New Landscape Care Complete Packet


How to Care for Your New Landscape

By following the guidelines in this post, you can keep your landscape looking beautiful for years to come!



Seeded Lawns


A seeded lawn takes at least one full year to fill in uniformly throughout your yard; and many times, two years are needed to develop a thick luxurious lawn.

In the first season, there may be a weed problem, even though quality topsoil was used. Weeds can be easily controlled using a proper fertilization and weed control program. We would be happy to provide you with this service for an additional cost.


Newly seeded lawns (or areas that have been re-seeded) should be allowed to grow to 3 ½ inches before the first mowing. At that time, it should be cut to 3 inches and the clippings should be picked up.

Subsequent mowing on new lawns, and regular mowing on established lawns, should be done often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the total height is removed at one time (1/3 of the grass blade). IF this practice is followed on established lawns, clippings can be left on the lawn. However, if the grass is over 4 inches high when mowing time arrives, pick up excess clippings, as these tend to smother and mat-down the lawn. Mowing before grass gets tall also keeps the grass texture finer. When mowing grass over 4 to 5 inches tall, the stalks will turn brown and feel stiff to walk on.

Mowing to short is a common cause of poor, unhealthy lawns. In the summer, mow at the top setting, or about 3 to 3 ½ inches. In the spring and fall, mow as short as 2 to 2 ½ inches on smooth lawn.

De-Thatching and Core Aeration

De-Thatching of your lawn (mechanical removal of thatch) is usually not needed for 3 years after the lawn’s installation.

Core Aeration of your lawn, (removal of soil plugs to allow better water penetration and soil-air exchange) is recommended as part of your annual lawn maintenance program, and can be done the first season after your new lawn’s installation.


Once grass seed is sown, watch closely so you will be aware when it begins to germinate. (Approximately 7 to 10 days for rye grasses.) The most critical time is when the grass blades are so fine they are almost invisible. You must water, very lightly to prevent washing out, 2 to 3 times per day, if possible. Begin as soon as your seed has begun to germinate, and continue watering, as instructed above, for two weeks for rye grass and turf-type tall fescue lawns; three weeks for fine and hard fescue mixes; and four weeks for good blue grass establishment. Blue grasses germinate last, taking about three weeks. These continuous, light waterings will allow your fescues and bluegrasses to begin their germination without washing the seed and soil away. After this germination period, water lightly, approximately every other day, until you have mowed four times.

Even after your new lawn is well on its way, watering should be continued, as it is essential for a healthy lawn with vigorous, deep root growth. Adequate watering should be part of your regular lawn maintenance program throughout the growing season. Adequate water can be defined as: enough water to maintain some moisture in the soil at a depth of 2 to 4 inches.

One inch of water per week (including rainfall and additional water) should be satisfactory under most conditions. (See diagram) During drought periods (two weeks or longer with little or no rainfall) additional watering should take place. More water than usual is also essential for sandy soils, gravelly soils, or full sun areas on south or west facing slopes.

The time of day when you water is also important. Most authorities state that early morning or evening watering is best to promote deep root growth and vigorous turf. However, The Ohio Landscapers Association urges homeowners to avoid very late evening waterings, as they can lead to fungus problems. Watering in the evening or late evening or late afternoon should be done early enough to allow the grass blades to dry off before nightfall. On windless, humid days, when pattern interruption and rapid evaporation is not a worry (we conservationists do worry), it is best to thoroughly water in the hottest part of the day.


watering diagram


After your seeded lawn has germinated, be sure to apply a fertilizer treatment every 30 days to feed the newly germinated plants. After the fourth mowing, make your first application of fertilizer, which should be a 15-10-5 or 20-10-10 formulation, specifically for lawns, and apply at a rate of 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. * (See notation)

Weed Control

Most weeds you see in your new lawn will die after a few mowings, but there are a number of weeds which can be a problem and make a lawn unattractive. Although many require specific chemical treatment, some general rules can be followed:

After weeds have begun to emerge in the spring, apply a BROADLEAF HERBICIDE to all established turf areas, following the manufacturer’s directions. Do not allow herbicides to drift onto shrubs or neighbors’ plantings. Although the use of weed killers is not recommended on new lawns (mowed less than 6 times), some special herbicides for young turf can be safely used, if carefully applied.

Crabgrass can be eliminated with certain herbicides, some of which allow for germination of grass seed while the crabgrass is being prevented. *(See notation)

*Please note— newly seeded lawns are fragile and easily burned with chemicals and fertilizers. We strongly suggest you call a professional to take care of your new lawn’s chemical needs for at least the first year. Insect and fungus control are rarely needed in the first year of a new lawn.

Special Lawn Care for Shady Areas

For heavily shaded areas that get less than 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight, or all day filtered sunlight, we would strongly suggest the installation of shade-tolerant groundcovers rather than installation of turf grass.

