Landscaping to Lower Your Energy and Water Bills

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We’ve all enjoyed the cooling shade of a tree on a hot, humid Nashville summer day. The relief from the heat is almost instantaneous. Trees are a great natural source of “air conditioning” that can protect people from the sun’s direct rays, and if planted correctly, they can do the same thing for your home.

A cooler home means less “man-made” air conditioning required, which translates into lower energy bills. Who doesn’t like lower energy bills?

Trees providing cooling shade isn’t a new idea, but using them strategically to cool a home usually isn’t considered by Nashville homeowners unless they are working with a leading landscaping service like The Parke Company. Staffed with certified arborists, and with nearly 30 years’ experience in tree trimming, tree transplanting, and other tree services, the Parke Company has a solid understanding of how trees can be used to “direct” weather to or away from your house.

It’s an interesting idea, but you may be thinking that trees take forever to grow and you want help now. Well, trees are not an instant fix, but you can see heat relief in less than a year and it just gets better every day after that.

Real Dollar Benefits of a Well-Designed Landscape

It is generally accepted that a strategically planned landscape will pay for itself in reduced energy and water costs in eight years or less. That obviously is beneficial for the homeowner, it also drives up value of the home, and of course, it’s environmentally responsible.

Here are a few ways that landscaping helps in reducing energy and water costs:

  • A smart landscape uses both deciduous and evergreen trees. Deciduous trees provide abundant shade in the summer but then allow the winter sun to warm the house in the colder months. Evergreens also provide shade. They make great windbreaks in the winter, blocking bitter cold winds from reaching the home if properly positioned.
  • A new 6’ to 8’ deciduous tree will cast shade on your ground level windows inside a year. Depending on the species (and how many stories your home is), it will shade the roof in 5 to 10 years.
  • Evergreen windbreaks will reduce the wind chill near your house, reducing the amount of heat you need to remain comfortable. Windbreaks also create “dead air space” that insulates your home year round.
  • Succulent ground cover will reduce the air temperature before it reaches your home. The same holds true for shrubs and bushes.
  • Mulching trees and gardens not only protects the plants’ roots, but reduces evaporation. Less water is needed to sustain these plants.
  • Smart lawn maintenance, like raising the lawn mower blade during summer and only irrigating lawns in the cooler morning hours, can greatly conserve water.

 

Creating a strategic landscape must take in a multitude of considerations. Terrain, existing stock, prevailing winds, house design, availability of stock, and other issues all have to be examined to come up with a plan that will yield the best results.

If you would like to benefit from a well-designed landscape and the beauty of an amazing green space, give The Parke Company a call today and we will be happy to help.

Springtime Weed Control for Nashville Lawns

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Many people believe that weeds, like roaches, will be around when all other living things have ceased to exist. They are the bane of Nashville lawns. There is no permanent fix short of paving over your grass with asphalt. You can’t rid weeds from your life, but you can keep them in check if you exercise a solid weed control plan.

At the Parke Company, Nashville’s leading lawn service and landscaping service, we know the importance of a timely weed control program. Timing truly is everything when it comes to preventing weeds from taking over your grass. There are a number of herbicides available, the trick is knowing what types of weed they are designed to control, and when and how to use them.

If weed control was just about laying down some chemicals, the chore wouldn’t be all that bad. But there’s more to it than that. Let’s walk through how to do springtime weed control.

Lawn Audit

Grab a couple of leaf bags, gloves, and a leaf rake and head out to “audit” the condition of your lawn. Pick a time of day when the grass is completely dry so you aren’t crushing damp blades with your shoes. What we’re looking for are signs of weak soil. Weeds thrive where the soil doesn’t easily support grass.

Bald spots, winter weeds, brown spots, or thinned out spots are all signs that the soil is probably not up to par. You can get DIY soil testing kits at any garden supply store. Winter weather can have a significant effect on pH levels. If you test your soil and it’s below 6, a thin layer of lime can be added to bring it up.

While you are on this walkabout, pick up debris and trash that has accumulated over the winter. Use the rake to thatch matted patches of grass. Allowing sunlight and air to reach the soil is helpful in maintaining soil nutrients. You may run across some brown slimy stuff. This is snow mold and while it looks ugly, it won’t kill grass unless the lawn is covered in snow for 100 days or more and that’s not going to happen in Nashville.

So, with a cleaned-up lawn and full understanding of soil health from your soil test, it’s time to tackle the weeds.

