Lawn Care Calendar: A Month
In this article, Im going to outline the lawn care calendar that I work by every year.
To help you as best I can, Ive broken down this lawn treatment schedule month by month so you know exactly what to do and when.
However, like everything when it comes to lawn maintenance, theres a caveat to everything
And thats the weather.
This lawn calendar is meant to be a guide only.
Unfortunately, we cant control the weather so youll have to use your best judgement when it comes to the timing of individual tasks.
Some years, if the weather is on our side, we can start certain tasks a little earlier than normal. Sometimes though, you might have to wait a little longer.
So dont stick to this like glue just because its in black and white on a computer screen.
Take a look at what the weather is doing and plan your jobs around that.
How To Treat Your Lawn In Spring
As commercial landscapers, people often ask us how to treat a lawn in the spring, and our reply is not as much how, but when. Living in Columbus, Ohio, it could warm up to 70 degrees in February and snow as late as April, so its imperative to time it right and wait until your lawn is ready. Too early and you could crush or kill new grass. Too late and youll miss precious windows of time for certain lawn applications.
Find out how to treat your lawn in spring to have beautiful grass to enjoy year round.
Dont Wait Too Long To Mow The Lawn
Finally, it may seem early, but in most parts of Pennsylvania, grass will be ready for its first trim sometime in April. We recommend that grass be mowed once it reaches about 3 inches in height. By mowing the new green blades when they get to this point, you will prevent the grass from getting overgrown and stimulate continual growth.
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Tips To Prepare Your Lawn For Spring
As winter fades and spring approaches it is time to start planning for the new growing season. Your lawn has a tough time during the winter and will be keen to produce new leaves as soon as the weather warms.
Scout For Weeds And Evaluate Your Lawn
Early spring is a great time to scout early for weeds and determine how best you can deal with them. Ultimately, the best way to prevent weeds is a healthy lawn. Proper fertilization, watering, mowing, and pest control are all necessary parts of growing a healthy turf capable of preventing weed infestation. Learn more in the UF/IFAS publication,“Weed Management Guide for Florida Lawns.”
If you have an area where your lawn has just not been growing well, even with proper care, consider the first principle of Florida-Friendly Landscaping: Right Plant, Right Place. It’s unlikely that every part of your landscape is ideal for turfgrass. Some areas may be too shady or too wet for turf to thrive. Take a moment to consider what conditions in the problematic part of your landscape could be causing turf to suffer, and look for plants that would thrive in those conditions. As always, you can contact your county Extension office for plant suggestions, as well as any other lawn or landscape questions.
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Fertilizing In The Spring
If you properly fertilized your lawn in the fall, there is probably no need to apply another layer of fertilizer in the spring. Cool season grasses in particular are good at holding on to fertilizer from the fall and using it all winter.
There is a good chance that your cool season grass is still utilizing the fertilizer from the fall throughout the spring and into the summer. Warm season grasses may need a fresh layer of fertilizer during the spring because they begin to soak up the nutrients as soon as the weather gets warmer.
Start Mowing With Caution
As the weather warms up during the spring months, the grass will start to grow more rapidly. However, dont cut the grass if the soil is very wet or theres frost or snow on the ground. Be gentle with the first few cuts of the season. Simply trim off the top third of growth with the mower blades on their highest setting.
Allow the lawn to recover for a few days and then cut again with the blades on a lower setting. At this time of year the lawn may only need cutting about once or twice a fortnight.
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Other Spring Lawn Tasks
- Aeration: is best done during your lawns peak growing season. For warm-season grasses, this means early to mid-summer. For cool-season grasses, aeration is best saved for fall but can be repeated in spring if the soil is extremely compacted. Wait until your lawn has been mowed 2-3 times in the season, so youll be sure it is growing fast enough to recover from the aeration.
- Dethatching: also best done during peak growing season, right before aerating.
- Mowing: Begin mowing as soon as your lawn needs it grass blades do best when you cut no more than a third of the blades length at a time.
- Watering: Once your grass starts growing, youll need to make sure your lawn gets at least 1 of water per week. Until then, you can water less frequently but remember that cold air is very drying to plants and lawns.
- Insect control: Spring is a good time to address problems with fire ants. Many other insects, such as grubs and mole crickets, may also cause damage to your lawn in spring but are more effectively controlled later in the summer.
- Lawn Equipment: Sharpen the blade and tune up your lawn mower, as well as other lawn equipment, to make summer mowing a breeze!
Looking After New Lawns
Lawns from turf should be left completely un-used for their first week. Lawns from seed should be left un-used until their first mowing. Avoid using new lawns heavily in their first season.
