Lawn Care Schedule



Many people ask me about a lawn care schedule. What to do and when. Use the following as a guideline for your lawn care needs. I live and work in Wisconsin, so this timeline will tend to be geared toward cool season lawns more so than warm season lawns. Also keep in mind that your seasons may be a little different than others. I have already spoken with people that have mowed their lawns this year, and where I am there is still 12" of snow on the ground and still a few snowfalls in the forecast.

I won't go into any detail about each step here since my goal is to have each item linked to a full page that will explain more about the topic.

(If a word is colored you may click on it and it will open up another page that will give you more information about the topic.)



LAWN CARE SCHEDULE


March

Time to start thinking about that lawn again. If you're like me you are tired of the snow and can't wait to get out in the yard. Many of you may still have snow on the ground but there are some things you can do indoors or possibly in your garage while you are waiting for the warmer weather.

First, stand back and take a look at your lawn. Make a list of things that you need to or want to do in your yard this summer. Are there branches broken that need to be cut off. Dead trees that need to be cut down. Is there a few gaps in that hedge that need to filled in.  Maybe your planning to do some light landscaping. New mulch put down around the trees, fill in low spots in the yard where it puddles when it rains. What ever the case may be write it down  and bring it inside at night. Take a look at it and figure out if you have the right tools to do the job or will you need to hire someone to do the job. Also make a list of supplies that you will need to purchase. Grass seed, mulch, fertilizer, weed and insect control products. What ever it is make a list and take a day to go shopping for all your lawn care needs so that you have the items you need when you can finally tear into that project.

How about that equipment that has been out in the garage all winter. Does it still start? Do the tires need air? Now is a good time to give all your tools and equipment a good going over for the summer. For the Mower. Change the spark plug and air filter. Check all the fluids, check the belts and air in the tires. Make sure that battery is charged. Sharpen or replace the blades. Take a look at this page for some more tips. (Mower maintenance) Next your Powered hand tools. String trimmer, leaf blower, chain saw, etc. Check the spark plug, fuel lines, and air filter. Does the throttle move freely? Do you have enough string for your trimmer this year? Now how about those hand tools, Pruning shears, shovels, rakes. Check them over. Are they in good shape or do they need replacing? 


April to Mid May

Ok that was a lot to get ready. Now that we are all set lets get to work.

As soon as the ground is thawed out and hardened up enough to walk on I like to get going. The first thing that I like to do is take a Soil Test and send it to the lab. I do this as soon as possible because many others are also doing the same thing and it may take some time for the results to come back.

Next lets start picking up all the branches and other things that blew into the yard over winter.

How about all the rocks that where pushed into the lawn from the snowplows that go by. Lets rake them up and repair any damage to the lawn along the road, driveway, and walkways. We will talk about salt damage to the turf in these areas on another page later.

Now that is about mid May the grass should be growing and you will be able to start mowing soon. Lets get a few other things out of the way first.

I like to start out by De-thatching the lawn. The lawn may not always be in desperate need of de-thatching but it is a way to loosen all of the dead grass, matted down leaves and small twigs that are embedded. When you are done with this go ahead and blow or rake out all the leaves and debris from areas that you not reach with the mower such as flower beds, hedges, etc. Now that we have everything loosened up and laying on top of the turf I use a bagger on my mower to pick it all up. When you are finished your yard will look nice and fresh and ready to get growing.

Next we need to open up the soil to get some air and water down to the root zone. To do this we will Aerate.

Now it is time to start thinking about the pests in your lawn. Mainly we need to think about crabgrass at this time. We need to think about this because the best way to control crabgrass is to prevent it from growing. Crabgrass will start to germinate once the soil temperature 3" down reaches 58 degrees for a period of three consecutive days. You need to have your crabgrass control down before this happens.

More than likely your grass is getting long enough to cut by this time. Find out what the recommended mowing height is for your turf and cut it at the higher recommendation. Remember leaving your grass long will not only leave more of the plant to produce food to develop a good root system, but it will also create shade for your soil and keep it cool so that the weeds have less chance of germinating.


