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.

Springtime Seasonal Landscaping Maintenance in Nashville

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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.

Mulching in Winter: The Benefits of Fresh Mulch in Colder Months

the parke company winter mulching

It’s winter in Nashville, and tending to gardens and shrubs is probably the last thing on your mind. “That would be a mistake,” say the experts at the Parke Company, Nashville’s leading landscaping service and tree service company. Dry winter winds and the occasional winter warm spell can do real damage to your dormant and evergreen plants.

While Nashville winters are relatively mild, when the temperature drops below 25 degrees and the last of the hardy annuals turn brown and crumble, it’s time to do winter mulching. Why mulch in winter? Unlike spring mulching, which is done to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and warm the soil, the principal reason to mulch in winter is to insulate the soil and prevent damage from dry winter winds.

Insulating the soil to keep it frozen prevents dormant plants from sprouting during brief warm spells in winter. Changes in air temperature can also cause expansion and contraction of soil. Left unchecked, this soil movement can push a plant’s roots above the surface, where they can be damaged by cold winds. Keeping the ground frozen through mulch insulation minimizes the risk of this occurring.

Mulching in Winter

What to Use as Winter Mulch?

Remember last fall when you were raking leaves and doing a major leaf pick up? If you stored those leaves in a leaf bag, now is the time to break them out to be used as winter mulch. You can use any loose insulating material, keeping in mind that you will need to remove it in the spring.

Here are a few ideas for mulch material:

  •        Pine needles
  •        Straw
  •        Shredded leaves
  •        Shredded bark
  •        If the first freeze comes after Christmas, you can use boughs from your Christmas tree – great material because they are easy to remove in the spring.
  •        Snow is actually an excellent insulator, but you can’t count on that in Nashville.

What and How to Mulch in the Winter

We’ve already discussed insulating your flower garden, so let’s talk about other areas to protect.

If you have a fallow vegetable garden and you didn’t plant a cover crop, you can use a layer of leaves. If your vegetable garden is fenced, you can use it to “store” all of your extra leaves. In the spring you’ll have a ready supply of mulch material.

Evergreens and semi-evergreens, like rhododendrons, can become dried out by winter winds. You can protect them by covering the plants/shrubs in burlap. Make sure the burlap is not resting on the shrub or it will freeze to the bush. Stuffing leaves between the burlap and the bush will prevent that.

Another option is to spray the shrub with an  anti-desiccant, like Wilt-Pruf. As an aside, an anti-desiccant will prolong the life of your Christmas tree and also makes a good covering for carved pumpkins.

When to Remove Winter Mulch

The short answer is after the thaw, but that can be tricky. Easter snowstorms are not totally unknown in Nashville. Basically, when the smell of mud is in the air, it’s safe to remove the mulch.

If you have questions or need assistance with winter mulching, please don’t hesitate to call us at the Parke Company!

How to Handle Ice and Snow Safely (and When to Get Help!)

the parke company snow removal

In Nashville we don’t get a ton of snow and ice, but we get enough. When it does come, one of the biggest challenges is to clear porches, sidewalks, and driveways to prevent slip and falls and get the car safely in and out of the garage.

So, who does this? Some of our clients have longer, tree-lined driveways, others have more traditional lengths. In both cases, clearing ice and snow will be a challenge, one they may decide to take on themselves or find some help.

At the Parke Company, Nashville’s leading landscaping service and tree service, we know a little about snow removal. While we don’t offer “snow mitigation,” we’ve dealt with the aftermath, which unfortunately can result in removing a tree damaged by sloppy use of deicer.

We’d like to pass along a few tips on how to handle snow and ice to ensure your paved surfaces are safe without doing damage to your plants, trees, and lawn.

the parke company snow removal

Snow Removal with Heart

When we talk about heart, we mean yours. If you opt to shovel, snow blow, or spread deicer, there are a few things you should be aware of. First, shoveling snow can either be great exercise or trigger a heart attack. Nashville ERs staff up when it snows because they know they will have a rush of coronary emergencies to deal with.

If you don’t regularly exercise, now is not the time to start. Make arrangements for a snow removal service to tend to the chore. Cold weather drives blood pressure up and cold air rapidly dehydrates the body. Toss in repeatedly lifting shovel loads of snow or pushing a heavy blower and you have the makings of a heart attack.

