University of Maryland Extension

Landscape Management

Soil Building and Fertility

  • Have a soil test performed about every three years and adjust the pH accordingly.
  • Ask the Gardening Experts at the Home and Garden Information Center or your local Cooperative Extension office for help interpreting the results.
  • Fertilize, only as needed, to maintain vigor.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing plants, as it can lead to pest problems.
  • Incorporate organic matter in flower and vegetable beds on a regular basis.
  • Read more about soils and compost.


  • Apply mulch at a maximum depth of 3" and NEVER against the trunk of a tree!
  • Maintain even soil moisture. 
  • Prevent weed growth and soil erosion.
  • Protect plant roots and crowns from winter damage.
  • Read more about mulch.

Manage Runoff and Pollution from Impervious Surfaces

  • Direct water flow away from pavement and toward a well-vegetated area.
  • Improve existing water infiltration by incorporating organic matter into lawns and planting beds.
  • Consider using pervious paving options for driveways and entertainment areas.

Irrigation Techniques

  • Avoid overhead watering and splashing soil onto plants.
  • Water trees and shrubs slowly and deeply. Remember that the root zone can extend out 2 to 3 times the height of the tree, well beyond the dripline. Check the depth of soil moisture after irrigation by digging a small hole or inserting a stick.
  • Use drip irrigation and soaker hoses where practical.

 Remove or Mow Weeds 

  • Weeds rob plants of moisture and nutrients and are alternate hosts for pests and diseases.
  • Learn to identify and manage weeds.

Other Cultural Practices

  • Prune to increase air circulation.
  • Avoid accidental root pruning through hoeing and tilling.
  • Don’t work with plants when foliage or soil is wet.
  • Use floating row covers to prevent pest problems in vegetable gardens. 

 Garden Sanitation

  • Remove and dispose of diseased or infested plant parts and dead plants.
  • Rake up and dispose of diseased leaves and fruits.
  • Clean up and compost garden debris in the fall.

 Growing Healthy Transplants

  • Use soil-less media.
  • Use clean, sanitized seedling flats and plant containers.
  • Do not over-water.
  • Acclimatize transplants that are grown indoors by slowly introducing them to outdoor conditions.
  • Protect new transplants and seedlings from cutworms and slugs with paper collars.
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