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!

Our Must-Visit List of Places to See Fall Colors

Best Places To See Fall Colors

The fall season is officially upon us! After a long hot summer, the cooler temperatures of fall are here. But the end of summer doesn’t mean the end of your outdoor adventures.

If you are as fascinated by natural color as I am, there are several picturesque autumn journeys where you can experience the sheer brilliance of Mother Nature at her most creative.

Here are some of my suggestions for awe-inspiring fall foliage road trips throughout the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic:


North Oaks, Minnesota

Most people think of Illinois and Michigan as the go-to Midwest states for leaf lovers. But Minnesota – specifically Minneapolis – has some fantastic spots to visit.

The fall colors of North Oaks, MN
North Oaks, MN

In fact, one of the must-see foliage spots is 30 minutes away from the heart of the downtown area at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, which is part of the University of Minnesota. The Arboretum features over a thousand acres of public gardens and natural habitats. The colors you’ll witness there is without a doubt one of the best you can find — and certainly one of the most accessible! And, at the Arboretum, you can even get a taste of the organic foods grown on site.

Head over to MNDNR to get an idea for the best times to visit to experience their fall colors. (They even have a quick and easy guide to why leaves change color.)


Presque Isle, Wisconsin

At the top of Wisconsin, you’ll find a place where wilderness is alive and well. And during Fall, you’ll bear witness to what Presque Isle is famous for: some of the most gorgeous fall colors the Midwest has to offer.

The fall colors of Presque Isle, WI
The majestic beauty of Presque Isle’s fall colors.

Crimson reds. Smokey golds. Deep chocolate browns. All accented by nearly 150 lakes whose waters beautifully mirror the stunning bluebird skies. The Waterfalls on the Presque Isle River is a definite must-see!


Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway is not only noted for its scenic beauty, but for being America’s longest linear park.

The fall colors of Blue Ridge Parkway, courtesy of Romantic Asheville
Blue Ridge Parkway, courtesy of Romantic Asheville.

The fine people from Romantic Asheville put it best:

“No matter when you plan an autumn visit in October or early November, you can take a short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway or other mountain roads to find the best color of fall leaves. Elevation and weather are the biggest factors in the color show. Leaves begin their color change on the highest peaks and gradually work down to the lowest elevations. An early frost speeds up the show and warm weather prolongs it.”


Copper Harbor, Michigan

October and early November anywhere in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will be a stunning experience. Michigan’s state forest system is the largest in the eastern United States (just over 4 million acres!) but autumn on the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula is one of our favorites.

Fall Colors of Copper Harbor, MI
The fall Colors of Copper Harbor, MI

Old-growth pines. Waterfalls. Historic lighthouses. Abandoned mines. And ghost towns. There is plenty to explore in Copper Harbor. But the most iconic of the lot is the Copper Tree Tunnel.


Hocking Hills, Ohio

And last (though certainly not least) we have Hocking Hills. Just an hour’s drive from Columbus, which is actually a nice city to visit in its own right. But 10,000 acres of maple, sassafras, oak, and hickory await you in Hocking Hills.

Hocking Hills, Ohio
Breath-taking fall colors from Hocking Hills, Ohio.

Millennia-old rock formations carved out by glaciers. Waterfalls spilling over cliffs. Caves tucked away yet ready to explore. You’ll experience these and more when you’re there, but it’s the fiery bombardment of color in Hocking Hills during autumn that without a doubt steals the show.


When to Go

You can find a map regularly updated by the US Forest Service of the best Whens and Wheres for catching the perfect fall colors in the U.S.

But no matter when you decide to experience the rich views that autumn has to offer or where you choose to go, remember one thing: Go slow. Stop often. Interact with locals. That will guarantee that you get the most of your foliage adventure.


Endless Options

Pisgah National Forest, NC
Pisgah National Forest, NC

These are just some of my favorite fall destinations. North America has many more options, from national and state parks, lakes and designated scenic drives — far too many to mention here!

Wherever you decide to go, the foliage transition from the lush greens of summer to the bold colors of fall, combined with the sweat smells of the woods, is one of nature’s great gifts to us, and a reminder that we should take the time to unwind and press ‘pause’ on our busy lives.

Keep traveling!
– Dave


Have a favorite Fall Color destination? Let us know in the comments!

Self-wAtering Planter on a porch, courtesy of Wikipedia

Save Money with Self-Watering Planters

One of the primary general concerns for planters is the maintenance and care of the flora planted in them. The most obvious solution is to find a way to make planters self-watering.


Why Use a Self-Watering Planter?

Self-watering planters are ideal for commercial use in any cost-conscious business. Outdoor restaurants, shop entrance ways, courtyards and along storefronts — they all can benefit from the low maintenance of a self-watering planter.

These types of planters will help you say goodbye to daily watering by reducing the frequency of your watering schedule. This will help you save money in four ways:

  1. • less maintenance = lower labor cost
  2. • decreases water usage
  3. • fewer plant replacements due to over- or under-watering.


