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How to Protect Your Plants from Surprise Cold Snaps

The latest cold snap probably shocked your early blooming daffodils; Spring has officially started, but the thermostat says otherwise at the moment.  Mother Nature tries to adhere to a calendar, but at the end of the day, we are at her mercy.  Over all, our weather is considerably more hospitable this time of year, but there may still be a few more surprises, as evidenced by our recent snow storm.   It’s time to prepare your blooming fruit trees, vegetables or flowers from these potential cold snaps. There are several methods of protection for your landscape while the weather remains in flux. It’s important to note that it doesn’t have to freeze for plants to be damaged by frost.  It just has to get cold enough for water vapor to condense on cold plants that have been chilled.       Young trees or varieties of trees that have thin bark, (some fruit trees fall in this category), as well as the evergreens and firs are very susceptible to branches breaking from the heavy wet snow that often happens in the springtime. The best way to remove the snow is to gently brush the snow off by hand or with a broom with upward strokes. Gently shaking the branches can also be done, but this needs to be done carefully. Branches can be brittle during the winter months, so you could be doing more harm than good. You can also remove snow throughout the snow event to make removal easier and minimize the weight that’s on your plants at any given time.   There are many varieties of plants that can handle the sudden cold temperatures, such as azaleas, hollies and pansies – these can

March is Mulching Season

​​It’s time to think about mulching those trees and flower beds, now that the harsh colds of Winter have abated.  Applied correctly and liberally, it’s good for your plants as well as a great labor saver.   For starters, it will slow weed growth considerably.  That alone is a reason to mulch.  No one wants to spend all Spring and Summer hunched over their flower beds!  Mulch also reduces water evaporation and can improve soil quality, two benefits that will yield long term results in your garden. ​​ ​​However, not all mulch is created equal.  Depending on which type you decide to use, you could reap different benefits.  In general, mulch with larger pieces of bark will decompose more slowly.  Finer pine bark mulch will enrich the soil as it decomposes.  Its main function aside from weed reduction is offering insulation to the root sources when there are fluctuations in temperature.  It also reduces water loss from the soil when you water or run a sprinkler.  However poor choices in mulch quality, could mean that it can retain TOO much moisture and encourage slugs and other pests that may eat certain plants.  It can also run the risk of becoming moldy.   An expert from Sunrise Landscape and Design can help you decipher which mulch is best suited for which area of your lawn. ​​ Cosmetically, mulch can add visual interest to your yard, depending on the color and size you choose.  Colored mulch contains vegetable dye, its color lasting for a year or more.  They are also finer in texture which makes them ideal for areas with slope since they mat down nicely.  Other types of mulch include pine straw which are pine tree

Landscape Planning for Spring

Winter is the time when your landscape is clearly visible, for better or for worse.  Take a moment now to assess your surroundings and plan for any renovations and additions you may have dreamed about while hunkered down during the long Winter.  Get that Pinterest board ready and start collecting ideas! Your barren trees and less-than-robust bushes and greenery give you the opportunity to really evaluate what changes you’d like to make before Spring is in full bloom.  After all, our yards are now extensions of our living space, an “extra room,” and should reflect how we enjoy spending our free time, whether we’re entertaining, creating a cozy space to spend time alone, or creating more room for your kids to play. Think back to what worked and what didn’t last year.  If you love to entertain, did you have enough space on the patio?  If you have pets, perhaps they’ve worn a path in your lawn.  Is there more mud than there is grass?  Have you had drainage issues that may be exacerbated now that Spring showers are on their way? When considering all of these “issues”, keep the style of your house in mind when considering solutions.  Do you want to use the same materials as your house to implement a more cohesive look, or is now the time to maybe try something new? Think about the colors you’d like to see in your yard.  Tying in the color of your hardscape with the surrounding plantings creates a unified look and makes your home seem in harmony with its surroundings. There is a wealth of materials to choose from if you’re thinking of adding a patio, a water feature or a new walkway. 