For seeded areas that do receive at least the minimal amount of sunlight, (3 to 4 hours of direct or all day filtered sunlight), there are four maintenance practices to be followed by the homeowner:

  1. Grasses in shaded areas should be kept cut approximately ½” higher than grasses grown in full sun. (Should be kept at 3 ½” tall.) This allows for greater grass blade surface to utilize the available light.
  2. Grasses in shaded areas are in constant competition with tree roots for water and fertilizer. Larger amounts of water, and fertilizer may be needed.
  3. To keep shade to a minimum, and to improve air circulation, selective pruning of shade trees is recommended.
  4. Fungicides to reduce powdery mildew, and grasses resistant to it, may be necessary.



Planting Beds


Please read the information included in the chapters, Shrubs and Groundcovers, for general information on mulching.



Many of your landscape planting beds may border lawn areas. In the absence of permanent edging (steel, plastic, treated wood, brick, etc.) a neat edge is attained by “edging” the bed with a garden spade or power bed edger. Use a sharp square spade to cut a narrow “V” approximately 2 inches deep along the edges of all beds bordering turf at least once per year, preferably in middle spring. The edge can be touched up throughout the growing season.


Weed Control

Weed control can be a very easy task requiring little time when preventative measures are taken:

  1. Keep beds mulched, as suggested;
  2. Apply a “pre-emergent” weed control* to all shrub bed areas in early spring;
  3. Use contact herbicide sprays* on actively growing weeds, but be sure not to spray desirable plants.

*Contact our office for information on available products and services. Remember to always follow the instructions on the label when applying herbicides and other chemicals on your own.




All plants need water. As a supplement to fertilizing, trees may need to be watered. Newly transplanted trees need at least 1” of water per week for the first season. This should include both rainfall and additional water. During the first five years of growth, water should be added during any 2 to 3 week dry period when little or no rain falls. Older trees should be watered at least once per month in drought periods. Thorough watering BEFORE the ground freezes is especially important in a dry autumn.

The key to proper watering is to get the water to the ROOT ZONE where it is needed most. (This is the area roughly 3 feet deep under the DRIP LINE of the tree.) The easiest method is to slowly water the surface of the root zone until saturated 1 to 3 feet deep. The tree pit area of a newly planted tree should be thoroughly saturated every week or two during the growing season.

Timing for watering of trees varies with weather conditions and from season to season. The chart below shows the periods of most beneficial watering.

tree watering





For your newly planted trees, up to one year after transplanting, no fertilizer is necessary since a proper planting soil mixture was used. However, after the first year and each year thereafter, fertilize as follows:




            Shade Trees and Small Trees: Use tree spikes with a fertilizer formulation of 16-8-8. Use one (1) spike for each inch of trunk thickness, as diagramed below:


           Evergreen Trees: Use spikes with a fertilizer formulation of 12-6-8. Use one (1) spike for each inch of trunk thickness. (Same principle and procedure as diagrammed above.)

Drive spikes into soil at DRIP LINE of tree. 6” diameter of trunk= 6 equally spaced spikes.




Other Fertilizing Techniques

Good results can also be obtained through these other fertilization methods:

  • Granular Fertilization: Drill holes in soil every 18” to 24” of root zone, and apply 4 ounces of 10-6-4 fertilizer per each inch of trunk thickness.
  • Root Feeding: Accomplished by inserting a root feeder/waterer 12” to 15” deep in soil every 24” to 36” throughout the root zone. (This method is best done by a professional with the proper equipment.)
  • Foliar Feeding: Sprayed-on fertilizer for trees whose roots are paved over or otherwise inaccessible. Provides fast acting nutrients directly to foliage. Foliar feeding can take place from May to July.

When to Fertilize

Fertilize once per year, either in the spring or autumn. In the spring, fertilize as soon as the frost has left the ground. In autumn, fertilizer should be applied after the leaves have dropped from the trees. Fast acting (quick release) nitrogen should not be used between August 1st and leaf drop. It may bring on new growth not ready for a cold November or December.

Generally, the ideal time to fertilize is in autumn after the leaves have fallen, bur prior to the ground freezing.


After planting a tree, or installing a planting bed, we cover the bed or tree pit area with shredded mulch (hardwood bark). The application of mulch benefits the beds in the following ways:

  1. Mulch reduces the need for watering by helping retain soil moisture;
  2. Mulch stabilizes the soil temperature;
  3. Mulch adds needed organic matter to the soil as it decompresses;
  4. Mulch reduces the weed population in plant and tree beds; and
  5. Pine and hardwood bark mulch reduce the population of certain disease pathogens in the soil.

