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Featured Contractor: Mariposa Landscape & Tree Service

Mariposa Landscape & Tree Service is now helping the people of Rancho Santa Fe with a great way to conserve water and save money. They are now offering Controller Link to their customers. They are committed to water conservation and saving money on outdoor watering.

Best Practices: Watering Lessons

From Lawn & Landscape | June 20, 2012

A successful sustainable landscape involves the right irrigation as well as the right plants.

Fran Lambert got her start in tree conservation, but this certified arborist is also a certified landscape irrigation auditor and certified water manager.

She also helps her clients at Mariposa Landscape & Tree Service create sustainable landscapes. Lambert says a beautiful and sustainable project comes down to customer education, and offers the following tips to create successful sustainable landscapes.

Think ahead. As an arborist, Lambert is trained to think of trees on a long-term basis – not just a year, but decades. Lambert says this is a great way to think of landscaping as well – plan for a sustainable landscape that will still look beautiful in the years to come. “I urge landscapers not to look at the landscape for today but to think about what it will look like in five or 10 years from now – then plan accordingly from the beginning,” she says.

“Then you truly get the client a return on their investment. Teach them what it will take to sustain this landscape for the long-haul and you’ll sell them on it because it’s protecting their future property value.”

Learn smart controllers. Lambert says she typically can save a tree most effectively with the use of a smart controller, and she’d encourage those landscapers who haven’t learned about them to get educated.

She believes they’re the way of the near future. “I do believe there are many people in the industry who still haven’t taken the time to really learn how smart controllers work,” she says. “I’ve seen them go into a system and not be operated properly, and that’s unfortunate because it gives the controller a bad name when it was really the operator. You do need to know what you’re doing before you use them.”

Fix the system first. On the same token, Lambert says she’s seen smart controllers installed on broken irrigation systems. “You’re not going to get the full benefit of the controller,” she says. “Right now we still have rebates in California for smart controllers so there’s a lot of interest, but people need to realize that you cannot make up for an inefficient system simply by installing a smart controller. Landscapers need to make the commitment to get educated and go to classes that are available through vendors or manufacturers. Then they should teach their crews and send them to classes as well.”

Read more about how Lambert is educating customers these days and sign up for our Water Works e-newsletters at www.lawnandlandscape.com/newsletters.

--Lindsey Getz

Connected to the land

In Southern California, water conservation is of increasing importance as the area faces a strain on its imported water supply. “We have an increasing population and that’s made it even more important to focus on saving water,” Lambert says. “Water is going to get scarcer and more expensive as time goes on, so we need to learn now how to conserve better and how to live with less water.”

Lambert says that trees are really a good value for the amount of water they use. “Trees give you a lot of plant material for the comparatively small amount of water they actually use,” she says. “They are incredibly efficient at water use, and you can get a great deal of landscape benefit if you make trees your top priority.”

Her appreciation for water’s importance began as a child, says Lambert, whose father was a civil engineer for the county of San Diego. He worked on a lot of projects that dealt with water and Lambert credits him for her understanding of water’s value. Having grown up in the region, she says she’s also developed an appreciation for the native plants that live and grow naturally in her area. “I’ve spent my whole life hiking around the local mountains and deserts and have developed a sense of how important our water supply is, that’s always stuck with me,” she says. “That’s why I believe that re-landscaping and using more trees or native plants that don’t consume as much water makes sense. You can still have a pleasing landscape with a variety of water-wise plant life. It’s not really a sacrifice.”

Certified Water Manager Fran Lambert:
Save Water to Save Trees

From California Landscaping Magazine | March/April 2011 issue

Certified Arborist, Certified Water Manager, Certified Irrigation Auditor and Santa Fe Irrigation District Water Ambassador — these are just some of the titles Fran Lambert of Mariposa Landscape and Tree Service Inc. and Precision Irrigation Team wears. She recently added one more — Recipient of the California Urban Water Conservation Council Annual Community Innovations Award for 2010. This award is given to the person whose achievements best characterize their ability to demonstrate outstanding service in the field of water resource efficiency in the community.

It should be no surprise that this water expert participates in the California Landscape Contractors Association's Water Management Certification Program.

Fran, who has been a Certified Arborist for more than 25 years, has always been concerned about outdoor water usage. "We often do a "tree autopsy" to see what happened when we have to remove a tree that failed or died. Over watering or incorrect watering kills lots of trees and it is easily preventable. Give trees the right amount of water the right way and get the right result — a beautiful yard. I love saving trees and signing up for CLCA's Water Management Certification Program was a perfect fit!"

"If we don't manage water well, we are not going to have a viable business," she explains. "Water management is important if you are in the profession for the long haul. As industry professionals, it is our duty to learn everything we can about it and practice what we know. There are lots of good reasons to manage water and saving trees is just one of them. People's homes are their refuge and trees contribute to a beautiful haven. A healthy, vibrant home helps us as human beings. It also gives a good example for our children. They will inherit whatever we leave as our legacy and if we can get them to appreciate the value of a conservation lifestyle, then we have accomplished our mission.

