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Four Season Interest in Commercial Landscape

Using the Right Plants to Provide a Four-Season Interest in Commercial Landscape

While we can see an increase of interesting trends for commercial properties, there are still many sites with overgrown evergreen vegetation and a few pockets with annual flowers. Landscape enhancements can improve the appearance of these properties, including more than just a flower rotation when adding color. With the right landscape design, commercial sites can transform into beautiful spaces with plants that thrive in each season. 

Currently, with COVID-19 shaping the way we live and work, we recognize the importance of spending time outside. This especially relates to a workplace, where employees can benefit from spending time outdoors. Working in a natural environment allows for a connection with nature, therefore it is important to provide the right plants that will continue to provide attention through the whole year. The idea of all-season interest is to include the plants that provide ornamental attributes in one season and overlapping with another group that provides interest in the following season. Certainly, most plants display an interest in spring and summer, however, there are multiple plant options to make fall and winter attractive as well.

Spring and summer interests are known for providing showy blooms and interesting textures. After the winter is over, people want to see colors, so the earliest blooms are found in spring bulbs. The swaths of early-blooming daffodils and later drifts of tulips add a desired color to the landscape. We also like to use the spring-blooming ornamental trees, like cherry and magnolia to bring eye-catching flowers. Dogwoods and redbuds are also popular spring-blooming native trees that we use in commercial landscapes. When it comes to shrubs, many commercial sites are still covered with the popular old-fashioned forsythia, but we like to often replace it with native fothergilla and itea. These shrubs also offer a beautiful fall color.

By late spring, many trees and shrubs are leafed out, giving way to bloom. One of the popular shrubs in April and May is encore azaleas. There are multiple varieties of this relatively new species which provide a multi-season interest and require less maintenance than the traditional azaleas. Besides blooming in spring, encore azaleas rebloom in fall and stay evergreen through the winter. Another newly introduced plant that we have tried and can recommend is dwarf lilacs for late spring color and little lime hydrangea for early summer stunning flowers. In addition to shrubs, we like using the long-blooming perennials, like daylily, Russian sage, catmint, coreopsis, and late summer blooms like sedum, or rudbeckia. 

In fall, a must-have color comes from red maples, but also shrubs like nandina, oakleaf hydrangea, and spirea can provide beautiful fall foliage. In combination with ornamental grasses and fall-blooming perennials, they provide an outstanding mix of contrasting colors and textures. There also are a few plant options for winter interest. We often use a multi-season red twig dogwood with attractive red stems, winterberry, known for its bright red berries, and ornamental trees like paperbark maple, or river birch with peeling bark. Ornamental grasses still look beautiful and soft in winter, before they will be cut back in early spring.  

We all want to enjoy the outdoors and work in a pleasant environment.  By making a few changes to the property, it is possible to provide an attractive and thriving landscape with multiple interests throughout the whole year. 

Seasonal Flower Installations

Seasonal Rotations

Few components of landscape can impact the impression and appearance of both a property and your company’s brand the way annual flower rotations can. An ongoing seasonal color program includes a planting schedule that can change with the seasons to add color and curb appeal to your property. Our team at Chapel Valley works to create distinctive color combinations in concurrence with our plant management programs to ensure plants thrive throughout the seasons. Whether it’s incorporating the bright and vibrant colors of spring and summer or the warmer colors of fall and the holiday seasons, you can trust that Chapel Valley will have your property looking its best. Contact us today to see how we can differentiate your property and branding through specialty seasonal color rotations!

Dormant Pruning

“Winter” or “dormant” pruning is an essential horticultural practice that an experienced landscape contractor will utilize at their discretion. This is essentially a hard cutback (more than you would cut with hand pruners or shears during a typical pruning session) to reshape the plant and encourage new growth to form towards the inside of the plant. As plants are pruned during the summer months, a landscaper will strategically take as little plant material off during each pruning to avoid plant stress during hot temperatures. Because of this, the plant will start to form more leaves on the outside of the plant and less on the inside, creating a very bare environment in the middle of the plant over time. It is imperative that most woody shrubs are dormant pruned at strategic intervals during their life cycle. Not every shrub needs yearly dormant pruning, but some do. Your dedicated landscape professional should be able to distinguish which ones those are.

Depending on the plant variety and the amount of sunlight the plant receives each day, be prepared for a relatively slow grow back, especially if these cutbacks are performed in the dead of winter. If viable, we recommend waiting as close to March as possible since days are starting to get longer which will promote more sunlight and rapid photosynthetic growth. This will shorten the amount of time the plant will remain bare, with Spring becoming the first active growing period of the year for most woody plant material. If hard cutbacks are being done in heavily shaded areas throughout the year, be prepared for an even longer grow-back period. Depending on the severity of the cutback needed, it could take over a year for a plant to regain its natural vigor when in a heavily shaded area.Cherry Laurel

Dormant pruning also has other perks as well. It can apply to trees, too, for instance, as this is a great time to provide limb ups and more major cutbacks on them. Less sap is lost in the wintertime, putting less stress on the tree. Dormant pruning in the winter is also great because it can reduce the transmission of diseases and pests, mainly since the frigid temperatures inhibit the activity of both.

