To maintain a healthy lawn, you must fertilize, water, mow, aerate, and more. We want to make sure that you’re not just caring for your lawn, but you’re caring for it correctly with the best lawn treatment plan. Our experts put together a guide to explain how to eliminate weeds, when to fertilize, and how often to water. Not all grass is the same, and therefore, not all treatment works the same.
Seventy-five percent of Americans feel lawn care is essential—and we agree, which is why we provide the best lawn treatment strategies here. Whether you do it yourself or use a professional lawn care service like our recommended provider TruGreen, we want to ensure you have the best lawn on the block. To get a free quote for the best lawn treatments from TruGreen, fill out a form online or call 1-866-817-2172.
Understanding Grass Types
There are two different types of grasses(cool-season and warm-season), and each requires different care. Occasionally, lawns have a mixture of warm-season and cool-season grasses, especially if you live in a transition zone.
Understand the significant differences between cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses so you know how to best care for them:
|Cool-Season Grasses||Warm-Season Grasses|
Creeping red fescue
|Most Often Found in These Regions||Northeast, Midwest, Pacific Northwest||Southeast, Southwest, Deep South, Gulf Coast|
|Best Time to Fertilize||Fall and early spring||Spring and summer|
|Growing Season||Fall and spring||Summer|
|Thrive Best in These Temperatures||Between 65°F and 75°F||Between 80°F and 95°F|
Getting a Soil Test
A lot of lawn care problems stem from poorly cared-for soil. Knowing what type of soil you have and what nutrients are missing is the key to maintaining a healthy lawn. When testing, you’re looking for its acidity and alkaline levels.
A scale of 0 to 14 determines the pH measurement. Too much or too little can be problematic for your lawn, so you want to make sure you have a healthy balance of acidity and alkaline. If you’re going to grow plants or vegetables, you want the pH level of your soil to be around 6.5. For comparison, pure water typically has a pH level of 7.
To test your soil, you can use a do-it-yourself test or a basic soil test kit you can find at various stores—or you can call a professional.
Balancing the alkaline and acidity in your soil is vital for the best lawn treatment. You can skip the at-home test for an accurate reading and call TruGreen. They offer a pH and soil analysis as part of their Soil Amendment and Analysis Services. Get a quote online or call 1-866-817-2172.
Although 64% of Americans believe all grass needs to be fertilized in the spring, there is evidence that supports when you should fertilize is based on your grass seed type and climate. We break down the rules of fertilization so you don’t end up overfeeding your soil.
To take the best care of your lawn, fertilize it right before the growing season begins. So, homeowners should fertilize cold-season grass at the end of the summer or the beginning of fall. If you need to fertilize again, you can do so in the spring. Warm-season grass should be fertilized in the late spring, right before summer.
Whatever you do, you don’t want to overfeed your lawn. Putting down too much grass seed can damage the grass and prevent it from growing. Ideally, you only want to fertilize once or twice per year, depending on your soil’s pH level.
When fertilizing, you can use one of these methods to feed: a broadcast or rotary spreader, a drop spreader, a spray, or compost.
Not sure which is best for your lawn? The best lawn fertilizer depends on your soil and grass type. A lawn care professional can perform a soil analysis, determine if fertilizing is necessary, and fertilize it for you when you need it. TruGreen offers fertilization services in all three of its lawn treatment plans.
Weed control can be confusing if you don’t know what weeds look like. A dozen different types of weeds can destroy your lawn if you’re not careful. Dandelions (tiny yellow flowers), for instance, are also called Broadleaf Weeds.
Some of the most common—and annoying—weeds are crabgrass, which grows in the warm summer months. To stop this weed from growing, you can use a crabgrass preventer right when the crabgrass seeds begin to germinate, typically when the temperatures drop from 55°F to 60°F (early spring). If you start to see the crabgrass growing, you’re already too late in preventing it.
Weed killers, more specifically, can be used to destroy crabgrass and other weeds. Knowing which weed killer to use can be tricky since some are used to both kill and prevent weeds, while others are used to kill certain types of weeds. As part of their lawn care plans, TruGreen offers pre-emergent and targeted weed control throughout the year, including the spring months when it’s time to dethatch, aerate, and prepare your lawn for the summer.
