There’s no off-season for apartment complexes.
Property managers have to play their A-game year-round, attracting new tenants and keeping current residents happy enough to stick around.
It takes more than mowing, tossing down some mulch, and pulling weeds to position your property above the competition. Potential renters have a lot of choices. Landscaping makes a crucial first impression.
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter — we have apartment complex landscaping tips to keep things fresh and appealing year-round.
Potential tenants show up at any time, right?
Tips for Spring
1. Apply Pre-Emergent Weed Control
While in the past, “weed and feed” was the common approach to battle weeds, environmental concerns have changed our way of weed control.
The active ingredient in these products is destructive to plant material and winds up in our watershed, making its way to our water supply. It also destroys the beneficial earthworms, soil microbes, and insects that make for a healthier ecosystem.
At North by Northwest, we rely on pre-emergent weed control application, followed up by spot treatment when necessary, with safer selective herbicides. Pre-emergent weed control zaps some weeds before they can sprout. A dose of post-emergent hits the extra stubborn ones once they show up.
2. Add a Fresh Layer of Mulch
Head into the warm weather season with a fresh application of mulch.
Don’t try to skate by with your mulch from last year.
Mulch breaks down over time. It fades. It starts looking ratty. When it gets thin, weeds creep in.
Fresh beds of rich, dark, mulch make a huge impact, especially from the street, against crisp green lawn and bright beds of flowers.
Mulch retains moisture, keeps weeds at bay, and it makes the rest of your landscaping look crisp, clean, tidy, and inviting. And here in Texas, with our extreme heat during long, hot summers, mulch provides insulation against these extreme temperatures.
3. Aerate Compacted Lawn
This important task will keep your lawn healthy year-round.
Your turf gets compacted over time, from all those tenants walking on it and heavy mowers running over it.
Areas of dead thatch build up that block important water and oxygen from getting through to the roots.
Aeration uses a machine to pull out tiny cores of soil from your lawn. These new holes allow water and oxygen to get to the roots, so they can grow nice and deep.
Aeration is followed by overseeding, at least in your high-visibility “Hollywood areas,” like around the apartment complex office and out front. All those fresh new holes provide the perfect spots for grass seed to settle and germinate.
4. Topdress with Compost
This adds nutrients and organic matter back into your lawn to give it a boost when it’s nice and freshly aerated.
Top dressing should happen immediately after aeration. This is a great time to get the compost into those little hole created in the turf. It also will camouflage the little round plugs of soil extracted during the aeration process.
Tips for Summer
5. Water Properly
The number one thing your property needs to stay fresh all summer is irrigation.
If you don’t already have a smart irrigation system, consider the difference it will make in your apartment complex landscaping. Smart irrigation, with a soil moisture monitoring system, prevents waste, delivering water only when and where it’s needed — to your lawn, shrubs, trees, and flower beds.
You go on about your busy day, while your smart irrigation keeps everything hydrated and fresh.
6. Tend to That Turf
The best way to keep your grass fresh, healthy, green, and thriving through summer’s heat is to set up a regular turf care program.
The healthier your grass, the better it can stand up to heat, drought, and invaders like pests and disease.
There’s a trick to mowing in summer’s heat, too. The pros know not to cut more than a third of the grass blades’ length in a single mowing.
Taller grass has a larger root system, which helps it stand up to scorching summer heat and deters weeds. Taller grass also provides insulation to prevent evaporation.
And your soil retains water better when longer grass provides cool shade.
All of this means green, appealing grass to impress prospective tenants.
7. Plant Annual Flowers
Don’t brush off annual flowers as a luxury. There’s nothing like them to brighten apartment complex landscaping in the summer.
Fresh, colorful blooms automatically attract attention, offer a cheerful welcome, and make tenants feel at home. Some foliage plants are as colorful as flowers, with less work.
A few of our easy-care favorites:
This beauty is stunning without hardly trying, thanks to its fantastic, colorful foliage. It comes in bold reds, oranges, and purples, boasting intriguing splashes, streaks, and spots of color and pattern.
Vibrant purple flowers thrive in heat and humidity, so it will keep on beautifying your beds, pots, and signage on the steamiest days.
Sweet Potato Vine
This reliable vine spills beautifully over the sides of planters and cascades like a dream in beds and borders. Bright green, purple, and copper foliage rivals any flowers. If you have deer problems on your property, we can suggest plants that are deer-resistant.
8. Tidy Up Plant Beds
You can’t just leave planting beds alone and hope for the best. They need regular maintenance in the summer to stay looking appealing and fresh.
Edging and weeding keeps them tidy, along with staying on top of the mulch.
Keep the edges neat, crisp, and defined. This always makes a great impression. Not only does this present an attractive, well-tended look, but it keeps turf from creeping into your landscaping beds.
