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Snow Removal Tips

Snow removal Sunrise Northern Virginia landscaping

This last big snow was a good reminder of how harsh winter can be in Northern Virginia. As we continue to clean up, Sunrise Landscape and Design offers the following top ten snow removal tips for safely managing the snow on your property.

1. Stay on top of the snow

When anticipating a large amount of snowfall, it’s best to shovel every 3-5 inches. Don’t wait for the snow to stop falling – keep shoveling every couple of inches, especially when it’s a heavy wet snow. You’ll save time (and your back) by doing a couple of inches at a time.

2. Push, don’t lift, and if you lift, use your legs

This may be seem like traditional advise, however, when it comes to snow removal, this is important. When you push the snow to the side, rather than lifting, you exert less energy and place less stress on your body. If there is too much snow and you need to lift onto snow piles, use your legs and not your back. Using your legs will save your back from injury.

3. Warm-up

Shoveling snow is exercise. It’s important to stretch your arms, legs, and back to prevent injury, especially with heavy snow. Be sure to drink lots of water and take breaks when needed. To reduce fatigue while shoveling, switch off between shoveling left-handed and right-handed so that you work different muscles.

4. Avoid ice picks and other tools

Resist the temptation to use ice picks and other tools to remove snow and ice. These tools can easily destroy your driveway and other landscape features such as walkways and plants.

5. Prepare before the snowfall

Mark off the driveway, walkways, and plant beds with poles, flags, or stakes before the snow storms hits to keep oriented in your snow-covered landscape.

6. Attack ice with salt, sand, or kitty litter

When the shovel just won’t cut through the ice, rock salt can be used to help break it up. Be careful when using rock salt because it can eat away at concrete and damage your driveway. Rock salt is not effective in temperatures under 12 degrees Fahrenheit. Calcium chloride is a great alternative to rock salt. It maintains its ice melting properties in below-zero temperatures. It is also less harmful to the plants in your landscaping and less irritating to pets’ feet. For those areas where the ice or slippery snow just won’t budge, use sand or kitty litter to provide traction.

7. Don’t shovel snow out into the street or walkways

Although you might think the snow plow coming through can handle it or the side walk crew can shovel it, it can actually make the job more difficult and costly when your piled up snow turns to ice. Safely place shoveled snow in grassy areas.

8. Pick the right shovel

High strength plastic shovels are strong, light-weight, and easy to use. They are also less prone to freezing and release the snow better than metal shovels.

9. Take care of your plants

Make sure you don’t bury your plants in snow. When avoidable, try not to shovel or throw snow on your plants. Each time you go out to shovel, take a tour of your landscape. Use a broom to knock snow or ice off of leaves, needles, and branches. If your plants are bent over from heavy snow, shake the snow off when possible. If your shrubs and plants get too loaded down with snow, leave them. You’ll do more damage trying to remove the snow than letting them recover on their own.

10. Pay attention to your surroundings

Don’t get so focused on the task at hand that you don’t pay attention to your surroundings. When shoveling snow near streets, be mindful of traffic – other cars may not be able to see you over the snow piles and may not have enough traction to stop or maneuver safely.

With more snow in the forecast, Sunrise Landscape and Design is ready to help you with your Northern Virginia commercial snow removal. Our snow plow operators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’ll make sure your street, parking lot, driveway, and sidewalks are kept clear of snow and ice. Contact us to discuss your commercial snow removal needs or visit our snow removal page for more information on our Northern Virginia commercial snow removal services.

Sunrise Landscape and Design is Northern Virginia’s premier landscaping company, offering a full range of landscaping services. Whether you’d like to get a head start on spring landscape planning, landscape design, or landscape maintenance, our expert team is here to help you create the property of your dreams. Contact us today for all of your landscape and lawn care needs!

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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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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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Outdoor Fireplaces | Northern Virginia

patio with lighting and fireplace in northern virginia

Who wouldn’t love curling up next to an outdoor fireplace on a chilly Northern Virginia fall evening? Or hanging out in your backyard year-round, enjoying s’mores while chatting with family and friends? Summer may be coming to an end, but there’s nothing stopping you from turning your summertime oasis into a four-season refuge.

Outdoor Fireplaces

A fireplace can be custom-designed and installed by a masonry expert, enabling you to choose the design that works best for your patio and your budget. They can be incorporated into your space for more of a “built-in” look or completely freestanding, creating a new seating area for your outdoor area. The facades can be brick, stone, marble, or even a type of fire-resistant glass. They can also be gas or wood-burning, depending on your preference.

If you love details, consider features like built-in wood storage, reclaimed wood mantels, bench-height hearths, and soft, subtle lighting. You can even incorporate a pizza oven for hours of family fun.

Fire Pits

If you have a smaller space, a fire pit may work better as your heat source. They are extremely popular, so the options are endless. You can build one into your space like a fireplace, customizing it to your needs, or you can purchase one at your local hardware store and simply unpack it from a box. While masonry fire pits offer unique details like stone facades and built-in seating, pre-built kits can be extremely affordable and easy to set up. Pits are generally either wood or gas, and can come in their traditional shape or in the form of a table, urn, or tabletop accent. They can also be incorporated with water features for an extra-special focal point.

Chimineas

Chimineas are also ideal for small spaces. Unlike the open, 360-degree design of a fire pit, chimineas are more like fireplaces. They are traditionally made out of clay and shaped like large vases, but now you can find them in materials like sheet steel, copper, cast aluminum, or cast iron. By feeding wood into their bellies, you can achieve a very clean-burning and efficient fire. The only drawback of chimineas is durability. Cast aluminum tends to last longer than other materials but beware of finishes that are prone to rust, warping, and cracking.

Patio Heaters

Patio heaters are also available in many varieties and styles. They may not seem as comforting as a blazing fire, but they can still provide decent warmth during cold-weather months. Heaters can be free-standing, tabletop, or wall-mounted, and typically run on natural gas, propane, or electricity.

Outdoor Kitchens

There’s no rule that says you must “rough it” if you want to spend time outdoors. An outdoor kitchen is another excellent way to season-proof your patio, making it a place to entertain and relax no matter what the weather is. Kitchens can be custom-designed to meet your needs with features like refrigerators, counters, cabinets, dishwashers, wine coolers, and sinks. You can incorporate grills, cooktops, and pretty much anything else you would find in your standard indoor kitchen. To make it blend in with the rest of your space, your contractor will finish it off with stone, tile, brick, or stucco.

Extend your living space this fall.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy your investment year-round. Before the holiday parties begin and snow hits the ground, find a way to make your outdoor space work year-round. Contact us to schedule a free estimate.

Want to learn more about outdoor living spaces? Click here.