Waldron Landscape

We are a full service Sonoma Valley landscape company equipped for any residential or commercial project, large or small.  Our services include consultation to full design, through construction, and regular maintenance.  We also provides one-time cleanups, garden renovations, high weed mowing, and emergency irrigation repairs.

We are fully insured and licensed in landscape architecture, construction and maintenance.
Contact us today to discuss your needs:
(707) 996-5868

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Wednesday
Jul102013

JULY 2013 NEWSLETTER

 

 

   As most of you know, my brother Dan and Jose Hernandez have been managing our company for the last two years while I have transitioned to retirement. Dan recently acquired new qualified applicator’s and landscape contractor’s licenses to be able to have the corporation transferred to his name. My plan is to keep my landscape architect’s license in good standing so I can help out with some of the commercial work. I’ll also be available to consult with Dan and Jose. In this electronic age, it’s amazing how fast I can get a clear photo of a diseased plant on my cell phone and send back a suggestion or two. I am going to remain in Sonoma and continue to spend more time and energy on volunteer work. I have been surprised to find out that after I take care of my three cats, spend some time in the garden, volunteer a little time and get in my daily walk, the day is gone. All my retired friends have given me the same recipe for post-career success: stay busy. I was a little apprehensive, since I have no hobbies, that I might be bored without the small business owner’s 60 hour a week work-fix. It is like a strange addiction, but one I may be lazy enough to overcome without being institutionalized. Certainly, Dan and Jose have been amazing at not only running the business, but improving it as well.

            Dan and Jose are working hard this month to catch up on installations and manage the biggest summer problem landscapers face during these dog days of summer, which is keeping all those millions of leaves and grass blades plump and hydrated. It’s gotten so hot lately that they’re even worried about keeping the employees from getting sun stroke. Everyone is encouraged to drink lots of water. Judging from the size of the thermos bottles the guys lug to their trucks every morning, a lack of ice water isn’t likely. As temperatures approach 100 degrees, plants do tend to stress quickly. An extra watering cycle may be necessary. I don’t reprogram my timer during a heat wave. I just hit the semi-auto button and start a single cycle when I think one is required. Most clocks have that feature. I also take the hose out to give plants like the hydrangea individual soakings. It doesn’t make sense to water the entire garden if only a few of the plants need extra moisture.

            The pun that old gardeners just ‘spade away’ is probably going to be true in my case. I’ll be ‘spading’ around the vegetable garden here at the corp yard for some time to come, joking with the employees I’ve worked with for so many years and come to know and admire so well. I’ll be available to Dan and Jose for anything they may need and stay in contact with all of you. I can say without fudging that I always looked forward to going to work every morning during the 40 years of gardening I’ve done here in the valley. One big reason for that is I had the privilege to work with all of you; and believe me, you’re an interesting and wonderful bunch. A last note needs to be sounded about my black and white kitty cats, Slimfast the aged, Bella the beautiful and the new one I now feed twice a day on the back porch, Diva the moocher. Dan assures me that I’ll be able to keep you informed of their odd comings and goings in his future newsletters. Slim would expect nothing less given his enormous sense of self-esteem and elevated status here at Waldron Landscape.

 

Tuesday
Apr092013

APRIL 2013 NEWSLETTER

 

 

 

            Little did I realize when I turned over the day to day operations here at Waldron Landscape to Brother Dan and Jose that they would take me quite so seriously. They have, despite their rock solid grip on operational control, generously offered to let me write the newsletter in exchange for the use of the vegetable patch, or 20.00 dollars. They drive a hard bargain. I’ve chosen the free use of the vegetable garden. Juvenal has already added eight yards of cow manure from the Mulas dairy to this area and tilled it with the tractor. Now he wants to plant it with nothing but corn and hot peppers. I insist on tomatoes, basil and zucchini. Every morning we have a spirited debate with most of the employees vociferously adding in their two cents on who has priority. Right now it’s Juv 39, Dave 1. My vote used to count for a little more than it does now. You see, Dan and Jose are signing the pay checks these days. I guess I’ll have to pray they let me squeeze in a few tomatoes along the back fence: either that or I can develop a taste for habaneros.

            Judging from the long list of projects adorning the boards on the office walls or the way the crews speed out of the corporation yard early every morning, I can report the management has its hands full. The fantastic weather has had something to do with the early season crush of jobs. We’ll be doing a lot of work in April preparing vegetable gardens, replanting annuals and perennials, mulching and weed control. We always give priority to regular customers. To help Dan and Jose, give them as much notice as possible for any special jobs you think you may need done. Irrigation trouble-shooting is also a priority. As the weather heats up, timers will need to be adjusted and sprinklers checked. I ran my own system last week and got a client’s eye view of irrigation maintenance. I was surprised that at least half of my 34 sprinklers needed adjustments of some kind. A few were plugged. A few more had settled and needed to be raised and several were shooting at the house instead of the plants. Juvenal let me have a handful of Toro parts to help me out a little. He was probably buttering me up for his push to cover the world in corn and hot chili peppers.

