Lawn care can be a tricky, time-consuming, frustrating, joyful, expensive, divorce-inducing labor of love.
And there’s a wealth of information out there on the products to try, the methods to follow, and the tools to use.
It’s incredibly daunting – particularly if you’ve just started to dream of a beautiful patch of grass that’s the envy of the neighborhood.
But that’s where this article comes in.
Behold, Yardthyme’s ultimate lawn care calendar! What to do and when to do it – from January to December.
Sure, you can call a pro – but where’s the fun in that?!
Let’s get started.
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Lawn Care Guide – The Abridged Version
To a budding lawn-care enthusiast, the calendar year for lawn maintenance can look utterly terrifying.
But fear not, for it can easily be separated into the following disciplines/practices to keep things simple:
- Pre-emergant herbicides – March/April.
- Fertilizing – Late March to May. Late September to early November.
- Mowing – High in May through August. Lower September to November.
- Post-emergent herbicides – May to September.
- Watering – Late March to October.
- Disease/pest treatment – June/July/August – or as necessary.
- Dethatching – March and late September.
- Aeration – March and late September.
- Overseeding – September – but early spring is also suitable.
- General maintenance – Year round, but particularly through summer.
Top-tip – I recommend setting up a spreadsheet, so you know exactly what your lawn needs throughout the year, with a personalized, at-a-glance guide.
Take it step-by-step, one month at a time. On March 1st, for example, I like to refresh my memory of what I need to do during the next 31 days, so I’m ready to go when the time comes.
And once you’ve got the hang of what goes where – it’ll be second nature, and you and your family can enjoy a stunning lawn season after season!
Before We Begin…
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been excited about writing this piece for a while.
Even though I’ve been involved with lawn care and gardening for many years, it’s always useful to write it all down, so I can clear my own head, and get everything in order before the new growing season!
We’re always learning, and in researching this article, I love finding new lawn care tips and tricks I can share with you.
Please note – this guide is largely for people living in areas with a temperate climate, typically with warm summers and cold winters, annual snowfall, and moderate rain throughout the year.
When in doubt, double-check to see what care your particular species requires – and at what time of year.
The Tools You Need
First thing’s first – you can’t hope to practice a proper monthly lawn care schedule without the right set of tools to do the job.
And rather than take up lots of space here listing everything you’re going to need, I’ve written a full, in-depth guide to lawn care tools, so you can fill any gaps in your arsenal.
You might also like to check out this piece on the different types of lawnmowers – so you know you’re using the right one for your yard.
And be on the lookout for links to tool and equipment reviews throughout the article, how-to guides, and other useful sources – which will point you in the direction of the best products, tips, and advice for helping with all aspects of annual lawn maintenance – specific to that time of year.
General Lawn Care Tips
Before we get into a month-by-month lawn care calendar, it’s important to highlight a few tips and tricks that are not specific to a certain time of the year.
Rather, they can be done every few days or so, as necessary.
- Always keep an eye on your lawn. Look out for any bare spots, yellow or discolored grass, and any signs of disease or malnourishment. This article will teach you how to fix yellow grass if it occurs.
- Locate and identify weeds when they appear – so you know how best to treat them when you find an opportunity to do so.
- Regularly check for insect or animal damage, so you know when and how to get rid of grubs, or stop skunks digging up your lawn, for example.
Note – this article is a general month-by-month guide, and we won’t be going into too much detail about the specific times of year you need to treat specific issues. There are far too many of them!
But by giving your lawn a look over at least once a week can help you identify problem areas, so you can nip them in the bud before they spiral out of control.
Month by Month Guide
Happy New Year! Given that most lawns are dormant in the dead of winter, January might be one of the dullest months for many lawn care enthusiasts.
Your lawn will be asleep during this time, especially if it’s under a blanket of snow. Put out a bird feeder and encourage a bit of life in your yard!
While jobs might be thin on the ground, you should take care not to walk on your lawn, and limit any foot or vehicle traffic over the turf.
Just try to keep such machines off the grass.
Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and you can give your lawn a lot of love by not using harsh chemicals or salt on it to melt any ice.
Special lawn-friendly ice-removing products are available if you have to remove the frozen stuff, but take care with the application.
You might also want to have a pair of good-quality winter gloves in these frigid temperatures!
February is also a good time to start researching and stocking up on lawn-care products. You might like some advice on choosing the right kind of grass seed, for example.
Go here to learn about the different types of weed killer, to help you brush up on herbicides.
And this article is ideal for explaining the different types of fertilizers, so you can order yours and be ready to go when the time comes!
Like a mad hare, your annual lawn care timeline really starts to kick off in March, and things are about to get crazy!
Now’s the time to practice the sport of lawnmower maintenance, so follow that link for a full checklist.
