Guide To Taking Care of Your Southern Lawn

Southern lawns require precise and continuous care. Our guide to southern lawn care will keep your lawn looking gorgeous and green. | Photo Credit: Shutterstock © izikMD

Southern lawns require precise, year-round care in order to stay green and lush. Contrary to popular belief, comprehensive southern lawn care doesn’t end with mowing your lawn and turning on your sprinklers. This complete guide to southern lawn care will show you exactly how to get and maintain the lawn you’ve been dreaming of.

But maintaining a great-looking lawn can be a challenge. If you don’t have time to manage your own lawn care, consider choosing a reputable and professional lawn care company to manage your property on your behalf. 

In This Article:

Today’s Homeowner works with an independent reviews team to create evidence-based research that helps our readers make informed decisions. The reviews are always independent. For transparency, we may be compensated if you purchase through a link.

Warm season grasses

Homeowners in the southern United States have the unique challenge of finding outdoor plants that thrive in dry, hot conditions. Fortunately, there are many plants from around the world adapted to these conditions that can make themselves right at home from southern California all the way to the Carolinas. 

The best grasses for southern lawns are appropriately called “warm season” grasses. These grasses like hot weather so much that they go dormant when temperatures dip in fall and winter. You’ll see your warm season grasses thrive in areas with the hottest summers, and you won’t need to worry about them dying off if a drought occurs. Unlike cool season grasses (which thrive up north) warm season grasses can survive on less water and thrive when the temperatures climb.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common warm season grasses you’ll see in the south and how you can identify them. 

  • Bermuda Grass — widely planted in residential and commercial settings; fast-growing; drought-tolerant
  • St. Augustine — fast-growing; coarse-textured; shade-tolerant; stays green at lower temperatures than Bermudagrass
  • Zoysia Grass — drought- and heat-tolerant; dense growth pattern; shade-tolerant

Caring For Your Southern Lawn in Spring 

Spring is often a short-lived season in the south, meaning summer is just around the corner and with it comes lawn maintenance for heat-loving warm season grasses. The following maintenance tips are specific to southern lawns and the grasses that grow there. 

Grass responds best to mowing when it is actively growing. For southern lawns, mowing really picks up in spring and continues through the heat of summer. In the early growth phase, you can mow slightly lower than standard recommendations before resuming recommended mowing heights in late spring. 

As you mow, leave the clippings to decompose in your lawn. This “grasscycling” will help reduce weedy encroachment and add nutrients to your lawn all in one easy, free step. Throughout the season, test your soil’s nutrient levels and amend it accordingly. A healthy lawn should not have moss in it, so if you see it beginning to crop up, treat it early with a targeted product. If your moss resists treatments, call a professional lawn care service to remove this stubborn plant.

Water your lawn sufficiently to help warm season grasses establish after the dormant season. Take into account your local precipitation patterns and aim to provide at least 1 to 1.25 inches of water per week. To test your soil moisture, push a stick or screwdriver into your lawn and note the moisture level on the tool. Pay attention to the resistance as well — wet soil will be easy to push through while dry soil will not give under pressure. 

Other considerations for southern lawn care include seeding and overseeding, aerating and dethatching. Warm season grasses will “wake up” from dormancy as temperatures reach 65 degrees Fahrenheit. You can seed a new lawn or overseed an existing one during spring and early summer. Overseeding will thicken your grass, minimize weeds and reduce weedy encroachment. If you have an established lawn, aerate and dethatch in late spring to reduce soil compaction, improve nutrient and air movement and reduce the risk of disease. 

Caring for Your Southern Lawn in Summer 

Warm season grasses thrive in dry, warm conditions, making summers in the south a great time for lawn grasses to grow. In summer, you can allow warm season grasses to grow at least 1 to 1.5 inches above their normal recommended heights. Mowing high during this time will reduce evaporation after watering and limit weed growth.

This period of active growth is also the perfect time to fertilize your lawn. Fertilizing will promote healthy summer growth and prepare your lawn for winter, when it will need reserved energy to survive. Fertilize your warm-season grasses every 4-6 weeks in summer. 

Caring for Your Southern Lawn in Fall

Lawn maintenance changes with the seasons, and the autumn months call for a range of important, new tasks. Get ahead of winter weeds by applying a pre-emergent herbicide once nighttime air temperatures reach 65 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also apply a final fertilizer treatment about 6 to 8 weeks before your first expected frost date to promote energy storage for winter. Consider overseeding with cool season grass seeds during this time if you’d like to keep a green lawn during the winter. You should also scale back your watering during this time as your warm season grasses begin to enter dormancy.  

From here, you should keep up with these lawn care maintenance steps as needed.

  • Rake leaves — Removing fallen leaves will ensure your lawn has healthy air flow and access to sunlight. You may also want to consider mulching these leaves and depositing them in a thin layer to provide nutrients to your grass.
  • Mow low — As warm season grass growth starts to slow down in the fall, you can lower your cutting height. 
  • Apply post-emergent herbicide — Any weeds that spring up can be treated in fall with a post-emergent product that targets above-ground weeds.
  • Dethatch — Just like removing weeds, dethatching improves the flow of air and water to the plants you want growing in your lawn. It also reduces soil compaction and the risk of disease.
  • Fertilize — If you’ve overseeded your lawn with a cool season grass, apply a fertilizer to promote healthy grass development in the winter months. 

