7 Landscaping Tips to Prep Your Property for Spring


As temperatures plummet and landscapes are blanketed with snow and ice this winter, thoughts about spring hardly come to mind. If they do, they are probably more out of wishful thinking for warmer temperatures and a mental escape from the cold.

But even though it’s nearly three months away, spring should be on the minds of property managers and owners. It’s no secret that a beautiful landscape generates high curb appeal for an apartment property, and the more prepared a property is to emerge from the winter the better opportunity the grounds will grab attention from prospective residents.

Although much of the landscape may be dormant, grasses and trees are still very much alive and need a helping hand. Preventive maintenance is recommended, as well as pruning and advanced plantings to give the landscape a boost.

Below are a few things that properties can do in the winter months to better position the landscape for a big entrance when spring arrives:

Landscaping Tip #1: Apply Pre-Emergents and Fertilizers

The best way to control weeds is to control them before you see them. Weeds actually begin germinating in February in warmer climates, and if left unattended they will invade a landscape quickly. Apply a pre-emergent now, and then follow with a post-emergent application closer to spring to keep dandelions and other weeds at bay.

Also, applying a slow-release fertilizer will give your landscape the right amount of nutrients at the right time. Typically, about 50 percent of the active nutrients and nitrogen are released at the time of application. Depending on the formulation, the balance will be released over the next two to three months when nitrogen is more in need to promote top growth.

Landscaping Tip #2: Treat for Grub Worms and Cutworms

If critters like armadillos and possums are digging up the landscape, that’s a sign that grub worms and cutworms have infested the lawn. If not treated, the lawn may resemble a war zone. Apply a granular insecticide or larvicide to keep worms from hatching and reproducing.

Landscaping Tip #3: Prune Trees to Encourage New Growth

Winter is a good time to prune trees because they are less stressed and most fungal diseases aren’t overly active. Pruning gives trees a clean, fresh start on the season and promotes even growth. Keep in mind that when trimming deciduous trees that some limbs may need to be pruned even though they aren’t sagging. If not pruned, the limbs likely will sag when new growth buds out.

Landscaping Tip #4: Remove Winter Damage from Plants, Grasses and Shrubs

Some pre-spring cleaning may be in order to cull winter damage incurred by plants, grasses, and shrubs. Before new growth begins, the dead matter needs to be trimmed. Depending on the plant, the entire top may be removed. Removing the weathered or wind-whipped matter enables new growth more opportunity to flourish when warmer temperatures arrive.

Landscaping Tip #5: Make Hard Cutbacks to Larger Plants, Shrubs and Trees

Hard cutbacks usually leave the plant, tree, or shrub looking a little thin and ugly, and that’s not appealing when the rest of the landscape is blossoming. Cutbacks, much like pruning, enable more opportunity to full growth and may be necessary to clean up areas around windows and walkways that are overgrown.

Landscaping Tip #6: De-Winterize Sprinkler Systems after Final Seasonal Freeze

After the last freeze of the season, winterized irrigation systems need to be drained, brought back on line, and tested zone-by-zone for any repairs. Leaks may develop over the winter because of temperature changes and swollen pipes. It’s best to isolate any issues and make repairs before your landscape needs regular watering.

Landscaping Tip #7: Install New Plantings and Mulch

Spring is the optimal time of year for new plantings, but in some warmer climates new landscape material can be applied as weather permits. Generally, the time is good for planting trees, dormant grasses, and shrubs. Also, it’s a good time to apply mulch, provided leaves are finished falling and have been removed from all beds.

Letting the landscape sit idle during the off-season is the last thing a property management team should allow. By employing some preventative maintenance, cleanup, and general preparedness, you can put the wheels in motion for a bold entry into spring.


(Image Credit: Shutterstock)



President, Earthworks

author photo two

Chris Lee is President of Dallas, Texas-based Earthworks, which specializes in multifamily housing landscaping. He is a contributing author to Landscape Management magazine, licensed irrigation specialist and a Toro Intellisense certified technician. Chris studied business at the University of Arkansas from 1990-94 and horticulture and landscape design at Tarrant County College from 1999-01. He has been employed at Earthworks since 1998.

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