9. Lift Tree Canopies
Trees grow fast in the summer. They might need their canopies lifted so pedestrians aren’t walking into branches, landscaping crews can mow beneath them, and they’re not encroaching on the road or driveways.
Note: some areas ban oak tree trimming during oak wilt season Feb. 1 through June 15, so trimming in those areas has to wait until after mid-June.
10. Turn That Mulch
That fresh spring mulch needs a bit of attention by summer. Yes, it needs to be completely refreshed twice a year in spring and fall to keep it looking great, but in the meantime, it needs to be raked and loosened up, so it doesn’t compact.
Compacted mulch can suffocate plants and it doesn’t allow water to soak in — it just runs off the top.
11. Trim Shrubs
Ignore your shrubs, and they’ll get unsightly and overgrown, making your apartment complex landscaping look neglected.
A good trim in the summer also keeps your property safe. Overgrown branches can block sight lines and hide prowlers.
Tips for Fall
12. Fertilizing and Pre-emergent Weed Control
That’s right, time for more lawn fertilizer. Everybody thinks about the big spring feed, but fall fertilizing is actually even more important.
As the weather cools down, grass grows more slowly, but the roots are still growing. That means they’re still hungry.
Fall feeding offers roots great nutrients now, and a healthy boost for spring. A dose of pre-emergent weed control keeps winter weeds at bay. Pre-emergents are effective 8-12 weeks, and the first round should begin in late summer (end of September) to discourage our annual Poa.
13. Perform a Fall Cleanup
Fall is beautiful — but a big mess.
Slippery, soggy leaves. Wilted, slimy perennials. Dead tree branches that could topple to the ground.
Time for fall cleanup, starting with leaf removal.
Soggy, decaying leaves not only make your apartment complex landscaping look bad, they’re also damaging to your lawn.
Wet, heavy leaves can suffocate your turf. They’re a liability hazard, too —pedestrians can slip on wet leaves and fall.
Unfortunately, all leaves don’t fall at the same time, so leaf clean up is an ongoing procedure until all leaves have come down.
14. Aerate and Seed
Time for another round of aeration and seeding to loosen up compacted soil and help fill in thin areas that are likely to be seen by prospective tenants. Top it off with a dressing of nourishing compost. This should happen in early fall, so turf isn’t covered with compost through the winter.
15. Prune Trees as Needed
Fall is perfect for pruning. All the leaves are down and out of the way, so it’s easy to see what you’re doing.
It’s a great time to remove dead or dying branches that could fall on pedestrians or cars in your parking lot.
Pruning also keeps your property’s sightlines clear.
16. Plant Fall Annuals
Those Coleus, Angelonia, and Sweet Potato Vine that brightened your apartment complex landscaping all summer have done their duty.
Keep the beauty and appeal going by swapping in fall stunners like ornamental kale, dusty miller, and viola.
Ornamental cabbage and kale perk up beds and planters with interesting frilly leaves in green and purple, cream and pink.
Viola are cheerful, hardy, and often stay in bloom right through the winter.
Dusty miller is prized for its lacy, silvery gray foliage. We love pairing it with viola and kale for striking fall landscaping.
17. More Mulch
Mulch breaks down over time, remember? If you don’t want weeds creeping in, it’s time for a fresh layer now. It will keep your landscaping looking fresh and well-tended.
Tips for Winter
Winter is a lower key time for your apartment complex landscaping, but it needs some attention to stay fresh.
18. Cut Back Perennials
Perennials work hard all summer making your apartment complex landscaping look fresh and appealing.
But once winter rolls around, yuck. They’re wilted, faded, and kind of slimy.
Cut them back, down to the ground. They need to rest and rejuvenate until they emerge like new again next summer.
19. Tend to Trees
This is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. Take care of any leftover pruning now, too, while the trees are dormant during the winter months.
20. Plant Winter Annuals
If you skipped fall annuals, there’s still time to plant those violas, snapdragon, dianthus, kale and dusty miller now, for great curb appeal until spring.
21. More Mulch
Don’t forget a final blanket of toasty mulch for winter root protection.
Keep Your Apartment Complex Fresh with North By Northwest
Mowing, mulch, and trimming weeds are no brainers for your apartment complex landscaping.
But to keep things fresh and to attract tenants year-round, your property needs attention year-round.
Overgrown, neglected landscaping turns away potential renters, and turns off valuable current tenants.
That’s a four-season worry you don’t need on your plate. Leave your year-round apartment complex landscaping to us. We’d love to partner with you to make your landscaping impressive and your job hassle-free.
Are you ready for stress-free landscaping? Schedule a time to meet with one of our experts today. We’ll gather the details, create a customized plan just for you, and you can stop stressing as we improve and beautify your landscaping.