Yearly Archives: 2016

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Our Next 30 Years – Sunrise Landscape and Design

We’ve celebrated our 30th anniversary a lot this year. It’s amazing to think that we’ve been around for three whole decades. Just think: when we started, “In Your Eyes,” “Addicted to Love,” and “Manic Monday” were on the radio! We wanted to take a minute as 2016 winds down to reflect on where we think our next 30 years will go. What industry trends, consumer desires, and personal transformations will emerge? We may not know exactly what lies ahead, but the future looks pretty exciting to us! Industry Trends The landscaping industry is going to have to be more cost-effective and efficient in the future, with an emphasis on higher-quality, durable materials. Alternative Fuels: The biggest change in the industry will be in technology. Trucks will be equipped with solar panels to charge blowers and trimmers, and small, hand-held machines will have batteries that can be charged with solar powered chargers mounted on the trucks. Larger equipment can be powered by propane. These alternative fuels are more environmentally friendly and will be less expensive than gas, allowing companies like ours to stay cost-effective. Better Technology: In addition to alternative fuels, next-generation batteries will hold their charges longer. Other technological advances – particularly in software, email, smartphones, and other devices will expedite communication as well as help streamline operations – enhancing the customer experience and allowing the industry to become even more efficient.  Improved Materials: It seems like every day, new materials are being introduced into the marketplace that put the old ones to shame. The idea of painting your deck to avoid deterioration or rot is now a task of the past. There's already some faux stone on the market that holds up to the

Decorating for the Holidays Using Your Landscape

This year for the holidays, why not try to make something from whatever you have in your yard? You’d be surprised at what you can find lurking around your landscape. Many plants are beautiful this time of year and can be made into garlands, wreaths, or centerpieces with minimal effort. Going Green If you are searching for greenery, you probably won’t have to look too far. Firs, pines, cedars, and other evergreens are fantastic for wreaths and garlands because they tend to dry out much slower than other plants. If you spray your limbs with an anti-transpirant, they will last even longer. Be wary of spraying long, soft needles though – it may make them stick together. In addition, make sure you prune wisely. Whatever changes you make to your plant now will affect its growth and appearance come spring. Japanese Cedar – Nice and soft, these limbs are perfect for any use. They also have a pleasant pine scent. Red Cedar – A little on the prickly side, red cedars smell wonderful and offer up pretty blue berries. Arizona Cypress – If you are looking for something feathery with an icy blue color, this is your plant. Arborvitae – Arborvitae is extremely popular in Northern Virginia. Try turning some branches into a beautiful wreath. Firs – If you prefer tradition, go for a fir swag. Firs retain their needles well, so they are terrific for indoor greenery. Holly – Consider chopping off some berry-filled branches and putting them in a vase as a beautiful Christmas centerpiece. Junipers – If you can get past the less-than-friendly needles, the silvery-blue foliage adds beautiful contrasts to all arrangements. Spruce – Since spruce limbs are stiff, they are

Tips for Protecting Your Landscape from the Harsh Winter

Winter can be brutal on your landscape. Between snow, ice, wind, and cold, it seems like you never know what plants will make it until next spring. With a little planning and preparation, though, it is possible to winter-proof your lawn, trees, shrubs, and other plants. All it takes is a little ingenuity - and probably some burlap. 15 Ways to Get Your Landscape Through Winter: Fertilize your lawn. Give your lawn one more mineral boost so that it has all the nutrients it needs during the cold winter months. Cut your lawn one last time. There’s a lot of back and forth on how short you should cut your grass for the winter. In Virginia, anywhere from two to three inches should be good to avoid issues with snow mold, but it’s best to ask a professional what works best for your turf type. Remove debris from your yard. No one wants to run over a stick or other debris while sledding! It’s also good to get rid of sticks and branches now so that they don’t deteriorate and turn into tiny bits of shrapnel when you run the mower over them next spring. Prevent animals from snacking on your plants. The lack of growth in the fall sends animals like deer and rabbits on a rampage through your garden. Cover young tree trunks with hardware cloth or fencing with very small openings to prevent nibbling. If animals have decided to snack on other plants, you can either cover them with mesh or garden fabric, or you can try out an animal repellent spray.  If deer are a problem, Sunrise Landscape and Design is trained in the proper use and application of DeerPro, the

