Mulching 101: Choosing and Applying the Right Mulch for Maximum Growth

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As much as many of us would simply like to let nature takes its course when it comes to tending our property, the fact of the matter is that lush landscapes do not grow themselves and often need to be helped along.

Incorporating mulch is a time-tested method for maintaining a beautiful landscape design, but with the myriad options available for mulching, choosing the best one for your particular property can be challenging.

First and foremost, the type of mulch you select depends heavily on the project you have in mind. When people hear “mulch”, brightly colored wood chips often come to mind. While this may be an appropriate aesthetic choice, the harsh dyes and chemicals in this material do not foster growth; they would be much more appropriate to cover parts of your landscape that only need visual improvement.

Furthermore, once you have carefully selected the type of mulch you’ll use, ensuring optimal growth means more than just heaving bags of compost over the top of your garden or along the edges of your property.

If you want your landscape to be the crowning glory of your neighborhood, properly incorporating mulch is key. Here is everything you need to know about choosing and applying the right mulch for maximum growth.

Mulching How-Tos

Choosing the right kind of mulch may require a visit back to high school environmental science class.

What you want out of mulch is decomposition. Decomposition pulls nitrogen from the soil, which plants love.  

Nitrogen is vital to plant growth because it is a primary component of chlorophyll, the necessary chemical for photosynthesis. Even if you slept through science class, you probably still caught that photosynthesis is how plants use sunlight to grow.

Many mulch varieties boast of their nitrogen content, but the best mulch for your next project may depend on the specific plants you are trying to grow.

Gardens

For a garden growing fruits and vegetables, organic and inorganic mulches can be effective. In some circumstances, mulches like wood chips can still promote growth, but in a garden they are more likely to be a nuisance since you will be digging up that area frequently.

When selecting an inorganic mulch for gardens, choose ones that will help defend against weeds while still protecting the soil.

Using plastic mulch can be good for gardens with temperature-sensitive plants. A dark plastic sheet will retain heat overnight and keep your more delicate vegetation warm. These sheets can ward off weeds and also prevent too much rainwater from soaking through the ground and overwatering your plants. When applying this kind of mulch, be sure to bury or weigh down the edges of your sheet and make holes in the sheet to allow for growth.

Organic mulches both cover and nurture soil in gardens. As mentioned previously, an organic, decomposed mulch enriches the soil because of its nitrogen content.

Additionally, hay and straw can be effective mulches to help retain moisture in soil and well as offering nutrients during decomposition. It is vital, however, that the hay is seed-free so that you are not inviting any unwanted plants into your garden. You should also be careful not to lay the hay or straw too close to the stems of your plants. This can attract slugs and other pests.

Trees

Mulch can also be a helpful tool if you’ve planted a tree and want to boost its growth. Mulch can be helpful for maintaining moisture in the soil around a tree’s roots, adding nutrients, and reducing damage to roots caused by lawn mowing (and damage to lawn mowers caused by tree roots!).

When it comes to these hardier plants though, the type of mulch used is less important than how the mulch is applied.

Much like garden plants, it is vital to avoid laying your mulch too close to the tree’s roots. This “volcano effect” occurs when mulch is piled high around a tree trunk and it can often result in too much moisture buildup which leads to root rot.

To avoid this pitfall, follow these few steps from The Arbor Day Foundation for the best tree care when laying mulch:

  • Remove all grass from around the base of the tree within a three to ten-foot radius (depending on the size of the tree).
  • Pour your mulch (they do recommend organic) within the circle about two to four inches deep
  • After pouring, double-check that the mulch is not touching the tree’s trunk.

From hardy oak trees to dainty tomato plants, incorporating mulch into your regular landscape maintenance could be what helps you achieve the lush property you’ve dreamed of. If you’re reticent about adding a new practice to your landscaping techniques, fear not! The certified arborists and landscaping professionals at The Parke Company are knowledgeable and experienced in how to cater to your property’s specific needs.

Give us a call (615-350-6033) or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you.

