Don’t Install New Landscaping Features Without First Doing This

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Variety is the spice of life, as they say. If you’re someone who invests a lot of time and energy into your landscape maintenance, you probably get a great deal of joy from creating a beautiful useful space. You may also find yourself wanting to incorporate new and exciting features to add to the beauty of your property.

If you’re often bored by maintaining the status quo of your landscape design, installing new features can be a great way to shake up the aesthetic of your property, but before you do so, make sure that you keep the following things in mind.

Work With What You Know

The only person who interacts with your yard on a daily basis is you. You know what has grown well in the past and which areas get enough shade or full sunlight. Mapping out these locations can be helpful for planning purposes. Use your knowledge and experience of your yard to plan any new additions accordingly.

It’s important to consider the unique terrain, soil quality, and light exposure of your property if you intend to install any new features in your landscape. While a cobblestone walkway may seem like a good idea, you know the particular incline of your property and should consider such factors when deciding what to install.

You also know best what your property will be used for. It is important to consider how the presence of children or pets in your yard will affect what you decide to install. A fountain may be a beautiful focal point to your property, but it could be dangerous if you have toddlers, or it could be one more thing for your dogs to splash around in.

When you’re deciding how to improve your landscape design, make sure that you use your previous knowledge of the property to inform your decision.  

Work With What is There

When thinking about your new landscape feature, remember that the rest of your yard is still there. That flashy gazebo or gorgeous footbridge may be just what you’ve always wanted in your yard, but if you’ve already got a pool, a back patio, and dense trees, it may only result in the congestion of your property.

Some landscape features can be moved or modified if you want to add something new to the existing design, but it’s important to consider what is already there and what is permanent.

On a less pragmatic level, it is also necessary to consider the aesthetic of your property. Will this new feature fit the theme that has already been established by your landscape design?

An eclectic property can either be a whimsical amalgamation of features or it can look like a reckless assembly. When you consider installing anything new to your existing landscape design, make sure that it will incorporate seamlessly with what you’ve already put together.

Work With a Professional

When you’re making a big change to your landscape design (or even a small one), having a second opinion is key to making sure that you don’t make any costly mistakes.

Working with a professional could give you the foresight to know whether or not the feature you want to install is feasible. While they can help you hammer out the details of installation and cost, they can also help you determine whether or not it is a wise aesthetic choice.

Consulting a lawn care and landscape professional is important because their experience can also help you envision the future of your landscape design. They will be able to foresee future issues and help you figure out how to prevent or prepare for them.

If you’re looking to develop your property and create a more exciting landscape, the experienced landscape and tree experts at The Parke Company know just how to meet your unique landscape service needs.

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

4 Signs Your Irrigation System May Need Repair

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The right irrigation system can be every property owners best friend. When functioning properly, irrigation systems ensure that the beauty of your landscape design is maintained, even when the weather is less than hospitable.

Caring for finicky plants and upkeep of green grasses requires that your irrigation system is running at top performance to ensure that the moisture content of your soil remains optimal.

On the other hand, if it isn’t functioning properly, a faulty irrigation system could spell trouble. Dying plants and flooded flower beds shouldn’t be your first clue that something is up. Do you know how to spot a damaged irrigation system?

For the best landscape maintenance, check out these four signs that your irrigation system may need repair.

1. Increased Water Costs

As a prudent property owner, you should be well aware of how much your water bill typically costs – and for more reasons than one. While this cost may fluctuate somewhat from season to season, a sudden skyrocketing of your water bill for lawn care may be a sign that your irrigation system is malfunctioning.

This may be one of the first and only ways to quantifiably assess that your irrigation system isn’t working properly.

An increase in your water bill tells you that the system is pumping more water than normal onto your property, either due to a glitch in its settings or a leak. In either case, it is vital to have a lawn care professional evaluate the damage immediately before any harm is done to your property.

2. Flooding

An over watered landscape doesn’t always look like a small pond has cropped up in your flower beds. When your irrigation system functions as it should, the appropriate amount of water should be distributed to the soil.

If you notice pooling of water anywhere near your irrigation system, this lawn problem could be a sign that maintenance is required to fix a leak.  

When evaluating the leak, check to see if the excess water is only showing up in certain places or if it appears to be along the entire line of irrigation. This could help pinpoint the area of concern and narrow the focus of your landscaping professional.

This is also a good opportunity to assess your drainage systems. Flooding can also be caused by an inability to sufficiently drain excess water that collects when an irrigation system releases too much water.

3. Dry Patches

Conversely, dry patches on your property can also be a bad sign. At this point, if there are dry patches along your irrigation system, your system has likely been malfunctioning long enough for parts of your lawn to die.

