Is Your Nashville Lawn Ready for a Fountain?

fountain

Water features like ponds, waterfalls, and fountains are exceptionally popular additions to Nashville landscapes. And why wouldn’t they be? Water, specifically the sound of moving water, has always been associated with relaxation and calmness.

Most families view their lawns as an oasis. A place to get away from the hubbub of modern life and enjoy what nature gives us without requiring a Wi-Fi connection. The look and sound of water hardscapes can create that oasis, but they can come with challenges as well.

As a leading Nashville landscaping service with more than 30 years of experience, The Parke Company has installed many water features, both large and small, for customers in Nashville, Belle Mead, Green Hills, Oak Hills and other communities. Often times these hardscapes are the central feature of the landscaping due to their size and unique qualities. If you want the sound of a burbling brook but don’t want to take up the space a pond or waterfall might occupy, we recommend a fountain.

Fountains – The Pocket Size Oasis

When we talk fountains, we are not talking about something that looks like it was stolen from Vatican City sprouting up in the center of your lawn. Fountains come in all sizes and shapes. When deciding on one, scale should be foremost in your mind. In fact, scale is one of the several advantages that fountains have over other water features. For example:

  • Scale. If you are an urban dweller with limited space to play with, a small fountain can bring the same relaxing sounds as an elaborate waterfall. If you have a large space but you want to carve out a niche for meditation, reading, or just relaxing, a small fountain can be the perfect centerpiece. A tasteful planting of shrubs or hedge can delineate the space, and an urn or statuary fountain provides the soundscape.
  • No Standing Water. Ponds and waterfalls, by definition, include standing water. Even though the water is recirculated, a waterscape faces the same problems a swimming pool does. They are subject to bacterial growth and algae meaning your lawn maintenance tasks will have to include cleaning the pond. In addition, your pond is often viewed as a personal spa for your four-legged family member who uses it for a fast cool down on a hot summer day.
  • Better than a Bird Bath.  With the exception of a bird feeder, nothing will attract birds to your lawn faster than a fountain. Birds love them. You don’t have to be an Audubon fanatic to appreciate the foliage and chirping of Tennessee’s birdlife. In addition, some of those birds find fleas and ticks to be tasty tidbits helping you to control that unwanted population.

Fountains make sense on so many levels. If you need help designing a space or choosing a fountain that fits, give us a call at The Parke Company. We do so much more than tree trimming, lawn mowing, and resolving lawn problems. Our professional landscape designers can turn your entire lawn, or just a corner, into a little piece of heaven.

Give us a call today!

Emergency Tree Service – Recovery from a Storm Begins Before it Arrives

Hurricane Felix

Nashville is no stranger to violent weather. Hail and wind or even a freak snowstorm can substantially disrupt personal and business lives. While we don’t get hurricanes, we do get winds that are strong enough to uproot trees or snap off limbs and strip trees of foliage.

Yes, we get wind, but did you know that according to the CoreLogic® Windy City Index, in 2016 Nashville was the windiest city in the country with 21 wind related events? The metropolitan area experienced wind gusts of 72 mph that year.

When those events occur, it can create chaos. Trees will fall, limbs will snap, power will be lost, roadways – not to mention driveways – may be blocked, and the whole thing can become a Class A Emergency if first responders are hampered by debris.

You may think you are prepared, but our decades of experience at the Parke Company have taught us that there is always something more you can do.

An Extreme Example Nashville Can Learn From

When Hurricane Irma, a CAT 4 storm with sustained winds of 110 mph, made landfall in Naples, FL in 2017, residents expected the worst. Electrical power was out for ten days. It took two weeks before the water system was again safe enough to drink from the tap. Those were long periods of inconvenience, and in some cases, danger. But the longest and most persistent reminder of Irma was the four months it took to remove “natural debris.”

