- Lawn Care In Autumn: Tips On Grass Care In Fall
- Lawn Care During Fall
- How Grass Works
- Winter Lawn Care Tips
- Winter Lawn Care Tips for a Better Spring
- Fertilizing in the Winter
- Need Help With Your Lawn?
- Keep it Clean
- Avoid Excessive Lawn Traffic
- Prepare in the Fall
- LET’S BREAK IT DOWN
- Winter Lawn Care Tips
- Clear It Away
- Mow It Short
- Overseed Warm-Season Grasses
- Mulch Last Leaves
- Care for Bare Spots
- Tread Lightly
- Early Spring Lawn Care Tips
- Early Summer
- Early Fall
- Seven Tips To Keep Your Lawn In Tip Top Condition
Lawn Care In Autumn: Tips On Grass Care In Fall
Lawn care doesn’t stop when the grass stops growing. Read on to find out how to take care of grass in fall.
Lawn Care During Fall
When temperatures cool and the blades of grass stop growing, the roots of the turfgrass continue to grow. That’s why grass care in fall includes watering and fertilization to provide the nutrients and moisture the lawn needs to develop strong roots and build a reserve of energy.
You can use a hand-held spreader to fertilize a small lawn, but you’ll have better control and apply the fertilizer more evenly if you use a walk-behind spreader. Read the fertilizer package instructions and follow them carefully. Make sure you set your equipment to deliver the correct amount. This is one of those cases where more is definitely not better.
Fall is also the best time to apply a broadleaf lawn or moss herbicide should this be necessary.
Lawn care during fall includes lawn repair. Fix bald spots with seeds to match the type of grass or a lawn repair mixture. If you’ve planted a warm season grass, it will brown during the winter. If you don’t want to look at an amber lawn until spring, overseed it with perennial ryegrass.
Raking leaves is a fall lawn care task that few people look forward too, but it’s one of the most important things you’ll do for your lawn. Leaving the leaves on the grass blocks sunlight and encourages diseases. Remember, your grass isn’t dead, it’s just resting, and it need lots of sunlight. Blowing is easier than raking, but hard raking with a spring-tine lawn rake is good for the lawn because it loosens thatch and scratches the soil. Don’t wait until all of the leaves have fallen. Rain and morning dew stick the leaves together, forming a thick mat that is difficult to loosen and rake.
And while we’re talking about thatch and soil, dethatching and aerating are also critical parts of lawn care in autumn. In most cases, you’ll only need to do this every two years. You can aerate small lawns with a border fork or hollow tiner, pushing them deep into the soil. For a large lawn, you’ll need to rent a gas-powered, walk-behind aerator. They can be expensive, and you may come out ahead hiring a landscaping company to do the job.
How Grass Works
Finally, we get to the meat of the matter. If you’ve got the right soil, and you’ve planted the right grass, how do you keep your lawn mean and green?
There are eight major components to lawn maintenance:
- Fighting weeds
- Fighting pests
- Fighting disease
Watering is simple. The general rule is to water heavily, when the lawn really needs it, rather than watering lightly more frequently. If you water lightly, the water won’t make it down into the soil so it won’t do much good. You should water enough to soak 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) deep, encouraging the roots to grow deep into the ground. Watering recommendations vary between different soil types, but as a general rule, water until there is about an inch of water (2.5 cm) over the ground surface.
Water as soon as the grass starts to dry out. Its color will change from green to bluish grey, and it will lose some of its bounce. If the grass doesn’t spring back a few seconds after you step on it, it needs water. The best time to water is in the early morning; the water won’t evaporate as easily as in the afternoon, and it will cool the lawn down as temperatures start to climb.
Mowing reduces the workload on a grass plant’s root system. A large culm above-ground requires more water and nutrients from underground. It’s easier for the roots to provide for the plant if the culm is smaller. Mowing also encourages the grass plant to expand. When the blades cut down the leaves, the plant has to grow new leaves to absorb sunlight. This helps build a thicker, heavier lawn, which is more resistant to weeds and disease.