Pre-emergent Weed Control

The idea here is to prevent weed seed from taking root. Pre-emergent weed killers do a great job if they are applied at the right time. Ideally, the temperature should be between 55 – 60 degrees, which means late March normally, but the weather has been dodgy, so it could be later. In Nashville, watch for the forsythia to bloom. When that happens, you have about two weeks before weeds germinate.

The downside of pre-emergent herbicides is that they can’t discriminate between weed seed and grass seed. It does a good job on crabgrass and other grass type weeds, but you want to wait at least eight weeks before you use it on an area that you have laid down new grass seed.

Let a Pro Do It

If your schedule is hectic, or if raking, cleaning, and putting down weed killer is something you just don’t want to do, give us a call. Parke started his company in high school doing just this kind of work. Thirty years later, the Parke Company is a trusted Nashville landscaping service known for its certified arborists, excellent tree trimming, and lawn maintenance, including weed control. Call us today and get started on getting your lawn off to a great spring start.

What Can a Nashville Landscaper Do for You?

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Nashville is fortunate to have an abundance of lovely old homes surrounded by lawns and trees. The Parke Company, Nashville’s leading landscaping service and tree service, has been transforming those well-kept lawns into eye-catching landscaped spaces for years.

The difference between a well-maintained yard and a professionally landscaped lawn can be breathtaking. Curb appeal immediately goes up, but more importantly, a landscape gives the homeowner his or her own piece of private paradise.

At the Parke Company, we have been designing, installing, and maintaining these natural havens for homeowners in Memphis, Belle Meade, Green Hills, Oak Hills and other communities for over a decade. While we are probably best known for our tree trimming, tree transplanting, and tree removal services, we also provide a wide range of other services that enhance the total landscape.

Have You Considered?

If you are thinking about making improvements to your lawn but are unsure of what would work where, we suggest you sit down with our designer and talk about your ideas. Our designers and certified arborists see green space differently than most people. They know which trees thrive and provide shade, which shrubs complement which architectural styles, and how to lay out a landscape that will require minimal maintenance.

They deal with landscaping daily and you can trust their knowledge to make your dream lawn a reality. It’s about more than adding a flower bed and a bush.

The landscaping services we provide include:

  •        Landscape design and installation. We will listen to what your objective is and then provide our ideas on how to best achieve that. Once the plan is approved, installation is quick, no hassle, and surprisingly affordable.
  •        Sod. New and replacement.
  •        Irrigation systems. We can install new systems, repair existing lines, or modify the lines to better irrigate the space.
  •        Hardscapes. We can install a variety of water features, pagodas, screens, and other “hardscape” items.
  •        Mulch service. We use both wood-based and pine straw mulch to protect your spaces from drought, weed infestation, and root disease.
  •        Installation of pavers and walkways.
  •        Tree removal, trimming, transplanting, stump removal.
  •        Outdoor lighting. Decorative lighting to highlight your landscape or practical lighting for patios, decks, outdoor kitchens, etc.
  •        Installation of firepits.
  •        Flower beds. We prepare the beds, provide the bloomers, plant them, ensure there is adequate irrigation and drainage, and apply a layer of mulch.
  •        Emergency tree service. When a bad storm hits the Nashville area, you can count on snapped limbs and even fallen trees. We provide quick response to our customers to ensure their property doesn’t experience additional harm from damaged trees.

 

The Parke Company is a member of the ISA, is an ISA Certified Arborist, belongs to the Tennessee Nursery and Landscaping Association, and is an IPCI certified installer for hardscapes. We know our business.

Contact The Parke Company

If you are thinking about creating your own outdoor space and you want it done professionally, we invite you to contact us today. We are happy to sit down with you and discuss the options that fit both your objectives and your budget. Call today.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Nashville Lawns and Landscaping

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You may think we are jumping the gun a bit talking about spring cleaning in February, but we’re not. If you are serious about getting your lawn and flower beds off to a great start this spring, you need to do some planning. What better time to plan than when the ground is still frozen and winter has put all your plants to sleep?

At the Parke Company, Nashville’s leading source of landscaping services, we don’t do much in the way of lawn maintenance in the winter. What we do is work on maintaining our equipment and plan landscapes for clients in the spring. Brainstorming before you actually tackle a spring cleaning will make the project go smoother and save you some cash as well.

5 Tips on How to Do a Nashville Lawn Spring Cleaning

So let’s take a look at this project with an eye towards what you are going to do and when.

