Ground Cover: Right or Wrong for Your Yard?

Ground cover

For homeowners, a lawn is both a blessing and curse. When a lawn is lush and well-maintained it greatly increases the property’s curb appeal. But if left unchecked for too long, a yard can quickly devolve into a warzone. Weeds, dead grass, tall grass, fungi, and other unwanted guests can infest this space at an alarming rate. It takes a lot more effort to undo the damage of these lawn problems than it does to prevent them from occurring. One way to protect a lawn from such chaos is by planting ground cover. But is ground cover the cure for every yard?

What is Ground Cover?

Ground cover refers to several species of plant that grow low to the topsoil, including grass. These plants help keep the soil hydrated and cool while warding off unwanted weeds. Though grass is a type of ground cover, people often categorize it separately because it is the most common type of cover for lawns (i.e. when we think of lawns we think of grass). Ground cover comes in many varieties, including the succulent Stonecrop, colorful Creeping Phlox, and darker Brass Buttons.

Which Yards Benefit from Ground Cover?

In truth, just about any yard can use some ground cover. It’s partially an aesthetic decision, though it also makes a big difference in terms of lawn maintenance. The majority of ground cover plants don’t rapidly grow upward like standard grass. This means that lawn mowing isn’t necessary over these spots. Some species will require a little trimming here and there, but for the most part, ground cover is extremely low-maintenance.

Yards that often experience bare spots and/or weed growth are prime candidates for ground cover. Since these plants help maintain the topsoil, they can often grow in these otherwise barren locations, filling out one’s yard while adding new texture and color. Ground cover, as previously mentioned, also stops weeds from growing, essentially maintaining itself. Those who enjoy gardening can also make good use of groundcover. With so many options, you can create patterns and outlines using groundcover to create a border or fill in a garden and protect it from unwanted weeds.

Is Ground Cover Ever Wrong for a Yard?

In short: no. It’s really a matter of taste and practicality. If you don’t have time to maintain your lawn and can’t afford to hire lawn services, installing ground cover makes a lot of sense. It will save you time and money on every aspect of yard maintenance. However, many homeowners would rather have grass fill their yard. This simply requires more effort in terms of watering, weeding, mowing, and fertilizing. Most people opt for a combination of traditional grass and ground cover. This way, bare spots and problem areas can be addressed with minimal effort, and the lawn as a whole still retains that classic look.

Everyone wants a beautiful, healthy lawn. If you’re struggling to achieve or maintain this, The Parke Company can help. We provide customers with complete landscaping services, including irrigation, maintenance, tree removal and trimming, stump grinding, and more. Whether you want to try some new ground cover or simply fix up a damaged lawn, give us a call today at (615)-350-6033.

The Year Round Guide to Maintaining Landscaping Irrigation Systems in Nashville

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No matter the size of your lawn and gardens, irrigation can have many benefits for your property and should be a key component of your lawn maintenance plan. An individualized, thought out, properly installed and maintained irrigation system can save you money and time, as well as conserve water. These benefits alone make it both a sensible and an environmentally conscious way to improve your property.

However, an irrigation system that is poorly planned, improperly installed, or not maintained can have the opposite effect and end up costing you both time and money in the long-term. Therefore, it is incredibly important to consult a highly trained landscape professional for every aspect of your irrigation planning, installation, and maintenance needs.

Maintenance Can Make or Break an Irrigation System

A well designed and installed irrigation system is only as efficient and effective as its maintenance plan. An unmaintained or improperly maintained system can be wracked by a plethora of issues. Broken or cracked pipes can leak. This will end up costing you money, interrupting irrigation, and flooding your property. Tilted, sunken, or improperly installed spray heads provide uneven water distribution and can lead to dry patches and overly saturated areas. Blocked or improperly placed heads (such as behind a tree) can also lead to large portions of your lawn or garden not receiving adequate irrigation. Timers that are either broken or not properly set up can lead to over or under watering, or can foster a system that irrigates during the hottest hours of the day when evaporation will undermine the effectiveness of your irrigation system. Additionally, water pressure that is either too high or too low can lead to evaporation, flooding, or inefficient coverage, and can potentially damage your lawn or garden.

All of these issues can be identified, mitigated, or corrected through frequent and proper irrigation system maintenance. Ideally, your system should be checked monthly, though seasonal maintenance is a minimum. Below are the steps that should be taken seasonally to ensure that your irrigation system is running as smoothly, effectively, and efficiently as possible.