It’s best to mow frequently during the growing season. The rule of thumb is to never cut off more than a third of the grass plant at once — it’s bad for the plant to lose a lot of its photosynthesizing ability suddenly. One common mowing mistake is cutting the grass too short. It’s best to keep cool-season grasses at about 3 inches (7.5 cm) high or taller, and most warm-season grasses do well at about 2 or 2.5 inches (5 to 6.5 cm) high. You may want to vary the mowing height throughout the year. In fall, winter and spring, you can mow closer because temperatures are cool and water is more abundant. In the summer, let the grass grow longer. The shade will help cool the soil.
Lawn care experts recommend varying your mowing pattern. That is, push the mower north and south one week and east and west the next week. Sharpen your mower blades a couple of times a year to ensure a healthy, clean cut. If you have a mulching mower, you can leave the clippings on the lawn to help fertilize the grass.
In addition to mowing and watering regularly, you’ll need to make time for several larger jobs throughout the year.
Fertilizing adds nutrients to the soil so that the soil can provide nutrients to the grass. If you mow regularly, your grass will grow very quickly, which means it needs more nutrients than an average plant. Your soil can provide nutrients for most native plants by itself, but it may need some help to feed your grass.
The most effective way to fertilize is to spread slow-acting commercial granular fertilizer once or twice a year. Unlike water-soluble spray fertilizer, which acts on the leaves directly, granular fertilizer releases nutrients gradually over several months. If you spread the fertilizer in the fall, it will strengthen the plant’s root structure, making it more resilient to drought and more resistant to weeds. You can also add natural fertilizer, such as compost and manure.
When soil gets compacted — from foot traffic, mowing and the like — oxygen can’t reach the microbes that break down organic matter to enrich the soil. To keep your lawn healthy, it’s a good idea to aerate it periodically — to open up the compacted soil.
Manual and power core-aerators remove narrow sections of soil to form shallow holes. Air, water and organic material spread into the ground through the holes, revitalizing the soil. If heavy traffic compacts your lawn severely, it’s best to aerate it every spring or fall.
In any lawn, thatch material collects around the base of the grass plants. Thatch is not made up of mowed grass clippings, as is commonly believed. Clippings usually break down in a week or so. Thatch is actually made up of culms and crowns that have died naturally.
A small amount of thatch helps conserve water in the soil by blocking evaporation, but heavy thatch build-up (more than a quarter-inch / 6 mm thick) keeps air and water from ever reaching the soil. If there’s too much thatch on your lawn, rake it up or rent a power de-thatcher.
Weeding is an ongoing process, but it shouldn’t take much time once you establish a healthy lawn. Grass, especially modern mixtures, is extremely competitive and will crowd out most weeds itself. If a lot of weeds do pop up, take it as a sign that your grass is weaker than it should be. This could mean your soil is deficient or water-logged, or it could mean you’re cutting the grass too short.
Weeds will also pop up in a healthy lawn, of course. For the most part, this isn’t anything to worry about. Almost all lawns have weeds, and they don’t do much harm in small numbers. Simply pull up any weeds that detract from the lawn’s appearance. If you have a larger weed problem, spray the individual weeds with a low-toxicity herbicide. Don’t spray the entire lawn unless you have weeds throughout.
Pest control is similar to weed control. If you have a healthy, thriving lawn, you shouldn’t have to worry about it. Bugs will make their home in your lawn, but they won’t be able to damage the grass much.
From time to time, however, bugs may destroy some of your grass. You can treat infestations by spraying insecticide or certain bacteria (namely, Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt). Only use insecticides that kill harmful insects specifically. Ants and spiders prey on lawn pests, so you certainly want to keep them around. Check out for more information.
Diseased lawns are usually caused by fungi feeding on the grass plants. Healthy grass stands up to fungus very well, but it develops disease now and then. Fight persistent or widespread fungi with a fungicide, available at any garden center. explains how to identify and fight common lawn diseases.
Lawn care is as complex as you want to make it. If you must have your own personal golf course in the backyard, you might devote many hours a week to your yard. If you just want something covering the ground, you could plant native grasses that pretty much take care of themselves. The links in the next section will show you the available options and expand on these basic guidelines for proper maintenance.
Winter Lawn Care Tips
Winter Lawn Care Tips for a Better Spring
The winter is when you spend the least amount of time thinking of your lawn. Unless you live in an area that is relatively warm all year long, chances are you have put the lawn mower away and are ready for a few months of relaxation before you have to start the lawn maintenance routine again.
