Tag Archives: care for perennials and ornamental grass.

Landscape Maintenance for Spring

Bloodgood Maple
Spring Landscape Maintenance for Summer Beauty

What is your spring landscape maintenance plan? We all want to get our landscape gardens off on the right roots so we can enjoy a healthy, thriving and vibrant landscape through the spring, summer and fall. Spring landscape maintenance plans start with general plant and bed maintenance, followed by shrub pruning, perennial cutbacks, fertilizing, mulching and edging beds. Garden Design Inc. offers full service Spring Landscape Maintenance and ongoing landscape services for Allentown, Emmaus and the entire Lehigh Valley Landscape companies.

March – April  Landscape Maintenance

Overview:  Plants begin to break dormancy. Work done now sets tone for remainder of season. Good Garden Hygiene will reduce needs for excessive pesticide and herbicide throughout the season

General Plant Maintenance:

  • Cut back and cleanup dead and decayed perennial growth from prior season
  • Prune any dead branching from woody shrubs and small trees
  • Weed removal – winter weeds bittercrest, chickweed dandelion etc.
  • Check for Scale and treat with Horticultural Oil
  • Divide Perennials – where appropriate to fill in and encourage healthier growth.

Infrastructure Maintenance:

  • Exposed lighting wire or irrigation tubing – dig and bury
  • Check lighting systems, replace bulbs as needed, adjust timer as needed
  • Check downspouts and drains for clogs or other issues
  • Inspect hardscapes for heaving – repair lifting or shifting paving
  • Inspect general garden drainage and resolve any washout problems
Landscape Maintenance
Landscape Gardens Allentown


  • Mow Liriope, Epimedium and other appropriate cutback groundcovers
  • Hand groom Fern, Hellebore, Bergenia, Geranium (semi-evergreen perennials)
  • Uncover plant crowns and ‘press down’ from winter heave
  • Cutback and Divide Grasses

Flowering Shrubs:

  • Rejuvenate Pruning – on heavy bloomers – Roses, Spirea, Hydrangea, Weigela
  • Selective Pruning – to Form/Shape larger woody flowering shrubs i.e. Viburnum
  • Reduction Pruning – Reduce 1/3 old wood past seasons i.e. Red Twig Dogwood

Evergreen Shrubs:

  • Rejuvenate Pruning – form oriented shrubs i.e. boxwood and ilex
  • Selective Pruning – Remove dead and damaged wood
  • Disease & Pest – Inspect and treat Scale and psyllid (boxwood)


  • Selective Pruning – Remove dead/diseased wood and prune minor to good form
  • Remove reversions, scions and root sucker growth


  • Perennials – Fertilize around the crown, not on it
  • Shrubs – fertilize 3-5” around the drip line, not inside or beyond
  • Trees – Fertilize 6-12” around the drip line. Deep plug fertilize every 48”


  • Cut bed edges – Check work order for specification Hand Edge vs. Machine
  • Note prior over mulching and remove/spread out before new mulch
  • Install mulch between plants – do not ever dump onto a plant!
  • Move mulch around plants, never closer than 1” to crown or trunk
  • Never bury crown, trunk or branching in mulch
  • Never over mulch around any plant (2” Maximum)

Things To Do For Spring Cleanup

Spring cleanup, landscape design, Lehigh Valley, PA, Allentown, PA, Bethlehem, PA, Outdoor living rooms
Ready for a spring cleanup!
It’s time to start thinking about cleaning up your property for spring. This post is about the things you should do in the spring. My next post will be about things your shouldn’t do!

Do cut all perennials back to just above ground level, including the evergreen ones, because the foliage that has been through the winter will soon look very tattered. Exceptions would be Iberis (Candytuft), which gets cut back after its spring bloom along with Helleborus (Lenten Rose) and Euphorbia Robbie. Some plants, such as Hemerocallis (daylilies), Hosta, and plants without much branch structure, just need to be cleaned up if not removed in the fall. Never cut Lavendula (lavender) the whole way back; just reshape it in the spring.

