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!

Let’s Get Festive: Decorating Tips for the Holidays

home Christmas lights at night

October is the beginning of the holiday season. You have Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving, and then right on into Christmas and New Year’s, to say nothing of all of the little extra family gatherings that exist along the way. While it’s nice to decorate for the seasons, and a little bit of holiday cheer can be just the thing to take your lawn to the next level, it can also wreak havoc on the health of your plants and grass. Keeping everything nice and healthy is something that we here at the Parke Company believe is crucial, not just because a healthy lawn is something that will make you happy, but also because you have spent so much time working on it all year, why stop now? With that in mind, here are some tips to make your yard look holiday-appropriate, while also maintaining the proper level of care for the green and the growing.

Light and Fluffy

Possibly the most important thing you can do to make sure your lawn is not damaged is taking a look at the weight of any decorations you set out. The heavier they are, the more damaging it will be to the grass underneath it. If (and possibly when) it snows, this issue will be compounded even further because there is no way for the grass to get any air and it will die, leaving large, ugly yellow patches come spring. So, while the Nativity scene probably looks nice, it might be better suited somewhere else than the front yard.

If you do want to keep the statutes and other decorations up, try for something lighter. This also goes for the trees. Hanging anything heavy from them, or anything that has the potential to get icy and heavier – such as a string of Christmas lights – can put too much stress on the tree, leading to potential damage. Preparing for this by trimming the tree and checking for branch stability first is a must.

Light it Up

Something else to think about is the lighting. Using a lot of lighting, such as string lights or LED projectors, might look nice but they can be a drain on your energy bill. Plus you run the risk of an electrical fire, especially if it is a traditionally dry Nashville fall, where everything is brittle and ready to blaze up at a given moment. One way to avoid this is to check the connections on any lighting you use to make sure it’s safe. Of course, if your lawn is properly watered on a regular basis, like through the use of irrigation, that also helps minimize the damage.

The holiday season is a great way to try some new landscaping design techniques, but it can also be an easy time to forget what makes for the best lawns: a healthy and conscientious approach. Remember to keep the health of your lawn in mind when decorating this holiday season, as it will pay great dividends come spring.

Backyard Weddings: How to Make Your Backyard Special for Your Special Day

landscaping and irrigation

Weddings in Nashville are pretty expensive. For some couples, this isn’t an issue, having been blessed with a financially gifted family or great forward thinking. For most couples, however, the stress of the big day is usually the first test they face. With that in mind, many couples are looking to save money any way they can, and since one of the largest expenses is the venue, many look at hosting a smaller outdoor wedding in their own backyards. We here at the Parke Company are big fans of this idea, as it gives the regular backyard a chance to shine in new, unexpected ways. After all, why should the bridal party have all of the fun? It can seem a little daunting, but with a couple of quick changes, the lawn will be wedding ready in no time.

Flowers and Greens and Growing Things

One of the easiest things you can do is something you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about during the course of your wedding planning already: flowers. It is pretty easy to put flowers that match your wedding’s color scheme in baskets, displayed nicely around the yard, but there are some other, more natural ideas that work just as well. One idea is to actually plant fresh flowers around the surrounding area to make a natural perimeter. A trellis archway covered in naturally occurring vines is a nice way to cap off the idea, creating a sort of secret garden-esque feeling. It is important to remember to get plants that are in season, otherwise they might begin to die and wither before the occasion, killing not only the plant, but also the mood. Beyond just the flowers, it is a good idea to incorporate seasonal greens and fruits and vegetables as well. So for an autumn wedding, work in things such as corn and pumpkins or cherries, while a spring wedding would call for something along the lines of strawberries. With the sheer amount of color available in the flower and edible plants world, finding something that matches or complements the colors of your party should be a snap.

Incorporating the Existing Landscape

If you are going to have your wedding outdoors, other than making sure the lawn looks nice (i.e. no dead patches of grass or gnarled branches hanging over the guests’ heads) it is important to incorporate the natural landscape into the design of the “venue.” For instance, if there is a prominently displayed tree in the area where your wedding will be, make that a centerpiece of the design, as the backdrop for the bride and groom or as a photospace. Your lawn is special and unique, you might as well make use of it.

Once you begin to view your backyard as the setting for your wedding and not just the space around your home, the landscape design ideas will start to flow and become endless. Of course, if along the way you need a little help with the construction, or planting or fixing, the professionals here at the Parke Company are only a call away.

