The Mid-Atlantic hasn’t historically been a “pool on every block” part of the country. But with rising incomes and bigger lots, that’s definitely changing in Loudoun and Fairfax counties. The Northern Virginia poolscape is becoming an in-demand service for landscapers. Clients want a relaxing space to enjoy with family and friends, and we’re quite accomplished at creating a lush, inviting look with hardy, low-maintenance plants.
Planting Around the Pool: Things to Consider
We know that individual tastes are as different as the individuals we work with, but there are a few rules of thumb we like to follow as we recommend the best shrubs, trees and plants for your backyard pool. Here are a few things to consider:
Most backyard pools are located in full sun, so choose plants that tolerate hotter than normal temperatures.
Pools tend to create high-traffic areas, and children are usually spending plenty of time going back and forth from house to pool. Use hardscaping elements to protect plants in busy areas, and avoid plants with thorns around the pool.
We don’t want to create messes to clean up with our poolside plantings. We try to avoid trees that have blooms or fruit that will fall into the pool and evergreens that frequently shed needles.
Avoid plants and trees that attract insects. We’re all about being friendly to the environment, but bees around pools are not a great combination.
Consider what every plant’s footprint will be at full growth, and avoid plants whose roots may cause problems down the road.
Privacy is paramount: hedges and trees are ideal for creating that sense of seclusion.
Chlorine and pool chemicals won’t hurt your plants through routine splashing. Most plants, like most people, can easily tolerate the chlorine levels found in pool water, but we don’t recommend draining your pool onto your landscaping.
What Should I Plant Around My Northern Virginia Pool?
Your individual plant choices will depend on the atmosphere you’re looking to create, your location and your budget. One reason working with a professional landscaper is so important is that you want to make sound choices the first time around. We’ll help you to pick just the right trees, shrubs, flowers and plants for your pool. To give you an idea of the trends, here are some of our favorites:
Ornamental grasses like fescue, reed grass, switchgrass and oat grass look elegant around the pool. They’re hardy, low maintenance and relatively inexpensive.
We’re big fans of shrubs around the pool. They offer privacy and look great without requiring a huge amount of work. Some of our favorites are non-flowering shrubs, including soft-leaf hollies, yew bushes and boxwood, a Loudoun County favorite. Flowering shrubs like hydrangeas and viburnum give gorgeous splashes of color without attracting bees to the pool area.
Trees are also excellent privacy barriers. In Northern Virginia, evergreens make an excellent choice around the pool. Some of our favorites are cypress, arborvitae and the southern classic– magnolia.
When choosing flowers, look for a choice that will add vibrant color but won’t drop blossoms or require too much maintenance. Native plants like coneflower create a wild, meadowy look around the pool, while hardy tropical flowers like hibiscus add an island flair.
Easy-care succulents are all the rage. They’re low maintenance and don’t drop leaves, fruit or flowers. Some of our top picks are aloe, certain types of agave and the Mexican superstar echeveria.
Hardy vines look terrific on some hardscaping features like decorative stonework. We like easy-care perennials like Creeping Jenny and Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine in planters or hanging on trellises near the pool.
Trust Epling for the Perfect Poolside
Putting in a pool is an investment, with families spending tens of thousands of dollars to create an outdoor space where they can enjoy quality time with family and friends. So it makes sense to go the extra mile with the best landscaping. Choosing a professional landscape company means finding a partner with the expertise to help you make the best decisions for an inviting pool area. Epling has years of experience working with clients and pool companies to create the perfect outdoor space.
If you’re an energetic individual with a zero turn mower who loves to be out there, you probably want to mow your lawn yourself. But when we really think about it, most of us would rather be doing something else. In Loudoun and Clarke Counties, houses (and yards) are getting bigger. When you factor in the time involved and the cost of purchasing and maintaining equipment, it makes sense to hire a lawn care professional on a number of levels.
Why Should I Hire a Pro to Mow My Lawn?
Here are a few important reasons it makes sense to call in the pros for lawn care and maintenance:
We give your lawn what it needs: For busy homeowners, mowing is often something we squeeze in when we can make time. But at Epling, it’s what we do. We mow weekly during the current heavy growth season and always adjust our schedules based on conditions. Making sure mowing happens on just the right schedule also allows us to use an environmentally friendly grass-cycling program that feeds your lawn instead of bagging clippings.
