Preparing Your Landscape for the Hot Summer

Spring is here and most of us are in spring cleaning mode in our homes and offices. Throwing out the old junk and making way for the new. Before using up all of your energy on the inside, please do not forget to save some energy for the outdoors. Spring is a critical time of the year for your landscape and putting a little effort in your landscape in early spring will help your trees, plants and flowers survive the most stressful season of the year (Summer). This is especially important this year due to the cold temperatures that we experienced during the winter. Many plants will come out of dormancy stressed and weak making them more susceptible to insects and disease meaning they will need additional care to recover.

Below is a list with descriptions that you can follow to assure success and minimize plant loss in your landscape


This is the single most important task that you can do to protect your landscape from an extended drought and high temperatures. Your landscape contractors should give you an evaluation of your irrigation system(s) that includes any repairs or modifications needed to properly water your landscape. You will need your systems running at 100% efficiency. Even though most mature trees shrubs and groundcover typically do not need supplemental watering, this year could be different if we are hit with another drought. Make sure that all available irrigation (trees, shrubs, ground cover, annual flower beds and turf) is ready for the task. If not, the loss of plants and trees could become much costlier than the preparation. We are still at Drought level 2 which means you can only water your existing landscape 2 times per week on an odd even schedule. Under these watering restrictions it is imperative that every possible watering cycle goes off without a hitch.

Mulch or Pine Straw

It is typically recommend a January – March application due to the premium quality of Pine straw that is available at that time of year. If you haven’t completed this yet, it is highly recommend to apply now. A 2-3″ layer of pine straw or 1-1.5″ of decomposed hardwood mulch will suffice. Plus, it will breathe new beauty into your landscape. If you’re working with a contractor, make sure that they provide a trenched edge, with smooth flowing simple curves, between turf bed lines. This will help contain the mulch within the bed and provide a detailed edge that leaves that crisp clean appearance.


Apply a very slow release fertilizer such as 12-4-8 (70% slow release nitrogen) with micro-nutrients and gibberellins (like vitamins for the body) to all trees shrubs and ground covers. This will assist with root and foliage growth.

Insect and Disease Control

If your landscape provider hasn’t applied horticultural oil to your plants during the winter months to control wintering insects, make sure that a systemic insecticide and if needed, a systemic fungicide is applied. Most importantly make sure that plants that exhibited insect and disease problems last year are treated. You will want to make sure that plants that are commonly known to harbor pests such as Roses, Boxwoods and Crape Myrtle trees are treated as well.

Annual Color Bed

Russell Landscape will install our annual color beds beginning April 15 and ending May 30. Make sure that your landscape provider uses the right plant for the bed location and provides a design that is drought tolerant. If our drought declaration is increased to level 3, then we will only be able to water until the plants are mature. Once mature, they must survive on mother nature alone. We are a long way from this possibility, but it is always better to be safe than sorry. Make time to meet with an experienced seasonal color designer to ensure success. Seasonal color is the most expensive landscape asset on any property.


Fertilize with a 60%- 70% slow nitrogen fertilizer so that the potential for burn is very low. The turf green up may be delayed by a week or two, but the slow, safe feeding fertilizer will allow time for the roots to strengthen if another dry period is in the forecast.

Article provided by Hugh Cooper with Russell Landscape Group