Landscaping is typically outside of the contractual agreement between the builder and the homebuyer. It is important to understand that changing the landscaping around your home after it has been built can have consequences for your home for years to come.

Landscaping & Water Drainage

If you want to change the landscaping in your yard, you must consider how it will affect the way water drains on your lot as well. An established lawn can prevent soil erosion and help with drainage. Try to complete the lawn portion of your landscaping design as soon as possible after you take possession of your new home. Areas with grass will generally require steeper drainage slopes compared to hard surfaces (i.e., concrete or asphalt) to help encourage proper site drainage. Lastly, certain species of trees (i.e., poplar) have more aggressive root systems that can disrupt underground utilities (i.e., water and sewer lines) and the weeping tile around your home.

General Maintenance & Other Considerations

  • Do plant flowerbeds and gardens so that they slope away from your house and foundation walls.
  • Do water new sod often to establish proper root growth – avoid walking on newly laid wet sod.
  • Do not use water that is high in sodium or salt (i.e., water from water softeners or poor quality slough water). Use well water with caution.
  • Do avoid lawn ʻwinter killʼ and help snow and ice melt quickly by distributing slower melting snow and ice from shaded areas to other areas of your yard in the spring.
  • Do choose trees with less invasive root systems and do not plant trees near the perimeter of the house.

Caring for New Sod

The first two weeks are the most important when trying to establish new sod. Sod must be saturated with water as soon as it is laid and kept moist for the first few days after. After this you can reduce watering to every other day in the second week of sod growth. Once the grass has “taken,” weekly watering is usually adequate. Water lawns evenly and slowly so that the water can penetrate the soil without running off. Your lawn will need about 25 millimetres (one inch) of water each week – including rain – when it is actively growing in the summer months. You can track this with a rain gauge. Deep watering helps establish a strong healthy root system. In hot sunny areas, more water may be needed than in shady areas. Avoid over-watering and under-watering (shallow watering). Saturated soil prevents air from reaching the root zone, where water is needed. Where shallow watering occurs, root systems will also be shallow and more susceptible to damage. The sun can damage grass when it is cut too short, but proper mowing can help keep grass healthy. Mow grass to approximately 50mm (2 inches) and never remove more than 3cm (1.18 inches) of the grass blade at one time. Keep mower blades sharp to avoid ragged or brown tips. If you mow frequently, you can leave the fine grass clippings on the lawn as they will decompose and help fertilize the lawn. Heavy clippings must be removed.

Did you Know?

Tree roots have been known to rupture water and sewer lines and can exert enough force to crack concrete basement walls? Always plant trees away from the perimeter of your home.

Mowing and fertilizer can also help you control weeds in your lawn. There are many fertilizers and weed control options available – always read the instructions on the bag carefully and consult your garden center for products and application. Some products may not be suitable for your type of grass.

Trees and Shrubs

Watering is the most important aspect of building, establishing and repairing new or transplanted tree and shrub root systems. Trees and shrubs should be watered immediately after transplanting. Use a fertilizer specifically designed for encouraging root growth (root starter fertilizer) during the first watering as well.

Watering & Fertilizing* Schedule

Water trees and shrubs at least once a week during the first year of growth after transplanting. Trees and shrubs need about 1 gallon (4 litres) of water per foot of growth during watering (including rain).

May 15th – June 30th Use a root growth fertilizer each time you water
July 1st – August 1st Use a balanced fertilizer each watering
August 1st – October 1st Do not fertilize trees and shrubs after as new tender growth that occurs at this time may not have a chance to “harden off” and may die when temperatures begin to drop.
October 1st – October 31st Water trees thoroughly to ensure your tree has adequate moisture at the root zone for the coming winter months

Maintain the fertilizing schedule and ensure you use some water at the time of fertilizing. Water slowly from the centre to the outer circle of the leaves. Contact your local garden centre for advice on suitable fertilizer products in your tree species and growth region.

Useful Tip:

Newly planted trees, shrubs or lawn require special care and attention in the first few years to ensure proper root establishment. Apply mulch (i.e., wood chips or leaves) around the base of newly planted trees or shrubs to help retain moisture, moderate temperature, provide protection from lawn mowers and weed whackers and supply added fertilizer.

Care & Maintenance

When you plant a tree consider what its size will be fifteen totwenty years in the future. Full-grown trees may block windows, impede access to walkways or encroach upon a deck and mature evergreens can create so much shade that lawn will not grow beneath them.

Trees that will be exposed to high winds before they become established should also be staked. Special care should be taken for Evergreens – during hot weather, spray the leaves or needles of evergreen trees in the morning and the evening. Evergreens exposed to wind need extra protection in the winter to avoid drying and browning of the leaves.

Contact your garden centre on the correct stakes and ties to use with your type of tree and advice on how to protect your trees and shrubs in the winter months.