5 Great Places for Paths and Walkways

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The importance of paths and walkways in the overall landscaping of your yard should never be overlooked. Focusing solely on your garden, pool, or patio, while forgetting to consider how each space is connected can leave your yard feeling disjointed. It is crucial to consider transitions between spaces in your outdoor landscape design.

Paths serve two primary purposes. First, they connect your outdoor spaces, ushering guests toward different destinations in your yard (delineating the way from the pool to the outdoor tiki bar to the barbeque, for example). Alternatively, paths and walkways can be used to simply encourage the enjoyment of your yard. A labyrinth, for instance, is a path meant for strolling, encouraging meditation, or the simple appreciation of your garden.

It’s important to think about your path’s purpose, look and feel, amount of foot traffic, dimension, shape, and which materials you wish to use when designing your ideal walkway.

Ideal Places for Walkways That Truly Enhance Your Landscape

Where to place paths and walkways throughout your outdoor living space depends on a variety of factors – the size of your yards, the outdoor features you wish to highlight, the amount of use you expect each path will get, the purpose your walkway will serve, etc. Below are a few ideal places where paths and walkways will help enhance your overall landscape:

  1. A welcoming front yard walkway not only increases your home’s curb appeal, it also provides an inviting entrance into your house. A beautifully landscaped front yard walkway gives guests an immediate positive impression as they make their way to your front door. As the entryway to your home, you want a front yard path that is visually pleasing, but also easy to walk. A walkway that leads to your front door should be relatively direct, although if you want to highlight certain features of your front yard it can be interesting to include a few slight detours through pleasant surroundings.
  2. Nothing beats a lovely garden path that welcomes you into nature. Enhancing your garden path with fragrance and color sets the tone for the entire area. As the entryway to a key aspect of your outdoor space, you’ll want to ensure the path reflects the same visual and emotive features that your garden offers.
  3. A meandering walkway within your backyard – be it through a rose or vegetable garden, a densely planted oasis that features a plethora of plants, or whatever else your great outdoor space has to offer. These walkways are dedicated to encouraging you to simply zen out, take a leisurely stroll, or enjoy the plants and wildlife that make up your outdoor area. Rather than being a path to a specific destination, meandering walkways curve through your backyard, inviting people to relax, reflect, and take in nature..
  4. Nothing beats a functional path to your pool, fire pit, dining patio, or any other key feature of your backyard.. Walkways that logically lead visitors to each outdoor destination will encourage the use of your various outdoor spaces.
  5. A path to a calming outdoor destination in your yard such as a lookout spot, bench, gazebo, reading nook, or intimate patio deserves a beautiful walkway that gently leads people towards their blissful destination.

The Parke Company Can Lead the Way to Your Ideal Front or Back Yard Path

Whether you are looking to upgrade an existing path or walkway with our landscape maintenance services, or need a new path or walkway installed via our landscape installation services, The Parke Company’s landscaping services will set you on the path to the walkway of your dreams. Locally owned and operated, The Parke Company provides community-centered, high quality, and affordable tree removal and landscape services to municipalities, businesses, and private residences in the greater Nashville area.

We know Nashville. When it comes to lawn services, we have all your bases covered. We know the soil, water tables, plants, seasons, and how each of these may directly or indirectly impact your specific landscape. We have the local experience, knowledge, and know-how to help you manage your landscape and realize your dreams.

Our certified team of Nashville locals has a reputation for being clean, consistent, and professional, and for being leaders in their industries. We at The Parke Company stand behind our work and pride ourselves on our ability to respond quickly, provide efficient and cost-effective services, and meet your needs every step of the way.
Please feel free to give us a call at (615) 350-6033 or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you. You can also ask about how our landscaping service can best support your outdoor living space’s paths and walkways.

Ground Cover: Right or Wrong for Your Yard?

Ground cover

For homeowners, a lawn is both a blessing and curse. When a lawn is lush and well-maintained it greatly increases the property’s curb appeal. But if left unchecked for too long, a yard can quickly devolve into a warzone. Weeds, dead grass, tall grass, fungi, and other unwanted guests can infest this space at an alarming rate. It takes a lot more effort to undo the damage of these lawn problems than it does to prevent them from occurring. One way to protect a lawn from such chaos is by planting ground cover. But is ground cover the cure for every yard?

