While it was a trying winter with more snow and ice than usual, there is always the promise of springtime and all it entails—blossoming trees, the return of singing birds and green grass. But just like the maintenance and care necessary to keep the grounds clean and safe in winter, landscaping becomes a critical challenge during spring, summer and fall.
“There are many factors that come into play when it comes to maintaining a great lawn,” says Jason Cina, operations manager for the Waldwick-based Chris James Landscaping. “I would say the four most important are mowing practices, irrigation, fertilization and weed control.”
In order to be prepared for mowing, irrigation, fertilization and weed control, it is recommended to take proactive steps after Thanksgiving. “Finish removing leaves from lawn areas. If possible, shred the leaves with the lawn mower and add to perennial or annual beds as mulch,” advises the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA). “Finish cutting back those perennials, which have little winter interest, or that can potentially spread seed throughout the garden and become a weed nuisance during next summer.”
With winter preparation in place, Cina says that in New Jersey, the frost-free date is May 15, which is when summer flowers should be planted. However, associations, he adds, should revisit landscaping needs in March or April, depending on the weather. If weed suppression in the gardens is on the agenda, for example, he explains it’s a good idea to mulch early.
“The timing of the first fertilizer and crabgrass pre-emergence application is very important. It needs to be made before the crabgrass seeds start to germinate,” says Cina. “This could be any time between early and mid-April depending on how quickly the temperatures warm up in the spring.”