Tag Archive | "plants"

Jackson Dodds & Company Inc. Tree & Plant Health Care Gets Homeowners Ready for Spring

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Jackson Dodds of Jackson Dodds & Company Inc.

Jackson Dodds of Jackson Dodds & Company Inc. Photo by Steven Kotz.

By Stephen J. Kotz

If you want to catch Jackson Dodds, the owner of the landscaping company of the same name, sitting still, you’ll have to move quickly.

After a long and tough winter, Mr. Dodds said he is anticipating a very short window this spring to prune storm-damaged trees, clean up and prepare gardens for the season, repair damage to driveways and curbs caused by snowplows, and get irrigation systems up and running, all jobs his full-service company handles.

“Everybody is going to be really busy,” he said of the trade in general during an interview in his Southampton office. “So if you want to get on the schedule, don’t wait a month because we’re going to have a really condensed season.”

Every spring seems to bring a different challenge, said Mr. Dodds. Last year, it was damage from Hurricane Sandy. This year, ‘it’s been a brutal winter, and the deer damage is obscene,” he said. “A lot of deer-resistant plant material has been completely defoliated.”

Mr. Dodds, who grew up on what today is the Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, said he always wanted to “work outside” and the East End was one of the few places that offered the opportunity “where you could be a landscaper and still make a living.”

“I started dragging brush right of high school,” after landing a job with Ray Smith and Associates 19 years ago, where he was soon made a partner, Mr. Dodds said, adding that he was proud that he was the youngest certified arborist in New York State at age 18 and today is the vice president of the Long Island Arboricultural Association.

Mr. Dodds attended both Alfred State College and the State University of New York at Delhi before later completing his education at Farmingdale State College, where he received degrees in landscape design and turf management with a minor in business. “Farmingdale is a great school on Long Island for horticulture,” Mr. Dodds said.

Three years ago, he made the break to form his own company. Today, Jackson Dodds and Company has 14 employees, spread over four divisions, landscape design and installation, tree pruning and removal, irrigation and lawn care and planting.

During his career, Mr. Dodd said he has seen everything, including a trend that started in the mid-1990s before pausing for a few years when the economy tanked in 2007: the removal of full-size specimen trees from one property to be planted on another property, where the homeowner wants an instantly mature landscape.

“They say, ‘the first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps and the third year it leaps,’” Mr. Dodd said about tree transplants, although he quickly added that mature trees sometimes take a couple of more years to recover. “The after-care is everything,” he said. “That is where we carve out a niche, watching the plant’s health and care, prepping the soil and feeding.”

And how big are these trees? Last year, Mr. Dodds said his crew used a 110-ton crane to move a tree that had a 108-inch root ball. “Some of my clients move trees like they move furniture,” he said. “Nothing is too big.”

Fruit orchards are another specialty. “Fruit trees require a very specific timing on when you apply fungicide to the leaves,” he said. “You have to do everything to keep the leaf healthy to keep the fruit healthy. If you miss the timing, your fruit turns into a shriveled up prune.”

Mr. Dodd smiles when asked about organic plant care. It doesn’t work on orchards, he said, and the problem with it is “it typically doesn’t give the kind of results people expect out here.”

That’s not to say he is an advocate of wholesale applications of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Mr. Dodd said he used integrated pest management system and coordinates the applications with the temperature at which they will do the most good and the least harm. “We all have to drink the same water here,” he said, “so we’re by the book when it comes to that.”

For more information on Jackson Dodds & Company Inc., visit jacksondoddsinc.com or call 604-5693. 

Fending Off the Deer

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Biz White Tail

By Claire Walla

They may be nice to look at, but for some they’re there to eat.

So the story goes here on the East End, where periwinkle hydrangeas, fuschia rhododendrons, clusters of violet flocks and bold stalks of multi-colored lilies are devoured each year by the bane of many a gardeners’ existence: deer. Until a few years ago, this contingent of disgruntled agrarians included Dafna Priel and Leslie Gelb. Only, instead of letting deer destruction get them down, they came up with a solution. They called it: Whitetail Solutions.

The East End company — managed by both Priel and Gelb — uses a home brew of organic materials to combat the onslaught of those pesky four-legged creatures with an unfortunate appetite for beautiful things.

“We may not be the only game in town, but we’re the best game in town,” Gelb said.

Whitetail Solutions offers seasonal packages for local homeowners. With a one-time summer payment, Gelb said homeowners can expect their yards to be taken care of for the entirety of the summer, with anti-deer spray applied to all the flowers and foliage at least every other week.

“We know what we’re doing and we know it works,” she added.

Part of the company’s appeal, Gelb said, is that its owners have experienced the trouble with deer first hand.

“We’ve seen just about every scenario out there,” she explained.

Gelb and Priel started the company in earnest about three years ago all because the completely unpredictable eating habits of these woodland creatures had become increasingly frustrating for the two avid gardeners.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” she continued. “The hydrangeas at one home would be fine, but the hydrangeas at the house next door would be devoured.”

It’s a story with which hundreds of East Enders have been all too familiar, especially this year, which Gelb referred to as “a code red situation.”

She said she’s seen frustrated homeowners who have used various blends of relative deer-combatting potions made with everything from tea bags and Irish Spring soap to human hair and coyote urine. She’s also seen frustration from landscapers who have used chemical solutions that quickly wash off plants, emit intolerable smells or leave white residue on behind.

Early on, Gelb and Priel were once equally bogged down by efforts to deter the deer.

“We just tried everything, and things would work for a little while or they wouldn’t work at all,” she began. “Or else they were just so disgusting and vile!” She said one of the “stinky ones” is Bobbex—a concoction of fish oil and putrid smelling meat meal.

“Our products don’t smell awful at all, they don’t leave a white film [allowing flowers to keep their vibrant colors] and they’re rain resistant,” Gelb explained. After experimenting with a number of over-the-counter solutions and run-of-the-mill elixirs, Gelb said she and Priel finally found a mix that seemed to work without any of the pitfalls that plagued the solutions they had used in the past.

Gelb stated that she and Priel knew they had a winning mixture when friends of theirs who worked for the Long House Reserve began using it. Without going into details, Gelb said their secret ingredient is an odorless liquid with an extremely bitter taste.

White Tail Solutions currently serves about 40 clients and five landscaping firms, which use the company to deer-proof their building sites. She said their patrons have been impressed with their work. Not only do their organic sprays keep the deer away, but they’ve been known to help restore life to some plants left for dead in the wake of hungry whitetails, she said.

“Some plants aren’t that fortunate, [especially] if they’ve been picked at year to year,” she said. “But, if we catch it in time, they grow back, and we love that!”

Gelb is hesitant to offer exact pricing because “every yard is different,” but she said White Tail Solutions does offer free assessments. Plus, she added, whatever the grand total, “it’s a lot cheaper than putting up a fence.”