Caring for Your Southern Lawn in Winter

Warm season grasses do not grow in winter. Instead, they enter a dormant stage until the return of warmer weather. This means that most of the month will be spent relaxing and maintaining your lawn.

During this period of low activity, prepare yourself for the rigors of spring. Make sure you have the tools you need and that they are in good working condition. You can set aside your lawn mower for the next few months, so you may want to consider winterizing it until you’ll need it in spring. If you miss the hands-on work of fall, you can edge and trim around walkways and lawn features. 

During winter, your warm season grasses shouldn’t need much water. If you’ve overseeded with a cool season grass or if your area hasn’t received much winter precipitation, consider watering on an as-needed basis. You can also target any weeds that made their way into your lawn with a post-emergent herbicide. 

Going with the Pros 

Does all of this lawn care and maintenance sound overwhelming? Many homeowners underestimate the amount of time and effort they need to put into their lawn care to keep their grass growing green. Thankfully, you don’t need to tackle all of these services on your own — you can also hire a professional lawn care company to maintain the lawn you love on your behalf.

Professional lawn care services understand the southern lawns require specialized care and products. These companies offer professional-grade services and use top-of-the-line tools and treatments to keep your lawn looking great. 

In many cases, going with the pros also ends up saving you money over time. If you tried to replicate the complete set of professional-grade gardening tools and products these companies use on your lawn, you might end up spending thousands of dollars. Professional lawn care companies give you access to these treatments and services at a lower price point, saving you both time and money. 

Top Pick: TruGreen

Ground level view of a recently cut and well maintained ornamental grass seen just after a summer rain shower. Some small water droplets can be seen on this very shallow focus of the grass blades.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock © Nick Beer

TruGreen is the reviews team’s top recommended lawn care service provider for southern lawns. Offering a variety of plan options, organic choices, and an intuitive online quote system, there’s plenty to love about TruGreen.

Get a lawn care quote from TruGreen by calling 877-386-6512 or by filling out this form.

TruGreen’s Offerings 

TruGreen makes lawn care less of a hassle for homeowners by providing a variety of package plans. Each plan includes a select number of services and treatments to enhance your lawn. All TruGreen packages come with the company’s Healthy Lawn Guarantee, and treatments are always administered by qualified TruGreen technicians.

Plan  Services
TruComplete Lawn Care Plan – One aeration and overseed per year
– Eight general service visits a year
– Fertilization
– Grub and pest control services
– Pre-emergent and targeted weed control
– An analysis of your current lawn condition
– Satisfaction guarantee
– Service by lawn care professionals
TruHealth Lawn Care Plan – Eight general service visits a year
– Fertilization
– Grub and pest control services
– Pre-emergent and targeted weed control
– An analysis of your current lawn condition
– Satisfaction guarantee
– Service by lawn care professionals
TruSignature Lawn Care Plan – One aeration and overseed per year
– Eight general service visits a year
– Seven tree service visits per year
– Fertilization
– Grub and pest control services
– Pre-emergent and targeted weed control
– An analysis of your current lawn condition
– Tree and shrub services
– Satisfaction guarantee
– Service by lawn care professionals
TruNatural Lawn Care Plan – Five general visits per year
– Natural fertilizer application
– Non-toxic weed control services
– An analysis of your current lawn condition
– Satisfaction guarantee
– Service by lawn care professionals
TruMaintenance Lawn Care Plan – Six general visits per year
– Fertilization
– Pre-emergent and targeted weed control
– An analysis of your current lawn condition
– Satisfaction guarantee
– Service by lawn care professionals

TruGreen also offers the following services on an a la carte basis:

  • Mosquito control
  • Soil amendment services
  • Tree and shrub services

You can add any a la carte service to your plan with just a few clicks through TruGreen’s website. 

TruGreen Locations 

TruGreen is available in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. This makes them an excellent choice for all southern homeowners.

Why TruGreen? 

TruGreen is accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and currently holds an A+ rating.

“I have had a great experience with TruGreen. Everyone from the people who answer the phones to the technicians have been very helpful and polite. When I call with a problem they are eager to do what needs to be done and respond quickly. They have been treating my lawn for button weed which is very hard to get rid of. I have tried unsuccessfully for 10 years to do this on my own with help from garden center supplies and it only got worse. I am pleased to say that after less than 5 months, they have almost completely eradicated these weeds from my lawn and when I find any coming up again, they send a technician to treat any new seedlings that arise. My lawn is really looking good and I recommend TruGreen for lawn service.”

— Dorothy R., 8/9/2018, 5 stars, BBB

Are you ready to learn more about TruGreen and what the company can bring to your lawn? Give it a call today at 888-535-3193 or fill out a simple online quote request form here to get started. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I take care of my lawn in the summer? 

Warm season grasses grow quickly in the summer. Mow regularly and fertilize your grass every 4 to 6 weeks for optimal growth. 

When should I fertilize my southern lawn? 

Southern lawns usually grow best in the summer. You’ll want to fertilize your lawn every 4 to 6 weeks during the summer season if you have warm season grasses on your property.

How do you take care of a southern lawn? 

Taking care of a southern lawn requires a number of steps and processes, ranging from mowing to fertilizing to winterizing your lawn mower. If you don’t have time to take care of all the maintenance a southern lawn needs, you may want to consider hiring a professional lawn care company to help you keep your lawn looking great. 

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