Dodds & Eder
The key to enjoying pristine property lies in impeccable, year-round landscape maintenance. While designing your dream installation may take precedence to start, learning the basics of upkeep, and educating yourself during this crucial planning process, is vital to ensuring your Long Island landscape remains the picture of perfection each season.
From the intricacies of cultivating a lush lawn and the hardscape alternatives available to the importance of adhering to a seasonal schedule, we dive into the elements which make Long Island landscape maintenance an art in and of itself.
For some, the term “landscape” immediately evokes imagery of rolling green hills and acres of lush lawn, to be painstakingly manicured week after week. For others, the thought of keeping up with such an undertaking may be tempered with strong reservations.
The fact is, lawn maintenance is no small task to tackle.
Perhaps the most important tip is to mow correctly, grooming healthy grass that remains both drought tolerant and thick enough to crowd out weeds. Ideally, no more than one-third of the blade should be removed with each cutting, as grass that’s too short will ultimately lead to a poorly developed root system.
Mower height can—and should—be adjusted throughout the season; taller grass in the summer allows for increased shade on the soil, which in turn, slows water evaporation and equips the blades to withstand drought-like conditions far better. Cutting when the grass is dry is recommended, as wet clumps tend to clog the mower. If possible, avoid mowing in full sun, as shadier conditions place less stress on the grass.
Technically speaking, maintenance is just as important for the mower as the grass it cuts. Dull, jagged blades create openings for pests and diseases to enter the grass, which ultimately cause long-term damage to the landscape. Similarly, take care not to mow in the same direction each time, as this repetition will compact soil and create ruts.
If your idea of a dream backyard includes spaces for entertaining, cooking, lounging and play time, then perhaps endless fields of green aren’t your cup of tea.
Masonry, which incorporates the use of materials such as rock, stone, concrete and pavers, can bring a great deal of value to landscape design. Those who may have trouble growing grass or plants due to poor soil composition may welcome this smooth, lower-maintenance alternative. Using high-quality components and thoughtfully working them into your layout works to both cut down on the need for weekly upkeep and create natural focal points within your yard.
Though it may seem that the great outdoors enters a state of collective dormancy come winter, rest assured, there are landscape maintenance steps to be taken no matter the time of year. In fact, the key to keeping up with the tasks at hand is making sure you are always one step ahead of the process.
Once the frost of winter has melted away, it’s a good time to begin to repair dead patches of grass left behind, dethatch and aerate to revive weak lawns damaged by the cold. Old mulch should be removed, and refreshed at the base of trees and shrubs. Any summer-flowering shrubs can be pruned, and ground covers raked, fertilized and groomed in preparation for spring planting.
Cool-season flowers and vegetables can be established—preferably, after amending the soil with organic matter—as can fruits and berries. Take care to divide overcrowded perennials, and prune and plant roses. Spring bulb foliage should be trimmed as it blossoms and begins to yellow as the season progresses.
Spring is also an ideal time to thoroughly clean wooden decks, applying sealant as needed, as well as to repair any cracks in paved areas which may have developed over the winter.
The warmth of summer lends itself to increased mowing, albeit lengthier blades are recommended to provide additional shade to the soil. Alternate cutting patterns to avoid unnecessary compaction, and water in the morning or early evening as needed. It’s advisable to leave clippings behind, as these will work as a natural fertilizer, as well as cut down on the clean-up process.
Regularly weed around trees, adding mulch as needed but taking care to keep materials one to two inches away from tree trunks, to reduce the potential for insect or disease damage. New shrubs should be watered weekly, and hedges trimmed after their first new growth. Once flowers on spring-blooming shrubs have begun to fade, it’s safe to deadhead and prune.
Much will be blooming during this season, so take care to cut flowers and herbs during the morning hours, harvest vegetables as needed, and fruits when ripe. Most flowers and vegetables can be fertilized monthly. Flowers should be deadheaded in preparation for fall, and vines trained by lightly pruning.
It may be necessary to seed select spots in need of refreshing as the weather begins to cool, using a fall grass fertilizer as needed. Mulch and regularly water any newly planted conifers, and take care to clean up rotten, fallen crops from fruit trees, as well as leaves. Rose bushes should be cut back, and covered, if possible.
