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Holiday Lighting Tips

Holiday Lighting Tips From Sunrise Landscape and Design

house with outside holiday lighting design northern virginia

It may seem impossible, but the holiday season is right around the corner. It’s time to break out the hot cocoa, eat some cookies, and unpack the holiday decorations. At Sunrise, we love this time of year because it means we get to install holiday lighting for our clients. There’s nothing better than transforming a property into a holiday destination. If you are planning on creating your own holiday retreat this year, here are some holiday lighting tips for making the process simple and safe:

1. Decide where you want lights

It’s fun to light up entryways and windows on your home, as well as architectural elements, like your roof. You can also highlight paths, fencing, and landscaping features. You can brighten bushes with net lights and wrap strands around tree trunks to light your yard.

2. Measure and plan ahead

You don’t want to go to the store twice! Measure how much lighting you’ll need by taking a string and putting it wherever you want lights. If you know how long the string needs to be, you’ll know how many strands of lights you’ll need. As a general rule of thumb, trees require 100 lights per vertical foot (but larger trees could need more).

3. Choose your bulb size

Mini lights are the ones that look like candles and are only 5/8” tall. C6 bulbs are shaped like a strawberry and are ¾” in diameter, and 1 1/8” tall. C7 bulbs are a little rounder and are 1” in diameter, and 1 ½” tall. C9 bulbs are the largest, measuring 1 ¼” in diameter and 2 1/2” tall. If you see a G-series light, divide the number by 8 to get an idea of the diameter.

Evergreens often look best with bigger bulbs, while deciduous trees are excellent for mini lights or rope lights. Old-fashioned, larger bulbs are back in style, so mix up sizes for a more interesting holiday lighting look.

4. Determine whether you want incandescent or LED

LED lights cost a little more upfront but last much longer than incandescents. They also use only 10% of the electricity that incandescents do, which means less heat and less risk of fire. Although incandescents tend to be brighter, LED strings can compensate with more bulbs per string.

5. Ensure your lights are outdoor-safe

Your lights need to be waterproof if they are being used outside. Make sure everything you use for holiday lighting is marked for outdoor or indoor-outdoor use.

6. Purchase holders

Don’t damage your roof, trim, gutters, or trees by using tacks or nails to string your lights. Instead, invest in sturdy plastic clips and stakes to fasten your strings. Make sure your clips fit your bulb sizes, especially if you are using larger bulbs.

7. Strategize your strings

Test strands ahead of time and consider alternating strings over the same space for more illumination. When connecting strands, make sure to read the manufacturer recommendations; too many connections can create a fire hazard.

8. Plan extension cord placement

Bury extension cords or place them in areas where guests and family members won’t trip, and keep them away from water. Also make sure they are outdoor-safe, just like your lights.

9. Check outlets

You want to use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. These outlets will shut down the circuit if there’s too much current, keeping your home safe. You can have an electrician install one for you, or you can purchase a portable unit for temporary use.

10. Liven it up

Light spheres, animated lights, and lights that move to music are great ways to liven up your lawn (and your neighborhood).

Whether you’re looking to be the envy of the neighborhood or create a cozy, welcoming home for the holidays, use these holiday lighting tips to create a winter wonderland that will stay in your memory long after the holiday season.

Sunrise Landscape and Design is Northern Virginia’s premier landscaping company offering a full range of landscaping services including landscape design and maintenance. Contact us today for all your landscape and lawn care needs!

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What are those bumps on my branches

What to do about bumps on branches

Bumps on branches, leaves or stems, that may be a range of colors and sizes, but certainly don’t seem like they are part of the plant, can be concerning when looking at your landscape. 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 cover the leaves as well as stems of the plant. Both these and other common scale insects in our region do NOT have to be viewed as a catastrophe for your garden. If observed and diagnosed in a reasonable amount of time, each scale can be treated and controlled to prevent frustrating and expensive losses.

Treatment of scale varies widely depending on the type of scale and time of year. Soft scales have a soft covering over their bodies that can be penetrated by appropriate chemical controls. Armored scales secrete a hard covering over their bodies as adults that protect the scale while it feeds on your plants. This armor is impenetrable to certain common pesticides; therefore one must approach treatment in an intelligent and informed manner that is appropriate to the situation. Identifying the specific pest that you have and knowing its unique life cycle and vulnerabilities will enable you to successfully treat your problem. You can use resources provided by the Virginia and Maryland Extension services to help identify your pest and also recommended treatment. Many effective products are available for purchase and application by homeowners.

