Lawn Care Calendar = a Great Lawn This Year

Plan Your Maintenance Schedule Out Now

You know that you will have certain lawn care items to do this year on your lawn and landscape to have a GREAT ONE! So why not sit down with a calendar now and plan it all out?

Lawn Care Calendar

Plan your lawn care calendar out now for 2017

Depending on how great you want your lawn to work, you will have a certain number of fertilizer and weed control applications to make, you will have to mow the grass a certain number of times, prune the shrubs so many times, mulch, weed the beds, clean up the leaves, aerate, overseed, apply lime and possibly much more, or less, depending on your level of Lawn Care Ninja.

Some things that you will do for your lawn won’t actually show up for weeks after it was performed, so planning gets those tasks scheduled and you get them done, before they are forgotten or it gets too late in the year.

If you want a fantastic looking lawn that is weed free and knock-out green for Memorial Day, you can’t just kick it up a notch the week before, you need fertilizer down weeks before, weed control down starting in Feb, or Mar, and the grass cut regularly. Then it all comes together at the end of May.

Fertilizer and Weed Control Applications

Depending on your type of grass, and how much of a lawn geek you are you could do anywhere from 1 to 8 applications. Some people only make one application a year, that is usually done in the Fall if you only make one application.

If you do two applications, put one down in the Fall, usually a Winterizer that will prepare the grass to over winter better and grow deeper roots so it will be hardier next Summer. A Winterizer fertilizer will have a higher ratio of Potash to Nitrogen and Phosphate. Something like a 6-12-12 or 3-10-30 are some I have seen sold. The Nitrogen isn’t needed that much in the Fall for most grasses, and for warm season grasses, you don’t want any nitrogen down. And then put another application of fertilizer and a pre-emergent weed control down in the Spring. If you don’t fertilize, at least use a pre-emergent weed control to help keep out the weeds.

Applying Fertilizer and weed control products with a spreader

Applying granule fertilizer and weed control products

Then put another application of fertilizer and a pre-emergent weed control down in the early Spring, around Feb in the South, or Mar. farther North,  for a two application per year program. The Spring application would be something like a 32-3-10 with pre-emergent and/or post-emergent weed control products.

About 2 months later, April/May,  if only applying 4 applications, use a fertilizer and broadleaf weed control to control dandelions, and other broadleaf weeds. This will have an analysis of something like the 32-3-10 or similar again. The first number is nitrogen and provides the majority of your green in the grass.

A lot of people that use the four application program each year will schedule them like this. Using the major Holidays for reminders, apply around Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day.

If you want a little more green, and fewer weeds, and you don’t mind mowing a little more often, plan for 6 applications. You will take the 4 application program I just described, but move the dates around so you start earlier in the year with your first fertilizer and weed control application, end the year with your winterizer application a little later in the year, and then scoot the dates closer together to have an equal amount of time between them.

Your Lawn Care Calendar will look something like this:

  1. February Pre-emergent weed control and Fertilizer for cool season grasses. Pre-emergent only for warm season grasses
  2. March 15 Pre-emergent weed control for Southern areas where the weed germination period is longer, with fertilizer and broadleaf weed control. Northern climates will get broadleaf weed control and fertilizer.

    fertilizer and insect control

    Fertilizer with insect control added

  3. April 30 Broadleaf weed control and fertilizer for both cool season and warm season grasses. If you have an insect problem with army worms, fleas, and ticks, or a mole problem that is exacerbated by grub worms, you might want to use a fertilizer with insect control in it.  If you have Fescue grass and you live in the transition zone or further South, be watching for fungus. Mainly Brown Patch fungus. It starts at the end of April to early May and continues during hot and humid weather. If you see spots that look like the picture to the right, you could have a fungus. A fungicide will need to be applied
    Brown Patch Fungus on Fescue Grass

    Brown patch fungus on Fescue grass

    immediately.

  4. June 15th Fertilizer and broadleaf weed control. Monitor for insects, apply insecticide as needed
  5. July 30th Fertilizer and Broadleaf weed control, again monitor the lawn for insects. Armyworms can attack in the Summer and move quickly across the lawn causing a lot of damage in just a
    Army Worms in lawn

    Armyworms invading lawn

    week or so. If you see mysterious dead or yellowing spots on the lawn that look like the picture to the right, you may have armyworms.

