Frequently Asked Questions – Landscapes

Do you create landscape designs?

Yes. We offer a complete design package based your desires and goals of your landscape. The design process is an essential step towards developing a desirable landscape and takes a lot of time to create. Once the initial consultation and evaluation has been completed, we will provide a computer rendered scaled drawing of a proposed landscape that will enhance the overall beauty of your property. The cost for design depends upon the size and scope of the project. Typically, the average residential landscape of $5,000 – $7000 will require a design fee in the range of $175 (front only) – $350 (entire property). Larger projects will reflect a different pricing structure. The design is yours to keep and all work performed by Penton Enterprises will receive credit toward design work paid; which allows you the opportunity to recoup that initial design expense. For average sized residential projects we do provide estimates for existing designs that you own at no charge.

Why is the project so expensive?

Expert installers, efficient equipment, and high quality materials are all required if we are to produce a quality result for you. We are a legitimate contractor registered with the State of Nebraska, carry worker’s compensation and liability insurance for your protection, hire only employees legally eligible to work in the United States, and pay a fair wage. We have an ethical obligation towards our customers, our employees, our vendors, and our suppliers to maintain a profitable business. We take great pride in all of our work and we are confident you will be completely satisfied with the final result. If you are looking for the lowest “bid” we likely will not be able to meet your needs. On the other hand if you are looking for quality work, at a fair price, provided by a professional landscape business with professional and courteous employees, please do not hesitate giving us a call.

Why should we hire Penton Enterprises?

The questions that you, as the consumer, must ask yourself concerning the project you are looking at having completed are: is this a contractor that you feel you can trust, do they have a proven and verifiable track record, are they providing for your specific needs, are they meeting your budgetary expectations, will they start and complete the project on time, will they return your phone calls the same day or by the next morning, will they provide clean and respectful workmen on the job, will they treat you and your property with respect? The answers to these questions will likely decide which contractor you will hire to complete your project. The initial consultation serves as a way for you to get to know who we are, as well as a way for us to discern if we can in fact meet your needs and expectations.

How big will the new plants, trees or shrubs get?

Each individual plant’s growth will vary. Those that are selected are to address your needs and enhance your property in the appropriate way.

Do you provide design and installation ponds and other water features?

Yes. If you are looking just for a water feature or a water feature incorporated into your overall landscape design we have extensive experience designing and installing custom ponds, waterfalls, and pond-less water features such as unique custom designed fountains and custom bubbling rocks. We also can provide an annual maintenance package for your water feature that meets your needs.

Do you use landscape fabric?

Depends upon if you have decided upon rock or mulch for landscape bedding. Mulch serves as a natural weed barrier and does not require fabric. In fact fabric installed with mulch in pointless. As mulch breaks down it turns into compost / soil. Landscape beds finalized with rock are well served with a landscape fabric weed barrier.

Rock or Mulch?

Rock and mulch are a matter of preference. Rock is initially more expensive because of the actual cost of the rock and the labor for installation. Keep in mind though that you won’t have to replenish the rock, whereas mulch needs to be replaced annually. Mulch is cheaper to place initially and mulch offers more benefits to the soil and overall health of the plants than rock. In the end it is a personal preference as there are a multitude of mulches and rock materials to choose from.

How much evaporation should I expect from my Pond, Stream, and waterfall?

Omaha National Weather Service historical Daily Pan Evaporation Rate Average June / July – .08″ -.09″

Omaha Daily Pan Evaporation rate August 14, 2012 – .1″ (has been higher in the previous weeks)

Flowing water will have a higher evaporation rate than still water; minimum 2x. Can be much higher in streams and especially waterfalls. Other factors that increase or decrease the evaporation rate are wind, shade, sun, temperature, & humidity.

