Yearly Archives: 2015


Take Advantage of your Landscape for Holiday Decorating

One of the oldest winter traditions is decorating the home with outdoor greenery. In fact, evergreens symbolize everlasting life and hope for the return of spring. Take a look at your landscape and see what you can use to decorate for the holidays. Your landscape offers fresh and unique greenery that you may not be able to find elsewhere. Remember though, you are actually pruning, so be sure to follow good pruning techniques. Sunrise Landscape + Design offers the following suggestions and tips for your winter holiday decorating. There are several different types of greenery. Pines, firs and cedars tend to dry out slowly and will last long in warm interiors. Hemlock, spruces and broadleaf greens hold up best outdoors. The following are some of our favorite greens for decorating. Boxwood: This is a small leaf shrub that is often used in wreaths, swags and garland. Its bright green color and softer texture also make it a great filler for smaller table top decorations. Junipers: Junipers offer a green or light grey and bluish color and may have lots of light blue berries. They provide a nice contrast when mixed in with other greenery. They also have a fragrant cedar scent. Firs: One of the most commonly used greens, the fir tree has short flat needles and is most often used for garland and swags. Firs are one of the most fragrant greens, providing a fresh, clean smell. Holly: This traditional holiday green comes in several forms, both green and variegated. Holly’s bright red berries and variegated or green leaves are a great way to add color and contrast to other greens. Magnolia: This tree is found in many northern Virginia landscapes. It’s big, dark

Preparing Your Landscape for Winter

As the temperatures fall and the days get shorter, many of us prepare ourselves to stay warm indoors. But before we do, there are some tips from Sunrise Landscape and Design that we can do to prepare our landscapes for winter. It’s a great time to fertilize trees & shrubs and cultivate existing mulch. Before the ground becomes frozen, root systems can still take up nutrients so that the plants are healthy and ready to grow in the spring. Over time mulch becomes compacted and doesn’t let water through. Mix it to break it up. It will also look like you put a fresh layer down.   Examine plant material and prune out any damaged or broken branches. That damage will only become worse with heavy snow or ice. Just like us, plants can be sensitive to the cold. Newly established landscapes and less-than-hardy plants can be wrapped with burlap to protect them from cold temperatures and wind.     With less green in the landscape, deer are ever more likely to become permanent fixtures in your landscaping. Now is the time to start applying deer repellants.   Plants aren’t the only thing that need attention. It is a great time to fill up your bird feeders if you don’t feed them year-round.   As you are putting up Christmas lights, you should be cleaning the debris out of gutters so snow and ice can melt and run off the roof properly.     Mostly likely, you will mowing for the last time of the season. If you have a mulching mower, you can mulch up the few remaining leaves in the turf. Also, cut the turf a little shorter so that blowing debris doesn’t

Sunrise Tips for Fall Leaf Clean-up

While we all enjoy the beauty of a Northern Virginia fall – the brilliant oranges and reds of maples, dogwoods, and oaks – when the season ends, those once-beautiful fall leaves completely cover our lawns. It is important to clean-up those falls leaves to allow your lawn to breathe and prepare for the dormant season. Sunrise has a number of suggestions and tips for how to manage your fall leaf clean-up. Mowing – The use of a mulching lawn mower is very effective in returning nutrients to the soil and providing weed protection. Make sure to insert the mulch plug into the mower, drop the mower to the lowest setting - just above the grass - and mow as you normally would with a second pass at an opposite angle to mulch the clippings into the grass. Leaf Blower – A leaf blower is a great option if you have a large yard. Leaves can be blown into garden beds, providing a natural cover for the winter season or into manageable piles for removal. Make sure to wear ear protection when using a blower – the majority of blowers can be very loud. Tarps – Tarps can be used in conjunction with a blower or rake. If you live in a community that picks up leaves with vacuum trucks, a tarp is a very easy way to transport large piles of leaves to the curb for pick up. Bagging – Shredded leaves make great mulch or compost. Leaves are naturally rich in trace minerals that are beneficial to your garden and lawn. They are also a great source of carbon which helps to balance the nitrogen in your compost pile. Use the bagging option on