What is Ground Cover?

Ground cover refers to several species of plant that grow low to the topsoil, including grass. These plants help keep the soil hydrated and cool while warding off unwanted weeds. Though grass is a type of ground cover, people often categorize it separately because it is the most common type of cover for lawns (i.e. when we think of lawns we think of grass). Ground cover comes in many varieties, including the succulent Stonecrop, colorful Creeping Phlox, and darker Brass Buttons.

Which Yards Benefit from Ground Cover?

In truth, just about any yard can use some ground cover. It’s partially an aesthetic decision, though it also makes a big difference in terms of lawn maintenance. The majority of ground cover plants don’t rapidly grow upward like standard grass. This means that lawn mowing isn’t necessary over these spots. Some species will require a little trimming here and there, but for the most part, ground cover is extremely low-maintenance.

Yards that often experience bare spots and/or weed growth are prime candidates for ground cover. Since these plants help maintain the topsoil, they can often grow in these otherwise barren locations, filling out one’s yard while adding new texture and color. Ground cover, as previously mentioned, also stops weeds from growing, essentially maintaining itself. Those who enjoy gardening can also make good use of groundcover. With so many options, you can create patterns and outlines using groundcover to create a border or fill in a garden and protect it from unwanted weeds.

Is Ground Cover Ever Wrong for a Yard?

In short: no. It’s really a matter of taste and practicality. If you don’t have time to maintain your lawn and can’t afford to hire lawn services, installing ground cover makes a lot of sense. It will save you time and money on every aspect of yard maintenance. However, many homeowners would rather have grass fill their yard. This simply requires more effort in terms of watering, weeding, mowing, and fertilizing. Most people opt for a combination of traditional grass and ground cover. This way, bare spots and problem areas can be addressed with minimal effort, and the lawn as a whole still retains that classic look.

Everyone wants a beautiful, healthy lawn. If you’re struggling to achieve or maintain this, The Parke Company can help. We provide customers with complete landscaping services, including irrigation, maintenance, tree removal and trimming, stump grinding, and more. Whether you want to try some new ground cover or simply fix up a damaged lawn, give us a call today at (615)-350-6033.

The Year Round Guide to Maintaining Landscaping Irrigation Systems in Nashville

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No matter the size of your lawn and gardens, irrigation can have many benefits for your property and should be a key component of your lawn maintenance plan. An individualized, thought out, properly installed and maintained irrigation system can save you money and time, as well as conserve water. These benefits alone make it both a sensible and an environmentally conscious way to improve your property.

However, an irrigation system that is poorly planned, improperly installed, or not maintained can have the opposite effect and end up costing you both time and money in the long-term. Therefore, it is incredibly important to consult a highly trained landscape professional for every aspect of your irrigation planning, installation, and maintenance needs.

Maintenance Can Make or Break an Irrigation System

A well designed and installed irrigation system is only as efficient and effective as its maintenance plan. An unmaintained or improperly maintained system can be wracked by a plethora of issues. Broken or cracked pipes can leak. This will end up costing you money, interrupting irrigation, and flooding your property. Tilted, sunken, or improperly installed spray heads provide uneven water distribution and can lead to dry patches and overly saturated areas. Blocked or improperly placed heads (such as behind a tree) can also lead to large portions of your lawn or garden not receiving adequate irrigation. Timers that are either broken or not properly set up can lead to over or under watering, or can foster a system that irrigates during the hottest hours of the day when evaporation will undermine the effectiveness of your irrigation system. Additionally, water pressure that is either too high or too low can lead to evaporation, flooding, or inefficient coverage, and can potentially damage your lawn or garden.

All of these issues can be identified, mitigated, or corrected through frequent and proper irrigation system maintenance. Ideally, your system should be checked monthly, though seasonal maintenance is a minimum. Below are the steps that should be taken seasonally to ensure that your irrigation system is running as smoothly, effectively, and efficiently as possible.

Please note: a professional irrigation company should always be utilized to guarantee proper servicing of your specific system. Though do-it-yourself irrigation system installations and fixes may be tempting, improper care can simply be too risky and too costly.

