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An Idea turned into a Tradition: Giving back to Sycolin Creek Elementary School

Giving back and educating the Loudoun community are two core principles infused into the team at Sunrise Landscape + Design. One of the opportunities to give back came while dropping off Dillon, son of Sunrise Owner, Joe Markell, off at school. In 2009 Dillion, attended the two years old Sycolin Creek Elementary School where the grounds were bare. There were no trees to sit under and read a book or to offer shade to those students that were too hot from the summer sun.  With an idea and a desire to give back to their community, Sunrise Landscape + Design decided to donate trees and shrubs to Sycolin Creek Elementary School and teach their students about proper planting, pruning and the benefits of planting trees for their school. Now in their fifth year, the dedicated team at Sunrise Landscape + Design just completed their annual Arbor Day plantings at Sycolin Creek Elementary. Over the past five years, Sunrise has donated two Saucer Magnolia’s, three Kwansan Cherry and Willow Oak Trees, three Zelkova’s, a Maple Tree and a new bench for the front of the school. An idea has become a tradition that everyone involved looks forward to each year! Are you interested in Sunrise Landscape + Design’s Education and Community involvement programs? If so, Contact Us to learn more! Contact Sunrise Landscape and Design, Northern Virginia’s premier landscaping company for all your lawn maintenance needs.  We are a full service landscape contractor serving Northern Virginia's Fairfax County and Loudoun County.  Whether you need landscape design with water features, landscape lighting, walkways and patios or lawn maintenance services such as lawn mowing, mulching turf care, leaf clean-up or garden clean-up we work with you to

Crape Murder!

Around this time of year, Crape Myrtle fever strikes Northern Virginia. This colorful tree has become a favorite for residential and commercial landscape; lining streets and office complexes as well as adorning front yards everywhere. What’s not to love? The Crape Myrtle has a pageant of colors from dark purple, to red, white and pink, which blooms for months on end throughout the summer. These trees showcase their beautiful petals against the pink and orange sky of summer sunsets. Not all people love the Crape Myrtle. For some reason, this tree turns ordinary people into Edward Scissorhands. Typically in March or early April, you will see these Crape Murderers removing mature branches in an effort to cut the tree back; hindering its growth. In fact, when removing the mature branches, you are disfiguring the tree and causing it to decay. No one knows when this murderous trend began or even why this tree is the victim of over-pruning every year. Some landscape crews, as well as homeowners, chop away at these trees because they think the tree has outgrown its space. Regardless of the reason, Crape Myrtles can be pruned to reduce their size without committing Crape Murder. At Sunrise Landscape + Design, we employ a technique called crown reduction to scale the tree in size without over-pruning. We gently remove specific upper branches and shorten remaining branches where they meet an outward-facing bud or a branch lower to the ground. We work with the organic structure of the tree to foster natural growth and keep the Crape Myrtle’s appearance intact. You know who these Crape Murders are. It is time to put down the shears, step away from the Crape Myrtle and contact the

What are Invasive Plants?

The temperatures are warm and new growth is exploding throughout the Northern Virginia region. However, not all new growth is good for your landscape. Invasive plants can cause havoc on native and introduced species and overtake your entire landscape. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's Division of Natural Heritage currently identifies 90 invasive plant species that threaten our natural landscape in the mountain, piedmont and coastal areas of Virginia. Invasive plants are species that grow in a geographic area by accident or with the intention of destruction to natural plants and resources natural to the area. For example, two common invasive plants in Northern Virginia are The Tree of Heaven and the Canada thistle. The Tree of Heaven is native to China and is known to be a rapidly growing deciduous tree with large compound leaves. This invasive tree spreads an ample amount of seeds and can reproduce through the root system. The Tree of Heaven releases a chemical that can harm or destroy plants nearby. The Canada thistle is a sneaking perennial that is difficult to control due to its vast root system. This invasive plant reproduces vegetative buds in the actual root system from its seeds. It can colonize an area up to six feet in just two years. Attempts to cut or control this plant are futile as it can recover from control attempts; infesting plants, crops, pastures and non-crop areas. It is important to know what plants, trees and shrubs in your landscaping are meant to be there and those that are there to harm and destroy native and introduced plants. The landscaping professionals at Sunrise Landscape + Design provide landscape maintenance as well as proper plant installation for both

Spring Cleaning – To Prune or Not To Prune? That is the Question..

March is right around the corner and with that comes thoughts of baseball season, March Madness and of warm, spring weather. Its’ our time to come out of hibernation; replace our snow boots for flip flops (maybe) and assess how things look as the winter thaw subsides. What this means for you, that it is time for spring cleaning both inside and outside your home. Your yard, trees, plants, bushes and remnants of your garden, all take a beating during the winter months. In order to have golf course type lawns this summer, you must start preparing your property now. The first thing we recommend is to take inventory of what your turf, trees, bushes and all plants look like. Do you have dead spots throughout your turf, tree limbs hanging down and broken, damage to shrubs and plants; what areas do you need to focus on? Next, eliminate dead turf and turn over your yard and add new soil and seed. Water the area daily to promote growth. During this process you will see downed tree limbs, loose dirt and leaves. Remove these items from your lawn so they do not hinder new growth. During the spring cleaning process, it is also important to prune bushes and cut back trees to encourage progress. However, specific species should be pruned at different times, so do your homework before becoming Edward Scissor Hands on your plants. Pull weeds from your garden and flower beds and prepare the area with new soil by turning it over just as you did your lawn. Sketch out a flower design for your beds; one in which the colors compliment the exterior of your home or attract certain types of butterflies

