Care & Maintenance

Landscape Design and Build servicing Seattle, Tacoma & the Greater Puget Sound

  • Pond Maintenance

  • Routine Maintenance For All Ponds

    You should clean the filters at least once a week if the water feature is subject to a lot of leaves and needles falling from trees, especially during the fall and during rainy or windy periods. The filters may have to be cleaned a number of times when the pond is being cleaned or string algae is being removed.

    To avoid floating debris from getting into the pumping chamber, the filters should not be removed when the water level in the Filtrific is above the top of the filter baskets. Once the water is below the top of the filters remove the filters and empty the debris. Remove the back screen first, clean it, then remove the front screen and replace it with the cleaned back screen. Use a hose if necessary.

    Algae Control and Healthy Ponds

    Probably the most vexing problem encountered by pond owners is the presence of algae. Algae growth is spurred by excessive organic materials, warm stagnant water and a lot of sunlight. These conditions exist here in the Northwest from about April to October.

    The single most important task of the pond owner is keeping the pond free of unwanted organic materials. Use a net to scoop out leaves and debris. Trim dead foliage off pond plants rather than allowing it to decompose in the water.

    Realize that the smaller the pond the more you will have to treat it like an aquarium. This is due to the fact that ponds which are smaller or shallower tend to heat up faster and therefore algae will grow more rapidly. Keep your pond water pH close to neutral. To avoid stagnant water, add supplemental oxygen. This can be done with the addition of a waterfall, a stream, or a fountain. High levels of oxygen promote natural biological activity. Shady ponds can be an exception: they are more likely to reach a natural balance without added water movement. Stagnant water is also an invitation to mosquitoes.

    Don’t change your water unnecessarily. Each time new water is added to a pond, whether it comes from a well or a city water supply, it brings along free floating nutrients. Phosphate levels frequently are very high. De-chlorinate new water you add. Bacterial organisms are a necessary component of healthy ponds. In a new pond or in one that is out of balance, we always suggest that you add beneficial bacteria to boost normally developing colonies. Never scrub your pond clean. The natural green velvet coating that develops on the sides and bottom of the pond is the home of your beneficial organisms.

    If your pond does develop an algae outbreak, remove as much of the algae as possible and clear out the filter, and then apply necessary chemicals. (See generalized schedule and list of our recommendations) Once the chemicals have killed the algae, remove the dead material. Continue to maintain with more chemicals and filtration.

    Recommended Algae Control Chemicals

    E.P.A. Registered Algaecides


    AlgaeFix is an effective, E.P.A. registered selective algae-control product that solves algae problems. AlgaeFix can be used in ponds with live plants. Kills existing algae and controls additional algae blooms. Requires three treatments, three days apart. Use this on an as need basis.

    Algae Destroyer Tablets

    Contains one of the most effective algaecides available. (Recommended for ponds without plants.)

    Algae Destroyer Liquid

    Contains one of the most effective algaecides available. (Recommended for ponds without plants.

    Algae Blocker

    Controls the growth of submerged algae and aquatic weeds by coloring the water blue and blocking the sunlight required for their survival. For use in ornamental garden ponds, closed system ponds and fountains containing fish.

    Beneficial Bacteria Products


    By digesting sludge and reducing dissolved organics. Ecofix reduces organic pollution, increases the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the water and creates and maintains a healthy ecosystem in your pond.


    Biofilter Booster is a highly concentrated solution of beneficial bacteria that start up and maintain the biological filter in water gardens and koi ponds.

    Water Conditioning Products

    Stress Coat

    A water conditioner that replaces the natural mucous slime coating on the skin of pond fish when it has been damaged by handling, netting or other forms of stress. Instantly removes chlorine and breaks the chloramines bond. Contains Aloe Vera to help wounds & torn fins. Use whenever setting up a pond, adding fish, or changing water.

    Chlorine and Heavy Metal Neutralizer

    Instantly neutralizes chlorine, copper, lead and zinc, as well as other heavy metals found in tap and well water, all of which may be toxic to fish and plants. Instantly makes tap and well water safe for pond life.