We have the equipment: These days, lawn care takes so much more than the simple push mower so many of us grew up with. With today’s larger yards, lawn care also involves an expensive mower, edging with a weed eater on a regular basis and using a blower to get rid of debris on hardscaping, patios, sidewalks and mulched beds. We have all of the equipment, including professional mowers, trucks and tractors, so you don’t need to make that investment.
We have the skill: Our team of energetic professionals knows exactly how to cut your lawn, taking into account weather conditions and type of grass. Thanks to our experience, we can generally do the job in a fraction of the time it takes a homeowner to it themselves.
Time is money: We know that your time is valuable. Our clients routinely let us know that hiring a trusted professional means saving time. This means relaxing at the end of the workday rather than jumping on the mower and spending more quality time with your family.
What Should I Look for in a Lawn Care Company?
Some of the most important factors in looking for the best lawn care company include:
Reliability: Our clients know that our team will show up on schedule and do the job they’re instructed to do.
Care in workmanship: We take pride in hiring skilled, highly qualified, courteous and high-energy team members.
Responsiveness: Our customer service team is prompt in addressing any changes and updates to schedules and to any concerns our clients may have.
What to Ask When Hiring a Lawn Care Company?
When hiring a lawn care company, here are some important questions to ask:
What services will be provided? Are pricing and terms clear?
What is the proposed schedule and how will it change with the seasons? Providing the best possible service means giving your lawn what it needs: mowing more frequently during high growth times and cutting back during dry cycles when over-mowing can cause damage. Your schedule should also include edging and any other needed services.
What are your team members’ qualifications? At Epling, our reputation is built on the reliability and character of our team members. We are also an owner-operated small business, so our owner continues to play an integral role in our operations.
What services do you offer besides mowing? Does your lawn care company offer services beyond mowing, including grass enrichment and fertilization?
What products do you use? We are happy to talk with clients and prospective clients about the products we use for lawn care. We would put these products on our own lawns, for use by our own families.
If I have a new request or concern, who should I contact? Customer service is key, and Epling has people ready to talk with you about your needs and any changes or updates you need to make to your lawn care plan or schedule.
Choosing Epling for Lawn Care Needs
Here in Loudoun and Clarke Counties, so many homeowners have moved beyond the days of a quarter-acre lot mowed by a neighborhood teen. Our properties need expert attention to keep them looking lush and well cared for, and in many cases, they require too much time for homeowners to do a good job on their own. That’s where Epling’s experts come in. Our team of experienced and courteous lawn care professionals offers fast, efficient and thoughtful service to homes all over our beautiful county. Our customer service team, based in western Loudoun, is ready to talk with you about your needs and help you make a plan to save your valuable time and give you the gorgeous lawn you want.
Fruit trees are a beautiful (and delicious) addition to a yard – and spring is the perfect time to plant them. But not all fruit trees grow perfectly everywhere, so it’s important to know which trees to choose based on the climate and soil conditions in Northern Virginia.
We recommend three trees that are perfect for NOVA.
One of the most popular fruit trees to grow in Virginia, apple trees are ideal because of our long summers and mild fall weather. The most successful varieties to plant in Virginia include Gala, Golden Delicious, Winesap and Fuji.
There are a number of things to keep in mind when planting and caring for your apple trees:
Knowing your soil: Fertile soil is essential when growing apple trees, so it’s a good idea to test your soil before planting. You’ll want the pH to be somewhere around a 6.0-7.0. Make sure to avoid areas where the soil is wet or heavy with clay.
Choose your location: Apple trees need full sun – at least six to eight hours during the growing season. It’s also important to consider cross-pollination. Because insects and wind need to carry the pollen between trees, plant them within 50 feet of each other to ensure adequate cross-pollination. Also make sure there aren’t any obstructions such as wires, cables, pipes or utility lines nearby.
Planting your trees right: Apple trees need a hole wide and deep enough to give the root system plenty of room to grow. Add nutritious topsoil at the bottom of the hole and a layer of organic mulch over the top of the hole.
Maintain your trees: Water your apple trees regularly and renew the mulch periodically. Resist the temptation to over-prune. Just remove broken, misplaced or dead branches. Because apples are prone to pests and diseases, you’ll want to establish a routine of spray treatment.
