Updated garden of Dave Fagel, owner of OCC Outdoors

Planter Boxes: A Garden Upgrade Project

This month’s blog comes to us from OCC Outdoors CEO and resident herbologist, Dave Fagel. In his spare time, Dave cares for his own personal garden — a simple garden now in need of an upgrade . . .

I love to garden.

That’s a simple fact. I’ve been gardening for just over 40 years, but if I’m honest with myself, I can say without irony that my love of gardening has been in my blood since I was a child. That love, however, may or may not equate to having a ‘green thumb’ — but that’s a story for another time.

As much as me and my wife love gardening, our busy lives mean that we have less time to the little things in life we enjoy. Considering most working Americans have less leisure time than just 10 years ago, this is something that we all can relate to. So the adage, “Work smarter, not harder,” certainly applies. So anything I can do to make gardening simpler and easier for me and my wife — I say let’s go for it!

It is, after all, ‘leisure’ time, right?

Anything I can do to make gardening simpler and easier for me and my wife — I say let’s go for it!


The Project

I started out this year wanting to convert my garden to planter’s boxes. Simple enough, right? I quickly realized that doing this project and keeping it at a reasonable cost was easier said than done. I found strong options, but many of them were saddled with equally strong disadvantages.

How can I plan this project with the best materials? How can I make sure that what I do will last years and not need a redo in a couple years? How can I do all this and keep budget costs low?


The Options: Lumber or Plastic

When it comes to the material of the planter boxes, I had plenty of options to choose from: lumber or plastic.

I originally wanted to use wood. But standard lumber rots way too fast to be effective for gardening — at any scale. One option? Rot-resistant lumber. But they tend to be treated with heavy metals that can leach into the soil and your food. Not good!

My company sells a lot of outdoor furniture made from plastic and recycled plastic. So for me, plastic is always an option. After a bit of hunting, I found a plastic product used for forming foundations, complete with drain holes. Perfect for gardening, right?

Unfortunately not in this case. The plastic products that I found were designed for below-ground use. This meant that they had little to no UV resistance.

I priced cedar, which has a lot of advantages. Namely, cedar is highly sustainable and super easy to work with. And it lasts longer when in contact with the ground than pine does. The problem is in its high price point. Purchasing the amount I need for the size of my garden came with a $2700.00 price tag. Needless to say, I passed on that idea really quick.


Enter: Eco-Wood

Eco-Wood TreatmentI settled on my original idea of using lumber with a special rot-resistant treatment: “Eco Wood.” This treatment has no heavy metals, but it still is still made with some preservatives that you wouldn’t want seeping into your soil. So I decided to use a good exterior-grade, nontoxic paint as a sealant over the Eco-Wood treatment. This would pull double-duty: sealing in the chemicals of the treatment and lengthening the life of the wood.

So how did the project pan out? Upgrading my garden with planter boxes was a must, but did I make good decisions with the planter materials?


The Final Product

See for yourself!

Below are some photos of the end result of the project. And I must say that I’m plenty pleased. Each raised planter box is roughly 4′ x 8′. I’ve mixed 3-cubic feet of good organic peat moss in each box. The plants are doing great!

Updated garden of Dave Fagel, owner of OCC Outdoors
Updated garden of Dave Fagel, owner of OCC Outdoors
Updated garden of Dave Fagel, owner of OCC Outdoors

Committing to a project that will just need redoing in a couple years is a non-starter.


What about maintenance?

Remember when I said in the beginning that I don’t have a lot of extra leisure time these days? Committing to a project that will just need redoing in a couple years is a non-starter. But the choices I made means that, barring any weather catastrophes, these planter boxes should last, intact and fully functional, for several years. As an added bonus, the boxes make it easy to sit on its edges and pull weeds.

(And I’m sure my plants are happy about that!)

I’ll keep you guys posted! In the meantime, don’t be afraid to show off your own personal garden in the comments.

Keep growin’!

Not everyone has the sprawling acreage that our Dave has. If space is a problem, or if you live in a rental property, OCCOutdoors has plenty of self-watering planters that would be an ideal substitute — or complement — to a garden or yard.

No back-breaking hoeing or weeding or getting down on your knees required. Just fill the base container with good soil, plant your vegetables, water, and watch them grow!

Outdoor Planters Self-Watering Planters Steel Planters

4 Insanely Simple Ways To Give Back To Your Community

4 Insanely Simple Ways To Give Back To Your Community

Finding the perfect way to give back your community isn’t always easy . . .