It is paramount that you seek a lawn care professional immediately to quickly mitigate the situation before any further damage is done to your landscape or to your irrigation system.

4. Leaking Valves

You would never let a leaky faucet go unaddressed. The same goes for leaking valves in your irrigation system.

While a little extra water around your spigots may not seem like a cause for concern, it is a clear sign that your irrigation system may need repair.

On its own, an extra few drops of water will not cause significant damage to your landscape, but left unattended, this small issue can turn into a crisis.

If excess water seeps into your soil, it can result in constant moisture around the roots of your plants which can harbor mold and cause serious damage.

Healthy Irrigation with The Parke Company

An irrigation system seems like a form of landscape maintenance that doesn’t require much attention: you can install the system and worry a little less about watering your property as frequently.

While irrigation systems are certainly a source of convenience, a malfunctioning system can be hazardous for your property. The experienced professionals at The Parke Company are uniquely qualified to help you evaluate irrigation system issues or any other lawn problems you may be experiencing.
Don’t leave your lawn service up to fate. Give the experts a call  at 615-350-6033 or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you.

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.

6 Signs It’s Time for Tree Removal

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Trees, like any other plant, are living organisms. This means that they will die someday. Proper removal of dying trees is necessary, not only for the general health of your landscape, but also for the safety of your home.

Unstable, sickly trees are a serious safety risk. If their instability progresses too far, an unhealthy tree could fall into your yard or on your home. Even if a tree is not completely dead, a weak tree could easily be brought down by a storm.

The best way to circumvent this safety risk is by being proactive in maintaining the trees on your property. Always keep a close watch on your older trees to check for symptoms of illness. Here are six signs that it’s time for tree removal.

1. Lack of Leaves

Most property owners are aware of the fact that trees shed their leaves in fall and remain barren until spring rolls around again. You may notice, however, that the regrowth of leaves on your trees is a bit different from years prior. This could be one of the first signs of a tree’s failing health.

If you observe that a certain area of your tree has few or no leaves, this could be a signal of illness. A tree lacking or sparse in overall leaf coverage is likely dying and should be evaluated by your landscaping service provider.

2. Mushrooms At the Base of the Tree

Mushrooms and other fungus-like organisms grow easily along the forest floor, but this is bad news for your trees. When large colonies of fungus grow on your trees, they infect the roots and trunk, causing damage that can result in serious instability and significant safety risks.

Unfortunately, if the growth of the fungus is progressive, little can be done to salvage infected plants. Many invasive organisms that commonly attack trees (such as honey fungus) cannot be removed with a fungicide.

Any trees that have not been seriously damaged by the fungus can be transplanted after careful examination, but many will have to be removed to prevent the spread of further infection.

3. Dead Branches

If you’ve noticed fungus growing at the base of your tree, you are likely to find collections of dead branches on the ground as well. Sickly trees often drop these fallen branches, which can then contribute to the spread of disease.

According to Tchukki Andersen, a certified arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association, when trees are sick or dying, they tend to shed branches to become “smaller” so that there is less of an organism to feed. This is not unlike when the human body cuts off blood flow to appendages to redirect blood to the heart and brain if necessary.  

Falling branches present a risk of falling and causing damage to your property or loved ones. When unattended, falling branches compromise tree stability, resulting in a potential fall.

4. Find Branches Without Buds

It is possible, however, to catch signs that branches may be dying before they even fall.

Carefully observing your trees’ branch health can help you spot early indicators of tree illness.

Tree limbs that lack buds where they have typically been present could be dying. If these same branches are also fine and brittle, snapping easily, this could also be a sign poor health.

Careful observation of branch health will help you avoid the larger risks that result when illnesses reach the trunk of a tree and compromise its stability. Be proactive and monitor your trees’ branches as a part of your regular landscape maintenance.

5. Bark Health

Like human skin, the bark of a tree can be a visible indicator of its overall health.

If bark has fallen off of a trunk leaving deep cracks and gouges, this could be a sign that the tree will need removal. These cracks in bark are often referred to as “cankers” and trees are likely to break or split in those areas, posing a serious threat to safety.

Evaluating a tree’s bark can also reveal its health status. This evaluation is known as a “scratch test”. To conduct a scratch test, simply peel away a small section of the bark from the tree’s trunk. If the underlying flesh of the tree is green, the tree is alive. If the bark underneath is brown and dry, this is a sign of decay.

When conducting a scratch test, make sure to test multiple branches since a sickly tree could still have a healthy branch or two.

