Springtime Seasonal Landscaping Maintenance in Nashville

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.

Landscaping to Lower Your Energy and Water Bills

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.

How to End Standing Water in Your Nashville Lawn

leaves in water

Did you know that Nashville gets over 47 inches of rain each year? If you have an area in your lawn that always seems to attract standing water, you’re probably well aware that Nashville gets its fair share of precipitation. We are also pretty sure that you are not looking forward to May, Nashville’s rainiest month.

Standing water is more than just an inconvenience, particularly if it is gathering along or near your foundation. There is a solution for standing water, it’s just not what most people think it is.

The water is standing because the ground is a low spot, right? So, to correct that, all you need to do is add topsoil and build the ground up. That’s a popular belief, but unfortunately it doesn’t solve the problem. The topsoil eventually will be washed away, and the standing water will return.

Short of grading your entire lawn, the water that lands on the lawn is still going to drain to what is your “low spot.” What you need is a way to move that water to another location. What you need is a French ditch.

Ditch Digging Your Way to a Dry Landscape

At the Parke Company, Nashville’s leading landscaping service and tree service, we are no strangers to lawns with standing water. Water seeks the lowest level and if you put something in the way of that natural flow, like the foundation of a house, it will backup, saturate the soil, and become standing water. The solution is to capture that water and move it someplace else. And that’s just what a French ditch can do.

The French ditch has been in use since the mid-1850s, usually as a farm drainage system. While the materials have been upgraded since then, the concept remains the same. Essentially, you dig a ditch through the standing water area and to an area that can either absorb or disburse the moisture. The ditch uses a perforated pipe that allows water to percolate up into it and carries it away. Sounds like a simple lawn maintenance issue, right?

Well, if you’re planning on doing it yourself, here’s a quick list of equipment and materials that you will need:

  • Flat edge spade or rent a Ditch Witch
  • A pick
  • Perforated pipe and connectors (if required)
  • Dry well (if required)
  • Washed gravel (lots and lots of washed gravel)
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Enough garden fabric to cover the length of the pipe

Installing a French Ditch

Putting the ditch in takes a lot of physically challenging work. But before you break the first sweat, there are steps you want to take:

  • First, call your local utilities and find the location of any buried lines on your property. If you have an irrigation system, you’ll want to determine if the line or control cable runs through your projected ditch.
  • Stake out your ditch.
  • Start digging. The depth and width of the trench will depend on the size of the pipe you use. The ditch should be graded to lose 6 inches over 100 feet.
  • If you are going to use a dry well as a collection point, dig a hole for it at the end of your ditch.
  • Start pouring a gravel base into the ditch. Dump the gravel into the ditch and use the spade to spread it.
  • Lay the pipe and snap the end into the dry well (if applicable).
  • Cover the pipe with gravel and then cover with garden fabric to keep dirt from entering the perforated pipe.
  • Cover with dirt. If you were careful about saving the sod when you started digging, add the sod and tamp down.
  • Wait for a good rain to see results.

Contact The Parke Company

Of course, if you want to skip this exercise, give The Parke Company a call. Our lawn services are not limited to lawn mowing and tree trimming. We can solve your “standing water” problem fast and professionally. And if you take into consideration your time, material, and equipment costs, Deep Heat rub and aspirin expense, we can probably install your French ditch for less than you can. Call us today!

7 Fast Growing Trees for Your Nashville Landscape

While most of us probably take it for granted, we are lucky to have so many beautiful trees that prosper in Tennessee. Those trees can do a lot for a landscape. They give shade, color, vertical dimension, and they provide a habitat for birds, critters, and mostly useful insects. On the practical side, their shade can reduce energy bills, provide a windbreak, deafen traffic noise, and define property lines.

Trees are a valuable addition to a home. As a matter of fact, homes with trees sell faster than homes without, even if all other considerations are equal. Trees are a smart investment.

Here in Nashville, we not only have a wide range of trees to pick from, but many that are fast growing. Fast growing is a relative term when you’re talking about trees, but some species can grow 3 to 6 feet per year. When you think about transplanting trees, keep in mind that you won’t have to wait a generation to see the results.

What are the Fastest Growing Trees in Nashville?

