Few things reflect better on a property than a well-maintained summer landscape. Whether you have a retail parking lot, an outdoor break area for employees, or a more extensive campus, having healthy, properly weeded and trimmed trees, plants, and turf makes your customers and employees feel welcomed and safe.
Successful summer landscaping in Kentucky starts in spring. Taking proactive measures right away when the warm season starts will prevent many problems and reduce summer landscape maintenance costs.
Here are four things property managers should add to their to-do lists this spring to ensure a healthy landscape throughout the summer season:
#1: Spring Cleanup
A landscape is a living environment. Just as keeping a home clean helps keep its occupants healthy, proper sanitation in the landscape is critical for maintaining plant health.
Since debris can harbor pests and disease, it’s important to remove winter landscape debris in the spring. This is especially true if you have known pest and disease issues on site. For example, here in Kentucky many of the pathogens that attack spruce trees will overwinter in the debris under the trees. Cleaning it up early in the season is the best way to prevent their spread.
On the aesthetic side, the spring cleanup ritual is a curb appeal essential. It also ensures that you’ll be ready when mowing season hits. At peak growing season in late spring and early summer, even a short delay in scheduled mowing can cause a property to look unkempt and overgrown. Getting the cleanup done beforehand allows landscape crews to stay on top of things during this busy time of the year, and prevent lapses in appearance.
One exception to the rule of early cleanup is if you have a section of your property set aside as a haven for pollinators and other beneficial insects. Many beneficial insects remain in hibernation until May in Kentucky, so you’ll want to delay cleanup of that area until later. For this reason, we advocate designating specific areas on your property for attracting beneficials. That way, you can ensure that your entryways and high traffic areas are ready for cleanup early and stay looking good throughout the spring season.
#2: Pest and Disease Control
Spring cleanup is the first step for pest and disease prevention in the landscape, but don’t stop there. Many plants require more proactive protection as well, and early spring is the ideal time to do it. If not treated now, problems will develop later in the season. When this happens, they are typically much more difficult, if not impossible, to treat.
For example, now is the time to apply for apple scab. Virtually every crab apple tree in Kentucky has apple scab, and they will die a slow death unless they’re treated. The same thing goes for many of the fungal and bacterial blights on our spruce trees. Preventative treatments for spider mites, Japanese beetles, Boxwood psyllids, and many other landscape pests and diseases need to happen at this time as well.
It’s impossible to overstate how important it is to hire someone who is knowledgeable and trained in the field to do this kind of work. A single mistake on the part of a landscape contractor—such as the one whose misuse of a pesticide caused a bee kill in a parking lot in Wilsonville, OR – can result not only in damage to the landscape, wildlife, and/or human health, but potentially devastating bad publicity and fines for both the contractor and the property owner. Make sure the company you hire is licensed, and has certified staff with degrees in horticulture and entomology, so they understand the biomes and can help avoid liability issues. This will protect not just the environment, but also your reputation and brand.
#3. Proper Mulching
Mulching and bed edging are vital for maintaining plant health. In addition to its aesthetic appeal, mulch benefits the landscape in many ways: it prevents erosion, insulates the soil from overly hot or cold temperatures, retains moisture in the soil, and helps keep weeds at bay. Natural mulches also help feed the soil and improve its texture as they decompose.
However, mulch must be properly selected and applied. If it’s not done right it can actually damage your landscape. Be sure you’re applying the right amount of mulch. Two to four inches is usually appropriate. Also, avoid piling mulch around tree trunks and plant stems. This provides a safe haven for pests and pathogens and can lead to tree disease and premature death.
The type of mulch is also important to consider. We recommend against using cypress mulch because it’s not sustainably harvested. Dyed mulch is also something to avoid because the mulch consists of recycled wood waste from demolished buildings, old decking, or old pallets and frequently contains heavy metals used in wood preservation. Those heavy metals can be toxic to plants and people. Plus, the dyed mulches have an unnatural appearance which distracts from and diminishes an otherwise good looking landscape.
Follow your landscaper’s advice on when to mulch and what type of mulch to use in your area. We often get requests from out-of-state property managers for pine straw. Pine straw is a regional product appropriate for some areas of the country, but not here. We are big advocates of sourcing mulch locally. It reduces labor costs, extra packaging, and the environmental impact of shipping. We recommend locally sourced shredded hardwood mulch as the best mulch choice for northern Kentucky.
#4 Turf Renovation
If your turf areas didn’t get any extra TLC last fall, consider doing it now. Mid February through March is a good time to renovate Kentucky lawns to ensure healthy turf throughout the summer. Turf aeration in spring will help keep the soil under your lawn from compacting. This will keep roots healthy and retain moisture in the soil to help prevent that dead, scorched look later in the summer. Overseeding is also recommended to fill in any thin or patchy spots and keep your lawn areas looking lush all season long.
Get Your Commercial Landscape All Set for Summer
Looking for an experienced Louisville or Lexington commercial landscape contractor? We have the expertise and manpower to keep your commercial property looking its best throughout the year. Get in touch with us here, or click here to request a proposal.