seasonal landscape maintenance

Don’t Wait to Schedule Seasonal Landscape Maintenance


Less than a week after a Valentine’s Day, Maryland residents received an impromptu taste of summer, with back-to-back 78 degree days.

Skies were blue, the sun was shining, and many high-end homeowners were abruptly reminded they had lawns and gardens that would soon require attention.

But seasonal landscape maintenance is meant to be an ongoing process. In fact, at McHale Landscape Design, our horticulturists recommend our clients purchase a year-long landscape maintenance package. This allows property owners to establish a schedule and forget about it, confident in the knowledge that their landscape is in good hands.



It’s important to kick start each year with a spring cleanup. This sets the stage for success throughout the remaining months.

Approximately 98 percent of McHale’s clients sign up for our spring cleanup services, at a bare minimum.

Spring cleanup typically includes:

• Removal of fall and winter debris
• Tree and shrub pruning
• Re-edging of flower beds
• Fertilizing lawns and gardens
• Mulch application

As March approaches, turf care is also an integral step in protecting a lawn. The first application is, by far, the most important to protect and control against intrusive weeds like crabgrass. This must be carried out prior to the soil reaching a temperature of 64 degrees, however.

Because state law will not allow maintenance crews to apply fertilizer before the first of March, customers have approximately six weeks – from March through mid-April – to arrange for adequate coverage.

Some homeowners also request fungicide treatments, which combat humidity-related diseases affecting Maryland lawns. These applications should be carried out in May, and continue every 14-21 days until September. (Get too late of a start, however, and such curative methods could do more harm than good. In these cases, maintenance crews may suggest you hold off, and start fresh the following year.)

Detail visits should begin following spring cleanup. These tasks involve the routine pruning and shaping of hedges and trees, and the hand-watering of plants. Many homeowners also opt to begin planting annuals (begonias, impatiens, etc.) as early as May.



As spring segues into the summer months, attention will begin to shift to getting customers – and their lawns – through the season’s dry spells, particularly the sweltering dog days in July, August, and early September.

Monitoring irrigation schedules takes center stage during the summer, along with weeding and pruning tasks. Mower blades get a vigorous workout – as their heights are constantly adjusted to reduce stress on lawns.



With autumn’s crisp and crunchy arrival in late September, maintenance crews often make a push for the aeration and seeding of lawns. The former helps to break up the soil and helps foster the growth of grass roots, and is one of the most important seasonal landscape maintenance tasks that homeowners can do for their lawn every year.

Leaf removal is also essential during this time, while annuals, like pansies, can be planted. Fall is a phenomenal time to consider planting and/or transplanting trees, as the cooler air and warmer soil temps are more conducive to root growth.



While the deep chill of winter results in a relatively dormant time for maintenance crews, it is not without its respective chores.

December through February offer an ideal time to prune, once trees have completely shed their leaves and all limbs and potential problem areas are visible. Seasonal landscape maintenance is a critical component of keeping your property healthy and aesthetically pleasing throughout the year. Professional assistance, however, is strongly recommended.

For instance, mulching is one of the biggest DIY mistakes the McHale maintenance team has seen homeowners make. Too much mulch suffocates your plants, but insufficient beds can result in losses, too.

Interestingly, February through early April is the quintessential time to apply mulch to flower beds, as it provides ample weed resistance before battling perennials – like hostas – becomes an issue in May.

The most important thing is to simply get the ball rolling. The sooner you develop a seasonal landscape maintenance plan, the better.

At McHale Landscape Design, we urge our clients to sign up no later than early March. Getting started is easy – simply call the office and speak to schedule a consultation with one of our account managers.

6 Ways Native Plantings in DMV Reduce Landscape Maintenance


There’s a reason native plantings in the DMV (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) are so successful.

They were made for this environment.

Put simply, there is no safer, more efficient, or more breathtaking way to populate your luxury landscape than with the implementation of plants that naturally belong.

Even better, here are six ways that native plantings can help high-end homeowners reduce landscape maintenance.

  • They are self-sustaining: With the exception of occasional weeding, native plantings in the DMV are incredibly low-maintenance. Ultimately, that means less mowing and fewer drives to the local compost, which means fewer emissions poured into the atmosphere.
  • They conserve water: Native species require little to no irrigation, thriving off of normal rainfalls. This translates to tremendous time and cost savings surrounding irrigation and landscape maintenance.
  • They prevent erosion. Perennials with extensive root systems hold soil and slow storm water runoff. Incorporating such shrubs and flowers can keep your earth where you need it, and mitigate the need for hardscaping fixes like retaining walls.
  • They support and house local wildlife: A wide array of wondrous life – including butterflies, birds, reptiles, insects, and more – call the East Coast’s native plants home. Their abundant presence naturally reduces the number of harmful and obnoxious insects that prey on your gardens, which cuts down on the need for pesticides exponentially.
  • They are resilient: Native plantings in the DMV are a natural part of the local ecosystem which have developed and adapted to their environment, its temperature, light and soil conditions, common pests, and disease. Because of this, they reduce the need for pesticides, fertilizers, and other potentially hazardous chemicals, which results in far fewer contaminants being washed away in storm runoff.
  • They clean the air: In addition to conserving water and holding soil, many native plantings are hugely effective at offsetting society’s production of the greenhouse gas Carbon Dioxide (CO2), by storing it and using it as part of photosynthesis.
  • McHale Landscape Design believes in the importance of implementing native plantings in the DMV, and can help you discover the beauty and benefits they provide today.  Find out what plants are native to your state, and consult one of our representatives to discuss options that are ideal for your landscape.