Please note: a professional irrigation company should always be utilized to guarantee proper servicing of your specific system. Though do-it-yourself irrigation system installations and fixes may be tempting, improper care can simply be too risky and too costly.

Winter Maintenance

Winter irrigation preparation and maintenance is vitally important in order to prevent damages during the colder months. Winterization is a necessary step for all irrigation systems in Tennessee.

The first step is to shut off the main water source and to open manual drain valves to allow gravity to facilitate drainage. If you have an automatic controller, it is also very important to shut this off or switch it to manual. Next, your newly empty system should be pressurized with compressed air. This should be done to each system or zone until the heads in all zones blow air, ensuring full system compression and drainage. Finally, your controllers should be reset to automatic to run a few minutes every month over the winter.

Seem complicated? It is. This is why we strongly recommend hiring a professional to help facilitate the winterization of your irrigation system.

Spring Maintenance

Proper spring startup of your irrigation system is just as important as effective winterization. Start by making sure you have all the necessary replacement parts on hand. If you uncover any issues during the repressurization process, it is important to be able to fix them quickly. Next, test your lawns and gardens to ensure they are frost free. For a buried system, you should also check the soil to the depth of the pipes. Filling frozen pipes with water is an all but guaranteed way to crack or break them. Finally, if the system seems ready, close all manual drains and re-open the main valve to the water supply. Once each zone has water flowing, thoroughly check your system for damages sustained during the winter months. Even a small crack or a slightly relocated or realigned head could result in costly water loss or improper watering in the long run.

Summer & Fall Maintenance

Though not as important as winterization and spring startup, consistent maintenance throughout the summer and fall months is paramount to a well-functioning irrigation system. Your system should be frequently and thoroughly inspected for leaks; misaligned, sunken, or clogged heads; improperly set timers; irregularities in valves and flow; insufficient water pressure, etc. Any problems that are discovered during routine inspections should be swiftly and effectively dealt with to maintain the integrity of your irrigation systems.

It Doesn’t Stop at Maintenance – Other Irrigation Support

From planning to installation, maintenance to monitoring, and everything in between, The Parke Company is here to help you and support your irrigation system. We offer a wide variety of irrigation and lawn services, and have the skills and experience to meet your irrigation needs, whatever they may be. Our expert irrigators not only ensure excellence in design, installation techniques, and equipment used, but they are also specialists in water and resource conservation. Using pressure-regulated sprays and proper scheduling can make a substantial environmental impact. We’ll make sure you get the best advice when planning your irrigation project to ensure you create the perfect system to fit your needs. Whether you are looking for a new installation or seasonal tune-up, it’s important to remember that your irrigation system is a vital part of your landscaping investment.

Whatever Your Irrigation Needs Are, Let The Parke Company Go to Work for You

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. We know Nashville. When it comes to irrigation, we know the soil, water tables, and the specific water requirements for species endemic to Tennessee. 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.

Irrigation Project Plan: The Key Decisions to Consider to Plan Your Irrigation Project

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What does it take to ensure you have a truly perfect yard, a yard that’s inevitably the envy of the block? It can often start with the perfect irrigation plan. The Parke Company can help you plan, install, test, and maintain an irrigation system that will ensure your plants flourish for years to come. Here are some important aspects to consider as you plan your ideal irrigation project.

Irrigation Project Planning and Design

Before any planning can start, it is critical to measure and draw your property lines, examining the property carefully, and making a map that can be referred to as key decisions are made. During the irrigation system planning and designing process any and all obstacles must be considered –  driveways, walkways, trees, shrubs, decks, etc.

The next crucial step is to identify the different areas of your property (lawn, vegetable garden, flower beds, groves, etc.) and designate watering zones based on the needs of each area. Different watering zones will require different sprinkler heads. An analysis of the watering needs for each area should happen before any key decisions are made. Watering zones should be determined based on the characteristics of the soil, amount of natural light, and the water needs of the plants within that zone. Different plants will, of course, have different watering needs, and shaded areas have different water requirements than those exposed to lots of sun. A well-designed irrigation system will have one type of sprinkler head per watering zone. Each zone will thus use the same type of sprinkler head and have its own valve and appropriate sized pipe to serve those sprinklers. Your irrigation system design should ensure that sprinklers are spaced evenly and spray patterns overlap for complete coverage that makes certain there are no dry patches in your plan.