    Quickly clears cloudy pond water by causing tiny suspended particles of dirt and debris to clump together, forming larger particles that fall to the bottom of the pond and are siphoned out or removed by the pond filter.

    Ammo-Lock 2

    Instantly detoxifies ammonia from fish waste, tap water, uneaten fish food, decomposing plants and algae. Prepares tap water for plants and fish. Removes chlorine and chloramines from tap and well water.

    Plant Products

    Aquatic Plant Stimulant

    A concentrated solution containing six of the most important trace elements essential for stimulating plant growth. Benefits bog and marginal plants. Will not stimulate algae blooms.

    Aquatic Plant Food Tablets

    Continuous-release tablet formula containing essential nutrients and trace elements for non-stop blooming of hardy and tropical aquatic plants. Keeps water lilies blooming all season long. Use monthly in season, 1 per gallon of soil.

    Herbal Aphid Control

    Herbal Aphid Control is an aphid insecticide formulated with mint oil and thyme. Kills aphids on contact. Can be used in ponds that contain fish. Leaves no residue in water. E.P.A approved.

    Water Test Kits

    Master Liquid Test Kit

    Pond Care Master Test Kit is used for testing tap and pond water, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and salt levels.

    Liquid pH Test Kit

    A liquid test kit that instantly and accurately measures the wide pH ranges encountered in pond water. Tests levels from 5.0 to 9.0

    Liquid Nitrite Test Kit

    A liquid test kit for accurately determining the concentration of nitrite, a toxic chemical produced when nitrifying bacteria break down the ammonia in pond water. Reads nitrite levels from 0 ppm to 5 ppm.

    Liquid Ammonia Test Kit

    A kit for determining the level of ammonia, a toxic chemical constantly produced in the pond from fish waste, uneaten fish food, and decaying plants and dead algae.

    Liquid Salt Level Test Kit

    Determine the proper amount of pond salt to be added to the pond in order to reduce fish stress, improve gill function, protect fish against nitrite toxicity and protect aquatic plants that are sensitive to pond salt.

  • Trex Deck Maintenance

  • Trex decking and railing products are made from a unique combination of reclaimed wood and plastic, giving you the best qualities of both materials. The plastic shields the wood from moisture and insect damage, (Trex decking has been tested and found to be highly resistant to damage from termites, carpenter ants and marine borers) so there’s no rotting or splintering. The wood protects the plastic from UV damage and gives your deck a solid, natural feel. You can expect Trex to go through a natural fading process, however, painting, sealing and staining are not needed to protect your deck.

    Periodic cleaning of your deck, even if it appears clean, is the most important aspect of Trex maintenance. It is necessary to prevent the build-up of pollen/debris that can cause mold. Cleaning your deck after installation to remove initial dirt and debris is also a good idea. Soap, hot water, and a broom are all that are needed for a basic cleaning. For stains caused by mold, mildew, berries and leaves, conventional deck washes containing sodium hypochlorite work well. For rust stains, ground-in dirt and grime, use cleaners containing phosphoric acid. For grease and oil stains, we recommend that you scrub with a detergent containing a degreasing agent as soon as the stain occurs. Cleaning out your expansion gaps with a flat tool should be done along with any periodic cleaning.

    Trex decking readily accepts paint or stain, although, as mentioned, neither is required for protection. In general, paints or stains which adhere well to wood will adhere as well or better to Trex decking. Quality latex paints (water based) or solid color stains are recommended. Stain and paint applications should be applied according to the manufacturers instructions after the Trex decking fading process is complete.

    Your deck is a valuable asset to your home. Decks are considered a high-maintenance surface due to the horizontal exposure they receive, however, with your selection of Trex, your deck will prove to be much lower maintenance than the traditional cedar deck.

    Here in the Northwest the amount of care your deck needs depends on the orientation of your deck to the sun and the amount of tree litter that your deck will be exposed to. So some decks will need more maintenance than others.