  6. September 15th apply the Winterizer fertilizer with weed control if you like or if you are still having broadleaf weed problems. Some people will apply a Fall Pre-emergent weed control which will control any Fall and early Winter weeds that may germinate.

Mowing, Edging, and Trimming

Depending on a few things like if you water or not, how much fertilizer you are using, and where you live and what type of grass you have, you will have to mow anywhere from every 5 days to 10 days.

This is one of the harder things to keep on a set schedule due to things like rain,

Lawn Care is Hard

Lawn Care Is So Hard!

equipment issues, and life. But it’s important to keep the mowing on a close enough schedule that you don’t cut more than 1/3 of the grass off in one cutting. Cutting more than that off at one time will yellow the grass off, and possibly stunt it. I prefer to cut more often and cut just a little off. But then again, I enjoy mowing, it’s my “quite time”.

Edging of the hard edges, sidewalks, concrete drives, patios and anything with a hard, straight edge will need to be done at least once a month with a stick or blade edger. Normal string trimming (weed eating) is done each week as you mow. Some people are good enough with a string trimmer that they can turn it up on it’s edge and clean up the edging without having to get the blade edger out. If you don’t own a stick edger or blade edger, they do a fantastic job of keeping a nice straight and clean edge on your hard edges.

Other Lawn Care Items needed

Aeration and overseeding, if needed for cool season grasses will need to be scheduled for late August or early September. The earlier you get the seed in the ground, the faster it can get germinated, start growing and be tall enough to be mowed a couple of times before Fall sets in.

Lime applications are best done in the Fall and are usually helpful for most lawns. Very seldom do we find a lawn that does NOT need lime. One bag of lime per thousand square feet of lawn area is what we apply. This is a general rule of thumb for lawns that are on the clay side of the soil structure spectrum. Better quality soils wouldn’t need as much, and a soil test will tell you exactly what you need. With a little experience, you will know what to apply without repeated soil tests.

These are not all of the lawn and landscape chores that will need to be done on your property over the year, but this article is meant to be more of a scheduling primer to get a lawn care calendar set up for your lawn.

For more information on lawn care items subscribe to our blog for weekly lawn care tips and landscape maintenance tips and landscaping ideas. Also, take a look at our monthly lawn care tips pages on our website with monthly lawn care tips.

Aeration-The Most Beneficial, Least Expensive Thing Your Lawn Needs

You have probably heard that aeration is good for your lawn, maybe you’ve seen it done, or maybe you have seen the process done at a golf course, you may have even aerated your own lawn. But did you know that for what it costs to do it, or even to buy an AERATOR to do it with, that it’s the most beneficial and least expensive thing that you can do for your lawn?

First, what is aeration? It’s the process of taking small plugs of soil out of your lawn and depositing them on top of the lawn. Why does this help? Depending on if you have a normal home lawn, a commercial lawn that maybe gets a little more traffic, a school lawn, baseball field, football field, soccer field, or even a golf course, the problems that aerating fixes, will be more severe with more foot traffic, and even some vehicle traffic.

Aerating is similar to taking a house plant that has become root bound and repotting it. The same principles apply. Taking the house plant out of its confined pot and giving it more room to grow is what happens to turfgrass roots when you aerate. The holes that are poked in the ground give the roots more room to grow.

Thatch is a combination of decaying grass clippings, miscellaneous lawn debris, stolons and roots that build up at the crown of the grass plant. Over time this thatch acts like a barrier and keeps water, air, fertilizer and lime from getting into the root zone of the grass to do its magic.

Thatch in grass

Thatch layer in turfgrass

By aerating (making thousands of holes) the lawn, you will help to reduce this thatch layer and allow fertilizer, lime, water and air to get into the soil and the root zone of the turfgrass. The plugs that are left on top of the ground (when using a core aerator) will decompose over time and through microbial activity help to keep the thatch in check.

The picture at left shows the soil with some roots growing in it, the thick thatch layer, the crown of the grass and the grass blades.

As you might imagine from looking at this picture, this thatch layer can get so compacted that it is similar to having a sheet of plastic laying on your lawn. When it does rain or when you water, the water would run off instead of soaking deep down into the lawn. The compacted root zone also restricts the growth of the grass plant leaving your entire lawn looking lethargic, weak and yellowish.

