Winter landscaping

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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

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

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

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