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How Does Your Drainage Flow?

During a landscape consultation I will often start the conversation with a discussion regarding grading, drainage and standing water. A general rule of thumb is whether after a heavy rain there is any standing water or particularly damp areas 24 to 48 hours afterwards. The reason for this conversation is that if we don’t solve these issues for the homeowner first, everything else we do (hardscape, landscape, etc.) could be for naught. Sunrise recently was called to help a homeowner who had a beautiful landscape plan installed by another company but they were now having problems with standing water. They had spent over $80,000 to have a new deck and plantings installed but no one thought ahead to piping downspouts or creating pathways for the water to flow into and now many plants were getting destroyed. The ideal way to avoid any water problems is a property that was properly graded at the time of construction. Often we deal with instances where this is not the case, or time has created altered conditions that necessitate corrective actions. The first choice is to address the situation above ground through re-grading or perhaps something like a dry rock creek bed. We also can ease the problems by underground piping of downspouts or by the use of drain boxes and pipe. Sunrise almost exclusively uses schedule 40 PVC pipe. It is more expensive but washes out clean of leaves and debris and will last many times longer than the corrugated black pipe which can accumulate material over time and clog or get crushed for various reasons. Least desirable would be some kind of sump construction which may ease the situation but is not a permanent solution. Similarly a

Managing Your Irrigation System

Irrigation, also known as ‘Irritation’, a well deserved nick name, is the topic of the day. It is hard to install, hard to repair, and even harder to manage it correctly. What a lot of irrigation consumers run into, and do not even realize, are that an incorrect amount of water is being dispersed. Some consumers, because of the lack of education, do not know how to correctly apply run-times, which days to water, and more importantly how much water an individual plant or turf area needs. It's very easy to turn on your irrigation without knowing too much about irrigation in general. But you may not know that there is so much more to it than going to the main irrigation valve and turning on your irrigation controller (which probably has the original times set from installation). More than likely, when the irrigation company installed your system, they put in generic run times that they put in for ALL installations. They will apply 20 minutes for rotors, 10 minutes for pop-ups, and 20-30 minutes for soaker hoses. While all of that sounds great and uniform it doesn't always work for all given plant material and locations. It also doesn't take into account the special needs for your property or the change of seasons. Your irrigation system plays a vital role in the growth and development of your plants and turf. It isn’t as simple as turning it off and on. A lot of plants are very picky about how much water they get, even turf. It is crucial that your irrigation system be regularly monitored and maintained for both the plant material and the conservation of water. We can claim to live in Northern

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

Should I Build a Patio or Deck?

Limited space and the demand for efficiency are usually the primary reasons to build a deck. Town homes and Condominiums almost always utilize decks because building a patio takes up too much yard space. If you are in a single family home, however, a patio is a great way to create a warm, welcoming place to entertain and dine. Patios have several advantages to decks, the first being long term maintenance. Most patios that are properly installed require almost no maintenance in the long term. Decks require routine maintenance in the form of pressure washing, staining, and replacing rotted or warped boards. Patios allow the living space to be integrated into the landscape more elegantly compared to decks. Decks are separated from the landscape because of their square shape, railings, color and height. Patios can be curvaceous, organic, and crafted from natural stone to blend into the surroundings. Normally, patios are built at ground/grade level; decks are usually above grade level and leave the people using the deck more exposed to the elements and prying neighbors. By being built on the ground level, patios are easily integrated into the landscape by the use of adapted shrubs and perennials. A ceiling can easily be implemented by planting trees nearby for shade and visual enclosure. To create a truly comfortable outdoor room, patios offer the warmth of an outdoor fireplace or fire pit. Combine the fireplace with a patio, a nice set of outdoor furniture, a soft landscape surround, and you’ll have an outdoor addition to your home to enjoy year round. Sunrise has a team of Landscape Designers who can meet with you to discuss your landscape needs and dreams. Any of our experienced designers will

Just Because You Have a Knife …

does that make you a surgeon? I am amazed and embarrassed by certain companies that call themselves landscapers.  It makes it difficult for consumers to understand what constitutes a reputable company vs some guy who bought a mower and says he is a landscaper. There are a few things that can help determine the value of the company that the consumer can hire such as the following: -Does the company have any certifications? -How long has the company been in business? -What are the employee's qualifications? -Is their website informative and does it give a good perspective of the company? -Are there online reviews that add insight to the companies professionalism? -Do they answer the phone and/or return calls in a timely manner? -Do they have the proper insurance, business licenses and credentials? While this may sound like a lot of information to consider I think it is crucial for protecting the biggest investment most of us have, our home. Landscaping done poorly, or wrong, can cost you a lot in the end. Poor plant choices can damage structures and create excessive maintenance costs along with actually bringing down your properties value.  Conversely good quality craftsmanship and planning can actually greatly improve the value and desirability of your home when you go to sell. It can also add to years of enjoyment, family bonding and usefulness of your property. So, I repeat my question do you want a true surgeon to operate on you or just some guy with a knife?                 Call Sunrise 703-544-0028