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Professional Residential & Commercial Grounds Care

Rejuvenation Pruning

Do you have a shrub that’s so overgrown that it’s growing into your house, impeding on a walkway, or growing into other plants?  Before removing the shrub, consider rejuvenation pruning.  There are two types of rejuvenation pruning.  The first type, extensive rejuvenation pruning, is the practice of cutting the whole shrub to a height of 4-10 inches.  After the cut, the shrub will immediately start growing new, healthy, vigorous shoots which give the shrub a new, manageable look with increased flowering.  Examples of shrubs that respond well to extensive rejuvenation pruning are: dogwood, spirea, potentilla, honeysuckle, hydrangea, lilac, forsythia, and weigela.

If you don’t like the drastic visual change that extensive rejuvenation pruning results in, there is a second type of rejuvenation pruning called gradual rejuvenation pruning.  Over a period of three years, you gradually remove 1/3 of the oldest stems every year until you have a fully rejuvenated shrub.  This method takes longer to complete, but will leave you with a shrub that stays more attractive throughout the rejuvenation period.  Using both rejuvenation pruning methods will leave you with the same result; a new, vigorous, healthy plant which can be easily maintained in its natural form.  Most of the shrubs that respond well to extensive rejuvenation pruning will also respond well to gradual rejuvenation pruning.  Some different shrubs that respond better to gradual rejuvenation pruning are: purple sand cherry, cotoneaster, burning bush, many viburnum, and with hazel.

There are a few things to keep in mind with rejuvenation pruning:

  1.  Not all shrubs respond well.  Avoid rejuvenation pruning to junipers, boxwood, narrow leaved evergreens, and shrubs that have only one primary trunk.  Spring flowering shrubs won’t flower the year the rejuvenation cut is made.
  2.  Timing is important.  Although rejuvenation pruning can be done with some shrubs right after flowering, the best time is late winter of right before bud break.
  3.  Give special attention to heavily pruned shrubs.  Do to the stress that some shrubs receive during heavy cutbacks, watering and fertilizer can be very important.

Rejuvenation pruning and renewal pruning are two techniques that can reduce the size and volume of many shrubs without unduly harming them. Which is more appropriate in a given situation will depend on the plant species, the shrub’s function in the landscape, and the wishes of the property owner.

Lilacs following rejuvenation pruning and regrowth

Lilacs following rejuvenation pruning and regrowth

Shrubs are important components of residential and public landscapes. They are used to block views, create privacy, establish borders, and provide interesting foliage and flowers. Too often, shrubs are planted and then allowed to grow with little or no management. If pruned at all, they are typically subjected to periodic shearing. Eventually many shrubs grow too big for their site or for the plant structure itself. Now that winter is over, we see them everywhere we look: big, unruly, overgrown shrubs.

Rejuvenation Pruning

Rejuvenation pruning is the more severe of the two techniques, and not all species can tolerate it. Plants that are stressed or in poor health may not survive this severe level of pruning. In rejuvenation pruning, the shrub is pruned by cutting off all old branches at or near ground level. Healthy shrubs will respond by sending up multiple new shoots, and these will need to be thinned to reduce competition and maintain the natural form of the shrub. One benefit of rejuvenation pruning is its immediacy; when the job is done, that ugly overgrown shrub is literally gone. This is, of course, also a drawback since what is left behind is an unsightly stump, at least until new growth ensues.

Deciduous shrubs that can tolerate rejuvenation pruning include Tartarian and redstem dogwood, forsythia, rose of Sharon, hydrangea, privet, honeysuckle, elderberry, spirea, and lilac. Butterfly bush and Chastetree (Vitex) can be pruned annually in this manner once we are past danger of a hard frost.  Callicarpa can be rejuvenated by pruning to 12 inches rather than cutting at ground level. Evergreen shrubs will not tolerate rejuvenation pruning.

Renewal Pruning

Renewal pruning is a gentler approach to dealing with an overgrown shrub, but it is a process that takes several years. In renewal pruning, about one-third of older wood is removed each season over three years, primarily by using thinning cuts back to the crown or main stem. This approach maintains the overall shape of the shrub while reducing its volume and height over time. In response to this pruning, and as light is allowed to penetrate the canopy, many new shoots may be initiated. As in rejuvenation pruning, these new shoots will need to be thinned. Although renewal pruning takes longer to complete, the visual impact on the landscape is much less than rejuvenation pruning.

