Whether you take care of your own lawn landscape maintenance or work with a professional landscape company, there are basic maintenance practices that are essential to a green, healthy lawn.
Although all lawn care takes time and effort, proper care and maintenance procedures will create a landscape that needs less work in the long run. For proper, year-round care, it’s best to consult a qualified professional who has extensive knowledge and experience in lawn care and maintenance practices in Northern NJ.
Proper mowing techniques are one of the most important factors in basic lawn landscape maintenance. Improper mowing can destroy your lawn. If you take care of your own lawn, always start with a sharp lawn mower blade. A dull blade tears grass rather than cutting it, resulting in damage to your lawn. If your grass is damaged by your lawnmower blade, it will turn yellow, require more water and nutrients and become more susceptible to disease. Sharpening and balancing your lawnmower blade about three times a year is usually enough to maintain a good cutting edge.
In general, you should cut the top 1/3 of the grass blades with each mowing. Grass that’s cut too short, especially in summer heat, will require more water. Taller grass will keep the soil from drying out from the heat and sun. During winter months, tall grass can invite field mice and burrowing animals looking for a warm habitat, so adjust your mower blade height throughout the year.
Since grass grows at different rates at different times of the year, mowing your lawn “every Saturday” isn’t necessarily best. At times, you may need to mow it more and at other times, less. The ideal length for cool-season grasses is 3 to 4 inches and for warm-seasons grasses, 1 to 2 inches. Always mow your lawn when the grass is dry to avoid clogging up your lawnmower.
Lawns need at least 1 inch of water each week, either from rainfall or a sprinkler irrigation system. Deep, infrequent watering helps to develop deep roots that can tap into subsurface water supplies easier. Light, frequent watering only wets the grass and surface of the soil, encouraging shallow root growth and increased need for water. Depending on your climate conditions, soil conditions and grass type, watering needs can vary. Lawns with sandy soil may require twice as much water since they drain more quickly. Lawns in slow-draining clay soils may need only half as much water.
How do you know when your lawn needs water? If it loses its resiliency or appears wilted, it needs water. If you use a sprinkler system on your lawn, you can determine how much water your lawn gets during a regular watering session. Place a pan on the lawn, turn on your sprinklers, then time how long it takes for the water to reach a depth of 1 inch.
The best time of day to water your lawn is early morning when water pressure is high. During the morning, less water is lost to evaporation and your lawn has plenty of time to dry out before nightfall. If your lawn stays wet overnight, it’s more susceptible to fungal diseases caused by excessive moisture. Proper watering is essential to good lawn landscape maintenance.
Your lawn and soil need proper nutrients to stay green and healthy, however most soils are not able to provide proper nutrients to thrive throughout the growing seasons of spring, summer and fall. A healthy, growing lawn uses a lot of energy to produce new growth. Providing proper nutrients will create strong roots and new leaf growth. It will also protect your lawn from environmental stress caused by heat and cold, drought, mowing and excessive foot traffic.
Your professional lawn landscape maintenance plan should include regular fertilization to keep your lawn lush and green.
- Early Spring (March – April) – After a long, cold winter, your lawn wakes up in the spring hungry to nutrients that were eliminated during winter. Fertilizing your lawn in early spring strengthens the root system that’s essential to healthy, stable leaf growth during warm weather.
- Late Spring (May – June) – During late spring, your grass is using up stored energy to grow and weeds are actively growing as well. Fertilizing with the right products in late spring provides nutrients for continued lawn growth and essential weed control.
- Summer (July – August) – Summer heat, as well as drought, foot traffic and insects put stress on your lawn. It’s especially important to fertilize warm-season grasses in the summer to encourage fall growth. Fertilizers can also offer added protection from summer insects.
- Fall (September – October) – Fall brings mild, warm days, cool nights and rainfall with morning dew, ideal growing conditions for your lawn. Fall is an especially important feeding time to strengthen your grass, so it can survive the upcoming winter.
- Late Fall (October – November) – With the approach of winter it is essential to give the lawns one last application of fertilizer that is high in potassium which will encourage root development throughout the winter.
There are a variety of lawn fertilizers on the market and it’s important to select the right one for your lawn. A professional landscape company can provide quality lawn landscape maintenance services that include a property analysis of your lawn to determine soil type, grass type and existing landscape conditions. This analysis is a very important part of selecting proper fertilizers for your lawn.