Many business owners take pride in the neighborhoods where their businesses flourish. With that pride comes the desire to help to same community. In fact, this desire is driven by the same passion used to propelled their company to success.

But finding the perfect way to give back their community isn’t always easy, so we’re giving you four ways you and your business can give back to your community.

“Charity Begins at Home”

The adage is an apt one. If your business has public space, you should make sure that your own outdoor furnishings are in order. This means that recycle and trash bins are fully functional; picnic tables and park benches, easily accessible; and everything looks good and well kept.

This might require replacing some items — a hefty cost, in some cases. But it’s a cost that can be offset in the future by finding alternative, low-maintenance solutions.

Unsightly Rusted Steel Tree Grate - Try Recycled Plastic InsteadIn our last blog, for example, we compared tree grates made from steel and those made from recycled plastic. Steel tree grates look great, but they rust and are costly (and difficult) to replace. Try replacing rusted out steel with cost-efficient, low-maintenance recycled plastic.

Maintain a clean, accessible, and inviting environment in and around your own site goes along way in showing just how much you value the neighborhood where you do business.

Donate Furniture to Organizations, Schools, or Parks

A well-kept public space can keep crime-rates down even as it attracts tourists and business investments. And quality outdoor furnishings provide a welcoming environment for people gather with friends and family while enjoying the outdoors.
Friends enjoying a donated park bench from OCC Outdoors
But a local park may not have the funds for replacing dilapidated furniture. Donating site furnishings is an easy way to help promote community pride. Benches for parks. Recycle bins for river walks. Bike racks for schools.

These are just some of the commercial furniture your business could donate.

Help Create Quality Public Spaces with Local Agencies

The Project for Public Spaces lists ten benefits to creating good public spaces, from lowering crime rates and attracting tourism to improving public health and building community pride. Studies have explored how low-income urban neighborhoods are more likely to lack features that support walking, such as clean and well-maintained sidewalks, trees, and attractive scenery.
Coordinated Bench and Waste Bin Combo from OCC Outdoors
Placemaking projects have successfully addressed these issues, generating a list of positive community outcomes — increased social capital, opportunities for civic engagement, local economic development, and improved safety and crime reduction, to name a few.

Engage with the agencies that handle local parks or public safety in your area to find opportunities where your business or expertise can help.

Remember Local Community Leaders

Nothing brings people together faster than remembering a beloved neighborhood leader. From a backless memorial park bench to custom-engraved plaques and signage, OCC Outdoors has several options your business can take to help keep a local leader’s memory alive.

Donate a Memorial Plaque or Signage from OCC OutdoorsDonate a sign to the school or a commemorative plaque to local playground will provide a long-lasting service to your community.

There is no one right way. We encourage you to find your own unique way of building community pride.

“The Business That Gives, Prospers.”

Friends spending time on a donated park bench from OCC Outdoors.

These are just four easy ideas on how you and your business can give back to the community that helped your company flourish — but there is no one right way.

We encourage you to find your own unique way of building community pride. Let us know in the comments what you come up with!

It’s vital to show support for the residents and community that supported your business and helped it grow. You’ll find that doing so will prove favorable to your company, while improving the area you live in.

And truth be told, it just feels good!

A Clear View: Advantages of See-Through Trash Receptacles

36-Gallon Main Street Clear View Trash Receptacle

See-through trash receptacles can be ideal for many sites. OCCOutdoors has two styles of clear-view trash receptacles: a small pole-mounted unit and a more conventional-styled trash receptacle, with a top bag retainer in lieu of a liner — like the one in the image on the right.

But this may raise the question:

Why See-Through?

See-through trash receptacles hold many advantages to their covered counterparts. From a waste-management perspective, the most obvious advantage rests in the facility’s ability to spot-check the amount of waste in the bin quickly. Nothing complicated — just walk or drive by the receptacle and “eye-ball it.”

See-through trash receptacles have been used in airports for decades. Therein lies the second advantage: security. You can better see the contents in the bins and identify any potential problems that might arise.


Open Bag, Trash Receptacles from OCC Outdoors.

With most commercial trash receptacles, there is a heavy-duty liner, made of either rigid plastic or heavy steel. For some facilities, the cost of replacing these liners if stolen or damaged can be a hefty expense. And handling them tends to get unwieldy for many.

