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!

 

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.

Three Things I Learned About The Landscaping Industry

Joining the landscape industry has been a new learning experience and after 3 years I’m still learning. Coming from a corporate IT background I never knew what went into working for a landscaping company.

While all properties are different, they all are looking to accomplish the same goal. Each property’s requirements vary based on its region. Whether you are looking at a high-rise in DC with a green roof and planters on the ground level, a gated HOA in McLean, or a new developing apartment community in Richmond, they are all looking to accomplish the same goal, curb appeal! While working on apartment communities in DC you will see many greens. In Herndon, you don’t see that very often but you do see more outdoor spaces, for example, dog parks and trails. I have learned that we need to be able to hear all of our customer’s needs and take into consideration the location.  Landscaping at Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Coming from a corporate background new to the landscape industry I have learned that It’s a team effort from beginning to end. When it comes to preparing a proposal for a customer many parts go into the planning that I was not aware of. Starting with the initial meeting with the customer to internally estimating the property, the team physically estimating the property to finally presenting to the customer. Everyone in the team plays a big role in presenting each proposal specifically designed for each of our customers.

In my first year, I didn’t understand why there was so much conversation around snow removal. Coming from a completely different industry I would have never imagined the role that snow plays in the landscape industry. After sitting in on an operations meeting I understand all the planning that goes into a snow event. Assigning crew members and vehicles to each customer’s specific snow requirements takes a lot of preparation. Also the continued treatment of the properties throughout and after a storm. Snow is a big part of the landscape industry in Northern Virginia during the winter months. 

These are only a few of the many things I have learned while working at Chapel Valley.

The Advantages of Working with a Family-Owned Business

Does your Landscape Contractor provide the level of service you expect, or do you feel as though you are being “managed” for the benefit/profitability of a large corporation?   You have a lot of choices in Landscape Providers and they are all not created equal.  Yes, we all mow grass, prune shrubs, and apply mulch but is your Contractor invested in your property for the long term?  Cheap contract prices and the necessity to post corporate profits that will appease stockholders often leads to short-cuts and deferred maintenance items that will be an out of contract extra cost later down the road.  Chapel Valley is invested in the Community, committed to our employees and we hold ourselves accountable to our Customers to fulfill our contractual obligations completely and avoid the unnecessary and unexpected costs to rectify service items that should have been done in contract all along.

Chapel Valley has been in business since 1968 and for over 50 years we have remained a family-owned business.  While our Founder, Landon Reeve, passed away last year his legacy is being carried on by his son James who shares the same ethos and beliefs of always doing the right thing for each and every customer and employee even if it might cost the company money and sacrifice some immediate profits.   At our core, we operate by the Golden Rule and this is what has driven our success and our profitability.  Treat people like you would want them to treat you, do what is right and profits will naturally flow.

Family Owned Businesses, like Chapel Valley, enjoy the flexibility to implement new ideas immediately and adapt to changing situations that may be needed with either our employees or customers.  As we have all seen with COVID-19, the secret to success and reducing the spread was a quick and immediate response.

When selecting your next Landscape Provider ask yourself, do corporate profits drive the level of service you will receive?  Chapel Valley is driven by its dedication to Family Values that infiltrate every aspect of the Work Culture.  We do what we say we are going to do and we do it well.  We may make mistakes but we will own them and take the steps necessary to resolve the trouble.  You have our word on that.

Four Season Landscaping Plans

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 and work outdoors. Working in a natural environment allows for a connection with nature, therefore it is important to provide the right plants that will continue giving attention throughout 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 blooms. 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 re-bloom in fall and stay evergreen through the winter. We have tried and can recommend other newly introduced plants are 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. They provide an outstanding mix of contrasting colors and textures in combination with ornamental grasses and fall-blooming perennials. 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 being 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. 

Operational Excellence

Finding a landscaping vendor that has every cylinder firing is getting more difficult to obtain these days. With so many more contractors to choose from now than ever before, there is a higher possibility of choosing the wrong one. Every now and again you will find a vendor that seems to be performing at the top of their level. Those are the ones you will do anything to keep. Throughout my career, I have noticed most of these top performers have one major thing in common: operational excellence.

Is the vendor professional in the most basic forms? As in, do they have a clean, presentable service vehicle and uniform? Something so simple, almost petty, is extremely important. If your landscaper pulls up to your job site every week in a dirty, unmarked vehicle with no formal uniform, how can you safely determine if those are the people you think they are? Not only does it not look professional, not knowing who or what those workers belong to could intimidate some of your residents or tenants. Your renters have better things to focus on. Do not allow your vendor to draw negative attention to themselves, because eventually, it will become a reflection on you.

Organization is key with any successful vendor. Let us start with scheduling. Does the contractor show up as agreed upon in the contract, consistently at the same intervals for each service? Or do they seem to be showing up when they can and having to perform make up services or “IOU” favors for lack of consistent service? A lot of this erratic behavior is stemmed from a poor organization or structure at their company. A great vendor will have a consistent schedule for the season, always having the correct equipment and people to perform the job. Of course, there will be times where something will go wrong even with a “perfect” vendor. Maybe a few folks called in sick or they had a breakdown on the highway which caused them to stray off schedule. What makes them a great vendor is that they let you know, and they communicated that to you and let you know the new plan. That brings me to the next point: communication.

Do you hear from your vendor once a month, once a quarter, or every week? Depending on the type of work performed and how often they are contractually required to visit your property, you may need to hear from one vendor more than another. Are they being proactive in communicating: schedule changes, pricing for enhancements, hazardous items, general cost-saving measures, or general notes of the property each week? Or are you having to reach out to them for every item? A well-oiled contractor will always have their communication down and you will know their every move.

These points discussed are some of the common trends or habits I have noticed that can separate a great vendor from a poor one. A vendor with operational excellence will be your eyes and ears for your property and will be a true partner. One should desire a company that makes your life easier, not harder. Make sure you choose one that fits your mold and takes your property to the next level with excellent operational fluidity. You won’t regret it.

Mike Bauer
Chapel Valley Landscape Company

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