Our team of registered landscape architects, certified landscape technicians, and certified professional horticulturists serve clients in the Washington–Baltimore corridor & Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Contact us to get started.

19th Century Retreat Wins LCA Award


McHale Landscape Design was recently honored with an “Excellence in Landscaping Award” from the Landscaping Contractors of America for its work on a 90-acre, 19th-century garden in Easton, Md. Spearheaded by McHale’s own Hans Bleinberger, the meditative and meticulously crafted grand retreat was featured in HOME&DESIGN.

Read more about the project in HOME & DESIGN – The Magazine of Architecture and Fine Interiors.

Summer Flowers Bold

From Garden to Kitchen: Container Gardening Tips from the Pros


Container gardening continues to grow in popularity among landscapers and homeowners, thanks to its versatility and relative ease of care.

When utilized properly, container gardening can effectively spruce up large property landscapes, outdoor living areas, patios, and pool houses, while providing quirky, quaint, or distinguished splashes of seasonal color throughout the year.

Just getting started with your creation? Take stock in these choice container gardening tips from the pros:

  • Bigger sometimes is better. At least in terms of pot-selection. A larger container means more space for soil and, subsequently, the root systems of your plants. Soil is heavy, however, and can render a planter immobile. Keep that in mind if you hope to change your layout frequently. Also, ceramic and clay pottery will dry out more quickly than plastic or glazed. Quick tip: Don’t feel obligated to purchase expensive pottery. Almost any container featuring drainage holes will suffice. Get creative.
  • Drainage is essential. Any container you choose should be equipped with drainage holes. If holes are not present, feel free to make your own. If your soil becomes too wet, the roots of your plant will rot and the plant will perish. One widely held belief is that lining your pot with gravel, stones, or sand will prevent spillage of soil while assisting drainage. This is not true. On the other hand, elevating your container is helpful, as air circulation below a pot has been shown to be beneficial.
  • More soil means increased water retention. This ultimately leads to healthier plants. Always use potting soil, never gardening soil, and fill your container of choice until approximately two inches from the top.
  • Keep things evenly moist. When the top of your soil is dry to the touch, get the watering can. Water your plant until liquid can be seen escaping from the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Be careful not to overwater, however, especially in cooler weather.
  • Have fun, but do you research. In other words, read the plant tags at the nursery and consider your environment before grouping plants and flowers together. If you have questions, seek the advice of a nurseryman, horticulturalist or landscape design firm. Annuals (plants that live for one growing season), perennials (plants that return every year), and tropicals (plants that grow in hot, humid climates) each have specific needs, such as hardiness zone, irrigation, and spacing. Group like-minded plants together.
  • Don’t overcrowd. Crowded pots will shorten plant life, cause the container to dry out faster, and can contribute to disease. Traditional planting methods suggest three or four plants in 10 to 12 inch pots; five to eight in 16 to 20 inch planters, and so on.
  • Feed plants regularly to maximize potential. Opt for a quality, slow-release fertilizer, and introduce it along with the soil when you first plant. (If you have already planted, fertilizer can be top-dressed, or sprinkled along the surface of the soil.) Make sure to follow the directions on the bag.
  • Let the sun shine in. You can find a plant that will flourish in almost any amount of light, but container plants will still require sunshine to thrive. Herbs and greens do well in part shade.

McHale Landscape Design believes that gardens of all kinds are food for the soul. We own and operate our own nursery, and our horticulturalists can offer a number of container gardening tips to fit your landscape needs.

Contact us today to discuss how your container garden should grow.

low maintenance landscape design

5 Ways to Achieve Low Maintenance Landscape Design


Many homeowners aspire to have gardens akin to those at the Palace of Versailles, but many more feel as though they barely have the time to be proper caretakers to a houseplant.

If that sounds familiar, don’t get discouraged. Low maintenance landscape design can be achieved with a little bit of ingenuity, patience, and the proper help.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Reduce the size of your lawn. More grass means more mowing, fertilizing, and all-around fretting. Options abound for minimizing your coverage area, from planting flowering ground cover or beds of shrubs, to replacing the lawn below trees with mulch.
  • Incorporate hardscaping and architecture. Patios, decks, and walkways are functional and aesthetically pleasing enhancements that do not require watering or weeding. Upkeep is minimal, and the upsides are endless. A professional designer can provide options custom-tailored to your home and its environment.
  • Use perennials. Unlike annuals, these hearty flowers return year after year, giving you more bang for your gardening buck. Their ease of care and incredible durability has made them a favorite among landscapers, and they offer a dazzling array of colors and textures to choose from.
  • Go native. Because native plants have evolved to thrive in conditions indigenous to their geography, they have developed defenses against diseases and pests, eliminating the need for pricey pesticides and herbicides and protecting the environment in the process. They require less water, which protects your utility bills, and provide a haven for local wildlife. Oh, and they’re pretty, too.
  • Keep things simple. Start small. Opt for a few, select, easy-to-manage and colorful plantings, and build from there as your budget allows. Beauty does not necessarily require a big gesture, but is often found in subtle grace notes.

Low maintenance landscape design is a common dream among homeowners. McHale Landscape Design can help make it a reality. We specialize in native plantings, and we own and operate our own nursery. Contact us today.

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Celebrating 40 Years of McHale Landscape Design

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