Mid May to Mid June

Your lawn is almost in full swing now. It's woken up, stretched and now it's hungry. Remember that soil test? You should have the results back by now. The results will tell you what you need to add to your soil so that your turf can grow properly and healthy. The test will more than likely tell you that your lawn needs to be fertilized. Lets go ahead and add this now. The test will also show the PH of your soil. Your soil PH needs to be at its proper level in order for the grass to properly process the fertilizer than you just added. You will find that in most cases you need to add lime to your soil to raise the PH. Read my page about Lawn Lime and add the lime now if you want to.

By now you may be noticing that your lawn has other plants in it that you do not want. Everyone knows what they are. WEEDS!! But did you know that they are not really weeds unless you do not want them there. Some people in our area consider Tall Fescue to be a weed and go to all lengths to remove it. In other areas Tall Fescue is what makes up the lawn. Anyway, now is the best time to spray for those weeds that you do not want. I will go into much detail on future Weed Control pages but for now I will tell you that my best recommendation for weed control is to leave it to the professionals. I am a State certified & licensed pesticide applicator. I spend a lot of my time on lawn care forums helping homeowners with their lawn care questions. I must say that what scares me most is reading about how others treat their lawns for weeds. Some of the worst are lawn care firms that think that training and certification is a waste of time. Anyway I will eventually get some pages written on this subject so that if you decide to tackle this yourself you will at least have some knowledge of how to properly apply pesticides.


Mid June to Mid August

You're in full swing by now, you're mowing a little higher than the first part of the year. You mow often enough that you are only removing one - third of the grass at each cutting, and you are leaving the clippings on the lawn. You're not! Read my article on how to properly mow your lawn to find out why you should be.

If needed, water your lawn in the early morning. your lawn needs an inch of water a week. Remember that it is better for your lawn to be watered once per week deeply than to be watered a little each day.

Keep an eye out for any insect problems or diseases. Treat for them as recommended.


Mid August to October

Cool season lawns should be getting into their second growth spurt for the year about now. It's generally not as bad as in the spring but it should recover from the dryness of summer and fill in well before winter now.

Do you have any bald spots to repair or small landscape projects that require reseeding. Now is the best time of year to sow cool season grasses. Maybe you still have some areas in your lawn that are thin or have been killed by the summer drought. Over seeding now will bring those areas back to life in no time at all. In cold winter regions over seeding should be done by mid September.

Are you fertilizing more than two times per year? If so fertilizing in the first two weeks of September will be about the right time to fertilize and yet have time to get that all important last feeding in.

If you need to de-thatch your lawn because that thatch layer just keeps getting thicker, fall is the best time to get it done. Do it now so that your lawn has time to recover before winter.

If you live in an area with heavy clay or have a lot of soil compaction from foot traffic or other activities, now is a good time to Aerate your lawn.

Have we had that first frost yet? If so now is the best time to take care of those weeds especially those hard to kill weeds. I get all kinds of funny looks when I tell people this. They say that their weeds are finally dying. Just the opposite is true. The first frost is what plants use as a signal that winter is coming and they should start storing food into their roots for winter. While it looks like they are dying above ground they are beefing themselves up below ground to make it through the winter. Plants now are taking the nutrients from the leaves and moving them to the roots. That is why a foliar application of weed control has a better chance  of getting down to the roots and actually killing the whole plant. More of this in my weed control pages later.


October and November

How many times per year did you say you are going to fertilize your lawn? Once, twice, three times. No matter what you answer was now is the time to fertilize. Do it about 2 weeks before the ground freezes so that your grass has time to use that new food to grow big and strong before going into winter.

Pick up or mulch in them leaves!! I see many people that do not pick up their leaves. They do not know how damaging to their lawn they really are. And yes I am talking about the layers of leaves that collect in some areas of your lawn, not the occasional leaf leaf laying out in the middle of the lawn by itself. I will discuss more about the effects of leaves in my Leaf Removal pages.

Have you made that final mowing yet? If your grass is more than a couple of inches long you answer should be no. Some people think that their lawn should be long going into winter. Just the opposite is true. Read my lawn mowing page for more information and keep mowing right up until the grass goes dormant.



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