Whether you are attempting to tackle dormant pruning on your own or trusting a landscape expert, be sure to do the correct research and come up with a plan this winter. Hopefully, the points made above will help you give you a baseline of what needs to be done and what to expect given the circumstance.  Please reach out to us today to discuss your dormant pruning needs!

Leaf Removal

Removal vs. Mulching in Turf

As summer comes to an end, so does the tree growing season. As fall approaches, property managers are left with a decision to make. Should fallen leaves be mulched or removed? When it comes to leaf removal it may be tempting to wait until all the leaves have fallen; however, it is much better for the overall health of your lawn to remove them as soon as possible. Leaves can also cause safety issues as fallen leaves on pavements, parking lots, and patios can be slippery when wet and lead to accidents.

While both methods have their benefits, in most cases, mulching leaves is more cost-efficient than leaf removal. Mulching leaves can also act as a natural fertilizer and a beneficial organic matter, which will improve the overall health of the soil. Another benefit is water conservation, as leaf mulching helps retain moisture in the soil. Additionally, the leaf mulch lowers the soil’s exposure to the sun and wind, reducing evaporation. Leaf mulches also reduce weeds on a property, in turn reducing the amount of weeding or the need to use herbicides to maintain the property in the spring. A disadvantage to this method is that mulching diseased leaves can spread disease. Too many mulched leaves can starve your grass and plants of light and air and encourage pests.

Similarly, leaf removal also comes with advantages and disadvantages. One of the main benefits of leaf removal is that it promotes better growth. Cleaning up the leaves allows sunlight to get into the grass, helping with the overall growth. The downside of not removing fallen leaves is that the area will stay damp, leading to mold, fungus, and diseases that will damage your grass. The leaves remaining on a property can invite mosquitoes and other insects that will eat the roots of your grass, leading to several types of lawn disease. Overall, removal services in the fall will reduce the amount of time and save money on lawn services that may be needed in the spring.

Aeration and Overseeding

Aeration and Overseeding

It’s that time of year again when we need to get out to aerate your lawn. There are many benefits to performing this service. Your soil can become compacted over time, and the harder your soil becomes, the tougher it is for water to get through the soil, stunting grass growth.  Aerating your lawn breaks up the compacted soil, allowing water, air, nutrients, and fertilizer to easily reach the roots and promote deeper, stronger root growth. We utilize a roller-type core aeration machine with coring tines of ¾” diameter, and try to reach a depth of 1-2”. The holes made by aerating give the new grass seeds an easier place to germinate. Whether you have a fescue or bermudagrass lawn, aerating is beneficial.  

Now we get into overseeding and why you should or should not do this. Overseeding your lawn helps promote a thicker, healthier turf by adding new growth. Bermudagrass lawns are normally overseeded with fescue seed to promote a green lawn over the winter months when it becomes dormant. If you do not mind a tan lawn during the dormant season, this can be skipped. Fescue lawns need to be overseeded to help keep the turf weed-free and increase resistance to insect damage and lawn disease.  Fall is the perfect time to seed your new lawn or overseed your existing lawn. The fall months allow the seeds to germinate and establish their root system, even into the colder months. Warm days, cool nights, and moisture are what the seeds like best. If you try to get seeds to grow in the heat of summer, they will most likely not survive the stress of the heat and lack of water. As far as how much seed to use, we suggest 4 pounds of seed per 1,000sf. If you use too much seed, they will struggle as they compete for sunlight, water, and nutrients. handling landscape irrigation for your property

Here are some steps to follow as you aerate and overseed your lawn.  

  1. Mow your lawn before aeration (a notch lower can enable better soil/seed contact).
  2. Make sure no excessive grass clippings are present.
  3. Aerate and dethatch your lawn.  
  4. Broadcast a good starter fertilizer along with your seed. Check your local area fertilizer laws. 
  5. If you have an irrigation system, set it to water in the new seeds.  If you do not have irrigation, plan to do this a day or two before you are expecting rain.  

Call us today for aerating and overseeding services! 

 

Fall Preparations

PREPARING YOUR OFFICE PARK FOR FALL

The dog days of summer are sadly winding down. Be ahead of the pack and make the transition to fall a smooth one. Taking the time to think about your property’s needs and your own goals for the site in advance will make your life a bit less stressful – and hopefully making some time to seek out a hammock in the shade with a good book and beverage of choice!

