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Landscape Planning for Spring

tree trimming and ornamental care spring landscaping northern virginia

Winter is the perfect time to begin planning your Northern Virginia spring landscape. During this season, your landscape is clearly visible, for better or for worse. Take a moment now to assess your surroundings and plan for any renovations and additions you might be dreaming about while hunkered down this winter. Get that Pinterest board ready and start collecting ideas!

Your barren trees and less-than-robust bushes and greenery give you the opportunity to really evaluate what changes you’d like to make before spring is in full bloom. After all, our yards are now extensions of our living space and should reflect how we enjoy spending our free time, whether we’re entertaining, designing a cozy space to spend time alone, or creating more room for our kids to play.

Think back to what worked last year and what didn’t. If you love to entertain, did you have enough space on the patio? If you have pets, perhaps they’ve worn a path in your lawn. Is there more mud than there is grass? Have you had drainage issues that may be exacerbated when spring showers start coming our way?

When considering solutions to these issues, keep the style of your house in mind. Do you want to use the same materials as your house to maintain a more cohesive look, or is now the time to try something new?

Think about the colors you’d like to see in your yard. Tying in the color of your hardscape with the surrounding plantings creates a unified look and makes your home seem in harmony with its surroundings.

There is a wealth of materials to choose from if you’re thinking of adding a patio, a water feature, or a new walkway. Knowing the difference between materials as they relate to the surrounding landscape, their longevity, and their cost as it pertains to your budget, requires thoughtful evaluation. The benefit to winter being the “down time” in the landscape design business is that there is plenty of time to discuss and weigh options, and when the weather finally cooperates, your project will be first in the queue.

Another thing to consider if you’re planning on a project that will require digging, is obtaining the appropriate permits from your town or municipality before you’re due to begin the process. Usually, it takes about 4 – 6 weeks to be issued a permit, so making decisions early will allow you to be ready to break ground when the weather finally turns. Sunrise Landscape and Design is familiar with all the permits required in Northern Virginia and can help guide you through this process.

So now is the time to gather your ideas and give us a call. Let’s sit together and plan the spring landscape of your dreams so that you can enjoy your outdoor living space for years to come!

Contact Sunrise Landscape and Design to begin planning your Northern Virginia spring landscape or visit our Winter Landscaping Services page for a full list of our winter landscaping services.

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Northern Virginia Landscape Lighting

outdoor patio with fireplace and lighting great falls

Properly lighting your Northern Virginia landscape is crucial after all of the hard work you’ve put into it. While your landscape may be beautiful during the day, if lit properly in the evenings, your property can boast a stunning wow factor. Landscape lighting involves both artistry and technical knowledge. If your lighting is installed in the right places, it can highlight the architectural features of your home and the different characteristics of your plantings and trees. In addition to adding character, it can add safety as well; a well-lit walkway is as important as having a properly constructed one. Good landscape design should incorporate elements that are functional as well as beautiful any time of day.

Most Northern Virginia landscape lighting is low-voltage because it is less costly to install and much safer to work with. You can achieve a stunning variety of lighting with low-voltage installation. You can, for example, light a tree canopy, cast a glow over a landscape feature, or aim lighting directly at your home.

Every element of lighting design includes factors such as brightness, color, and beam width. The type of bulb, the housing for the bulb, and the cables and stakes used to keep them in place are all technical aspects that determine these factors. You should choose each of these aspects for their most effective usage. Once the proper elements are in place, you can play with the light. For example, when lighting foliage, you should always include the trunk, otherwise it will look like a UFO is hovering around your yard. When aiming light directly at your home, aim for the corners or at specific architectural details you want highlighted.

Lighting a walkway is much more straight-forward. Your lighting should define your path. A nice warm glow that illuminates a walkway is both welcoming and necessary for safety. Placing your lights about 14 inches high gives off a warm glow and provides enough lighting for your family and friends to find their way.

When you’re ready to light up your life, we recommend a consultation with our professionals at Sunrise Landscape and Design. Your home and your landscaping are a big investment, and you will want a professional to offer a realistic and affordable plan for your budget and your needs. Outdoor lighting is as much about vision and aesthetics as it is about technical knowledge. With the long winter nights, now is the time to make your house the one that stands out with beautiful Northern Virginia landscape lighting! Read more about our landscape lighting services, or request a quote now.