How Does a Self-Watering Planter Reduce Water Usage?

Typical Self-Watering Configuration

Our self-watering planters use a gravity-defying moisture wicking system. This system effectively draws water up from below the roots using a stem tube that acts like a big wick.

The wicking leg brings moisture up into the soil from below the roots. Whatever you have growing in your planter gets watered from the bottom.


How Will a Self-Watering Planter Keep My Plants Healthier?

With self-watering planters, your plants will thrive because they only consume what they need. You will see less yellowing leaves and root rot. These planters also help prevent mold and fungus associated with over-watering. And with less maintenance!

Watering a plant with traditional plant container, the excess water drains out of the hole at the bottom. This not only creates a loss of water: the nutrients in the soil are also lost! It then becomes necessary to replenish the soil with new organic matter — which only adds to your cost.

Self-Watering planters avoid that additional cost because they keep the nutrients within the planter environment better than regular planters.


Why OCC Outdoors?

Our planters are made of the resin from a Linear Low Density Polyethylene, which is a member of the plastic family, formulated to be durable and maintenance free. Made of up to 30% post-consumer recycled material depending on the color with non-porous resin, nothing gets through it and nothing sticks to it. We even blend a UV inhibitor right into the resin.

Proudly Made in the U.S.AThe resin is designed for strength and long lasting durability. The planters are lightweight (easy to move), indestructible, maintenance free, recyclable and the faux-stone blends look much like stone planters.

More importantly, self-watering planters from OCCOutdoors is 100% Made in the USA!


Examples of Our Self-Watering Planters

Self-Watering Planter Barrier Style from OCCOutdoors
Self-Watering Planter Round Style from OCCOutdoors
Self-Watering Planter Square Style from OCCOutdoors
Self-Watering Planter from OCCOutdoors
Self-Watering Planter Round Style from OCCOutdoors
Self-Watering Planter from OCCOutdoors
Self-Watering Planter Square Style from OCCOutdoors


Other Benefits to Self-Watering Planters?

The unique bottom-feeding method produces a vibrant, healthy and colorful display of plants.

  1. • Overflow drain prevents over watering and protects plants located outdoors from becoming waterlogged in the event of a heavy downpour.
  2. • Plants stay healthier with consistent moisture, they only consume what they need.
  3. • Decreased chance of yellowing leaves and root rot.
  4. • Helps prevent mold and fungus associated with overwatering
  5. • Soil Nutrients Retention
  6. • Saves time – no need to constantly monitor the soil’s moisture content to maintain healthy plants.
  7. • Less labor intensive as weeding is virtually eliminated.
  8. • Liquid fertilizers are easily added to the reservoir with constant dilution.


Find the Perfect Self-Watering Planter Today!

Self-Watering Planters Steel Street Planters Decorative Planters

Finding the Perfect Memorial Bence - OCCOutdoors

Finding the Perfect Memorial Park Bench

Selecting a memorial park bench for lost loved one is a very personal personal process, one that many of us would find challenging. But it doesn’t have to be. OCCOutdoors can help make this simpler.

Our years of experience with designing and manufacturing memorial park benches guarantees that we can take a lot of the very technical aspects of the purchase off your shoulders. And we make shopping for your park bench easy. Each OCCOutdoors memorial bench lists suggested guidelines to ensure a clear and readable memorial.

We can also help you by providing a sheet of suggestions for the verbiage of the memorial text itself, e.g., “In loving memory of”, upon request. But there are other considerations to factor in before you lock in a purchase.


Other Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Memorial Park Bench?

Some of the basic details you need to consider when purchasing any park bench — memorial or no — is its final location. What are the surroundings? A business or school, or the sidewalk of an urban garden?

Does the park bench’s design complement that area? Is it a high-traffic location? Does the location warrant an all-steel bench? Or would a park bench made completely from recycled plastic work?

How many letters-per-foot of the bench can be engraved using a particular font? Does the color choice negatively impact the memorial’s readability?

A park, cemetery, zoo, etc., might already have restrictions on the type of bench that can be at their particular location. We carry many variations to accommodate requirements and your OCCOutdoors sales associate will be able to help you.


Types of Memorial Park Benches

No matter your specific need, OCCOutdoors has a wide range of memorial park benches to perfect for you. They range from a classic all-steel bench construction, to a combination of steel (or aluminum) and recycled plastic, to the memorial park bench made completely from recycled plastic.

The memorial text itself also has plenty of options. It could come in the form of a bronze tone zinc plaque or epoxy-filled engraving, with choice of colors, including black, white, tea, indigo, and many others.


6' Memorial Bench
State Fair Memorial Park Bench from OCC Outdoors
Memorial Park Bench from OCC Outdoors

Our sales engineers are experts at making the purchase process as smooth and painless as possible, matching your need with our large selection of memorial benches. And all of our park benches are manufactured with durability in mind, able to withstand a variety of climates, weather patterns, and foot traffic.


Find the Perfect Memorial Park Bench Today

Memorial Park Benches Bus Stop Benches Steel Park Benches