Core Aeration

Core aeration is the best type, this is when the machine actually makes a plug (core) and pulls it out of the ground and deposits it on top of the ground. We prefer the core aerators over the spike aerators for this reason. The spike aerator still will poke holes in the ground and allow space, but they actually do a little compacting of the soil at the same time.

What happens is the spike goes into the ground and makes a hole, but since it doesn’t pull a plug of soil out of the ground, it just pushes the soil to the sides and makes the hole. This compacts that portion of soil while making the hole. This is a small disadvantage, so if you are short on available cash to buy an aerator, the spike aerator is better than nothing, and this one is less than $100.00.

A good core aerator can be bought for anywhere from $141.00 for this lesser expensive Precision Brand plugger to over $390.00 for this better built, better quality Agri-Fab Brand 40″ plugger This is another case of “you get what you pay for”. But, from experience, we have learned that the plugger type aerator does a better job, and if the extra bucks that it’s going to cost doesn’t kill you, then get the plugger.

There is one advantage to this particular spike-aerator. That is that you can seed and aerate at the same time with this one piece of equipment.

You will first need to run over the lawn a couple of times with this aerator being sure that you cover all spots of the lawn without leaving any blank spots in the lawn where you skipped. Then fill the seed hopper, and being even more careful, cover the entire lawn until you have applied the required amount of seed. How much seed you will need to put down will depend on the type of seed, and whether you are trying to just fill in a little bit, or if your lawn was nearly all gone and you’re trying to re-establish it. Look at our seeding page for more information about how much seed to use and how much fertilizer is needed, and what type of fertilizer.

You can also buy an aerator that you just simply push like a push mower. This would obviously be a lot of work for anything more than the smallest of lawns, so it’s not going to be a popular type of aerator.

If you want to get a little exercise or you don’t have a riding lawn mower to pull a tow behind type aerator, you can even buy a set of aerator shoes that will put holes in the lawn with every step you take.

 

So, you can kill two birds with one stone, or (let’s not kill any birds) get two jobs done at once, simply by wearing these.

If you are a serious lawn care fanatic and you have a small tractor that you use for various lawn and landscaping chores around the property, you can get a three point hitch type commercial grade aerator that you can use your tractor to aerate with. This is the type that we use in our Landscape Company. They will do the best job of any that we have shown you so far. However, the disadvantage is the cost.

This unit will run you over $2,100.00 plus shipping to boot. That’s a lot of money to spend for a piece of equipment that you may not use more than a half dozen times a year. But, let’s say that you and your brother, good friend, cousin, etc. go in together to buy one. Then the cost is cut in half and it’s not like the unit is going to be used by one or the other of you each time the other wants to use it. It should be available for either of you when you need it. Of course, one of you will need to own a tractor.

If you are a volunteer at your kids Little League or school, you might find this is just the tool you need to help them keep the fields in good shape.

Renting Equipment to Aerate

Still another option is to rent an aerator. You can rent a tow behind aerator for $50.00 to $75.00 from most rental stores. But, just do a little math and you can see that it wouldn’t take too many rentals and you could have bought one of your own. Plus not having the aggravation of having to drive to the rental store, load it, haul it back, etc.

Many rental stores will also have a walk-behind gas powered aerator. These are plug type aerators and do an excellent job. However, they will work you hard. If you’re not in good physical shape, we don’t suggest attempting one of these. You can buy one like this, Husqvarna 25.5″  for around $3,300.00

There are many options for equipment to aerate, here is another. A three point hitch type aerator for your tractor, in a spike type. Basically, it’s a large drum with spikes welded to it that you can use with your tractor.

Again, your tractor must have a three point hitch and be large enough to lift this unit weighing almost 400#. With this aerator and the 3-pt. hitch plugging aerator listed above, you can’t use just a small lawn and garden mower “tractor”, you will have to have at minimum a small Kubota/John Deere/Kioti tractor that would accept a front end loader, tillers, and other small equipment. You won’t be using what Sears calls a “Lawn Tractor”. Those are just lawn mowers.

