We take great pride in every landscape we do and we want to help make sure your investment continues to look good as it matures. Below you will find key care guidelines. Please read through each of these critical care areas as they cover the main aspects related to care of your new landscape.
Proper watering is the most important factor in the health of your landscape. The number one reason plants and trees die is over watering. This typically happens because the fresh sod requires extra water for the first 7 – 10 days to establish itself. If the watering rate is not turned down after this period significant drowning will occur. Also, over watering your lawn causes the grass to adapt to excessive water. This means the root system will establish closer to the surface making the grass week and unable to handle droughts.
Another important consideration for your new landscape is to avoid blowing grass clippings in to the rock or bark mulch areas of your landscape. Grass clippings (often with seeds) quickly decompose and provide an environment for grass and weeds to grow in your landscape beds. The other thing to watch is making sure you don’t cut your grass too short. Grass should be cut to 2.5” – 3.5” height. Taller healthier grass better prevents weed growth and is more tolerant of very hot or dry conditions.
For most plants the time to trim is when they are dormant. Generally the best time is late winter (Feb – early Mar) before any new growth has begun but it does vary by plant type. Late winter trimming minimizes the amount of time the wound is exposed as new growth is about to begin. If trees must be pruned or are storm damaged in the summer a wound dressing may need to be applied to prevent disease or infestation. Some trees and shrubs bloom early on last year’s growth and should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming (flowering). This included the commonly used plants like lilacs and magnolias. As a general rule do not remove more than 33% of any tree or shrub in a season.
Some amount of weeding is necessary with any landscape. In general if you live in an area where everyone has nice weed free yards and there is very little “wild areas” around there will be very few weeds. If you let weeds mature and seed, or your neighbors do, you will have significant amount of work to remove them. Regardless of your environment the optimal way to deal with weeds is to do make a quick 5-10 minute walk around the house weekly to pull them out from the roots. If you don’t it can quickly become a 1hr – 2hr chore to pull the much larger weeds/ Also as they get larger it becomes increasingly difficult to get enough of the root system pulled out so they don’t grow back immediately. One weed that flowers and goes to see can create a hundred or more new weeds in the vicinity.
Bark Mulch “Top dressing”
Bark mulch decomposes slowly but it does eventually decompose and become soil that will allow weeds to grow freely. Newly installed bark mulch is typically 3-4 inches deep with landscape fabric beneath it to prevent weeds or other plants from taking root. To keep up a nice appearance on your bark mulch areas they can be “top dressed” yearly in the spring. Top dressing is spreading a very thin layer of fresh bark mulch over the top of your existing mulch. It should be the same type and color of what was originally installed. You should use as little as possible. After 3 or 4 years the original bark mulch will be mostly decompressed and should be removed completely and re-mulched. Continually stacking new mulch or putting on too thick a layer each year can build up 8 or more inches of mulch that may change the grade causing water to flow back towards your house.
Winter Care (Road Salt and sidewalk salt)
Salt is very bad for plants. It prevents plants from using osmosis to absorb water from the soil and kills them. You should not use salt on your sidewalk or driveway if any plants are in the area. Salt can also be damaging to concrete, brick, and stone. Use sand or salt alternatives like Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) which works at lower temperatures, is biodegradable, and actually provides nutrients to plants. If you have trees or plants near a road that is salted you may need to cover them with burlap over the winter to protect them from salt spray. Lawn Gypsum can be a useful treatment to help neutralize road salt effecting grass or plants.
Foundation Settling on New Homes
One important aspect of landscaping is proper drainage around your home. Rough grade is done by an excavator prior to any construction and final grade is set prior to landscape work. Great care is taken during the landscape phase of construction to maintain proper drainage. If settling does occur it is the result of something deep beneath the surface. Settling next to the foundation can cause water to pool or run back towards your house. If not corrected, it can cause basement water damage and flooding in your home. To properly fix, the rock/bark mulch needs to be removed, soil brought in to get proper drainage away from the house, and then replace rock/bark mulch and plantings. Just adding additional rock/bark mulch to settling will only hide the problem. Water will still pool it just won’t be as visible that the water is not shedding away from the house properly.