The ultimate Midwestern lawn guide. Read on to learn more about Midwest grass types, turf diseases, fungi, and pest control options. This is your complete guide to getting a great lawn in the Midwest.
In the Midwest, you only have so many months to truly embrace and enjoy your lawn. We know how important that time is, with many family memories made playing in the yard.
Unfortunately, during those pleasant months, you’re not the only one trying to enjoy the grass. Weeds and pests are quick to invade if you’re not careful. But worry not: TruGreen is your partner in your quest for a healthy, lush lawn.
If you reside in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, or Wisconsin, continue reading below for tips and details for what to expect from your lawn each season. We include some of the nuisances that you may encounter, with links to programs we offer to help prevent or fix the lawn problems.
Types of grass in the Midwest
The first step to a great-looking lawn is knowing what kind of grass you’re growing and its characteristics. Common grasses found in Midwestern lawns include Fine Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Perennial Ryegrass; each grass type comes with its own set of pros and cons.
- Excellent in shade
- Tolerant of drought and infertile soils
- Intolerant of high temperatures
- Doesn’t grow well in wet soil conditions
- High-quality appearance
- Has good low-temperature hardiness
- Poor shade tolerance
- Slow to establish
- Used for overseeding and quick establishment of cover
- Good wear tolerance
- Least cold-hardy of the cool-season grasses
- Not recommended as a standalone turf grass, better if mixed as part of a seed mixture
To get a lawn you’ll love (and the neighbors will be jealous of), you as the homeowner and your dedicated TruGreen specialist will need to team up to prevent and fix potential lawn problems. The below topics should be considered as you work with your specialist to make your lawn the best on the block.
Types of Weeds in the Midwest
We know how frustrating weeds can be, especially if you’re putting in hours trying to make your yard the best it can be. If weeds are present on your lawn, give us a call and you can begin to notice visible results within days or weeks of your first service. If your lawn is changing colors or beginning to show bare spots, don’t be alarmed — this is OK; in fact, this is good! Changing colors and bare spots are a normal sign that those pesky weeds are dying out, which means your grass will have more space and nutrients. As your TruGreen specialist continues working over the following weeks and months, your lawn’s appearance will continue to improve. Keep a watchful eye for the following weeds that are commonly found in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Crabgrass is an annual warm-season weed which means it thrives in the heat and will sprawl anywhere it can find sunlight, water, and bare soil. A crabgrass invasion can quickly get out of control if you’re not careful. The TruGreen Lawn Care program can help limit the spread of this difficult-to-control weed, but you can also help by keeping up with proper prevention techniques and regular maintenance. Maintaining a thick, healthy lawn, mowing your grass at the proper height, and avoiding light or excess watering are some of the steps you can take to help prevent a crabgrass invasion.
Many a flower crown has been created by kids with these little white flowers. But as an adult, if you find clover in your yard, you’re probably not picking it for fun or fashion. Clover is a perennial weed that can vary in leaf shape and flower color, and grows well in moist areas. It is a notorious creeping, broadleaf weed that’s tough to get rid of once it’s settled into your lawn.
When you think of weeds, dandelion probably comes to mind. The classic yellow-flowered weed is a perennial that produces many seeds. The broadleaf weed radiates from one central point on a very short stem that barely rises above soil level, making it extremely difficult to pull cleanly from the ground.
Ground Ivy (aka Creeping Charlie) can be identified by its scalloped, round, and deeply veined leaves. This perennial weed is a member of the mint family and produces a small, purplish-blue, trumpet-shaped flower. It is an aggressive, low-growing weed that thrives in shaded, moist areas. Hand weeding can be extremely frustrating, if not impossible, so talk to your TruGreen specialist about herbicide options to combat this invasive weed.
The wild violet can be identified by its heart-shaped, somewhat rounded leaves. The annual or perennial weed can produce purple, pink, or white flowers. TruGreen considers violets to be a “difficult-to-control” weed, and they may require repeated visits or specialized lawn weed control.
For fighting common lawn diseases in the Midwest, consider TruGreen’s TruHealth Lawn Plan, which provides protection, essential nutrients, and balanced soil to your lawn.
Common lawn pests found in Midwest lawns include chinch bugs, white grubs, sod webworms, and bluegrass billbugs.
For fighting common lawn pests in the Midwest, consider TruGreen’s TruShield Lawn Pest Control, which can significantly reduce the number of pests in your yard, or Mosquito Defense, which can eradicate biting mosquitoes from your property.
How to care for your Midwest lawn each season
Just as the weather and your wardrobe changes season to season, your yard’s needs change, too. There are responsibilities that fall to you, the homeowner, to help maintain a healthy lawn, and your TruGreen specialist will be ready with tips and advice as seasonal changes affect your grass. The tips below will help you stay on track for a lush, healthy yard.
- Set your mower blade height to 3-3.5 inches.
- Mow frequently, but only 1/3 of the grass blade at a time.
- Prevent grubs. Ask your specialist for a preemptive application.
- Water your lawn during hot, dry periods. Try to give your turf a deep, thorough soaking each time you water.
- If you allow your lawn to go dormant during extreme dry periods, be sure to water every two weeks to keep it from dying.
- Only mow your lawn if it is actively growing.
- If your lawn is going dormant, watch for weeds. Call your TruGreen specialist if you start to see any sprouting.
- Break up compacted soil and thatch by having your lawn aerated. Schedule an aeration service with your specialist.
- As winter nears, remove fallen leaves from your lawn on a regular basis to prevent blocking sunlight and trapping excess moisture for extended periods.
- If you have a sprinkler system, drain it for winter so it doesn’t freeze or cause flooding. Worried about your system being winter ready? Sign up for TruGreen’s Sprinkler Repair and Maintenance plan.
- Prepare your lawn mower for its winter hibernation.
- Try to not disturb the lawn while it snows or freezes over — the foot traffic could cause lasting damage.
- Service your lawn mower in preparation for the growing season: Change or sharpen the blade, install a new air filter, and install new spark plugs (but don’t connect them until the lawn mower is ready for use).
- Take a look at your sprinkler system before hot weather arrives. Need a professional tune-up? Check out TruGreen’s sprinkler repair and maintenance plan.
- If your lawn has thatch developing, an aeration service could be beneficial.
- If you notice any signs of snow mold damage, a light raking is usually all that is needed to help your turf recover. If you see no improvement, give us a call.
- Mow often, with your mower blade at its highest setting.
- If you notice any weeds in between your treatments, call your TruGreen specialist for treatment. Keep in mind that weeds take longer to control when temperatures are cool.
Together, we can make a lawn you’ll love
In the Midwest, your yard has to battle hot summer temperatures and cold winter conditions. We can team up to apply seasonally appropriate pre- and post-emergent weed treatments, as well as fertilizer to stimulate your lawn’s color and growth and to help fortify it against extreme weather. To achieve a healthy lawn, we ask that you receive regular service visits, and follow the guidelines outlined above to help you achieve the best results possible. If you’re not signed up yet for regular services, click here to find a local branch near you or fill out the green box on the left to get a personal quote today.