If you’re a Northern New Jersey homeowner, you know that lawn care and maintenance is a big job. Whether you have a small yard with a few trees and shrubs or a large yard with rambling acres, it takes a year-round commitment to keep your property looking great. Hiring a professional landscape company for your landscape maintenance in NJ will keep your property beautiful and leave you more time for enjoyable activities.
Regular landscape maintenance is essential for a beautiful, healthy landscape, but it requires a lot more than regular lawn mowing and cleanup. Seasonal changes in climate and weather conditions cause stress on your lawn, plants, shrubs and trees. A knowledgeable, experienced landscape contractor understands the importance of seasonal landscape maintenance in NJ to promote a healthy landscape and prevent potential damages throughout the year.
Spring: March – May
Spring season brings warm weather, sunshine and spring showers. It’s a major growth season for everything in your landscape and garden. Your grass grows at a faster pace, flowers in your garden produce colorful new blooms, and plants, shrubs and trees in your landscape sprout new green foliage. After a cold Northern NJ winter, your landscape needs important nutrients to jump-start strong root systems and healthy new growth. Although winter snows provide some moisture, grass and plant roots get brittle and dry. When grass and plants freeze, thaw out, then freeze again from more snow, they suffer a lot of damage. If snow turns into ice, plant cells freeze and grass, plants, shrubs and trees often die. Proper spring landscape maintenance in NJ is critical to new growth each year.
When the last signs of winter frost are gone, you should focus on cleaning up your landscape to get rid of winter debris. It’s important to rake up dead, dry leaves and remove any debris in your landscape like fallen twigs, branches and tree limbs, rocks and any trash or debris that’s accumulated in your landscape during winter. Get rid of damp or wet leaves as quickly as possible. They can smother your grass and prevent necessary oxygen for new growth. Wet leaves, especially in shady or overgrown areas, can also harbor plant diseases and invite outdoor insects and pests.
Early spring is a prime time to fertilize your lawn and plants. Proper fertilization will provide much needed nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and iron for strong roots and healthy new growth. It’s important to choose the right type of fertilizer for your lawn and plants, like a light, slow-release or organic type fertilizer. Your landscape professional can choose the best fertilizer for your landscape maintenance in NJ based on your existing landscape conditions.
Prune spring-flowering plants in late spring immediately after blooms fade. They typically produce flowers only on old growth from the previous season, so pruning soon after blooms fade will maximize flower production the next year. Prune summer-flowering plants and trees in late spring or early summer before they start to bloom. In late spring, their bare limbs will make it easier to examine the structure of the plant and make proper cuts. Any pruning mistakes will quickly be concealed with new summer growth. It’s best to prune most random-branching conifer varieties when new growth is visible.
Weed and Pest Control
Spring brings new growth, but it also brings lots of weeds, lawn diseases, insects and outdoor pests. Aggressive weeds like crabgrass, thatch, dandelions and foxtails typically invade your lawn at the onset of warm weather. Crabgrass begins to germinate when soil temperatures reach 58 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can take over your entire lawn very quickly. By applying a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring, you can prevent these aggressive weeds from invading your lawn.
Warm weather also brings a variety of insects and outdoor pests to your landscape. They’re aware of new growth that makes a perfect meal. Regular lawn care and maintenance will keep overgrowth under control and prevent potential problems with insects and pests that thrive on malnourished and poorly maintained landscapes. Before spring arrives, talk to a Bergen County landscape professional about proper weed control and an Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) that focuses on organic solutions for pest control.
Summer: June – August
The summer season means hot sun, dry heat and less rainfall, all stressful conditions for your landscape. During summer, new growth is still abundant, but intense sun and heat can deprive your lawn and plants from proper nutrients and adequate moisture. Regular landscape maintenance in NJ is especially important during summer months to keep your landscape healthy.
Regular Lawn Care and Maintenance
Grass grows faster during summer months, so weekly mowing is advised for a well-maintained, healthy lawn. Keeping your lawn a proper height will promote root growth, moist soil and fewer weeds. As a rule of thumb, grass should be left slightly longer in the summer to protect the soil from drying out in the sun. Most professional landscape companies provide regular landscape maintenance on a weekly basis that includes:
- Lawn mowing.
- Edging of walkways and driveways.
- Cleaning of walkways and driveways.
- Removal of debris and dead plant growth.
As a general rule, lawns need about one inch of water every week. It can come from natural rainfall or an irrigation system, but it’s absolutely necessary for a healthy landscape. When watering, deep and infrequent watering is better than frequent, short sprinkler applications. Deep watering promotes stronger, deeper root systems that can reach farther underground for necessary water. Quick, shallow watering isn’t adequate to promote strong roots and healthy plants in the summer sun and heat, when soil dries out a lot faster.
Prune “bleeding trees,” those with a heavy sap flow, in mid-summer months after their leaves are fully developed. Varieties include maple, elm, birch, yellowwood and dogwood trees.