Key Components For Your Irrigation Project

The key components needed to implement an irrigation system are proper irrigation pipes, sprinkler heads, and valves (preferably with timers). Before you make key decisions around what types of components are needed to implement your irrigation plan, you’ll need to determine the water flow of the entire system. This will inform decisions around what size pipes you will need, how many sprinkler heads you will need, and what type of valves are best suited for your specific needs. Your water source’s GPM (gallons per minute) will also need to be measured in order to design and implement an irrigation plan that best suits your property.

When it comes to irrigation pipes, the pipe length, the number of sprinkler heads the pipe serves, and the water flow (or GPM) for each pipe will determine what size pipe belongs where in your irrigation system. Each watering zone will also require appropriate sized sprinkler heads. Lawn maintenance, for example, will require large sprinklers while flower beds benefit from smaller sprinklers. It is vital that you choose a sprinkler that thoroughly covers the watering zone. Other considerations include whether the area would benefit more from a rotating (rotor) sprinkler head or a fixed spray head. Once you’ve decided what type of sprinkler heads go where, ensure that you have the correct number of sprinkler heads to adequately water the area. Once the layout of water lines and sprinkler heads has been decided, it is important to establish the best placement for the system’s main shut-off valve, which will be connected to the sprinkler valve manifolds. A backflow prevention device valve will also be a vital part of your system in order to prevent unwanted materials from backflowing into your main water supply. Timers are also great assets to include in a quality irrigation system.

Further Considerations to Keep in Mind as You Plan Your Irrigation System

Water conservation should be a primary consideration as you plan your irrigation system. Conserving water is not only vital for the environment, it also prevents excessive water runoff that can cause damage to your lawn. Moreover, water conservation saves you money as it often results in lower utility costs. There are a variety of ways to ensure your system uses optimal water conservation techniques. For starters, you’ll want to set up the system to ensure you are only watering areas that need it while avoiding pavement or other areas that don’t need to be watered. The system should only water at night and in the early morning to prevent evaporation. Timers should be used as efficiently as possible and it is often a good idea to install a rain sensor so the system shuts off during rainfall. You’ll want to choose the smallest sprinkler heads required to cover each watering zone and keep in mind that short bursts of watering are often better than extended periods.

Additional information to consider when making decisions around your irrigation system include potential winterizing strategies, recommendations around what type of underground piping you should use in your area, and even whether or not your area requires permits or has any regulations around irrigation systems.

Let The Parke Company Help Plan the Perfect Irrigation System for You

The Parke Company’s irrigation services include the installation of new systems, re-energizing existing systems, additions and repairs to existing systems, backflow testing, and winterization and spring start up of systems. Our expert irrigators not only ensure excellence in design, installation techniques, and equipment used, but they are also specialists in water and resource conservation. Using pressure-regulated sprays and proper scheduling can make a substantial environmental impact. We’ll make sure you get the best advice when planning your irrigation project to ensure you create the perfect system to fit your needs. Whether you are looking for a new installation or seasonal tune-up, see why an irrigation system is a vital part of your landscaping investment.

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 arborists and irrigation professionals 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. To inquire further about The Parke Company’s top-notch lawn services, 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.

Landscaping: Comprehensive Planning, Budgeting, and Installation the Parke Way

pond and trees

From tree removal to brush clearing, lawn aeration to stump grinding, leaf vacuuming to firewood processing, locally owned and operated The Parke Company is Nashville’s go-to for landscaping  services. We have the knowledge and know-how to provide you with consistent, professional-quality service no matter what your landscaping needs may be. As a company with deep roots in Nashville, we take great pride in giving back to the community by providing a valuable and reliable service that you can depend on year after year. We are, therefore, always honest, professional, and patient. We take the time to get to know you so that we may better serve your specific needs.

Comprehensive Planning – What Landscaping Services or Management Plans Are Best for You

Planning for the Landscape of Your Dreams

You know what you want, and we know how to best get you there. It is only together that we can best fulfill your needs and dreams.

If you are, unfortunately, reaching out to us in a time of emergency, we will provide you with expedited storm damage service to get the issue resolved and your life back to normal as fast as possible.