Harvesting apples: Depending on the variety, you can expect to pick fruit from July through early November. Pick when the apple is no longer green and it easily parts from the branch. Cup it in your hand, twist slightly and lift, making sure not to yank on the apple.
We all love seeing decorative cherry blossoms in the spring but you can enjoy the fruit-bearing variety too! Sweet cherries grow best here and are the variety you usually find in the supermarket. Look for Windsor, Hudson and Napoleon varieties.
There are several things to keep in mind when growing cherry trees:
Soil: It’s best to use deep, well-drained soil so that the tree’s roots never sit in water. A light, sandy soil is ideal for cherry trees. You can have a pH of 5.5 to 8.0 for these trees, though 6.5 is ideal.
Location: You’ll definitely need cross-pollination for your sweet cherries to grow, so plant in groups of three minimally. Choose a spot with plenty of sun (six to eight hours a day) and good circulation – steering clear of buildings or other trees that provide shade.
Planting: Make sure to space dwarf trees 5 to 10 feet apart, and standard sizes 35 to 40 feet apart. Follow the same steps as you would for planting apple trees.
Maintenance: Before your trees bear fruit, you should fertilize each spring. After that, only fertilize after harvest season. Apply mulch to retain moisture and consider using netting to protect the cherries from birds. Make sure to prune the trees in late winter to encourage further wood growth. Avoid pruning them in the fall.
Harvesting: It can take four years for cherry trees to bear fruit. When they do, make sure to pick the cherries only when they are fully ripe (a nice, dark red). You’ll want to harvest them within a week, eating or cooking them immediately.
Pear trees also do quite well in Virginia – both European and Asian varieties. Early Golden, Orient, Harrow Delight and Seckel grow especially well here. Pears tend to be less susceptible to pests and disease than apples.
Keep these things in mind when planting your pear trees:
Soil: Pear trees are a little more forgiving as far as pH than apple trees – they can tolerate between a 5.0 and 7.5. Like most fruit trees, you’ll want to use a well-draining, light soil.
Location: Pear trees are not self-pollinating, so it’s a good idea to plant several near each other – using at least two varieties if possible. They need full sunlight – at least six to eight hours a day.
Planting: Like apple trees, dig a hole that’s wide and deep enough for the roots to grow. Space dwarf trees 12 to 15 feet apart, and standard-sizes 20 to 25 feet apart. Use a sturdy post to stake your trees to help them grow straight and withstand wind damage. Water your trees once or twice a week to make sure the roots become established.
Maintenance: It’s important to start pruning your pear trees early. Choose three to five branches with outward growth and prune the rest. To encourage growth on the remaining branches, trim off the ends. Use mulch, 2-3 inches deep, and three feet around the base of your trees.
Harvest: Pear trees can take 3-10 years to begin producing fruit. Your first crop will likely be small and inedible, but they are worth the wait. Harvest pears when they’re mature but still hard – ripening them at room temperature.
Northern Virginia is a good place for fruit trees. In addition to apple, pear and cherry, you could also try your hand at fig, peach, nectarine or plum. As long as you put in the time and care necessary, you should be able to raise attractive trees with wonderful fruit. And if you ever need assistance or planting help, Epling’s expert services are always available.
Spring has sprung! (We can tell because we can’t stop sneezing.) After a not-so-wonderful winter, we’re all excited to get back outside and make our landscaping beautiful again.
With yard beautification comes so many choices: bushes or flowers? Annuals or perennials? Mulch or no mulch? If you’re not sure about your mulch needs and desires, we can help!
Why Use Mulch?
Many people prefer using some kind of mulch to help suppress weeds, retain soil moisture, keep the soil cool, improve the soil’s fertility and, of course, to make their garden bed look attractive.
But not all mulch is created equal and there are many to choose from. Keep reading to learn about different mulch options and which might be best for you.
Organic vs. Inorganic
Mulch falls into two categories: organic and inorganic. Organic mulch is made of materials that decompose over time. It can help improve soil structure, fertility, aeration and drainage as it decomposes.
Inorganic mulch is made of materials that don’t decompose including rocks. The advantages of using inorganic mulch include weed control, having an appealing look and warming the soil during early spring.
Double Shredded Hardwood: The gold standard
Double shredded, hardwood bark mulches are the most popular in Northern Virginia. They are typically aged, dried and then sometimes dyed. This type of mulch works best around trees, shrubs and garden beds that won’t be subjected to a lot of digging. Because larger pieces decompose slowly, some prefer to use shredded bark (over nuggets or chips) to help retain moisture better and adds nutrients to the soil.
