Friday, July 31, 2015

Courteous and safe fall cleanup

If you are like most folks, you are gearing up for fall.  Cooler temperatures, holidays, and of course, fall cleanup.  There is nothing like a blower to make short work of clearing your property of leaves and debris.  Here's a quick video on how to select the STIHL blower that is right for you.

To help you get the most out of your blower, and to operate it in a more safe and courteous manner, we have put  together this blower information guide.
Here are a few excerpts from the guide:

STIHL Gutter Cleaning Kit

• Always refer to your blower's instruction manual and understand all operating and safety instructions before using your blower.
• Wear all protective clothing recommended by your instruction manual
• Inspect the blower before and during use to make sure controls, parts and safety devices are not damaged and are working properly.
• Never modify a blower in a way not authorized by the manufacturer.
    • Children should not use a leaf blower.
    • Pay attention when using a leaf blower. Don’t point an operating blower in the direction of people or pets.
    • Make sure bystanders, including other operators, are at least 50 feet away. Stop blowing if you are approached.
    The STIHL BG 66 L. A low emission, low noise handheld blower
    for cleaning up leaves and debris in noise-sensitive areas
    Many of the objections to blower use in communities are a result of improper blower use.  Courteous use of blowers is not only the right thing to do, but can help avoid backlash like bans .  Our guide lists several tips including:
    • Follow local rules and ordinances about when to use leaf blowers.  Do not use very early in the morning or very late in the day.
    • If you live in a noise sensitive area, consider owning a low noise gas powered blower like the STIHL BG 66 L, or BR 500, or a cordless blower like the BGA 85.
    • To reduce dust spreading, check wind direction and intensity and use the lowest possible throttle speed to do the job. 
    • Never point the nozzle or blow debris toward people, pets, cars or houses.
    • Always be considerate of people passing by and of property.
    By properly operating your blower and accessories you can make safe and short work of your yard care chores, and get on to all the fun activities fall has to offer.

    For a complete listing of STIHL blowers visit the STIHL Blower page or use the interactive product selector to find the right blower for your needs and find your local STIHL Dealer on our website.

    Friday, July 24, 2015

    TREE Fund Research Improves Safety

    We at STIHL are proud to support the work of the Tree Research and Education Endowment (TREE) Fund.  The TREE Fund is shaping the future of trees and the arboriculture profession by providing research grants, scholarships and educational programs that advance knowledge in the field of arboriculture and urban forestry. With this knowledge, arborists and citizens are better equipped to ensure that healthy, mature trees remain an integral part of the urban and suburban communities of our future.

    Real World Application
    When we hear "research", images of professors in white lab coats writing papers for journals that only a few people read come to our minds.  But research grants from the TREE Fund have a direct impact on the men and women who care for our trees.  One area of research funded by a TREE Fund grant was strategic pruning.  As an arborist at Bartlett Tree Experts in New York state, Frazer Pehmoeller was on the front lines of the Superstorm Sandy cleanup effort. He knows firsthand the value of strategic pruning to reduce wind damage. He relies on techniques proven in extensive testing by industry expert Dr. Ed Gilman, funded in part by the TREE Fund. “Dr. Gilman’s work is cited regularly in Bartlett Tree Experts’ best practices training sessions, and backed up by the Bartlett Tree Research Laboratory."

    Studying Tree Stress
    Dr. Ed Gilman (University of Florida) has devoted much of his career to understanding how trees react to stress, why and how they break in hurricane-force winds and how strategic pruning can produce a stronger, safer tree. His Illustrated Guide to Pruning, now in its third edition, is the tree care industry textbook on the subject. It’s a compilation of lessons learned from multiple research projects, many of them funded by the TREE Fund.

    Stronger Trees = Safer Neighborhoods
    Dr. Gilman’s research findings are applicable everywhere the wind blows. Arborists like Frazer, working to protect and preserve his clients’ mature, valuable trees, rely on science-based pruning techniques to help trees withstand high winds. The goal is fewer tree failures, less property damage and fewer tree-related injuries in the next big storm, wherever that may be. Read more about Dr. Gilman’s research and other investigations funded by the TREE Fund.

    Riding to Support the Cause
    STIHL Inc. has been a long-time supporter of the TREE Fund.  The STIHL Tour des TREES is the America's top fundraiser for tree research raising over $500,000 each year.  Since 1992 the Tour has raised over $7 Million.  Check out images and videos on the STIHL Tour des TREES Gallery and learn how you can participate in the Tour on the tour website, or you can donate directly on the STIHL Tour des TREES Crowdrise site.

    You Can Help
    Imagine what life would be without trees.  We just can't live without them.  We encourage everyone to support this great cause.  Join us in improving the health and safety of America's trees, by visiting the the TREE Fund donor's page and get involved today.  

    Monday, July 20, 2015

    Giving Back in Arlington National Cemetery

    by Roger Phelps, STIHL Inc.

    (NALP Renewal and Remembrance, )

    This July I once again had the honor of working with over 400 landscape industry professionals at the annual National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP)  Renewal and Remembrance.  This event is held each year at Arlington National Cemetery.  It is a way for our industry to give back to those individuals and their families who have served their country to the last full measure.

