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.

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.

Nashville Tree Guide: Selecting and Installing the Right Trees for Your Property and Needs

nashville-trees

Trees are important. More than important, trees are an essential part of the Tennessee countryside. From food to firewood, shade to oxygen, soil erosion prevention to creation of habitats for endemic birds and other species, trees in the greater Nashville area are much more than simply a beautiful adornment to the landscape. It’s hard to imagine the rolling hills of Davidson County without their picturesque blanket of naturally occurring trees. While Mother Nature has done an incredible job of creating this beautiful scene, there are many important factors to take into consideration when selecting and installing the right species of trees for your property and needs.

Why It’s Important to Start By Thinking Endemic

When developing a tree installation plan, start by considering endemic species. Endemic species are those that are native to a given area. Endemic tree species in Tennessee have been here for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years. Over this extended period of time, these trees have developed mutually beneficial relationships with other plants and animals that are also endemic to the area. They have also adapted to the environment, weather, seasons, soil conditions, etc. Both of these attributes make them more adept at restricting and limiting the establishment of invasive species (such as the emerald ash borer) and at surviving and flourishing within this geographical region. Endemic trees require less maintenance, are more likely to survive, and will be more likely to attract local bird species.

Maple and Ash and Oak, Oh My! – Trees Native to Tennessee

Due to the incredibly diverse forested landscapes in the temperate forests of Tennessee, Nashville area residents have a lot of endemic tree species to choose from.

If you are interested in something traditional, consider maple, ash, or oak. For maple, there are several larger options (red maple, silver maple, and sugar maple) and smaller options (striped maple and mountain maple) to choose from. However, the native ash (white ash and green ash) and oak (white oak, scarlet oak, southern red oak, overcup oak, bur oak, swamp chestnut oak, chinkapin oak, water oak, nuttall oak, cherrybark oak, willow oak, chestnut oak, northern red oak, shumard oak, post oak, and black oak) varietals are typically on the larger side.

Perhaps you prefer conifers to deciduous trees? If this is the case, you have the eastern red cedar, shortleaf pine, eastern white pine, loblolly pine, and eastern hemlock to choose from.

Maybe you’re looking for something a little more unique. Some options could include the pecan, hickories, black walnut, sycamore, black cherry, American linden, hornbeam, dogwood, hawthorn, or witch hazel.

Maybe you’re looking for a fast growing tree that will quickly fill in a desired space in your landscape or a hole created by a recently dead or removed tree.

If your head is starting to spin, don’t be ashamed. Nature has provided Tennesseans with perhaps too many options. Don’t panic! We’re here to help you select the right tree for your individual situation, desire, or needs.

What to Consider if Selecting Non-Native Trees

Don’t feel bad if you are thinking about incorporating a non-native tree species into your landscape. Certain decorative trees are highly appealing based on their aesthetic value. We understand.

However, when incorporating a non-native plant or tree into your landscape it is important that you work with an arborist who knows the species, what it requires, and how it interacts with other plants and animals. All too often, well-intentioned plans are ruined by incorporating a tree that simply cannot survive in a specific climate, soil, moisture gradient, or in close proximity to other specific species. This can be frustrating and costly. Give yourself peace of mind and let us help you establish a tree selection and installation plan that is right for you. We guarantee that we will help you realize your goals while also honoring and understanding the geographic and environmental limitations and constraints of the Tennessee landscape.

Tree Selection and Installation: What’s Right For You?

With so many options, it’s incredibly difficult to decide what’s right for you and for your specific landscape. This is why it can be incredibly beneficial to contact the tree experts at The Parke Company when planning your next tree installation project. Our certified arborists have decades of experience working with endemic and non-native tree species in every type of ecosystem and landscape that the greater Nashville area has to offer. We can help you decide where to plant specific species of trees in order to achieve your goals, whatever they may be. Just as important, we can also help you avoid planting trees in areas, soils, or habitats where they will struggle to survive, potentially saving you lots of frustration, time, and money in the long run.

Do You Have Issues with Trees on Your Property? The Parke Company is Here to Help

In addition to selection and installation, we are also here to help you with all of your tree needs. From crown thinning to cold weather care, weight reduction to cabling and bolting, tree removal to stump grinding, we offer a wide variety of tree services. However, we don’t stop there. Trees come with leaves – and we’ve got leaf cleanup and removal covered as well! We can also work with you to develop a landscape management plan to ensure that all aspects of your land, lawn, and gardens are well-maintained and cared for, not just your trees.

Whatever Your Tree 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. 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.