  • TimberTech Deck Maintenance

  • Although TimberTech products are low-maintenance, TimberTech recommends periodic cleaning to help maintain the beauty of the product. For best results a cleaner like eco-friendly Corte Clean is recommended. Follow the manufacturers’ application instructions.

    A power washer can be used when cleaning TimberTech products. The recommended maximum pressure is 1500 psi for TimberTech decks. A fan tip nozzle should be used along with the proper cleaning product. Spray in the direction of the brush/grain pattern to avoid damaging the product. Use caution not to damage the material and always take the proper safety precautions when operating a power washer.

    To remove product identification printing from the side or bottom of a TimberTech deck plank use Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol).

    TimberTech does not recommend the use of rubber or vinyl products (welcome mats, planters, etc.) on XLM deck planks. A reaction can occur that causes discoloration of the decking under the rubber/vinyl product. This is a common caution for vinyl decking products.

  • Caring for New Sod

  • First 2 Days

    New sod should be thoroughly watered twice each day. Water must be applied long enough to saturate the soil layer under the sod. A corner of a sod section may be lifted to check the extent of water penetration. If your landscape is installed during dormancy (about October 15th to March 15th) hand watering is generally not needed.

    First 21 Days

    Continue watering new sod for the first three weeks in the same manner used for the first two days. New sod also requires a light application of organic fertilizer (16-16-16) during the first month.

    Do Not walk or drive equipment on new sod for at least 21-30 days following planting.

    Sod should be mowed approximately 3 -4 weeks after installation, or when the sod grows to 3.5” tall. Mower blades must be very sharp and the mower cutting height should be set to 2.5”. For the first mow, run your lawn mower perpendicular to the direction of the sod. Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade height during any one mowing.

    Sod, Lawn Seed, or Hydroseed After 21Days

    After the first 21 days, watering should be reduced to once or twice daily for the next 21 days. Moisture levels should be checked daily to assure watering frequency is correct.

    New lawns require a second light application of organic fertilizer (16-16-16) 4-6 weeks following the first application of fertilizer.

    Walking or operating equipment on sod should be minimized until the soil becomes firm. Depending on soil and weather conditions, this may take between 2 and 12 months.

    Established lawns (2 years old or older) need 1” of water per week. This is normally accomplished in our region naturally from November 15th through March 15th. Lawn roots are relatively shallow but you want to promote deep rooting. Lawns also dry out quickly, so it is best for an established lawn to be sprinkled 3 times a week. Set your irrigation clocks to make sure your lawn is receiving 1” of water per week.

    Established lawns need fertilizer. Five times per year is best. To remember when to fertilize do so on the holidays: Starting at Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, and finally Thanksgiving.

  • Watering Plants Correctly

  • Don’t wait for the plants to tell you with wilting and leaves dropping off. Then you’ll just be watering to keep the plant’s roots alive so it may possible come back later. Inspect the soil. Dig around with your hands, soil probe, garden trowel, or shovel. You’ll be able to tell quickly how far down you are actually watering.

    We wish you the best of luck! If you take the time and commit to watering correctly, you’ll get the most out of your investment and have beautiful, healthy plants.

    If you’re considering a landscape planting project we would love to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact Lifestyle Landscapes.

  • Watering Perennials, Annuals, and Ground Covers

  • Key Principles:

    Most of these plants will only have roots in the first 3″-8″ of soil after they are planted. You won’t have to water long in each location, but the top few inches of soil and mulch may dry out quickly, depending on conditions. Whereas when you water a tree, the moisture is still down in the majority of the root system even if the top few inches dry out, with small plants, you may need to water more frequently if it is hot and dry.

    How to Get the Job Done:

    You can use a watering wand (similar to a shower head) on the end of your hose and water each plant individually for 15-20 seconds, then give it about a 20 second break (you can move onto the next plant) and then come back and repeat that 15-20 second watering again for that small plant. If you have large areas of annuals or ground cover you may want to consider using an overhead sprinkler. Just be sure you aren’t watering within 3-4 hours from dusk, so the plant leaves don’t remain wet all night and promote fungal diseases. If you are using an overhead sprinkler, you’ll need to run your sprinklers a couple times a day for about 20 minutes each time.