  1. Get inspired. It may be a gloomy day outside, but you need to be thinking about how you want your lawn looking when the warmer days of spring arrive. What shrubs, flowers, or landscape features do you want to add and where? Are you planting perennials or annuals or both? When? For inspiration, you can turn to magazines, scour the internet, or simply walk down the aisles of your favorite home improvement store. Write down what you are going to add, where (sketch a map), and when.
  2. Visualize the end product. Your landscape should complement or contrast with your existing exterior colors and themes. Keep the color and architectural style of your home in mind when you are picking out blooming shrubs and flowers. When thinking about the placement of new shrubs, make sure you are not crowding walkways. Also, is that shrub a shrub or a small tree? Most plants will come with a tag that describes mature heights. You don’t want to block windows.
  3. Ready for some exercise? When the smell of mud is in the air, it’s time for lawn maintenance. Grab some leaf bags, heavy gloves, scissors, a pooper scooper, and your trusty leaf rake and dive in. Scissors are often more efficient in cutting stalks from perennials than pruners. Your rake is your main tool. A good thorough raking will collect all the debris, trash, and feces that have accumulated over the winter. A solid raking will also reduce thatch. This up close and personal time with your lawn will also allow you to spot lawn problems that may have cropped up over the winter months.
  4. Stake out your plan. Use the sketch you made and place stakes to plot out the areas where you will be planting new additions. With stakes in the ground, you’ll be able to better determine the number and placement of plants that you will actually need.
  5. The heavy lifting. Now the real work begins. You’ll want to prepare garden beds by breaking up the soil and adding mulch. If you are creating a new bed, you may want to consider using garden fabric to create a barrier designed to minimize weeds. If you are a believer in chemical fertilizers, apply a weed and feed solution that includes a pre-emergent weed killer.

Give Us a Call

Your next step might be a call to us. Rather than doing the digging and planting, give the tree experts a call and we will be happy to get it done for you. Either way, you’ll be off to a great start for spring 2018.

 

Why Pine Straw Makes a Great Mulch for Nashville Landscapes

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We all know that mulch plays an important role in protecting gardens, tree bases, and shrubbery. Mulch comes in a variety of materials and colors and each has its “best application scenario.” However, one that we think goes largely unconsidered is pine needles.

At the Parke Company, Nashville’s leading landscaping service and tree service, we think that the sustainable pine needle, or pine straw mulch, is underutilized. On its face, pine straw is more expensive than other mulches, but when you consider its benefits, it is likely the better value in the long run.

Why Pine Needle Mulch Makes Sense for Your Nashville Landscaping Needs

In Nashville, we have an abundance of pine trees. Pine needle mulch is “created” simply by raking up the needles that fall from the trees. Not a single tree is harmed in the gathering of pine straw mulch. It’s light, it spreads easily, and pine needle mulch has a unique “interlocking” capability that holds it in place. These are the qualities that make this mulch desirable from a maintenance standpoint; let’s see what else it can do:

Soil protection. Like all mulches, pine needles provide important insulation for the soil, protecting it from extreme temperatures. Pine needles also soften the impact of rain, minimizing soil compaction and erosion. Because they “interlock,” pine needles stay in place and do not float away like wood-based mulch. This means you are unlikely to find mulch on your walkways and you won’t have to “top off” as frequently as wood mulch.

Improving soil. If you have acid-loving plants like azaleas or roses, pine straw creates a chemically balanced soil to ensure that these plants thrive. While the needles themselves have little nutritional value, they encourage helpful microbes as the mulch degrades.

Visual appeal. Pine needles are finely textured and have a uniform neutral color, unlike chunky, brightly colored wood-based mulch that says “look at me.” The pine needles tend to set off the bright colors of your flowers and shrubs. Pine needles also prevent rain from splashing mud on your plants.

Value. As mentioned, pine needles look to be about three times as expensive as wood mulches when they are placed side by side. But in reality, they’re cheaper. A study by Texas A&M determined that a single round bale of pine straw mulch covers a 10-foot-by-10-foot bed to a depth of 2 inches. To achieve the same coverage with pine bark, pine nuggets, or red mulch would require over eight bags. So a single bale of needles is more expensive than a bag of mulch, but you need 8 times as much bagged mulch to equal the bale.

In short, pine needle mulch is an effective, efficient, and overall better value for your mulching needs. This spring, you should give it serious consideration when planning the protection of your garden and flower beds.

Not surprisingly, the Parke Company does more than tree trimming, tree removal, and other affordable tree services – we also provide mulch. Give us a call today and we will be happy to explain why pine straw may be the perfect pick for your landscape.