That “natural debris” consisted of uprooted trees, tree limbs, shrubs, and bushel after bushel of leaves. That natural debris initially caused life threatening situations. Not because they were leaning up against structures, but because they blocked roadways, causing serious delays in response times. Ambulances, fire department vehicles, police, and of course critical services like power company crews were severely hampered by trees blocking the highways and residential roads.

Initially, recovery efforts were focused on public roads. Piles of debris 20 and 30 feet high lined the roadways for months. However, that left homeowners (and HOAs) on their own to clear driveways and private roads. For many, that meant they were unable to leave their property except by foot for several days. For everybody, it meant that the sound of chainsaws and tree chippers became the background music for everyday life.

Florida expects this kind of weather. For the people and the government, hurricanes and tropical storms are front of mind from July through October. When Irma hit, some of the best prepared cities and counties in the state were essentially “out of business” for five days, only gradually coming back to “normal” over the next four months.

Nashville does not expect this kind of severe weather, but there is still a lesson to be learned. Communities and property owners need an emergency plan that includes the impact of “natural debris” on the safety and protection of people and property.

Planning for and Recovering from an Emergency Tree Event

When property owners think about their landscaping, it’s usually about how, when, and who will do the lawn maintenance, tree trimming, fertilizing, aerating, and other routine landscaping services. Those same questions should be asked (in advance) when the landscaping is no longer nice and neat but residing in places it shouldn’t, like on top of a car in the driveway or poking through a second-floor window.

To accomplish that, you need a plan:

  • Know what you have. For many homeowners, inventorying their trees can be accomplished on one hand. But for businesses, HOAs in gated communities, and larger estates in Franklin, Brentwood, Gallatin, and other communities, it’s wise to know what is at risk. A survey by a certified arborist can identify, plot, assign an economic replacement value, and evaluate the health of every tree on the property. The arborist can also make recommendations regarding preparation for specific trees. Knowing what the potential dollar cost is at risk, and what can be done to mitigate those risks, is a great starting point to prepare for severe weather.
  • “Who ya gonna call?” If you haven’t decided before the event, you’ll probably be able to get Ghostbusters to respond before you find a qualified landscaper. Severe weather didn’t just hit your lawn. The entire area will have a demand for these companies. Don’t assume your existing landscaping service is equipped to handle your emergency needs.
  • Appreciate the scope of the problem. If you have never been through extreme weather, it’s difficult to appreciate the effort needed to clear tree damage. If you have a mature hardwood like white oak, hickory, cherry, or maple that is 60 feet tall with a 20 inch diameter, it can weigh close to 5 tons. The same size pines will run about 40% of that. That’s a single tree! To clean up and remove 10,000 pounds of debris requires chainsaws, tree chippers, a stump grinder, forklift, high wall truck, and skilled labor that knows how to use it all. Again, that’s for a single tree. Toss in the special skill and equipment required to remove trees leaning on structures or property and you have a requirement for resources not normally found in a “mow and blow” lawn service.

Information is the key to preparing for a tree disaster. The survey conducted by the arborist gives you the base line you need to mitigate the damage and control the costs of that mitigation. Understanding the value of your risk allows you to make informed decisions on what preparation work makes sense (removal of unhealthy trees, cabling, trimming, etc.) and to negotiate contracts in a non-emergency environment.

At the Parke Company, we have extensive experience with emergency tree service. We have the resources, the skilled crews, and the capacity to respond in a timely fashion. If you believe you can benefit from a professional tree disaster plan, give us a call and we can get the process started. Our certified arborist will survey the property and then prepare a step by step process that optimizes recovery.

Take panic out of the equation. Partner with the Parke Company and enjoy the peace of mind that you are ready for the next big blow.

Controlling Crabgrass and Dandelions Without Chemicals

landscaping and irrigation

Walt Whitman once wrote about weeds as “plants whose virtues have yet to be discovered.” We’re pretty sure that most Nashville residents are still waiting for those virtues

to be uncovered. Crabgrass tops the list of lawn complaints, while dandelions have both admirers and detractors.

Weed control is a lawn maintenance issue that affects all homeowners, and many of those homeowners want what seems to be an impossibility.

