How to Take Care of your New Landscape Project

Your long awaited Chalet Landscape is finished and ready for you to enjoy….now what? Chalet Landscape Architect, Ian W, shares some tips to maintain your new landscape. 

Water, water, water!

  1. The most important thing you can do for your new landscape is water your new plants and water deep!  
    1. How: Deep watering - watering heavy until soil is saturated and let that water work its way down into the soil this promotes deeper and stronger root systems 
    2. Frequency: Water about 4 times a week for new plantings – it may seem like a lot, but if it’s been dry, plants need to be watered even more!  
          • A new 10’ tree will need about 15-20 gallons of water per watering.                                           
          • A new 3-5’ shrub will need about 3-7 gallons of water per watering                                              
          • A new perennial will need about .5-2 gallons of water per watering                                     
  1. When: Water at the right time – the best times to water are before 9am or after 8pm to reduce evaporation so the water gets down to the plant roots 
  2. Where: Water at the base of the plant – we want the water to get down to the roots 
  3. Tapering off: Watering can begin to taper off after 3-4 weeks with the plants getting a good start on establishing. This is weather dependent – in the summer you are going to want to make sure things are watered more aggressively through the heat of the summer. 
  4. Soil Type: It’s important to note that unless you live by the lake, you most likely have clay soils. This means low and slow is the way to water successfully – it takes longer for water to get deep into the ground since pore spaces are smaller in clay soils and we want that water to get down into the soil. 
  5. Overwatering: You can over water! Your plants will tell you how things are going – if your plants look brown and wilted, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need more water. Feel the leaves and if they aren’t dry and crispy but are soft, that’s a sign of over watering. The soil will also tell you if you need to water – don’t be afraid to stick a finger into the soil before watering to make sure your plants need more.
  6. Irrigation System: If you have an irrigation system, make sure you are watering more heavily up front and then dial back the water once things are starting to establish. It’s really important to make sure you monitor the watering of the system after a new planting is installed.

Great Expectations 

It’s important to have the appropriate expectations for a new landscape – it takes time for plants to acclimate to a new location after living above ground or in a pot. A lot of the energy in the first year of a planting will go to growing out the root system underground. This often leads to the perception that the plants aren’t growing – but they are, you just can’t see it! 

It typically takes 2-3 years for a landscape to fully establish. 

The Sleep, Creep, Leap growth cycle of your landscape.

  1. Year one (Sleep)– little growth above ground, roots establishing.

2. Year two (Creep) – progress! Better growth above ground, more energy invested in producing foliage and flowers.

3. Year three (Leap) – established landscape with regular growth patters/rates you’ll notice a big difference from the growth experienced the first two years  

Some plants mature faster than others – annuals will mature in 2-3 weeks, perennials in several months to the next growing season, while trees and shrubs can take 2-3 years to full establish  Weeding will be important in year one, as the garden matures and plants establish – you should notice less weed pressure. The better your plants establish and start to fill, the less real estate exists for weeds so it’s important to set the stage early for the new plantings.

Have Patience 

Plants are Living Things - and sometimes plants move within the garden or maybe a shrub doesn’t flower one year, and that’s ok! Your garden will change as it grows and evolves, that’s part of the beauty of the garden. Plants will find a spot where they are most comfortable. Some plants have short life spans and others will reseed throughout the garden. This is perfectly normal, and a garden can always be edited with some pruning, or adding/removing a plant here and there. 

Maintenance is Key – the more care you put into your plants in the beginning, the more successful your landscape will be. From weed management, to timely pruning, fertilizing, monitoring for pests, and watering – a good maintenance plan from the start can set you up for success years down the road. 

Phasing a garden implementation is a great way to spread out the costs of a full landscape installation, but it means that the growth pattern will follow with each phase. Make sure your phasing plan matches with your expectations – whether it’s area by area (front yard/back yard/side yard) or elements (structural plants/perennials and groundcover/bulbs). Either way is appropriate, but depending on your strategy it can take longer to reach full maturity.

Ian A. Wagan, ASLA Registered Landscape Architect