6. Trunk Heath

While you’re conducting a scratch test, it can also be helpful to evaluate the health of your tree’s trunk as a whole.

If your tree’s trunk lists heavily to one side as a result of strong winds or a storm, this is a sign of weak roots and warrants removal.

A cavity or “owl hole” in your tree’s trunk may seem charming, but it can also signify a dying tree. Hollow portions of a tree trunk are never a good sign. These holes are typically the result of a fallen branch leaving a cavity behind and they tend to appear in old, dying trees. If you notice these types of cavities in your tree, have it inspected as soon as possible to avoid a costly disaster.  

It is important to note the difference between a sick tree and a dying tree. While dead and dying trees cannot be saved, sick trees can be helped if quickly diagnosed by a certified arborist.

From tree planting to tree removal, the care of your home’s landscape should be handled by experienced professionals. The certified arborists at The Parke company have the precise set of skills to properly evaluate the health of your trees and to help you take the next steps toward tree removal.
Give us a call (615-350-6033) or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you.

Building a Treehouse: Choosing the Right Tree

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Nowadays, most children are heavily exposed to screens before the age of three and spend overwhelming amounts of time indoors rather than creating outdoor memories to last a lifetime.

People who grew up without the ubiquitous presence of screens are likely to recall one of childhood’s most nostalgic inventions – the treehouse. For parents who want to enrich their children’s upbringing and combat the negative social and physical effects of excessive screen time, installing a treehouse in your backyard may be the key.

If you’re thinking about adding a treehouse to your landscape design, strategy is key to ensure both safety and sustainability. Here are a few things you need to consider when choosing the right tree for your treehouse.

Location

Everyone knows the first rule of real estate: location, location, location. The same is true for choosing the perfect tree for your treehouse.

It is important to consider your specific needs when deciding where to build a treehouse. For a family of younger children, a treehouse close to your home may ensure that your kids do not stray too far on their adventures and remain in your line of sight. Be sure, however, not to locate the treehouse so close to your home that it presents a potential safety risk or disrupts the rest of your landscape design.

If your children are older and can handle a grander excursion, you may be able to build  your treehouse on a tree further back on your property, allowing your children to embrace a little independence and grow their developing imagination.

Age

Once you have determined the ideal location for your treehouse, consider the age of the trees in that area.

Safety is a top priority when building your treehouse and tist can be directly influenced by the age of the tree you choose. Older, weaker trees should be avoided when selecting a tree for a treehouse, but even young trees should be approached with caution.

Trees are (obviously) plants, so they continue to grow over time. When building around a tree that may continue to grow significantly, be sure that you have built your structure in such a way that allows for growth as you exercise regular tree care. The last thing you want is for a treehouse to burst at the seams after a few years’ growth.

Supports

There are a number of different factors to consider when ensuring that your tree will offer sufficient support for your treehouse.

The first option is to choose not one, but two trees between which to build your treehouse. If there are multiple trees near enough to each other, building across two trees may allow you to build a larger treehouse with double the support.

Regardless of whether or not you have the capability of building on two trees, the thickness and disbursement of the branches will be important for ensuring stability. Be sure the branches are sturdy and convenient enough for building a treehouse. Removing extraneous branches can be done easily with proper landscape maintenance, but it’s a much more difficult task to grow the right branches.  

Height

The internet is full of opulent photos of treehouses tucked away in the highest reaches of Amazonian canopies. While a sky-high treehouse may make for a scintillating Instagram post, treehouses placed far off the ground may not be the best idea.     

Especially with younger, more rambunctious children, treehouses placed in a tall tree may increase the risk of injury in the event of a fall. Generally, it is advised that treehouses for children should be about 10 feet from the ground.

Height can also be a risk factor when combined with risk factors from weather. When a treehouse’s center of gravity is higher from the ground, storms can present unforeseen danger. When subjected to high-speed winds, treehouse can act as a sail and multiply the stress put onto branches during a storm. Ideally, a well-built treehouse will be able to endure the weather typical of your area, but keeping a tree house low to the ground may be a simple step to ensuring stability.

Treehouses are a classic feature of landscape design that are often forgotten today. In an age when kids need time outside more than ever, incorporating a treehouse may be what helps to combat “tech-brain” and encourage imagination in ways that only outdoor play can.   

From tree planting to treehouse installation, The Parke Company is available and qualified to ensure that your treehouse is safe and artistically incorporated into your current landscape.

For more information on how to safely incorporate the whimsical delight of a treehouse into your landscape design, contact the certified arborists at The Parke Company and let their superior lawn services transform your property.
Give us a call (615-350-6033) or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you.