You can use a string trimmer to trim the weeds, a professional tool most often used to edge or taper a lawn. It has multiple purposes, but if you have weeds growing out of the cracks in your sidewalk, using this tool will do the trick.
Watering Your Lawn
Nearly one in three Americans say they don’t know how often to water a lawn. Presumably, watering it more often is better than watering it less frequently, but is there a way to determine how much is too much?
We recommend watering in the mornings to allow the water to better evaporate into the soil in the summer months. The goal is to fill your lawn with one inch of water per week, two inches at most. Depending on where you live, if trees shade your lawn, and how often you get rain, you may have to increase or decrease your watering.
Aim to water for about 15 to 20 minutes, two to three times per week. You’ll know you overwatered if you leave footprints when you walk over it.
Pro tip: Water infrequently but for more extended periods of time. For example, water three times a week for an hour during warm seasons instead of every day for 10 minutes. If temperatures are extremely high, you can water lightly every day.
Mowing Your Lawn
It can be challenging to understand when to mow your lawn and how often. This depends, again, on what type of grass you have, but essentially you want to mow when the grass isn’t wet. Also, mow your lawn most often during the grass’s prime growing season, as outlined above.
If you have cold-season grass, you should aim to mow your lawn once a week during the fall and spring. If you have warm-season grass, you should seek to mow your lawn once a week during the summer. Our rule of thumb: let the grass grow, and mow once per week.
Don’t cut your lawn too short or too often, or you could leave your grass more susceptible to drought and weeds. Cut about one-third of the grass blades, but no shorter. We recommend cutting the grass higher during peak growing seasons so you avoid weeds and allow photosynthesis to occur quickly. Cutting it at the right height can help the soil maintain the proper nutrients.
When you’re done mowing, leaving grass clippings on your lawn can help prevent thatch from developing and act as a natural fertilizer. If you want to remove them for aesthetic purposes, you can bag them and use them later for compost.
Lawn Mowing Tips:
- Vary the direction you mow
- Mow first thing in the morning
- Mow as often as your grass requires
- Use sharp blades
- Leave the grass clippings
- Make sure you’re not cutting the grass too short or letting it grow too long in between sessions
To thicken your grass, you can add grass seeds over a recently mown lawn. Overseeding an existing lawn about once a year can restore your lawn and fill in the bare spots with new grass.
Before you overseed, remove any clippings or debris so that the seeds can reach the soil. Add the seeds to a spreader and follow the directions on the grass seed package. After, water the new seeds once a day for a week. If you have cool-season grass, you’ll want to overseed in the fall. If you have warm-season grass, overseed in the spring.
Aeration prevents or removes lawn thatch or debris, which can dry out healthy grass. It also removes moss plants. Aeration ensures proper circulation and gives your soil access to water, air, and nutrients. Without this lawn treatment, underground roots may not get access to the oxygen or water needed to breathe and survive.
How do you aerate? Poke holes in the soil using a spike aerator or a plug aerator. Consider paying for a core aeration technique utilizing a lawn aerator for a more thorough treatment. If you pay for this application, ask for specific instructions on how and when to use it.
Perform aeration in the spring or early summer if you have warm-season grass or fall if you have cool-season grass. You should only have to perform aeration once per year if you maintain your lawn properly. Consider aerating more often if your soil becomes too hard or compact.
Thatch is essentially a mix of dead and living grass stems, leaves, and shoots that builds up during the cold season. Minor amounts of thatch aren’t bad for your lawn, but thick layers of thatch can prevent grassroots from getting enough water and dry them out. Thatch can also form if there’s too much clay in your soil or too many pesticides over a long period of time. It can be harmful to your lawn, so it’s best to monitor and remove it if necessary.
You should remove thatch after the cold season. Use a hand rake to scrape the thatch out of your grass, or use a dethatcher to eliminate weeds. Only use a dethatcher if your grass isn’t too dry or too wet.
