A green, healthy lawn takes year-round care and maintenance, but changing seasons bring changing landscaping solutions in Northern New Jersey.
Different climate and weather conditions cause stress on your trees, shrubs and plants, so seasonal care and maintenance is necessary to protect your lawn and prevent damage.
Here are some seasonal tips to help you keep your landscape healthy and beautiful year round.
Spring: (March – May)
The spring season brings warm weather and abundant new growth to everything in your landscape. Trees, shrubs and plants sprout new leaves, flowers develop colorful new blooms and grass begins to grow at a rapid pace. Spring is the time of year when you need to jump-start healthy growth and strong root systems, so plants can recover from a long, cold winter.
In parts of the country with cold winters, like Bergen County, NJ, snow provides some protection for your lawn by acting like a ground cover. However, freezing ground temperatures often make grass roots dry and brittle. When snow turns to ice, grass blades get crushed, plant cells freeze and trees and shrubs often die. The beginning of spring and warm temperatures provides an opportunity for new growth in your landscape.
Clean Up Your Landscape
When the last signs of winter frost are gone, focus on cleaning up your landscape for spring. Rake up dead, dry leaves and remove any debris in your landscape, like fallen tree limbs, branches and twigs, rocks and trash that may have blown onto your property during the winter.
Get rid of damp or wet leaves as quickly as possible, as they can smother your grass and cause new growth to die from lack of oxygen. Wet leaves, especially in shady areas, can harbor outdoor insects and pests.
Aerate Your Lawn
During the winter, soil often becomes dry and compacted from freezing temperatures. The aeration process punches small holes in your lawn so adequate water, oxygen and fertilizer can reach grass roots through the soil properly. Aeration is one of the most important spring landscaping solutions to ensure healthy, strong roots and new grass growth.
For best aeration results, choose a nice spring day when the soil is slightly damp, not wet, so the aeration machine will work more efficiently. Talk to your landscape professional about the best type of aeration process for your Bergen County lawn.
Fertilize Your Lawn
The best time to fertilize your lawn is early spring when new growth is beginning. Proper fertilization is important to establish healthy, new growth. Fertilizer provides essential nutrients, like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and iron which feeds plant roots and encourages new growth.
For best results, select a light, slow-release or organic type fertilizer. In Northern NJ, where winters get very cold, fall fertilization is also used to protect cool-season grasses that typically go dormant during the winter season. A fall fertilization schedule will encourage plant roots to store energy for the following spring.
Apply Weed and Pest Controls
Warm weather promotes new growth, but it also encourages weeds, insects, diseases and outdoor pests to invade your landscape. In early to mid-March, apply a pre-emergent herbicide that prevents crabgrass and other aggressive weeds like dandelions, thatch and foxtail from invading your lawn. These aggressive weeds typically invade as soon as warm weather approaches and they can quickly overtake your lawn.
Crabgrass begins to germinate as soon as the soil gets warm, so before spring arrives, talk to your Bergen County landscape professional about proper weed control and an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program that focuses on organic landscaping solutions to prevent unwanted pests in your landscape.
When spring is in full force, proper lawn care and maintenance is essential to keep your lawn and landscape healthy and pest-free. During the spring season, your grass, plants, shrubs and trees grow much faster, so your landscape can easily become overgrown.
Weekly lawn mowing, regular weeding, proper lawn care and maintenance and pest control will keep your landscape looking its best and keep insects and diseases out of your lawn. Aggressive weeds, insects and diseases prey on malnourished and ill-maintained landscapes, so make sure that your spring landscaping solutions include regular lawn care, maintenance and pest control for a healthy landscape as summer heat approaches.
Summer: (June – August)
The summer season brings hot sun, dry heat and typically less rainfall. These conditions create a difficult environment for most landscapes, so landscaping solutions should include regular lawn care and maintenance, adequate water and nutrients and proper weed and pest control.
Provide Regular Lawn Care and Maintenance
During summer months, your grass grows rapidly, so weekly mowing is advised for a well-manicured lawn. As a rule of thumb, don’t cut your grass too short during the summer. Short grass will expose the soil to more sun and cause it to dry out faster. By leaving your grass a little longer, you can promote moist soil, deeper roots and fewer weeds.
Most professional landscape companies provide regular lawn maintenance on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Professional trained crews provide weekly maintenance services that typically include:
- Weekly lawn mowing
- Regular weeding
- Sidewalk, walkway and driveway edging
- Sidewalk, walkway and driveway cleaning
- Landscape cleanup of dead winter growth and debris in the spring
- Landscape cleanup of summer debris and prepping for winter
Provide Adequate Water
As a general rule, lawns need about one inch of water each week, either from sprinklers or natural rainfall. Deep and infrequent watering is better than frequent, short sprinkler applications which will promote shallow root growth in your lawn. Deep watering will promote stronger and longer grass and plant roots that can reach further underground for needed water.
