One: Aerate the soil. Most soil is compacted, making it an ideal environment for weed growth. Aerating your lawn in the spring, when grass is in an active growth mode, allows for better growth and less stress on grasses. You may wish to hire this task out if you have a large yard. Otherwise, visit your local garden or hardware store to pick up an aerator tool like this one from Target.
Two: Mow at the right time. In the spring, make sure to begin mowing your grass before your lawn is more than 3 inches tall. In general, you want your grasses to be at about 2 inches in height. This helps your lawn hold up against summer drought conditions and to stave off weeds. Be sure to not remove more than a third of the grass’s total height in any mowing session. Removing too much grass puts a strain on it
Three: Feed it Fertilizer. Most experts suggest applying fertilizer twice a year. A light fertilizer application in the Spring gets your lawn off to a strong start at the same time as your first mowing. Make sure to use a light application and slow-release organic fertilizer. Overfeeding or using a strong fertilizer can burn and otherwise harm your lawn.
Four: Get After Grubs. Lawn grubs can be a frustrating nuisance for homeowners. Make sure to apply a grub control product that is long-acting and can continue to impede grubs throughout the growing season like the highly reviewed GrubEx™1 from Scotts. These applications are typically applied in early June.
Five: Cut Back Mowing When Necessary. Northern grasses will not grow as fast when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees F. If you're in the midst of a hot and dry stretch, your lawn may not need to be mowed more frequently than once every 2-3 weeks. On the flip side, in a period of cooler, rainier weather, mow frequently enough that your grass does not grow taller than 3 inches, which may mean mowing weekly or more frequently.
Six: Water the Lawn. It's OK for your grass to turn brown when the weather is hot and dry. When rains come back, so will your lawn. If that look is too unappealing for you, make sure to plant grass types that are drought-tolerant, such as buffalo grass. Otherwise, make sure to give your lawn about an inch of water weekly and up to two inches. During the regular growing season, you should plan on 1-1.5 inches of water weekly.
Seven: Time Your Watering. Do your watering in the evening or early morning to avoid excessive evaporation due to the midday sun. Consider installing a sprinkler system, or if you have a condensed yard, consider purchasing a small sprinkler to save yourself time on watering.
Eight: Bag the Bags. There's no need to bag your lawn clippings. Keeping the mowed grass pieces on your lawn helps return nutrients to the soil. If the look of lawn clippings doesn’t appeal to you ensure the lawn bags you use are reusable or eco-friendly.
Nine: Vary the Direction. Mowing in different directions from session to session helps promote even grass growth. This even gives you the chance to play around with cosmetic mower lawn designs if you so choose.
Ten: Prep for Winter. Fall is the right time to keep your landscape healthy. Here are some steps to take in the later months of the calendar:
- Overseed any bare or thin patches of your lawn
- Spread lime to lower your lawn's acidity
- Rake up fallen leaves and compost them
- Drain any irrigation systems to make sure your equipment doesn't freeze and cause flooding
- Winterize your lawn mower, including draining the gasoline, disconnecting the spark plugs and adding engine stabilizer
Eleven: Take Advantage of the Offseason.
- Rake up leaves to avoid doing damage to your lawn. Leaves become wet during the winter and can give rise to mold and moss
- Give your lawn one last mow before the snow falls. This one can cut the grass short to 1 inch. Use the mower bag to pick up any loose leaves, sticks and other debris.
- Get your lawnmower serviced, including replacing the sparkplug, tuning the engine and sharpening the blade
- Have your irrigation system inspected for leaks or other damage
- Plan your gardens -- which annuals and plants will you grow?
- Consider hardscapes that can add an extra dimension to your property. Hardscapes include fences, stone walls, paths, statues, benches, water features, decks and patios
- Have an arborist do and inspect any trimming and pruning that's needed to keep your trees healthy
Your yard is your oasis, a chance to get away from it all in your own backyard. With some careful planning and regular care, you’ll have your lawn looking beautiful every month of the year.