Landscape Maintenance2019-04-25T15:17:25-05:00

Landscape Maintenance

How to seed, when to feed and more

Proper landscape maintenance helps to keep your investment healthy and looking great, maintaining its value and maximizing its longevity. Let our staff of Green Team experts teach you everything you need to know to keep your lawn and gardens in tip-top shape.

Our nurseries are full of plants proven to do well here, tools to make the job easier and experts ready to help you with everything from landscape design information to landscape installation to ongoing landscape maintenance. From selecting the proper materials to helping you maximize your budget, we’re here to help you grow your own way.

Are you encountering issues with your landscaping? Be sure to Ask The Experts in store or online. Earl May has Certified Professionals ready to answer any questions regarding bugs, weeds or disease problems.

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LandscapeMaintenance Watering


The most important factor in proper landscape maintenance is watering your plants. There are no exact rules, so use the condition of the soil and plant as a general guide. Keep in mind, mulched plants will need less water. Some plants are adapted to drier conditions and, therefore, would require less water between rains. Other plants that grow in shade and like moist conditions need frequent watering to survive hot, dry summer weather. Dormant plants should have a moist root area but not overwatered. Plants in leaf will require regular watering to keep the root area moist.

In general, water should be applied less frequently and in greater quantities. Water applied to the soil surface fills the capillary spaces from the top down. Frequent surface sprinkling to wet the soil to a depth of 1-inch or so is of little value to trees or grass, since most plant roots are at greater depths.
Water an area for 15 minutes, and then dig to find the depth of moisture penetration. Soil should be soaked to a depth of 8 to 10 inches to encourage deep root penetration. This will help you to determine the length of time required for a deep watering. Surface watering or rainfall are the more ideal methods of application since water percolates downward and is evenly distributed by gravity.
LandscapeMaintenance Fertilizing


Plant growth is more often limited by deficiencies of nitrogen than of any other element. Materials commonly used to supplement nitrogen in the soil are water soluble and will be carried down into the soil where they are available to the roots. Usually there is an adequate supply of phosphorus and potassium in soils, however, some soils are low in one or both and would need additional quantities supplied through soil.

Soil tests and plant tissue analysis are the best ways to determine nutrient deficiencies. In areas where the original soil has been disturbed by construction, the soil may vary considerably from site to site, so care must be taken when selecting samples. Your local Earl May can assist in testing your soil samples.
Stage 1: New or transplanted trees, shrubs and plants have not formed an extensive root system much beyond the fill area and have few shallow roots. Therefore, water soluble fertilizer is best when placed in and around the area of the planting hole.

Stage 2: On young landscape trees and shrubs where rapid growth is desirable, use a high maintenance nitrogen rate. A low maintenance level should be used in situations that restrict growth (eg. slow growing and dwarf species, dry or compacted soils, and where the plant has a restricted root zone). For trees in lawn areas, do not exceed 0.1 lb N/100 sq. ft. per application unless a slow release or natural fertilizer is used. Higher rates will burn the grass.

Stage 3: As trees and shrubs mature and growth rate naturally slows down, the need for nitrogen drops. Low maintenance level should be used to maintain landscape plants in a healthy condition without excessive vegetative growth.

For trees, use one-half pound of balanced nitrogen per inch of tree trunk diameter.

Shrubs and other smaller plants should only need one cupful of well balanced fertilizer each year.

Fertilize trees only to keep them growing steadily at a moderate rate. Every three to five years is usually sufficient. If the tree is ailing, fertilize for two successive years and then wait three or more years.

See a complete guide for midwest tree and plant fertilization from the University of Minnesota.

LanscapeMaintenance Mulching


Spreading mulch over your garden soil is the best way to save time and energy in your yard. Mulch helps the soil hold moisture so you don’t have to water as often. It also suppresses weeds.

Don’t skimp on wood mulch when installing. It will settle after applying, so spread at least three inches deep the first time and you won’t need to fill it in right away. There are many types of wood mulch to choose from with different styles and benefits; shredded wood, wood chips and bark nuggets to name a few.

We recommend keeping your mulch bed at least 2-3″ deep. As your mulch settles and contracts over time continue to add more to keep it at the recommended depth.
Short answer, yes. To protect the plants during the winter, an additional mulch layer should be added after the ground is frozen. Gradually pull back the mulch when growth appears in the spring.
LandscapeMaintenance Pruning

Pruning and Thinning

Pruning is a horticultural practice that alters the form and growth of a plant. Based on aesthetics and science, pruning can also be considered preventive maintenance. Many problems may be prevented by pruning correctly during formative years for a tree or shrub. You should adopt good pruning methods in order to promote plant health, improve plant appearance, encourage flower growth (when applicable) and protect people and property.

Spring before growth starts or after the plants have gone dormant in the fall. As the perennial plants grow and mature over the years, they become crowded. If too thick the plant’s vigor will decrease and result in smaller and fewer flowers. Most varieties can be divided easily by digging up and separating the roots by hand or by cutting them with a spade.
Depending on the life stage of the tree your pruning practices will change. Young trees should be pruned to support and control healthy growth. Mature trees are often needing to be pruned for safety reasons. The best time of year to prune trees is in dormant season (late winter just before spring). Pruning then leaves fresh wounds exposed for only a short length of time before new growth begins the wound sealing process.
The right tools make pruning easier and help you do a good job. Keeping tools well-maintained and sharp will improve their performance. Come into your local Earl May to get advice on what kind of tools to use.