Other organic options do exist for mulching to add nutrients or suppress weeds but they don’t offer a clean, finished look for residential and commercial landscapes. These options include straw (good for vegetable gardens), grass clippings (also good for gardens), shredded leaves, compost or composted manure, and newspaper (for suppressing weeds or warming soil early).
In other parts of the country pine needle mulch or cocoa mulch are popular but these aren’t readily available in Virginia and are too light for our soaking rains and gusting winds.
River Rock: The best of inorganic mulch
From pea gravel to river rocks, stones and gravel provide a nice aesthetic. They works well in areas that require good drainage or with plants that like a little more heat, such as rain gardens and Mediterranean herb gardens. Stones provide that additional warmth as they absorb the heat during the day and release it at night, which can help jump-start perennial plantings in the spring.
River rock is favored by those looking for a more contemporary look in their landscapes. The rocks come in various sizes and colors to enhance or blend with your architecture. River rocks can also be used in conjunction with shredded mulch to distinguish areas or to cover areas that get more foot traffic or drainage.
Of course there are lots of inorganic options too. These include landscape fabric or plastic and rubber mulch (made from recycled tires). These man made products aren’t recommended for natural looking beds and long-term plant health.
Make Your Yard Shine with Epling
Mulch not only serves many practical purposes in your gardens and landscaping, but it can also revive beds and add a finishing touch. If you’re looking for a landscaping partner who can help you with mulch and more, contact Epling today and take advantage of our expert services.
Though we have a few more weeks of confused weather (It’s warm, it’s cold, it’s icy, it’s muddy), spring really is just around the corner. Take time now to get ready for spring planting.
Know your zone
Northern Virginia planting zones are classified as either 6b or 7a, close enough in average minimum temperatures to be grouped together for most gardening considerations. Elevation, urban heat and proximity to water is responsible for the variation in zones often referred to as “micro-climates”. The farther north and west from DC will see gains in elevation and colder temps which keeps those areas firmly in the 6b classification. Those south and east of the city can mostly be classified as 7A. However, those who have lived here long enough, know our weather can be a bit dramatic and some harsh winters have been known to wipe out plants that are classified as 7A.
Guard against frost
Our area has a risk of frost usually until April 18th so any seedlings or tender plants that are already in the ground need your protection when overnight temps drop below 40 degrees. Use a frost cloth, newspapers, straw, burlap, old sheets or repurposed plastic soda bottles (cut them in half with sharp scissors) to cover plants. Be sure to remove covers by mid-morning, once temps warm up.
To plant or not to plant
Now is a great time to start seeds indoors … and to spend some time thinking about annuals and new perennials you want to add to your beds. It’s even a fantastic time to have Epling come out and help you design new landscaping plans ahead of spring. Actual planting though, needs to wait until the soil is warmer and the fresh material has started arriving.
Add the right color early
Some flowers can be planted even before the danger of frost has passed, and fortunately they add color right away, too. For our area, these early bloomers include perennials like:
Lungwort, also known as Pulmonaria
Look for well-established plants with strong, upright structure, and buds that are closed or nearly closed when shopping at local nurseries. Be careful about planting annuals early, even if you find them at local garden centers. The cold weather can stunt their growth and chilly soil can cause roots to rot. Pansies and Snapdragons can handle and prefer cooler (not frozen) temps if you just can’t wait for color!
In the busy suburban hub of the nation’s Capital, fewer and fewer homeowners have time for gardening and maintenance. Although we cannot offer a maintenance-free landscape, we can help you can make choices at your home for a low-maintenance and appealing landscape. Wouldn’t it be great to come home on Friday afternoon and know you can spend the weekend outdoors enjoying it vs. maintaining it?
Tips for Low-Maintenance Landscaping
Remember, you don’t have to go at it alone. Finding a trusted designer or contractor to help you plan and execute your vision can save you time and money in the long run.
Here are a few of our favorite tips for creating a gorgeous but truly low-maintenance landscape.
Choose native plants: native plants are made to grow in our area, so they are almost always much easier to maintain than non-native plants. Native plants are often naturally resistant to local insects and fungi, and they tend to require less water and less pruning. Native plants can also bring unexpected beauty to your yard. Some of our favorites here in Northern Virginia include Milkweed and Butterfly weed, lush Sedge grasses, a range of Ferns, lovely shrubs like Witch Hazel and Rhododendron and trees like American Holly and Magnolias.