During the summer, aggressive weeds like crabgrass, dandelions, thatch and foxtail that escaped spring herbicide applications should be removed with a hand tool or garden fork. Weeds grow quickly in summer sun and heat, so talk to your Bergen County landscape professional about an additional post-emergent herbicide treatment, especially if it looks like weeds are getting out of control.
A professional landscape contractor will make sure the right herbicides are used in proper quantities to prevent damage to your lawn and landscape.
Prevent Insects, Diseases and Pests
Summer is a prime season for insects, diseases and pests that can invade your lawn and landscape. In early June and July, grub worms, the larvae of June, Japanese and other types of beetles, begin feeding on grass roots. The result is usually ugly brown patches that can become extensive by fall.
If your grass looks scorched and sod lifts up easily around damaged patches, you probably have a grub problem. Grubs, as well as chinch bugs, caterpillars, carpenter and red ants, ticks and fleas can flourish in your landscape during the summer without proper pest landscaping solutions.
Fall: (September – November)
Clean Up Your Landscape
To prepare for the winter season, it’s important to clean up your yard before cold weather arrives. During fall as cooler temperatures begin, trees, shrubs and plants start to die back or go dormant.
Trees and shrubs may develop weak branches that can fall into your landscape. Trees lose their leaves, dropping them freely all over your lawn and plant growth starts to die back.
It’s important to rake up dead leaves, get rid of debris and deadhead plants. Since fall often brings a lot of rainfall, get rid of wet leaves quickly, as they can kill your grass and attract insects and pests. Fall landscaping solutions should focus on a thorough cleanup before cold weather arrives.
Fertilize Your Lawn
A spring fertilization schedule is normal, but if you only fertilize your lawn once a year, fall is the best time. In Northern New Jersey, harsh, cold winters are common. Fertilizing your lawn in the fall will help protect your grass during cold weather.
Your grass and plants will store essential nutrients from the fertilizer in their root systems to provide important food for winter when nutrients get depleted. As the following spring season approaches and soil becomes warm again, these stored nutrients will be released to promote new spring growth.
Overseed Your Lawn
Overseeding your lawn in the fall will promote new grass growth and strengthen your lawn for the winter. Most grasses in Bergen County, NJ are cool-season grasses. By overseeding your lawn in October or early November, the grass seed will have adequate time to take hold before any frost appears.
Talk to your Bergen County landscape professional about the benefits of overseeding landscaping solutions during the fall.
Provide Weekly Mowing
Although fall temperatures are cooler and rainfall is more abundant, you should include weekly mowing in your fall landscaping solutions. The last thing you want to do right before cold weather arrives is let the grass become overgrown or ill-maintained. That’s just an open invitation to insects, diseases and outdoor pests looking for a safe winter habitat.
Winter (December – February)
During the winter season, you typically spend less time on DIY landscape care and maintenance, but there are a few landscaping solutions for winter that will ensure a beautiful, lush, green lawn when spring rolls around again.
Keep Your Lawn Free of Debris
In harsh winter weather, your lawn can collect a lot of debris from storms and heavy winds. Check your landscape regularly and clear away fallen branches, twigs and other types of debris that blow into your landscape. If debris is left on your lawn too long during cold weather, especially in snowfall, it can create large dead spots in your grass. When spring arrives, those areas will show up with thinner grass and less growth than the rest of your lawn.
Keep Your Lawn Shorter
Although slightly longer grass is beneficial most of the year, tall grass during the winter leaves your lawn susceptible to a variety of rodents, burrowing animals and field mice looking for a warm place to nest. These types of outdoor pests can quickly destroy your lawn and landscape by building tunnels through your lawn and nests that create dead spots in the grass. Many animals pull up large chunks of grass to build a safe, comfortable nest.
Avoid Excessive Foot Traffic
Although grass is pretty resilient, during the winter it has a harder time bouncing back from external stress caused by excessive foot traffic. Cool-season grasses, commonly found in Northern NJ areas, typically turn brown and go dormant during the winter, then turn green again in the spring with proper fertilization and lawn care. Excessive foot traffic during cold temperatures can create pathways that weaken grass and wear it down.
Proper lawn care and maintenance takes year-round attention and commitment to good landscaping solutions. For best results during each season, hire a qualified, professional landscape company who can ensure the best care and maintenance for your landscape. A professional landscape contractor is trained and experienced in proper lawn care, fertilization schedules, pruning and trimming schedules, herbicides and pesticides and organic lawn and pest control.