7 of Instagram’s Most Inspiring Gardens

We’re not going to lie — we’ve been spending quite a bit of time browsing Instagram lately. The image-based social platform has been not only inspiring us, but treating us to scores of eye candy.

From #gardensofinstagram to #landscapephotography to #gardenporn — yes, #gardenporn is a thing and it’s way more appropriate than you think (most of the time) — we can’t get enough. Fortunately, we’ve put all that scrolling time to good use and collected some of our faves to share with you. So next time a rainy day washes you out of work, fill the void one double tap at a time with these 7 strokes of landscape genius.

1. All the way from Mount Wilson, Australia’s Breenhold Gardens, this winding staircase and fall foliage are giving us a serious forbidden forest vibe.

2. We’re just going to assume they had one day of Purple Rain and that was that.

3. Isn’t this just adorable?! Yeah, and the garden too.

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4. Warning: Do not peep this garden on an empty stomach!

5. Get yourself a dog or two that cares as much about your garden as you do. #dogdaysofsummer

6. We’re as obsessed with Kew Gardens as you are, @roamatdawn! Greenhouse and water lilies… what’s not to like?

7. Uh, yes please! A glass of wine around the fire, in THIS garden?! We could get used to nights like this.

Read more: 7 Trending Plants for the 2018 Season

5 Tricks to Ensure Profitable Landscape Jobs All Year (& a FREE tool to get started)

Have you ever completed a project, and instead of feeling the satisfaction of a job well done, you just become overwhelmed by a feeling of uncertainty? Like you weren’t even sure whether that job was truly profitable for your business? We know the feeling. We have a huge appreciation for the hard work everyone in our industry does, and because nobody deserves to feel lost when it comes to their financials, we’re giving you some easy steps you can implement right away to help guide you on the path to profitability.

1. Plan ahead

You’ve heard the expression time is money? This is true in few industries more so than landscaping. One way to save time, and therefore money, is to scope out your job site before beginning the work so you can plan for proper access. What do we mean by that? Measuring your entry points to a backyard, for example, can inform your choice of machinery size. Since a bigger tractor means a faster job, it’s good to know your bandwidth before you arrive at the site having shortchanged yourself. Another example would be knowing that you have to level some ground. Now you can order extra dirt from the get-go instead of having to scramble halfway through.

2. Don’t forget your wasted materials

These are two dirty words in our business: wasted materials. Let’s face it: our jobs are rarely as efficient as we hope them to be. Waste is inevitable, but you have to take it into consideration when you’re preparing. One of the more common mistakes we make is failing to factor in the extra materials you won’t end up using. We’re talking about things like windy driveway borders you have to cut stone to accommodate. This is uncontrollable waste, but it has to be accounted for. We suggest calculating an extra 15-20% in your budget. Other times, it’s controllable waste that can be avoided by simply taking the time to measure your jobs ahead of time.

3. Account for overhead

Your overhead is the ongoing expense required to operate your business — things like your company’s liability insurance and your warehouse’s rent costs. These are costs that are difficult to directly calculate into every job, but still need to be considered. So how do you properly cost overhead into a job so that your budget is accurate? The best way to calculate overhead is on a time basis. Simply add up all your costs per month that are not directly associated to a job, including a receptionist, rent, or office expenses. Now take that monthly expense and divide it by the number of days in the month to determine your overhead cost per day. With that number, you can attribute a value to each project: if a crew spends five days on a job you can multiply your overhead cost per day by five to get the total overhead cost for that job.

4. Check the forecast

Don’t save this one for a rainy day! Weather delays suck — but they happen. When you first laid out your budget for your upcoming project, you probably did so under the assumption that every working day would actually be a full, uninterrupted working day. Did you hear that? That was Mother Nature laughing at you. Even if your crew is the landscape-warrior type that works in any conditions, over the course of a summer there will be times when it’s just not possible. Factor in roughly one or two rain days a week, depending on where you live. And don’t forget to account for a few other factors: the work will be a little slower in muddy conditions, lack of work means lack of revenue, and transport costs are higher when crews are taking rain breaks back at the shop.