  • Shrub Watering

  • Key Principles:

    The same principles that apply for a tree apply for shrubs, but with a lesser scale. Shrubs come in a variety of sizes of containers and root balls. Understand your goal is to get that whole root ball moist. How big is the root ball? You aren’t just watering the first couple inches of soil. Your goal is to slowly water the soil/mulch over the root ball so that the water does not run-off, and slowly percolates down into the soil, soaking that entire root zone. An average shrub that we install has a root ball of 12″-20″ deep.

    How to Get the Job Done:

    The easiest and cheapest way to water shrubs is to lay a hose at the base of the plant, a few inches away. Turn the hose on a slow trickle and watch it. If there is significant run-off, you need to turn the hose down. You will most likely need to have the hose run for about 10-20 minutes at 2-3 positions around the trunk. If that doesn’t seem like the method for you, you can use soaker hoses. Radiate the hose around the base of your shrubs so that they are spiraling around the root ball. Be careful not to connect too many soaker hoses together or the ones on the end won’t be getting enough water pressure. Usually after 100′ of hose you’ll start losing pressure. You won’t want the hose turned on more than 1/4 or 1/2 of the way.

  • Tree Watering

  • Key Principles:

    How big is the root ball? You aren’t just watering the first couple inches of soil. Your goal is to slowly water the soil/mulch over the root ball so that the water does not run-off, and slowly percolates down into the soil, soaking that entire root zone. An average tree that we install has a root ball of 20″-30″ deep. Understand now why standing there with a hose for a few minutes doesn’t work?

    How to Get the Job Done:

    The easiest and cheapest way to water a tree is to lay a hose at the base of the trunk, a few inches away. Turn the hose on a slow trickle and watch it. If you are getting significant run off, turn the hose down. You will most likely need to have the hose run for an hour on 3 positions around the trunk. If that doesn’t seem like the method for you, you can use soaker hoses. These foam hoses connect to the end of a standard garden hose and drip water out their sides. Radiate the hose around the base of your trees so that they are spiraling over the whole root ball. Be careful not to connect too many soaker hoses together or the ones on the end won’t be getting enough water pressure. Usually after 100′ of hose you’ll start losing pressure. You won’t want the hose turned on more than 1/4 or 1/2 of the way.

    Another effective tree watering method is using irrigation bags or containers around the base of the plants. These reservoirs fill up quickly with 10+ gallons of water and have small holes on the bottom that will slowly drip to water the trees.

  • Bamboo Care

  • General Care

    The myth about bamboo: Stick it in the ground and it will take over! In truth, bamboo needs routine care and attention the first 2 to 3 years until the rhizome system becomes established. After this, the bamboo can fend for itself. Bamboo will produce larger canes in height and diameter each year until it reaches its maximum potential. To encourage new growth, it is important to adequately feed and water your plants.


    New plantings require regular water the first 2 to 3 years to become established. Water thoroughly once or twice a week depending on weather conditions. For a running bamboo, make sure to saturate the soils around the entire planting area to allow for rhizome expansion. For a clumping bamboo, it is only necessary to water around the base of the plant, as you would a tree or shrub. Once the bamboo is established, water 1 to 2 inches per week during the growing season (May through September). Bamboo will show signs of water stress (lack of water) by curling its leaves up in a “V” shape. Water the plant immediately if this occurs.

    Do not over-water your bamboo. Make sure the planting has adequate drainage. Most bamboo will not grow well in water-logged soils. Symptoms of over-watered bamboo include yellowing foliage, rotting new canes and leaf tip die back.


    Good fertilization practices are one of the most important aspects in maintaining a healthy bamboo grove. We recommend the following fertilization regiment for optimal growth of your bamboo groves.

