Good lawn care takes year-round effort and commitment. As the seasons change, your lawn care in NJ has to change as well to keep up with different climate and weather conditions that put stress on your grass and plants.
To keep your lawn looking its best all year, follow the tips in this seasonal calendar to make sure your lawn stays green and healthy.
Spring (March – May)
As warm weather approaches and Spring arrives, it brings abundant new growth to everything in your landscape. This is the time of year when lawn care becomes crucial to jump-start healthy growth and strong root systems after a long cold winter. Snow actually acts like a ground cover that gives your lawn a bit of protection, but ice is bad for turf. Ice freezes plant cells and completely crushes grass blades, typically resulting in turf death. When your lawn freezes, thaws out, then freezes again, turf roots suffer extreme stress, usually becoming brittle and dying. Spring brings an opportunity for new life.
Clean Up Your Lawn
After the last signs of frost, it’s time to clean up your lawn. Rake up leaves and remove any debris, like fallen limbs and twigs, that have accumulated in your lawn during the winter. Get rid of wet leaves as quickly as possible. They can smother your grass and cause new growth to die from lack of oxygen.
Fertilize the Grass
Early to mid-March is a great time to fertilize your lawn. Fertilizer provides essential nutrients, like nitrogen, iron, phosphorus and potassium, which feed plant roots and encourage new growth. Keep it light and use a slow-release or organic fertilizer. With lawn care in NJ, where winters are very cold, fertilizing in the Fall protects cool-season grasses which go dormant in the winter. Fall fertilizing helps roots to store energy for Spring.
Early to mid-March is the best time to apply a pre-emergent herbicide that prevents crabgrass and other aggressive weeds from invading your lawn. Spring brings new growth, but it also brings weeds that take every opportunity to find a good spot in your lawn. Crabgrass begins to germinate when the soil reaches 58 degrees, so when warm weather arrives, it’s just waiting to invade.
When Spring is in full force, lawn maintenance is essential to keep your lawn and landscape well-manicured. During Spring growth periods, your lawn, plants, shrubs and trees grow much faster, so it doesn’t take long for things to get out of control. Weekly lawn mowing, regular weeding, pruning and trimming are the best ways to keep a well-maintained lawn.
Proper, regular maintenance also helps to keep insects and diseases out of your lawn. Like weeds, insects and lawn diseases prey on malnourished or ill-maintained lawns. Make sure that your lawn care in NJ provides a regular maintenance and pest control routine to keep your lawn healthy going into the heat of Summer.
Summer (June – August)
Watch Out For Insects
In early June, grub worms and other beetles start feeding on turf roots. The result is ugly brown patches or areas of wilted grass. If you notice these problems, check for grub worms by pulling back the sod. If it lifts up easily like a blanket of carpet, you may have a grub worm infestation. They are white, C-shaped insects that can wreak havoc on your lawn. If you see them, talk to your local landscape company about pesticide treatments for your lawn care in NJ.
Watch Out For Weeds
Aggressive weeds like crabgrass, dandelions and foxtail that escaped the Spring herbicide application should be removed with a garden fork or hand tool. Ask your landscape provider about lawn care in NJ that provides an additional post-emergent herbicide treatment if the weeds are getting out of control. You don’t want to apply the wrong amount of herbicides to your lawn. It can do more harm than good to your grass.
Provide Adequate Water
Lawns need about one inch of water each week, either from rainfall or sprinklers. Deep and infrequent watering is better than frequent, short sprinkler applications that promote shallow root growth. Deep watering will promote longer, stronger roots that can reach further underground for water. This is important in Summer heat and sun. If your lawn gets less than one inch of water per week, the grass may go dormant.
Provide Weekly Mowing
During summer months, your grass grows rapidly, so weekly mowing is best. As a rule of thumb, don’t cut your grass too short because it grows faster. Shorter turf exposes the soil to more sun and dries out the soil quicker. Slightly taller grass will promote deeper roots, moist soil and fewer weeds. If you mow your own lawn, set your mower blade height to three inches.
Fall (September – November)
Do A Fall Yard Cleanup
To prepare for Winter, a Fall yard cleanup is essential. During the beginning of the Fall season, trees start to drop their leaves. You need to rake them up or mulch them on a weekly basis. If you chop them up into fine pieces, they will decompose and act as nourishment for your soil. However, you choose to get rid of them, don’t leave them on your lawn. As the rainy season approaches, wet leaves will smother your lawn if they’re not removed. Clear away overgrowth and debris before cold weather.
Fertilize The Lawn
If you only fertilize your lawn once a year, Fall is the best time. In northern New Jersey areas with harsh, cold winters, Fall fertilization will help protect your grass during Winter weather. Your grass will store nutrients from the fertilizer in its root system during Winter. As the following Spring approaches and soil becomes warm, the nutrients will be released to promote Spring growth.
Overseed Your Grass
Lawn care in NJ promotes overseeding your grass in cool temperatures for best results. Most grasses in this region are cool-season grasses that grow best in cooler temperatures. If you overseed your lawn, make sure you do it around mid-Fall, like October or early November, so the seed has time to take hold before any frost appears.
Provide Weekly Mowing
Although temperatures are cooler and rainfall is more abundant, your lawn still needs weekly mowing to stay healthy. The last thing you want to do right before cold weather arrives is let the grass become overgrown. That’s an invitation to insects, diseases and pests looking for a safe winter habitat. Keep your lawn well-maintained year-round.
Winter (December – February)
During the Winter season, you typically spend less time on lawn care. In Bergen County, chances are you have put your lawn mower away for the Winter if you handle your own lawn care. However, there are a few things you can do during the Winter that can 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 wind. Clear away fallen branches and twigs and other debris that blows onto your lawn. If debris is left on the lawn during cold weather, especially in snowfall, it can create large dead spots in your lawn. When Spring comes, those areas will show thinner grass and less growth than the rest of your lawn.
Mow Your Lawn Shorter
Although slightly longer grass is beneficial most of the year, tall grass during the Winter months leaves your lawn susceptible to burrowing animals and field mice looking for a warm place to sleep. These animals can quickly destroy your lawn by building tunnels and nests that create dead spots in the grass. They pull up large chunks of grass to build their nests.
Avoid Excessive Foot Traffic
Although grass is resilient, during Winter it has a harder time bouncing back from excessive foot traffic. Cool-season grasses, found in northern NJ areas, typically turn brown and go dormant during the Winter. They do turn green again in the Spring with fertilizer and proper lawn care, but excessive Winter foot traffic can create pathways that wear grass down.
Proper lawn care in NJ should include regular lawn care and maintenance to promote a green, healthy lawn. A professional landscape company can help you maintain a beautiful lawn year-round.