"I actually look forward to reading water meters," Fran says, "because it reminds me of my mission every month. The fact that you have to stay on budget to stay certified is important. It is about keeping up with what you started and making it part of your business and your life. I like looking at the graph from CLCA's online water management software and knowing I am under budget and that everything is performing correctly. Also seeing that the trees are strong and healthy! Saving and preserving trees protects a lot of homes from fire, wind and storms."

The concern for trees extends throughout Mariposa Landscape and Tree Service Inc. "We include our employees in water management by educating them and involving them in the process," Fran explains. "They have greater satisfaction in their work, the client gets better service and they can more easily answer a homeowner's questions. They believe in what they are doing and understand its importance. Our clients are also excited about learning about how we are taking care of their property and about being part of the process. Being a water manager is not as hard as people think. Anyone who is willing to study and apply the concepts of water conservation can become one. The hardest part is staying on budget and being diligent, but we need to. Managing water has become a necessity for California and will continue to be our focus in the years to come."

Fran Lambert's Passion for Trees Set Her on a Path to Become an Irrigation Expert

From Lawn & Landscape, Growing interests, INDUSTRY NEWS
LINDSEY GETZ | October 13, 2011 |

Fran Lambert loves trees. It was that passion which led her to also become a water conservationist. Today she’s committed to water conservation and creating sustainable landscapes as she is about saving trees. It’s a combination that goes hand-in-hand.

“I’m saving water to save trees,” says Lambert, who co-owns Mariposa Landscape & Tree Service, in Southern California, with her husband Bill. “Most of my jobs start with a sick tree. I’ve been an arborist for more than 25 years but wound up in the irrigation business because of diseased or failing trees. I’d be called in because a tree really shouldn’t have gotten sick, fallen over, or died. I would do a consultation and it almost always had at least something to do with irrigation. So in order to be effective at conserving trees, I needed to learn as much about irrigation as I could. Today I’m a certified arborist and a certified landscape irrigation auditor.”

Lambert says that being both a tree conservationist and a water conservationist is a complementary blend. She works to fill in the knowledge gap for those who don’t really understand how a tree needs to be irrigated. “It’s really a specialized profession,” she says. “You can be an expert in tree pruning but still not totally understand the way a tree needs to be properly irrigated to thrive. So often a tree gets too much water hitting the trunk and not the deep and infrequent irrigation it really needs. Crews water a tree like they water grass but it just doesn’t work the same way. Over-irrigating a tree can lower the population or even kill the beneficial microorganisms that help make trees healthy.”

Though she began her water conservation efforts with saving trees as the primary goal, Lambert says she’s become equally passionate about saving water. When she goes out for a consultation, she puts a lot of value on the education of the customer. “We teach the client about the trees and the importance of giving them the right amount of water,” says Lambert. “Often, we convert the entire landscape to high efficiency irrigation with the use of a smart controller and work to educate the customer on why these things are so important.”

Connected to the land

In Southern California, water conservation is of increasing importance as the area faces a strain on its imported water supply. “We have an increasing population and that’s made it even more important to focus on saving water,” Lambert says. “Water is going to get scarcer and more expensive as time goes on, so we need to learn now how to conserve better and how to live with less water.”

Lambert says that trees are really a good value for the amount of water they use. “Trees give you a lot of plant material for the comparatively small amount of water they actually use,” she says. “They are incredibly efficient at water use, and you can get a great deal of landscape benefit if you make trees your top priority.”

Her appreciation for water’s importance began as a child, says Lambert, whose father was a civil engineer for the county of San Diego. He worked on a lot of projects that dealt with water and Lambert credits him for her understanding of water’s value. Having grown up in the region, she says she’s also developed an appreciation for the native plants that live and grow naturally in her area. “I’ve spent my whole life hiking around the local mountains and deserts and have developed a sense of how important our water supply is, that’s always stuck with me,” she says. “That’s why I believe that re-landscaping and using more trees or native plants that don’t consume as much water makes sense. You can still have a pleasing landscape with a variety of water-wise plant life. It’s not really a sacrifice.”

Awarded for her efforts

In addition to helping with the water and tree conservation efforts through her daily work, Lambert has also volunteered her time and abilities. She was recently recognized by the California Urban Water Conservation Council for her work with the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club in creating a demonstration garden where homeowners can view sustainable and water-wise landscape practices. “When the Garden Club requested help with their irrigation, I knew that as a nonprofit they didn’t really have the funds to fix the problems,” Lambert says, adding she worked with an irrigation controller manufacturer to obtain a donation. “Our company donated the labor and installation of a retrofitted system with high efficiency products. We brought it up to a higher standard and put signs on all the water-wise plants so that the public could be educated. They do a lot of education there, letting the public see what water-efficient irrigation can look like – it doesn’t have to be a stark desertscape.”

In a second pro-bono volunteer project, Lambert helped the Rancho Santa Fe Senior Center with their irrigation problems. “A second retrofit donation from (another manufacturer) allowed us to completely turn around their garden,” she says. “We did a lot of tree work and replanting involving our local Rotary Club. In the end, it was something the whole community could enjoy. It’s an opportunity for them to see what kinds of wonderful products are available from irrigation companies and to see that saving water and having a beautiful landscape is possible.”

