When to Do Lawn Maintenance: Your Year-Round Lawn-Care Guide

by Michael Franco
Man worker cutting grass in summer with a professional gardener mowing lawn

When thinking of lawn maintenance, summertime mowing is likely what first comes to mind. But the truth is that lawn care entails so much more than grass cutting and should not be relegated to summer alone. In fact, maintaining your lawn should be a year-round job, with season-specific tasks taking place in the spring, summer, fall and, yes, even winter.

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Having an annual lawn-care schedule will keep your lawn healthy and looking its best. Plus, having a lawn-care calendar of set tasks throughout the seasons will make it easier for you to maintain your lawn in the long run.

So, what sort of tasks should you tackle each season? Read on to learn how to create a yearly yard maintenance schedule that works for your lawn, without taking up too much of your valuable time.

Fall (September through November)

  • Test your soil. Fall is a good time to test your soil to help remove any guesswork about future fertilizing treatments. Once you know your soil’s pH, you can feed it accordingly.
  • Add grass seed to bare or thin areas. If you notice any bare spots in your lawn, fall can be a great time to seed and repair these areas. If you have large areas that are bare, you can also plant sod, as the cooler fall temperatures can help it take root.
  • Aerate. Finally, if you have cool-season grass, early fall is an ideal time to aerate compacted soil. However, if you have warm-season grass — which is more common for Southern lawns — you may want to wait until late spring or early summer to aerate.

Winter (December through February)

  • Avoid salt damage. Although salting roads is great for deicing during the coldest, snowy parts of winter, the process is not great for your lawn. If you know the streets are going to be salted, you can try to protect your grass with burlap sacks or landscape cloth along the street border. If the area’s already been salted, you can still try to minimize the salt damage to your lawn by rinsing the area with water to remove salt residue as soon as the temperature rises above freezing.
  • Maintain equipment. You also want to make sure your mower and lawn tools are winterized and properly stored. Before temperatures drop below freezing, you want to make sure to remove the gas and oil from your mower and any other gas-powered lawn equipment. Now is also a good time to inspect mower blades and clean residual grass clippings from your mower and other lawn tools. Finally, make sure they are stored somewhere dry and secure, so they’ll be clean and ready to go for spring.
  • Remove debris. Winter winds and snows can bring down branches and other debris, so part of your winter lawn maintenance plan should be planning to clean and dispose of this debris as needed so your lawn will be clean and ready for spring.

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Spring (March through May)

  • Rake your yard. ​​Before your first spring mow, plan to give your yard a thorough raking to help dethatch the grass and loosen clumps. Dethatching helps water and air to reach the grass and improve root growth. It’ll also prepare your lawn for seeding and fertilizing. Be careful to avoid raking or too much foot traffic when your lawn is wet or muddy, as you risk damaging healthy grass.
  • Seed the grass. Spring is a good time to seed your lawn. Just be sure to wait until after the last frost. April is typically a good seeding month for most areas, but it will depend on your particular climate. You also want to make sure the area is prepared for seeding.
  • Fertilize. Before fertilizing, make sure to water your lawn a few days prior if it hasn’t rained, so the roots won’t burn. The fertilizer you choose will depend on your particular lawn’s needs, but often a starter fertilizer works well when seeding and fertilizing in the spring, as it contains more phosphorus than other fertilizers and helps promote growth.

Summer (June through August)

  • Mow properly. When mowing in the summer, you want to make sure not to mow too low. The added height will help shade the soil and help with weed control by keeping weed seeds from germinating. The exact height depends on your grass type, but you’ll want to keep your grass about a half an inch higher in the summer than in cooler seasons.
  • Treat for pests. Grubs can dry your grass and eventually cause patches to die. Sometimes this damage doesn’t show up until September or October, but grub problems actually start in mid to late summer. So, if you want to apply grub control to your lawn before it’s too late, summer is your best bet.

Four Seasons of a Happy, Healthy Lawn

Caring for your lawn can be a badge of honor and a source of pride. But not only are healthy lawns lovely to look at, but they also make for a more enjoyable and safer space to live and play. Creating a lawn-care timeline for year-round maintenance keeps your lawn happy and can help prevent projects from piling up during the heat of summer.

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