5. Budget properly

Do you know that labour accounts for roughly half your business spend? Do you know how much you’re spending just to transport your materials? These are all things that go into a smart budget plan. If you’ve never budgeted your jobs before, not to worry, we’ve got you covered! We believe that no one deserves to feel lost when it comes to their job financials, so we built a free and easy budgeting tool to help you efficiently track your costs and know exactly where you stand.

Want your FREE job budgeting tool?  Fill out your email below and we will send it right to your inbox!

The Ultimate Project Management Software Comparison for Landscapers

You’re about to make one of your biggest decisions towards impacting your business: It’s time to choose a project management software. Whether you’re onboarding a PMS for the first time or you’ve just ditched your old one and are single and ready to mingle, there are so many things to consider when it comes time to choose your new software. Bottom line: You need a software that’s going to help your business make money and keep your customers happy. But each company promises that their product will do that. Are they all lying? Of course not. Each company offers something different, and the person making this decision for you needs to choose the software that offers the features that best match your business needs.

We’ve compiled a list of the top eight project management software products that are specifically geared for landscaping. These guys get what you do every day. They understand your needs. So which product is best for you? That’ll depend on what you’re looking for. Consult our comparison table so you can make an informed decision and start making serious progress.

Click here or directly on the chart to see full sized version. You can also look below for description of the evaluation criteria for each software.

Customer Support: The company has a team that handles customer queries.

Client Communication: The software allows for communication within the platform.

Mobile: The software is compatible with smartphones.

Payment: The software is able to process payments directly to customers.

Staff Tracking: The software is able to track each employee using GPS technology.

Estimating: The software is able to assist in projecting final job costs.

Invoicing: The software has a template which you can use to invoice customers.

Budgeting: The software has a template which you can use for budgeting.

Reporting: The software is able to log statistical data to provide insights.



7 Trending Plants for the 2018 Season

Spring is finally here and that means warm weather, melting snow, and of course, landscaping your customers  home. If you did planting work last fall, it’ll start to pay off now in beautiful bursts of leaves and flowers. If you’re starting fresh this April, this list of popular plants can inspire you. These are seven plants that stood out to us last year and continue to thrive in gardens and yards everywhere for 2018. We look forward to seeing them in full bloom this season!

1) Buxus (Boxwood)

The Boxwood shrub is one of those plants that resists disease and bugs better than most. They grow slowly and they’re typically small, but they’re beloved for their versatility. In the summer, they enhance a garden in full bloom. But in the winter (in places you can garden in the winter), the Buxus becomes the centerpiece: a strong, green shrub that defines the character of your garden.

Fun fact: Boxwood is often used to make chess pieces. The white pieces are made with natural, unstained boxwood, and the black pieces are darkened. Checkmate.

2) Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ (Feather reed grass)

The Calamagrostis is a vertical plant that is always one of the first to emerge in the spring and it requires little maintenance all year long as its blossoms change colour. Because of its height it stands out (literally) in any garden as its flowers stem to around five feet tall. Its namesake, Karl Foerster, was a German botanist in the early 20th century.

Accolades: This plant won the award for PPA Perennial Plant of the Year in 2001

3) Hemerocallis (Daylily)

The Hemerocallis is one of the top perennials on the market. It’s colorful, handles heat well, and requires little care, which is why it’s garnered the title Perfect Perennial. Commonly known as the daylily, the Greek word Hemerocallis comes from the words “day” and “beautiful.” That sounds about right!

Fun fact: Some of its flowers are edible. In fact, the Chinese use it in dishes like hot and sour soup, moo shu pork, and of course, daylily soup.

Are you preparing for your landscape season? Here are 4 must dos to set yourself up for the best season yet!