Grangetto’s Farm and Garden Supply also recently recognized Mariposa as their Green Partner of the Year. “Grangetto’s is one of our top vendors and has helped procure a lot of the donations we’ve used in volunteer projects,” says Lambert. “We’ve become partners in the sense that they refer a lot of tree and irrigation questions to me and I’ve become part of their education network.”

And in addition to educating the customer, Lambert whole-heartedly embraces continuing education for herself and her staff as well. As someone that truly loves what she does, Lambert is always looking to grow. That’s why she puts a lot of value on certifications. “As business owners and professionals, I really believe in becoming certified in everything you possibly can in this ever-changing field,” she says. “This requires you to pursue continuing education in order to maintain your credits and certification. That’s a wonderful thing to do for yourself and for the industry. And it shows your customers how much you value the business. I believe in making that commitment. It makes a difference.”

This is one of three stories that appeared in Lawn & Landscape's Water Works e-newsletter. To continue reading about Fran Lambert and Mariposa Landscape & Tree Care:

A successful sustainable landscape involves the right irrigation as well as the right plants.

Lawn & Landscape, Watering lessons, INDUSTRY NEWS

LINDSEY GETZ | October 13, 2011 |

While Fran Lambert got her start in tree conservation, this certified arborist has also become a certified landscape irrigation auditor and certified water manager and helps her clients at Mariposa Landscape & Tree Service to create sustainable landscapes. She’s found that many clients are pleasantly surprised when they realize that a sustainable landscape can be beautiful. There are plenty of native plants and trees that thrive with only minimal water use. Lambert says it comes down to customer education. She offers the following tips on creating a successful sustainable landscape. It’s not just about the right plants – it’s also about attention to detail and the use of smart controllers.

Think ahead. As an arborist, Lambert says she’s trained to think of trees on a long-term basis, not just a year ahead but actually decades. Lambert says this is a great way to think of landscaping as well – plan for a sustainable landscape that will still look beautiful in the years to come. “I urge landscapers not to look at the landscape for today but to think about what it will look like in five or 10 years from now – then plan accordingly from the beginning,” she says. “Then you truly get the client a return on their investment. Teach them what it will take to sustain this landscape for the long-haul and you’ll sell them on it because it’s protecting their future property value.”

Learn smart controllers. Lambert says she typically can save a tree most effectively with the use of a smart controller, and she’d encourage those landscapers who haven’t learned about them to get educated. She believes they’re the way of the near future. “I do believe there are many people in the industry who still haven’t taken the time to really learn how smart controllers work,” she says. “I’ve seen them go into a system and not be operated properly, and that’s unfortunate because it gives the controller a bad name when it was really the operator. You do need to know what you’re doing before you use them.”

Fix the system first. On the same token, Lambert says she’s seen smart controllers installed on broken irrigation systems. “If you install a smart controller on a system that has broken heads or is really inefficient, you’re not going to get the full benefit of the controller,” she says. “Right now we still have rebates in California for smart controllers so there’s a lot of interest, but people need to realize that you cannot make up for an inefficient system simply by installing a smart controller. Landscapers need to make the commitment to get educated and go to classes that are available through vendors or manufacturers. Then they should teach their crews and send them to classes as well.”

The owners of Mariposa Landscape & Tree Service can be found on every job site.

Lawn & Landscape, Hands-on management, INDUSTRY NEWS

LINDSEY GETZ | October 13, 2011 |

Bill and Fran Lambert, co-owners of Mariposa Landscape & Tree Service, in Southern California, put a lot of value on being in the field every day and supervising the crews on every job. They’re a hands-on company and say that it’s something their customers recognize and appreciate. But it’s also the way they prefer to work.

“We like to solve problems together,” says Fran Lambert. “We all team up and figure out what’s going to work best. It’s a synergetic process and I believe it works best to make these decisions as a team. I’m not much for sitting at a desk or computer every day. I like being out in the environment – it’s where I learn.”

Lambert says that many of the jobs her team gets called in for are challenging and require problem solving that she couldn’t do from an office. “Right now I have a project where there’s a very large, old oak tree in the center of a courtyard and it’s dealing with a lot of problems,” she says. “It’s going to take a real concerted effort to preserve this historic tree and that means paying attention to every single detail. That’s something I have to do in the field.”

But Lambert says it’s also something that customers have noticed. Their company has been in North San Diego County for more than 30 years and now has 12 employees. Lambert works side-by-side with her husband. He handles the tree pruning and she specializes in water and tree conservation. “Our customers really like having the owners on the job site,” she says. “We have survived a bad economy and I am certain that our customers seeing us out on the job has been part of that reason. We’ve developed long-term relationships with them and because of that we get a lot of repeat business.”

Of course it’s also something that Lambert loves. “I really wouldn’t have it any other way,” she says. “Being part of the project is what I enjoy doing. I believe that everyone needs to find the thing they love in life – and the thing they’re good at – if they’re going to have a sustainable business. That’s been the case for me with water and tree conservation. It’s my passion."

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