    Beginning of March

    Apply a quick soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer to your bamboo groves. Look for an NPK ratio of 3:1:2. Fertilizers formulated for lawns are usually quite compatible with bamboo. Be sure to follow the directions given by the manufacturer when applying the product. Apply the quick-soluble product every 2 to 3 weeks until May.

    Beginning of May

    Apply a slow-release fertilizer to feed the groves throughout the remainder of the year. Again, most slow-release lawn fertilizers will have the perfect nutrient formulation for your bamboo.


    Bamboo can be kept as thin or as dense as desired. Once a particular cane is cut, it will never again gain in height.
    Always keep a combination of new and old canes in the grove. For a healthy grove of timber bamboo, remove old, dieing, dead, weak and leaning canes, but never remove more than 30% from the grove.

    Bamboo can be “legged-up” or trimmed from the base of the cane upwards to provide more air circulation, and increase the amount of sunlight on the rhizome system. This will promote earlier shoot initiation and show off the beauty of the canes themselves.

    Clear-cut / mow groundcover bamboo between the end of February and the first of March to get rid of old canes and maintain a compact appearance. The new growth to follow will be healthy, vibrant, and outstanding in appearance.

    Pests and Disease

    “Have a compassionate heart towards all creatures” – Ko Hung

    There are very few pests and diseases which affect the temperate bamboo species. With proper care and management, most pest problems can be avoided altogether. Listed below are the more common vectors and general remedies for controlling them.


    Bamboo Mites:

    Native to Japan, bamboo mites have no known predators indigenous to the U.S. In the event of a mite infestation, use a miticide, spraying the lower side of the foliage thoroughly. Several applications may be necessary for complete eradication.


    While aphid infestations can occur at any time on any bamboo, groves that are congested and overgrown are more likely to have issues. Sooty mold is the telltale sign of an aphid infestation resulting from the honeydew deposited by the aphids. Sooty mold is characterized by black shiny covering on the upper surface of the bamboo leaf. Most broad spectrum insecticides work well on aphid out-breaks.

    Slugs and Snails:

    Slugs and snails feed on the tender new shoots of the bamboo, making small holes in the new canes. As these canes harden, the holes often become larger, destabilizing the strength of the cane as a whole. Particularly prone are thin-walled species. Apply slug bait around the groves in late winter and again in the spring to discourage activity.



    such as chickens, goats, cattle, and horses can become fond of bamboo as fodder. High in protein, nutritious and delicious, the outcome of this type of foraging may not be desirable. Planting outside the reach of livestock is the prudent way to avoid the issue. Planting within an animal’s foraging area is a personal choice.


    Eating the new shoots and young leaves of bamboo, rabbits can be a nuisance. Most damage is done to new planting. Try fencing in the plants when they are small to keep the rabbits away.


    are tiny meadow mice with big teeth that love to feed on bamboo shoots and rhizomes. Keeping the lower branches trimmed on the bamboo and the ground clean will help take away the vole’s natural cover and make them more susceptible to predators. If you suspect that you have a vole infestation keep all leaf litter and mulch away from the affected bamboo. Vole runs are characterized by one-inch entry and exit tunnels and shallow subterranean runs. If you have canes falling over, try to diagnose the problems with other bamboos in your planting by feeling around the plant to reveal small tunnels and runs. Tracking powders can be effective for treating voles.

    *Information provided by*

  • Low Voltage Lighting System Maintenance

  • Once A Year Maintenance:

    Replace failed lamps with the correct replacement lamps as they burn out.

    Trim overgrown plant material away from fixtures to keep plant growth from blocking light output.

    Straighten leaning fixtures.

    Re-adjust fixtures as needed.

    Reset timers as needed.

    Clean powder-coated fixture with Windex or similar and wipe on a thin coat of WD-40 for weather protection.

    Clean all lenses with Windex or similar.

    Clean bugs and debris out of open fixtures.

    Lubricate all lamps bases/sockets with Vaseline.