And finally, one more option is a hand held plugging aerator. It’s simply a tool with two hollow spears on the end of it. Operating it is plain and simple, raise it up, push it down. Repeat this a few hundred times and you’ll be done. Again, for the person that doesn’t mind some vigorous exercise, or for those that have the smallest of postage stamp size lawns, this might be for you. This one sells for only $24.00 and you can even get replacement tines for it when you wear out what comes on it.

The bottom line of aerating is that it doesn’t matter what type of aerator you use, they will get the job done. The only difference is which type you use, how much money you want to spend and how much work you are willing to do. Aerating is the least expensive thing you can do to your lawn and will give you more benefits than some other lawn maintenance services you could have done.

Benefits of aeration

The benefits of aeration

And of course, if you’re all fired up to get your lawn aerated and you don’t want to buy or rent the equipment, don’t have the time or energy to do it anyway and would rather just have a nice lawn without the sweat, then call your local Lawn and Landscape Company to get it done. It will cost you anywhere from $45.00 to as much as a few hundred depending on the size of your lawn and the market you live in.

The timing for aeration will depend on a couple things. Usually when the soil is soft enough for the tines to go into the ground is the most important, for the equipment to work right. If you have an irrigation system, then this is not an issue. You can simply water enough to make the ground soft, and go to work.

If someone asked I can do this once a year, when should I do it? I would say Fall. The next best time would be Spring. But, remember, golf courses, pro football and baseball fields, soccer fields and other turfgrass areas that get a lot of foot traffic or vehicle traffic will aerate several times a year. It’s one of those things that won’t hurt anything to do it even monthly.

If you have any questions, feel free to email us and we will try to answer for you. If you have found this post helpful, please share with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. We wish you greener grass and lush lawns!

Related Posts at LawnMasters

Aeration and Overseeding

 Aerating/Seeding

Gifts for the Gardener in Your Life-the 12 Days of Christmas

Are you trying to think of something great for the gardener/lawn and landscape fanatic in your life? It’s an easy bet that getting them something to help them do the hobby they love will be loved as well. So, what to get? We have scoured the Lawn and Garden sections of Amazon, and these are some of the must hmust-have, best sellers for someone that loves gardening, lawn care, landscaping, and outdoor living in general. Take a look, for more information on each item, just click on the picture.

How about solar powered Christmas lights? No extension cords to run, no fuss, easy setup.  LED String Lights Solar Christmas Lights 39ft 100 LED 8 Modes Ambiance lighting for Outdoor Patio Lawn Landscape Fairy Garden Home Wedding Holiday waterproof Colored lights


Help them be Patriotic, with a new flag and pole mount. American Flag 3×5 ft. Tough-Tex the Strongest, Longest Lasting Flag by Annin Flagmakers, 100% Made in USA with Sewn Stripes, Embroidered Stars and Brass Grommets. 


A set of “retro” looking patio lights. Spring and Summer will be back before you know it, be ready to enjoy your lawn and patio with some cool looking lights.
Hyperikon Weatherproof String Lights with 15 Dropped Sockets, 2W LED S14 Bulbs included, 48ft, Linkable – Durable Decoration for Party, Event, Patio, Backyard, Garden, Café, Holiday


Everybody needs work gloves, here is a new kind that are comfortable and bright, so you don’t lose them. Bamboo Gardening & Work Gloves (2 Pairs) Ultra-Premium Quality for Men & Women. Breathable to Keep Hands Dry & Textured Grip to Reduce Slipping by Kamojo


Zeka got you worried? Get your own mosquito fogger. Powered by a propane bottle, these will fog your entire lawn in minutes. We have used them for years around our greenhouses and garden center. Burgess 1443 Propane Insect Fogger for Fast and Effective Mosquito Control in Your Yard


Need a place to hide all of those lawn and garden tools out of sight? Beautiful Most Popular Top Seller Large Capacity 99-Gallon Weather Water Proof Indoor Outdoor Deck Pool Patio Laundry Linen Lightweight Portable Patio Storage Basket Bench Box Container Mocha Brown


Keep your flag lit up at night with this solar powered light. Solar Powered FLAG Pole Light LED Mount No Wiring Illuminate Bright Top Selling Item


Every serious gardener or landscaper has a pair of hand pruners. Gardening Shears- Razor Sharp Blades Perfect for Cutting Bushes,Shrubs & Hedges-8″ SK5 Steel Ergonomic Bypass Pruning Shears/Garden Shears


Solar powered mosquito killers, no electricity or cords required, a great idea for any patio. Solar LED Outdoor Mosquito Killer Lamp Larger Bug Zapper Light, Whole Night Protection


Patio umbrellas don’t seem to last too long. They either fade and tear due to sun exposure, or get blown across the lawn and get torn. Here is a replacement, with solar lights underneath it.


