The end of the winter that looked quite incessant seems to be in sight. While we are all hoping that the polar vortex has gusted its last, it may be a good time to consider what you’re going to do about springtime landscaping.
Everyone who owns a rental property knows they need curb appeal to have better luck attracting quality tenants. The more prepared your landscaping is, the easier this can be. I can talk about the different things you can do to make your multi-family properties more “summer fun” friendly, but there are basics to learn when it comes to fixing up in a more all-purpose way.
Preparing your lawn and garden for spring
Grass, shrubs, and trees mainly lie dormant underneath a blanket of snow during the winter months. However, the debilitating cold can leave them weak and hungry, so you’ll want to revive your lawn as the winter subsides.
GET READY TO LANDSCAPE THOSE LAWNS!
The good news is that you don’t have to wait till spring to start working on your yard, so it turns lush, green, and healthy again. While the months of March and April are the best times to tend your lawn, February is just as perfect for a head start. You can step out and begin with some yard work as soon as temperatures rise.
Here is a solid and clear-cut lawn care guide to follow this spring.
- Cleaning up your lawn
Your yard will be strewn with leaves, twigs, and other debris that have gathered over the winter. A thorough lawn cleanup is vital as any residue left can get stuck in the mower or get in the way of proper fertilization later on.
Start by raking leaves and twigs up and stack them in one section of your yard if you intend to do some mulching. A leaf blower is highly recommended if you have a spacious yard—this can significantly cut your time and effort.
- Tackling weeds and fertilizing
February is a particularly good time to take care of weeds. Technically, most weeds in the warmer areas started germinating in the previous month. However, you still may have time to apply a pre-emergent if that’s your thing. You can also use slow-release fertilizers to help lawns grow better by getting the nutrients they need when they need them.
Additionally, if you use insecticides, now may be the time to bring them out. Granular insecticides and larvicides are applied to help keep these pests from overwhelming your lawns. Most lawn care companies and garden suppliers have lawn care blends that provide a combination of weed killer and pre-emergent in one application. This can reduce both the time and cost required to prep your lawn. But, again, you can consult a lawn care expert to achieve the best results.
While you’re doing this, consider a little spring cleaning. Removing all the dead parts of trees and shrubs that haven’t fallen off is more accessible now. The winter months are an excellent time to prune because they prepare plants for when they begin to show new growth and get things done before fungal issues emerge.
- Preparing your equipment
It’s time to get that lawn mower out of storage and give it a once over. If you encounter stubborn startups, your mower might need a tune-up which is recommended once a year. Check if the blades need sharpening as well. Dull blades will sever rather than tear through the grass, and you wouldn’t want a lawn with ragged, brown grass edges.
Take stock of your sprinkler system as well—if you have them winterized, you will need to test them, and right now’s a perfect time to do that so you can correct the problem before you need to use it.
- Mowing early and regularly
Many homeowners make the mistake of only mowing once every week during the spring. Keep in mind that spring is the growing season, and the grass grows faster now than at any other time of the year. If the grass grows too high between mowing, the roots get stunted when cut and are unable to reproduce well. That results in thinner and sparser grass.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to mow 1/3 of the leaf blade surface with each run. This entails mowing more than once weekly during the first six weeks of spring. More frequent mowing during growth season ensure you’ll have a thicker and fuller lawn.
Soil can get compacted due to moisture buildup during the winter or heavy traffic during the spring and summer. Aeration can solve that problem, so you end up with a genuinely lush and healthy lawn.
How often soil needs aeration varies depending on soil type and how your lawn is used. For example, clayish soil needs more frequent aeration compared to loamy soil in the same way a heavily used lawn needs it more regularly than one that experiences less traffic.
Lawns planted with warm-season grasses like Bermuda, Bahia, or zoysia are best aerated during the late spring and early into summer. On the other hand, cool-season grasses such as bluegrass and fescues are better off aerated during the fall.
- Watering your lawn
How often you irrigate your lawn depends on your location. Those in the Northern areas, as well as the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, will thrive with spring rains that provide the right amount of moisture to awaken dormant lawns. However, there is some scarcity of spring rains in the arid and mountainous areas of the Southwest, so watering should be done more frequently, especially with increased temperatures.
One thing to keep in mind—don’t be in a rush to irrigate your lawn and green up your grass. Let nature take its course and allow grass to green up on its own. Water only when there is lacking rainfall or when there are signs of dehydration in the grass.
