Maintenance Calendar for Your Home Landscape
There are many tasks to think about and remember regarding your home landscape. To make it easy, I created a maintenance calendar. In this post, I go into detail about the calendar. At the end, I included a printable version for reference.
This calendar consists of four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. I then divided each season into months.
Every season has its special qualities and brings unique tasks to your landscape. This calendar helps you manage them all.
This yearly maintenance calendar focuses on plant material (shrubs, trees, and other ornamentals).
Keep in mind, we are in Tennessee, zone 7b. The activities on the calendar need to be adjusted forward or backward a few weeks, depending on where you live. Always check your hardiness zone.
Cut back ornamental grasses.
Except for the southernmost landscapes, ornamental grasses start to go dormant a few months before December.
Waiting until December to cut back the grasses allows you to enjoy their golden tan colors and movement in the wind a while longer. You can also use the stems for fall decorations.
Cutting them back in December keeps them from breaking down naturally and keeps the wind from scattering the blades and stems around the landscape.
Add a protective layer of mulch to cover the roots of plants susceptible to cold-weather damage.
I’ve recently added cold hardy bananas and a palm to my landscape. This extra layer of mulch helps protect their root systems once the coldest winter temperatures arrive.
Don’t forget to turn your compost pile.
During the winter, microbial activity slows down. Use the leaves in your yard to add a thick insulation layer to your compost. This layer helps hold in the heat that aids in the composting process.
Now is a great time to research ideas for your landscape. Find inspiration on Pinterest, magazines, or watch how-to videos.
Take a Break
Enjoy time with family and friends. It’s been a busy year. Relax. You’ve earned it!
Clean, inspect, sharpen, tighten bolts, and replace missing parts on tools and equipment.
Evaluate all of your garden tools, and get them back into good working condition. Annual upkeep of your tools makes them last longer and less likely to break when you need them the most.
Let your creative juices flow. Make plans for your upcoming garden or landscape projects. Put your ideas on paper.
Reflection and Research
Think back on last year. Did you have any problems with a particular insect or disease? If so, learn about it. Is there something you can do to prevent it from becoming a problem again?
If you have houseplants or have brought in tropical plants from outside, give them a good dusting. A soft cloth and warm water go a long way in the health of your plant. They will thank you for it!
Prune evergreen shrubs, shrubs that don’t flower in the spring, and trees. If you prune plants that flower in the spring, you remove their flower buds, causing fewer flowers to bloom.
During the winter, plants go dormant, and many have dropped their leaves. This dormancy makes it very easy to see the limb structure of deciduous plants. It also makes cleaning up more manageable because you don’t deal with the plant’s leaves.
Get a soil test. If it’s been a few years, or never, since your last soil test, get one. Adding fertilizer or amending the soil to landscape beds or gardens is a common practice. If you don’t know what nutrients are in your soil, you won’t know how much you need, if any. Getting a soil test saves you time and money in the long run.
Fertilize your trees and shrubs as needed. Certain fertilizers need time to break down and move down into the soil before they reach the roots of your plants. Applying them now puts the fertilizer in the root zone in time for the spring.
Prepare mowers and other lawn equipment for the upcoming mow season. It won’t be long until grass wakes up and begins to grow.
Take this time to inspect and perform any needed maintenance on your equipment. Doing so minimizes downtime when you need your equipment the most. Grass doesn’t stop growing just because your mower won’t start.
Determine how much you need. Decide if you will install the mulch yourself or hire a contractor. If you hire a contractor, you need to schedule it sooner than later, especially if you want the mulch installed by a specific date. Spring is a popular time for mulching.
Finalize any flower or shrub planting ideas for the spring. Check with local nurseries for plant availability or schedule deliveries if you order online.
If it’s been a while since you planted your perennials and you haven’t divided them in the past, early spring is an excellent time to divide most of them.
The division of perennials is a great opportunity to add them to different areas of your landscape or share them with neighbors and friends.
Plant New Perennials
Plant new perennials. Gardens centers and nurseries begin to set out their perennials during this time. Planting now helps the perennials get better established before the hot days of summer.
Remember to check the roots of whichever perennials you want to buy. The roots should look white and healthy.
With warmer temperatures around the corner, it’s time to start up your irrigation system. Check for leaks and make any needed repairs or adjustments.
Clean Water Features
If you have a fountain, waterfall, or pond, clean them well. Debris from the past year most likely accumulated in various areas. Be sure to inspect pumps and other plumbing, ensuring all operate correctly.
Overseed Bare Spots
Overseed bare spots that may have developed over the winter in your cool-season turf.