First, you’ll want to think about your plan for fall plantings. This would include replacing your summer annuals with a cold-hardy display of pansies or violas. It is a growing trend to also add an installation of tulip and daffodil bulbs at the same time. This creates a huge pop of color in early spring and will really set your property apart. A big advantage of including bulbs in your plan is that they will come up year after year. A lot of bang for your buck!
In addition, now that it is cooling off, it is the perfect time to replace or add any other plantings. Shrubs and trees will thrive with the lowered temperatures and have an opportunity to get established over the upcoming months.

Plan a “walk” with your Account Manager to discuss any other ideas to enhance your landscape. Use their experience and expertise!  If there are projects you want to include, but there are budgetary constraints, it is the perfect time to get these items priced out and included in next year’s budget. Use the following 3 rules while completing your list: Aesthetics – How will this improve the appearance of my property? 
Function – Will this solve a problem? Correcting drainage issues are a perfect example of this.
Safety – Are there areas at your site that potentially will cause a safety issue? Site lines for vehicles, appropriate pathways, and dead or declining trees are examples of situations that could potentially cause harm to a person or property.

Various shrubs and grasses



Next, you’ll want to get aeration and overseeding scheduled for your property. Aeration and overseeding help your turf become stronger and denser. It helps fill in any bare or sparse areas and reduces weed establishment. In conjunction with your turf application program, aeration and overseeding give you the complete program to establish and maintain a beautiful green space.

Last, you’ll want to make sure you have your snow and ice management partner in place. It’s much easier to get these arrangements nailed down and contracts in place before the first ominous weather report! Creating a snow plan should include communicating with your contractor to establish exactly what your expectations are so things will run as smoothly as possible in the upcoming months.

Fall in the mid-Atlantic is a beautiful time. Spend a few minutes getting things together, and enjoy the season!

 

Contact Communication

The Advantages of a Single Point of Contact

Communication is not just an aspect of good customer service; it is the most important part of customer service.  Companies can attract sales, but it is good communication that keeps clients coming back.  

At Chapel Valley we strive to provide our clients with the highest level of service, beginning with a high standard for communication. Clients often come to us frustrated about the lack of communication from their previous providers. Realizing that communication is critical to service success and overall client satisfaction, we have made clear communication our top priority by implementing a single point of contact strategy for our portfolio clients.  

We realize your time is valuable, so you should not have to spend hours trying to track down your landscape provider, especially in the case of an emergency. When partnering with Chapel Valley, your portfolio will be provided a designated contact that is independent from daily field operations and acts as a liaison between your team members and the Chapel Valley team.  

This single point of contact provides oversight across the portfolio and focuses on quality control and your customer experience. Having one designated individual removes any confusion surrounding who to contact and how to contact them. In addition to their horticulture knowledge, they can assist in resolving questions or concerns surrounding service, enhancements, or billing. 

Their number one goal is your satisfaction and do so by taking a proactive approach to your sites, conducting independent site walks to ensure maintenance is on track, and finding areas and ideas for enhancement.

We believe that utilizing this strategy helps to meet both your current and long-term needs by ensuring your brand standards are being upheld consistently among your portfolio. 

Communication, whether good or bad, can leave a lasting impression, and we know ours will be a great one.  

Enhancing Entrances

Planter Installations to Enhance Entrances/High Visibility Areas

The immediate way to provide an eye-catching color is to install planters with annual flowers at the entrance to a property. Whether it’s an office, apartment building, institutional property, or a residential site, visitors and tenants will certainly notice the attractive color. 

Specifically, highly occupied properties will be worth investing in the planters since many tenants pass the entrance each day. If it’s an apartment building or workplace, the tenants and employees will appreciate the attractive place to live and work. It will also provide great curb appeal to prospective tenants and clients, as the entrance will make the first impression. The use of planters with colorful displays can be also a successful tool to use around gathering areas, such as outdoor patios, lounge areas, pool decks, cafeterias, small nook gardens, and other seating areas. Having a work lunch on a restaurant’s patio? Business meeting in the courtyard? Enjoying a pool party? Planters can certainly enhance these areas and provide a pleasant setting. 

