The Ultimate Guide to Seasonal Landscape Maintenance
Break down your seasonal landscaping maintenance by time of year, lawn-care schedule, and type of plant or hardscape, and you'll find your to-do list easier than you think. These checklists will guide you from season to season and help keep your yard looking its best all year round.
Just as your yard has four distinct seasons of growth and rest, it has four distinct seasons of landscape maintenance. What you have to do depends on the time of year and the type of tree or plant. Here are checklists for seasonal lawn care; trees, shrubs, and groundcovers; flower and kitchen gardens; and hardscape elements to make the work easy to tackle no matter the time of year.
Spring Landscape Maintenance
Spring Lawn Care
- Use a spring fertilizer for lawns once snow has melted.
- Repair dead patches.
- If crabgrass is problematic, treat with a preemergent herbicide around the time forsythia blooms in your area.
- Revive weak lawns by dethatching and aerating.
- Remove winter trunk protection and old mulch, and remulch at the base of trees and shrubs.
- Prune and clean up dead, broken, or diseased branches.
- Prune summer-flowering shrubs.
- Rake, fertilize, and groom groundcovers.
- After dry winters, thoroughly water new plants.
- Remove any dead shrubs or groundcovers.
Spring Garden Maintenance
- Amend soil with organic matter.
- Plant cool-season flowers and vegetables.
- Remove old mulch and refresh.
- Prune and plant roses.
- Divide overcrowded perennials.
- Plant fruit trees and berry bushes; fertilize several weeks before bloom with a fruit-tree plant food.
- Prune vines growing over arbors and trellises.
- Cut back spring bulb foliage as it yellows.
Spring Hardscape Maintenance
- Clean wooden decks; protect with sealant or stain as needed.
- Move furniture out of storage; clean and repaint as needed.
- Repair cracks in paved areas.
- Lubricate latches and hinges.
- Refresh gravel or mulch as needed.
- Replace wiring or bulbs on outdoor fixtures.
- Tune and sharpen lawn mower and pruning tools.
Summer Landscape Maintenance
Summer Lawn Care
- Mow regularly and as needed. Leave the clippings on the lawn, and remove only one-third of the grass height at one time.
- As summer progresses, raise the mowing height; taller grass holds up to heat and drought better.
- Alternate your mowing pattern to avoid creating strips or ruts.
- Water in the morning as needed; soak until the lawn receives about 1 inch a week.
Summer Trees, Shrubs, and Groundcover Maintenance
- Weed as needed around trees; add mulch, keeping material 1-2 inches away from tree trunks.
- Regularly check for insect or disease damage.
- Water new shrubs and trees once a week, moistening soil to a depth of 1 foot.
- Trim hedges after the first new growth flush.
- Deadhead faded flowers.
- Prune spring-blooming shrubs, such as lilacs, after flowers fade.
Summer Garden Maintenance
- Mulch beds as needed.
- Cut flowers and herbs in the morning; harvest vegetables as needed and fruits when ripe.
- Prune fruit-bearing shrubs and replant strawberries after fruiting.
- Maintain vigilance for insects and diseases.
- Water containers when dry.
- Fertilize flowers and vegetables monthly.
- Deadhead flowers for fall.
- Train vines by tying or light pruning.
Summer Hardscape Maintenance
- Clean tools after each use.
- Clean and repair cold frames.
- Weed between pavers in pathways; repair cracks as needed.
- Paint or stain building exteriors as needed.
Fall Landscape Maintenance
Fall Lawn Care
- Autumn lawn care is simple: Overseed new lawn or spots that need refreshing. Begin mid-October in mild-winter climates; in cold-winter climates, overseed in mid-September.
- Use a fall grass fertilizer on your lawn.
- Rake leaves as needed.
Fall Trees, Shrubs, and Groundcover Maintenance
- Mulch and regularly water newly planted conifers.
- Plant new additions such as oak, holly, and beautyberry.
- Clean up rotten, fallen crops and leaves from fruit trees.
- Rake and compost leaves.
- Cut back rose canes to within a foot of the ground, and cover them with soil (cold climates). Wrap the canes of tender roses in burlap, lay the wrapped canes on the ground, and cover them with soil or mulch.
Fall Garden Maintenance
- Cut back perennials to 6 inches above the soil.
- Dig and store nonhardy bulbs.
- Divide and replant overcrowded perennials.
- Plant cool-season annuals.
- Harvest vegetables before the first frost.
- Compost a vegetable garden.
- Plant spring-flowering bulbs.
Fall Hardscape Maintenance
- Clean tools after use.
- Run gas engine mowers until empty, or add fuel stabilizer.
- Drain permanent water systems, pools, and ponds (in cool climates).
- Store hoses, outdoor furniture, and tools.
Winter Landscape Maintenance
Winter Lawn Care
- If your lawn is green in winter, lightly dose with nitrogen fertilizer in late winter.
- For optimal winter lawn care, avoid walking on it if it is dormant or frozen, and use alternatives to salt (sand or kitty litter) as appropriate.
Winter Trees, Shrubs, and Groundcover Maintenance
- If rain and snow are lacking, water newly planted evergreens.
- Plant bare-root roses as soon as you can.
- Prune fruit trees in late winter; spray with dormant oil.
- Wrap trees with tree guards to protect from rodent damage.
- Wrap tender foundation shrubs in burlap.
Winter Garden Maintenance
- Review wintering bulbs, discarding those that are soft or rotten.
- Order seeds for spring.
- Fertilize flowers in mild-winter regions with a fast-acting fertilizer.
Winter Hardscape Maintenance
- Repair broken elements such as arbors.
- Organize tools in your garden shed or garage.
- Check irrigation systems for cracks.
- Clear decks, patios, and walkways of snow.
- Repair stone and concrete walls as weather permits.