Beat the Heat by Adding a Swimming Pool

backyard pool landscaping

It gets pretty hot in Nashville and the surrounding areas, and tends to stay hot longer than many places. While there are many ways to stay cool during the summer months, only one provides a degree of physical activity that won’t make you want to die afterwards, and that is swimming. Of course, for many this means heading to a lake, which isn’t always practical, or a visit to the local public swimming area, which brings with it all sorts of health and privacy concerns. The obvious answer to these concerns is to add a pool to your existing landscape. It sounds like a lot of work, but the sheer amount of fun and enjoyment it will provide is worth it, to say nothing of the value it adds to your home if you decide to sell later on.

Fun in the Sun

The first thing you need to decide is where you want the pool to be, and then figure out what kind of physical setbacks you will have to overcome. This is where we step in. We at the Parke Company are great at coming up with a nice landscape design that incorporates all of your wants and desires, including pools. One thing to keep in mind is that a pool needs to be on a flat surface, so if your backyard is particularly slanted, a great deal of digging and flattening will need to happen. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, because once you are engaged in that level of construction it tends to open up a lot of design options. If the pool ends up on a higher level than the house, a stepped terrace might be a good idea, for example, or if there is a retaining wall involved, add bushes or a climbing vine.

Adding the Green

The fun part is the way you can integrate landscape elements into the design of the pool. For example, everyone who owns a pool wants privacy, but fences can come across as cold and inhumane. Instead, why not add small trees or bushes to block any unwanted eyes? Inside the pool area itself is the perfect place for something more tropical or a little more ostentatious than the rest of your landscape. Grab some pots and planters and go to town with it. You can always take it a step further, too, by making the deck of the pool area entirely grass. No one ever said it had to be wood or concrete or what have you, and a grass deck will definitely make things look a lot more natural.  

Pools are a lot of work, both to install and to maintain, but it is definitely worth it in the long run. It is something we here at the Parke Company believe in very strongly, because of the landscape design options it gives our workers. Plus there’s just something magical about being able to walk into your own backyard and get into the water whenever you want. If that feeling is something you would like to experience yourself, give us a call and let’s get started!

Addition by Subtraction: The Importance of Landscape Removal

tree stump

One of the more common things we talk about on this blog is the addition of things. You need to add a new pool, a fountain, or certain kinds of flowers and bushes. Sometimes, however, in order to make your lawn look nice, you need to take something out of it, whether that be an old stump that’s just kind of sitting there or a series of dead bushes that couldn’t quite hack it during a bout of intense heat. We here at the Parke Company specialize not only in removing these unwanted distractions, but also in turning them into something more useful and beneficial to your lawn.

Stumped

The most common thing most people need to have removed from their lawns is tree stumps. They tend to be gnarled, knotty old things, truly showcasing how tough trees are, but usually they just end up as eyesores that take up a lot of valuable space, as well as distracting from a well cultivated landscape. Their impact on the visuals aren’t the only problem they present. They can be somewhat dangerous, depending on their size, and can also become a decaying home for harmful insects, or a mother to a lot of new tree sprouts, which if left untended long enough could be serious competition for the other thing growing nearby. The truth is there are lots of reasons to remove a tree stump. In the old days, all it would take to remove the problem would be some chains and a couple of willing horses. Of course, that’s not really an option for many, which is why we here at the Parke Company offer our services. The removal of a tree stump isn’t something that should be left to amateurs, considering the kind of heavy machinery needed and the way stump roots have a pesky way of getting tangled, which is why it’s best left to us.

Now what?

Once the problem has been removed, then what happens? One of the best parts about the services we here at the Parke Company provide is that we take the offending plant and chip it down into something more manageable, namely mulch, which can then be reused to help something more organic take the place of the dead stump. Mulch plays an important part in the growing and planting process, helping regulate the water flow to the newly planted item, as well as a degree of protection. Plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you didn’t waste the wood in something trivial like a fire, but instead see the effects it has every time you look at whatever you planted in its stead.

Tree stumps, fallen trunks and dead bushes make your lawn look like something from an apocalyptic movie – not the image most people are looking to project. We at the Parke Company are happy to change that to something a little more to your liking, so give us a call today, so we can remove the problem from your lawn.