Landscape Maintenance Winter Cleanup

Even though our Winter has been a little light on snow, chances are it’s been too cold for you to conduct any regular cleanup of your lawn.  With temperatures beginning to creep up, now is the time to focus on picking up the Winter plant debris. Be sure to pay special attention to your plant beds who will soon end their dormant period and take center stage. Those of us that love snow have been feeling a little neglected this season, but as compensation, there have been extensive periods of icing that have made rock salt and ice melt a necessity.  Unfortunately, some of these products can cause damage to your lawn when they make contact, so it’s important that you clear these chemicals off your shrubs, tree roots and lawn.  Spreading gypsum in the affected areas can mitigate the damage. If the temperature is consistently above 50 degrees, you can apply weed control where necessary while removing any annuals you may have missed in the Fall.  Removing all the dead branches and leaves from perennials will also help ensure future growth.  If you compost, this plant material would make an excellent addition to your compost pile. Pay attention to your trees and shrubs as well.  Remove burlap if you have covered the roots to protect them in Winter, and remove dead and damaged branches while they remain easy to see. It’s also time to start thinking about fertilizing in preparation of Spring.  Watch the outdoor temperatures, and if they will be on the milder side, use a fertilizer that includes a crabgrass preventer. In general, your lawn is out-of-sight-out-of-mind in the Winter months, but once the snow and ice melt you will be surprised

Pruning Trees in Winter

There IS a benefit to your trees being bare and somewhat desolate-looking during this time of year:  your dormant trees are gathering up strength to really put on a spectacular show when the warmth of Spring finally arrives.  However, this is when you should lend a helping hand in the form of pruning; new growth has to be encouraged, and when the trees are bare, the branches are easier to see and to handle, not to mention the harder ground allows for easier access to the tree.   Though its usually best to wait until the coldest part of the Winter has passed, (February through March is usually the best time to prune trees), it is not imperative to do so only in that window.  For flowering trees, it’s critical that you prune while the tree is still dormant.  If you prune after blooms have started to form, you could be limiting its blooming potential in the Spring.  Some species, such as maple, walnuts and birches, may excrete sap.  While this is not dangerous to the tree, it can be unsightly, so it’s best to prune when the weather is colder and the sap is not as likely to “bleed.” It’s important to remember that every branch should be removed for a reason.  Each cut has the potential to change the shape of the tree substantially as well as its ability to bloom if it’s a flowering tree, so pruning should not be done without a “plan.”  Dead, diseased and damaged branches should be removed as soon as possible, both to prevent the spread of potential disease and for safety’s sake.  Dead branches can easily fall in the slightest crosswind and cause personal injury or

Hunker Down for Winter and Prepare for Spring

Though there really isn’t much lawn maintenance required in the Winter months when the ground is often frozen, there are some important precautions to take with your lawn so that when the weather DOES begin to warm, your lawn will be ready for the beautiful show-off that is Spring.   Hopefully you’ve remembered to disconnect your garden hose before the first frost, but if not, disconnect as soon as possible.  Any extra water left inside the hose will freeze and cause the lining of the hose to crack.  Also, any additional ice will put pressure on the pipes connected to your house and this could lead to very costly repairs you were not anticipating.  Ornamental concrete birdbaths should also be emptied, since any water left in the basin could lead to cracking.   Now that everything has become dormant or has died, take advantage of the “cleared” landscape and evaluate not only the plant placement but the soil around it.  Is there erosion?  Make a note of it, this is something to tackle once the danger of frost has passed.  If your plants are dormant and the Winter has proven to be colder than usual, consider adding another layer of mulch.  Even though we’re halfway through Winter, it’s not too late to protect your investment and add a little extra blanket to the perennials you’re hoping to see again in Spring.   Again, take advantage of the fact that the ground is “cleared” and take a look and see if there are roots damaging any part of your hardscape or your home’s foundation.  This is the time to take notes and talk to us about what will need to be rectified once the danger of

Lighting Up Your Landscape

You’ve worked hard to ensure that your home and your landscape show off all the work you’ve put into them.  While they may be beautiful during the day, your efforts do not have to be limited to just the daylight hours.  If you light your landscape properly in the evenings, that hard work can really have a wow factor.  Landscape lighting is about artistry as much as it is about technical knowledge.  If your lighting is installed in the right places, it can highlight the architectural features of your home as well as the different characteristics of your plantings and trees. In addition to adding character, it can add safety as well; a well-lit walkway is as important as having a properly constructed one.  Good landscape design should incorporate elements that are functional as well as beautiful any time of day.   Most landscape lighting is low-voltage because it is less costly to install and much safer to work with.  There are stunning variations of the type of lighting you can achieve with a low-voltage installation.  Lighting a tree canopy, a glow over a landscape feature, or lighting aimed directly at your home are a few of the many options available.   Factors such as brightness, color and beam width are in every element of the lighting design.  The technical aspects of this, such as the type of bulb, the housing for the bulb, and the cables and stakes used to keep them in place all have to be chosen for their most effective usage.  Once the proper elements are in place you can “play” with the light.  For example, when lighting foliage, you should always include the trunk, otherwise it will look like a