Many deciduous shrubs respond well to renewal  pruning, including barberry, beautybush, cinquefoil, pyracantha, forsythia, honeysuckle, hydrangea, lilac, mockorange, privet (use a 4-year cycle), flowering quince, spirea, and weigela.  Renewal pruning can also be used on some evergreen shrubs such as boxwood, cherry laurel, and rhododendron.

They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and avoiding the problem of overgrown shrubs is easy to do. First and foremost, make sure to fit the plant to the site. Don’t force a shrub species to fit into a space that is too small for its natural growth pattern or vigor.  Then maintain the proper size of shrubs using appropriate thinning and heading cuts as needed to manage shrub growth, size and health.

 

Summer Lawn Care

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grassgreen summer grass and sun

After the spring growing season, summer brings quite a bit of stress to lawn grasses. Not only are the heat and drought damaging, but we want our lawns lush and green for outdoor activities. By understanding and respecting the seasonal changes of turf grasses, you can take steps to care gently for your lawn as the mercury rises.  Once temperatures get into the 80s and above, lawns will begin to struggle a little. Growth will slow, color may fade, and lawns will show signs of wear and tear as they are less able to recover from stress and traffic.

What to do:

  • Lawns need at least one inch of water per week, and more when the heat is severe.
  • Use a rain gauge to keep track of the amount of water received from rainfall and irrigation.
  • Water deeply and less frequently to encourage drought-tolerant roots.
  • Water early in the day to reduce evaporation and fungal growth.
  • Mow regularly, to prevent cutting more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time.  This keeps your grass healthier and prevents the clippings from smothering the grass.

These steps should keep your lawn looking healthy throughout the summer months.

High-Traffic Areas

By summer, many lawns begin to show signs of wear, especially in popular pathways. Consider installing stepping stones or a walkway to minimize damage to your grass, and try to minimize traffic on the lawn.

If you think stepping stones or a walkway can help, contact Premium Lawn and Landscape for your free estimate today!

How Can I Utilize My Sloped or Uneven Back Yard?

patio & reataining wallVery often in this area (Northern Virginia) home owners have a lot of back yard that they can not utilize due to steep slopes or uneven grades.  Some problems may also be due to washed out or eroded areas that just can not support new plantings or grass. Retaining walls are a great way to correct those issues and create a whole new usable outdoor space. There are many types and styles of retaining wall that can be constructed to meet the homeowner’s needs.

Retaining walls can be a creative way to support new soils used to level a back yard area or hold back an area that is excavated out to create a patio or driveway extension. Retaining walls can also have dual or multiple uses. These walls work great for creating extra seating around patios or landscape features. Low walls can also create unique borders for an elevated landscape area or garden.   Elevated patios that are built using a retaining wall system can develop into a stunning multi level patio system with different elevations to create several different outdoor rooms all within one landscape.

Many erosion and drainage issues can be solved with a retaining wall system. These systems can be used to reduce the slope and help develop a sustainable growing environment. Some of the walls can also be constructed to channel, divert, or collect storm water. After the water is controlled, the walls will direct the flow of the run-off and work with support systems like catch basins, or county storm water collection ponds.

retaing wall playground 2From Timber walls, modular block (paver) walls, or stone and brick, retaining walls come in a variety of styles.  Each style has it’s own unique construction method as well as strength and durability. Most walls have a specific use or function that works best for that construction style. Budget can also help find the suitable construction material.  Properly constructed retaining walls can last a lifetime and dramatically change an unusable yard into a fully functional recreation area.

Construction of these walls takes careful planning and design.  Therefore, this is not a project that most home owners should try to do on their own. Premium Lawn & landscape is a Class “A” contractor, and is licensed in all Northern Virginia counties to construct any type of retaining wall. With our own designers and years of experience, we have constructed hundreds of walls from the small garden/drainage wall to large 15′ tall earth retention systems.  Please contact Premium if you are interested in constructing a retaining wall on your property.

Do you have Drainage problems?

Have you noticed any of the following on your property:

  • Puddling in the Yard & Landscape
  • Wet & Soggy areas by the Sidewalk or Walkways
  • Soil runoff & Erosion Development

Drainage Problems can be very damaging to your property.  They can cause wet basements and mold.  In addition, it can also cause lawn and plants to suffer from fungal disease and rot.

While many people notice a drainage issue when there is a huge puddle in the yard that is not the only indicator.  Other indicators are a wet basement, loss of grass and washed out areas. The damage from these problems can be extremely expensive.  However, solving the problem will not only save you headaches it will also save you money.

