Keep or Cut: Guide to Setting a Whole-Property Vision for your Trees

When it comes to large landscaping projects like extensive tree removal, it is important to take the time necessary to plan before taking action. Cutting down a tree, or multiple trees, on your property can have many benefits, but it can also have many long-lasting negative effects. Pros and cons aside, once the tree is gone it can take years, even decades, to replace it.

All Tree Removal Projects Should Start with Comprehensive Planning

To keep or to cut? That is the question. The permanence of these decisions requires that they not be taken lightly. When deciding whether or not to remove a tree, or multiple trees, from your landscape, we recommend reaching out to the trusted professionals at The Parke Company. Our landscaping design and tree service team and ISA certified arborists have years of experience in all aspects of the profession and will work with you every step of the way. We can help you best plan for and carry out the installation or removal of trees and stumps. Our goal is not to make the decision for you, but to provide you with a planning service that addresses your specific questions and is patented to your specific needs. If you do decide to move forward on your project, our goal is to provide a service that exceeds your expectations and keeps you coming back year after year. Our goal is to serve our community by becoming your go-to for tree and landscaping services in the Nashville area. Our goal is to help you achieve your goal. To facilitate this, we have listed below some of the common “pros” and “cons” of tree removal.

Some of the Possible Benefits of Tree Removal

More Space and Light

Removal of trees, especially of older trees with large trunks and canopies, opens up your property to an increase in space and light. If you have a small backyard or a yard that is permanently shaded, you may be amazed by how the removal of a few carefully selected trees can drastically improve your landscape. Similarly, if you have any outdoor living spaces, such as a porch or a patio, intentional tree removal may dramatically improve these spaces and extend their usage (early and later each day, earlier in spring and later into the fall season).

Tree and Plant Health

Tightly packed trees, or trees that are competing for space, not only block the light from other trees and plants, but they can also grow unnaturally and take on an unkempt or unhealthy appearance. Similarly, certain trees require lots of water and can end up stealing water from surrounding plants or trees. Tree removal can thus provide an opening for the remaining trees to grow in a more beautiful and natural way and can relieve the water stress placed on other plants.

Trees Can Be Dangerous

Due to age, heavy snow, or strong winds, trees, branches, or limbs can fall on your home, automobiles, power lines, or landscape features causing catastrophic damage or even death. Even trees and branches that do not fall may rub up against your home, potentially causing damage to your home’s exterior and roof. Trees within falling distance of your home should be thoroughly inspected often to ensure that they are in good health. However, good health does not guarantee safety.

Trees Can Be Expensive

Even beyond the previously mentioned watering and upkeep costs, trees will shed branches, limbs, leaves, needles, and bark. All of these can create a mess and cost money to clean up. Furthermore, dripping sap can be an incredible nuisance and can cost irreversible damage to your home’s (or car’s) exterior.

Some of the Possible Negative Consequences of Tree Removal

Unforeseen Damage to Your Landscape’s Ecosystem

Plants rely on each other in a wide-variety of ways that scientists are still just beginning to understand. Your backyard is a system of complex interactions between the plants and animals that live there. Cutting down a tree, or multiple trees, can dramatically alter the light and moisture levels, as well as the soil pH and mineral composition. Furthermore, removal of native trees in particular may increase the chances of insect infestations. Native trees have a better chance of attracting native wildlife such as birds that will reduce insect numbers. Additionally, abrupt changes can weaken the remaining plants, making them more susceptible to pests. Finally, tree root systems help to maintain the integrity of your land. If a tree is removed and the roots die, steep slopes or areas near shorelines or riverbanks can become increasingly susceptible to erosion. Some of these changes happen quickly, others may take a long time, but all of them will impact your landscape.

Unforeseen Loss of Your Landscape’s Visual Harmony

It’s hard to imagine what your landscape will look like without a feature as important and prominent as a tree. Even the removal of one tree can dramatically change the composition of your backyard and skyline. Removal of multiple trees could create a landscape that feels desolate or empty, especially if you have always had trees in your backward.

Expensive, Irreplicable Change

Tree removal in itself is normally an easy and inexpensive procedure, but stump grinding or stump removal can be costly and time-consuming. Adding insult to injury, if you later decide that you wish you had not removed the tree or trees, there’s not much you can do. Bringing in full-grown trees is incredibly expensive and sometimes impossible. Therefore, if you have removed a tree that you wish you hadn’t, often the only option is to wait until a newly planted sapling grows to fill the space. This could take decades.

On the bright side, in addition to tree and stump removal, The Parke Company offers on-site mulching services that can decrease costs and increase the nutrient and moisture levels of your soil and the beauty of your backyard.

Additional Tree Services

Sometimes the appropriate decision to make is not one of the obvious choices. If cutting is too drastic, yet you are unhappy with the current state of the trees in your landscape, we have additional options for you.

Perhaps your trees just need to be trimmed. Tree trimming can offer many of the same benefits as tree removal without the permanence or the hassle of deciding what to do with the stubborn and unsightly stumps and root systems.

Maybe you require additional tree services. From removal to trimming, pruning to crown thinning, cabling and bolting to weight reduction, The Parke Company has the experience to assess your current situation and develop a plan that best fits your landscape vision.