Having sparse bare spots in your lawn isn’t uncommon, so you might need to overseed to fill up these areas—Overseed warm-season grass late in spring and cool-season grass during the fall. Then, if the weather gets cooler or you live in colder regions of the US, spot-seeding bald spots in your lawn during the spring delivers pleasing results.
Applying slow-release nitrogen-rich fertilizer is recommended when you overseed your lawn. After that, follow up with a quick release version five weeks later.
What to do with trees
Most rental property landscaping tips focus much on springtime, when planting and gardening is on everyone’s mind. However one of the most important maintenance tasks happens in late fall and early winter when trees start to shed worse than any of your residents’ pets.
Trees are a great amenity in a rental property, especially if they are planted in spaces available for residents to enjoy. Trees offer shade and room for recreation in green spaces, and when used with other colorful landscaping, make your property stand out year round.
⇒ The problem with leaf fall
In areas where deciduous and semi-deciduous trees are common, the beginning of fall is synonymous with beautiful displays of changing leaves. But when those leaves start to drop, they can cause big problems for property managers if they aren’t disposed of properly. While a yard full of red, yellow, brown, and gold makes for a lovely backdrop for holiday photos, those same leaves left unattended will make spring landscaping and cleanup a costly, cumbersome task.
Proper and timely leaf clean up is necessary to keep walkways clear and free of decaying organic matter and to maintain outdoor recreation areas such as pools or tennis courts. A blanket of leaves on a lawn generates heat as it decays and is a breeding ground for fungus that can kill grass and sod. Being conscientious about leaf cleanup in the fall and winter prevents costly rental property landscaping services in the spring.
⇒ Know when your trees get naked
Not all trees lose their leaves at the same time in similar volume. Different species of tree drop leaves at different points in the season, and some will hold onto their leaves until new growth begins in early spring. Knowing the projected leaf drop dates for the trees on a property allows you to plan ahead for landscaping services.
Some species, like the Japanese maple, drop their leaves in late November just before winter sets in. Others, like beech and oak trees, keep some of their leaves until late spring. Planting the same varieties of trees and shrubs makes cleanup easier, whereas a property with multiple types of trees might make leaf cleanup a five or six-month job.
⇒ Plan ahead for easier upkeep
Property managers and owners can plan ahead to enjoy a splash of seasonal color while avoiding heavy leaf cleanup. Plant evergreen tree varieties around high traffic areas such as pools, walkways, and leasing offices. Or avoid planting trees in those areas, opting instead for low maintenance shrubs or flowers beds. Consult an arborist or local landscaping professional during the development stages of a multi-unit property in order to choose trees that will take less work to maintain and are well suited to the local climate.
Other helpful lawn care tips
Need to prepare your rental property’s lawn for the spring? Whether you’re doing everything yourself or hiring a company to help, here are some more tips from the experts that will get your lawn ready for warmer weather.
- You should wait until your yard has thawed and dried before you start working on it. Soil compaction can happen if there is too much foot traffic on wet soil. – Hittle Landscaping
- Fertilizing in the spring jump-starts your lawn from its winter slumber. It provides a nutrient buildup that will give it the strength to withstand heat stress and drought through the summer months. – LawnCare by Walter
- Bermuda should be aerated in spring in addition to having Pre-Emergent and weed control applied. – Arbor-Nomics®
- Your first impulse may be to water and mow your lawn right away. Instead, give it some time to grow first. This helps because the longer grass helps protects roots and makes them stronger overall. Don’t worry if your lawn starts out with some brown spots, though. This is entirely natural and will change once it rains a couple of times. After that, water your grass twice a week. – Greener Horizon
- A mower with dull blades can cause more problems than it solves. Flat or dull blades will grind, clump, tear and rip grass in a spotty and damaging manner, ultimately decreasing both the appearance and health of your lawn. Use a vice and metal file to sharpen your lawnmower’s blades. Given the nature of the task, you can also have a mower repair shop, a retail store that sells motors, or a landscaping company sharpen your blades. – Ricci’s Landscape Management
- You don’t have to do a lot to your trees in winter to ensure they’ll be gorgeous and full of life come spring. However, if you do two key things – mulching and pruning – you’ll surely get great results once the weather warms up and your trees bloom.– Ryan Lawn & Tree
Don’t miss your chance to prepare your yard for the warmer months. If you don’t lay a firm foundation in the spring, there’s a good chance your lawn won’t look as good for the rest of the year.