Example – 100 square feet of surface area

Evaporation per 100 square feet of surface area / in a normal summer with daily pan evaporation rates .08″-.09″:

100 SF x .0067 (.08″ average pan evaporation rate per day) = .67 cubic feet. .67 x 7.48 = Standing water loss rate- 5.0116 gallons lost in standing water per day. 35 gallons per week. Waterfalls incur a minimum of 2x this rate due to large amounts of surface area exposed through the falls. Per 100 square feet of surface area = 10 gallons per day, 70 gallons per week.

100 SF x .0083 (.1″ average pan evaporation rate per day) = .83 cubic feet. .83 x 7.48 = Standing water – 6.23 gallons lost in standing water per day. 44 gallons per week. Waterfalls incur a minimum of 2x this rate due to large amounts of surface area exposed through the falls. Per 100 square feet of surface area = 12-13 gallons per day, 88 gallons per week.

Alternative formula (landscape industry published standard):

In a pond without flowing water it’s normal to loose ½” – 1″ per week.

100 SF x ½” (.042) = 5.04 SF x 7.48 = Pond: 31.2 gallons per week. Flowing water x 2 = 62.4 gallons per week

100 SF x 1″ (.083) = 8.3 SF x 7.48 = Pond: 62.1 gallons per week. Flowing water x 2 = 124.2 gallons per week

Currently (August 2012) Omaha Evaporation Pan rates are at .7’-.85″ per week (.1″ per day) at the reporting station. Keep in mind the pan evaporation rate is for standing non flowing water. Flowing water exposes more surface area to evaporation.

How soon can you start?

When you satisfied with the landscape design and estimate we require a down payment based upon a percentage of the project to be placed upon our installation schedule. The down payment allows Penton Enterprises acquire all necessary materials for your project. Once we receive the down payment , your project is scheduled at the next available opening that is convenient for you.

What kind of guarantee do you offer?

Take a look at our guarantee as well as in detail with the contract that we provide with all designs and estimates.

Lawn Care

When does Crabgrass Germinate?

Crabgrass will germinate when soil temperatures are consistently 55-60 degrees at a depth of 2 inches. In Nebraska this typically will occur around April 20th to May 5th. Our Premier Fertilizer Program includes two applications of a pre-emergence with the first being applied from late March thru April. The second application is applied Mid-May to June and serves to extend the “window” for which the crabgrass prevention barrier is effective. There are also excellent post-emergent products that we can used to eliminate crabgrass after it has germinated.

When is the best time to aerate?

The best times to aerate are in the spring (April – May) and fall (September – October) of the year; during times of active growth. Aeration is not recommend during the summer or when the lawn is dormant from late fall to early spring. We offer aeration only to customers enrolled into one of our lawn care programs. Sorry, we do not provide one time / stand alone aerations.

Should I bag my grass clippings?

Removing the grass clippings each time you mow is unnecessary. You should recycle your clippings back into the turf. Removing the clippings will require an additional 25% more fertilizers to maintain color and quality comparable to that of turf that has had clipping returned with each mowing.

Why do I have weeds?

Weeds naturally occur. By definition a weed is a weed simply because it’s undesirable in the location for which it’s present at. Obviously weeds within a lawn are undesirable. To eliminate weeds a combination of methods is most effective. You can eliminate existing weeds by applying a post emergent herbicide. Yet alone this will prove ineffective. You will also want to create a thick healthy lawn through proper fertilizer applications and by following recommend mowing and watering methods. This will eliminate the quantities of weeds found. Keep in mind though you still may find a weed or two.

Do you power rake?

Power Raking a lawn is often unnecessary and can do more harm than good. Aerating a minimum of once per year will minimize the thatch and aid in the lawns ability to naturally break down thatch. Keep in mind that a thatch layer up to 1/2″ is beneficial for the health of a lawn. Never power rake a lawn that is actively growing. Ideally, in the rare circumstance, a lawn that does need power raking, it is best performed in the early spring before it greens up.

When should I seed?

Seed is most effective when applied in the fall. During the spring the first two applications of a pre-emergence will prevent the germination of new seed. For smaller, problem areas in the spring the most effective method is to install new sod. For larger areas we will develop an alternative program for your first season.

