Ticking Clock

by Daniel Sean Kaye | May 22, 2015
Ticking Clock …From the pages of House & Home…

Time’s growing short to do right by your summer landscape.

It might be May, but it’s not too late to get your summer landscaping project underway. Even if you haven’t done any work on your property yet, there are things that can be done to make it a beautiful, welcoming space.

Beginning steps
“Now is the busy season. We had a delay in starting due to the long, cold winter, but now is crunch time,” says Mike Rorvik, president of GroundTec Inc. “You need to get your plants in now before the mid-summer extreme heat kicks in.”

Clearing out flower beds of debris from winter is one of the first steps to freshen up any landscape. If you have mulch on an area, don’t just let it lie.

“You want to cultivate existing mulch by loosening it and letting oxygen in. Also, make sure you have a watering plan,” says Chris Demato, president and owner of Rock Bottom Landscaping. “We have a tendency to overwater. Strengthen the root system by pulling back on watering—the plant searches for water and that makes them stronger.” He also suggests using peat moss and potting soil which are rich in nutrients, making sure the plants you choose are conducive to the sun or shade of where you’re planting them, and to read the information on the plant tags. And now is not the time to slack off when it comes to your lawn.

“Take care of your lawn even if you didn’t do it in the fall,” says Steve Compton of CKC Landscaping Inc. This includes using a pre-emergent to fight such things as crabgrass. “Often this might be a five- or six-step process of weed control,” he says.

“Caring for your property right takes a lot of time. That’s why we suggest calling a landscaping company so they can create a custom program. They can feed your shrubs what they need when they need it, and use such items as horticultural oil and understand insect control, which can ruin your landscape if not done properly.”

Also, when cutting grass, be sure not to go too short, other experts say.

“[If you cut the grass yourself], don’t lower the mower deck height so you will remove more than 1/3 blade length at any cutting,” advises David Mull, landscape architect for DiSabatino Landscaping and Tree Care. “If you have newly seeded or sodded areas in your lawn this spring, please continue regular waterings (weekly) during excessively hot or dry periods this summer.”

Common mistakes
Many homeowners can be overzealous when it comes to trimming bushes, doing it too early and cutting off too much. Professional landscape designers know how much is needed to trim to allow for growth and shape.

Demato warns against using a hedge trimmer too often. “Lots of shrubs need pruning, but not a hedge trimmer. Not scalping. Rhododendrons, azaleas—they don’t need hedge trimmers,” he says. Also, overwatering can lead to fungus, weed growth and insects, and over-mulching can deprive trees and plants of needed water.

If your lawn is a major focus of attention this year, Mull offers a tip for the off-season.

“For newly seeded or sodded lawn areas this spring, remember to use a winterizer fertilizer in the fall to aid in root development,” says Mull.

Final thoughts
Our experts offered some parting thoughts to help homeowners understand all that goes into the design and installation of a major landscaping project.

For Rorvick, taking your time is crucial. “Designing, permitting and the final completion takes time. Renovation work will impact how you use the property, so get it done before the usable season. By early spring, we really want installs to be happening,” says Rorvik. “The more complicated the project, the longer the lead time. Smaller jobs can take three to six weeks, but bigger jobs can take more than two or three months,” he says.

And while many homeowners might want to choose plants and flowers based on looks, it’s important to think about their long-term success.

“Make the right choices, based on your soil type, sun, our climate,” says Compton. “The good thing is that once plants are in the ground more than a year, they typically do fine. And if we get into a drought cycle, it’s a matter of common sense. But if you’re concerned, call a professional to see if something is really wrong.”


CKC Landscaping Inc.
West Chester, Pa.
(610) 436-1810

DiSabatino Landscaping and Tree Care
Wilmington, Del.
(302) 764-0408

Ground Tec Inc.
Colmar, Pa.
(215) 322-7669

Rock Bottom Landscaping
Belle Meade, N.J.
(732) 873-6780

Published (and copyrighted) in House & Home, Volume 15, Issue 11 (May, 2015).
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Author: Daniel Sean Kaye


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