by admin admin

The Right Mulch for Your Northern Virginia Landscape

Northern Virginia landscape mulching by Sunrise Landscape and Design

Spring is the perfect time to begin mulching in Northern Virginia. But where to start? It seems like every year there’s a new type of mulch sitting at the home improvement store. From colored varieties to chips and shreds, it can all get very confusing. Each mulch has its benefits and its drawbacks, so it’s best to make an informed decision before you make the investment. Sunrise Landscape and Design’s spring clean-up services include the application of high quality mulch to prepare your landscape for the coming months.

Why is Mulch Important?

Mulch plays many roles in your landscape. Its most crucial features are the ability to hold in heat and moisture, which protects fragile roots from temperature fluctuations throughout the entire year. It also prevents the growth of weeds and helps to inhibit erosion. Without mulch, your garden is completely exposed to the elements – and that is not only bad for your plants, it’s also bad for your curb appeal.

Mulch Types and Details

  • Shredded Hardwood
    1. The most common mulch you’ll find around Northern Virginia is shredded hardwood. It has a natural look and blends well into any landscape. It also works well on slopes.
    2. Shredded hardwood should be spread one to three inches thick and can last up to three years when the beds are refreshed annually.
    3. Colored mulch is a popular trend. Colored versions tend to decompose more slowly than normal mulch.  Be careful of the actual color selected. Some colors clash with the natural landscape and are not appealing to most people.
  • Wood Chip
    1. Wood chips are wonderful at retaining water, and because they break down faster than shredded mulch, they boost the amount of nutrients in your soil.
    2. Wood chip mulch can last up to four years. It is also weed-free and doesn’t blow away easily.
  • Stone
    1. When talking about stone, we are usually speaking about medium to large sizes. Smaller pebbles tend to end up in your lawn, creating a projectile hazard when you mow.
    2. Stone is great for trapping heat into established perennial beds and can essentially last forever. It is also good for controlling erosion in problem areas.
    3. The downside of stone is that because of its ability to trap heat, it also makes water evaporate quicker – which means you may need to water your plants more often.
  • Pumice or Lava Rock
    1. With a vibrant color, many people like that pumice is lighter than regular stone and can retain a lot of water. It can also last forever.
    2. While it doesn’t hold as much heat as stone, it does help somewhat.
    3. Pumice is full of sharp edges, so make sure that it is only placed somewhere that doesn’t require frequent garden attention.
    4. Its weight can be a liability in areas prone to water run-off, so make sure that it’s in a flood-free area.
    5. Because of its ability to trap water, you will need to water a little longer for the water to reach your plants.
  • Living Mulch
    1. Why not use a living mulch instead of a dead one? There are many ground covers that work well as mulch; just remember to add compost to them annually to nourish them.

There are other mulch options, like straw, compost, chopped leaves, and even grass clippings, but these are generally suitable for vegetable gardens and not curb-front landscapes. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t incorporate any mulch into your soil unless it has been thoroughly composted. Importantly, don’t use any mulch that has been treated with herbicides or pesticides on your edible plants.

Mulch Application Tips

The easiest way to tell if you Northern Virginia landscaper knows what they are doing is by looking at how they apply your chosen mulch. You can also follow these mulch application tips when applying mulch yourself.

Mulch should be:

  • Placed against edging that is two to three inches deep
  • Clear of tree trunks or plants. Your mulch shouldn’t be touching your plants directly; this is unhealthy and can actually hurt them. Those “mulch volcanos” that you see around tree trunks are a perfect example of incorrect mulching.
  • Smooth and even, with no large hills
  • Distributed two to three inches deep and free of clumps
  • Treated with a pre-emergent weed controller
  • Applied after cutbacks, leaves, twigs, and debris have been cleared from the area

Contact a Professional for Help

If you’re not sure what kind of mulch to use or how to apply it, contact our Sunrise team today. Our Spring Clean-up services include removing all debris from mulch beds, edging and cultivating beds, applying pre-emergent weed control, and distributing a shredded hardwood bark mulch. We’ll prepare your Northern Virginia landscape to encourage plant growth and keep it looking beautiful throughout the coming seasons. We’d love to give you a landscape that you’re proud of this spring!  Contact us today!

by admin admin

Spring Landscaping Tips – Great Falls and Northern Virginia

Baby Deer Smelling Spring Landscaping Flower Garden Great Falls

Even though we’re still thinking about snow, it’s a good time to start preparing your Great Falls or Northern Virginia spring landscaping to-do list. You can call it a spring cleanup or simply summer prep, but if you fail to take some action before blooms arrive in a few months, you’ll see that your landscape will quickly get out of control. The more work you get done now, the easier your lawn and garden will be to maintain the rest of the year. Sunrise Landscape and Design’s spring landscaping cleanup services will help prepare your landscape for the spring and summer months.