You can always count on us at Sunrise Landscape and Design to monitor your property and treat for any potential issues, such as scale. We offer a range of options to provide you with Integrated Pest Management services. Our garden visits, and IPM treatments are both aspects of care that help monitor, identify and treat problems in a timely manner so that you won’t have to worry about those strange bumps turning into big issues. We work with you year-round to protect your investment in your home and landscape. Contact us to get a landscaping quote today.

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The Importance of Trees in Your Landscape

Trees are just as crucial to your Northern Virginia landscape design project as a vibrant, healthy lawn. They benefit both the environment and the communities in which they are planted, saving energy and cleaning the air we breathe. Trees create jobs, provide protection from the elements, and even support healing.

Aesthetically appealing areas.

Trees are beautiful. They can define your driveway or become a focal point in your yard (with the help of landscape lighting). They also mark the seasons, giving us gorgeous flowers in the spring and brilliant foliage in the fall. Trees can enhance any landscape.

Natural Food Producers

Trees are a wonderful source of both beauty and food, including apples, cherries and nuts. They give us beautiful flowers in the spring and delicious fruit in the fall, which is fun for the picking. Check out Winchester, Virginia both at apple blossom time in the spring and apple picking time in the fall.  At times, it boasts the largest apple storage in the world!  Northern Virginia is also famous for its beautiful flowering cherry trees.

Wildlife Refuges

Trees make great homes. They provide housing for all kinds of wildlife – from birds and bees to squirrels and Monarch butterflies. Trees also help out another kind of “wildlife”: children. Treehouses and tire swings offer all kinds of fun during the warmer months. And for older “wildlife,” two shade trees can create a great hammock spot for napping and reading.

Places of peace.

Trees provide healing. Studies show that patients with views of trees heal better (and faster) than other patients. Children with ADHD also benefit from trees, showing fewer symptoms when they have access to nature.

Energy Savers and Creators

Trees help save the environment. They can cool our homes, streets, and cities by up to 10˚F. This temperature reduction allows homeowners and city governments to save money on cooling costs during the hot summer months. And when we are using less energy to cool our homes and businesses, we are saving fossil fuels and other resources that can potentially pollute the planet.

Protectors against the Unwanted

Trees are nature’s superheroes. Their shade protects us against harmful UV-B rays and blocks us (and our homes) from dust and other unwanted particulates. Trees also shield us from the wind and minimize glares and reflections. If planted properly, they can also reduce noise pollution from airports and loud streets.

If you live near a busy highway, or you want a little privacy, trees are an excellent way to block out unsightly views. Many fast-growing trees can conceal better than fencing – and they are more cost effective.  In most cases, they also look nicer than big, bulky fences.

Nature’s Air and Water Filters

Trees are large sponges. They absorb pollutants (and odors) on their leaves and bark and filter particulates out of the air. Through photosynthesis, trees convert carbon dioxide into clean oxygen for us to breathe. It is estimated that an acre of mature trees can produce oxygen for 18 people over the course of a year.

Those sponges also prevent water evaporation and decrease water runoff. By channeling storm water down into the earth, trees save pollutants from flowing into oceans and other water sources. When you chop them up as mulch, the trees can filter water as it runs into the ground, helping to clean groundwater naturally. Last, but not least, since trees reduce runoff, they cut down on erosion and aid in holding soil in place.

There’s no doubt that trees are an investment in our future. They grace us with their charm and beauty year-round and provide numerous benefits to people and the planet. If you are ready to add some trees to your yard, contact Sunrise Landscape and Design today for a refreshing perspective on your landscape.

Sunrise Landscape and Design is Northern Virginia’s premier landscaping company offering a full range of landscaping services. Our landscape and design services include hardscapes, water features, irrigation and landscape lighting. Our property maintenance services will keep your landscape vibrant and healthy year-round with mulching, edging, garden cleanups, lawn mowing, tree pruning and mosquito/deer control. Contact us today for all your landscape and lawn care needs!