers, by blowing out the irrigation systems with a large air compressor. The prevents the lines from breaking, due to freezing water.
Q: Does your team perform any ornamental landscaping? If so, what?
Shane: Each year, we decorate the Inn at St. Mary’s and the Hilton Garden Inn located on Indiana State Route 933, with exterior Christmas lights. The process begins in October, when we map out the trees on the properties to get a nice, balanced arrangement of the lights amongst the branches. Then, our crew carefully follows the design, and wraps each tree with around 1,000 lights. We squeeze this in on days that are not conducive to our fall leaf cleanups. Last year we put up 40,000 lights. That number will increase, this year, as we are also putting lights up at the South Bend Medical Foundation, in downtown.
Q: What do you and your crew do, to prepare for the first snowfall?
Shane: This may seem surprising to some, but snow preparation typically starts right after the previous season ends, in early spring. During this time, we evaluate existing, and procure new snow-removal contracts for the upcoming snow season. In July, we reserve all of the rental loaders and pushers that we will use to plow and salt the lots. Then, in September, we lock in our pricing, and reserve what we need in bulk salt for the lots and sidewalks. This year, we ordered 200 tons of bulk salt, and 8 pallets of sidewalk salt. In order to make sure that everything is in working order, we carefully examine all of our equipment (plows, salt boxes, snow blowers, spreaders, etc.). After confirming that our equipment is in good condition, we walk through the properties that we will be providing snow-removal services to, and secure stakes around the curbs, to ensure a safe and efficient plow.
Q: What is the most difficult challenge that you and your team face, in regards to snow removal?
Shane: The most challenging snows, are the ones that happen at day break, when we get heavy snow, and everyone is trying to get to work. There is heavy traffic, and people are always flying up behind us! Even with our lights flashing, we have to be extra careful. It can be very nerve-racking.
Q: Finally, what do you enjoy most about performing grounds work during the winter season?
Shane: I enjoy snow-plowing the most, especially during the middle of the night. When there is no traffic and fresh snow covers everything, it is a beautiful thing."
Shane joined Holladay Properties in early 2016, with an Associate of Science Degree in Horticulture from Vincennes University, and over 30 years Landscape Management experience. With his expertise in landscape management, we know that we are in good hands for Winter 2017-2018.