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Seasonal Landscape Maintenance

Break your seasonal landscape maintenance down by time of year and type of plant or hardscape, and you¿ll find your to-do list easier than you think.

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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, too. Here are checklists for lawns; trees, shrubs, and groundcovers; flower and kitchen gardens; and hardscape elements to make the work easy to tackle.

Lawns: Landscape Maintenance for Spring

  • Fertilize lightly 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.

Get tips for picking the best type of grass for your yard.

Lawns: Landscape Maintenance for Summer

  • Mow regularly and as needed. Leave the clippings on the lawn and remove only one-third of the grass height at any 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.

Find more end-of-summer garden care tips here.

Lawns: Landscape Maintenance for Fall

  • Overseed new lawn or spots that need refreshing. Begin mid-October in mild-winter climates; in cold-winter climates, overseed in mid-September.
  • If you have not already, fertilize your lawn.
  • Rake leaves as needed.

See our fall lawn-care secrets.

Lawns: Landscape Maintenance for Winter

  • If your lawn is green in winter, lightly dose with nitrogen fertilizer in late winter.
  • Care for your lawn as much as possible: Avoid walking on it if it is dormant or frozen, and use alternatives to salt (sand or kitty litter) as appropriate.

Get our lawn renovation tips.

Trees, Shrubs, and Groundcovers: Landscape Maintenance for Spring

  • 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.

Check out our tips for pruning shrubs.

Don't miss our planting tips for trees and shrubs.

Trees, Shrubs, and Groundcovers: Landscape Maintenance for Summer

  • Weed as needed around trees; mulch, keeping material an inch or two away from trees' 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.

Trees, Shrubs, and Groundcovers: Landscape Maintenance for Fall

  • 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.

Learn about different types of mulch.

Trees, Shrubs, and Groundcovers: Landscape Maintenance for Winter

  • 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.

Get advice for wrapping your trees.

Gardens: Landscape Maintenance for Spring

  • 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.

Check out our video on dividing perennials.

Get tips for planting roses!

Gardens: Landscape Maintenance for Summer

  • 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.
  • Train vines by tying or light pruning.

Stop Japanese beetles and other insect pests.

Learn more about deadheading!

Gardens: Landscape Maintenance for Fall

  • 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 vegetable gardens.
  • Plant spring-flowering bulbs.

Learn more about storing tender bulbs for the winter.

Learn how to make your own compost.

Gardens: Landscape Maintenance for Winter

  • 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.

Hardscape: Landscape Maintenance for Spring

  • 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.

Get tips for refinishing your deck.

See how to sharpen your lawn mower blade.

Hardscape: Landscape Maintenance for Summer

  • Clean tools after each use.
  • Clean and repair cold frames.
  • Weed between pavers in pathways; repair cracks as needed.
  • Paint or stain exterior of buildings as needed.

Hardscape: Landscape Maintenance for Fall

  • Continue to clean tools after use.
  • Run gas engine mowers until empty or add fuel stabilizer.
  • Drain permanent water systems and pools and ponds (in cool climates).
  • Store hoses, outdoor furniture, and tools.

Hardscape: Landscape Maintenance for Winter

  • Repair broken elements such as arbors.
  • Organize tools.
  • Check irrigation systems for cracks.
  • Clear decks, patios, and walkways of snow.
  • Repair stone and concrete walls as weather permits.

See our tips for organizing your garden shed.

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