Initial Care on Newly Installed Lawns
*your lawn should be on a regular maintenance program soon after the first mowing
Sod must remain moist from initial installation, until the sod has rooted down. To tell if the sod has rooted, try to pull up a corner. If roots have started to catch the soil underneath, and you hear a tearing sound as you lift a corner, watering frequency can decrease. It is very important the first watering occur the day the sod is installed. If this does not happen, the sod can shrink, and cracks will show between each piece.
Mow your new sod approximately 2 weeks after installation. Sod should be partially rooted down, but do not let the sod get too tall for the first mowing. Make sure the soil under the sod is dry so no ruts are created in the mowing process. We suggest mowers to be set between 2 ½ to 3 inches in cutting height for the maintenance of lawns.
Fertilization of the new sod should not occur until the sod is fully rooted.
No weed control is usually required or suggested the first month. After this period a spot spraying of broadleaves is sufficient, or put your lawn on a regular program of applications
Core Aeration is beneficial to sodded lawns but should not occur until the season following installation. This helps in oxygenating the roots as well as minimizing compaction.
*your lawn should be on a regular maintenance program soon after the first mowing
For seed to germinate correctly, it must remain moist through the entire germination process. The seed should be moistened gently with a sprinkling device, and should not be over watered. Runoff of excess water can wash away soil and dislodge seed. Ideally, watering should occur two or three times a day (or more if you have an automatic irrigation system), but for a relatively short amount of time (or until the soil is moistened to a depth of 1-2 inches). Once the grass begins to establish and mature, the intervals between watering can be lengthened, and the amount applied at one time increased.
If the seed remains dry, it is not necessary to water immediately upon installation. However, once the seed becomes moist, it should stay moist. A heavy morning dew is sometimes enough to moisten the seed to a point where watering should commence.
Minimize traffic on the lawn until it is established, or for approximately 4 weeks.
For the first two weeks the seed should be watered as frequently as possible(2-5 times a day to the point of run off).
After even germination has occurred (2-3 weeks), cut your watering to approximately once a day while increasing the quantity of water.
At approximately 4-5 weeks, watering can be cut to once every 3-4 days, while again increasing the quantity of water per application.
Mow your new lawn when it reaches a height you would typically mow it at. We suggest lawns be maintained at a height of 2 ½ to 3 inches, so whenever your lawn is at a height exceeding this elevation it is ready to mow. Make sure the lawn surface is dry upon mowing so no tracks or ruts are created.
Fertilization of the seeded lawn occurred upon initial installation. However, new seed requires additional fertilization. An application of starter fertilizer should be applied (per directions on bag) at 3-4 weeks after seeding has occurred, or approximately 2 weeks after germination. Once lawn is established, it will benefit from a regular fertilization program.
Usually newly seeded lawns do not require Core Aeration until several years after installation. This can alleviate compaction problems and oxygenate root systems.
Quality bluegrass seed mixes take much longer to germinate than cheap mixes with high quantities of annual and perennial ryegrass. Rye can germinate in a matter of days, while bluegrass requires approximately 2 weeks.
INITIAL CARE ON NEWLY INSTALLED PLANTS
Plantings will require various amounts of water depending on their sun exposure, weather conditions, and the time of year. The following guidelines are rules of thumb that should be adjusted according to conditions at the time of planting.
For the first 2-3 weeks after installation all plantings should be watered 2-3 times per week. Plantings should be watered with an open hose end, and each individual plant should be saturated, along with the soil around it. Smaller plants shall require less watering time than larger plants.
After the first 2-3 weeks watering frequency should decrease (although quantity per watering should remain the same).
Underground automatic systems can simplify plant care, but most often result in over watered plant materials. Systems need to be monitored on a regular basis. The system should be adjusted according to weather conditions and the time of year. We often suggest turning the plant beds off automatic, and only run them manually for the first year. The same watering requirements above apply to an automatic system, so resist the urge to water too often.
Perennial & Ornamental Grass Care
Grasses and perennials should be cut down to the ground in spring before they start to shoot new growth. This can occur during the fall if you dislike the winter characteristics, but there are benefits to leaving the foliage on the plant over the winter. Created debris should be removed and disposed of. This is the only maintenance required for these types of plant. Certain perennials can be dead headed through the growing season if you find the old flowers unattractive, but in many cases, the spent flowers are not significant, and can be ornamental through fall or winter. Keep an eye out for new shoots or seeded plants from your perennials and don’t mistake them for weeds. Encourage your perennials to spread. Perennial masses should eventually cover the entire ground plane in the areas specified.
Evergreen Shrub Care
Evergreens should not be sheared (all shoots cut one length like a hedge), but longer shoots that occur (usually the second season) can be removed with a hand pruner, or individually cut back. The goal in pruning evergreens is to provide them with a loose, natural, “feathery” appearance where individual shoots are different lengths. Pruning on boxwood should be minimal for the life of the shrub, while Japanese yews may be more intense after approximately the third season.