Landscape Lighting Installation

So you’re thinking about installing a landscape lighting system, great, but how do you do it? Of course you already know that you’ll need electricity to power it, lights, a transformer, etc.  Your landscape lighting plan will dictate how many low voltage lights are needed and where they should be placed. Typically landscape lighting includes spot and accent lights, pathway lights, flood lights and deck lights. But how do you design and install a system so that it looks professional? First, you need your system, which usually includes; fixtures, a transformer, wire and wire nuts, hub or junction boxes, a light sensor and timer. Next, you’ll need tools like wire cutters and strippers, pliers, a trenching shovel, a multimeter, a drill w/ concrete bits, and screws.  Assuming you’ve already calculated the load of the system based on the length of wire and wattage draw of the fixtures you’ve planned, you’re ready to get started! Install the transformer in a location that’s inconspicuous while still allowing you to plug into a GFCI outlet, usually on your garage electrical circuit. If you don’t have a GFCI outlet available, you’ll need to install one or have an electrician install one for your transformer. Place the fixtures in the practical locations first, like path lights along a garden path, or step lights for your deck steps. Place up lights at the base of focal plantings or trees to make them stand out at night as features in the landscape. Last, place wash lights to create secondary or more subtle accents in the landscape. Run the wiring to each fixture from the transformer, taking care to record where the wires are buried on the plan. Lights should be connected in

Keeping Your Ghosts and Goblins Safe this Halloween

Creating the perfect Halloween Haunted House can be a spooktacular experience! Remember that ghosts and goblins of all ages will be running through your yard to fill their bags up with treats as they race from house to house. Crafting a scary yet safe environment can mean the difference between a hauntingly good time and someone actually getting hurt.  Lighting is one of the most important aspects of creating a frightening ambiance. A well-lit yard with low voltage LED lights not only can light your walkways and sidewalks, but are economical to install and maintain. Compliment your LED lights with Jack-O-Lanterns that have glow sticks inside or battery powered lights to help illuminate your yard without being a fire hazard. Also check to make sure that your outdoor lights are working including flood or sensor lights.  In addition to setting up lighting, make sure to clean up your yard before the big night. Remove all tripping hazards like children’s toys, hoses, bikes and mark any exposed tree roots to ensure they can be seen by every child in costume; especially those with masks as part of their outfit. Leaves should be raked away from sidewalks and curbs so everyone can identify where the drop off is between sidewalk and street. Pets can be cute dressed up in costume for Halloween but it is best if they are leashed so they do not inadvertently jump or bite someone. Also, some children are highly allergic to dogs and cats so do not let Fido or Kitty help answer the door; especially with little kids that may be frightened of your pet.  Halloween can be a fun night for trick or treaters of all ages. Creating a spooky

Warm Up Your Fall Nights and Enhance Your Hardscape with a Fire Pit

With the chilly nights and early nightfall approaching, now is the perfect time to extend the use of your outdoor living space by installing a custom built fire pit. A fire pit adds warmth and character to every hardcape and is great for entertaining outdoors in the chilly months.   Custom built fire pits generally are designed to match the existing outdoor aesthetic and can be added seamlessly to existing hardscapes. Most fire pits are set in gravel or on a natural, hardscape surface as stone, brick or slate. Installing a portable or permanent fire pit on a wood surface is not recommended as embers can fly; causing a major fire hazard.   Photo by Phillip Nobile The majority of fire pits are constructed of natural stone, brick or slate and can be installed as a wood burning fire pit or one that uses propane. Many homeowners love the traditional smell of a wood burning pit, but this is more labor intensive as you need to continually handle the wood to keep the flames alive.   For those that chose the propane option, you are giving up that fall, fire smell but can relax and enjoy the warmth from the fire pit with just the flick of a switch.   With every installation of a fire pit, it is important to know the county or town regulations on installation and if your homeowner’s association or insurance company will allow them. Generally, it is good practice to install a custom built fire pit a minimum of 10 feet away from your home, your neighbor’s home and any existing structure such as a shed. Remember to clear low hanging branches away from where the fire

How to Prevent Deer From Eating Your Winter Garden!

According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, the deer population in the state of Virginia is roughly between 800,000 and 1 million and growing. Deer are especially seen throughout Fairfax and Loudoun Counties in Northern Virginia grazing on the side of roads, in parks and in our backyards and gardens. Each fall we start prepping our landscape for the long, cold winter ahead by fertilizing our lawns, trimming back shrubs and bushes and planting fall bulbs. All with the hope of creating a beautiful spring garden!  Unfortunately, in rural Loudoun County, we are making it especially easy for the deer to find food in these cooler months, leaving us with half eaten shrubs and plants that are damaged or destroyed. This fall, it is time to take back control of your garden with DeerPro Repellent. This long-lasting, professional deer repellent will allow you to enjoy your gardens all fall and winter without having to reapply daily or weekly. Each application provides four to six weeks of constant protection that is not washed away with each rain or snow shower. DeerPro is a commercial application that can only be applied by a licensed professional and is the only deer repellent that is approved by the EPA. The team at Sunrise Landscape + Design has been trained on the proper use and application of DeerPro and is ready to start protecting your winter garden and landscape so that your spring shrubs and buds have a chance1 The DeerPro Repellent is an egg-based spray that has low odor and covers your plants and shrubs with an invisible protection coating. Not only does DeerPro protect plants that are currently sprouting but also covers new growth in the areas treated by the