Sunrise Landscape and Design is Northern Virginia’s top landscaping company, offering a full range of landscaping services. Our landscape and design services include building outdoor living spaces, water features, irrigation and landscape lighting. Our property maintenance services will keep your landscape vibrant year round with mulching, edging, fall turf care, seasonal cleanups, lawn mowing, and tree care. Contact us today for all your landscaping needs!

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How to Prepare Your Landscape for Winter

Northern Virginia Landscape Sunrise Landscape and Design

Winter in Northern Virginia can be brutal on your landscape. Between snow, ice, wind, and cold, it seems like you never know which 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 some burlap. Follow these tips to prepare your landscape for winter:

1. Fertilize your lawn

Give your lawn one more mineral boost so that it has all the nutrients it needs during the cold winter months.

2. Cut your lawn one last time

There’s a lot of debate on how short you should cut your grass for the winter. In Virginia, anywhere from two to three inches should be short enough to avoid issues with snow mold, but it’s best to ask a professional what works best for your turf type.

3. 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.

4. 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 an animal repellent spray.  If deer are a problem, Sunrise Landscape and Design is trained in the proper use and application of DeerPro, the only deer repellent that is approved by the EPA.

5. Prep trees for the weight of snow

Hire a professional to prune dead or broken branches from your trees; they will know what pruning works best for different tree species. Also, you can ask the professional whether or not any trees need bracing or cabling to make it through the winter.

6. Water plants, especially evergreens

Continue watering your plants until the first freeze. After that, try to water your young and broad-leaf evergreens at least once every couple of weeks throughout the winter if it’s dry.

7. Fertilize trees after the first hard frost

Once the first big freeze has made your trees dormant, fertilize them so that they are ready for growth when spring comes around.

8. Consider spraying evergreens with an anti-desiccant spray

Anti-desiccant sprays are often used on broad-leaf evergreens like holly, rhododendrons, and boxwood, to slow water loss and prevent winter burn. Make sure to read directions and avoid contact with narrow-needled evergreens, however, because anti-desiccants can poison them.

9. Spread extra mulch for insulation

For perennials that need extra protection, spread an additional layer of mulch two to four inches thick in November.

10. Wrap shrubs in burlap

Burlap also can serve as an excellent wind barrier for evergreens.

11. Protect fragile plants

If plants are extra vulnerable, create a teepee out of bamboo sticks and burlap to shield them from snow and harsh winter wind. Burlap is great because it blocks the wind, but is breathable. Wrap the trunks of thin-barked trees, like maple and cherry, with cardboard tree wrap or plastic to avoid frost cracks. Lastly, for some extra stability, try tying together branches of trees that are prone to splitting (like arborvitae and boxwood) with hosiery or another soft fabric.

12. Move some plants indoors

When in doubt, bring it indoors – or at least into the garage. Most perennials that hang out in planters during warmer months need a little extra protection from the elements.

13. Plan your snow piles

Make sure you won’t be piling snow on top of delicate plants. If you can, spread snow out after shoveling to avoid compaction in certain areas of your lawn.

14. Consult a professional about salt and deicing agents

Whatever you plan to use on your driveway and pathways will inevitably end up in your yard – and may end up poisoning your plants. Try to use calcium chloride, potassium chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate if you must use a melting agent. If not, try sand or cinders.

15. Refrain from shaking snow and ice off branches

Once the snow has landed, the damage is done. Don’t shake frozen limbs because they are brittle and prone to breaking. Allow the snow and ice to melt naturally.

Ice, wind, and snow can do plenty of damage to your landscape during the winter. It may sound like a lot of work, but a few hours spent preparing your landscape for winter may prevent days worth of replanting in the spring. If you need some help prepping your Northern Virginia Landscape, contact Sunrise today. We will make sure that all your hard work this fall is rewarded when spring rolls around.

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, landscape lighting, irrigation, and water features. Our property maintenance services will keep your landscape vibrant year-round with mulching, lawn mowing, tree pruning, garden cleanups, edging, and mosquito/deer control.

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Holiday Lighting Tips

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

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!