Newly laid lawns can be fed like established lawns. They need watering, but should not be over watered, as this may result in shallow rooting and poor establishment.
For advice on aftercare of newly sown lawns, see our advice on lawns from seed.
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Do A Soil Test Before Fertilizing
Having a soil test done before you fertilize is ideal you can provide your lawn plants with exactly what they need without over-fertilizing. You can get a soil sample kit from your county Extension office. Proper fertilization is important for the health of your plants as well as the environment as a whole. To minimize environmental risk, be sure you are selecting a fertilizer labeled for urban turf and your specific grass type.
Applying fertilizer at the appropriate time of year is crucial as well. Generally, fertilizer should be applied in the spring, but be sure that you are abiding by local rules and regulations related to fertilizer applications. Learn more in the UF/IFAS publication, “General Recommendations for Fertilization of Turfgrasses on Florida Soils”
Remember, select a fertilizer with low phosphorousmost Florida turfgrasses already have access to ample phosphorus from the soil without needing to apply more. Fertilizers with slow-release nitrogen are ideal. They provide nutrients to plant roots over an extended period of time, preventing nutrients from leaving your landscape and entering waterways, where they contribute to harmful algal blooms and other water quality problems. Learn more about fertilizer options.
Watch Your Thatch Level
When soil becomes compacted over time, it restricts the grasss access to vital nutrients and makes it difficult for the soil to absorb water. Your lawn can also accumulate thatch. Thatch is a combination of living and dead plant matter. Grass clippings do not generally contribute to thatch buildup as they can be easily broken down. A small amount of thatch may be beneficial however, excessive thatch can cause root problems. Between compacted soil and thatch, your lawn could need some relief as part of your spring lawn care. Lawn aeration helps alleviate thatch, improve water absorption, and facilitate better grass growth.
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Help Your Lawn Wake Up With Spring Lawn Care Tips
Spring lawn care is much less time intensive than fall lawn care. If you prepared your lawn properly in the late fall, there should be very little for you to do once the weather begins to get warm again.
The most important part of spring lawn care is to make sure that the lawn has plenty of opportunity to gently come back to life during the early spring months. If you do it right, the sun and soil will do most of the work for you.
Get Rid Of Weeds And Moss
After the wet winter months, your lawn may be overrun with moss and weeds that compete with the grass for vital nutrients and soil moisture.
Another spring lawn job is to kill off moss it is best to use an all in one lawn feed, weed and moss killer. This will increase the nutrient levels of the grass which therefore kills off the moss. Aftercut All In One is a good product to use to do this. Apply Aftercut All In One a few days after mowing and lightly rake out the moss once it begins to die . You will be left with bare patches in your lawn once the moss is gone. It is essential to grow new healthy grass over these patches to avoid them being overgrown by moss again . The patches can easily be repaired using Gro-Sure Smart Patch, which is a grass seed with special aqua gel technology that locks in essential nutrients and therefore guarantees results. The best time to do this is in the spring or autumn months.
See our guide on how to repair patches in your lawn for more details.
Small patches of weeds can be dealt with effectively by using Resolva Lawn Weedkiller, or by removing by hand. If you choose to use a weedkiller on your lawn, make sure it says lawn weedkiller on it. If you use a normal weedkiller you will kill all your grass.
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Do Not Spot Treat With Pre
If you have a few problem areas where you always struggle with crabgrass, poa annua or other annual weeds, it can be tempting to save some cash and apply pre-emergent only to those areas.
I dont recommend that.
Rather, I encourage you to apply pre-emergent weed control to your entire lawn all at once rather than trying to do spot treatments.
This is called broadcast treatment and it is always the most effective approach. These annual weeds produce thousands of seeds each year, and those seeds travel easily on the wind, on pets, on shoes, and even on the blades of your lawn mower.
Treat your whole lawn each spring for best results.
Check Your Ph And Balance Your Soil
Having the correct pH level for your lawn can help alleviate many lawn care issues in the long run. Lawn Doctor can professionally test your soil to help you determine which treatment is right for your lawn.
Soil enrichment stimulates a stronger and healthier root system while improving the structure of your lawns soil. The process also improves root penetration and soil water retention, making regular watering more effective. Soil enrichment can also reduce damaging salts from the root zone and improve soil aeration.
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Seed And Lime The Lawn As Needed
Plant grass seed in bare spots in your lawn or wherever growth is sparse. Consider seeding while applying a slow release nitrogen fertilizer. Early spring and fall are ideal times for reseeding.
- Spring is the best time to test your yards pH to determine if your soil is too acidic. Most grasses grow best when the soil pH is between 5.8 and 7.2. If your soil is too acidic, you can see an influx of moss, weeds, diseases and insect pests.