Grass roots need oxygen, water and nutrients to stay strong and healthy. Aerating the soil, the process of removing small plugs of soil, provides numerous benefits to your lawn. It allows more oxygen to reach the soil, allows water and fertilizer to penetrate the soil deeper, and reduces soil compaction which opens up space for roots to grow. It also removes some thatch and stimulates the breakdown of the remaining thatch. The best tool for this task is a gas-powered aerator. For DIY lawn care, you can find these at most hardware and rental centers. Talk to a local Bergen County landscape contractor about the benefits of aerating your soil as part of regular lawn landscape maintenance.
The best time to aerate is in the fall when weeds are growing less, but it’s usually best to aerate your lawn before you apply fertilizer, pesticides or herbicides, so they can penetrate the soil easier.
Organic Lawn Care
Organic lawn care and tree care is a great way to provide safe chemical-free lawn landscape maintenance for your family and pets. It promotes green living and protects our environment from toxic fumes and harmful chemicals. Organic lawn care promotes natural aeration and root growth in your lawn and plants. It helps to naturally control weeds by improving soil conditions. Organic nutrients create healthy, strong roots that promote stable plant growth and fewer diseases.
Your trees and shrubs need care just like your lawn. Organic fertilization will add nutrients to your existing soil to aid in plant growth and healthy root systems. Trees and plants that are healthy with stable root systems grow faster and are less susceptible to insects, fungus and disease. They are stronger and can tolerate environmental stress much better. Organic tree and shrub maintenance services should include Spring, Summer and Fall applications for best results.
Lawn landscape maintenance should include an organic pest management program that provides regular inspections of your trees and plants to check for insects and diseases and apply appropriate treatments. Site visits include reports that let you know the condition of your trees and plants and what treatments are done.
Weeds compete for water, nutrients, space and light in your lawn and garden. Unfortunately, a continuous crop of weeds emerges all year – some are spring growers, some mid-summer growers and others show up in the fall. Herbicide applications help to control weeds and eliminate future growth.
- Regular, weekly weeding keeps weeds under control.
- Weeds quickly create a seed bank in garden soils. Once they have gone to seed, they can sprout up to five years.
- If you pull up a weed, you must remove all parts of the weed, including the roots.
- It’s easiest to pull weeds out when the soil is soft and slightly moist, after rain or deep watering.
- Many weeds are native plant species and can provide benefits for your garden. Find out which weeds are edible and attract beneficial insects and which weeds are simply invasive and noxious, harmful to humans and pets.
Consult a local landscape company that provides lawn landscape maintenance and garden design. They can help you with weed control and identification.
A beautiful garden is a welcome addition to any Bergen County home, but it’s important to plant foliage and flowers that will thrive in your local climate conditions. Here are some plants and flowers that are native to Bergen County:
- Dry, Shaded Areas – Bracken fern, Pennsylvania sedge, wild bergamont, black-eyed Susan, flowering dogwood, sassafras, strawberry bush and common hackberry
- Wildflowers – Birdsfoot violet, cardinal flower, Jacob’s ladder, marsh marigold, lavender hyssop, purple cornflower, skyblue aster, Turk’s cap lily and woodland sunflower
- Butterfly Host Plants – Aster, golden alexander, milkweeds, violets, dutchman’s pipe, wisteria, spicebush, sedge and purple top grass
Plants that attract hummingbirds are great for your garden. Here’s some of the best ones:
- Bee balm
- Cardinal flower
- Coral bells
- Cypress vine
- Fire Pink
- Scarlet morning glory
- Scarlet paintbrush
- Scarlet bush
- Trumpet creeper
- Trumpet honeysuckle
To keep plants and flowers beautiful and healthy, regular care and maintenance is necessary:
- Remove brown, graying or dying and dead leaves and plant parts at any time to prevent the spread of disease.
- If you have annual and perennial flowers in your garden, cut off any dead flowers. This is known as deadheading. Deadheading will encourage continuous flowering throughout the season on most annual and some perennial flowers. Deadheading will allow perennial flowers (including bulbs) to store energy in the roots for next year’s bloom.
Tree and Shrub Care
If you have small shrubs, trees or vines in your garden, you can prune damaged, diseased or dead branches at any time. Make sure you use proper pruning tools and make the proper pruning cuts. Improper cuts on shrubs, trees or vines can harm the plant.
- Flowering Shrubs, Trees and Vines (including flowering fruit) – Most varieties are best pruned right after blooming time.
- Evergreen Shrubs, Trees and Vines – Prune during late winter or early spring.
- Edible Fruit Trees, Shrubs and Vines – Prune during late winter or early spring.
Here’s a list of trees and shrubs that are native to Bergen County:
- Black maple
- Red maple
- Striped maple
- Silver maple
- Sugar maple
- Atlantic white cedar
- Scarlet hawthorn
- American holly
- Smooth winterberry
- Mountain laurel
- Northern bayberry
- Southern crabapple