Larger Tree Care
When watering a tree, you cannot give it too much water per occurrence, but a tree can be watered too often. In most soils and most situations, a tree should be watered twice a week for the first two weeks upon installation, and once a week after that. Watering can decrease after the first month, but should continue in some degree for 2-3 seasons (dry spells the third season). Watering should not occur if the ground is still saturated from the last occurrence. No pruning should be required for several years unless removal of damaged branches or cross branching is required.
In most situations fertilization is discouraged. Often this will lead to heavy foliage growth while not encouraging the root growth that is essential to newly installed plant material. If any fertilization of plant material is required we will inform you of it, and should be done with a low nitrogen “root stimulator” in slow release form (osmocote). Mature plant materials may require fertilization, but only under the direction of a professional.
Application of additional layers of mulch is partially an aesthetic decision, although a good mulch layer is required for healthy plants. To maintain the correct horticultural mulch layer, re-mulching should occur approximately every 2-3 years. A thin layer can be added every year to provide that fresh spring appearance.
CARE FOR PONDS AND RECIRCULATING WATER FEATURES
Basics of Water Feature Construction
All water features, whether a pond or recirculating feature, have a pump. In recirculating features the pump is located in a pump vault, which is basically a large vertical pipe that sits down in the water holding basin and creates a space for the pump. In ponds, the pump is located in a skimmer, which sits at the edge of the pond. Water is typically pumped to a biological filter located at the head of the stream or opposite end of the pond. In both types of features, water is contained within the feature using a flexible rubber liner that lies just beneath the stones and gravels that make up the visible feature.
In general it is good to keep both ponds and water features free of leaves and debris as much as possible. Debris can build up within a stream and cause leaks and other issues. In fall, when leaves are coming down, it is good to keep an eye on the feature and scoop out visible leaves and debris whenever possible.
Maintaining a “normal” water level
Both ponds and recirculating water features will require the addition of water from time to time. Evaporation causes water levels to drop in all ponds and water features and should not be confused with leaks.
In all water features it is beneficial to determine a “normal” water level. To do this, shut down the pump and fill the feature completely full. Then allow the feature to sit for a few days without adding water or running the pump. At this point, all excess water will have drained off if you have over-filled the feature. Take note of where the water level is on the inside of the pump vault in recirculating features, or on stones at the edge of a pond. This is your “normal” water level. When the water level drops substantially below the “normal” water level, it is time to add water to the feature. This can simply be done with a garden hose, and may take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours to re-gain the “normal” water level depending on the size of the feature. If the water level drops significantly below the “normal” water level in a noticeably shorter period of time, this may be an indicator of a leak in the system.
Diagnosing a Leak
Rapidly dropping water levels within a feature may be an indicator of a leak. However, please be aware that water levels will drop significantly faster during a period of hot, dry weather. If you think you may have a leak, first think about what the weather has been like. Has humidity been exceptionally low? When is the last time it rained? Remember that for the first several months of use (beginning of March through end of May or even into June), you may not notice the water level in your feature dropping at all. In fact, spring rains can sometimes keep a feature fuller than the “normal” water level. Comparatively, water levels may drop as much as several inches during a hot, dry week in the summer or week of low humidity in the fall, especially if the feature is located in direct sunlight.
After considering these factors, if you still believe you have a leak, look for obvious wet areas in the soil or mulch surrounding the feature. Leaves and debris can sometimes build up within the gravels of a stream bed and actually cause the water level in the moving stream to rise above the liner at the edges of the stream. It may be that you just need to clean out the stream bed to allow water to run through the gravels again as intended. Use process of elimination to determine where a leak might be. Fill the feature to the normal water level and let stand for a few days without running the pump. If water level is maintained, this tells us there is no leak in the pond (or water holding basin for recirculating features) and thus the leak must be somewhere along the stream or waterfall.
Water Treatment in Recirculating Features
Recirculating water features can be treated with chemicals used in the treatment of pools or spas. If you get excessive algae growth within your feature, you can also treat it by shutting down the pump for 3-7 days. This will cause the algae within the stream to dry out and die, as well as killing algae in the water as it sits still in the dark basin. You can then clean the feature out and start it back up.
Water Treatment in Ponds
Ponds become an ecosystem in and of themselves and should not be treated with pool and spa chemicals. The bio-filter creates an environment for good bacteria to thrive, limiting algae growth and aiding in water clarity. Fish are part of this ecosystem and help promote a clean, healthy pond.
In both ponds and recirculating water features, it will be necessary to remove the pump in preparation for winter. Normal, vertical, impeller type pumps must be stored in a bucket of water in a heated area. Most ponds and some recirculating features use this type of pump. Some recirculating features use a mag-drive pump, which is typically a smaller pump that is wider than it is tall. Mag-drive pumps can be stored dry and do not need to be in a heated area as long as all water is drained out.
For recirculating features, no further winterization is necessary. For ponds with fish, open water will need to be maintained through the winter season. This can be done by installing an agitator pump or floating heater to prevent the entire surface of the pond from freezing.