- Use a soil test kit to find your soil’s pH or ask a county extension agent if he or she can test for you.
- In many parts of the country, lime application can make the soil less acidic and help the grass better absorb fertilizers and nutrients from the soil.
- Soil pH changes over time, so retest yearly until your results are balanced. Afterwards, an established lawn can be tested every three years or so.
- Spring and fall are the best times to add lime to a lawn that needs it. Use soil test results to know how much lime to apply and follow the directions on the lime package.
Tip: Grass planted in spring may need extra watering, weeding and other attention during the summer. Fall seeding requires less fuss.
What About Moss Or Weeds
If you have experienced a wet, grey winter, moss may be a problem on your lawn. If there is an ingress of moss, make sure you put down a moss control treatment. Applying it at least a week before your spring cleaning will prevent it from spreading. The grass will then be able to sprout new leaves and get a head start in the race for space in your lawn.
If your lawn has a lot of perennial weeds then I recommend conducting your spring clean first. The weeds will then sprout with vigour and will be more easy to control in a month or so. If you have professional lawn care, then these weeds should not be a problem.
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Spring Tips For Northern Lawns
When spring arrives in northern climates, lawn care shifts into high gear. Common cool-season lawn grasses such tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass enter one of their peak growth periods of the year. These northern lawn care tasks can take your lawn from early to late spring with optimized beauty and health:
Deal with post-winter lawn diseases now to prevent future problems.
Mowing And Lawn Care Tips
Before mowing in spring, inspect your lawn mower and perform any necessary maintenance, such as changing the oil or spark plugs. Make sure your lawn mower blade is sharp to guarantee a clean cut. Be safe, and always remove the spark plugs before doing any work on your lawn mower.
- Start mowing when the ground is dry enough and grass is long enough to require cutting. Avoid mowing too low: Grass cut too short allows sunlight to reach the soil and encourages weed seeds to germinate.
- Consider setting the mowing height high enough to remove only the top one-third of the grass blades. Longer grass blades encourage deeper, healthier roots, but may require mowing more frequently.
- Check your mowers manual to see if it has a recommended setting for your specific type of grass.
- Consider lawn mowing early in the evening, when the temperatures are usually cooler and any fog or dew has dried. Dont mow when its raining or just after a rain, as the mower will not cut your lawn evenly and may become clogged with clumps of wet grass.
- Vary the pattern each time you mow. This helps prevent ruts from forming and keeps the grass from always bending in the same direction.
- Mowing should be done when your grass needs it, not on a set schedule. Grass usually needs to be mowed more often in the spring and early summer than at the end of the growing season.
Tip: Make sure your lawnmower’s tank is empty of gas at the end of mowing season so you can start the next cutting season with a fresh tank.
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How Short Should I Cut My Grass
Some people think that cutting their grass shorter is better because they wont have to mow as often. The problem is, cutting off more than one-third of the grasss height is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. In fact, the more often you mow, because you arent cutting much off, results in a thicker, healthier lawn.
Feeding The Lawn In The Summer And Fall
Warm-season grasses thrive in the heat of the summer and can be fertilized throughout the growing season. However, cool-season grasses are in a survival mode during the heat of the summer. Refrain from applying fertilizer to a lawn in mid- or late-summer if you live in a climate where cool-season grasses are in your lawn seed mix. A cool-season lawn should need nothing other than water and pest management until September.
Most lawn experts recommend a mild dose of a “turf-builder” fertilizer formulation in the early- to mid-fall, while the turf still has several weeks of active growth before dormancy. This application will help build robust root systems going into winter and restart the growing cycle in the spring. You are not looking to return your lawn to the green of summer. Heading into winter, you can expect a natural slowdown of your lawn’s growth and the loss of its green luster.
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Take Your Lawn Mower For A Spin
Give your lawn its first cut of the year
Your trusty best cordless lawn mower has most likely been out of action for a while. Now it’s time to dust off the cobwebs and wheel it back out of the shed, ready for the first mow of the season. But before you let it loose, there’s a few top tricks to bear in mind.
According to the RHS, your first mow of the year should be done using the highest setting you can then gradually decrease this over time. The team at Homebase adds that a good rule-of-thumb is to never cut more than one third of the length at a time. The RHS also says to never mow when it is frosty or damp this can compact the soil and damage the grass.
A final tip from RHS lawn expert David Hedges-Gower is to ensure your lawnmower has a sharp blade. This will also prevent damage and help the lawn’s uptake of nutrients and water.
After a bit more guidance? Check out our advice on how to mow a lawn.