There are many ways to solve drainage issues.  It may be as simple as a downspout extension or as creative as a retaining wall.  Below you will find some simple definitions of drainage solutions.

  • Down Spout Extension:  An extension installed on your down spout to divert water further away from the foundation of the house.
  • Retaining Wall:  A structure designed and constructed to hold back soils when there is a desired change in ground elevation.
  • Grading:  To implement a slightly tilted/sloped in a      certain direction that faces a natural geographic slope, as it facilitates the natural out flow of water.
  •  Dry Well:  An underground structure that disposes of unwanted water, most commonly stormwater runoff, by dissipating it into the ground, where it merges with the local groundwater

If you see any sign of drainage problems call Premium Lawn & Landscape for a free estimate.

Should I Remove my Tree?

Should I Remove my Tree?

 

Tree removal is done for many reasons.  The most likely being that the tree is dead or a hazard.  Sometimes it is merely because it is unattractive or ugly.  Most trees add color and curb appeal to our properties.  So when and how do we know it is the right decision to remove a tree?

 

Obviously we notice problems with our trees before or after a storm with high winds.  However, an annual inspection of your trees is the best approach.  This will allow you to identify potential problems before they occur.

What you should look for: 

  • Dead and Dying Parts – These are the most likely candidates for removal. 

 

  • Broken and or Hanging Branches – This can happen for many reasons and may not indicate the tree should be removed.  It may only need to be trimmed. 

 

  • Missing or Decaying Wood or Bark – This does indicate a tree in distress.  However, it may require treatment and not removal. 

 

  • Leaning – Does your tree lean or is it unbalanced.  Leaning and unbalanced trees are often the first to fall with ground saturation.  This tree may be healthy but still a hazard.

 

  • Root Problems – Your tree requires its roots to stay upright.  If you notice decay, dead or missing roots the tree is a potential hazard. 

 

These are just a few of the more common and identifiable things you can look for.


You should always keep trees and branches cut back away from buildings and electrical wires.


If you notice any of these things or are uncertain about the health of your trees call us.  We have licensed arborists to help you with a risk assessment. 

 

Tree removal can be expensive.  However, you may loose much more than your tree if it falls on it’s own.

Capital Home Show This Weekend!

 

Come out and join us at the Capital Home Show this weekend at the Dulles Expo Center.

 

We will be located in booth 821, so stop by and take a look at our display featuring EP Henry pavers and a firepit! Don’t forget to talk with our friendly staff about setting up an estimate!

Join us and get inspired!

 

Show dates and hours:

Friday, September 21                 10am – 9pm
Saturday, September 22            10am – 9pm
Sunday, September 23              10am – 6pm

 

 

homeshowfloorplan

Fall Turf Recommendations

 

IT’S TIME TO GROW GRASS!

It looks like the high heat of the summer has passed, there has been some good rainfall over the last week, and it’s time to make plans to repair the damage to our lawns caused by the record breaking drought and heat of this past summer.  It has been a challenging year for turf management, to say the least.  The unseasonably warm temperatures in March started the early spring growth two to three weeks early despite drought conditions caused by almost no precipitation for three months.  The early root damage caused by these conditions, followed by rapid spring growth, was probably one of the causes of the excessive amount of turf disease cases that we’ve seen this year.  Follow this with the extreme heat and drought of June and July and we are seeing large amounts of turf damage everywhere!

So what do we do?  We have to fill in the bare areas with desirable turfgrass as well as alleviate soil compaction at the root zone area.  The large quantities of mid-summer germinating turf weeds need to be killed off as well so the new grass seedlings can establish and grow with minimal competition.  Fall broadleaf weed control, core aeration, and overseeding are all a part of a complete lawn care program in our region and, after the last seven months, these services are more important than ever.  If your lawn has a lot of bare and thin areas, if the soil looks rocky or had a reddish or orange tint to the soil, or if your lawn just seems to look stressed all the time, you may want to consider turf renovation.  This incorporates the introduction of new organic-reinforced soils as a top dressing in conjunction with core aeration, overseeding, and fertilization.  If you live in a home built in the last ten years, you should consider turf renovation as well.  This process does not have to done regularly.  Once the new soil is in place, your lawn will rapidly develop a strong and healthy root system. 

Remember, a thick healthy turf is the best way to control weeds and to reduce your overall costs in the long term.  Maintain a solid turf care program every year and you will see your lawn grow and thrive.