There are a few things you can do during even the harshest winter that can ensure a beautiful, lush yard once spring rolls around again.
Fertilizing in the Winter
Late fall or early winter are the best times to fertilize cool season grasses. Since the majority of the lawns in North America are made from these grasses, like Bermuda and bluegrass, it is a good bet your yard has a typical cool season blend.
Before the first freeze, give your lawn a thorough fertilizing to replace all of the nutrients that can be lost from the soil during the hot summer months. Once the weather turns cold, the fertilizer will remain in the soil and feed your lawn’s roots all winter long.
When spring comes your lawn will be full of healthy, lush, green grass that has been feeding on good fertilizer nutrients underneath the snow.
Need Help With Your Lawn?
During the last month of the summer you should gradually lower the cutting base of your lawn mower each time you mow the lawn. Slowly cutting your grass shorter will allow it to winter well without shocking it by cutting it all off at once.
If you leave your lawn too tall during the winter months it will be prey to field mice and other burrowing animals that want a warm place to sleep. Mice can destroy large parts of your lawn by building nests. They create dead spots where they spend all of their time as well as pulling up large amounts of grass to build their structures.
Make sure your grass is as short as possible at the end of the season. Short grass also protects any new growth that may be more fragile near the end of the growing season.
Keep it Clean
It is easy for items to be left on the lawn during the long, cold winter when no one goes outside very often. Stray logs, toys, and even lawn furniture can be accidentally overlooked before the first snow comes.
Make sure that you clear the lawn of all objects after you mow it for the last time of the year. Do an occasional sweep of the lawn every couple of weeks during the winter, as well.
If an object is left on the grass during cold weather and snowfall it can create large dead spots because of the weight of the object. In the spring the grass in that area will be stunted and thinner than the rest of the yard.
Avoid Excessive Lawn Traffic
When the grass is brown and short it can be easy for people to forget that it shouldn’t be walked on. Try to prevent very much foot traffic on your winter lawn. Grass is relatively resilient, but it will have a difficult time recovering if a path becomes well worn across the lawn.
- Keep your sidewalks cleared of ice and snow so that you and your guests won’t be tempted to cut across the yard very often.
- Never allow anyone to park a truck or a car on your lawn. Even the smallest vehicle will leave impressions in the soil and kill off the grass that is underneath the tires. Using the lawn as a parking lot is the fastest way to kill the good grass and make room for crabgrass and other types of weeds.
Prepare in the Fall
There really is not much lawn care that needs to be done during the cold months of winter. If you properly prepare the lawn during the fall, it will be fine until the warm days of spring arrive once more.
- Make sure you aerate, fertilize, and mow the lawn before the first freeze of the season.
- Rake away any dead leaves that may have fallen and collected on your yard to avoid wet spots that can become mossy or moldy.
- Keep the lawn cleared of debris and help everyone in the family respect the yard while it is dormant.
Once you have taken care of everything that needs to be done during the fall you will be ready to enjoy a nice cozy winter indoors with your family before lawn care season begins again in the spring.
We spend so very little time in our yards during the winter, mostly because it’s covered in snow. Taking care of our lawns is probably the last thing on our minds during these cold months, right?
But there are actually some good winter lawn care tips you should consider to ensure your grass and yard stays healthy for the next year. So if you’re like me and take pride in your property, read on to learn more about taking care of your lawn during the Winter.
Table of Contents
LET’S BREAK IT DOWN
There are lots of ways to maintain your lawn and ensure a healthy outcome in the Spring. These tips are the best ways to do that.
FERTILIZE IN WINTER
This sounds crazy, I know, but fertilizing your lawn for the winter can be very beneficial. Using some proper fertilizer that’s meant for this, cover your lawn in the weeks of late Fall or early Winter, just before the first major frost sets in. This helps to replace any lost nutrients that may occur during the first freeze, and sort of locks them in, like flash frozen veggies.
Once the snow falls and the ground freezes, the fertilizer will feed your soil and the roots hidden underneath all Winter long. Then, when Spring comes along, you’ll be surprised to find a lush and healthy lawn underneath all that snow.