            Backing out of the day to day business has allowed me to do more volunteer work. My favorite is driving for LIMO at Vintage House. No stretch Limo is involved, just my Chevy and I helping older friends, who can no longer drive, do errands which otherwise would be difficult. Beverly Odell runs the program very efficiently. She needs volunteers who can donate a half day a month. You can reach her at 996-0311.

            Eighteen year old Slimfast, my cat of newsletter fame may have been put under some new stresses lately. His inside realm was invaded by the youthful and beautiful Bella six months ago and now an elderly female, Deva has taken up residence on the lower deck where she is dutifully fed twice a day by some guy who can’t stand to see a hungry cat. She stares in thru the glass door and causes Slim no end of either grief or joy. You can enlighten me if you understand cats. Slim has taken up what can be described as serenading his new ‘love’ with incredibly intricate feline vocalizations (usually around 2am) or, perhaps, he’s berating me for allowing his once peaceful home to go south. He and Bella get along by ignoring each other. She can easily jump four feet and holds the high ground while he happily patrols the hardwood floor where I place small treats to calm his nerves and keep him amused. Bella ignores Deva except to swat the intruder when she pokes her head in the back door. There’s no mystery about where that relationship stands. Well, Slim, just relax for the moment. The worst that could happen is Deva gets too old for the outdoors and joins you and Bella inside. Just think of the singing potential in that scenario.

           

Wednesday
Feb062013

FEBRUARY 2013 NEWSLETTER

                 

            A very wet December was followed by a dry January. Now we’re beginning to worry that if February is also dry, the gardens under our care may need a little irrigation. In nine years out of ten we can go from December till March without any supplemental water. I asked Raffa, who is our maintenance supervisor, to tell the crews to open valves manually as needed, especially for lawns and container plants. Trees and shrubs should be ok for another month since they have deeper root systems and in many cases are dormant. It’s important for each home owner to monitor individual water needs. A simple way to take care of this situation is to simply turn your irrigation timer from ‘off-stop’ to ‘run’ for a day or two. After the timer goes thru one or two cycles, just turn it off and pray for rain. If your prayers are unanswered and the clouds withhold their moisture, wait two weeks and run another cycle. Evaporation is slow this time of year, so a watering (or a nice rain) once every two weeks should keep all the plants going strong and more able to stand up to the cold weather. Container plants are very vulnerable to drying out and should be hand watered twice a week.

            Juan Escobar, installation man and main musician in the company band, returned from Mexico after a six week visit to his family and friends there. I don’t know which was more impressive: his tan or his smile. Jose Hernandez, the installation supervisor (and drummer in the same band) was mighty glad to see him. Work is picking up pretty quickly and the experienced men will be going 100%. Two maintenance men, Pablo Sosa and Gerardo (Jerry) Garcia, are still working on their tans in the sunny south. Pablo is no doubt tending his small herd of cows at his famous ‘Rancho California’ and Jerry is trying to finish his house, which has been under construction for many years. In Mexico, housing bubbles don’t happen because a loan to build a home is almost unheard of, unless you have mega pesos. I know of at least four of our guys who are plugging away on home building the old fashioned way: one wall at a time. My brother Dan and Jose have been running the day to day business operations for over a year now. I pretend to be in charge about once a week; and I do mean pretend. These guys are doing such a good job that the best thing I can do is stay out of the way. Since the economy is improving, we’re seeing an increase in commercial design work, which keeps me busy. The state requires a licensed landscape architect on projects over three thousand square feet, so I’ll carve out my niche there.

            Jose, Dan and I were discussing company policy the other day. I told Dan he could write the newsletter if he cared to do so. Jose got a little nervous and said, ‘Senor, what about the cats?’ Oh, yes the cats. You see, Dan has a little problem in that area. He is a dog guy and has an old, deaf terrier named Katy and a Chihuahua named Coco. It behooves me to confess that when Dan and I were originally partners in the late 1970s, he had an Irish setter named Nate who was our mascot of sorts. Nate’s big red face even got full page exposure in a Waldron Brothers Landscape ad in the Sonoma High School Yearbook. It’s even possible that Nate may have inadvertently pushed me to fancy cats. It might have been his drooling or hyperactivity…who can say? The question is: how do we continue with our current company karma without causing a war between cat and dog lovers?  Once again Jose came to the fore. ‘Senor, Dan feeds a stray cat here at the yard every morning. We’ll name it ‘Vagabundo’ and everything will be OK.’ Saved by Vagabundo.  Maybe we can now keep our company culture in place and now embrace both dogs and cats. Shouldn’t  be any problems.

 ‘Hey, Slimfast, why are you leaving the office?  Come back here. There’s nothing wrong with dogs! Here kitty, kitty…come on back!