Grass and plants grow faster during the summer, but so do weeds. Aggressive weeds will take every opportunity to invade your lawn in warm weather, especially if weed control was not implemented in the spring. Summer weeds can be difficult to control and get rid of, so you may need a post-emergent herbicide treatment during summer landscape maintenance in NJ to keep them under control. A professional landscape contractor can make sure the right herbicides are used in proper quantities to prevent damage to your lawn and landscape.
Lawn Diseases and Pest Control
Lawn diseases, insects and outdoor pest love to invade when the weather is hot and sunny. During early June and July, grub worms, the larvae of June and Japanese Beetles, start to feed on healthy grass roots. They can cause ugly brown patches in your lawn that can become extensive by fall. Grub worm infestations cause your grass to look scorched with loose sod that lifts up easily around the patches. Grub worms, as well as carpenter and red ants, chinch bugs, caterpillars, fleas and ticks are commonly found in Northern NJ areas, and they can flourish in your landscape causing extensive damage without proper summer pest control. Summer landscape maintenance in NJ is especially important to prevent lawn diseases and unwanted pests.
Fall: September – November
To prepare for winter, clean up your landscape before cold weather arrives. As cooler fall temperatures arrive, growth starts to decline. Trees, shrubs and plants start to die back or go dormant, so weak limbs and branches often fall off. Leaves begin to fall, and before you know it they’re all over your lawn and landscape. It’s important to rake up dead leaves, get rid of debris and deadhead plants before winter arrives. Get rid of wet leaves quickly. They can kill your grass and attract insects and pests.
Landscape maintenance in NJ typically includes spring fertilization, but fall fertilization also provides benefits. Fertilizing your lawn in the fall will help protect your lawn and plants during cold winter weather. It helps grass and plants to store essential nutrients in their root systems, so they have important food for winter when nutrients get depleted. When the next spring season arrives, stored nutrients will be released through warm soil to promote new spring growth.
The removal of weak, damaged or dead branches can be done any time of year, but basic pruning in the fall and early winter can cause damage to trees and plants. Pruning at the wrong time of year can stunt plant growth and stop flower and foliage production. If you’re in doubt about proper pruning times, postpone any pruning until immediately after the plant flowers.
During winter months, freezing temperatures cause the ground to become compacted resulting in dry, unhealthy soil. By aerating your lawn, punching small holes in the soil, grass roots can receive the required amounts of oxygen, water and fertilizer needed for new growth the following spring. Aeration is a simple process with big benefits for your lawn. For best results, lawn aeration should be done on a day when the soil is slightly damp, not wet. It’s best to hire a landscape professional with an aeration machine that provides faster and more efficient results.
Over-Seeding Your Lawn
Over-seeding your lawn in the fall will strengthen your lawn and promote new grass growth during the winter. Many lawns in Bergen County and Passaic County areas contain cool-season grasses that grow best in colder temperatures. Over-seeding your lawn in October or early November will give the grass seed adequate time to take hold before winter frost appears.
Regular lawn care and landscape maintenance in NJ is essential during the fall. The last thing you want to do is let your landscape become overgrown right before winter weather arrives. That’s an open invitation for lawn diseases to invade and flourish, and insects and outdoor pests that are looking for a safe, warm habitat during cold weather.
Winter: December – February
During the winter, plant growth decreases substantially, but you still need regular landscape maintenance in NJ to keep your landscape well-maintained and healthy. Although lawns look browner and trees are often bare, your landscape still needs care and attention.
During harsh Northern NJ winters, your landscape can collect a lot of debris from storms and heavy winds. Although it’s cold outside, it’s important to clear away fallen twigs, branches and tree limbs, as well as other types of debris that blow into your landscape. Any debris that’s left on your lawn too long can cause dead spots in your grass, especially during snowfall when grass lacks oxygen. Although you may not notice dead spots during winter, they will be visible as soon as spring arrives.
Keep a Well-Maintained Landscape
Although your lawn, trees and plants grow at a much slower rate, avoid winter overgrowth. Tall grass and overgrown trees and shrubs leave your landscape susceptible to a variety of outdoor pests including field mice, gophers, burrowing animals, rats and snakes. These types of outdoor pests can quickly destroy your landscape and create possible dangers for pets and small children.
Minimize Foot Traffic
Although grass is naturally resilient, cold winter weather creates extra stress. Cool-season grasses, commonly found in Northern NJ, usually turn brown and go dormant during the winter, then turn green again in the spring with proper care and fertilization. Excessive winter foot traffic on your lawn will weaken grass and make it harder for your lawn to recover in the spring.
Proper year-round lawn care and landscape maintenance in NJ will ensure a healthy landscape that survives the stresses of each season. Look for a reputable, professional landscape contractor who’s knowledgeable and experienced in proper seasonal landscape care in Northern New Jersey.