For all the Beginners to lawn care I wanted to take some time to put together a basc lawn care schedule that covers the entire year for both cool season and warm season lawns.
The two schedules below will get just about anyone started on the right path and should improve just about any lawn in a single season with basic techniques, basic products, and minimal time spent in the yard.
Not only that but these two annual lawn plans won’t cost very much either.
Before you get started however it’s important to first identify your grass type because that will dictate which of the two lawn schedules to follow. You don’t really need to know what exact grass type you have but that helps; you mostly need to know whether your grass is a cold season grass or not.
Step 1 – Check For Stolons
There are no cool season grasses that grow above ground stolons. If you walk out into your lawn and see above ground runners growing small bits of leaf tissue along them then you have a warm season grass type…or at least a mixed variety.
Step 2 – Do You Own A Snow Shovel And Use It
Most every lawn owner that uses a snow shovel regularly throughout the winter runs a cool season lawn. This is just a correlated observation but it is fairly accurate.
When weather gets cold enough in the winter to regularly to produce freezing temperatures and snow accumulation then most of the warm season grass types will either die in harsh winter conditions or they will be brown for the majority of the year.
Cool season grass types will struggle to stay green in July & August without frequent water but will easily stay green well into November even when overnight temperatures regularly dip to 20-degrees or lower.
There are much more accurate ways to identify your grass type; if you want to learn more and get a precise identification of your grass type then see this article devoted to the topic: XXXXX
Assuming you know your grass type then choose a link to jump to the full year lawn schedule for your growing territory.
► Warm Season Lawn Care – Annual Plan
► Cool Season Lawn Care – Annual Plan
You can also jump to the bottom of this page to see a list of answers to common lawn care questions beginners frequently have.
My Simple Annual Plan For Warm Season Grass Types
Warm season grasses typically go dormant in cool fall temps rather than freezing temperatures and they emerge from winter dormancy when temps start getting warm in the spring rather than in just cool early Spring weather.
During the high heat of summer warm season grasses put on their most aggressive growth so long as they receive enough water to sustain that growth.
It’s important to scalp many warm season lawns in the early Spring to cut back thick stems before green leaves really start growing aggressively.
Fertilization is best applied every 6 weeks or so May thorough Sept with pre-emergent herbicides applied in March/April depending on soil temperatures and in October as temperatures start dropping in the Fall.
Many warm season lawns can be power raked with a scarifier blade a couple times a year, usually in late Spring and again in late summer to cut stolons and score thatch layers promoting thicker growth.
Preventative fungicidal applications are applied to warm season lawns along at the same time as grub preventatives in May before lawn fungus becomes a problem and before grub larvae hatches in the soil.
Lastly, nearly all warm season lawns benefit greatly from frequent mowing two times a week through the growing season and possibly more frequently during the most vigorous growth of the year in mid-summer.
Shoot for four fertilization applications of approximately 0.75 lbs of Nitrogen per 1000/square feet spaced out by roughly 6-8 weeks and plan on applying blanket weed killer (if needed) in mid-Spring before outside temperatures get up past 85. If you miss this window then an application of weed killer in the early Fall when temps drop below 85 is helpful.
In early Spring many annual weeds are young and easily killed and in early fall many of the weeds may be harder to kill but killing any of them at that time can help prevent as much reseeding as possible.
My Simple Plan For Cool Season Grass Types
The most basic plan for cool season lawns is to apply pre-emergent herbicides in early April to prevent weeds throughout the Spring and summer then overseed bunch type grass lawns like Perennial Rye and Fescue in the Fall, usually around the 1st of September after pre-emergents have worn off.
A basic plan for fertilization is to apply 0.75 lbs of Nitrogen to a lawn around the four major holidays, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Halloween unless you can’t reliably water enough to keep your lawn out of summer dormancy or heat stress.
Grub preventatives typically are applied in late May to early June and preventative fungicides are applied in early June before temps get high enough to trigger summer and early Fall fungal threats.
In the cooler months of the growing season lawns should be cut twice a week to stimulate thick turf and in the summer months grass length can be left slightly longer and can be cut less often to help the lawn retain water while shading the soil as much as possible until summer stress wanes in September.
Lawn Care Guides – By The Season
If you want to get more detailed and advanced then I find it helpful to look at lawn care in the context of four seasonal windows. See below for my season lawn care guides.
► Spring Lawn Care Guide – Although many people thing Spring is the best time of the year to do anything to a lawn it’s actually not usually the best time to do any major projects or renovations. Spring is best for basic lawn maintenance and seasonal prep.
► Summer Lawn Care Guide – The summer is the best time to do most projects to warm season lawns and it’s one of the harder times of the year to maintain a cool season lawn. There are lots of things we do in the summer to prepare for the Fall and to prevent problems in the lawn throughout the rest of the year.
► Fall Lawn Care Guide – For cool season lawns the Fall window is an amazing time. Fall is when most big projects like renovation/seeding/leveling/fertilizing/etc are best done. Warm season lawns are still in growth mode but starting to slow so there’s a lot that needs to be done for them ass well including the maintenance that’s needed to prevent winter weeds.
► Winter Lawn Care & Related – In the winter there are some thing we can do to improve our lawns for the rest of the year but a lot of the winter topics are more closely related to Winter prep and Spring prep as well as snow/ice management.