Spring Clean Landscape
It’s time for a spring cleaning in the landscape. Be on the lookout for areas where leaves and other debris have collected over the winter. Remove any hidden weeds, and smooth out pockets of mulch or soil that shifted.
After the spring clean-up, it’s time to add a fresh layer of your favorite mulch. For increased weed protection, apply a pre-emergent herbicide. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label.
Install summer annual flowers. It doesn’t take a lot to add a splash of color. Whether you put them in containers or a dedicated flower bed, summer annuals create interest and focal points throughout the landscape.
Look Out for Insects and Diseases
As temperatures rise, begin to look out for problematic insects and diseases. Recognizing them before they become an issue makes them easier to treat. Remember to protect beneficial insects. Indiscriminate application of pesticides often does more harm than good.
Install shrubs, groundcovers, ornamental grasses, and other plants. The spring is a great time to do so. You will see their growth and development throughout the year.
Tropical Plants and Houseplants
If you have tropical plants indoors, begin to transition them outdoors. This time of year is the optimal time to move any houseplants or succulents outdoors if so desired.
Inspect Irrigation System
Inspect your irrigation system. If you have an irrigation system, it’s likely been running for a few months.
Take a few minutes and go through the system zone by zone to make sure it is working properly. If it’s not, water is lost, and you are paying for that loss of water.
Prune Summer Flowering Plants
The best time to prune summer flowering plants is right after they stop flowering. Flower buds develop on the new growth and are ready to bloom the following year.
Lightly prune and touch up any new growth that developed on your plants during the spring.
If you sheer your plants, you will prune them more often. There are other pruning techniques you can use.
Remember to water any new plants that you planted in the spring.
If you planted trees in the fall, water them as well. It usually takes 2-3 years for trees to get established.
Insects and Diseases
Stay vigilant about insects and diseases, especially any you had problems with last year.
Complete any necessary pruning by mid-August.
If you prune later than this time, you risk having plant tip dieback. This dieback is when new growth doesn’t have time to mature before the first frost or freeze. The cold temperatures kill the new growth.
Begin to think about what type of cool-season annuals and spring bulbs you want to plant in the fall. Violas, pansies, and ornamental kale are excellent choices.
Fall Planting Projects
Put together plans and set a date for fall planting projects. The fall is the prime time of year to install plant material.
Move Tropical Plants
Begin transitioning tropical plants and houseplants indoors. Tropicals don’t like cold weather and die when exposed to frigid temperatures. Of course, if you live in South Florida, the tropicals don’t need moving.
Inspect and make ready snow removal tools and equipment. Whether you receive a little or a lot of snow, having the equipment in good working condition makes a tough job a little bit easier.
Put your flower planting plans into action. Plant cool-season annuals and bulbs.
Plant a Tree
Consider planting a tree. Pick a location and research what species grow well in that area. Remember, you don’t want to plant a tree under powerlines or other overhead obstacles. Be sure to look up!
Touch up or apply all new mulch. Pay attention to any bare areas of soil. The mulch layer doesn’t need to be thicker the 3-4 inches. This measurement includes the existing mulch as well.
Consider using a pre-emergent herbicide for cool-season weeds if you apply new mulch.
Plant a Tree
Plant a tree or multiple trees. The fall is an excellent time of year to plant trees. If you are planting a tree, keep in mind biodiversity.
For example, if there are several maples or oaks in your yard or neighborhood, consider planting a different species of tree.
The more diverse the tree population is, the greater its ability to overcome pests and diseases.
Winterize mowing and other power equipment that won’t be used for several months, especially the fuel. Adding a fuel stabilizer extends the fuel’s shelf life.
Shut Down Irrigation System
Shut down and blow out your irrigation system. Do this before the first freeze. If you don’t, you risk cold weather damaging parts of the irrigation system. The repair can be expensive.
Finalize leaf clean-up. Most leaves have fallen by the end of the month. Check gutters, under plants, and corners of fences. This fall clean-up makes the spring cleaning more manageable.
Consider using your leaves as a mulch or adding them to compost. The leaves will release nutrients as they decompose and help build organic matter in the soil.
Completing these tasks throughout the year helps keep your landscape looking fresh and inviting! Consistency is the key to feeling less stressed about your yard.
Click here for the printable version of the maintenance calendar.
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Maintenance Calendar for Your Home Landscape
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I have over 30 years of experience in the horticulture and landscaping field. Sharing my knowledge of all this plant-related is a passion of mine. I also enjoy spending time outdoors, whether hiking, canoeing, or sitting by a campfire.