It’s an exciting moment when the snow melts, and you can see something that resembles the color green for the first time in months!
Give your yard the much-needed clean up it deserves. It’s just been battered by winter, and needs a bit of help to spring back into life. Rake dead material, remove any fallen branches, and dispose of them.
But don’t be too aggressive with the raking just yet – give your lawn a chance to recover from the cold. This article on lawn care after winter will tell you more.
Use a soil testing kit in March to help you choose the right fertilizers, and you can apply a suitable product in early spring if you have cool-season grass in your lawn.
A light watering can also begin in March, but we’ll have more irrigation advice coming up in the summer. I prefer to let nature take its course, anyway.
It’s no joke that early April is a good time to lay down a weed and feed fertilizer – to help boost existing grass, and keep undesirables at bay.
Just remember that you shouldn’t overdo it – one application is enough, otherwise, you risk “burning” your grass.
Now that the lawn has had a chance to recover, it’s a good time to dethatch, in order to remove dead grass and material that can hinder growth. Time to get the power rake/dethatcher out of the shed!
April might bring showers, so it’s a good idea to make sure your lawn has adequate drainage, too. After you’ve dethatched to remove any debris, this is the best time to aerate the soil.
And speaking of showers, it might also be prudent to install a rain barrel in your garden, and put it to good use. This article on eight ways to use rainwater around your yard is a great place to start.
The terrain in your garden can also shift during the winter with the freeze/thaw cycle, so don’t be surprised if you see an unusually bumpy surface when the snow melts.
As such, early spring is ideal for trying a spot of lawn rolling – and you can follow that link to some of the best products to do so.
But if you’re not convinced, you can explore this article that discusses the benefits of lawn rolling, and why it might – or might not – be worth a go in your yard this year.
Spring is in full swing in the month of May, and it’s a glorious (and busy) time in the gardener’s calendar.
When the soil consistently reaches 58 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s a great time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide.
Go here for a list of the best pre-emergent weed killers currently on the market.
Just make sure you’re always using one that’s safe for use in lawns.
May is another good month to add a suitable lawn fertilizer – providing you haven’t done so already, and/or you have warm-season grass in your yard.
But don’t overdo it! This is a great article that explains how often you should fertilize your garden, because you can have too much of a good thing.
Before your lawn becomes a jungle, it’s a good idea to practice a bit of landscaping. If you have a larger yard, you can use one of these gas-powered lawn edgers to sculpt a razor-sharp edge.
Using a string trimmer can also help keep your edges in order, but if you’d rather not use another power tool, then this article on the best grass shears is for you.
Your mowing routine will probably have kicked up a gear now, too – but just remember that you shouldn’t stick to a weekly schedule, but rather as and when the grass genuinely needs a trim.
Alternatively, it’s a great time to practice “no-mow-May” – which will help encourage healthy growth, and helpful bugs and insects will be attracted to your garden – including pollinators.
Bees, for short.
Either way, you shouldn’t be over-mowing, so leave the mower in the shed a little longer. It also means you’re not burning through gas while keeping your workload to a minimum!
Go here for 14 essential mowing tips, so you can cut your grass like a pro – and encourage a beautiful lawn at the same time.
I’ve grouped the summer months together because your grass care schedule during the hottest part of the year is largely the same throughout.
And it’s not just the heat that makes your lawn suffer.
While you’re entertaining with BBQs and garden parties, the increased foot, paw, toy, game, and vehicle traffic can do some serious damage to the soil and grass.
Here are some of the best ways to nurse your lawn through its most challenging period:
Don’t scalp the grass with your lawnmower. You might be tempted to shave it right back, so you don’t have to cut it as often, but this is a recipe for disaster.
Remember – achieving a stunning lawn takes effort, time and patience – there are no shortcuts here, literally! Cutting your grass too short is the number-one lawn care mistake.
During the summer months, mow your grass high, and mow more often. Allow it some length as a defense against the beating sun.
And if you’re sticking to the 1/3 off rule – you should get a nice amount of organic matter spread across your lawn, and the job will be done in half the time.
Pro-tip – I highly recommend having a push reel mower in your shed – for more delicate trims, cutting new grass, and getting into those hard-to-reach areas – among other things.
That link will explain all the many advantages to old-school mowing techniques.
Your lawn is going to be at its thirstiest in the hot summer months, and irrigation is important to ensure it stays looking its best.
This article goes into detail on how to water your lawn, including how much it needs, how often it needs it, and more.
And I highly recommend one of these expandable garden hoses to help with the job – and save space at the same time.
Remember to always respect local watering limits, and it’s a good idea to have timers set, so you don’t forget the taps are on and flood your yard.