Homeowners often want to control weeds but not use chemicals. At the Parke Company, our 30 years of experience delivering superior landscaping services to the Nashville community tells us that a “natural” solution is possible.

The problem, of course, is that a natural solution takes time, possibly years. In an age of pre-emergent herbicides, few homeowners want to pursue a far slower strategy. But that may be changing. Where there is a consumer need that is not being met, entrepreneurs smell opportunity. That may be at play here when it comes to controlling crabgrass.

Crabgrass – Super Weed?

The best defense against crabgrass, or any weed, is a thick, healthy lawn that chokes out weeds before they can gain purchase. For crabgrass that means a healthy, thick lawn, and soil with the proper pH balance (7.0-7.5). Perennial ryegrass is the best competition for crabgrass. It also provides some insect control, as it emits a natural poison that gives some pesky bugs a lethal dose of natural insecticide.

And now, Iowa State University has studied an all-natural material that has amazing crabgrass stopping powers. Corn gluten meal, a product of milling corn, turns out to be a highly effective herbicide. Some manufacturers are adding potash and nitrogen to the meal to give the soil a boost as well. A systematic application of corn gluten meal results in 60% reduction in weeds of all kinds the first year, 80% the second year, and a weed free lawn the third.

Pretty powerful stuff.

Dandelions – Exotic Flowers?

When Walt Whitman was musing about weeds, he probably wasn’t including dandelions in that class of vegetation. The fact is, dandelions were intentionally imported to North America in the 1700s by colonists from Europe. Back then, they enjoyed a much better reputation and had a higher level of appreciation.

If you examine the “virtues” of a dandelion compared to crabgrass or chickweed, dandelions look downright attractive. Consider the following:

  •        Dandelions make a tasty wine
  •        They can be dried, ground, and used as a substitute for coffee
  •        Young dandelion leaves are used in salad
  •        They are a natural source of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin A
  •        They are a natural diuretic

 

Still not buying it? Then get a weed fork and cut these rascals out of the lawn. Make sure you get the root, which can grow to 5 feet long. A dandelion has a two-year life cycle and you have to get rid of it before the end of the cycle. That’s when the flower is replaced with the fluffy white bloom that spreads seeds on the wind.

To prevent the growth of dandelions, fertilizing in the spring and fall are the best defense. Again, the thicker the grass, the less opportunity for weeds of any kind to thrive.

Contact The Parke Company

Another option, of course, is to let us take care of the issue. We provide a full line of lawn services including lawn mowing, shrub pruning, and tree trimming. Contact us today and let’s plan your “weed abatement” strategy together.

Summer Grass Care Tips for Nashville Lawns

Flowers

Summer is coming, Nashville, and it’s time to brush up on a few simple lawn maintenance tips to keep your grass looking lush and beautiful. The combination of hot

temperatures and heavy rains can do damage to your lawn. This is particularly true if it is planted with cool weather grass like  Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fine fescue.

The key to keeping your lawn healthy in the summer revolves around two simple tasks: lawn mowing and watering. Done right, a properly mowed and irrigated lawn can stay lush and green throughout the summer. Done wrong, roots could be damaged, and the blades can be exposed to disease.

At the Parke Company, we have been serving the Nashville metro area as a premiere landscaping service for over three decades. We know the most common mistakes that homeowners make in their summertime lawn care. To avoid unintentional damage to your lawn, we are offering simple guidelines to keep your lawn healthy, lush, and green.

Mowing – Buzz Cuts are Not in Fashion in Nashville

Mowing can be a hot, sweaty chore. It’s not surprising that some people give their lawns a buzz cut thinking that they won’t have to repeat the process as many times because it will take a while for the grass to grow tall enough to need another mowing. Unfortunately, if they do that often enough, they won’t have to worry about mowing at all because the grass will most likely turn brown and go dormant.

Taller grass is healthier grass. When grass is allowed to grow to 2.5” to 3”, it actually shades the soil, lowering the temperature and slowing evaporation. Here are a few tips on correct mowing.