TREES AND SHRUBS
This is also the case for any trees or shrubs you have on your property. Any living thing will need heavy amounts of nitrogen to survive the cold months. Nitrogen-rich soil won’t promote growth but will nourish everything while the blanket of cold rests on top. Sprinkle the fertilizer along the base of the plants so it seeps into the root below, which will nourish your plants while the snow does its thing.
*You might also like: How To Winterize Your Sprinkler System.
So fertilizing your lawn before the snow falls help nourish your grass. But what about the spots that are already dead or damaged? Fertilizer won’t help those areas once the snow comes. You need to seed them, and overseeding is even recommended to aggressively tackle the issue.
If you leave dead spots under the snow, there’s almost no hope for them the next year. By seeding those spots, you’re literally planting the seed for a great lawn in the Spring.
BEST TIME TO SEED
The best times to do pre-winter seeding is late August to mid-September. After you’ve spread the seeds, make sure to keep the spots watered well, every other day even, until the snow or frost sets in. Next year, when things begin to defrost, you’re left with a healthy lawn to work with.
During the warm and dry Summer months, your soil become hard and thirsty. This poses an issue when the cold weather comes in because your soil can’t breathe. A good visual is to imagine your lawn turning to concrete and then snow falling on top of that. How would your root system thrive during that cold season? It simply can’t.
WHAT IS AERATION, ANYWAYS?
Aeration is when you pull the small plug of soil from your property to create pores, essentially. This opens up the surface soil and allows the root system to breath and absorb any necessary nutrients you’re sprinkling on top in the form of fertilizer or seeding. By aerating your lawn, you creating a new rhizome or “root-shoot”. The more aeration that’s’ done prior to Winter, the better and more luscious your lawn will be in the Spring.
Raking may seem like such a simple task when it comes to maintaining your lawn, but it’s actually quite important. Raking the dead, fallen leaves from autumn helps aid in the cleanup process. But raking also helps stir up the surface soil and opens pores to the root system below. Raking can be a good way to prepare your lawn before seeding, too.
Sprinkling seeds or fertilizer over grass that’s compact or a lawn that’s covered in leaves is pointless, the nutrients can’t fully seep into the soil. So rake your lawn, trim the grass, and then proceed to cover it with fertilizer and/or seeding. Just like anything, it’s all about preparation.
Just like any other form of prepping, weeding has the same effect. If you truly care about the health of your lawn, then you won’t skip on weeding during the Fall. Yes, it’s a pain the butt, but it’s one of the most important factors of all, in my opinion.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
By pulling any leftover weeds during prep time, you clear your lawn and garden of anything that can kill your grass. Weeds are aggressive and will do anything to survive. Throw some heavy snow and bitter frost in the mix and your lawn is toast.
Weeds will suck any nutrients that your grass may need and you’ll be left with a brown lawn in the Spring and flourishing weeds.
HOW TO DO IT
There are a few ways to go about it. If you have a well-system for your drinking water, using chemicals to de-weed your property is not recommended because they can seep down into the soil and into your water supply. Unfortunately, you’re left with the old fashioned way; pulling by hand. Take a weekend in the Fall to yank out any dominating weeds. If you don’t have a well-system to worry about, then you can safely use the aid of weed killer chemicals. Check The Price
*You might also like our recommended picks for weed eaters.
So, just like the hair on your head, keeping your lawn nice and trimmed will benefit you in so many ways. By leaving your grass long during the Winter, you hurting it. The tall blades fold over and are packed down by ice and snow. Then, your lawn can’t breathe and begins to die, leaving you with mushy, dead grass in the Springtime.
During the last few weeks of Fall, lower the blade on your mower little by little, so you gradually cut your grass shorter. Doing it in one shot can shock your grass, and result in it dying before the Winter even hits.
Also, if you leave it long, mice and other little creatures will seek warm refuge in it during the cold months, and they can destroy your lawn in no time with burrowing and leaving feces around. The acidity in their urine can cause some serious, deep damage to your grass. If you have a nice, buzzed lawn when the snowfall, your grass will thrive in the Spring. And that’s really the end goal here, right?
