Nothing’s better than a lush, green lawn in the summer. A verdant yard provides the backdrop for sun tanning, hosting a backyard barbecue, playing catch — and mowing. Everyone with a lawn is familiar with the regular, once-a-week lawn mowing routine in the summer: pulling the mower out of the shed, starting the engine, and shaping up the overgrown grass.
But what about the rest of the year? Is lawn care only for the summertime — when it matters most — or is it possible to achieve an even healthier-looking lawn by practicing proper maintenance year round? Follow this seasonal lawn maintenance guide over the next 12 month, and then let the beautiful appearance of your lawn be the judge.
Guide to Year-Round Lawn Care
Once the ground begins to thaw after the winter, you should start preparing your yard for prime lawn care season. Begin with a clean slate by cleaning up any leaves or debris left over from the winter, and then take a good look at your trusty old lawn mower. Do the blades need sharpening? Does it need a new spark plug or air filter? Be sure to load up your mower with fresh gas if it’s been sitting all winter — accumulated moisture can damage the engine.
Right around the middle of springtime, depending on the weather where you live, your lawn begins to start growing again after laying dormant through the winter and early spring. Yep, you’ve guessed it — that meansit’s time for the first lawn mowing of the year. Just be sure not to mow the grass when it’s still wet.
If you live in the northern part of the country where winters are bitter cold, wait until the fall to spread fertilizer on your lawn — cool weather grass will store the energy from the fertilizer before going dormant. For everywhere else in the country, apply fertilizer in time for your lawn to head into its most active growth period. Other tasks for this season include aerating your lawn to allow water and nutrients to reach grass roots, and apply pre-emergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass and other weeds. Pre-emergent should be applied once the soil temperature reaches 58 degrees. Many companies, like this lawn care service in Chesterfield, VA, offer applications of pre-emergent herbicide in addition to your regular lawn maintenance service.
Early in the summer your grass is beginning to grow in overdrive. If you’re having trouble keeping up with your lawn growth with mowing just once a week, you may want to cut your grass multiple times in the week. Be sure not to mow often enough so that you don’t have to cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade — doing this can leave your grass susceptible to weeds and other environmental concerns.
In the warm weather, you may notice grub worms feeding on your lawn’s precious root stems. Check to make sure by pulling back the sod and looking for C-shaped grubs, typically pale yellow or white. If there’s an infestation, you should treat your lawn with a chemical pesticide or a more environmentally friendly solution like milky spore.
Remove occasional weeds by hand, and only use post-emergent herbicide if your weed problem is out of control.
Mid-summer is the core of the growing season for your lawn. If the weather’s been dry and hot lately, you may need to regularly water your lawn. Keep in mind that a deep, once-a-week soak will be more effective than frequently sprinkling your lawn, as this doesn’t allow roots to grow deep and defend themselves from weeds. Lawns only need about an inch or so of water each week to keep from going dormant.
With all the use your mower’s getting, be sure to give it a checkup once a month. Make sure the blade height is set to 3 inches, and clean underneath so that you’re not spreading lawn diseases across your yard.
After the summer heat finally begins to wane, remove any dead grass from your lawn in addition to fallen leaves. Now is time to break up and aerate the soil so that nutrients can more easily reach the roots, and spread grass clippings across the yard to prevent bare soil from drying out.
It’s also time for fall seeding. Spread grass seed (designed either for shade or full sun, depending on the area) evenly over bare or thin areas on your lawn. Work the seed into the soil with a rake, and then lightly waterthe area daily until the seed germinates and grows an inch.
Most of the hard work is now over. Make sure that your lawn is free of any leaves or twigs — you can even mulch the leaves and add them to the soil. You should also be doing a good cleanup of your garden around this time.
If you live in the more northern, cooler parts of the country, fall is the time to fertilize your lawn so that the grass can store nutrients before going dormant. Once the ground thaws again in springtime, your grass will have a head start on looking great.
Finally, when winter arrives, simply sit back and relax, knowing that when the grass wakes back up in the spring, your yard will be the envy of your neighborhood.