How much and when should we water?

Excellent question! Our program assumes you will follow our general watering guidelines found here.

How often do you apply fertilizers and weed treatments?

Our applications occur approximately at every six weeks. Included in all our programs is a complete broadleaf weed control application and a preventive insecticide.

Do you apply an application for grubs?

Our program includes a granular insect prevention application that covers common pests that target lawns in our region such as white grub, billbugs, sod web worms, cinch bugs and other insects. We request that you also monitor the condition and let us know of any changes that you may notice.

How long should we keep pets off the lawn after an application?

As a general rule of thumb 24 hours. You will know an application has occurred because of the placement of our lawn application sign near the corner of the driveway. We recommend that the applied products be watered in and dry before you allow extensive use of the treated area by pets or children. We anticipate no problem if the pet is going out and coming right in.

What about fungus?

To reduce the damage that fungus possibly causes, we recommend that you follow essential horticultural practices in caring for your lawn. Aerate the yard at least once a year to reduce soil compaction. Mow regularly with a sharp blade to reduce thatch build up and minimizes injury to the individual plants. Water early in the day, preferably before noon , when the temperature and wind are at their lowest and follow our general guidelines for watering. When necessary we will provide you the option of either a curative or preventative fungicide treatment depending upon the existing conditions and persistence of the problem.

Why is my neighbor's lawn a different color than mine?

There is many possible answers to question. The variety (bluegrass, fescue, zoysia) of grass present in the lawn. For each of the common varieties of our area for bluegrass, fescue, and zoysia there are a multitude of hybrids within each one. Soil conditions play a significant role. Your lawn may be a newly sodded lawn (within the last 3 years) where no nutrient rich black dirt was added to the clay fill typical of new construction. It could be amount and type of fertilizer being used. A heavy dose of fertilizer in the spring may make it grow fast and look green in April but is does not contribute to the overall long term health of the turf. If it’s a new lawn for you it could possibly be a lawn that had been neglected in providing the proper fertilization and nutrients by previous owners. A difference in the color of your lawn compared to another lawn may be an indication of a problem but more often than not it is a reflection of the many variables.

Why do you charge so much to mow?

We maintain our mowing service as competitively priced as possible. The expenses such as fuel, liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance, training, labor, payroll taxes, equipment, maintenance costs, and property taxes are not inexpensive. The typical professional mowing crew setup runs in excess of $20,000 of equipment, which does not even include the cost of a pickup truck for transportation. We are a legitimate business in it for the long haul; our history is proof of this.

Why do you use such big mowers?

Our equipment is professional turf maintenance equipment designed to efficiently and effectively mow turf; leaving the yard with a professional appearance.

How do you to complete services so quickly?

Our equipment and crews are highly trained, experienced, and efficient.

Will your crews service my lawn on the same day each week?

Yes, although sometimes adverse weather may delay our crew by one or two days.

When will you start or stop mowing?

Lawn mowing typically begins late March / early April and continues thru late October / November. All is dependent upon the soil temperatures and weather conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions – Organic Lawn Care

What does natural and organic mean?

Natural and organic means that all of the ingredients are derived from natural sources with no manure or sewage sludges. The ingredients are animal proteins such as feather, bone, meat, fish, poultry, and blood meals. The same type of quality ingredients used by gardening enthusiasts for many years.

What results can I expect from an organic fertilizer program?

It depends upon the current level of organic matter that currently exists in the lawn. Because of the nature of how organic and natural fertilizer work by feeding the soil versus feeding the plants, it typically will take one or two full seasons of applying organic fertilizers to build up the microbe levels of the soil. Patience with the results from a transition from traditional to organic and natural fertilizers is necessary. In some situations we may recommend a supplemental application of traditional fertilizers to aid in this transition depending upon your needs and expectations. Over time, typically within the second season, you will notice more consistent growth, much more consistent color, a greater concentration of earthworms and earthworm castings, and a reduced need for water.