Benefits of Adding Hardscaping to Your Yard

With this period of cool mornings and warm afternoons, there is still time left to enjoy your yard before we hunker down for the cold winter ahead. A great way to continue to enjoy your yard, as well as create a beautiful space to enjoy your morning cup of Joe, is to add hardscaping elements to your landscape. What is hardscaping? Hardscaping is adding permanent design elements to your landscaping and gardens such as paved walkways, a fire pit, patios, pools, water features and retaining walls. Different materials can be used in creating hardscaping for your yard. The most common materials used in creating a beautiful and lasting hardscape depend on the area you live in. For Northern Virginia, we recommend using:   Pavers – For use in driveways, patios and walkways. It is durable and can withstand the freeze - thaw cycles we go thru in this region. There are many different colors and styles to allow for great and interesting designs. Stone – Strong, natural, regal and long lasting stone such as flagstone and Carderock are recommended for longevity and for an elegant look. Brick – Great for walkways, patios and is used for a classic look. There are several reasons to add hardscape to your yard. Creating a backyard oasis adds value to your home, correcting a landscaping issue or increasing outdoor space for entertaining friends and family. If you have uneven or sloping land throughout your property, adding hardscape such as a retaining wall can even out your yard as well as address any drainage issues you may have. Whether you are looking to increase your outdoor living space, add a patio with an outdoor kitchen or create a place for

Creating your Fall Yard Maintenance “Game Plan!”

Fall has arrived! You can feel it in the crisp air of the morning as well as see it in the falling leaves of the trees. After a very hot and humid summer, and predictions of a very cold and snow-filled winter, it is time to create your game plan for putting your yard to bed. Summer may have created burn or brown marks throughout your lawn due to the high heat and humidity. Fall is the perfect time to feed your lawn to give it a healthy start for next spring. Fertilization during September and October will preserve your lawn's roots while replacing nutrients that were depleted this summer. Along with fertilization, core aeration, or penetrating the soil with small holes throughout your yard to allow nutrients, water, and air to pierce the grass roots, is done during these first fall months to help the grass roots produce a robust yard in the spring. Your yard has gone through a transformation from spring to summer and now into fall. It is a good idea to walk your yard, filling in any low spots with soil to prevent standing water or eventually ice! This time of year is the perfect time for overseeding to prepare your lawn and its’ roots for the long, harsh winter ahead. Don't forget to remove fallen leaves! A pile of leaves are fun to jump into but can ruin your lawn for next spring. Not only can the wet leaves suffocate your lawn by preventing photosynthesis, but it can also create a breeding ground for disease. Start removing fall's foliage when 30 percent of the lawn is covered with leaves or every seven days during the heart of fall. Finally,

Proper Tree Pruning

The key to good tree care is knowing if, why and when your trees need to be pruned. Often in the fall, tree trimmers will knock on your door telling you that your trees need to be topped because branches are too heavy or tree limbs are too close to the house and could cause damage. Be wary of these offers, as untrained professionals can damage some of the most beautiful assets in your landscape. Professional arborist, Kristen Uhrig, at Sunrise Landscape and Design says that improper cuts can result in the tree not healing properly, leading to infection or disease. She also says that improper pruning may actually encourage undesired growth such as water sprouting (shoots that grow from the trunk of the tree or tree branches).  Kristen says that the three most common reasons to prune are to eliminate a problem, stunt growth and encourage growth. To eliminate a problem such as dead branches, holes in the tree canopy or damage from nests, the best time to prune is in the cooler fall months when the trees are beginning to go dormant. This is also true if tree growth need to be stunted. A tree may need to be kept at its current height due to factors in its immediate environment such as power lines, a garden needing more sun or if the tree is interring with the growth of another tree. If the goal for pruning is to encourage growth the best time to do this is the spring when the tree is beginning to come out of its dormant season. If you should chose to prune your trees yourself make sure you know how to do it properly so you do