Lawn Maintenance Checklist: Learn What You Need to Do Each Season

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Maintaining your lawn in every season

on November 11, 2016 by TruGreen

What are the keys to a great lawn? Planning and organization. A lawn maintenance schedule can help you design a plan to fend off weeds and diseases, keeping your lawn care maintenance simple and low-stress.

The goal of a lawn maintenance schedule is to keep your grasses and landscape as healthy as possible by coordinating lawn care activities with seasonal needs. Determining the right schedule for your lawn maintenance will depend on your zone and grass type, but in general there are certain tasks to complete each season. 

Check out our guide below for a look at a general timeline of yard maintenance and specific tasks by grass type.

First off, know your region and grass type.

Warm-season grasses

  • Bermudagrass
  • Zoysiagrass
  • Kikuyugrass
  • Paspalum vaginatum
  • Centipedegrass
  • Dichondra
  • St. Augustinegrass
  • Bahiagrass
  • Carpetgrass
  • Buffalograss

Cool-season grasses

  • Bluegrasses
  • Ryegrasses
  • Bentgrasses
  • Fine Fescue
  • Tall Fescue

Now let’s look at what you should do by season. 

Spring

In general:

  • Observe. Once the snow has melted and your precipitation has turned to rain, take a good look at your lawn. Are there puddles forming? It might be a good idea to schedule an aeration in the coming weeks.
  • Tool tune-up. Head to the garage or shed and pull out your tools and these tips for maintenance. Check that your lawn mower is working, fluid levels are good, and the blade’s height and sharpness. Check that your leaf blower, rake, shovel and anything else you might need are in tip-top condition.
  • Test. Get your soil pH tested by a TruGreen professional.
  • Prevent. Have a pre-emergent applied by TruGreen before temperatures reach the mid to high 50s, which is when crabgrass seed germinates.
  • Dethatch. Rid your lawn of dead grass, leaves, branches, twigs and any other debris.
  • Aerate. If your thatch was heavy or your soil appears to be compact, call your TruGreen specialist to schedule an aeration. Not sure if aeration is the right treatment for your lawn this season? Take this quiz to find out if your yard could benefit from the service.

For cool-season grasses: 

  • Flush. Reduce potential damage from salt-impacted or pet-stressed areas. Flush areas with water as soon as soil thaws to leach away salts from roots.
  • Fertilize. Schedule an appointment for a light application of food in early spring to give it a boost.
  • Mow. Begin mowing, but at a level slightly shorter than normal. Recycle the grass clippings back n to the lawn, never remove them.
  • Seed. Fall is the ideal time to seed a lawn, but spring is the next best thing. Schedule an appointment to get that seed down before summer arrives, new grass will need a chance to grow and get established before hot temperatures move in.

For warm-season grasses:

  • Fight weeds. Your brown, dormant lawn makes it easy to spot green, active weeds. We’ll help you fight them with weed control services.
  • Seed. Now is the time to schedule a seeding treatment and overseed thin lawns. Once soil temperatures reach 65 degrees, these grasses will enter their active growing season.  
  • Mow. In early spring, cut grass slightly lower. In mid-to-late spring, mow at normal heights and allow clippings to decompose on yard to give your soil better structure and added nutrients.  
  • Water. As spring turns to summer, begin watering established lawns so they get about 1 to 1 ¼ inches of moisture a week (including rain).
  • Fertilize. Once your brown turf has turned green, schedule fertilizations regularly.

Summer 

In general:

  • Combat pests. Have your lawn checked and treated for grubs or other small pests. Find a pest control plan that works for your lawn.
  • Mow as needed. Different grasses have different needs, but during the hot summer months most types have to be monitored so that they don’t get too stressed.

For cool-season grasses:

  • Water. Begin watering, but be careful not to overwater. Just water enough to prevent drought stress. Puddles and runoff can promote fungal growth.
  • Adjust mower. If grass is thin, raise mower’s blade to help shade roots and protect against heat damage. As summer progresses, avoid mowing during stressful times of day with heat and drought.
  • Aerate and overseed. As summer turns to fall, have TruGreen give your lawn another aeration session and overseed to prevent and enhance thinning lawns.
  • Test soil. If you’re worried about problem areas, consider getting your soil tested in late August.

For warm-season grasses:

  • Feed. During active summer growth period, have grass fertilized every four to eight weeks.
  • Adjust mowing schedule. Mow more often to avoid removing more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time. Taller grass can help shade soil, reduce water loss and fight weeds.
  • Check water. In late summer, don’t mow unless lawn has received water from you or the skies above. Mowing a dry lawn can increase stress and dry it out even more.

Fall

In general:

  • Mow. Slowly lower mower level raised in summer and cut grass at recommended height until growth halts.
  • Fight weeds. Plan to have TruGreen target weeds with post-emergent herbicides.
  • Rake leaves. We love looking at the changing leaves, but once they’re on your lawn they can smother grass. Turn it into mulch or bag and remove.
  • Reduce watering. Keep lawn fully hydrated for winter, but don’t allow soil to be saturated.

For cool-season grasses:

  • Fertilize. In late summer to early fall, give your lawn a boost. Aim to have fertilizer applied by TruGreen about six weeks before your first anticipated freeze. Note: Wait to use fertilizer on newly seeded areas.
  • Apply lime. If your tests from August indicate lime is needed, mid-to-late fall is a good time to have it applied to your lawn.
  • Pack the mower up. It’s done a good job these past seasons. Store the mower with clean oil and an empty fuel tank.

For warm-season grasses:

  • Test soil. If problem areas are present, get your soil tested and have corrections made before winter arrives.

Winter

In general:

  • Relax. Most of the hard parts are out of the way for a couple months.

For cool-season grasses:

  • Say no to salt. Use a soluble fertilizer or calcium chloride instead of salt to remove ice. Salt buildup in soil can damage grass and other yard plants.
  • Clear paths. Shovel clear paths for people to take to avoid foot traffic on lawn which can leave behind bare spots.

For warm-season grasses:

  • Mow. Pick a dry winter day to mow the dormant lawn. This will groom the lawn and remove fallen leaves.

Inspect. After mowing, give your lawn a close look for any winter weeds and plan to have TruGreen control them when spring begins to warm up.

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