Create the Perfect Outdoor Living Space for Cooler Weather

We all love outdoor living spaces. There’s nothing better than hanging out in your backyard on a beautiful, warm evening, sipping refreshments and chatting with family and friends. What about the rest of the year, though? Isn’t it sad that we can’t enjoy our outdoor living areas year-round? The truth is – we can. There’s nothing stopping you from turning your summertime oasis into a four-season refuge. All you need is a heating source – and maybe a few creature comforts. Bring in the warmth. There are four different ways you can combat Mother Nature to stay cozy outside: 1. Fireplaces Who wouldn’t love curling up next to an outdoor fireplace on a chilly fall night? A fireplace can be custom-designed and installed by a masonry expert, enabling you to choose the design that works best for your patio and your budget. They can be incorporated into your space for more of a "built-in" look or completely freestanding, creating a new seating area for your outdoor area. The facades can be brick, stone, marble, or even a type of fire-resistant glass. They can also be gas or wood-burning, depending on your preference. If you love details, consider features like built-in wood storage, reclaimed wood mantels, bench-height hearths, and soft, subtle lighting. You can even incorporate a pizza oven for hours of family fun. 2.  Fire Pits If you have a smaller space, a fire pit may work better as your heat source. They are extremely popular, so the options are endless. You can build one into your space like a fireplace, customizing it to your needs, or you can purchase one at your local hardware store and simply unpack it from a box. While masonry

Holiday Lighting Tips From Sunrise Landscape and Design

It may seem impossible, but the holiday season is right around the corner. It's time to break out the hot cocoa, eat some cookies, and unpack the holiday decorations. At Sunrise, we love this time of year because it means we get to install holiday lighting for our clients.  There's nothing better than transforming a property into a holiday destination. Installing lighting is a risky business; ladders and electricity deserve a lot of respect. If you are planning on creating your own holiday retreat this year, here are some tips for making the process simple and safe: 1. Decide where you want lights.  On your home, it’s fun to light up entryways, windows, and architectural elements (like your roof). You can also highlight paths, fencing, and landscaping features. In your yard, bushes can be brightened with net lights and tree trunks are great for wrapping strands around. 2. Measure and plan ahead. You don't want to go to the store twice! Measure how much you'll need by taking a string and putting it wherever you want lights. If you know how long the string needs to be, you'll know how many strands of lights you'll need. As a general rule of thumb, trees require 100 lights per vertical foot (but larger trees could need more). 3. Choose your bulb size. Mini lights are the ones that look like candles and are only 5/8” tall. C6 bulbs are shaped like a strawberry and are ¾” in diameter, and 1 1/8” tall. C7 bulbs are a little rounder and are 1” in diameter, and 1 ½” tall. C9 bulbs are the largest, measuring 1 ¼” in diameter and 2 1/2” tall. If you see a G-series light,

Fall Landscaping Tips: 30 Ways to Prepare Your Landscape for Winter and Spring

There’s no denying the beauty of Northern Virginia in the fall. Bright oranges, deep reds and maroons, and even flashy yellows adorn our trees, creating picturesque views and perfect bonfire backdrops. Even though you may want to linger a little longer on your deck or patio these days, there’s a lot you can be doing right now to prepare your landscape for colder weather – and even next year’s growth. To honor our 30th anniversary, here are 30 fall landscaping tips: Swap out your summer annuals for fall plants. Pansies and mums are a wonderful way to add a little color as the temperature drops. Pull weeds from your beds. The more you get rid of now, the less you’ll have to deal with next year. Apply an herbicide to your lawn. Kill dandelions and other pesky weeds that are choking out your grass. Keep in mind, though, that most herbicides work best when it is 60 degrees or warmer. Test your soil. Get the intelligence now that you can use to keep your lawn lush and healthy next year. Our turf renovation blog  has information on inexpensive, invaluable soil tests for Virginia residents. Aerate and reseed your lawn. Why is core aeration and overseeding so important? Check out our blog on core aeration and overseeding. Fill in bald spots. If you have areas of turf that died over the summer, now is the time to patch them with compost and seed. Start a new lawn – if you have to. If your lawn is completely overrun with weeds or has extremely large bare areas, you may need to just start over. Fall is a great time to seed or lay sod. Fertilize your turf. Roots

The Dirt on Turf Renovation

Fall is the perfect time to rehabilitate your lawn. Turf renovation can give your landscape the boost it needs to survive the winter and come back stronger than ever in the spring. It eradicates weeds, improves nutrition, and establishes new grass in areas that badly need it. If you would like a vibrant, healthier lawn, then turf renovation might be exactly what you’ve been looking for. How do I know if I need to Renovate My Turf? You are a good candidate for lawn renovation if: 20-40% of your lawn is bare, dead, or covered by weeds Thatch – the organic layer of decomposing stems and roots at the soil surface - is greater than ½” thick When is Turf Renovation a Bad Idea? If your lawn has severe issues, it may be past the point of restoration and in need of being replaced. If you have any of the following problems, consult a landscape professional before you waste precious time and energy trying to restore your lawn. Over 40-50% of the lawn is dead or covered in weeds Soil is unreasonably compacted Previous efforts to alleviate thatch have been unsuccessful How Do I Renovate My Turf? 1.  Get a soil test. A soil test will give you invaluable information in regards to what is going on inside your lawn. Virginia Tech’s Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences offers a $10 soil test (http://www.soiltest.vt.edu/) for in-state residents. They analyze your sample and provide a nutrient breakdown in return, detailing exactly what your grass needs for optimum health. 2.  Replenish soil moisture. If you are coming off of a dry summer, soak your lawn to a depth of 6-8" before you do anything else. The