Some of you may look out onto your lawn as the first snowfall and see a child’s toy or a few stray sticks and think, “I’ll grab it in the Spring.” Well, that’s one of the worst things you can do to your lawn. Leaving items out there while the snow piles on top suffocates your grass and create dead, yellow spots in the Springtime.
WHEN TO CLEAN UP
In the late weeks of fall, just before the snow comes, take a day to head out and rake up any dead leaves, pick up toys, remove any garbage or stray sticks. You’ll be glad you did, and your lawn will thank you for it. If proper clean up isn’t done before the cold season, your lawn will struggle to thrive next year. You’ll be left with uneven grass, dead spots, and grass mold.
Dealing with dead spots in the Spring can be annoying and expensive as it often results in a complete overhaul. This can include excavating and laying brand new sod. It’s a fresh start, but it can definitely be avoided with proper winter lawn care steps.
LIMIT LAWN TRAFFIC
This means keeping people off your lawn, even when there’s snow on it. Keep your walkways clear of ice and snow or other debris so your family, as well as guests, can safely and comfortably walk along them. If your walkways are blocked, what’s to stop them from trampling all over your fragile lawn?
*You might also like: Electric Snow Blower vs Gas
For those of you who live in areas that don’t really see snow but still get the dead, brown grass during Winter, the unsightly appearance tells people that it’s okay to walk on it. Consider putting a lawn sign out that states to keep off the grass. Some people even go to greater lengths as to install a temporary fence. It may seem pretentious, but it will save your lawn until Spring.
Did you enjoy this informative list of ways to winterize your lawn? Was it helpful? These pieces of information are crucial and if you’re serious about maintaining your grass you should really consider them.
Investing the time into your lawn to keep it healthy not only benefits you, but it improves the quality and value of your home.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share! And if you have any lawn winterizing tips of your own, we want to hear them!
*You might also like: How To Protect Your Plants In Winter.
Winter Lawn Care Tips
Credit: Lorianne DiSabato, FlickrCC
Although the winter season is usually the dormant grass season, there are still plenty of things to do to care for your lawn. Cold winters can do incredible damage to a yard if the proper precautions . Check out these winter lawn care tips to ensure that your lawn is ready to bounce back come spring.
Clear It Away
One of the easiest ways to care for your lawn this winter is to clear off anything that could damage the grass underneath. Damaging items include any outdoor furniture or semi-permanent structures that you won’t be using in the winter. Clear away childrens’ toys as well as any tools that you have been using around the yard. Anything that is allowed to sit on the grass all winter long can create a dead spot and will need to be attended too once spring arrives.
Mow It Short
Missing the last mow before winter weather hits your area can be devastating for a lawn. Higher grass lengths can create the perfect environment for disease and pests later on. The mess of foliage will stay wet long after winter weather clears away and can become a breeding ground for problems. Make one last mow before frost sets in to deter this problem.
Overseed Warm-Season Grasses
Homeowners who live in the southern portions of the country may have a warm-season grass that begins to go dormant during the winter. According to a guide from Wikilawn, warm-season grass varieties, like Zoysia Grass or Bermudagrass, turn brown during the winter due to the colder temperatures. Consider overseeding these lawns with cool season grass varieties, like Kentucky Bluegrass or Perennial Ryegrass, to keep the lawn green all winter long.
Mulch Last Leaves
You have probably already raked or mulched the leaves in your yard from the fall, but there are bound to be a few last leaves that will sit on your lawn all winter. Make sure to clear away these leaves by mulching them into the yard for extra nutrients. You can go over them during your last mow or consider renting a leaf mulcher if there are many leaves still left in your yard. Mulching the leaves helps to return their nitrogen into the soil creating a more stable soil condition for further growth.
Care for Bare Spots
If your home is in a warmer climate where winter weather doesn’t bring snow and ice, consider tending to bare spots that were overlooked before. These spots will be empty or thinning parts of the lawn that can quickly be attacked by weeds. Rake the areas out and spread a thin layer of grass seed over them. Water frequently and make sure to pay extra attention to the spots as the seedlings germinate and take root. Seeding bare spots should take place at least three weeks before the first frost hits in your area to allow time for grass to germinate and take hold.
