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Garth Ruffner Landscape Architect


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.


New Landscaping at Divine Mercy Church in Sacramento

Divine Mercy Church

New Landscaping at Novozymes in Davis, California

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 growth.

Sacramento Auto Dealership Landscaping

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.


Alley Landscaping at Five Hundred Capitol Mall, Sacramento

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.




Alta Manor Senior Facility Landscaping in Roseville, California

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 at right).



Landscape Establishment

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.

Mather Commerce Center Landscaping in Rancho Cordova, CA

Mather Commerce Center

Mock Strawberry at Granite Bay Pavilions in Roseville

Alta Manor Care Facility

Granite Bay Pavilions

Landscaping at West Yost Associates in Davis, CA

While pruning is rarely needed in the first growing season, spent flowers should be removed from perennials and some ornamental grasses will need to be cut back in the Winter.

West Yost Associates

500 Capitol Mall

Maita Nissan

Novozymes at the Close of the Maintenance Period

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