Quality maintenance is critical in the first year after installation. Effective watering,
weeding, and fertilization during establishment will reduce future maintenance needs.
The maintenance period for most of the work prepared by this office is 60 days. Bidding
or negotiating a contract for long-term maintenance should occur during that time.
A maintenance bid form and specification is useful for bidding and this office can
prepare project specific documents. With some editing, free on-line specifications
(such as this one) might work for you.
All shrub beds are treated with a pre-emergent herbicide during construction. The
chemical inhibits seeds from germinating (usually until the next Spring) but will
not prevent existing weeds or their roots from growing. A combination of aggressive
weeding and vigorous plant growth in the first year can sharply reduce future weed
At the close of the maintenance period, the Owner’s Representative, the Landscape
Contractor, the Maintenance Contractor and the Landscape Architect should walk the
site to verify everything is in order. The Landscape Contractor must provide the
warranties, manuals, tools and spare parts indicated in the Specifications.
The irrigation system is typically warranted against defects in materials and labor
for one year from final acceptance. Additional warranties may be available from manufacturers.
Larger trees are usually guaranteed for 90 days, 15 gallon trees for 60 days, and
1 and 5 gallon plants for 30 days.
Fertilization based on soil testing occurs during construction and should provide
all the necessary nutrients for the first growing season, with the exception of nitrogen.
Nitrogen should be replenished regularly until the plants are fully established.
Sunland Labs (which provides most soils test recommendations for this office) generally
suggests applying 5 lbs. of Ammonium sulfate (21-0-0) per 1,000 square feet once
every month to replenish nitrogen in shrub areas. Contact Garth for the most recent
soil test for your project.
Nitrogen promotes foliage growth, which allows new plants to cover as much ground
area as possible. Bare planter areas are much more subject to weed infestations so
a dense cover of vegetation should be encouraged.
Pruning during the establishment year ought to be avoided. Where foliage is covering
pavement it should be cut back, but most attempts to shape plants at this stage will
be counter-productive. Trailing groundcovers should be allowed to spread freely in
the planters, but must be prevented from climbing into other plants (as implemented
Excessive irrigation is extremely common during establishment, and can quickly cause
significant plant losses. The irrigation plans prepared by this office nearly always
include an Irrigation Schedule. This chart is useful in refining station run times
relative to one another. Running water, ponding and consistently soggy soil, are
all signs of poor irrigation management.