Landscape Maintenance

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Landscape maintenance is to maintain the improved appearance of an area of land, a highway, etc. by way of planting trees, shrubs, or grass, or altering the contours of the ground.

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

Early Fall Turf Care – Tips for Keeping Your Lawn Looking Great in the Fall

If you’re thinking that now is the time to take a breather on lawn care since Summer is quickly coming to a close and grass can’t possibly continue to grow this quickly, it’s time to reconsider. While grass is not growing at the speed it was in Spring and Summer, this is the time when grass “powers up” so to speak, absorbing moisture and nutrients to prepare for its dormancy in Winter. To this end, we’d like to offer some tips to prepare for a healthy lawn in the Spring, when you’ll really want to stop and smell those flowers. Grab that rake and attack those leaves.  You’ll notice that leaves don’t wait until the official start of Autumn to fall.  You’ll find your lawn scattered with tree confetti as early as August.  As soon as they begin to fall, rake. If leaves are left on the ground for too long, they will become matted down with rain and begin to suffocate your grass and possibly lead to fungal disease in your lawn. Contact us about soil aeration.  We have the equipment and expertise to properly prepare your soil. This is crucial to allow the soil to absorb water, fertilizer and nutrients.  Again, this will be needed through Winter so that when the first thaw of Spring arrives, your lawn will be ready to thrive.  Incidentally, do continue to water.  Obviously it will not be a necessary as it was in July, but keep your eyes out for dry patches. Fall is the best time to fertilize.  Though the growth of grass slows down considerably in the Fall, its roots continue to thrive.  Applying the right mix of fertilizer now is essential to building food

Keeping your Irrigation System Healthy

Spring has sprung, your lawn looks lush and green and beautiful, your plants and flowers are thriving, and you've been savvy enough to have an irrigation system installed to ensure that your investment stays healthy through the drier months.   So far, so good, but it’s important to remember that the most critical step is now ensuring that your irrigation system works as it should.  Once installed, it is tempting to forget about it, but the possibility that it isn't working efficiently is a risk you don't want to take when you've invested the time and money to make your garden beautiful. A malfunctioning irrigation system can quickly create more issues instead of solve them, and it involves a lot more than simply repairing obvious problems, such as broken pipes or sprinkler heads.  There are variables that can be hard to account for unless you have an expert on your side.   Things to consider:   Overwatering can be just as damaging as "under"watering, and only a maintenance professional can make sure you're not doing either.   An expert can adjust your system based on features of your landscape such as slopes (prevent run-off), amount of shade, location of bushes/trees and other obstacles that might impact water coverage. The wrong sprinkler head can end up watering your sidewalk or your neighbor's property.  Different sprinkler heads are available to water as much or as little square footage as needed.  Trust your maintenance expert to be able to optimize coverage. Routine inspections of your irrigation system are imperative to maximum system performance. Inspections will identify clogged heads, broken water lines and other issues that can wreak havoc on your landscape and cause your water bill to soar. Irrigation maintenance services

Creating Curb Appeal – It’s All About the Landscaping Plan

Whether you are selling your home or just want to have the most attractive landscape in the neighborhood, creating curb appeal can transform your yard into a beautiful, attractive space.  The most successful landscapes have a well thought out and planned approach to curb appeal.  It can simply be adding color with flower pots and seasonal plantings, or adding character and dimension with walkways and water features.  How simple or complex your curb appeal should be, is up to you.  Either way, a landscaping plan is the most effective way to bring your ideas to life.  When putting together a landscaping plan, consider the following: Hardscape – Curb appeal is ultimately about moving the eye from the street to the front of the house.  An attractive walkway with curves and flower bed accents is a great way to make this a pleasant transition.  Adding a bench creates a separate focal place and provides a spot for additional plantings. Lighting – Simple outdoor lighting can bring your home to life at night.  Use accent lights to highlight architectural or landscaping details.Seasons – When designing for curb appeal, make sure it will look inviting through all seasons.  As spring flowers begin to die down and lose their appeal, shrubs and trees can take over as the dominant features. Maintenance – All good landscaping plans should incorporate maintenance.  Spring and fall clean-ups, pruning, lawn care, weeding, edging and mulching are all important tasks in maximizing curb appeal. Color – Adding color to your landscape can be accomplished in many ways.  Try adding one or two large, uniquely shaped pots and fill with colorful plantings.  Add a splash of color by painting the door or a bench.  Be sure

The Dirt on Dirt: It’s Not All Created Equal

Dirt is arguably the most crucial factor when it comes to growing plants and grass. While fertilizers, water, and sunlight are important, dirt serves as the foundation for all growth. Not all dirt can sustain life; if you choose the wrong dirt or don’t know what’s in your own yard, you’ll be wasting your time and money trying to grow something where it simply cannot grow. By knowing what kind of soil you have, you can ensure that your spring planting turns into a full year of vibrant, healthy plants.  Sunrise Landscape and Design understands dirt and has over 30 years of experience in creating thriving Northern Virginia landscapes – contact us to get the info on your dirt! What is Dirt? Dirt is soil. It consists of organic material that has decomposed, organic material that is still decomposing, broken down rocks, metals, minerals, and even fossils. The composition of dirt varies from area to area, and particle sizes vary based on the primary component in the soil.   Why is Dirt so important to your lawn and garden? The basic function of dirt is to anchor plants by holding roots and storing nutrients and water that are essential for plant growth. The ability of these plants to thrive in a landscape depends on certain characteristics of the soil. A soil test can provide the necessary information for proper fertilization.  When the proper amount of fertilization is applied at the appropriate time, nutrient runoff is minimized, money saved and plant health is optimized.   What is a soil test? A soil test is an analysis of the nutrient content, composition, and other characteristics of soil, such as the acidity or pH level. Tests are performed