3 Steps to a Green Spring in Multifamily

spring in multifamily


Every year, after the Superbowl is over in February and winter starts to fade away, it’s time to get about the business of spring. With the cleats hung up for the season, lawn implements like rakes, fertilizer spreaders and pruning shears take center stage everywhere.

For apartments, this time of year is an opportunity to plant the seeds for a great landscape. And it’s no secret that clean, full and colorful grounds not only draw for new residents and but help retain others.

After all, the annual leasing rush is just around the corner.

Planning for spring in multifamily

“The first couple of months of the year is the time for apartments to start thinking about peak leasing when properties have to look their best,” said Earthworks President Chris Lee. “A great looking landscape catches eyes and generates curb appeal. You have to get a jump on it early, though, and have a master plan.”

A large source of Earthworks’ business is landscaping and maintaining apartment communities. The company has serviced the multifamily industry since 1979 and offers classes in maintenance, water conservation, irrigation, landscape budgeting and Xeriscaping so its clients have eye-catching landscapes.

Lee said creating a master plan—a sort of spring training—to get the landscape in shape is the best bet. Particularly this time of year, southern landscapes needs applications of weed control and fertilizer, pruning and plantings to maximize the growing season. Without the proper attention, the landscape may not have legs enough to survive the summer.

“The end of winter is a great time to finish general cleanup about the landscape and begin making plans for how the property should look when things begin to bloom in the next two-three months,” Lee said. “It’s that time you want to determine what needs to be planted or redesigned as well.”

Apply pre-emergents and fertilizer

Lee says the lawn should first get a dose of pre-emergent fertilizer which helps fend off unsightly weeds and unwanted grasses. The lawn may not be showing signs of weeds but the application will head off germination plus feed the grass.

He recommends applying the pre-emergent fertilizer at the end of winter or after the last hard winter freeze. As the ground warms, the fertilizer will release nutrients and weed-control dosages.

“An effective pre-emergent will make the lawn more healthy and weed resistant,” Lee said.

Make cutbacks and pruning of trees and bushes

As spring advances and temperatures warm, pruning and cleanup of crape myrtles, ornamental trees and rose bushes set the stage for healthy growth. Winter often ravages plants and larger grasses, requiring trimming and culling dead and freeze-damaged parts. The cleanup will do wonders, Lee says.

“Failing to cut these plants back will result in plants that don’t look healthy when they should be lush and green.”

Cutting back later than March and after budding starts could stunt growth.

Plant brightly colored annuals and mulch beds

Lee recommends planting spring color in the property’s high-visibility areas in April to enhance curb appeal. Bright yellow, orange and red annuals grab the most attention. April is also the time to plant other foliage around the apartment property.

Also, mulch beds and other areas but make sure the rainy season is over to avoid washed out beds.

“Once you feel like you’re past the last hard freeze, you’re good to go for planting shrubs, grasses and other materials,” Lee said. “The earlier you can get done, they can acclimate before summer.”

Lee says spring also is time to apply pesticides and trim larger trees. Generally, it’s when properties should invest some sweat equity and get a head start on the growing season, setting their landscapes up for success.

“A little work over the next few months will improve the chances for a landscape that turns heads,” he said. “This is an important time for improving the health of the lawn and everything surrounding it.”


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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