You’ll want to dethatch once per year if you have trouble preventing thatch with simple lawn maintenance. If it’s very minimal, stick with every other year. The frequency depends on your lawn and how much thatch has accumulated over the winter months.
When winter weather comes to a close, and the warm spring temperatures arrive, we often turn to our deserted lawns, eager to make them green again. By cleaning your lawn at the start of the warm season, you’ll allow for aeration, provide the soil with oxygen, water, and nutrients, and prevent mold from developing.
When spring comes, here’s what you can do to prepare for the best lawn treatment in the warm summer months, no matter where you live:
- Remove leaves, debris, or clutter from your lawn and flower beds.
- Re-edge your lawn using a power edger or weed wacker.
- Trim your trees and mow your grass (but not too short).
- Use a pesticide to get rid of lawn-eating pests like lawn grubs.
Periodically remove branches, twigs, and leaves throughout the year, so your lawn is ready before spring.
The Best Lawn Treatment Tools
If you own a home with a lawn, you own the most prominent single “crop” in the United States. Maintaining a well-manicured lawn takes time and effort, just like any other crop.
Where do you begin? Start with the basics.
Make sure you own these lawn care products if you plan to practice do-it-yourself lawn maintenance:
- Gardening gloves
- Lawn mower
- Trimmer or edger
- Water hose
- Spray for fertilizer
- Pest control, if you have problems with pests in your lawn or garden
- Digging tools, including a digger and spade
- Pruners, edge sheers, and other cutting tools
- Hand tamper and other grading tools
- Measuring and marking tools
- Levels and hammers
- Hand rake
Lawn maintenance can be costly, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Even after buying the right equipment, you will need to purchase seeds, fertilizer, and weed-killing spray, depending on the season.
For the best lawn treatment, practice seasonal maintenance. How many treatments are needed depends on your grass type, soil, and where you live. Caring for your lawn in the fall, for instance, is crucial if you have cool-weather grass. You want to make sure your grass is in the best condition to withstand damaging winter temperatures.
Don’t have time? If you sign up for a TruGreen lawn care plan, you can ensure a professional visits your lawn multiple times per year.
Save Time and Hire a Professional
The average American spends about 70 hours on lawn and garden care annually. You can do lawn care yourself with our tips above or hire a professional to take care of it all year correctly. You can spend those 70 hours a year on your family, friends, and after-work activities when you hire a professional.
Experts like TruGreen can solve your lawn problems by checking on your lawn throughout the year. The best lawn treatment starts with the basics, and that’s what TruGreen covers at an affordable price. From weed control and lawn fertilization to aeration and tree and shrub care, TruGreen can ensure that your lawn care needs are met year-round. You can choose from various lawn care plans and applications, including fertilization, pre-emergent herbicide treatment, targeted weed control, aeration, lime treatment, etc. TruGreen offers 50% off for your first application.
Read our TruGreen Review to get a better idea of its treatment plans and services.
Benefits of Choosing TruGreen
Not only does TruGreen offer the best lawn treatment, but they use a scientifically tailored approach to lawn care. Their team of experts undergoes extensive training through their TruExpert® Certification Program to make sure your lawn is cared for in the best way possible.
Other reasons to choose TruGreen include:
- Healthy Lawn Analysis®: Take the guesswork out of lawn maintenance. TruGreen provides a lawn analysis using a tailored approach intended to find lawn care solutions based on your particular lawn, climate, and region.
- Guaranteed results: With their Healthy Lawn Guarantee®◆, This professional lawn care company is committed to getting you the results you desire, and if adjustments are needed, experts will return to make sure your lawn is cared for properly.
- Advanced lawn care techniques: With a team of agronomic experts, TruGreen ensures that each lawn is cared for with the right equipment, the right products, and at the right time.
- More than 40 years of experience: TruGreen has helped homeowners with their lawns and provided satisfying results to customers for decades.
TruGreen wants you to love your lawn, so they have PhD-certified specialists evaluate your yard before suggesting how to treat it. If you need follow-up care, TruGreen experts will return, again and again, to make sure your lawn is properly cared for.
For a free quote on TruGreen lawn plans or to learn more about their lawn care services, fill out the online form or call 1-866-817-2172.