Looking for the ideal, step-by-step lawn care schedule? Then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, you’ll find detailed plans, lawn maintenance tips and schedules for the appropriate times of year to apply them — for both warm-season and cool-season grasses.
Keep in mind that sustaining a year-round lawn care schedule is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process. Hiring a professional lawn care service can help you care for your lawn and reduce your stress and workload.
The reviews team has explored the ins and outs of the top lawn care companies, evaluating factors from services offered to customer ratings. In the end, notable industry leader TruGreen came out on top.
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.
Types of Lawn Care
It’s no secret how much work goes into maintaining a beautiful lawn. It’s not just a matter of watering, mowing and hoping for the best.
You’ll need to take care of:
- Mowing — The ideal height to mow your grass is about 3 inches. Keeping the grass at this height will allow it to develop deep, strong roots.
- Weed control — Keep tight control of any weeds that pop up in your lawn, so you can prevent them from taking over.
- Pest control — Watch out for harmful pests in your lawn and act promptly to prevent potential insect infestations.
- Aeration — Aerating your soil allows your grass to develop, grow and heal from stress and damage.
- Fertilizing or treating — Fertilize your lawn several times a year, and keep track of the appropriate times to fertilize based on the type of grass you have.
- Seeding — Apply grass seeds to fill in any bare spots in the lawn if they occur.
- Irrigation — Proper lawn irrigation practices are crucial to maintaining a healthy lawn. The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning.
- Tree and shrub maintenance — Pruning your trees and shrubs at the right time allows them to stay healthy and avoid catching a common lawn disease.
- Fall and spring cleanup — Make sure to remove debris, leaves, sticks and small branches from your lawn, especially during fall and spring.
These are several things you should add to your lawn care routine if you want it to reach its full potential. Each lawn care company varies by the number and quality of services they offer, so you should call multiple companies to get quotes and ensure they offer the lawn care services you need.
Your Warm-Season Grass Lawn Care Schedule
Each grass type has its own lawn care schedule requirements. Warm-season grasses grow predominantly in the southern and western regions of the U.S. and in the middle of the country, stretching from the Midwest to the Atlantic States.
Warm-season grasses thrive in areas that experience summer temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees. Common warm grass types include Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, Zoysia grass and Bahia grass.
Apart from following this schedule, mow once per week during spring, once every two weeks throughout summer and once per month in the fall until your grass goes dormant.
Water deeply as needed, based on the moisture of the soil, especially during hot summer days.
Pre-emergent herbicides are weed killers that eliminate pesky plants before they can poke their stubborn heads out above the soil. When applying pre-emergents, timing is one of the most crucial factors. The best time to do this is in late winter or early spring, just before the seeds start to germinate in your lawn.
Thatch buildup creates a barrier to water, air and nutrients, and prevents grass from developing deep and strong roots. Also, thatch offers a perfect environment for bacteria, fungus and weeds to take root and destroy the look and health of your lawn.
It’s vital that you dethatch the lawn once per year, ideally in the spring, from March until May. When you introduce dethatching to your lawn care schedule, make sure to dethatch before applying pre-emergents. This will allow the weed killer to penetrate the soil and make it more effective against weed germination and growth.
Fertilization is a crucial step. If you want your garden to be the best it can be, it’s essential to know precisely when and how to apply fertilizer. Before fertilizing, use a soil analysis kit to test your soil to find out exactly what nutrients your yard needs.
When it comes to creating a specific lawn fertilization schedule, you should apply seed fertilizer at least a couple of times during the growing season, starting in spring.
The best time to seed your warm-season grass lawn is from spring through the summer. The ideal conditions to seed are when the soil temperature is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average daytime temperature is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in an area where frost can occur, avoid planting grass at the end of summer, or about two months before the first frost usually makes its debut.
Much like excessive thatch buildup, compacted soil can lead to a lot of problems. It inhibits the growth of grass root systems and leads to maintenance problems, namely weed growth and lawn diseases.
The best way to break up compacted soil is with core aeration. You can buy or rent an aeration machine or do it manually if you have a smaller lawn. The best time to aerate your lawn is summer or late spring if you also plan on applying pre-emergent herbicides on your lawn.
Post-emergent herbicides kill existing weeds that are already growing in your lawn. You can choose between selective weed killers, which only target the weed, and non-selective weed killers, which will kill any plant they come into contact with. The best time to apply post-emergents is summer through fall when the soil temperature is above 55 degrees.