  1. Strategize.

    Before you move a muscle, you should decide how you want your landscape to look this year. If you need a little inspiration, the internet is full of beautiful and creative ideas. Do you want to make any significant changes to your landscape? If so, decide now so that you can avoid putting effort into areas that you’ll be transforming in a month or two anyway. If you need some assistance, Sunrise’s landscape design professionals are ready to help!

  2. Plan.

    We cannot emphasize enough the importance of planning. If you are adding annuals, new shrubs, or even trees to your yard this year, map out where you want them to go. Keep the size of the plant at its maturity in mind; no one wants a tree growing into the side of their house or a bush covering a beautiful front window. Also, think about plant textures, colors, and heights while plotting out your garden beds. Mixing things up will make your beds more attractive and balanced.

  3. Edge.

    Make your landscape look more polished and refined by creating a strong border between your garden beds and your lawn. It also helps keep grass out of your garden! Once the ground starts to thaw, dig down three inches at a 45-degree angle to establish a solid edge around your beds.

  4. Prune.

    Did you know that many plants can be pruned during the winter? Do a little research, but you may be able to knock out most of your pruning before spring is even in the air. Get rid of the three “D”s when cutting back your perennials: damaged, dead, and diseased. (Make sure you don’t cut off any of the buds that are waiting to blossom. They won’t grow back until next year.)

  5. Clean up.

    After you’ve pruned and edged, now it’s time to rake up all that debris to create a clean slate for spring. Don’t forget to look for toys that may have settled into your lawn over the fall and winter. If you have a compost pile, all those leaves and small branches will make an excellent addition.

  6. Block.

    Put a pre-emergent on your garden bed and lawn to stop weeds before they begin to germinate. However, if you are planning on seeding or installing sod in the spring, skip this step for your lawn. Otherwise, you can apply a pre-emergent up to three times per year to help prevent weed growth. If random weeds still pop up, try a homemade weed killer to wipe them out before they get a chance to spread.

  7. Feed.

    You want your plants to be as healthy and hardy as possible so that they can endure whatever Mother Nature throws at them this year. If you fertilized your lawn in the fall some of that fertilizer is probably still there. You can wait until late spring to apply a slow-release nitrogen to liven up your turf and make it greener.

  8. Mulch.

    After applying your pre-emergent,  add up to three inches of new mulch to your beds and around your trees. Mulch helps block weeds and holds in moisture, so it’s important to get a good layer on before the summer heat hits. If you have some old mulch, consider removing it completely before putting new mulch on top. Old mulch can hide insects and disease, so sometimes it’s best to discard it altogether.

  9. Examine.

    Even if you winterized your lawn mower, now is a good time to take it out and make sure that it’s in good working order. It’s an excellent idea to have your blades sharpened every spring just to make sure that you are cutting your grass shoots and not tearing them. Torn shoots brown at the tips, giving your lawn a sickly appearance. In addition to inspecting your blades, adjust your mower height to a minimum of two-and-a-half inches if you have cool-season grasses. If you have warm-season grasses, you can go as low as half an inch – depending on your variety.

  10. Manage.

    There’s nothing worse than planning the perfect landscape only to have it serve as a buffet to local wildlife. If pests are an issue in your area, implement wire mesh or fencing to make sure all your hard work doesn’t end up in Bambi’s belly. For more information on our special deer control services, visit our DeerPro page.

While you’re trapped inside, avoiding freezing rain or howling winter winds, close your eyes and imagine how you’d like your Great Falls or Northern Virginia landscape to look this year. With a little effort and planning, you can achieve the picture-perfect yard of your dreams in 2019. It’s only a to-do list away.

Contact Sunrise for help with your Great Falls and Northern Virginia spring landscaping tasks.  We can tailor a program that fits your budget and landscape. Preparing your landscape now allows you to enjoy its maximum growth and beauty in the spring and summer.