Winter Maintenance

Winter irrigation preparation and maintenance is vitally important in order to prevent damages during the colder months. Winterization is a necessary step for all irrigation systems in Tennessee.

The first step is to shut off the main water source and to open manual drain valves to allow gravity to facilitate drainage. If you have an automatic controller, it is also very important to shut this off or switch it to manual. Next, your newly empty system should be pressurized with compressed air. This should be done to each system or zone until the heads in all zones blow air, ensuring full system compression and drainage. Finally, your controllers should be reset to automatic to run a few minutes every month over the winter.

Seem complicated? It is. This is why we strongly recommend hiring a professional to help facilitate the winterization of your irrigation system.

Spring Maintenance

Proper spring startup of your irrigation system is just as important as effective winterization. Start by making sure you have all the necessary replacement parts on hand. If you uncover any issues during the repressurization process, it is important to be able to fix them quickly. Next, test your lawns and gardens to ensure they are frost free. For a buried system, you should also check the soil to the depth of the pipes. Filling frozen pipes with water is an all but guaranteed way to crack or break them. Finally, if the system seems ready, close all manual drains and re-open the main valve to the water supply. Once each zone has water flowing, thoroughly check your system for damages sustained during the winter months. Even a small crack or a slightly relocated or realigned head could result in costly water loss or improper watering in the long run.

Summer & Fall Maintenance

Though not as important as winterization and spring startup, consistent maintenance throughout the summer and fall months is paramount to a well-functioning irrigation system. Your system should be frequently and thoroughly inspected for leaks; misaligned, sunken, or clogged heads; improperly set timers; irregularities in valves and flow; insufficient water pressure, etc. Any problems that are discovered during routine inspections should be swiftly and effectively dealt with to maintain the integrity of your irrigation systems.

It Doesn’t Stop at Maintenance – Other Irrigation Support

From planning to installation, maintenance to monitoring, and everything in between, The Parke Company is here to help you and support your irrigation system. We offer a wide variety of irrigation and lawn services, and have the skills and experience to meet your irrigation needs, whatever they may be. Our expert irrigators not only ensure excellence in design, installation techniques, and equipment used, but they are also specialists in water and resource conservation. Using pressure-regulated sprays and proper scheduling can make a substantial environmental impact. We’ll make sure you get the best advice when planning your irrigation project to ensure you create the perfect system to fit your needs. Whether you are looking for a new installation or seasonal tune-up, it’s important to remember that your irrigation system is a vital part of your landscaping investment.

Whatever Your Irrigation Needs Are, Let The Parke Company Go to Work for You

Locally owned and operated, The Parke Company provides community-centered, high quality, and affordable tree and landscaping services to municipalities, businesses, and private residences in the greater Nashville area. We know Nashville. When it comes to irrigation, we know the soil, water tables, and the specific water requirements for species endemic to Tennessee. Our certified team of Nashville locals has a reputation for being clean, consistent, professional, and for being leaders in their industries. We at The Parke Company stand behind our work and pride ourselves on our ability to respond quickly, provide efficient and cost-effective services, and meet your needs every step of the way.

Please feel free to give us a call (615-350-6033) or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you.

Irrigation Project Plan: The Key Decisions to Consider to Plan Your Irrigation Project

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What does it take to ensure you have a truly perfect yard, a yard that’s inevitably the envy of the block? It can often start with the perfect irrigation plan. The Parke Company can help you plan, install, test, and maintain an irrigation system that will ensure your plants flourish for years to come. Here are some important aspects to consider as you plan your ideal irrigation project.

Irrigation Project Planning and Design

Before any planning can start, it is critical to measure and draw your property lines, examining the property carefully, and making a map that can be referred to as key decisions are made. During the irrigation system planning and designing process any and all obstacles must be considered –  driveways, walkways, trees, shrubs, decks, etc.