If you have decided to go ahead with the removal process, but do not like the final results; or if your landscape feels empty as it is, we can help you make decisions around which trees grow the fastest and are the best suited for your specific landscape geography and desires.

A History and Reputation We Stand Behind

No matter what you decide, we are honored to be a part of the decision-making process. 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 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.

How To Guide: Produce Striking Landscape Combinations with Professional Help

Whether your home’s landscape is just getting started or it has been an integral part of your estate for generations, improvements can always be made. Your home and property is an extension of yourself and an outward expression of who you are and what you value. The very fact that you are thinking of making changes says that there is something about your landscape that is nagging at you or some way that you envision it being different.

In both cases, if you are developing a landscape that complements your home for the first time or just tweaking an existing landscape, it is incredibly important that you turn to someone who will take the time to consider your specific goals and the particulars of your location and geography before making recommendations. At The Parke Company, we pride ourselves on our approach to landscape development and maintenance. Our years of experience coupled with our long list of landscaping services enables us to provide you with the individualized professional help you and your landscape deserve.

First Steps in Landscape Development – Planning and Removal

When developing a new landscape or altering an existing one, the first step must be planning. The Parke Company has the experience to turn your landscaping dreams into a reality no matter what geological impediments stand in the way. We will work with you and with your landscape budget to develop a plan that complements your unique desires and situation.

While planning, it is important to know that one of the most crucial changes to your landscape may be the removal of existing landscape elements. To prepare your lawn or backyard for additions or alterations (or simply to open up space, allow for more light, or to maximize natural rainwater distribution) it is quite common to extract certain aspects before adding anything new.

Nashville’s Unique Landscape Options

The upside, or perhaps the downside, of landscape planning in Nashville is the vast array of options and possibilities. Depending on your budget and the unique characteristics of your property, almost anything you set your mind to can be achieved. On the one hand, homeowners should see this as an exciting perk to living in such a diverse and beautiful area. On the other hand, this may have a crippling impact on your ability to make decisions and prioritize changes to your landscape. All the more reason why you should look to a professional that knows the area and can help you make informed decisions that are right for you and your landscape, now and in the future.

Landscape Configurations and Combinations

A painting is much more than a bunch of individual brush strokes. A program code is much more than a list of 0s and 1s. Similarly, your landscape is much more than the features and plants that it contains. How each element of your landscape interacts with the others is incredibly important in developing the overall aesthetic and feeling you desire. Even with the best of intentions and a well developed, specific list of landscaping desires, if the configurations or combinations are wrong, the whole thing can fall flat. What looks beautiful or functionally efficient in your mind may not be so in reality. Even worse, if you have not thought long and hard about how the various aspects of your landscape will interact, the final product may lead to disastrous outcomes.

For example, there are certain landscaping elements whose placement must be considered first. Fire pits, swimming pools, fountains, and ponds are a few examples of such elements. For fire pits, or any type of outside heating source (such as grills, outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, etc.), it is extremely important to take into consideration the surrounding landscape. Overhanging trees are of course a no-no as heat, sparks, or flames could ignite them leading to considerable, if not devastating, damage to your property and home. Less thought of are the types of plants growing near a heating source, but they are also important. Grasses, bushes, or shrubs that wither and die or shed leaves during colder months should not be placed near heating sources as the dead plant matter can easily ignite and quickly spread to an uncontainable fire.

Large sources of water must also be considered. Pools or fountains with cement walls can attract unwanted wandering roots that can crack or damage their foundations. Any water source that is not contained or leaks slightly can provide an overabundance of moisture for plants that prefer drier soils. Additionally, if placed in close proximity to a water source, plants that shed their leaves during the offseason can be a nuisance and, due to the increased need for leaf removal, can make pool, fountain, or pond maintenance increasingly difficult and expensive.

Just as there are configurations and combinations to avoid, there are also those that should be embraced. While some pairings are aesthetic, others focus on what is best for the plant species. Dark stone situated near green grass or brightly colored flowers can create a much desired visual contrast. Similarly, the look of manicured elements (such as topiaries) within a more wild or natural backdrop can create a yin and yang atmosphere. In such cases, it is also important to take into consideration the long-term costs associated with pruning. Placing edible plants near other flowers can help with cross-pollination leading to a greater likelihood of fruits and a decreased need for maintenance. However, in this specific case, it is also important to not place either of them too close to patios or outdoor sitting areas, especially if you are allergic to bee or wasp stings, as the location of their flowers will increase the presence of these insects. In some cases, combinations can have both aesthetic and mutually beneficial results. For example, integration of various mulch types or rain gardens can be beautiful, but can also have the added benefit of increasing soil nutrients and moisture levels and retention.

Why The Parke Company is Nashville’s Go-To for Landscaping Combination Services

From moisture levels to shading to slope, every single landscape is different. What looks beautiful on your neighbor’s lawn or at your friend’s winter residence in Florida may not work in your backyard. Nashville’s unique climate offers many challenges, but also many rewards. When it comes to selecting the landscape configurations and combinations that are specifically right for you, it is important to turn to professionals who know the area well, can help you avoid common landscaping mistakes, and can provide you with open and honest feedback, guidance, and support.

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 local arborists and landscapers 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 (615-350-6033) or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you.

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

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

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.