Landscape and turf management includes selecting, placing and caring for trees, shrubs, beds and grass. A home's landscape should complement the style of fixed structures such as houses, fences, gazebos and decking. Landscape and turf managers can enhance or alter the design and plant selection over time because of changes in preferences, plant maturation or challenges from nature that impact plant survival.
Geography and climate should drive plant selection. Choosing plants or turf grasses not appropriate for your area results in failure to thrive or extreme soil preparation and care requirements. Geography includes considering the USDA hardiness zone for your area, which reflects the coldest winter temperatures. Landscape and turf managers also consider geographical implications on soil types and acidity. Climate considerations for landscape managers include rainfall and prevailing winds. Those landscape managers in the western United States often consult climate zone maps for plant and turf selection because of the extreme variability in altitude, length of growing season and highest temperatures in different areas.
Landscape and turf management provides opportunities for activities throughout the year. In winter, dormant plants need pruning and shaping, and beds should be cleaned of debris for spring planting of colorful annuals. Springtime and warmer temperatures provide the opportunity to plant annuals and grasses, along with fertilizing. Depending on your area, summer landscape and turf management requires mowing turf grass, edging beds and walkways and adding supplemental water to keep plants alive. Adding extra fertilizer in midsummer keeps plants growing and grass green for warm-season grasses and in the late fall for cool-season grasses. Fall provides the best time to plant perennials, including trees and shrubs, and is the best time to use pre-emergent weed prevention.
The University of Florida suggests that plant and turf managers begin designing the landscape by determining the needs and desires of the owner and the conditions of the site. Select plants appropriate for your area and place them into areas that provide an aesthetically pleasing and functional landscape. The basic principles of landscape design require attention to line, form, color and texture.
Select plants and turf native or well adapted to your area. Choose plants whose management and care needs align with your time and resources. Before planting, get a soil analysis report -- usually offered by state land grant colleges and extension services -- and prepare your soil following recommendations from the soil analysis. Add supplemental water to plants and turf, as needed. A good watering program applies water deeply and infrequently. Manage lawn and garden pests as soon as you detect a problem or, preventively, on a pest or disease-driven schedule.
The most effective method to treat pests and disease in turf and landscape beds uses prevention strategies. Thick, healthy grass can choke out weeds before they gain a foothold and spread. Using 2 to 3 inches of mulch in landscape beds keeps weed seeds from getting sunlight as well as moderating soil temperatures and retaining moisture. Select plants resistant to pest and disease damage typical in your area.