The next crucial step is to identify the different areas of your property (lawn, vegetable garden, flower beds, groves, etc.) and designate watering zones based on the needs of each area. Different watering zones will require different sprinkler heads. An analysis of the watering needs for each area should happen before any key decisions are made. Watering zones should be determined based on the characteristics of the soil, amount of natural light, and the water needs of the plants within that zone. Different plants will, of course, have different watering needs, and shaded areas have different water requirements than those exposed to lots of sun. A well-designed irrigation system will have one type of sprinkler head per watering zone. Each zone will thus use the same type of sprinkler head and have its own valve and appropriate sized pipe to serve those sprinklers. Your irrigation system design should ensure that sprinklers are spaced evenly and spray patterns overlap for complete coverage that makes certain there are no dry patches in your plan.

Key Components For Your Irrigation Project

The key components needed to implement an irrigation system are proper irrigation pipes, sprinkler heads, and valves (preferably with timers). Before you make key decisions around what types of components are needed to implement your irrigation plan, you’ll need to determine the water flow of the entire system. This will inform decisions around what size pipes you will need, how many sprinkler heads you will need, and what type of valves are best suited for your specific needs. Your water source’s GPM (gallons per minute) will also need to be measured in order to design and implement an irrigation plan that best suits your property.

When it comes to irrigation pipes, the pipe length, the number of sprinkler heads the pipe serves, and the water flow (or GPM) for each pipe will determine what size pipe belongs where in your irrigation system. Each watering zone will also require appropriate sized sprinkler heads. Lawn maintenance, for example, will require large sprinklers while flower beds benefit from smaller sprinklers. It is vital that you choose a sprinkler that thoroughly covers the watering zone. Other considerations include whether the area would benefit more from a rotating (rotor) sprinkler head or a fixed spray head. Once you’ve decided what type of sprinkler heads go where, ensure that you have the correct number of sprinkler heads to adequately water the area. Once the layout of water lines and sprinkler heads has been decided, it is important to establish the best placement for the system’s main shut-off valve, which will be connected to the sprinkler valve manifolds. A backflow prevention device valve will also be a vital part of your system in order to prevent unwanted materials from backflowing into your main water supply. Timers are also great assets to include in a quality irrigation system.

Further Considerations to Keep in Mind as You Plan Your Irrigation System

Water conservation should be a primary consideration as you plan your irrigation system. Conserving water is not only vital for the environment, it also prevents excessive water runoff that can cause damage to your lawn. Moreover, water conservation saves you money as it often results in lower utility costs. There are a variety of ways to ensure your system uses optimal water conservation techniques. For starters, you’ll want to set up the system to ensure you are only watering areas that need it while avoiding pavement or other areas that don’t need to be watered. The system should only water at night and in the early morning to prevent evaporation. Timers should be used as efficiently as possible and it is often a good idea to install a rain sensor so the system shuts off during rainfall. You’ll want to choose the smallest sprinkler heads required to cover each watering zone and keep in mind that short bursts of watering are often better than extended periods.

Additional information to consider when making decisions around your irrigation system include potential winterizing strategies, recommendations around what type of underground piping you should use in your area, and even whether or not your area requires permits or has any regulations around irrigation systems.

Let The Parke Company Help Plan the Perfect Irrigation System for You

The Parke Company’s irrigation services include the installation of new systems, re-energizing existing systems, additions and repairs to existing systems, backflow testing, and winterization and spring start up of systems. Our expert irrigators not only ensure excellence in design, installation techniques, and equipment used, but they are also specialists in water and resource conservation. Using pressure-regulated sprays and proper scheduling can make a substantial environmental impact. We’ll make sure you get the best advice when planning your irrigation project to ensure you create the perfect system to fit your needs. Whether you are looking for a new installation or seasonal tune-up, see why an irrigation system is a vital part of your landscaping investment.

Locally owned and operated, The Parke Company provides community-centered, high quality, and affordable tree and landscaping services to municipalities, businesses, and private residences in the greater Nashville area. Our certified team of Nashville arborists and irrigation professionals has a reputation for being clean, consistent, and professional and for being leaders in their industries. We at The Parke Company stand behind our work and pride ourselves on our ability to respond quickly, provide efficient and cost-effective services, and meet your needs every step of the way. To inquire further about The Parke Company’s top-notch lawn services, please feel free to give us a call (615-350-6033) or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you.