Do cut fall blooming Clematis paniculata (Sweet Autumn Clematis) back to at least one third of its growth.
Do cut all ornamental grass back in the spring so it can regrow again. Some grass that heavily seeds should be cut back in the fall, such as Chasmanthium (Sea oats), so you don’t have the plant everywhere you don’t want it.

Do check for scale on any plants from last season. If detected, use a dormant oil spray while it is still cool and before the leaf break to control the spread of the scale.

Do try the new Hyddrangea macrophylla “Endless Summer” which blooms on new and old wood if you don’t already have them. It is definitely worth digging up all those purple and blue ball hjydrangeas that are old in order to get the continuous full-flooming ones on the market today. They are wonderful!

Do fertilize your acid-loving plants with an acid-loving fertilizer such as Hollytone because we do not have acid soil in the Lehigh Valley. This will help them have dark green foliage. If the foliage is still yellowish in color, an acidifier such as sulphur or aluminum sullphate scratched into the soil is better. This slowly helps the plant as the water takes it down into the soil over a year or so.

Do keep mulch on your beds to prevent weeds from germinating freely and to keep moisture in during dry periods.

We can help! If you find that you would like to have experts do some or all of these kinds of tasks using our knowledge on your property, please call us.

How to Go From Outdated to WOW!

Entry garden, Outdoor entry, outdoor foyer, front of house landscaping, landscape, Bethlehem, PA., Allentown, PA,
This new space creates a new area to relax as well as adds value or curb appeal to the front of this home on the way to the front door.

What makes a landscape look outdated?  The number one reason is plants sheared in various shapes to prevent them from growing over windows or eating your house.  Many new homeowners install plants along their foundation when they initially move iinto their home.  They haven’t studied varieties,k cultivars, and selections enough to understand how big some plants can grow as they mature.  They see plants they like in the garden center or nursery and think they would look nice.

When plants are inexpensive and large in the garden center, it’s generally because they grow fast.  For that reason, these are poor choices for use along foundations.  Still, many “landscapers” use them because when these monsters are installed they produce a finished look with minimal expense.

Putting any plant in the ground is beneficial for the future of the planet and the continuing education of our children, but it is very important to put the right plant in the correct place.  It’s inconvenient and expensive to move a plant when it’s overgrown its place.

Entry garden, Outdoor entry, front of house landscape, landscaping, Allentown, PA, Bethehem, PA, Center Valley, PA
These old tired shrubs did nothing to enhance the front of this home, especially because they were sheared so they didn’t grow over the windows.
The new architecturally designed paving area creates a sitting area for use as well as the path to the front door in the far corner.

What do I do for Spring Cleanup?

It’s always nijce to get outside on a lovely spring day. First thing to do is to cut back all the perennials and ornamental grass that needs to be cut so everything is neat and tidy. Of course the dead leaves need to be picked up unless you are in the middle of the woods. Fertilizing your plants, especially if they are only a couple of years old is important. Use fertilizer with an acidifier or buy an acidifier to be added to the acid loving plants like the azaleas, rhododendrons, and hollies. Check out our website to see what things should be done when during the year. If you haven’t mulched in two years and your mulch has broken down, it is time to remulch with a 100% hardwood bark mulch that is naturally aged. Colored mulches are adding dyes to our water table we all drink. The wood used is from pallets of spilled chemicals, tree roots and stumps, throw away wood that has not been decomposed to kill all diseases in the wood. Edging can be done by hand or with a machine for deeper cuts to the edge. Hand pruning should be done before the new growth grows if you are doing any rejuvinating of older shrubs so they will look better after hard pruning. Some people use pre-emergent herbicide that is spread on top of the ground to keep weed seeds from germinating. This is a personal preference. All landscapes will have some weeds but mulching will help a lot in keeping the moisture in the soil and the weeds from taking over your landscape.