However, none of our see-through trash receptacles have rigid liners. This makes our Clear View options cost efficient, as well as easier to manage. They were designed with ease of use in mind and can be mounted to most pole sizes and styles. Additionally, the low-cost of our pole-mounted option means you can install extra repositories for special events. Quickly mount and unmount as needed!

The Clear Advantage

When you need quality waste management and recycling solutions that can save you money and manpower, while simultaneously providing an extra sense of security, our Clear View see-through trash receptacles are options that simply cannot be beat!

Find the perfect waste management product for your site today!

Park Trash Receptacles Commercial Trash Bins

Recycled Plastic Tree Grates from OCC Outdoors

Tree Grates: Steel vs Recycled Plastic

When people think of tree grates, they typically think of the grates made from old steel or cast iron. But tree grates made from metal present a number of problems for today’s businesses. They are expensive to manufacture. Due to their weight, they’re also expensive to ship — especially since most of them are made overseas.

But there is a better option for companies who wish to save time and money while still enjoying the benefits that come with protecting your site’s trees with a tree grate: recycled plastic.


Recycled Plastic Tree Grates – The Better Alternative

Stolen Steel Tree Grate
Missing steel & copper tree grates, stolen for scrap metal.

Tree grates made from steel or copper have another kind of value — the scrap scavenger market.

In 2012, The NY Times reported on the rise of copper tree grate thefts, like the one shown here. This was brought on by a “surge in the value of copper, iron and other metals” that fueled a wave of thefts from sidewalks, roadways and rail yards.

With recycled plastic tree grates, you do not have this issue!

Our 100% post-consumer recycled plastic tree grates are just as durable as iron and copper tree grates, though are a third of the cost!

While they are a smart Green solution for companies wanting to show their commitment to sustainability, there are plenty other advantages to grabbing a recycled plastic tree grate from OCC Outdoors.


Shop for the Perfect Tree Grate Today!


The OCC Advantage

Recycled Plastic Tree Grates from OCC Outdoors
Recycled Plastic Tree Grates from OCC Outdoors
Recycled Plastic Tree Grates from OCC Outdoors
Recycled Plastic Tree Grates from OCC Outdoors
Recycled Plastic Tree Grates from OCC Outdoors

Durable, long-lasting – Our recycled plastic tree grates are made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) recycled plastic materials. Ultraviolet inhibitor additives are added to retard color degradation associated with outdoor use, ensuring the grates will last for years without fading or growing brittle, even under the harshest conditions!

Lower Shipping Costs – Though they come in a variety of sizes and shapes, OCC Outdoors tree grates are lighter than steel. And that means you’ll save money on shipping. Smaller orders can even ship via FedEx!

Easy Installation – There’s no need for clunky specialized, expensive installation tools with our recycled tree grates. They’re quick to install and light enough for an installation team of one.

Low-Maintenance – Rust and corrosion are a thing of the past with our recycled plastic tree grates. We mold color through the integrity of the entire product — they will never need repainting!
Tree grates too small are too snug for the tree to prosper.
Hassle-Free Expansion – Trees are supposed to grow. But their roots will grow upward if there is insufficient room for it to grow outward. A tree without enough space can push a sidewalk upward, creating a pedestrian danger. Our tree grates can be quickly and easily expanded to accommodate the growth of the tree, which will protect the tree and passers-by.

Environment-Friendly – The post-consumer HDPE plastics of our tree grates maintain a smaller carbon footprint by more than 15% compared to typical cast iron solutions. This is achieved through reduced fuel consumption and lower carbon emissions at the warehouse.

Not only are these tree grates completely recyclable, they are also non-toxic and will never leak harmful contaminants into surrounding soils.

Benefits of a Tree Grate from OCC Outdoors

Recycled Plastic Tree Grate from OCC Outdoors
Recycled Plastic Tree Grate from OCC Outdoors
Extremely Light yet Durable Recycled Plastic Tree Grate from OCC Outdoors
Recycled Plastic Tree Grate from OCC Outdoors
Extremely Light yet Durable Recycled Plastic Tree Grate from OCC Outdoors

Our ADA-compliant tree grates are designed to protect trees and keep pedestrians safe in streetscape environments. The radial design pattern is both functional and beautiful: easily and quickly expand the diameter, for instance, to accommodate future tree growth.