Homeowners who see a lot of cold winter weather will need to remember to tread lightly on snow-covered grass this season. Creating paths in the yard that will see a rise of foot traffic can significantly damage the frozen grass underneath. Use walkways around the yard to get to the desired areas and try to avoid trampling the grass too much during the winter. A little bit of activity should be okay but abusing one area of the lawn over and over again during the winter can cause a dead patch to develop later on.
— – —
Taking care of your lawn is essential during the winter to keep it healthy and active for future growth. Don’t walk on snow-covered lawns too much and clear away anything that could cause a potential dead spot. Mow the grass short and consider overseeding trouble spots with more grass seed if winter hasn’t quite arrived in your area. Overseed warm season grasses and mulch any last leaves that are leftover from the fall season. Doing all of these winter lawn care tips will help create a beautiful lawn once spring arrives.
Tony Steine is a garden and landscaping writer. Tony prides himself on finding the easiest way to do anything he can, you can bet he’s tried to make his entire garden self-watering. Of course, he isn’t just about convenience either, adding a unique design flair to everything he does.
With autumn nearly upon us and winter rapidly approaching, you’re probably not spending much time thinking about your lawn. But autumn, with its cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall, is the ideal time to prepare your lawn for next spring.
Many homeowners think lawns need less care in the fall because the grass grows more slowly. In fact, just the opposite is true. During this time of year, grass is busily absorbing energy, moisture, and nutrients in preparation for a long, dormant winter. Give it a little attention now, and you’ll be rewarded with a lush, healthy spring lawn. Just follow these six tips.
Keep on Mowing
Continue to water and mow your lawn, as needed, throughout the fall. Then as the season draws to a close, drop the mower’s blade to its lowest setting for the last two cuttings of the year. That will allow more sunlight to reach the crown of the grass, and there will be less leaf to turn brown during the winter.
*Note: As you lower the blade, just remember not to trim off more than one-third of the grass blades at any one time. If necessary, gradually lower the cutting height until the time of the final two cuttings.
Related: Best Lawn Mowers for Any Sized Yard
Aerate the Soil
Fall is also an ideal time to aerate your lawn so that oxygen, water, and fertilizer can easily reach the grass’s roots. You can rent a gas-powered, walk-behind lawn aerator for about $70 per day. The self-propelled machine will quickly punch holes into the soil and extract plugs of dirt. If you’ve got a very large yard—say, more than 3 or 4 acres—and don’t feel like aerating it yourself, hire a landscaping contractor.
Oregon State UniversityFlickr
Rake the Leaves
I know raking leaves is no one’s idea of fun, but it’s important to remove fallen leaves from your lawn as soon as possible. Don’t wait until all the leaves have fallen from the trees to start raking. If you do, the leaves will become wet from rain and morning dew, stick together, and form an impenetrable mat that if left unmoved will suffocate the grass and breed fungal diseases.
An alternative to raking leaves is to use a lawnmower fitted with a collection bag or vacuum system. These methods are particularly effective if you have a very large yard with many deciduous trees. Regardless of whether you use a rake or a lawnmower, just be sure to remove the leaves before they turn into a soggy, suffocating mess.
Fertilize for Future Growth
Most lawn experts agree: If you fertilize your lawn only once a year, do it in the fall. The reason? Grass leaves grow much more slowly as the weather turns cool, but the grass roots and rhizomes continue to grow quickly. (Rhizomes are the horizontal plant stems that lie just beneath the soil’s surface; they produce the blades of grass above and the roots below.) A fall application of fertilizer delivers essential nutrients for the grass to grow deep roots now and to keep nutrients on reserve for a healthy start next spring.
Wait until mid-to-late fall, then apply a dry lawn fertilizer to all grassy areas; be careful not to miss any spots. You could use a crank-style broadcast spreader, but for optimum coverage, consider using a walk-behind drop spreader. It takes a little longer, especially on hilly yards, but a drop spreader provides the best way to apply an even, consistent layer of fertilizer.
Fill in Bald Spots
Autumn is also a great time of year to fix any bare, bald spots in your lawn. The quickest, easiest way to do this is with an all-in-one lawn repair mixture. Sold at most garden shops and home centers, this ready-to-use mixture contains grass seed, a special quick-starter lawn fertilizer, and organic mulch.