Better Planning for Longer Term Value in Your Next Chipping or Mulching Project

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When it comes to quality chipping or mulching projects, planning to ensure long-term value is key. Natural mulch – that dense mat of slowly decaying leaves, branches, seeds, and needles that has existed among our Tennessee forests for 460 million years and counting – is a key component of the natural nutrient recycling process. As long as smart planning is involved, the benefits, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness provided by mulching and chipping projects can greatly enhance any landscaping project.

The specific cosmetic quality of a well-manicured landscape that we’ve grown accustomed to causes us to continuously mow our lawns and get rid of the clippings; rake leaves, bag them, and discard them; pick up fallen sticks and branches and move them off-site; and even grind and remove stumps of trees. All of these processes help to maintain an immaculate landscape, but they also break the natural nutrient recycling process. Though fertilizer is often used as a replacement, mulch made from plant materials can provide a more natural replacement for the removed nutrients. Furthermore, mulch has a wide variety of additional important benefits that could positively impact the beauty and vitality of your lawn, beds, gardens, and property.

Mulch can often be more aesthetically appealing than raw soil, or even grass. It can be used to shape your beds, add emphasis to your trees, create an appealing color contrast between lawn and garden, outline and soften your paths and walkways, and more. In addition to beautifying any landscape and improving soil conditions, mulching has the added benefit of saving you money. As mulch decays and breaks down over time, it adds much needed nutrients back into the soil, thus reducing or eliminating the need for (and therefore the cost of) additional fertilizer.

Plan on Chipping or Creating Mulch Onsite to Gain Ultimate Value for Your Mulching Project

When planning for long-term value, ensure that you create mulch onsite whenever possible. Wood chippers can turn unwanted trees, saplings, and shrubs into wood chip mulch. This practice eliminates the costs associated with the removal of this wood and the purchasing of mulch. Planning ahead and turning your old trees, leaves, and debris into life-giving fertilizer is a fantastic way to take advantage of amazing resources that already exist on your property. This natural mulch is an ideal sustainable and affordable alternative to bringing in synthetic fertilizers. Your landscaping will thank you for the nourishing nutrients and moisture-retaining layers natural mulch provides.

Here at The Parke Company, we boast experience and expertise in the mulching of brush, stumps, landscape debris, and fallen trees with our superior chipping and grinding services. We can help you achieve your specific landscaping vision while using all of the resources at hand, transforming unwanted trees and debris into something beautiful and beneficial.

Plan on Mulching Over Areas Susceptible to Weeds

Mulch reduces weeds by placing a lightproof barrier between the sun and the top of the soil. Without sunlight, the weed seeds that have found their way into your mulch will be much less likely to germinate or to take root if they do germinate. With proper planning, you can use mulch as a decorative nutrient provider, as well as a weed control by placing it in areas susceptible to unwanted weeds. Using mulch to prevent weeds minimizes weeding costs.

Reduce Maintenance While Conserving Moisture

Mulch maintains soil temperature and improves moisture retention, thus reducing watering requirements. Mulch is an excellent way to reduce maintenance while conserving moisture. The barrier mulch creates improves the soil’s capacity to absorb rainwater, particularly during periods of torrential downpours. Soil left exposed to the sun typically dries and hardens, forming a thick and solid top layer that is less permeable. Mulch reduces this hardening effect. Furthermore, the mulch itself is absorbent and can deflect and retain strong rains, delaying the time that it takes to hit the soil, thus increasing absorption. Planning your mulching project with this benefit in mind is a great way to lower your water and energy bill.

Plan Your Mulching Projects Seasonally

Mulch acts like a blanket over your soil that helps to regulate soil temperature and provides your plant and tree roots with a more consistent environment. With proper planning and preparedness, you can take advantage of the benefits of mulch throughout the seasons. During the winter months, mulch helps the soil retain heat. Plan ahead and mulch during the winter in order to insulate your soil and prevent damage from dry winter winds. If you’ve planned ahead and stored leaves from your fall leaf pick up, now is the time to break them out and use them as winter mulch. Ultimately, you can use a variety of loose insulating material as winter mulch – from pine needles, to straw, to shredded bark – while keeping in mind that you will need to remove it in the spring. In warmer seasons, mulch detracts from direct exposure to the sun and keeps the soil cooler. Spring mulching is done to suppress weeds, retain moisture, and warm the soil.

Let The Parke Company Help Plan You Next Chipping or Mulching Project

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 landscaping professionals has a reputation for being clean, consistent, and professional, and for being leaders in their industries.

The Parke Company prides itself on its ability to incorporate mulch into your landscape. We offer numerous traditional types of mulch as well as creative alternatives like pine needle mulch. We plan ahead to ensure mulching can provide a tidy, well-manicured look while simultaneously controlling weeds, reducing soil erosion, and enriching your soil. 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.

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.