  • Tune up your mower. Inspect/replace the spark plug and check for oil or fuel leaks. Most importantly, have the blade sharpened. A dull blade does not cut the grass, it tears it. Ragged tips on the grass invite disease.
  • Set the lawnmower to a 2.5” cut. If you are uncertain of the height, just set it as high as it will go.
  • Change up your mowing pattern. Mow north to south and then east to west on your next outing. Changing up patterns keeps the lawn looking level.
  • Using a mower with a bag or a mulching mower will minimize thatch buildup. Deep raking or thatching should not be attempted until the fall.

Watering – Giving Your Lawn a Tall Drink of Water

The University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service says that typically lawns need 1” to 1.5” of water per week. That’s a flow rate equal to 630 to 945 gallons of water. Infrequent, deep watering is far more effective than daily light irrigation. Ideally, the watering session will reach 4” to 6” into the soil.

The Extension Service advises that the best time to water to minimize evaporation and the possibility of watering lingering on the surface of the grass is between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. If that’s not possible, try 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

So, the takeaway is to use a sharp blade, don’t cut your grass too short, and give your lawn a deep drink instead of sprinkling daily.

Contact The Parke Company

Or, if you don’t have the time, contact us today. We offer a full line of lawn services including maintenance of shrubs and tree trimming.

Springtime Seasonal Landscaping Maintenance in Nashville

Garden

Spring has arrived in Middle Tennessee, and people are once again spending more time outside their homes enjoying the great outdoors – even if that “outdoors” is just out back on a patio or deck. Spring is a time for new beginnings, and homeowners in Nashville, Brentwood, Cool Springs, and other communities who have invested in beautiful landscapes need to take a breath and remember they have some springtime lawn issues to deal with to protect those investments.

The Parke Company, a leading landscaping service in Nashville, firmly believes that proper lawn maintenance not only keeps the lawn and shrubs healthy, but can add to the value of the property as well. Investing in landscaping yields many benefits, but it does take some work and care.

So, let’s get started. Here are two simple spring lawn maintenance tasks to get a Nashville landscape off to a great start.

Mulching

Nashville can get hot quickly. Protecting plant beds with a couple of inches of mulch will help retain moisture, keep the soil cool, inhibit the growth of weeds, and give your plants a healthy head start. At the Parke Company, we offer a variety of traditional mulches along with two alternatives that may prove more beneficial.
Pine straw is an excellent renewable, organic, lightweight mulch that holds better than traditional mulch on slopes. If you have a planting bed that is built on an incline, pine straw may be your best solution. Shredded pine tree mulch is also an effective mulch, with the added benefit of a pleasant pine aroma.

If your lawn has debris and litter left over from the winter weather, we have an option you may be interested in. We offer a chopping and grinding service (using a Vermeer shredder) that will take your “waste” wood, branches, stumps, brush, and other organic debris and shred it into mulch.

Inspecting the Health of Plants and Shrubs

How well have your plants, shrubs, and trees survived the winter? A quick inspection can reveal common problems, hopefully early enough to get plant-saving intervention. Look for new growth on all the plants. New growth is typically an indicator of a healthy plant or tree. If you spot dead patches in shrubs or tree limbs that are bare, you should have a professional look at them.

If black spots appear on leaves, it could be an indicator of azalea lace bugs. If these spots appear on new growth, then you need to explore treatment options to prevent spread. Boxwoods are a favorite in the Nashville area, and they are also a favorite for boxwood leaf miners. Flip the leaves over and use a handheld magnifier to look for their eggs.

Finding these signs early is essential. Too many times, the conditions are allowed to progress to the point where there are no viable treatments and replacement is the only option.

Of course, if you would like a professional to make these evaluations, feel free to call us. We can have a qualified technician or arborist do a thorough inspection and create a treatment plan specific to your plants’ condition. You can count on the Parke Company for the best in tree service, lawn maintenance, and landscaping. Call today.