As landscape design company AHBE points out:

First, in urban areas with a high density [. . .], these grates keep the surrounding soil around the tree from being compacted. Compacted soil is a major reason why trees suffer in urban settings. Tree grates also [slow] down the evaporation of the water around the tree.

And while using a tree grate is a forgone conclusion, you can still save time, energy, and money by using a recycled plastic tree grate from OCC Outdoors.


Shop for the Perfect Tree Grate for Your Facility


Recycled Tree Grates from OCC Outdoors

Recycled Plastic Tree Grates from OCC Outdoors look great in a variety of outdoor spaces.

7 Tips to protect yourself from Freight Damage Claims

Headache-Free Freight Claims

7 Tips to Ensure Your Freight Claim Gets Paid-In-Full

From the bigger stores like Amazon to the more niche markets of Etsy, more and more consumers experience the satisfaction of finding something wonderful online and having it delivered straight to their home or office. With this new convenience, however, comes new potential headaches: freight claims.


The Headache of Transit Damage

iPhone 7 Damaged in TransitReddit user kroopthesnoop posted about one such headache when they received their shiny new iPhone 7: transit damage. You can view the original images here.

Kroopthesnoop eventually received a replacement iPhone, and all is right in the world. But his story illustrates the importance of working with companies to report shipping damage at the time your order is received.

“Something happened between the factory and delivery,” is all the phone’s owner had to say. We agree. That ‘something‘ is transit damage.

Statistics show that approximately 1-2% of freight is damaged during transit. The Internet is littered with horror stories of people receiving damaged packages. Check out this video of a major shipping carrier, throwing packages around and kicking them with his feet.

What can you do to protect your investments from freight damage? If you have to make a freight claim, how can you be assured that your claim will be paid in full, 100%?


OCC Outdoors’ 7-Step Guide to a Headache-Free Freight Claim

Only the freight companies can know exactly when and where a freight is damaged. The best thing you can do as a consumer is protect your investment. We put together a handy guide to help mitigate any potential headache from transit damage:

1) Inspect every item in your order before signing anything and unloading it.

Note any damage of any kind on the driver’s Bill of Lading. You can be specific (e.g., “3 pieces bent”) or simply write “DAMAGED”.


2) Determine what exactly is stolen, missing or damaged.

Don’t be intimidated by the driver and do not allow the driver to talk you out of inspecting your shipment before signing. The driver may claim he or she is in a hurry for the next route, but you have a right to record all details as necessary.


3) Take photos of the shipment and damage. Have the shipper take photos as well.

We cannot repeat #2 & #3 enough; it’s vitally important! Failure to inspect the shipment will result in the carrier refusing to pay for or replace damaged product. (If, however, the driver will not allow you to inspect the shipment, write “POSSIBLE DAMAGE – DRIVER REFUSED INSPECTION” before signing.)


4) Do not refuse a shipment and never discard damaged freight.

If shippers get rid of the freight, you will have no way to verify damage, which means you might not be paid the full freight claim amount. Keep all freight and packages intact if possible.


5) Pay the freight bill as soon as possible.

You are still responsible for payment of goods’ transportation, even if there is damaged, lost or stolen freight. The claim will be processed by an insurance company.


6) Report the damaged/lost freight — the sooner the report, the better!

Try to report damages and shortages to the carrier within five (5) days of receipt of the load.


7) Keep all necessary documents:

These can include, but are not limited to:

+ A copy of the bill of lading
+ A copy of the paid freight bill
+ A copy of the invoice showing the amount paid for the goods
+ A copy of the packing slip
+ A standard claim form or a letter identifying the shipment and claim amount
+ Photos of the damage

And it goes without saying: if you are not the person that will be receiving the shipment, please pass this information to the correct person.

We’ve already talked about how we help our customers save money with shipping costs. On our end, OCC Outdoors does everything in its power to reduce the chances of transit damage by packing products with expert care and precision. And we’re constantly evolving our packing process, continually researching the market and choosing the shippers with the lowest percent of claims.

Once your items are sent to the shipper, however, it’s out of our hands. This is where we need our customers to work with us when receiving our products. Freight companies will rarely pay for damaged shipments that are not checked and noted prior to signing. It’s worth noting that, as a company policy, OCC Outdoors does not pay for the replacement of items that are damaged in transit.

Still, in our experience, following our those seven tips is the best ways to safeguard your investment and save yourself time, money, and a whole lot of headache!