You’ve put a lot of time and money into your property and you know that you’ve got to have a regular maintenance routine to keep it in good order and looking the way you and your tenants would like. There are some tasks you have done on a weekly or monthly basis, and some are scheduled annually. That’s great for the building itself, but do you give the same kind of thought to the landscaping? A rich carpet of green grass is the finishing touch for your property and it needs the same kind of care as you give the interior so that it remains an asset you and your tenants can be proud of.
Here are the steps to drawing up a seasonal schedule for yourself or your gardener that will keep the lawn healthy and thriving through the seasons:
In parts of the country where winter means low or freezing temperatures and snow, there’s little required for the lawn. Do be aware, though, that heavy foot traffic on a snow-covered lawn is going to lead to compaction of soil and grass roots that you’ll have to deal with later. If it’s applicable, remind tenants that it’s never acceptable to drive over lawns, and doubly so if they’re frozen.
In warmer temperature zones, cut down the watering schedule since there are fewer hours of daylight and usually some rain. If you don’t have “smart” irrigation controls, be sure to adjust timers.
Wherever you live, if you do the gardening yourself you can spend some time getting your tools ready for spring. Scrub off old dirt, remove rust, lubricate pivot points, and sharpen blades on hand tools and your mower.
This is the season when the lawn needs the most attention. Doing these jobs will determine how lush and green the lawn will be through the summer.
• Rake vigorously to remove surface leaves, dead grass, thatch, and debris.
• Aerate the soil to correct compaction caused by weather and foot traffic. This opens up the lawn to receive nutrients and adequate hydration.
• Test and correct the pH. Grass thrives in neutral pH, so soil needs to be adjusted if it’s too acidic or alkaline.
• Pre-treat for weeds. The best time to stop them is before they start.
• Fertilize to give the grass a strong root system and the energy for a long growing season.
• You may want to overseed (read more about that on the list for Fall) if you’ve got a cool season grass like bluegrass or turf-type tall fescue, but note that this will mean you can’t pre-treat for crabgrass and weeds because the products that stop those seeds from germinating will stop the grass seed, too.
Watering and light maintenance are all that a lawn requires in summer.
• Water in the morning after the dew has dried, because having the lawn continuously wet can encourage certain fungal diseases. Water deeply rather than frequently, making sure the lawn gets an inch of water each week.
• Mow regularly, removing only one-third of the grass blade height each time. The higher the grass, the deeper the roots are, and the more moisture they retain. Leave clippings in place as mulch and to shield the soil from sun that will dry it out.
• Keep weeds in check by hand-pulling annual, shallow-rooted weeds and doing spot treatments on hardier ones.
This is the time to do the jobs that will ensure that the lawn is ready for winter and fresh regrowth as the weather warms.
• Overseeding in spring doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it again now. Fall is when to overseed your lawn so that it recovers after the stressful heat of summer. The process is simply sowing the seed over the entire lawn, not just the areas that are bare or thinning. The process will improve the density of the lawn, revive its rich color, and improve its overall health, making it more able to fend off weeds.
• If the lawn is on a twice a year fertilizing schedule, and you fertilized in the spring, now is the time for the second round so the grass can benefit from the extra nutrition as it gets ready to go dormant for the winter.
• Pre-emergent weed control may also be called for, depending upon where you live. Weeds may not show until early spring, but perennial varieties will be actively growing roots and storing up energy for their reemergence. Stop them now.
• Mow until the grass goes dormant, and then put away the mower ‘til spring.
• Clean up by raking weeds and debris, and remove lawn furniture so it doesn’t compress the ground and invite pests and disease.