Growing up on farm nurtured passion for landscaping
Eric Beaune got hooked on gardening while growing up on a farm in Shenandoah County with six brothers and two sisters.
“There was always a garden and lots of flower beds,” said Beaune, 35, “and it became a passion of mine.”
After graduating from Central High School in 1998, Beaune decided to attend Lord Fairfax Community College’s landscape program with a focus on horticulture so he could help friends and relatives rather than leave the area for college.
Today, he is president of Beaune Brother’s Landscaping in Woodstock with 12 employees, including two brothers – one of whom is a graduate of Virginia Tech’s nationally recognized landscape architecture program.
And after 16 years of toiling in soil, Beaune has learned to solve some perennial problems like what is the best ground cover in shaded areas.
“There is always something to learn,” said Beaune, who recommends ground cover plants such as hostas, lilies, coral bells and astible and notes, “it is the amount of sunlight that determines their blooming time.”
“When I first started I didn’t know about some things, like Bermuda grass,” Beaune said. “When there is a drought, it will take over and then next year it goes brown. Keeping a lawn healthy is the best defense against it.”
He has learned – and advises – to never plant under the area’s many walnut trees because the acidity of the nuts will kill anything under them.
When customers want an active yard, Beaune recommends black-eyed susan and hydrangea to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Other flowering magnets are bee balm, columbine, wisteria and day lilies.
“I am a master gardener and I love working with someone like him,” said Jane Tesh ,of Edinburg, who has been a client for six years doing landscaping and hardscaping (sidewalks, patios, etc.) for three homes with Beaune Brothers.
She reeled off a list of spring plantings they have done because, “I like three season colors. He likes green things. We have put in a row of sweet bay magnolia which grows quickly with beautiful leaves, fragrant blooms and fills in spaces.”
Among the flowering flora around their home are caryopteris plants with blue or white flowers pollinated by butterflies or bumblebees, knockout roses, penrose in shady spots, azaleas, rhododendron and peonies.
Beaune notes this is the time of year to take advantage of early planting, sprucing up beds or mulching before growth gets out of control because later “it is costly to correct the negligence. June and July is when we get calls from those who didn’t do anything in the spring.”
Spring triggers the company’s heaviest workload with “reduction” of overgrowth and mulching before bulbs come up.
“April and May are our busiest months,” Beaune said.
“Spring means getting rid of leaves, tree pruning for fruit trees and such,” said Beaune, who notes most things they plant have a bloom except for boxwoods and evergreens, but everything needs some maintenance.
He meets with current and potential clients to get a feel for their gardening preferences, sketches a plan with dimensions, and finalizes details.
The Virginia Tech connection is valuable when the company needs soil tested or encounters a pest infestation they are not familiar with and need to eradicate it. The school provides needed research and possible solutions.
“His estimates are true,” said Mrs. Tesh, who plans to move to a new home soon in Woodstock and “Eric and I will do our dance again. I want a formal French Garden with boxwood and lots of lavender.”
When Peter Zarrella retired from the Department of Defense and moved from Bristow to Strasburg four years ago, he hired Beaune Brothers to change the look of his 9,000-square-foot lot.
“The prior owners were over-the-top with their landscaping,” said Zarrella. “They worked on it 365 days a year. We wanted to downsize it and we regrouped.”
Beaune Brothers replaced mulch with stones, added a stone walkway from the front to the back of the house and “made it usable for our grandkids. They love it,” Zarrella said.
“We are trying to do what is natural and they showed us which plants are better kept and those that are more finicky,” said Zarella. “We have been very happy with everything they have done.”
“This is very much a word-of-mouth business,” said Beaune. “When we leave a job we want everyone to tell what a good job we did. That’s our goal.”