    NALP members from 34 states spread 66 tons of lime over 154 acres of turf, and aerated another 45 acres.  NALP member arborists were high up in the air pruning, cabling and applying lightening protection to seven historic trees.  In all over $300,000 worth of time, equipment and materials were donated by the members. The total NALP donation since this project began 20 years ago is now over $2 million.

    I am always impressed with the quiet dignity with which these professionals, many of whom have shut down their businesses for this event, go about their work.  It is a massive effort concentrated in to one day, made possible because of the hundreds of hours of planning and coordination done in advance. Temperatures hit as high as 95 degrees and the humidity is just as high. But I never hear a single complaint, and nobody asks for praise or recognition.  All I see is determination, and gratitude at the chance to use their time and expertise in such a worthy cause.

    Many of the attendees make this a family event and bring their kids.  STIHL is proud to sponsor the children’s program and we had over 70 participants ranging from 2 years old to 13. It is so encouraging to see these young people learn about the significance of Arlington, and the need to serve our country.  Those interned in Arlington proudly served in our military, and two of our young people honored that service by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown.  And through the three projects they tackled, these young people learned that service can take many forms. 

    Working with Kelly Wilson, the chief horticulturist at Arlington, we planted hundreds of annuals and shrubs to beautify the walks along one of the older sections of the cemetery.  We also planted several saplings, while learning the benefits that trees offer our environment and the visitors.  And finally the kids made flower arrangements and laid them on 100 grave sites.   Through these projects they learned the power that landscaping has to affect us emotionally and physically and that these effects last for years.  Probably one of my most gratifying moments was when one of the older children showed their younger sibling, a first-timer, the flower bed she had planted the year before, now in full bloom.

    In the 15 years that I have been with STIHL I have been able to work with landscape industry professionals around the country on various projects and events. As I learn more about the industry, the original “green” industry, I am impressed with how much these professionals positively impact our environment and our lives, and how little credit they get for it.  These amazing people design, install, and maintain the green spaces around us that most people take for granted. The lawns, gardens, green roofs, and parks that we all enjoy are most likely there because a landscape industry professional made it happen. They are the people who provide us the lush lawns, colorful flowers, and towering tree canopies that provide us a feeling of peace, or a place to play.  At Arlington they are the people who help provide family members of our fallen heroes a place to grieve, and to heal.

    As a veteran Arlington has special meaning to me.  I always make it a point to take time after the project to visit friends and shipmates resting there.  As I pause to remember them, I am thankful for the beauty around me.  I think for my friends in the landscape industry, that is thanks enough.


    For more photos visit our Facebook gallery.

    Roger Phelps is the Promotional Communications Manager for STIHL Inc.  He presently serves on the board of directors for NALP.

    Friday, July 17, 2015

    Summer Garden Care Tips - Dealing with Drought

    Drought conditions can be a killer for your grass, garden, and trees. So how do you combat nature's heat waves and keep your landscape strong and healthy? Here are some tips and strategies for helping your home's ecosystem stay strong through the harshness of drought.


    Your trees should get your primary attention. Why? Because healthy trees will provide a shaded canopy for your entire lawn, which in turn will keep it cool and less thirsty for water. Also, should your trees struggle or die, they'll be the most expensive things in your landscape to replace. A helpful strategy for strengthening your trees during drought is to drill several holes about 24 to 30 inches deep around the base of the tree and fill them with compost.
    Drill slowly and pull back if you hit a root. These holes will allow water to penetrate the ground more easily and reach the tree's roots. You can use a large spade drill bit (about an inch wide) on your household drill for this task. NOTE: This procedure may dull your drill bit.


    Water is lost from your lawn in two main ways: evaporation (water escaping from your lawn's surface) and transpiration (water "sweating" from the stems and leaves of plants). The more compact the soil in your lawn, the more easily water will evaporate from it, so it's a good idea to aerate from time to time. When you water your lawn, water slowly and with some kind of sprinkler system or sprinkler hose - this will prevent too much water loss through transpiration. It's also important to watch for, and kill, bugs and pests, as they come out into your lawn looking for food during dry conditions.


    The best thing you can do to protect your plants and flowers during drought conditions is to use mulch. Un-mulched soil loses twice as much water as mulched soil, so three to four inches of good organic mulch like shredded bark, rotted sawdust, or compost will lock in moisture, prevent soil compaction, reduce the soil's temperature, and stifle water-stealing weeds. Also, if you are able to water your lawn, water plants slowly and with a sprinkler system, as plants absorb water better when they receive it slowly and steadily - like they do when it rains.

    Water Conservation

    During hot and dry conditions, it is a good idea to conserve water in any way possible, so here are some general tips for water conservation. Don't go straight for the spigot when it's time to water. Collect roof water from downspouts and use that first. Wet your soil slowly and deeply by using a sprinkler system or sprinkler hose. That way, less water will sit on top of your lawn waiting to evaporate. It's also the best practice to water your lawn and plants in the morning (usually before 9 am) when humidity is high, because you'll lose less water to evaporation.