Use a garden rake to scratch loose the soil at the bald spot in your lawn. Then spread a thick layer of the lawn repair mixture over the area. Lightly compact the mixture, then water thoroughly, and continue to water every other day for two weeks.
If broadleaf weeds like dandelions have taken over your lawn, now’s the time to fight back. Weeds, like most plants, are in the energy-absorbing mode during the fall. They’re drinking in everything that comes their way, including weed killers. Apply an herbicide now and the weeds won’t return in the spring.
Read the package label before use. Most herbicide manufacturers recommend applying the weed killer during early-to-mid autumn, when daytime temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ahhhh, that sensation of stepping onto a freshly-mowed lawn sans footwear. There’s nothing like it. Especially when you realize that a lawn you love is also one that’ll pay you back when you sell.
A well-maintained lawn almost always returns 100% or more of your investment.
Here are lawn care tips to ensure you’ve got a lush lawn from spring to fall.
Early Spring Lawn Care Tips
Like so many maintenance jobs, everything goes smoother — and you’ll get better results — with proper preparation. It’s one of the basics of lawn care.
Sharpen mower blades to ensure clean cuts. A dull blade tears the grass, leaving jagged edges that discolor the lawn and invite pathogens.
Sharpen mower blades once each month during grass-cutting season. Have a backup blade (about $20) so that a sharp one is always on hand.
Tune up your mower with a new sparkplug ($3 to $5) and air filter ($5 to $10). Your mower might not need a new sparkplug every season, but changing it is a simple job, and doing it every year ensures you won’t forget the last time you replaced your sparkplug.
Buy fresh gas. Gas that’s been left to sit over the winter can accumulate moisture that harms small engines. This is especially true for fuel containing ethanol, so use regular grades of gasoline.
If you need to dump old gasoline, ask your city or county for local disposal sites that take old fuel.
Clean up your lawn. Time to get out the leaf rakes and remove any twigs and leaves that have accumulated over the winter. A thick layer of wet leaves can smother a lawn if not immediately removed in early spring. Cleaning up old debris clears the way for applying fertilizer and herbicides.
Depending on your weather, your grass will now start growing in earnest, so be ready for the first cutting. Don’t mow when the grass is wet — you could spread diseases, and wet clippings clog up lawn mowers.
Fertilizing: Both spring and fall are good times to fertilize your lawn. In the northern third of the country, where winters are cold, fertilize in fall — cool weather grasses go dormant over winter and store energy in their roots for use in the spring.
For the rest of the country, apply fertilizer just as your grass begins its most active growth. For best results, closely follow the application directions on the product. You’ll spend about $50 to $75 per application for an average 1/4-acre lot.
Aeration: Aerating punches small holes in your lawn so water, fertilizers, and oxygen reach grass roots. Pick a day when the soil is damp but not soaked so the aeration machine can work efficiently.
Related: More About Lawn Aeration
Pre-emergent herbicides: Now is the time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent crabgrass and other weeds from taking root in your lawn. A soil thermometer is a handy helper; you can pick one up for $10 to $20. When you soil temperature reaches 58 degrees — the temperature at which crabgrass begins to germinate — it’s time to apply the herbicide.
Watch out for grubs: Warm weather means that grub worms, the larvae stage of June, Japanese, and other beetles, start feeding on the tender root systems of lawns. Affected lawns show browning and wilting patches.
To be certain that the culprits are grubs, pull back the sod and look for white, C-shaped grubs. If you see more than 10 per square foot, your lawn should be treated with a chemical pesticide.
Milky spore is an environmentally friendly way to control some species of grubs. When using insecticides, read and follow all label directions, and water the product into the soil immediately. Cost is around $50 to $75 per application.
Grass-cutting tip: Your grass is starting to grow fast, and you might even be cutting more than once a week to keep up. To keep grass healthy, mow often enough so you’re removing no more than 1/3 of the grass blade.
Pesky weeds: Weeds that have escaped an herbicide application should be removed with a garden fork. Use a post-emergent herbicide only if you think the situation is getting out of hand.
Check out our guide to some common types of weeds and tips on how to get rid of them.
Here’s a good mantra to guide you through the heart of grass-mowing season: The taller the grass, the deeper the roots, the fewer the weeds, and the more moisture the soil holds between watering.
