Good landscape maintenance protects your investment. It keeps your landscape looking great, boosts its value, increases your enjoyment of your yard, and maximizes the longevity of the plants and features you have had installed. Here is why your Berks County, PA, landscape deserves ongoing maintenance.
You’ve chosen the perfect plants, designed the perfect layout, and had everything professionally installed. You feel satisfied that your landscape contractors did a great job. The newly installed plants look healthy, the lawn is a vibrant green, and you’re enjoying your yard more than ever. But without ongoing maintenance, the landscape could wither—or return to a wild unkempt state.
This is the most important element of landscape maintenance. Pennsylvania receives a fair amount of rain, so it may be tempting to avoid watering. However, any location can go through a period of drought that will permanently stress newly installed plants, stunt their growth, and even cause them to die. There are no exact watering rules because it depends on the plants you’ve had installed, the moisture content in the soil, the current rainfall or snow situation, and whether the plants are exposed to sun and wind, or whether they’re shaded and protected. It’s best to consult with your landscape contractor, who can educate you on the best watering practices for your newly installed plants.
Mulch is your greatest ally when it comes to minimizing water evaporation and reducing the amount of watering necessary. Mulch also suppresses weed growth, making it easier to maintain a weed-free landscape. More is better when it comes to mulch. You’ll want a thick layer of at least 3 to 4 inches of mulch applied every season, since it will settle over time, and have it replenished as necessary.
Nitrogen deficiency is one of the key limiting factors to healthy plant growth. Most soils contain adequate amounts of phosphorus and potassium, but not enough nitrogen. Nitrogen-based fertilizers are water soluble, which means the nutrient is carried down to the roots instead of remaining on the surface. A landscape contractor can determine whether your soil has adequate levels of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, and offer a plan if it does not.
Lawn aeration is one of the keys of keeping your lawn lush, green, and healthy. It allows air into the soil, which is necessary for grass growth. If your lawn receives heavy foot traffic (from kids, dogs, volleyball games, etc.), the soil compresses over time and starves grass roots of oxygen. Aeration allows nutrients to be more easily absorbed, since soil compaction inhibits nutrients from reaching the roots. And it helps water to penetrate deeper into the soil rather than being evaporated.
If you let your hair grow without ever cutting it, you develop dry, unattractive split ends and your hair doesn’t look healthy. It’s the same with plants. You can shape plants by pruning them—for example, if you want a tree to develop into a canopy over your dining area rather than intruding into it. You can also prevent plant diseases, stimulate flower growth, and improve a plant’s health with regular pruning. Take the thinking out of this task by getting on an annual pruning and cleanup schedule with your landscape contractor.
There’s controversy about the benefits and drawbacks of leaving fallen leaves on the lawn. Some will say that decaying leaves add significant nutrients to the soil. Others insist that a thick wet layer of leaves will suffocate the underlying grass, and kill it. The right answer is more nuanced: Heavy leaf falls are best removed—but an alternative is to have them mulched and spread as small particles rather than suffocating clumps, which will introduce nutrients into the soil without covering it entirely.
Deadheading and Debris Removal
Regularly deadheading flowers past their bloom, and removing debris from the yard, will ensure your landscape looks in tiptop shape year-round.