Welcome to the launch of our new website!

Over the past couple of months we have been working on updating our website to improve the ease and convenience of staying connected with our customers. We wanted a way to keep our customers updated on our services and specials, in addition to our monthly email newsletter.

The most important thing to us at PREMIUM is customer satisfaction, and maintaining long lasting relationships with all of our clients. If you ever have any questions or concerns about any services you are signed up for, or wish to sign up for, please do not hesitate to contact the office. Our friendly staff is awaiting your call: 703-239-8000.

 

Caring for your newly installed plants

Maintaining Your Plants

Watering

A regular watering schedule is key the first year for new plants to establish a healthy root system. Too much or too little water can cause a plant to wilt.  The best way to determine if a plant needs water is to check the soil with your hands about 3-4″ around the base of the plant. If the soil is dry then it needs water, if the soil is moist then it does not need to be watered. The ultimate goal is for the root ball to be completely saturated and allowed time to dry out before watering again.

How to determine the watering schedule

During the spring and fall, when the temperatures are cooler and there is supplemental rain, check the soil every 3 -5 days, usually requiring watering twice a week. During the summer, when it is hot and dry, check the soil every 2-3 days, usually requiring watering 3 times a week. Keep in mind that plants in the sun dry out faster then plants in the shade. However, plants under overhangs, bay windows, deck and large tree canopies can dry out, because they are blocked from supplemental rain.

Methods of  watering

Sprinkler – Watering with a sprinkler is great for watering a large area of plants. Either set up numerous sprinklers throughout the area or move the sprinkler from one area to another. It is important that every plant is getting thoroughly watered, so make sure to observe whether or not the sprinkler is covering all the plants. Let the sprinkler saturate each section for about 15 – 20 minutes.

Hose – Watering with a hose by hand allows for more accuracy. Attach a wand or sprayer to the end of the hose and adjust to the shower setting. Focus getting the water on the base of the plant, circulating the hose around the base.  Allow time for the water to soak while you move on to the next plant, and then go back and water again, so, that you are saturating the roots of the plant thoroughly. About 1 minute for perennials, 2-3 minutes for small to medium shrubs, and 3 -5 minutes for large shrubs and trees.

Soaker Hose – Watering with a soaker hose is ideal for small areas of plants.  The soaker hose can be attached directly to the hose bib or to a timer that will turn the water according to the set schedule. The soaker hose should be wrapped around the base of each plant so that all sides of the root ball are watered. Soaker hoses release water slowly, allow 30 – 45 minutes for the soaker hose to thoroughly saturate the soil around the plant.

Gator Bags – Gator bags can be used to water trees. Place the gator bag around the base of the tree and fill up with water. The water will slowly be absorbed into the roots over a few days. Allow a few days for the soil to dry out and repeat.

Trimming

Rule of thumb: best time to trim shrubs is immediately after they have finished blooming. Evergreen shrubs that do not bloom can be trimmed when necessary throughout the year. Use a hand pruner to keep a natural look or a hedge trimmer for a more formal look. Perennials will benefit from deadheading (removing spent blooms). Cut back perennials to the ground after the first frost. The plant will completely shrivel up and wilt after the first frost, so it does not hurt it to cut back the dead foliage. The roots will still be under the ground, and produce a new plant the following year.

Mulching

Mulching in the spring and fall will help protect the roots of the plants and help prevent weeds. Before you apply the mulch, make sure to clean all debris/weeds from the beds. Avoid piling the mulch to close to the stem/trunk of the plant so that it can breathe. The mulch will help keep the weeds to a minimum, but it’s probably a good idea to do a quick weeding of the beds every month. If you don’t have time to pull the weeds then a Round-Up weed spray that you can purchase at a nursery or Home Depot will do the trick. Apply the spray directly to the weed, careful not to get it on your other plants. The weeds should die in about 2 weeks.

Fertilizing

A slow release granular fertilizer, such as Osmocote or Hollytone is recommended rather than a water based fertilizer, which allows for error. It’s best to fertilize when the ground is wet, whether after it has rained or after you have watered your plants thoroughly. *Please use gloves when handling any type of fertilizer* Lightly sprinkle the fertilizer around the base of each plant (please, read and follow directions on the fertilizer package). The best time to fertilize is in the spring when the plants are growing, and the fall to supplement the plants through the winter. The summer is too hot and dry, fertilizing could burn the roots of the plants. In the winter the plants go dormant, they are not growing, so there is no need to fertilize.