A Simple Lawn Maintenance Schedule – 10 Steps a Lush Lawn

lawn maintenance plan

Some articles will lead you to believe that you need to spend lots of money and follow a super complicated plan to achieve a great looking lawn. While those plans undoubtedly work, most people don’t need something so in depth.

With a little planning, and some local knowledge you can have a great looking lawn with a minimal amount of planning and effort.

In this guide we will give you a lawn maintenance schedule with only 10 (mostly) simple steps.

We aren’t always looking for complicated encyclopedia type guides, occasionally we just want simple lawn care tips and tricks to keep our yard looking as good as possible all year round. 

We have taken advice from the experts, and whittled it down to a simple lawn care plan that is easy follow and doesn’t cost the world.

It should be noted that this plan is written around a northern cool season lawn. Although it can be applied to any zone, but you may have to adjust the timings a little.

In order to keep this guide as simple as possible, we have not gone into detail on what each step is and how to complete it. Where it will help, I will provide a link to a helpful resource in case you need to research each step further. 

Apart from the mowing height, we do not mention mowing in this guide. You should mow your lawns as per best practices – the main rule is don’t mow too short!

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Spring Schedule

dethatching the lawn

Spring Mowing Height: 3-4 inches

1. Dethatching

Clean up and sticks or clutter on your lawn. Dethatch to open it up and get the air circulating around the base of the grass.

You will need

A dethatcher
These come in a few different types:

This video demonstrates dethatching with a gas model.

2. Apply a Spring Pre-emergent

Pre-emergents are a sprayed on chemical that you apply to your lawn. They prevent weed seeds from growing roots and shoots. This application targets summer annuals.

When exactly to apply the pre-emergent herbicide depends on your zone and what weeds you typically have in your lawn. But it needs to be applied before the weed seeds have germinated. Generally this is early spring.

You will need

Either

A Pre-emergent liquid herbicide
We recommend Prodiamine.

OR

A granular pre-emergent herbicide
The Andersons makes a good one

3. Test Your Soil

You need to test the soil in your lawn to see what nutrients your lawn required and thus choose a fertilizer to apply.

Make sure you choose a good soil test kit that tests for N,P,K as well as pH levels.

You will need

A soil test kit
The soil savvy kit is a good one.

4. Apply Fertilizer and Grub Control

If you used the soil test kit listed above then you will likely have an idea of the fertilizer you need. But I would highly recommend talking to your local garden center and ask them to help you choose a fertilizer that is right for your grass type and soil test results.

In early to mid-may apply this fertilizer to your lawn.

If you have had grub problems in the past then this is also the time to apply a grub preventer.

Read this article for more info on how to deal with grubs.

You will need

A suitable Fertilizer
We recommend speaking to your local garden center for a recommendation

A grub preventer:
Amazon has a good selection.

Summer Schedule

man spraying weeds on lawn

Summer Mowing Height: 3-4 inches

5. Keep On Top of Problematic Weeds

From late May through till early July you need to keep on top of any problematic weeds that have not been kept away by the pre-emergent herbicide.

You can do this by manually removing weeds or by using selective herbicides (otherwise known as weed and feeds). If you are going to use herbicides, make sure you wait at least 3 weeks between applications.

Read our guide on ways to remove weeds here.

You may need

A suitable selective herbicide
Southern AG 2,4-D is a good one

6. Mid Summer Fertilizer Application (optional)

Some experts will tell you to apply a mid-summer fertilizer.

You can choose whether you want to do this, but you may find that the lawn just grows too fast if you do and needs mowing too regularly!

You may need

A fertilizer
Speak to your local garden center to choose a suitable fertilizer

7. Late Summer Aeration

Towards the end of summer you will want to aerate your lawn to relieve soil compaction. 

There are many ways to do this, but the quickest and most cost effective way to do this is to rent a core aerator machine.

We have a guide on relieving soil compaction here.

You will need

An Aerator
There are many types of aeration tools available, but we recommend hiring one.

8. Overseeding (optional)

Overseeding is where you plant seed where you already have grass, without tearing up the old stuff. It is a way to fill in bare spots and improve the density of your lawn. This is done after the aeration.

If your lawn isn’t looking great then you probably want to do this part.

There is a good guide to overseeding here.

After applying the seed make sure you water it 2-3 times a day for at least 3 weeks. You can then go back to watering 1 – 2 times a week.

Use the tuna can rule to make sure you are watering correctly

You will need

Lawn Seed

Fall & Winter Schedule

lawn fertilizer

Fall/Winter Mowing Height: 3 inches

9. Apply Fall Pre-emergent

If you overseeded, then you need to wait at least 50 days before doing this step.

Before the temperature starts to drop consistently below 70 degrees you should apply a pre-emergent herbicide to stop the winter annual weeds coming through.

You will need

Either

A Pre-emergent liquid herbicide
We recommend Prodiamine.

OR

A granular pre-emergent herbicide
The Andersons makes a good one

10. Apply Fall Fertilizer

Now is the time to get your lawn ready to survive the winter months. Applying a ‘winterizer’ fertilizer is an important part of your annual lawn care plan.

Apply your fall fertilizer in late September or early October.

You can learn more about winterizer fertilizers in our article here.

You will need

A fertilizer
Once again, speak to your garden center about which is right for your lawn.

Get Started!

There is no better time to start this plan than now. It does not have to be started in spring – jump in at any time and get your lawn on the way to looking great!

Before you know it your lawn will be the envy of the street!

And finally, if you want a great Youtube channel to follow on lawncare then I recommend DIY Dad – a lot of the info for this article came from this guy. Check it out here.

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