Award-Winning Landscapes Part 8: Caring for the Landscape

Table of Contents

    Just as we learned in Step 6 (Seasonal Color) about treating that step as a process, rather than an event, the same thinking can be applied to Step 8: Caring for the Landscape. Nurturing plant care and landscape maintenance in the Kansas City region involves a continuous series of activities that should be a source of enjoyment and relaxation rather than seeming like a never-ending list of chores.

    The effort you put into post-project care to maintain the health and vitality of your new outdoor living space will ensure that you get many years of enjoyment out of your landscaping investment.

    The Final Step of the Secret Formula to Landscape Success

    You’ve made it through all seven of the previous steps, your landscaping elements are installed and watered, and everything looks just right! Now Step 8—Caring for the Landscape—will make sure your new landscape thrives and develops into an ever-evolving space that you and your loved ones can take great pride in for years to come.

    We’ve compiled a landscape maintenance task list for post-project care to maximize landscape success, broken down by month. Some months have different landscaping and plant care requirements than others, but in general, you’ll always want to be keeping in mind the following:

    • Minimize the potential for damage that can be caused by animals. Rabbits, deer, and moles can be particularly troublesome in the Kansas City region.
    • Water appropriately to help prevent pests and disease.
    • Prevent weeds from taking hold to reduce stress on your plants and root competition.
    • Prune and shape at the appropriate times of the year for the specific cultivar.
    • Fertilize at the appropriate times of the year for the specific cultivar.

    To-Do List: Month-By-Month Landscape Maintenance


    • Remove mulch from any early perennials or bulbs.
    • Fertilize with a balanced mix, e.g., 10-10-10 or 16-16-16.
    • Cut back any dead foliage on perennials before dividing.
    • Prepare soil for planting.
    • Turn any undercover crops or winter mulches.
    • Prune any trees or leafy shrubs that need it, except spring flowering plants, walnuts, maples, or birches.
    • Cut back any ornamental grasses to three to five inches from the ground.
    • Begin planting your trees and shrubs.
    • Mulch crops to control weeds and conserve moisture.
    • Monitor and control weeds (consider applying a pre-emergent weed control solution to beds, as part of March landscape maintenance).


    • After they finish blooming, prune spring-flowering shrubs, such as lilac and forsythia.
    • Ensure that you do not remove any foliage from spring flowering bulbs because it is needed for the next season’s flower.
    • Plant new ground covers.
    • Fertilize any roses.
    • Prune any berry plantings.
    • Begin annual plantings
    • Ensure that your trees and shrubs are sufficiently watered.
    • Fertilize any young trees to help promote new growth.
    • Monitor and control weeds.


    • Be careful not to water lawns too frequently in May, to prevent disease and weed germination.
    • Feed spring flowering shrubs after they bloom.
    • Remove stakes from trees that have been in place longer than one year.
    • Continue planting trees, shrubs, and annuals.
    • Plant care for mums should include pinching to encourage bushiness.
    • Monitor and control weeds.


    • Sufficiently water newly planted shrubs and trees.
    • Monitor for pests and signs of disease; control if required.
    • Water turf sparingly to boost drought tolerance through the summer heat spells.
    • Pinch any herbs to stimulate fresh growth.
    • Deadhead any spent flower blossoms to encourage additional blooms.
    • Continue to pinch mums.
    • Prune spruces and pines to control size and shape.
    • Clip hedges to maintain the desired shape.
    • Monitor and control weeds (consider applying a pre-emergent weed control solution to beds).


    • Lightly fertilize annuals.
    • Fertilize roses to promote fall blooms.
    • After new growth has hardened, prune shrubs to maintain their shape.
    • Pinch mums a final time for maximum bushiness.
    • During Kansas City dry spells, for shrubs and trees installed within the last five years, water weekly, deeply soaking the soil, but avoid watering late at night.
    • Monitor and control weeds.
    • Take some photos of your landscape success!


    • Do not fertilize trees from August through October.
    • Divide any perennials that have finished blooming.
    • Keep up with watering!
    • August is a good time to divide daylilies and iris because this is their dormant stage.
    • Fertilize any fall-blooming perennials.
    • Prune hedges to keep their shape nice and tidy.
    • Avoid fertilizing ornamentals to allow them to harden off for winter.
    • Monitor and control weeds.


    • Plant any balled or container grown trees and shrubs in early September.
    • Inspect trees for dead or broken branches to prune.
    • Do not prune spring flowering shrubs.
    • Plant new spring flowering shrubs.
    • As plants begin to go dormant for the winter, clean up gardens to reduce insects and minimize the risk of disease.
    • Divide perennials and peonies.
    • Plant new trees and shrubs.
    • Plant mums.
    • Monitor and control weeds.


    • Improve soil structure by adding organic material to gardens.
    • Remove dead annuals and fallen leaves.
    • Plant trees and shrubs; water during dry winter months.
    • Monitor and control weeds.


    • Water fruit trees during dry spells to deeply insulate their roots.
    • After a few hard freezes, apply a winter mulch to roses and perennials.
    • Turn off irrigation systems and drain any hoses.
    • November is the last month of the year for installation.
    • Monitor and control weeds.

    December to February

    • During dry periods of our Kansas City winter, water plants (especially new plants) weekly or bi-weekly, using an alternate method for irrigation, since your system should have been turned off in November.
    • Gently brush any snow from tree limbs and shrubs to prevent damage, but allow ice to melt naturally.
    • Re-edge beds if necessary, as part of your winter post-project care routine.
    • Prune or shape deciduous plants while their leaves are dropped.

    Kansas City Landscaping and Post-Project Care Specialists

    Quality-focused homeowners trust High Prairie Outdoors for products, plant care service, and advice on virtually all aspects of landscaping and landscape maintenance. Contact us today to get started on a garden care program that will ensure landscape success!

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    About The Author

    Robyn is a 2009 Graduate of the Kansas State University Department of Horticulture. She grew up in South East Kansas where she graduated from Humboldt High School. She was a Kansas State University Leadership Scholar and President of the Horticulture Club. She married Bret in 2009 and they have a daughter Ellie, born in 2021. Their family is completed by three adopted dogs.

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