Here are a few of our favorites, but be sure to read the caveat after the listing:

  1. Autumn Blaze Maple. Award-winning foliage and rapid growth make this maple a favorite among Nashville landscapes. It is insect and disease resistant and provides amazing autumn color.
  2. Thuja Green Giant. Another tree that is insect and disease resistant. Its root system requires a little space, so placement is important. That root system delivers 3 to 5 feet of growth per year.
  3. Arapaho Crape Myrtle. This tree provides a bright red color from spring through autumn. It doesn’t mind tight spots and it is also disease and insect resistant.
  4. Liberty Holly. Not for everyone, but it grows super fast almost anywhere you place it. It provides a dense screen and is fairly easy to maintain.
  5. Tulip Poplar. Is six feet a year fast enough for you? This tree has beautiful yellow blooms in the spring and offers a golden foliage in the autumn.
  6. Lombardy Poplar. Another six-foot-a-year grower that is great for windbreaks.
  7. Autumn Cherry. Who doesn’t like cherry trees? Despite its name, the autumn cherry blooms both in the spring and the autumn. Giant white double blossoms provide an elegant presence. A very adaptable tree, it will grow almost anywhere.

While these are all fast growers, your results are going to depend on soil conditions, placement, irrigation, and other factors.

Enjoy the Beauty of New Trees Without the Hassle

If you decide to invest in new trees, you really owe it to yourself to contact Nashville’s leading landscaping service and tree service, the Parke Company. Our certified arborist can assist you in the selection and evaluate your property to determine the best placement. If your new tree is replacing a dead or diseased tree, we can do the tree removal and transplant.

Tree maintenance like tree trimming is a specialty of ours. At the Parke Company, we are equipped and staffed to handle all of your tree landscaping requirements. Give us a call today and we will be happy to share our suggestions for fast growing trees that will fit perfectly into your existing landscape.

Firepit Placement and Use to Avoid Damaging Trees

parke company firepit

Are you considering adding a firepit to your lawn? Firepits have become increasingly popular in Nashville. They are a great way for a family to share a “campfire” experience without actually having to sleep in a tent out in the woods. They also make great entertainment centers for more sophisticated gatherings.

One of the reasons firepits are enjoying such popularity is the wide range of choices offered by manufacturers. Firepits come in both portable and fixed installations. The price range runs from $200 for a simple steel bowl, wood fueled and portable, to thousands of dollars for a copper bowl, combination gas and wood fuel, permanent installation.

Regardless of the model or type of firepit you select, installation will be easier and safer if you use a professional landscaping service like the Parke Company. Known for our landscaping and tree trimming service, we also have extensive experience in “hardscaping,” or the installation of firepits, water features, gazebos, and more.

Considerations When Installing a Firepit

There are obviously aesthetic considerations when choosing a firepit. You want one that is sized appropriately for your lawn. Too big and your firepit will look like a pagan sacrifice altar. Too small and it will look like a misplaced Weber grill. If you are installing a permanent pit, it’s best if it is constructed from the same materials as your house, if possible.

But there are other, more serious concerns to address, including safe operation of the firepit. In fact, if you live in Nashville there is a regulation that says:

  •        Firepits must be constructed of steel, concrete, clay, or other noncombustible materials;
  •        They must be kept at least 15’ from the dwelling;
  •        They must burn wood or other solid fuels;
  •        The firepit must be attended by a responsible person equipped with a means to immediately extinguish the fire.

If you live outside of Nashville, call your local fire department to see if there are any restrictions.

More Safety Tips for Firepits

Then there are the obvious issues. In Nashville the pit has to be 15’ away from your home, but if that 15’ puts you under a tree or a tree’s overhanging branch, you have to move the pit. Trees represent the biggest threat of fire. The pit will be built on concrete, gravel, brick, or slate, so it won’t overheat and catch fire. However, a spark from a wood log can travel (particularly on a breezy night) and catch a tree on fire.

People like to buy firewood as fuel because you get the crackling, smoke, and aroma of a fireplace fire. Wood fuel comes with its own set of problems, though. Avoid using softwoods like pine and cedar as they have a tendency to “pop” and send embers flying. A hardwood like oak makes the best firewood. Obviously, you’ll need to keep a supply of split wood nearby and feed the fire when needed. Lastly, you need a plan to safely remove and dispose of ashes when the gathering ends.

Seating should be three feet back from the pit, constructed of a non-flammable material, and definitely not include any cushions. A concrete or brick sitting wall is a nice alternative to chairs.

Contact Us!

If you would like advice on planning a firepit, don’t hesitate to call the Parke Company now. We are happy to help!