Spring through summer is the time when any undesirable plants rear their ugly heads – particularly if they’ve managed to slip through those pre-emergent fingers you applied shortly after winter.
You might well be experiencing some of the six most common lawn weeds, and now is a good time to spot treat any annual and/or perennial problem plants, to clear those unsightly areas.
I would urge you to avoid harsh formulas on your lawn, however – unless absolutely necessary. Try some alternative methods, like these ten ways to get rid of lawn weeds without chemicals.
And always make sure that any pre-emergent herbicide you lay down is safe for use on lawns.
Summer is also the time you should be checking for and treating any pests in your lawn. Grubs are the result of Japanese beetle eggs, and they can be a problem if you have a high population of the larva.
This article on how to get rid of grubs in your lawn naturally will tell you everything you need to know, and prevent them from damaging the grassroots.
Finally, a word on all that summer foot traffic. Guests, kids, furry friends…summer is the time we should be enjoying all the hard work we put into our lawns, but it can take a beating as a result.
Clean up after your pets – remove waste and throw it in your compost heap. Dog urine can discolor and damage your lawn grass, so you should flush the area with water to dilute the pee into the soil.
Try to train Fido to pee in one area – such as a zone marked out with stones/pebbles.
Move toys and yard games around – don’t let anything heavy sit in one place for too long.
If applicable, don’t allow vehicles onto your lawn, and encourage guests to keep off the grass where necessary.
Your fall lawn schedule begins in earnest as September takes hold. Harvest those veggies, and get ready to prepare your grass for winter.
Labor Day is an excellent marker for applying fall fertilizers, and is the best time to start to overseed your lawn.
Overseeding is a great way to treat bare spots, rejuvenate a scorched lawn, battle weeds, and help the turf recover from a hot summer.
This article on the benefits of overseeding will tell you more – including how to get started.
And you can go here for some general top-tips for lawn care in the fall, which can help you develop a stunning patch of green come next spring.
Before you overseed, September is also a good time to make another pass with a dethatcher – when the heat of the summer has dissipated.
However, I would check first to see if your lawn actually needs it – as thatch can be a good thing in moderation, and you don’t want to remove it completely. If it’s less than 1/2-inch, leave it alone.
And it’s not going to hurt to do some spot aeration before adding any new seed – especially in any bare patches, or places where drainage needs to be improved.
Try not to get spooked by the October lawn care schedule, as there’s still quite a lot to do before you winterize your garden.
Cool-season grasses will benefit from a light application of suitable fertilizer – especially if you’ve just laid down some new seed. This article on when to fertilize new grass has more information.
Take care when mowing your lawn in the fall. You’ll want to cut it a little shorter than you did in the summer, as it will help prevent snow mold, and other lawn diseases.
In many cases, however, it’s a good idea to leave the leaves!
A thin layer of organic matter can be very beneficial in protecting your lawn through the winter, as well as giving a home to wildlife and useful critters.
But it’s a fine balance, as too many leaves on your lawn can cause problems of their own.
If your property is lucky enough to have many trees, aim to rake at least once-a-week – but leave a little material behind.
And you can explore the different types of leaf blowers if you need some extra help shifting debris from gutters, driveways, and patios.
Still, if you’re in a residential area, I highly recommend using alternative methods for leaf control, and this article on rakes vs leaf blowers will tell you more.
You can also use a good mower for mulching/vacuuming leaf waste on your lawn if you so choose.
In November, in the US, we can be thankful for beautiful lawns!
Just before the snow and frost arrive, you should start to pack up your tools and equipment, and remove any lawn toys, games, or furniture.
It’s time to winterize your lawnmower. Give it a good clean and inspection, and if it’s a gas-powered model, add a fuel stabilizer, siphon the gas into a fuel can, and drain the oil if it’s a four-cycle engine.
You should also remove and replace the spark plug as required, and remove the blade in preparation for it to be sharpened/replaced next year.
A winter fertilizer, high in nitrogen and potassium, is an optional step at this stage of the year.
With the yard fully winterized, December is a great time of year to reflect on your lawn care yearly schedule. What worked for you? What could you improve on? Is there anything you’d do differently?
Perhaps it’s an opportunity to ask Santa for a new string trimmer?! And if you do celebrate Christmas, take care when installing those decorations on your lawn.
Then it’s time to pick up a new diary, and get planning for next year!
Taking the time to plan and prepare your garden schedule can make the difference between an average lawn, and a great one.
I hope our ultimate lawn care calendar has helped, and you have a better understanding of what you need to do and when.
It doesn’t have to be complicated!
Let us know your top lawn care tips for the year ahead, products you swear by, or if there’s anything essential that we’ve missed.
Best of luck, stay safe out there, and happy gardening!