4) Gleditsia Triacanthos (Honey Locust)

The Honey Locust tree sheds and regains its leaves annually. Its wood is rot-resistant, helping it prosper in urban areas, even in climates with a nasty winter like Massachusetts and Ontario. The Gleditsia is easily crown-raised, which is why we love it as a provider of shade over a deck on a hot summer’s day.

Fun fact: It’s called the Honey Locust because of the sweet taste of its legume pulp, which can be fermented to make beer. Cheers!

5) Acer Palmatum (Japanese Maple)

The Japanese Maple is probably your garden’s main feature. We see them in many sizes and are typically dome-shaped, but it’s the wide range of colours that amazes you about this tree. Red, orange, green, pink… you name it! They leaf out early in the season, so spring cold snaps are not friendly to the Acer.

Ideal for: Containers or small gardens

6) Lavandula (Lavender)

Lavandula, commonly known as lavender, is a recognized as easily by smell as by sight. The popular flower is a staple of gardens worldwide, and its oil is often extracted to provide a refreshing scent to perfumes and lotions. Easily recognizable by its colour — lavender, of course — you can remove the plant’s flowers for many uses: sprinkle them over a warm bath, freeze them in ice cubes for a summer sangria, or shower the bride with them at your next wedding.

Fun fact: Lavender oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it an effective mosquito repellent.

7) Magnolia grandiflora (Magnolia Tree)

If you’re a fan of golf, early April means Masters season. Even for non-landscapers, golf’s first major of the season brings to mind images of the famed Magnolia Tree, synonymous with America’s south. The Masters is played annually at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, opened in 1933 and built on the site of a former nursery. The club’s main driveway, called Magnolia Lane, is lined with 60 magnolia trees.

Hot tip: Magnolia tree bark is easily damaged by debris; when mowing the lawn around one, make sure to point your mower away from the tree.

The future of landscaping is here. Visit our website to learn more

Top 4 MUST DOs to Prepare for a Successful Landscape Season!

For the last few months you’ve either been burning a lot of fuel cleaning up after these nasty storms or are one of the smart” contractors (ha!) who closes up shop for the winter. So, either the light at the end of the tunnel is here or that sweet winter break is almost over. At least, we’re hoping it’s almost over…. we can’t wait for summer to come!
But before summer starts, GoMaterials is happy to help you achieve a successful 2018 landscape season with these top four Must Do items.
  1. Start Hiring it’s never too early

In business, employees are everything, and that couldn’t be truer than in the landscape construction industry. With such skilled and unpredictable tasks to perform every day, good employees take years to mold and these days good skilled landscape employees are rarer than flying pigs. So, make sure you start your hiring process as early as possible. Then, interview thoroughly. Once you find an all-star, treat them well because they will help build a great name for your company!
  1. Get your equipment tuned up

Breakdowns suck! They are usually expensive to fix, delay your jobs, and always seem to come at the worst time. (Then again, there is no good time because we contractors run at such a high pace all summer long). Ensuring your equipment is well taken care of ahead of time (i.e. greasing, changing oils, cleaning/changing air filters etc.) will help reduce the number of breakdowns you incur during the summer. Fewer delays and expensive repairs mean happier employees and more money in your pocket at the end of the summer. So get all those tune ups done before the snow melts so you can hit the ground running!
  1. Start selling and building relationships

This is probably the most fun part of any contractor’s job: planning a client’s dream yard! If you want to have a successful summer you need to start selling now. This way you can book a good part of the season up before the year starts, allowing for an easier plan and a less stressed you. You’ll sleep easier knowing the team has work for the upcoming year!
  1. Touch base with your sub-contractors

Sub-contractors are just as important to your business as employees are. Finding good subs is crucial, so don’t hesitate to interview them like you would an employee. You need to make sure their work is great because at the end of the day it’s your name on that job. 
If you can hit these Must Dos, you’ll be sure to start your season off on the right foot allowing you to have a great summer! In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the rest of your winter.
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