Mulch should be supplemented to replace that which has been lost due to wind and decomposition. It should be spread evenly at a total depth of not more than 3 inches when reapplied. One to two inches of mulch can be applied yearly as long as the total depth of mulch does not exceed 3 inches. Mulch should be lightly cultivated or turned over during the growing season to improve the flow of air and water to the soil and can be turned and raked in the spring to enrich its appearance.

tree mulch





For your newly planted shrubs, up to one year after transplanting, no fertilizer is necessary since Greenkeepers used a proper planting soil mixture when installing your shrubbery. After the first year, however, and each year thereafter, fertilize shrubbery as follows:

Apply fertilizer with a formulation of 12-12-12 evenly to the entire shrub bed at a rate of 2 to 3 pounds of ACTUAL NITROGEN per 1,000 square feet. Do not allow fertilizer to fall onto turf areas.

For acid-loving shrubs, such as rhododendrons and bayberries, use fertilizer that contains ALUMINUM SULFATE or an IRON SULFATE.


For newly planted shrubs, sufficient water is essential for survival. At least 1 inch of water per week (including both rainfall and additional watering) is necessary for the first season after planting.

During the second season and thereafter, shrubs may need to be watered during drought periods. (Again, at least one inch of water per week.) A drought period may be defined as a 2 week period (or longer) with little or no rainfall.


The best time to prune shrubs depends on whether they bloom on wood grown the previous year or wood developed during the current year. Most shrubs bloom on the previous year’s wood, and therefore, if pruning is necessary, it should be done immediately after they are finished flowering.

The following is a list of shrubs that flower on new growth, and should be pruned during early spring, before the growth begins:


  • American Adler
  • Bittersweet
  • Cinquefoil (Potentilla) Species
  • Coralberry (Symphoricarpis) Species
  • Fleeceflower
  • Hydrangeas
  • Red Stem Dogwood
  • Sourwood
  • Spirea Species
  • Spreading Euonymus
  • Johnswort (Kalmia) Species
  • Witchhazel (spring and fall flowering) should be pruned in late April.






Newly planted perennial gardens shouldn’t need fertilization until the second year. For most perennials, a simple application of 5-10-5 in the spring is sufficient. Apply the fertilizer evenly throughout the planting beds at a rate of 2 to 3 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet. You should take care not to allow the fertilizer to fall onto the lawn areas. Be sure to water the fertilizer into the soil after application.



Most perennials need one inch of water per week. This applies to newly installed gardens and mature gardens, too. Avoid over-watering. Over-watering can lead to fungus, such as mildew, wilt, and rust. Mulching yearly to maintain a depth of 3 inches in your planting beds will help to retain moisture, but be sure to leave the plant base open (do not allow mulch to touch the plant stems).



Most perennials will benefit from periodic dividing. This will improve the appearance and blooming. It will also help control spreading. Early spring and fall are the best times to divide plants. Some plants are best if left alone and should not be divided. They include: Baptisas, Hellebores, and Peonies.



Removing spent blooms (referred to as deadheading) on most perennials will improve appearance and prevent possible seeding. Some perennials will re-bloom: Achillea, Nepeta, and Purple Salvia.

Consult our office for information on specific varieties. Remember to always follow the instructions on the label when applying any fertilizers and chemicals.






For newly planted groundcover beds, during the first spring and summer after installation, fertilize every month with a liquid spray such as Miracle Gro. Follow the label instructions for mixing.

After the first year, and each year thereafter, fertilize as follows: Every May apply a fertilizer with a formulation like 22-11-11 to all groundcover beds at a rate of 2 to 3 pounds of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet.  Do not allow fertilizer to fall onto turf areas. Take care to “water in” the fertilizer immediately after application, and to wash all particles from leaf surfaces.


All types of groundcover need to be watered immediately after planting, as do all other landscape plantings. (Water thoroughly to the depth of the plant roots.) During the first 3 to 4 weeks after planting rooted groundcover cuttings, light, daily irrigation is beneficial. This initial period is the time when the roots will take to the new soil, and under-watering can kill the young cuttings, but over-watering can rot them or bring on disease. After the groundcover cuttings have become established, average rainfall should be sufficient. However, during drought periods, additional weekly waterings may be necessary.

Pruning and Thinning

Normally, very little pruning is necessary in the maintenance of groundcover beds. Remove un-wanted growth from sidewalk edges and around adjacent plants as needed. Pruning and selective trimming of tall plants should be done early in spring. Periwinkle, pachysandra, and purpleleaf wintercreeper can be most easily top-trimmed with a good sharp mower. As often as needed, use a mower or trimmers to cut groundcover to a uniform height. If the planting gets too thick, it can be “chopped” with a verti-cutter and raked out. Daylilies respond well to this, too.


A 2-inch continuous bed of mulch is necessary in all groundcover areas for the first one and one-half years. This will help to keep weeds and grasses out of the beds and allow the groundcover to fill in thickly and uniformly. All groundcover areas, except ivy, need to be cleaned out in late autumn if trees have dropped leaves into the beds, so the leaves do not smother and mat-down the groundcover over winter. Leaving fallen leaves in an ivy bed will protect the plants during a harsh winter. Remove these leaves in the spring.


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