Choose Your Landscape Company Wisely

Choose Your Landscape Company Wisely - 30 Characteristics of Professional Landscape Company As we roll into fall, many businesses and homeowners begin to renegotiate their landscape maintenance contracts. Some may start shopping around for a new landscape company, while others are just now thinking about choosing a landscape professional to take care of their lawns. How do you know if a company is "legitimate" and that you're going to get what you pay for?  In celebration of our 30 year anniversary, here are 30 characteristics of an experienced, professional landscape company that you should look for when choosing a landscape company to take care of your property: Every employee is wearing a uniform. A professional uniform with the company logo makes the landscaping team easily identifiable. There is no doubt who is on your property taking care of your landscape. Trucks and equipment are clearly marked, clean, and well-kept. There are no unmarked pickups or lawn mowers, and all equipment runs properly. The company performs background checks on its employees. Your safety and security and that of your property are important.  Background checks help eliminate security risks. Phone calls are answered promptly and courteously. Someone is always there to address your questions and concerns. Your calls get returned within minutes. If you do reach a voicemail or have a difficult to answer, someone calls you back almost immediately. The company has a professional website. You can tell that they have invested in their business and are sincere about what they do. The company can provide references. If you want to hear some testimonials from current clients, the landscaper has no problems locating customers to whom you can speak. They are fully licensed, bonded, and insured.

Getting Ready for Fall with Core Aeration and Overseeding

As the summer fades away and the kids go back to school, it’s good to start thinking about what lies ahead for your landscaping. Two important maintenance practices should happen every fall in Northern Virginia: core aeration and overseeding. Even though some homeowners ignore these steps, they are arguably the two most important things you can do to enhance the quality of your lawn. What is core aeration? Core aeration is the process of removing tiny plugs – or cores – from your lawn. Usually done with a machine, the cores are roughly ½ to ¾ of an inch in diameter and 1 to 6 inches long. The holes are typically 2 to 6 inches apart, depending on the aeration machine used. Another method of aeration called spiking involves pushing spikes into the ground without removing any cores. We do not recommend this method because it actually contributes to further lawn compaction and not aeration. Why should you aerate your lawn? Core aeration eases turf compaction. In Northern Virginia, the majority of our soil is mixed with native red clay. This clay is dense and heavy, making it hard for water, nutrients, and air to flow into the ground. Aeration alleviates that density and makes it easier for the grass to get what it needs to grow strong and healthy. It basically gives your grass room to breathe – and eat and drink. Another common problem that aeration solves is heavy thatch. Thatch is the blanket of tightly connected roots, stems, and leaves – both living and dead – that lays on top of your turf, just below the grass blades. It is beneficial to your lawn when it stays thinner than ¾ of an

The Importance of Trees in Your Landscape

Trees are just as crucial to your landscape as a vibrant, healthy lawn. They benefit both the environment and the communities in which they are planted, saving energy and cleaning the air we breathe. Trees create jobs, provide protection from the elements, and even support healing. Aesthetically appealing areas. Trees are beautiful. They can define your driveway or become a focal point in your yard (with the help of landscape lighting). They also mark the seasons, giving us gorgeous flowers in the spring and brilliant foliage in the fall. Trees can enhance any landscape. Natural Food Producers Trees are a wonderful source of both beauty and food, including apples, cherries and nuts. They give us beautiful flowers in the spring and delicious fruit in the fall, which is fun for the picking. Check out Winchester, Virginia both at apple blossom time in the spring and apple picking time in the fall.  At times, it boasts the largest apple storage in the world!  Northern Virginia is also famous for its beautiful flowering cherry trees. Wildlife Refuges Trees make great homes. They provide housing for all kinds of wildlife – from birds and bees to squirrels and Monarch butterflies. Trees also help out another kind of "wildlife": children. Treehouses and tire swings offer all kinds of fun during the warmer months. And for older "wildlife," two shade trees can create a great hammock spot for napping and reading. Places of peace. Trees provide healing. Studies show that patients with views of trees heal better (and faster) than other patients. Children with ADHD also benefit from trees, showing fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Energy Savers and Creators Trees help save the environment. They can cool