How do organic fertilizers work?

Organic fertilizers work by actually feeding the soil rather than just the plant. The fertilizer provides nutrients to the soil which the roots use to feed the plant with the end result being a healthier lawn.

Do I need to keep my family and pets off the lawn after fertilizing?

You do not need to worry about skin irritation or other side effects that may be encountered with chemical fertilizers. There is absolutely no need to ban your family and pets from playing on your lawn.

How are weeds controlled?

The fertilizer products within our program do not contain any herbicides or chemicals used to kill weeds. Instead, over time when consistently using organic fertilizer the lawn will naturally thicken which will control weeds. Our program is built upon the program of promoting healthy plant growth. With each application we will “spot” treat whereby weed killer is applied to onlythe affected area only thus minimizing the introduction of herbicides into your lawn and the environment.

How much does the program cost?

The cost of an organic based fertilizer program for a season typically runs only slightly more than our Premier Lawn Care Program.

Do you use corn gluten?

We have not implemented the use corn gluten within our organic program based upon a number of reasons. The main reason is that corn gluten has been proven through many University studies to not be a very effective crabgrass pre-emergence. A recent study at the University of Purdue shows that corn gluten had nearly the same rates of crabgrass breakout as when using no pre-emergence –

To achieve even the slightest amount of weed control benefits from corn gluten, it must be applied at rates equal to or greater than 20lbs per 1000 square feet. This translates into nearly 150lbs of corn gluten for the average 7,000 square foot residential lawn. Corn gluten is approximately 10% nitrogen, but there are more effective ways of introducing natural sources of nitrogen to a lawn. An ancillary concern with corn gluten is that the corn gluten may be derived from genetically modified corn.

A well maintained lawn with proper mowing height and proper watering will have significant positive results upon the control of crabgrass. We have never seen crabgrass breakout on the entire lawn of a well maintained lawn, but rather in small manageable areas.

Frequently Asked Questions – Snow Removal & Ice Control

Will it snow?

Eventually…it always snows a few times during the winter. Some winters we receive more snowfall than others. Rest assured we’re watching the weather multiple times per day as well as on a nightly basis during the winter season. The good thing is, is that it always melts and the spring flowers will always bloom….eventually.

More information coming soon!

Words of wisdom from long ago:
“It is unwise to pay too much but it is worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that is all. When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business prohibits paying too little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you just deal with the lowest bidder it is well to add something for the risk you run and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better” John Ruskin 1819-1900

Frequently Asked Questions – Interesting Parable:
According to a well traveled parable, Sam, a master carpenter who worked for Ben for nearly 50 years, announced he wanted to retire. Ben thanked Sam for all his outstanding work, gave him $1,000.00 bonus and asked Sam what he was going to do. Sam said he wanted to find a piece of land and build a nice cottage. Ben asked Sam if he would help him build a dream home before he left.

Sam was bitterly disappointed at the meagerness of the bonus, but he saw the plans for a beautiful home with a great view and he consented. Sam always prided himself on his workmanship and uncompromising commitment to quality, but he was so resentful his heart was not in it. He skimped on the foundation and pocketed the difference. He ignored details and his workmanship was shoddy. He thought of it as a kind of get even statement.

When the house was finished Ben paid Sam and gave him an envelope with a thank you card. Sam was disdainful- until he found a deed to the house he just built. Sam was filled with remorse. If he had known he was building the house he would live out the rest of his years in, he would have been so much more honest and attentive to detail.

Our character is the house we live in and it’s built from the fruits of our daily actions and choices. Deceit, irresponsibility and disrespect are just like shoddy workmanship. Whenever we take shortcuts to get us through the days, we shortchange ourselves for years. Whenever we put in less than our best and ignore our potential for excellence, we create a future full of creaky floors, leaky roofs, and crumbling foundations.