 

Thursday
Nov292012

ANOTHER GREAT YEAR AT WALDRON LANDSCAPING

 

 

            WALDRON LANDSCAPING NEWSLETTER-DEC. 2012

            www.waldronlandscape.com          walplant@vom.com

 

 

 

            I hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving and will have a good Christmas season. As always, I want to thank each of you for providing so much employment for the crew in 2012. I know I extend their thanks as well. We’ll go into the next year with renewed energy to serve you better than ever. My crew is maturing in more ways than one. Nacho and I are facing the dreaded prospect of being old enough to collect social security. Francisco (Kiko) Garcia and his wife Ester had a baby girl, Jimena, in November, reminding me once again of the importance our little company plays in their lives, as we try to provide a living wage, Kaiser, 401K plans and vacation time. Little did I know what I was getting into when I began to hire these guys when they were young and single. It’s a big family here. Ester is the sister of our four Salas brothers. Nothing we do for the employees would be possible without you: again, a very big thank you.

            There’s lots of room for appreciation around here. I’d probably be cutting out paper dolls in some dark corner if it weren’t for Susan Norton’s fabulous office staff at Premier Business Services. They answer the phones, do the payroll, send out the bills and everything else that has an 8 by 11 inch sheet of paper attached to it. My managers have done more than ever to keep me relatively sane. Jose Hernandez has impressed everyone with his ability to push installations from design thru construction in such a client friendly way, that they send letters in praise of Jose and his crew. His brother, Octavio, has taken on more leadership, giving Jose the help he needs, especially when we are juggling six or seven jobs. My brother Dan, with his experience building custom homes, has helped Jose with lighting, drainage and carpentry. Rafael continues to do the large scale maintenance projects with his usual good nature. His crew and clients alike, find it a pleasure to work with him. The two-team maintenance crews and our irrigation specialist, Juvenal, do such steady and reliable work that, even when I am cutting out paper dolls, I am rarely disturbed.

            Let me end on a feline note. Slimfast, the sixteen year old elder statesman of my wife Marcie’s and my cat world, was joined by the adopted and lovely Bella last year. They have grown to accept each other. Now, another black and white cat has shown up on the back deck for an occasional snack. By occasional, I mean two full meals a day. We’ve discovered her name is Diva, a thirteen year old who left her previous home years ago because of a territorial dispute with a male cat which lived in the same house. Slim and Bella are always at the back door, peering thru the glass when Diva arrives for snacks, and both seem quite curious. My question is: how many cats have to ingratiate themselves into your life and pantry before you become a cat enabler? I hope it’s more than three.

            Once again, many thanks and have a great 2013.

Wednesday
Aug012012

A Flurry of New Installations

WALDRON LANDSCAPING NEWSLETTER • AUGUST 2012
www.WaldronLandscape.com    WalPlant@vom.com

           This is the time of year when our installation manager Jose Hernandez is pushed to the limit. This summer is even busier than previous ones here in our little sanctuary of  the Sonoma Valley. Jose is working his guys six days a week and scheduling like mad to keep the four or five jobs he works concurrently running on schedule. He’s booked up about a month ahead. Other workers handle the smaller more immediate jobs such as repairs and cleanups on a daily basis. I’ve even requested that Silvina text us important calls immediately so we can get to some of them the same day. Jose has hired summer help to keep pace with the hectic season. If he appears a little dazed and overwhelmed at times tell him to take a deep breath and think of how nice it will be in winter when installations slow down.

            Having Silvina text us directly in the field with special requests and emergency calls reminded me of how much business communication has changed in the few weeks since I started landscaping 38 years ago. (OK it only seems like a few weeks) Back then, I would call the Sonoma Valley Secretarial Service each evening after work to get my messages. Cell phones and answering machines hadn’t even arrived. Only Paul Drake, Perry Mason’s investigator, had a shoe box sized phone in his Thunderbird. Once in a long while I would be forced to use a pay phone during the day. Somehow, everything seemed to work pretty smoothly. One of the ladies who first answered our phone at the secretarial service was a mere youngster, Connie Pruitt. When Susan Norton bought the company, she expanded its services into accounting and office management and changed the name to Premier Business Services. Connie stayed on with Susan and although Connie doesn’t sit in front of an antiquated switchboard plugging in phone lines anymore, she now takes care of our payroll, 401K, and all the myriad paperwork required by insurance companies that cause most gardeners to go into a state of irreversible catalepsy. So, yes, the world is now so full of tweets, texts, emails, and just plain old cell phone calls that it doesn’t even faintly resemble the simple switchboard world of 1974.

            If you are wondering why you haven’t seen the smiling faces of Francisco and Enrique Salas lately, well, they fled to Mexico for a month of vacation to visit relatives in the Guadalajara area. Francisco even took his wife and kids. So far, we hear they’re having a great time. Return is August 11th. By then, Jose may have forgiven his brother in law Francisco for vacationing during the busy season, leaving our overworked installation chief short handed and stressed. Now Jose is probably secretly planning his own Mexican vacation to recover from the woes everyone else’s vacations have caused him. It’s a vicious vacation cycle around here. We’ve got to keep the guys from becoming overloaded, and paid holidays and vacations are a great help in that regard. We need them to be happy and productive. I’m sure you’ll agree, there is nothing worse than an overworked gardener suffering from catalepsy.