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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

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

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

Looking back – The Sunrise Story

Sunrise Landscape + Design have been part of the Northern Virginia community for over 27 years. Originally formed in 1986 as Sunrise Lawn and Landscaping Services in a small shop in Reston, the company has grown to over 40 employees and an assortment of equipment and vehicles. The Sunrise name has been synonymous with the owner, Joe Markell's family for over 60 years. Sun Rise Dairy, located in Reston, was owned by Joe's great grandparents and Sunrise Amoco located off Baron Cameron Avenue, was owned by his father and grandfather. As Northern Virginia developed and changed, Sunrise Lawn and Landscaping Services evolved into Sunrise Landscape + Design. However, the commitment to deliver quality products, timely service and provide an outstanding experience for each client has remained the same for all of these years. The” Sunrise Way” is built on the principles of honesty and integrity. Just like a handshake was a contract and your word was a bond, Sunrise Landscape + Design stand behind their products, promises and service. Being a leader in their industry, Sunrise focuses on sustainable landscape solutions for both residential and commercial clients.  When creating landscape designs, they use plantings that are native and thrive in the climate and soil of Northern Virginia. They also focus on being "green" by recycling material used at each installation, install LED lights in their holiday and outdoor lighting systems and use and install water runoff systems to maximize rain water. Being earth friendly is another component of the "Sunrise Way" to reduce their carbon footprint and create environmentally friendly landscaping systems. Their commitment to their community, environment and clients are the reasons Sunrise Landscape + Design have been part of Northern Virginia for over

How to Install a Landscape Lighting System

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, and lights, a transformer, etc. 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 groups, never daisy chain or connect one light after the other. Daisy chains create groups of lights that all have differing brightness. Use junction boxes to connect a group of lights together at

Landscape Lighting: Low Voltage Vs. Solar

There are two main types of landscape lights that homeowners purchase; low voltage landscape lights and solar landscape lights. Let’s compare the two and see which type is the better value: Low Voltage Landscape Lights Have excellent light output Enough to see clearly by for safe walking or illuminating trees and architectural features of your home Are constructed of quality materials We use Alliance fixtures and systems, which are made from solid brass and carry a lifetime fixture warranty. www.allianceoutdoorlighting.com Use quality components Alliance lighting systems use warm white LED bulbs that are rated to last 50,000 hours, and have outdoor rated connections and underground wiring. Alliance LED bulbs have a nice warm white color identical to traditional incandescent bulbs Are very efficient Contemporary low voltage lighting systems use LED bulbs, with transformers that shut the system off during the day, either with a timer or light sensor Solar Landscape Lights Have low light output Enough light to mark borders or edges of pathways, but are not bright to see clearly for walking. They cannot be used for lighting architecture or trees Are constructed of cheap materials Most solar lights are made from plastic or aluminum. Plastic fixtures oxidize and become brittle over time. Aluminum doesn’t rust, but the finish still oxidizes fades over time, especially the aluminum painted to look like copper. They usually look good for a year then start to degrade. The tiny stakes that come with the lights are easily broken if the lights are knocked over or hit Use generic cheap components Most solar lights are constructed using low power LED bulbs with a blue color, and use NiCad rechargeable batteries which don’t hold an overnight charge and will retain