At this point, it’s best to cut back perennials to about six inches above the soil, dividing and replanting those that are overcrowded. Dig out and store non-hardy spring bulbs, while planting new ones to allow them time to take root for next spring. Remaining vegetables should be harvested, and cool-season annuals—such as mums and pansies—established.
Any permanent water systems, pools and ponds should be drained at this time.
Perhaps the harshest season to the great outdoors, winter demands a degree of care in order to properly prepare for the impending chill. Avoid walking on grass if dormant or frozen, and try to use more natural alternatives to salt and sand when it comes to snow removal, if able.
Water newly planted evergreens if moisture is lacking, and review wintering bulbs to determine whether any are soft or rotten and should be discarded. Now is the time to order seeds for spring, and to prune remaining fruit trees, wrapping tender foundations in burlap for added protection.
Be sure to continuously check irrigation systems for cracks, and consistently clear decks, patios and walkways of snow. Repair damaged stone and concrete as weather permits.
Appearance is everything when it comes to a home’s landscape. Crafting a welcoming atmosphere, for inhabitants, visitors, and passers-by alike, is a skill best accomplished through proper research and planning, an eye for design, and the professional expertise required to help make your vision a reality.
First and foremost, it’s integral to be familiar with the typical weather, sun exposure and soil conditions of your surroundings, to select those trees and shrubs most likely to complement your property over a period of time and require a manageable level of ongoing maintenance.
In most cases, native plants make ideal choices, as they are uniquely equipped to handle the particular climate of the area. With that, it’s essential to investigate the growth trajectory of any trees and shrubs you wish to plant, as this should ultimately dictate your design. Slow-growing foliage is less likely to obstruct or damage your home; foundation plants can provide color without blocking windows or doors.
Though the inclination may be to create an elaborate layout, honing in on one or two areas of key impact is far more advisable to creating an ideal outdoor environment.
Popular choices include the walkway or border leading to the front entrance to your home, as well as the area surrounding a deck, patio, porch, or other communal gathering area. By framing the remainder of your landscape choices around these key locales, you can strategically cluster plants with similar needs and create natural dividers in the form of perennial beds, vegetable gardens, or stone and brick accents.
To add color and texture and prevent weeds, it’s helpful to blanket the soil with ground cover. Perennial flowers are a great standby to complement the aesthetic, and require minimal upkeep. In keeping with less property to maintain, flower beds, evergreen shrubs, ornamental grass and mulch all work to provide an attractive alternative to a standard stretch of lawn or turf.
For those who wish to limit the environmental impact of their landscape design, there are several measures that can be taken, among these, limiting water consumption, avoiding chemical pesticides, and supporting neighboring pollinators.
Minimizing the use of chemicals leads to healthier grasses and plants, cleaner water, and more nutrient-rich soils, safe for humans, pets, and the foliage itself. Leaving grass clippings behind helps to avoid garden waste, while simultaneously serving as an organic fertilizer for the yard. Fallen leaves, as well, can be spread into nearby flower beds and vegetable gardens, doubling as a natural mulch of sorts.
Native plants provide the needed nectar, pollen and seeds that serve as food for butterflies, insects, birds, and other animals. Wildlife prefers this type of growth, and their low-maintenance tendencies typically require less irrigation, fertilizer, and pruning—all while supporting the surrounding ecology.
While the prospect of maintaining your beautiful landscape design can seem at once overwhelming and beyond the scope of your expertise, enlisting the assistance of a professional landscape design and maintenance firm may be just the solution.
Dodds & Eder has been providing high-quality grounds maintenance to residential and commercial clients for decades, serving as property managers for all size and scope of landscape installation. Their services include expert lawn care, weed control, seasonal planting and trimming, and their full-service programs are designed to accommodate all custom requirements and time schedules.
Whether you’re in need of weekly lawn maintenance, spring fertilizing, annual seeding, autumn cleanups, winter pruning—or something else a bit more specialized—Dodds & Eder has the skilled personnel and specialized equipment essential to ensure the job is done at an exemplary level. It is this collective commitment to excellence that sets them apart from other firms, earning the designation of Long Island Landscape Maintenance at its best.