If you feel pain or “squeezing” in your chest, pain radiating down your left arm, jaw pain, shortness of breath, or you break out in a cold sweat, quit, go inside, and call 911.

Preparation

The best way to defeat ice is to prepare paved surfaces before the ice actually arrives. Keep an eye on the weather report and when snow or ice is in the forecast, prep your surfaces. If you want to go totally “green,” spread wood chips, straw, or gravel to encourage traction. After the ice arrives, you can spread sand on top. However, all of these “green” solutions need to be cleaned up after the ice thaws.

Deicers are the most common method of clearing snow and ice, and this is where you can do some real damage. One of the favorite deicers is sodium chloride, AKA rock salt. It’s popular because it’s dirt cheap. Salt is a corrosive, and it is capable of burning a pet’s paws as well as killing any grass or bushes that come in contact from the runoff.

Alternatives to rock salt include potassium chloride, calcium chloride, and magnesium chloride. All three are pet and plant friendly. Unfortunately, all three are more expensive than rock salt. The good news is, after a few short months spring will arrive and we at the Parke Company can get back to tree trimming, tree planting and other landscaping tasks. Until then, we wish you a safe and enjoyable winter season.

Safe Salt and Mineral Options for Your Walkways This Winter

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We are fortunate in Nashville. While winters can bring some nasty weather, our cold months are relatively mild compared to our neighbors to the north. That said, we still get ice and snow and have our fair share of slip and fall accidents as a result.

So how do Nashville homeowners wage the deicing war? Unfortunately, many attack the ice with rock salt (sodium chloride). Rock salt has one redeeming characteristic: it is dirt cheap. But if you take a hard look at what rock salt can do, it quickly becomes obvious that repeated use can cause serious, expensive damage.

Rock salt is an abrasive and a corrosive and will wreak havoc on concrete walkways and driveways. At the Parke Company, Nashville’s premiere landscaping service, we are concerned about how sodium chloride affects our clients’ landscape. Not surprisingly, rock salt is not plant friendly.

How Rock Salt Damages Your Landscape

There are a number of ways that sodium chloride can damage plants, trees, and grass. Salt spray either from the road or from traffic on your driveway can burn stems and buds of deciduous woody plants, plus stems, buds, leaves and needles of evergreen plants.

Run off is another sneakier way that sodium chloride does damage. When diluted with water, sodium chloride splits into separate ions. These ions can prevent absorption of other nutrients like potassium and phosphorus. Chloride can make its way to leaves and interfere with chlorophyll. When this process is disturbed in deciduous shrubs and trees, the plant can die.

None of the signs of sodium chloride in the soil will become evident until the spring when the plants and trees begin to renew. If the concentration is high enough, a homeowner could be looking at replacing shrubs or even a tree removal.

Safe Alternatives to Rock Salt

There are a number of chemical and non-chemical substitutes for rock salt that are safe (or safer) for your plants. They all have different characteristics but what they all have in common is they cost more than rock salt.

Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Potassium chloride: This is perhaps the friendliest deicer for plants. It is only effective down to 25 degrees but that covers most of Nashville’s cold weather.
  2. Magnesium chloride: Works down to 1 degree and is plant friendly. It may leave a residue on driveways and sidewalks that will need to be washed off once the risk of icing is over.
  3. Calcium chloride: Kind of overkill. This works down to -23 degrees. If Nashville gets that kind of weather, your plants are in serious trouble any way you look at it. Calcium chloride works fast, which means it melts the ice and creates water, which is subject to refreezing.
  4. Heated Driveways: The ultimate solution. Without question the most effective way to prevent ice from forming or melting it if it has. Exceptionally convenient and also exceptionally expensive. Installation involves digging up your existing driveway.

Managing ice is a serious concern. There is the obvious risk associated with ice but you have to consider the consequences of the way you fight it. As a leading tree service, we have seen trees, bushes, and perennials that have been sufficiently damaged by deicers so that they needed to be removed. Nothing is sadder than seeing a tree cut down or removing a tree simply because the wrong kind of deicer was used.