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Your Essential Guide to Lawn Care in Northern Virginia

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Springtime is many homeowners’ favorite time of the year. As the weather gets warmer, you’ll soon be spending more time outside, enjoying your property. But the last thing that you want is for spring landscaping mistakes to hold you back from enjoying your property to the fullest.

That’s why we’ve rounded up a list of some of the mistakes in spring landscaping that we sometimes see. Some of these are mistakes that we are called in to fix after another landscaping company or even a DIYer made an error. Hopefully, by thinking about these potential issues ahead of time, you can avoid mistakes on your own property.

Common Spring Landscaping Mistakes in Northern Virginia

Nobody wants landscaping mistakes to hold them back from enjoying their property. But this is especially true in the warmer months when you’re really trying to maximize your time outside. This is also when many landscaping services are performed and when you want to be sure they’re being performed properly.

When landscaping in spring, here are some common mistakes to avoid.

1. Over-Mulching, Under-Mulching, or Using a Subpar Mulch

Spring is a prime time for mulching. There’s nothing like a fresh, professionally installed layer of mulch to make your plant beds look fantastic as spring flowers start blooming. But mulching mistakes can ultimately cause your landscape more harm than good.

Some of the common mistakes are over- or under-mulching. People don’t always realize that the amount of mulch put down is important. There is such a thing as too much mulch as it can absorb available moisture and reduce how much ends up reaching plant roots. When mulch is heavily moisture-rich, trees and shrubs will develop new roots closer to the surface than they should be, as they aim to seek out moisture. These roots often circle trunks and eventually girdle and choke plants.

mulch around plants

Excessive mulch will also fail to decompose over time, as it is supposed to. This means that every time you have a new layer of mulch added, it is accumulating even more. It’s not uncommon to see over-mulched properties build up as much as 12 inches of mulch after a few years.

On the same token, too little mulch is also not good. Aggressive weeds will be able to break right through that layer and the mulch won’t do much to insulate plant roots as it should be doing.

Finally, the use of subpar mulches is another big mulching mistake. All mulches are not created equally. Mulch can vary dramatically in terms of quality. You might be surprised to learn that some mulches that have come from a recycling center actually have garden debris mixed in, including invasive weeds and other unwanted fillers. If your low-quality mulch is introducing weeds into your plant beds, it’s completely defeating the purpose.

2. Failing to Edge (or Edging Improperly)

Landscape edging is one of those details that is small but can make a world of difference. That’s why skipping it, or edging poorly is a spring landscaping mistake to avoid.

The main reason that people like edging is for aesthetic appeal. Creating a clean, crisp edge in a plant bed is a finishing touch that adds a lot of curb appeal. It makes a nice delineation between your lawn and your landscaped beds.

landscape bed edge and weeding

But edging also has some functional benefits, too. It can help prevent mulch from washing out into your lawn. It will also assist in creating a barrier that plays a role in preventing weeds from spreading from the lawn to the landscape (or vice versa).

There are different types of landscaping edging.

We advise against plastic edging (the kind sold at big box stores) as it has a cheap look to it. These plastic strips rarely stay in the ground well and often tend to lift up and stick out. They also get mangled by mowers and end up being more of a distraction than a nice addition.

steel landscape edging

Steel edging, installed by a professional, works a lot better. Some people also prefer a natural edge, cut by a professional landscaper.

3. Making Pruning Errors

When landscaping in spring, pruning is often an important task. But pruning errors can be detrimental to your plants.

People are often surprised that there can be quite a bit of horticultural expertise needed to make wise pruning choices. If you prune the wrong plant at the wrong time of the year, you could actually impact its ability to bloom for that season.

landscape maintenance expert prunes shrub

In addition to impacting your shrub’s ability to bloom, improper pruning can also lead to insect or disease concerns. While certain shrubs should not be aggressively pruned, others can tolerate it. Understanding how to trim shrubs really comes down to plant identification. Unfortunately, this is more difficult than a lot of people realize.

Using the proper pruning tools is another key consideration. It’s very important that your trimming tools are sharp. You’ll also want to make sure that you have chosen the right tool for the right shrub. While some homeowners, and even some landscapers, tend to use gas- or electric-powered shears on everything, some shrubs do require hand pruning with a precise instrument for the best results.

4. Failing to Get a Headstart on Weeds

Weeds are a major source of frustration when it comes to enjoying your beautiful property. They can pop up throughout your lawn as well as in your landscape beds. The trouble with weeds is that they multiply swiftly. A handful of weeds one day can quickly start to take over your lawn and landscape.

When landscaping in spring, it’s important to get a headstart on weed control.

lawn care technician team spraying weed control

This includes regular weeding in your plant beds. It also includes getting on a good lawn care program that is going to take a customized and proactive approach to your lawn weeds. This means a program that is taking advantage of pre-emergent weed control products that prevent some weeds from germinating in the first place. This is honestly one of the best ways to get ahead of weeds.

However, the timing of pre-emergent products is crucial. If you miss the window, and weeds have already germinated, now you are stuck playing catch-up with curative products. This is why getting an early headstart on weeds is important.

5. Overlooking Yard Clean-Up

Clearing your yard of leaves and debris as spring rolls around is important. But mistakes in spring landscaping sometimes come from overlooking this task. Unfortunately, debris left in your yard can wind up in plant beds and can even be an invitation for critters to take up residency on the property.

landscape maintenance team technician bed cleanup

You’ll also likely find that twigs and branches have broken off from your trees over the winter and need to be picked up.

To keep your property looking neat and tidy, and to get it ready for the spring, you want to be sure that you’re spending some time with yard cleanup.

6. Waiting too Long to Hire a Pro (or Making a Poor Choice)

Finally, in talking about spring landscaping mistakes, we also want to mention that failing to bring in a professional can be a mistake of its own.

Sometimes, homeowners really want to try DIY landscaping and they think they’ll get around to doing these tasks on their own. But the longer you wait, the messier your property gets (and the more booked-up the professionals in your area become).

landscape professional mowing lawn

Ultimately, you want to aim to get on your landscape professional’s schedule early so that you can get the most out of their services. That includes being able to start services early in the season so that your landscape is looking its best as you start spending more time outside.

Along with that, you also want to make a wise choice in landscape professionals. The truth is, not all landscaping companies are equally qualified to do the work. It’s important that you put in the time to research your options and feel confident that you are choosing the best landscaping company for your needs.

Avoiding Spring Landscaping Mistakes with a Professional Landscaper

Hopefully, some of these spring landscaping mistakes in Virginia have given you an idea of what not to do when it comes to your property.

One of the benefits of hiring a professional landscaper is that they will know what services are most important and when (and how) they should be done. There is only so much time in a day and chances are, you don’t want to spend it working in your yard. You want to know that your property is getting everything it needs from a pro.

Fortunately, with the right professional, you can absolutely gain that peace of mind that you’re after. Your landscape is going to look neat and tidy not only in the spring but all year long.

If you’re looking for some guidance on spring landscaping near Alexandria, Arlington, or Springfield, VA, request a consultation, get your customized plan, and relax as we give you the royal treatment.

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Krisjan Berzins - Owner, CEO

Since 1997, Krisjan has led the Kingstowne team with one simple philosophy, treat every customer like the “only” customer. His passionate pursuit of impeccable customer service has resulted in 24 successful years and a thriving company with over 85 employees, helping thousands of homeowners in the Alexandria, Arlington, and Springfield, VA area get what they want -- a worry-free property they can be proud of.