Your Cool-Season Grass Lawn Care Schedule
Cool-season grasses thrive in the northern part of the US. But they can also do well in the Transition Zone, the area that expands from the Atlantic States to the Midwest. Cool-season grasses achieve optimum growth at temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Common cool-season grass types include Kentucky Bluegrass, Rough Bluegrass, Fine Fescue and Tall Fescues.
As is the case with warm-season grass, proper mowing and watering techniques are also an essential part of the proper maintenance for cool-season lawns. The same mowing process applies to both types of grass. Mow once per week during summer, once every two weeks during fall and once per month until the grass goes dormant.
The best time to fertilize your cool-season grass is in late summer to early autumn. If your lawn requires fertilization several times a year, look at feeding it in September and November. Feed it again in spring if necessary — ideally, in April or May. Such a schedule will provide the lawn with enough nutrients to last through the winter and prepare for the first flush of growth in the spring.
The best time to apply pre-emergent herbicides to cool-season grasses is in spring before the soil reaches more than 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because the weeds haven’t started germinating yet. So, you can stop them from establishing themselves in your soil and competing with the grass.
The best time to apply post-emergent herbicides is the same for cool-season and warm-season grasses, or summer through fall. Look to apply herbicides at the early side of this schedule. The daily average temperatures are still moderate and the nights aren’t too cold.
As is the practice with warm-season grasses, you should aerate cool-season grasses during the growing season. But unlike the former, which benefit from spring aeration, the best time to aerate cool-season grasses is in early spring or early fall. The temperatures during this period are generally cooler compared to previous months, meaning your grass won’t be under too much stress during the process.
The best time to dethatch your lawn is the same as it is for aerating. The grass actively grows in early spring and early fall, and the soil is moderately moist. Active grass growth will help your lawn adjust more quickly to the newly dethatched soil.
Fall is the best time to seed cool-season grasses. During this period, the soil is still relatively warm, temperatures during the day don’t get very high and the evenings are cool enough to encourage seed germination. Look to plant cool-season grass seeds at least a month and a half before the first frost, giving your newly established grass enough time to grow strong and healthy.
Going With the Pros
Whether you have warm-season grasses or cool-season grasses, these tips will help you maintain your lawn during all seasons. This activity-packed schedule is often not suitable for homeowners who already have busy calendars, so professional lawn services are often the best solution to the problem. A reliable lawn care company can maintain the right schedule for your lawn so you can focus on other important things knowing your lawn is in good hands.
Top Pick: TruGreen
After evaluating important factors such as service cost, customer reviews, the availability of services, and more, the reviews team’s top pick goes to TruGreen. Founded in 1971, TruGreen is the largest lawn care company in the U.S. TruGreen offers five plans, with services ranging from aeration and seeding to fertilization and pest control. Each plan promises total customer satisfaction with its Healthy Lawn Guarantee.
TruGreen offers a nearly nationwide lawn care service, which includes all U.S. states except for Hawaii and Alaska. A wide reach means years and years of expertise, plus top-notch equipment.
TruGreen is the most reputable lawn care company in the country, with overwhelmingly positive customer feedback on all major review sites. The business has over 2,200 reviews on Trustpilot, with customer feedback like:
“My grass is always beautiful, and I know it is because of the care from the service that I get from TruGreen.”
“Excellent technicians and service make the difference.”
TruGreen also maintains a high status with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), with an A+ BBB Rating, and has been a BBB-accredited business since 2012. Despite serving more than two million residential and commercial customers across the U.S., TruGreen dedicates a lot of attention to every new customer.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you maintain a perfect lawn?
To maintain a perfect lawn, you need to provide it with enough care and attention during the time it needs it the most. So, follow the detailed schedule outlined above. You’ll be many steps closer to achieving and maintaining the perfect lawn.
What time of year do you fertilize your lawn?
The exact time when you should treat it depends on whether or not you have cool-season or warm-season grass. If you have a warm-season grass lawn, the best time to fertilize your lawn is in spring. The ideal time to fertilize cool-season grass is in late summer or early fall.
How do I keep my grass green all year round?
Many things go into keeping your grass green all year round. To maintain a lush green color, you need to keep the yard healthy during all seasons with proper mowing, watering, aeration, fertilization and weed and pest control.
How often should you treat your lawn?
You should feed your grass two to four times a year. Keep in mind that just as you can under-fertilize, you can also over-fertilize the grass. This is why it’s advisable to reach out to a professional lawn care company for tips and lawn care help.