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August is a big month for Sunrise Landscape and Design as we celebrate 35 years in business successfully serving our clients in Northern Virginia. As we take time to reflect on this momentous anniversary, we are excited to share some additional history, as well as an interview with our founder and CEO, Joe Markell.

In 1986, Sunrise Lawn and Landscaping Services, Inc., was established in Reston, Virginia. What started as a small shop with two employees (Joe as one of them) two mowers, and a pick-up truck (that had been in Joe’s family since 1964), has grown into a 40 employee extensive landscaping operation today, with a variety of trucks and equipment that allow Sunrise to accomplish virtually any landscape related task.

With a long history of the Sunrise name being used for various businesses within Joe’s family, Sunrise Lawn and Landscaping Services eventually became Sunrise Landscape and Design in 2007 and has continued to evolve as a trusted name that has earned a reputation for excellence in full-service landscape maintenance and design-build.

We had the chance to catch up with Joe and ask him to reflect a bit on the last 35 years as a landscaping expert and a business owner. Here is what he had to say and the knowledge he shares with others:

How long have you lived in the area?

I have lived in the Northern VA area my entire life over 56 years (except when I was a student at VA Tech).

Tell us about your background – have you always worked in landscaping?

I have worked in agriculture/landscaping most all of my life. I did some commercial construction for a brief time along with some summer remodeling work. I started driving tractors and mowers when I was probably 8 years old and I have never looked back.

What made you start Sunrise Landscape and Design? 

It was something that really intrigued me and I felt passionate about it. I have always loved working with machines and being outside. Over time I developed a love for plants and how they function in the landscape along with incorporating hardscape materials to make a space functional, usable, and enjoyable to be in.

What has been a favorite moment in running and owning Sunrise over the last 35 years?

One of the things that I enjoy is our day of service that the industry does at Arlington Cemetery.  A group of landscape professionals work together to add some elements to the cemetery that really improves the landscaping for guests and even the employees who work there. That is a humbling place to be invited to work and it’s gratifying to spend a half day once a year working as volunteers within our industry to improve the landscape of such an important location for so many.

In addition to Arlington Cemetery, every day there is something that really brings me great deal of job satisfaction as we focus on helping customers solve landscaping issues or bring their dream landscapes to fruition. I also enjoy seeing our employees grow into more responsibility and leadership and always take time to appreciate what we have accomplished each day as a company.

What advice do you have for people starting new businesses? Especially during a global pandemic?

  • Don’t give up; things will be tough, especially when dealing with people who lack the knowledge that’s needed to run a successful business.
  • Find the right people to be on your team, you cannot do it alone!
  • Take the time to enjoy whatever it is that you are doing. All of your hard work is for something.

What is your best landscaping tip or trick? 

Use the right tools/equipment for the right job and everything will be a lot easier!

What project stands out the most in your mind as a favorite?

We have done some really great projects over the years. One that stands out is a vanishing edge pool with a great pavilion and a hardscape that tied everything together with a great variety of trees and shrubs to enhance the entire outdoor space.. That was done 8 or so years ago and it looks better every year.

What is your vision for Sunrise in the future? 

My focus is to continue to grow in a steady controlled manner while developing the people that come to work every day and put in a great effort to get things done with quality and practicality for our customers to enjoy.

Ready to start your landscaping project? Contact us to discuss your project in detail.