Everybody needs a little red wagon! Helpful for everything from hauling fertilizer, weed killer, tools, potting soil, plants or anything you need to carry out into your lawn and landscape. Outdoor Wagon All Terrain Pulling w/ Wood Railing Air Tires


A solar powered, (no electricity needed, put it anywhere) LED, motion sensored flood light. Extremely handy to put where it’s dark and you need light at night walking to the house or the garage.

These are just 12 items that are extremely useful and top sellers for gardeners, landscapers and lawn care enthusiasts. Do you know of an extremely handy tool or lawn and landscape item? Post it below in the comments, we will pass it on.

OH, I almost forgot, any lawn care enthusiast can use our book Establish a 1st Class Lawn Like a Pro, download it free from 11/24/2016 through 11/29/2016

Happy gardening in 2017!

Leaf Removal: Necessary or Not?

With the arrival of Fall comes the inevitable blizzard of leaves. These leaves cause lots of work, but also can cause damage to your lawn. So should you rake them, vacuum them, mulch them up, what’s the best option?

Fall Leaves

The Leaves of Fall, Pretty to Look at, Harmful to Your grass

What is best to do will depend on how many leaves you have, what type of grass you have, and even where you live.

If you just have light leaf cover over the grass, simply keep mowing them and mulch them up, if you have a larger lawn. Or, if you have a small lawn, you might just rake them up. That would ultimately be best for the lawn. The less leaf litter that works its way into the lawn, the better.

If you have a larger lawn that would be difficult to rake, or if it’s just more work than you want to get into, I would put some mulching blades on the mower and just keep mowing weekly. It’s important to keep doing it weekly and not let an entire blanket of leaves get built up on the lawn before you mulch them. Too many leaves on the ground makes it much more difficult to mulch them.

deep leaf litter

Deep leaf litter on lawn

If you have a lawn sweeper or vacuum either of these would be ideal. No leave litter at all on the lawn would be best. That way you don’t have the additional drain on the nutrients in the lawn from the decomposing leaf litter.

Leaves that are left on the lawn, mulched up, will find their way into the surface and begin decomposing. The process of decomposing requires nitrogen, so while the leaves are doing their thing decomposing, they are robbing the grass and soil of fertilizer that you are putting down, stealing a little bit of green from the grass. If you are going to mulch up your leaves, that’s OK, if there isn’t too many, just put down a little extra fertilizer.

Mulching leaves with a mower

Leaves being mulched with a mulching blade on the mower

Leaves steal Lime too. One of the first nutrients to leach out of the soil is lime. Even without a heavy leaf load, the heavy clay soils we have in our area of West TN will require regular lime applications to keep them stable. Adding leaf litter to the mix will only make the problem worse.

Your grass type will factor into your decision whether to remove the leaves too. Fescue, Ryegrass, and Bluegrass are cool season grasses and are more tender than Bermuda and Zoysia. These warm season grasses are going to be growing in lawns without too many trees anyway since they don’t grow well in the shade. Fescue and other cool season grasses will die out much easier than Bermuda or Zoysia from leaves being on them. Bermuda and Zoysia won’t be affected much from leaves being on the ground because those grasses are dormant when leaves are falling. So leaves on warms season grasses are not as big of an issue. But the lawn always looks much better if it’s kept clean.

The cool season grasses need to be kept leaf free, as much as they can. If the leaves are left on the grass long enough, they will mat together and form a blanket over the grass and choke the grass out. These leaves matted together is similar to you taking a big blue tarp out and laying it out on the lawn. Both will have the same results.

Regardless of what method you choose to handle the leaf drop, it’s important to take care of them, otherwise, all your work you have put in throughout the year creating a great looking lawn might be for nothing.