While February may be the shortest month of the year, it can sometimes feel like the longest in Ohio. Nearly freezing temperatures, piles of snow and slick patches of ice all contribute to a less-than-ideal scenario for homeowners throughout the area.
When these elements strike, lawn maintenance is typically the furthest thing from your mind, and we understand that. Most of your lawn is covered by a blanket of snow and you can only spend a short time outdoors before the cold becomes too harsh to bear.
What often flies under the radar is the planning side of lawn maintenance. February is the perfect time to map out which lawn care tasks to tackle each season and identify the most effective ways to perform them for optimal results.
To help streamline these efforts, we’ve put together this guide for annual lawn maintenance in Ohio.
Your Seasonal Guide to Lawn Maintenance in Ohio
Spring Lawn Maintenance
When snow begins to recede, the debris and dead grass it leaves behind doesn’t just affect the appearance of lawns. Because of the trapped moisture and lack of air circulation, these elements can foster fungal diseases like snow mold that have the potential to damage or kill grass. By raking up debris and dead grass after snow melts, you can ward off lawn fungus in your outdoor space.
Rather than setting your sights on a specific date to start mowing your grass, wait until the grass reaches at least 2 inches tall. This will help prevent any injuries to the roots of grass—as will sticking to the rule of thumb of only cutting the top one-third of grass blades at any given time. Mow as often as you need to while keeping in mind that it’s best to cut grass when it’s dry and during periods of the day where there is less heat.
As soil temperatures grow warmer, perennial broadleaf weeds like broadleaf plantain and dandelions begin to germinate. By applying targeted pre-emergent herbicides early in the season, you can establish a chemical barrier that prevents these types of weeds from growing.
Summer Lawn Maintenance
With proper lawn maintenance in the springtime, your lawn is better equipped to handle the heat and stress of summer. But that’s just the start. To not lose sight of your vision for a thick, green lawn, there are plenty more tasks to tackle during the summer season.
Watering your lawn is one example. While regular, deep waterings of 1-1.5 inches per week are recommended while lawns are active, the effects of infrequent applications become more apparent in the summer. This is due to the combination of high temperatures and extended periods without rainfall. Making sure that you maintain a regular watering schedule—and increase applications as needed in the case of a drought—will help your lawn continue to thrive in these harsh conditions.
Then, there’s the practice of grasscycling. Rather than bagging grass clippings after you mow, you can simply leave them on your lawn to feed nutrients back into the soil (in other words, act as a free fertilizer). While this practice is also recommended in spring and fall, it can be especially beneficial in helping lawns withstand heat as well as heavy foot traffic that is common in the summer.
While on the topic of mowing, you’ll also want to remember to raise your mower to the highest notch possible. Taller grass will block out weeds as well as shade the ground so it’s protected from drying out.
Fall Lawn Maintenance
After months of high temperatures and minimal rainfall, a root-building fertilizer will boost the strength of your lawn. While a spring application can also be performed, fall fertilization is more crucial in the sense that it establishes a strong root system to help lawns survive harsh winter conditions. The ideal time to apply fertilizer is about six weeks prior to the first frost (when grass roots are still active).
Fall is the perfect time for aeration and overseed as well. By adding thousands of tiny holes to your lawn, aeration relieves compacted soil, allowing moisture to reach grass roots, and it improves drainage so excess water does not accumulate on lawns. Meanwhile, overseed fills in bare and patchy spots that would otherwise be more susceptible to the impact of insects and disease.
While we’ve already mentioned one pre-emergent herbicide application in the spring, a second one may also be needed in the fall. This is true in the case of lawns where winter-annual broadleaf weeds like henbit and chickweed have emerged in the past.
The final recommendation for lawn maintenance is to rake up all the leaves in your yard before the first snowfall. When left behind, a bed of leaves (smothered under mounds of snow) further blocks out light and air from grass and can create bare patches that invite pests and disease.
Winter Lawn Maintenance
While winter may often seem like a lull in the lawn maintenance routine, it’s actually the best time to prepare your tools and equipment for the work ahead. For instance, you’ll want to sharpen the blade of your mower to ensure an even cut as well as clean it thoroughly to remove any debris buildup that can hinder the machine’s performance.
In addition, consider pruning your shrubs. By trimming plants when they are storing energy in their roots, you can give their health a boost without interrupting their food production cycle.
As a local lawn care company, Weed Pro has years of experience providing quality care to Ohio homeowners at an affordable price. To learn more about our lawn care services, contact your local provider.