If you are instead reaching out to us because you want to revamp the style of (and add value to) your property, we start by taking the time to listen closely to what improvements you want and why. We then utilize our years of experience to custom-fit our skills and abilities with your landscape desires.

Our landscaping design and building 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 of trees, shrubs, groundcovers, perennials, or seasonal plants. We can create and amend beds. We are experts in developing and maintaining hardscapes (stonework, masonry, ponds, and fountains). We have vast experience with sodding. In addition, we can help establish a personalized lawn maintenance plan for your property, just to name a few. If they are a crucial component of your dream landscape, we can also provide top-notch tree, irrigation, mulching, and chipping services.

Consistent and Professional Municipality Services

If you are the representative of a municipality looking for our services, rest assured that we have the skills to take on your needs within your budgetary constraints.

The Parke Company has worked with Belle Meade and Forest Hills, among others. We offer these municipalities and others a wide range of consistent and professional landscaping services, including brush clearing, right-of-way maintenance, storm damage cleanup, emergency tree removal, and bag leaf removal. We are familiar with the landscaping needs of small and large municipalities and are able to work within your budget to develop a maintenance plan that is specifically tailored to fit your requirements and those of your constituents.

In either situation, personal or public, our goal is to provide a planning service that is personalized to your specific needs. 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 being the go-to for tree and landscaping services in the Nashville area. Our goal is to help you achieve your goal.

Budgeting – How We Can Help You Make the Most of Your Landscaping Management Investment

Budgeting is most people’s least favorite part of the project planning process. However, at The Parke Company, we love it! No matter the size of the landscaping project, all too often, budgeting plays a limiting rather than supporting role.

In many cases, someone has an idea of what they’d like to accomplish and puts lots of time and thought into this idea, only to find out that it is outside of their budget. We like to shake things up and help our clients realize (even exceed) their goals within their budget.

By leveraging our years of experience, our vast set of specialized skills, and our community-focused approach, you’ll be amazed by what we can achieve within your budget.

Once we have a thorough understanding of your specific projects and/or long-term maintenance goals, we will develop a clear, intuitive budget. We then take the time to review the budget item by item to ensure that you know exactly what you are getting and where your money is going. Throughout this fully transparent process, we remain flexible and work to achieve our primary goal, which helps you achieve yours. Our team of tree and landscaping professionals will offer suggestions that better fit your particular project and budget. Similarly, as with the planning process, we are always looking for your input and thoughts. It is not uncommon to develop a plan, review the budget, and return to the planning process.

This is all a part of our desire to provide you with the best, individualized service at the best price.

In the case of emergencies, we can provide rapid estimates so that we can get you back on your feet, and your life back to normal, as fast as possible.

Nashville’s Go-To for Careful and Consistent Tree, Lawn, and Landscaping Service

Well-manicured landscapes and the serenity they provide are important to us; that’s why we’re in this business. You shouldn’t have to forfeit this benefit just because you want to revamp, improve, or maintain your landscape. That is why we at The Parke Company, and our team of landscape professionals and ISA certified arborists, go the extra mile to ensure that disturbances are kept at a minimum.

We always arrive when scheduled. We are polite and friendly and will fully explain any and all steps in your individualized plan. We respect your property and strive to conscientiously maintain a clean environment from start to finish.

When a disturbance is necessary (in a stump removal, for example), we utilize state-of-the-art procedures that are as non-invasive as possible. We will also work with you in advance to develop a recovery plan that has your property looking better than before in no time. Our specialists are always learning. In addition to state-of-the-art techniques, we bring years of experience to the Nashville area. For your specific project, we’ll utilize a mixture of these skills (cutting-edge and time-tested) to ensure that our landscaping and arboreal services exceed your expectations.

When working with municipalities, we understand that a messy work site can be disruptive or downright dangerous to the general public. We take great pride in the cleanliness of our work sites and our ability to plan for potential issues before they arise.

Contact The Parke Company

Whether you are faced with an emergency tree removal or simply need help cleaning up your leaves, reach out to our team of local tree and landscaping service professionals. Together we will develop a comprehensive plan that works within your budget to address your specific needs. With deep roots in Nashville, it is our goal to provide you with the highest-quality service and to become your go-to for all of your landscaping needs. Give us a call or schedule landscaping services consultation today to find out how The Parke Company can help you.

Controlling Crabgrass and Dandelions Without Chemicals

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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.