Choose right-sized plants: Make sure you measure your space and pick plants that won’t grow outside the designated space at full size. Nothing creates more maintenance than constantly pruning shrubs or tree branches from high traffic areas like your walkway.
Choose color and texture of leaves over flowers: One of the biggest mistakes made in landscaping is the use of flowers for the wow-factor. Flowering perennials look great when maintained daily, but can look dreadful if neglected. Choosing flowering shrubs or shrubs with bright colored leaves will keep the landscape interesting without the daily maintenance.
Mulch away: Mulching is one of the best ways to keep your landscape low-maintenance, healthy and looking good. Shredded Hardwood mulch is great for keeping down weeds, holding in water and looks neat and clean. Stone or pea gravel can also be attractive and effective in certain locations in your yard. Talk to your landscaping professional at Epling about what to use and where.
Consider hardscaping: Patios and walkways are so inviting, and they require less work than lawns or landscape beds and add a gathering spot to your yard. They’re an investment up front but save you time in the long run and make that low-maintenance space one where you’ll want to spend time.
Planning For The Perfect Low-Maintenance Landscape
Experts agree that the right low-maintenance landscape requires careful planning. A professional landscape designer can help you evaluate your existing landscape and decide what to keep, what to change, what to add and what to take away.
Looking for Low Maintenance? Epling Can Help
At Epling, we can help you plan and execute the perfect low-maintenance landscape. We want our clients to have the landscape of their dreams, whether that’s acres of green lawn or a well-planned low-maintenance landscape with charming walkways, mulched beds and stunning native plants.
It’s cold outside, and most of our landscapes are quiet and at rest at this time of year. But like many,, you probably always have landscaping plans in your head. Winter is the perfect time to do some dreaming and planning and put those thoughts on paper. It’s also a great time to start making plans with your landscaping company. Well-thought landscaping plans can help achieve successful results and save money.
How Can I Put Together a Landscaping Plan?
Start with a list. Write down the features you currently have in your outdoor space and landscape. Then write down the additional things you want; anything from a patio to a pool, a storage shed or a playground, or simply adding some plants.
Map it out. Think about the layout of your property and where different features might go. Sketch out a rough plan, leaving room for suggestions from your landscaping company. The University of Missouri offers some great suggestions for making a plan, including separating public areas like the front of your house from private areas for family activities and service areas like trash cans and storage sheds. Think about where things should go in relation to your house; asking how each area would effectively function. Then draw your landscape as is and overlay the features you’d like to see. It’s an exciting process.
Here are just a few features to consider as you sketch your map:
Patios and entertainment spaces
Privacy features and shade trees
Vegetable and flower gardens
Sheds and outbuildings
Pools, pergolas and pavilions
Fire pits and grilling areas
Think long-term. When you talk with your landscaping professionals, share your long-term goals and ideas even if you can’t make them happen right away. This helps us develop your property in a more holistic way. For example, if you think you might want outdoor lighting down the road, it’s best to go ahead and add conduits for electrical lines now. Saving you from tearing up hardscapes or plantings later just to install the lighting. Once your landscaper has the big picture, they can help you break things down into bite-sized chunks and move forward step by step, as your budget allows.
Find The Right Partner. As you consider your long-term landscaping goals, be sure to find a partner who is ready to work with you to make your ideas become a reality. You want a company that will listen to your goals, desires and concepts while at the same time bringing their extensive professional experience into play. It’s important to find a partner who can look at the big picture but also make things happen in the short-term by helping you prioritize and work out a schedule.
Think About a Budget and Payment Plan. At Epling, we encourage clients to think big, but we also understand the role that budgeting plays when designing a landscape. We work with clients whose budgets vary, from wanting to get it all done at once and fast track multiple projects to those who need to take things one step at a time, phasing the project. Our experienced staff will help you find the approach that works best for you.
Create Your Landscape Plan with Epling
At Epling, helping clients plan and achieve their goals for their outdoor space is one of our favorite parts of the job. From beating back the jungle and getting on a routine lawn care schedule to decorative plantings for a perfect entryway to attractive, family-friendly patios and play areas, our team can help you take your landscape from a dream to a reality on the schedule that works best for you.