With that in mind, here’s how to ensure a healthy, green lawn:
- Set your mower blade height to 3 inches.
- Deep and infrequent watering is better for lawns than frequent sprinkles, which promote shallow root growth. In general, lawns need about 1 inch of water per week.
Lawns that receive less than that will likely go dormant. That’s okay, the grass is still alive, but dormant lawns should still receive at least 1 inch of water per month. Your grass will green up again when the weather brings regular rains.
- To check sprinkler output, scatter some pie tins around the yard to see how much water collects in a specific amount of time. Having a rain gauge ($5 to $20) will help you keep track of how much water the lawn receives naturally.
- At least once each month, clean underneath your mower to prevent spreading lawn diseases.
- Although it’s OK to leave grass clippings on the lawn where they can decompose and nourish the soil, remove large clumps. Regularly rake up any leaves, twigs, and debris.
If your grass seems to be stressed out, check out our advice on what to do if your lawn is turning brown.
The best time to patch bare or thin spots is when the hot, dry days of summer have given way to cooler temps. Follow these simple steps:
- Remove any dead grass.
- Break up the soil with a garden trowel.
- Add an inch of compost and work it into the soil.
- Add grass seed that’s designed for shade or full sun, depending. Spread the seed evenly across the bare patch.
- Use a hard-tooth rake to work the seed into the soil to a depth of about half an inch.
- Sprinkle grass clippings over the patch to help prevent the soil from drying out.
- Water the area; you’ll want to keep the patch moist, so lightly water once a day until the seed germinates and the new grass gets about one inch tall.
Your main job in fall is to keep your lawn free of leaves and other debris. You can use a mulching mower to break up leaves and add the organic matter to your soil, but be sure to clean up any clumps so they don’t kill the grass.
In the northern one-third of the country, now is the time to fertilize your lawn. Your grass will store the nutrients in its roots as it goes dormant over the winter, and your lawn will be ready for a jump start when spring warms the ground.
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Tip #1: Mow the grass properly.
The first item of lawn care is, of course, the grass. Everyone wonders how much grass should be mowed and what the length should be. Generally, you want enough greenery to support the process of photosynthesis, meaning that plenty of foliage is exposed to sunlight. If you cut the grass too short, it can damage the grass and result in wasting water. Try not to cut more that one-third of the blade during a mowing. It is also important to mow grass when it is dry as opposed to wet.
Tip #2 Give your grass adequate water.
The season and the soil type are the two factors that determine how much water will be required for the lawn. During the hot summer months, watering is obviously more important than the wintertime. Choose the early morning for watering if possible, as this will minimize wasting water and evaporation. If it happens to rain abundantly during the night, you can have a water supply for two weeks with no watering required. Try not to water your lawn at night, as this promotes fungus and insect problems.
Tip #3 Use the right fertilizers.
Weed killer should be used in lawn care, especially during early spring and fall. Weeds are an unavoidable part of maintaining your lawn, so choosing a good weed product is very important to the health and beauty of your yard. Two types of weed controls that are most popular are the pre-emergent type, which works before weeds appear and the post-emergent, for using directly on the weeds themselves. Be sure and spray on a non-windy day to avoid contact with blowing chemicals.
Tip #4 Aerate your lawn for renewed vigor.
With all the activity that many lawns receive, it is a good idea to keep soil compaction from occurring, thus stifling the root growth. Machine aeration can be done annually in the spring and fall to let your lawn breath. When aerating, you do not want your soil to be too wet or dry, but just moist.
Tip #5 Rake your lawn.
Raking your lawn also allows you to feel the crisp grass underneath the thatch that accumulates on top.
Tip #6 Trim the edges of your yard.
Lawn care involves trimming around the edges and corners of your yard gives it a clean and well-kept appearance year-round. It also adds to the value of the home over time as well.
Tip #7 Never just let it go.
It is much easier to continue maintaining your lawn than to let it go for a while in between care. Once the yard begins to grow up and shrubs begin to become bushy, it is much more of a hassle to get it back into tip-top shape.
By following these simple guidelines, you can actually enjoy lawn care and have the yard of your dreams in no time!