Your Home Outdoors: Starting with Your Needs to Plan Your Dream Outdoor Living Space

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When it comes to planning a new outdoor living space, dreaming big is the easy part. The sky’s the limit in our minds, but the nitty gritty of establishing a budget and a plan can often feel confusing and disorienting.

Here at The Park Company, we want to use  our landscaping services, irrigation services, and tree services to transform your outdoor living space according to your dreams while still staying within your budget. Here’s how the process works.

Start with Anything and Everything

If you’re dreaming, dream big. When planning a major (or minor) renovation to your outdoor living space, there is no reason to initially constrain yourself. (That comes later.) Have fun and start by putting it all out on the table. Do you want a fountain? Great! An outdoor kitchen with a full wet bar? Why not! A koi pond and Japanese zen garden? Sounds wonderfully serene! The goal for this step in the process is to brainstorm in order to gather as many ideas and options as possible. Nothing is off limits.

We recommend exploring our website and the various services we offer as you begin to develop ideas. Drive around your neighborhood to look at your neighbor’s outdoor spaces. Talk to friends and family. Use the image search feature of your favorite search engine. Think long-term (what you’d like your outdoor space to look like in 20 years) and short-term (what you’d like to have by next year). Think about the potential for multi-seasonal use of your outdoor spaces. Imagine what you’d like to do in your backyard if anything was possible. Think of things you do inside and envision doing them outside. Compile a list of outdoor activities you leave your property to accomplish and then imagine what would have to happen for you to be able to complete these activities in your own yard.

Generate as many ideas as possible, but make sure to record them somewhere. An online folder with pictures and a written list is always a great way to start. It will make the next step much easier.

Organize Your Ideas to Fit Your Specific Outdoor Space

Now that you have an extensive list of ideas, it’s time to organize them. There are many ways to do this. You may want to organize by season, by types of outdoor activities, by varietal of plant species, by some sort of color scheme, by keeping or cutting your trees, by things that you can do yourself versus things you would need professional help to complete (think raking leaves versus stump grinding), etc.

The main thing to avoid at this stage of the game is eliminating anything. Sure, your own personal nine-hole golf course might be a bit outside your price range, but for the organizational stage, it is still important that anything goes. Keeping a full list will help you see trends in your own desires and may make the process of onboarding a professional that much easier.

One simple, but highly effective tool you can utilize is a graphic organizer such as a Venn diagram or T-chart. By using different organizational structures and then placing this side-by-side, you will start to get a clearer picture of which ideas are common across all of the different potential renovation plans and which only fit into very specific outdoor living space concepts.

Budget, Prioritize, and Plan

Once you’ve organized your ideas, it’s time to get real by budgeting, prioritizing, and planning. It’s also time to contact a professional.

Budgeting is, for most people, the least enjoyable step in realizing your outdoor living space dreams, but it doesn’t have to be. With support from the professionals at The Parke Company, you might be surprised by just how far your money can go. This is especially true when planning long-term, multi-year renovation projects.

Once you’ve determined a realistic and sustainable budget, your next step is to begin to prioritize various outdoor projects or concepts. You may not have the money for the aforementioned golf course, but perhaps a putting green is feasible. A wet bar may be outside your reach, but a tiki bar may be obtainable. Maybe the deck comes this year, the grill next year, and the jacuzzi the year after that. Though these are highly personal decisions, a landscaping professional can help you see which aspects of your overall plan can be easily realized within your budget and help to you determine what and where to cut, if necessary.

Finally, it’s time to plan. Your dream is specific to you and your landscape is different from others. The planning stage should take into consideration your organized and prioritized ideas, your budget, your timeline, and the attributes of your current landscape and home. Only once all of these aspects are taken into account can a thoughtful and realistic plan, be developed.

Let The Parke Company Help You Make Your Dream Outdoor Living Space a Reality

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 outdoor living spaces, we have all your bases covered. We know the soil, water tables, plants, and seasons and how each of these may directly or indirectly impact your specific landscape. We have the local experience, knowledge, and know how to help you realize your dreams.

Our certified team of Nashville locals has a reputation for being clean, consistent, and professional, and for being leaders in their industries. Here at The Parke Company, we 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 at (615) 350-6033 or contact us online today to see how The Parke Company difference can work for you.

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!