We’ve all noticed that the days are getting shorter in the DMV, and that means many of our clients are thinking about how they can make their homes safe and more attractive with outdoor lighting. Mowers may be getting quiet, but there’s so much you can do to keep your landscape looking gorgeous all winter long. High-quality outdoor lighting gives your home a warm, welcoming look, keeps your family and visitors safe from accidents and boosts the security factor on your property by keeping things light and bright. All of these factors add up to make outdoor lighting one of the best exterior improvements you can make to increase your home’s aesthetics and property value.
Highlight Your Home and Landscape with Outdoor Lighting
Aesthetics is a compelling reason for adding outdoor lighting. Instead of looking at the short days and long nights as a negative, we can use lighting to avoid dreary winter landscapes and provide your home with a cozy glow. Exterior lights add charm and warmth all year long. Here are just a few approaches we love for lighting:
Spotlight trees and shrubs that look pretty even in the cold winter months.
Use outdoor lights to highlight your home’s most attractive exterior features, including columns and bay windows.
Use permanent string lights on the patio to create a twinkly wonderland for the holidays and beyond.
Illuminate entryways with soft exterior lights makes your home look warm and inviting.
Install a professionally crafted fire pit to use all year long.
Light up walkways and pathways for a warm and cozy look that also makes your property safe.
Illuminate Walkways and Driveways For Curb Appeal and Security
In winter, so many of our comings and goings happen when it’s dark outside. We may leave before sunrise and return home after dark during this period of long nights and short days. Lighting for walkways and driveways can help keep us safe, both in terms of avoiding accidents, slips and falls and boosting security by increasing visibility around your home. There’s something incredibly comforting to coming home to a well-lit property, and it looks great to friends, neighbors and prospective home buyers.
Gentle path lights are not only beautiful, they also increase safety, reducing the risk of falls.
Lighting steps and entrances gives your home a warm, welcoming glow and makes nighttime activities safer.
Adding extra lighting in the driveway is a simple and effective safety measure, improving visibility in ice and snow and making parking easier for holiday guests.
Outdoor Lighting: Solar vs. Electric
Choosing the right outdoor lighting is key. You’ll want to select high quality, weather-resistant lights, and you’ll need to decide whether to go with electric or solar lights or a combination of both.
Solar lighting: Solar is a trend as homeowners look for ways, big and small, that can help our environment. Solar lights are easy to install because they don’t require electrical access or outdoor cables making them ideal for spots that are farther away from your house. Solar LED lights recharge by absorbing sunlight, so you’ll just need to make sure your lights get enough sunlight to recharge the batteries regularly. Solar lights may not be quite as bright as electric lights and in some cases, they may dim as they age. But you’ll save a lot on your electric bill!
Electric Lighting: Low voltage electrical lights are also a popular and environmentally friendly choice. We love their brightness, and they can be put on a timer or a Bluetooth transformer, so they’re only shining when you want them to shine. Electric is a good choice for lighting that’s relatively close to the house. But keep in mind that they require more hardware than solar lights: you’ll need a transformer and cables buried just below the surface of the ground.
Choose Epling for Your Outdoor Lighting Needs
Many of our fans know we’re the tops in Northern Virginia lawn care, but our skills and services go way beyond your lawn. Our staff has the talent and know-how to help you with all of your landscaping needs year round, including outdoor lighting. In the dark winter months, lighting is one of the most effective landscape improvements you can make in terms of curb appeal. Our landscape artists have the eye to help you install your outdoor lighting in a way that highlights the very best features of your home and landscape and gives you that warm, comforting feeling all winter long.
The quiet beauty of late fall in the Northern Virginia region always amazes us with its crisp days and gorgeous muted light. Late fall is the perfect time to winterize your lawn and landscaping; A little bit of prep work can make things so much easier when spring rolls around, so now is the perfect time to jump in with the help of a trusted landscaping service provider.
Winterizing Your Landscape
Protect plants from deer with fencing or netting: you may find that when vegetation in the wild is less abundant, deer are more likely to turn to residential landscapes for winter food.
Prevent dehydration: Your evergreens including shrubs and trees are the heart and soul of keeping your yard gorgeous throughout the winter. Keep your evergreen plants, trees and shrubs watered before the ground freezes and mulch them at the base to help retain moisture.