Invasion of the Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer is a non-native pest that entered the United States in the early 2000’s. Since then it has spread through several states, including Maryland and Virginia. From my observations in both Fairfax and Loudoun County, this pernicious beetle is well-established and active in destroying native species of Ash trees. Most commonly we see Green Ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) and White Ash (Fraxinus americana) in our area. The beetle is a striking bright green color, and the adult insect is aptly names “emerald”. However attractive, the life cycle of this insect includes a larval stage boring through the bark and wood of ash trees, and it is this aspect of the insect that is killing trees. I have seen many local trees in commercial and residential sites with severe dieback, decline, and even outright death. Once a tree is infested, it may take 2-3 years before it begins to show obvious symptoms. Treatment with systemic insecticide after the borers have begun colonizing a tree can slow the decline, but is unlikely to completely control the problem. The best control method is prevention. If a home or business owner has Ash trees on their property, or needs help identifying a tree, it would be a proactive approach to have a professional horticulturist or arborist take a look to see if there is any current infestation. If trees are showing signs of several years’ damage, it may be best to remove the tree and replace with a different species. If an Ash tree is not yet having issues, a professional can treat aggressively with a systemic insecticide, usually in the form of a soil drench. This type of product can provide protection to a valuable ornamental

Summer Garden Activities

Gardening isn’t just a spring activity, several tasks can still to be done in your garden to keep you busy all summer long.  Although we’ve had plenty of rain this season, it’s always a good idea to keep a look out for water stressed plants.  They’ll be the ones with turned down, curled and limp leaves.  A lawn is dry when you walk across it and the grass blades don’t pop right back up and you can see your footprints. It is best to water trees, shrubs and small plants at ground level whenever possible.  Soaker hoses are great for slowly watering your plants.  It’s better to water heavily once a week than a little every day.  This exposes roots to some dryness which makes the plants tougher and able to withstand the extremes throughout the year.  If you have an irrigation system, now is the time to be turning it on and having it run on a regular schedule.  Insect populations explode in the summer, especially after a rain, so be sure to eliminate standing water in your yard.  This could mean turning over empty plant pots and saucers, but could involve better drainage around your home. Another result of the rain is growth of shrubs and trees.  Most, but not all, shrubs can benefit from summer pruning to reduce the amount of leaves the plant maintains and to help them air out from the center which discourages fungal problems.  Trees benefit from pruning by making the leaf canopy thinner and more open to reduce storm winds pulling down the tree.  Pruning can involve removal of dead flowers which usually results in another round of flowers.  You can fertilize your annuals, herbs and vegetables

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

What Are Those Bumps on My Branches?

If you go out into your landscape today, and make a point of looking closely at the leaves and branches, you may see something that surprises you. Bumps, on the leaves or stems, that may be a range of colors and sizes, but certainly don’t seem like they are part of the plant. Very strange! Many people mistake this condition for a fungal disease. It’s more often actually a type of insect known as scale. There are over 150 individual types of scale insects present in the state of Virginia. Some have little to no impact on plant health. Others can severely damage or even kill valuable landscape plants, shrubs, and trees. Scale causes damage by attaching to the plant and sucking water and nutrients from its bark or leaves. This takes away from the resources available to support the growth and health of the plant. A heavy infestation can even kill an entire shrub or group of shrubs if left untreated. Scale insects often have a very specific plant they prefer, others are more open-minded and will attach to a wide range of different groups of plants. One shrub that has drawn attention for being prone to infestation and damage by scale insects in our region is cherry laurel. This versatile evergreen plant has several forms that are common and beautiful in many applications, and it is seen all over, in large hedges for screening, and more compact foundation plantings. It’s a great plant. But yet, it is prone to a scale that attaches to the stems and in many cases causes die-back or death of plants.  Another common landscape shrub affected by scale is Euonymus. This scale is particularly unsightly as it can

Pruning Your Landscape

Correct pruning is an essential maintenance practice for trees and shrubs in the home landscape. Pruning is not difficult if you understand the basics of how to prune. Trees and shrubs should be examined annually for pruning requirements. Too often, pruning is ignored for several years and become overgrown and often weak plants which often times will require drastic pruning in order to bring the plant to a manageable level.   We recently were performing a landscape renovation much of the landscape was over grown and had not been pruned in several years.  During the renovation there were Euonymus Alta, ‘Burning Bush’, that were completely over grown, covering the customer’s garage windows.  During our evaluation we also noticed that the plant had a lot of deadwood in the center which needed to be removed.   Our Supervisor professionally pruned the plant to a manageable level by reducing it below the garage window. During the process he found that there was another layer of plants growing underneath these monster plants which could not be seen prior to reducing them.  By reducing the plants it gave a fresh appearance to the front of the house providing sunlight to the garage.   Scheduled pruning can prevent a plant from overgrowing its space in the landscape and eliminates the need for drastic cutting of crowded, overgrown plants. It can allow for growth of plants under or adjacent to the pruned plant. Pruning can encourage plant vigor through the removal of weak, overcrowded growth. Such thinning often improves the visual balance or symmetry of the plant and provides a neat and clean appearance to your home.   Notice the vigor of these Burning Bushes upon renewal pruning.  SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL!!!!