Landscape Maintenance: 5 Simple Steps to Protect Your Investment

Well-maintained landscape with mulch

Congratulations on your new landscaping!

Since you’re landscaping is still fresh and new, you probably have some space between the plants, meaning your landscaping hasn’t filled in yet. If the landscape company you hired knows what they’re doing, you probably won’t have to worry about maintenance just yet.

But after time goes by and your plants start to mature, do you know how to take care of them properly?

A lot of homeowners will turn to “mow and blow gardeners” for help. These companies will come to your home, weed-wack, water, blow and trim your plants and will spend all of 15 to 20 minutes on your property. The name of the game is getting as many houses done in a day as possible, not necessarily taking time to tailor the work to the home’s individual needs. This leaves homeowners with boxy or round plants and a cookie cutter feel to their custom landscaping. In some cases, the gardeners will hack away at your plants and leave them severely damaged.

Choosing the right landscape maintenance company for your needs can be difficult, so here are 5 tips that will help you get the information you need to make an educated decision.

1. Pruning

For the first 6 months to a year, your newly installed plants are still growing. After the plants are rooted, they start to grow very rapidly, and that’s where things get tricky. Depending on the style of landscaping you have, your plants may start growing into one another and tangling together. If you have a mixture of different plants, some of the smaller species can get lost in the jumble and even wither away from a lack of sun and water. The way to prevent this from happening is to keep the plants separated. Recognize when one plant starts encroaching on another and prune accordingly.

Pruning trees the right way

The biggest advice we can give you is that one size does not fit all for plant pruning. It is vital that you choose a maintenance company that knows the appropriate pruning techniques for your specific plants. Be wary of hiring the first gardener you see when searching for a pruner. A lot of the “mow and blow” companies will hack away at your plants and leave you with square and globe-shaped landscaping. Not only is this bad for the plant, but it also ruins the custom aesthetic look that your designer created.

Lavender bush that has been properly maintained by "thinning"

The way you prune your landscaping should be dictated by how you would like them to look and what is best for the individual plant health. For example, for plants such as lavender that have a loose, wispy look – it’s better to use the pruning technique called thinning. Thinning is done by selectively removing interior or exterior branches to keep the natural look of the plant while controlling its size and shape.

2. Fertilizing

Typically, if your new landscape was installed correctly, it will already be fertilized. If you have used a premiere service, they should have installed fertilizer tabs that supply the plant with extra nutrients that will be evenly dissolved for for the first 6 to 12 months. After that period of time, your plants will be in need of some extra nutrients.

Fertilizing is best planned with the seasons. Be sure to note the time of year it is before adding fertilizer.

For the best results, fertilize when the weather is warm and your plants are in a growing stage. This will ensure that the nutrients from the fertilizer are fully absorbed and will keep your plants healthy and happy. If you neglect to fertilize during the growing season and go into the winter months, it won’t have much of an impact and your plants greenery will be stalled. Fertilizing thoroughly during the growing season will ensure that your plants will be green and have the nutrients they need going into winter.

Conversely, if you over-fertilize your landscaping, it can grow too fast and become harder to maintain. Fertilizing appropriately and seasonally is the key to steady growth and happy plants.

3. Mulching

Mulch has three important characteristics:

1. It gives your landscaping a more finished appearance.  Mulch hides any pebbles or debris that can take away from the beauty of your plants.

2. Mulch helps keep moisture in the ground and aids in saving water. That means more hydration for your plants and less money spent on your water bill.

3. It deteriorates over time, providing nutrients to your plants. The decomposition of mulch also provides humus, an organic material that enriches the soil.

Overtime, your mulch will get blown away, disturbed from gardening and decompose. It is vital that you replenish your mulch annually, or as recommended by your landscape professional.

Garden with fresh mulch

4. Watering

Making sure your landscaping is properly watered is a huge aspect of plant health, especially in the hot, Southern California climate.

Having an irrigation system does not mean you are safe from over or under watering your plants. Many homeowners make the mistake of relying on their newly installed irrigation system to work year round, which can result in inadequate watering in the summer months and over watering in the winter.

Hiring a professional that not only takes into consideration the plant species and the specific watering needs, but also the climate is a crucial factor in the survival of your plants. Be sure to hire a professional that will come out monthly to adjust your landscape timer according to the season and your specific needs. They should also do an inspection of sprinkler heads and your irrigation system as a whole, to make sure everything is working efficiently.

Close up of sprinkler head spraying water

5. Follow-up Care

If your professional is fully in tune with your garden and its needs, it is recommended that you do a quarterly maintenance plan. Top professionals can easily spend 10 hours or more a quarter (for a 7,500 to 10,000 square-foot yard) carefully tending to your plants. The more time your professionals spend, the better. For garden-heavy homes featuring carefully selected plants, a monthly premium maintenance plan is ideal. That way, your professional can construct a care-regimen tailored to your plants’ specific needs.

Pasadena Showcase House of Design 2019

With over 20 years of experience, Pacific Outdoor Living has tended to thousands of gardens across Southern California.

Our skilled team creates custom maintenance plans tailored to the homeowners’ specific needs. From design to upkeep, we ensure that your home looks like the dream you envisioned.

Contact us today to speak with one of our landscape professionals and get a free quote on the perfect landscaping services for your home.