Mulch: Mulching in fall helps plants stay hydrated. We recommend between one and two inches of wood chips around trees and shrubs.
Pruning: Late fall is a great time to remove dead or diseased branches and trim trees and shrubs to promote growth in the spring. Pruning can reduce damage from snow and ice, according to the Virginia DCR.
Clean and protect garden beds: Remove dead plant matter from garden beds and mulch.
Winterizing Water Gardens
The Virginia Cooperative Extension offers some great tips for winterizing water features in your landscape.
Remove debris and dead plants before freezes hit.
Push winter-hardy water plants to the bottom of your pond to protect them from colder temperatures.
Year Round Lawn and Landscape Care with Epling
For many of us, lawn and landscaping care are big priorities in the spring and in summer as things are blooming and growing. While lawns are certainly lower maintenance as cool weather hits, landscape care is truly a year-round activity. You’ll find that just a few basic steps can keep your lawn healthy throughout the winter and help things get off to a great start in the spring. With our specialized equipment and knowledgeable staff, Epling is a committed year-round lawn care and landscaping partner, and our expertise goes way beyond summer mowing.
It’s been an unusually warm, wet summer here in Northern Virginia, but at some point, we all know those leaves are going to fall. Fall leaves can feel like a big landscaping nuisance, but they don’t have to be. You can decide to rake them and take them or (with the right equipment) leave them alone. Let’s take a look at some of the best leaf management options.
Why Do We Remove Leaves?
Fall leaves can look pretty for a while, but if they’re left on the ground, they can form a thick layer and block needed sunlight from reaching your lawn. They can also trap moisture, leading to potential disease, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. To successfully manage leaves, you have three options: rake and remove, rake and compost or mulch them back into your lawn.
Leaf Management: Rake and Remove
The old standby for leaf management is to rake, bag and remove (or speed up the process with a leaf blower). This tends to be more labor intensive but does give your fall lawn a neat appearance. However, leaf disposal options vary widely in Loudoun. For example, the Town of Leesburg offers bulk leaf pickup throughout the fall in specially marked yard waste trash cans or brown paper yard waste bags. However, many residents of unincorporated areas don’t have a lot of options beyond taking leaves to the county landfill for a fee.
Leaf Management: Collect and Compost
Raking leaves and composting them for use elsewhere in the yard is gaining traction is an environmentally friendly and low-cost landscaping option. This involves raking and piling leaves so that they can be turned into nutrient-rich compost.
According to the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, there are several ways to compost leaves, grass clippings and other natural yard waste. You can build a wooden or wire enclosure, buy a mounted rotating composter or simply create a compost pile. Composted leaves are a favorite among gardeners because they help generate beneficial microbes like nitrogen (fresh leaves) and carbon (dry leaves) to nourish the soil in your garden or other areas. Mulching during the winter can help regulate soil moisture, protect plant roots and avoid erosion. Composted leaves also attract earthworms, which help further break down and nourish the soil. VADCR recommends adding an occasional layer of soil and lime to your compost pile to help with the decomposition process.
Leaf Recycling By Mulching Into Your Lawn
Just as recycling grass clipping reduces waste and helps enrich the soil, mulching leaves directly into your lawn is an environmentally friendly option. And guess what–it doesn’t involve a rake. Shredding your leaves with a regular lawn mower is often doable, but it certainly helps to have a mulching mower for best results. Mulching mowers (which can also be used to recycle grass clippings) have superfine blades that thoroughly break down organic matter into fine pieces so it can be left on your lawn without building up and blocking sunlight or holding in moisture. The cooperative extension reports that leaf mulch can reduce crabgrass and dandelions, and this also means no raking, which is a big plus for some homeowners. However, if you have a big leaf build up all at once, you may need to do some removal before direct mulching.
Leaf Removal As Part of a Comprehensive Lawn Care Program at Epling
At Epling, we love to follow our clients throughout the seasons, from landscaping in the spring to summer mowing to fall leaf management. Our goal is to keep your lawn healthy and attractive all year long and to ease the transition from one season to the next, while keeping things as environmentally friendly as possible. Our Total Landscape Program and Complete Lawn Care Program are excellent options to explore for comprehensive year-round care. We have the equipment and expertise to do the job the way you want in an efficient and cost-effective way. Epling helps keep your lawn and landscapes healthy, ready for winter and beyond.