The most popular containers are designed for summer display, including lush, tropical plants and flowering plants with bold colors for summer months; however, fall and winter containers can be equally spectacular and provide the seasonal eye-catching interest. For fall months we suggest using Garden Mums, ornamental Kale and Cabbage, Violas, and Pansies mixed with cold-hardy perennials, such as Coral Bells, Sedums, and ornamental grasses. Some fall containers can hold up well through the mild winter, but adding a smaller evergreen shrub will certainly extend the seasonal interest. There is also a number of ways to enhance the winter look of the container. One of our favorite ideas for winter months is to add the branches of Red Twig Dogwood or exfoliating birch branches, along with the winterberries and other greenery from evergreen trees and pine cones to provide the detailed features. specific or broad landscape management

Regardless of the season, the key is to keep the balanced composition in planters and a good proportion between colors and textures. This is especially important when the planters are grouped together. When designing a container combination, we look for a visual balance between each container. The color palette, textures, heights, and shapes of containers will influence both the final design and the unity of the composition. The other important aspect is to follow the recipe “thriller-filler-spiller” – a formula for a successful plant combination. 

Thrillers are focal points, usually the tallest plant, with the most attractive attributes. For example, unique tropicals, tall ornamental grasses, shrubs with interesting flowers, or foliage. We like to use tropical Palms, Banana Leaves, Cordyline, Hibiscus, or Mandevilla as seasonal thrillers. Fillers are medium-size plants that fill the space around the thrillers. They usually have a spreading habit and offer either many clusters of flowers or ornamental foliage. We often use Begonia, Petunia, Verbena, or Lantana as flowering fillers and Coleus, Caladium, or Variegated Ginger as fillers with interesting foliage and contrasting colors. The main role of spillers is to finish and soften the look of the planter combination. They often bring together the composition by including similar colors, or textures as other plants used in the planter. For this purpose, we use the trailing plants, such as Variegated Vinca, Sweet Potato Vine, Bacopa, trailing Petunia, Geranium, Dichondra, and a very popular Creeping Jenny. 

There is no exact template for all planters, as each design is unique and carefully planned for a specific location. While we follow the “thriller-filler-spiller” recipe, we also keep in mind that the plants need to relate to the scale of the planter, location, amount of sun/shade, and watering needs. When designing the planter, we consider all criteria and adjust accordingly to the client’s needs, so the eye-catching planters will accent the landscape throughout the entire season.

Brandscaping

The Relationship Between Effective Landscape Management and Your Brand

In the words of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
Have you ever wondered what people are saying about your company when you aren’t around? Have you considered all possible avenues to make the best first impression possible? Chances are there is one thing you haven’t thought too deeply about when considering your brand: landscape management.

I’m sure you’re wondering what landscaping has to do with your brand, right? A brand is really nothing more than a combined set of individual perceptions or opinions – the big picture. There are many small components to building a brand, such as logo design, color schemes, a website, social media presence, and physical environment. When you combine multiple successful factors, in theory, you should achieve a successful brand.

Here’s the thing about effective landscaping: it can positively affect or enhance almost every single branding component. If you have quality landscaping at your company’s physical locations, you are already set up for success. Effective landscaping can be used to direct the eye to strategic signage or logo placements. Colorscaping can be utilized to maintain a sense of brand color consistency across a physical campus. Picturesque landscaping can be used in photographs as content for a website or social media pages.

Landscaping alone can be what sets your brand apart from the competition. Commercial retail sites, office buildings, and multi-family housing brands all have one goal in common: to lease available space. When a potential customer goes to visit various sites in search of a lease, a multitude of variables is at play.

Picture this: two properties are identical in square footage, regional location, lease term, and price. One of those properties is well-manicured with green turf, crisp edges, and pops of color. The other property doesn’t look bad, but it certainly doesn’t have the same visual appeal and attention to detail as the first. Considering all other aspects are identical, at which property would you choose to sign a lease?

A common pitfall is an assumption that a low price means the best deal. The problem with that assumption is this: price does not always equal value. Rather than asking yourself how much you’re paying for quality landscaping, ask yourself what you’re getting for what you’re paying.

When initially designing your visual branding, you probably weren’t searching for the cheapest graphic designer you could find. More likely, you spent time researching and choosing a qualified designer who could deliver an exceptional product. The same should apply to the visual appeal of your company’s landscaping.
When deciding on a landscape management provider, you want to ensure you’re hiring a qualified company that can assist you in achieving a professional appearance. Chapel Valley will provide you with a lively, unique landscaping experience.

For questions or more information about professional landscape management, please visit www.chapelvalley.com.

Welcome Donnalee Harman

Donnalee joined Chapel Valley in May of 2021 as a Business Development Executive. She has over a decade of experience in both operations and sales roles in the landscaping industry and prior to that 15+ years in client relationship management.

Her attention to detail, ability to work with clients to address their individual needs, and developing creative solutions to match, have been what has driven her career.

Donnalee is married and lives in Lovettsville, VA with her husband Jon. They have 5 grown children and 2 grandchildren. When not spending time visiting them, she enjoys traveling, wineries, and anything on the water.

Donnalee can be reached via email or her LinkedIn profile.