Holiday Decorating Tips Using Your Winter Landscape

The tradition of bringing the outdoors in during the Winter months dates back thousands of years, and as the holidays approach and the weather changes, aside from being a terrifically beautiful way to remind us of the outside, it makes your home truly live and breathe natural beauty this holiday season. First things first:  take a look around your landscape and see what you have that could work indoors.  You have to consider what stands the best chance of surviving indoors, where the heat and lack of humidity of central heating can dry it out prematurely.  If you have holly, ivy, pine trees or spruce, as well as magnolia trees, these make great candidates for indoor decorating.   However, make sure to choose greenery that looks healthy to begin with.  Pruning correctly is critical, make sure you cut where they start growing. Incidentally, it’s not only greenery that would work.  Bare branches can look lovely clustered in vases as well, so don’t limit yourself, you might find the perfect vase fillers laying on the ground! If you love the look of berries, keep a close eye on whether they shed, quite a few of them can be poisonous to children and pets. It’s often safer to opt for artificial berries that can be attached with green floral wire to your cut stems or branches. If you plan on decorating with green cuttings, make sure you keep them fresh as long as possible by keeping the ends dipped in tepid water.  Inserting them in moist floral foam when displaying on your mantle and keeping them out of the way of your heating vents will also prolong their life for the holiday season.  If you decide to use

Take Advantage of Winter and Start Planning for your Spring Landscape

It may surprise you to know that now, when the ground begins to prepare for the cold of Winter, is the absolute perfect time to plan for your Spring landscape.  It’s the slow season in the landscaping business as well, so now is the time to dream out loud and evaluate what you’d like to see when the weather changes again and Nature awakens.   Beat the rush and contact a professional landscape design company like Sunrise Landscape and Design and be ready to enjoy your new landscape by the time the first flowers bloom.  Take a look at how one of our clients transformed their yard into the landscape of their dreams: Before After                 An honest evaluation of your current landscape is the first step.  Will you need mulching, pruning, shaping of bushes or trees?  Would you prefer a low-maintenance plan you can keep up with yourself or do you want to dream big and incorporate new features?   It’s important to be honest with what you will realistically be able to maintain on your own.  What, if any, changes will have to take place in your current landscape to incorporate new features such as walkways, arbors or water features?   This is where having an abundance of time works in your favor, the more thorough the planning stages, the more seamless the execution when the weather permits.   Use resources such as Pinterest and Houzz; the more ideas you bring to the table, the better prepared we are to begin the concrete process of planning and keeping realistic expectations in mind during the process.  There are many options available that can be modified to

The Beauty of Hardscape – Functional and Aesthetic Solutions for Your Landscape

How many hours have you spent worrying about the slip sliding away of your sloping lawn, as well as dreading the resulting moist or marshy land from poor drainage? If you’ve had issues with your landscape that require constant TLC in the Spring and Summer now is the time to consider installing hardscape features that will solve these issues as well as maximize the beauty and usable space of your yard.  A landscape professional such as Sunrise Landscape and Design will be able to evaluate the extent of the problem and recommend both a functional and aesthetic solution. Why not enjoy the changing of the seasons instead of worrying about the problems in your landscape? If your home is built on a slope, you are, or will soon be experiencing erosion.  The soil on a slope is not compact, but rather loose and unstable, which can lead to serious issues for your home’s foundation.  The installation of the correct type of hardscape can prevent long term damage.  A retaining wall will keep the soil where it should be, as well as add a decorative element to your yard.  They can be built tiered or accented with bushes, plants or flowers.  Depending on the height of the wall, they can also serve as integrated seating.  When you can make a retaining wall functional as well as a beautiful feature, you have a win-win as a homeowner. Then, there’s drainage.  Even a small amount of rain can cause you to be knee-deep in swampland. If you have a drainage issue, the longer it is ignored, the more severe the damage to your home’s foundation or landscape can be.  It’s easy to disregard the potential problem when the