Lawn Care Basics

A healthy lawn can reduce the need for chemical treatments, including fungicides and herbicides. It’s important to test soil conditions, and water and fertilize properly.

Lawn Care

Water lawns in the early morning so the sun quickly dries them, and avoid watering at night (which encourages disease). Visit to learn more.

A light spring fertilization with iron helps stimulate grass growth. Avoid heavy nitrogen fertilization because it can burn grass and run off into local waterways.

Weeds are an ever-present problem for home and commercial lawns. They interfere with grass growth by competing for sunlight, nutrients, water and space. This makes them difficult to eliminate. If left unchecked, weeds will eventually choke out and even take over entire lawn areas. To keep weeds at bay, lawn care professionals utilize a variety of methods including herbicides. There are two types of herbicides – selective and non-selective. Selective herbicides target a specific type of weed without damaging the grass. Non-selective herbicides kill any weeds they come in contact with and will also damage the grass. Before using either type, it is important to correctly identify the weeds you wish to kill or prevent.

Pre-emergent herbicides are applied in the early spring to prevent weeds from sprouting in the summer. They are typically applied around the first week of May because that is when weeds tend to be the worst in many parts of the country. These herbicides are applied to the surface of the soil and carried to the leaves with the transpiration process. Once there, they interfere with photosynthesis. In two or more weeks, the weeds will begin to die off. These types of herbicides are used in crop fields to control weeds in alfalfa, wheat, soybeans, corn, small grains and sorghum as well as in rangelands and on grassy rights-of-way. They are also used in conifer and hardwood plantations.

Post-emergent herbicides are used on weeds that are already growing. They are typically applied in the fall or summer and kill or slow down weeds by blocking their ability to absorb sun, water or nutrients. These herbicides are available in liquid or granular forms. Liquid herbicides tend to work more quickly and are easier to use but can be more susceptible to misuse, resulting in damage to the lawn. Granular herbicides work slower but are less likely to be misused.

In addition to these chemical controls, there are a few manual techniques that can be employed. One is the cultivation of a weed-free seed bed before planting. This requires that the soil be thoroughly washed or turned over to remove any weeds that are still lurking in the surface. Another technique involves the use of hot foam, which works by heating up the soil and rupturing the cells of the weeds. This method is most effective when used on introduced, invasive species such as purple loosestrife.


When your lawn’s roots are healthy, it can better resist weeds and other environmental stressors. One key to healthy root growth is lawn fertilization, which provides the nutrients your grass needs for strong development and good health. Ideally, you’ll work with a professional who understands the different nutrient ratios required for each type of grass and the unique conditions of your soil. For example, sandy soil tends to be lighter and drains quickly, while clay soil is much heavier and often compacted, making it difficult for nutrient and water to reach the root zone.

Fertilizers are available in organic and chemical forms, with the former being plant or animal-based (manure, for example) and the latter being a synthetic source of soil elements. A lawn care specialist will be able to help you decide which kind of fertilizer is best for your needs, as well as recommend the right application method. In general, surface application is recommended because it’s easier to evenly distribute the fertilizer across your lawn than liquid or granular formulas that must be soaked into the ground.

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient that helps your grass maintain its lush green color and grow properly. When nitrogen levels are low, your grass may appear pale or yellow. Phosphorus is another essential nutrient that helps your grass develop its roots, store energy and protect against disease. Potassium is important for a variety of functions, including helping your plants resist disease, drought and extreme cold.

There is a common myth that more fertilizer leads to healthier grass, but this is untrue. In fact, too much fertilizer can cause or exacerbate a host of problems, including lawn burn and the promotion of certain types of fungus.

When you fertilize your lawn, it’s best to do so in the early morning after the dew has dried and before it gets too hot. This helps the fertilizer absorb more efficiently into your lawn and minimizes the risk of burning it. You should also wait a few days to mow your lawn after fertilizing, as doing so too soon can actually harm the grass.


When your lawn is under a lot of stress, like when it gets trampled by children and pets running through the sprinklers or by cars driving on the driveway, it can suffer from soil compaction. Soil compaction is a problem because it restricts the flow of air and water, starving the roots. This is why aeration is essential for a beautiful, healthy lawn.

Aeration involves perforating the ground with small holes in the lawn, allowing for better air circulation. When this treatment is done on a regular basis, it helps prevent soil compaction and keeps grass root growth strong. It also allows for better absorption of water, which reduces runoff and promotes healthier turf.

The best way to aerate your lawn is with core aeration, in which a hollow coring tines are mechanically rolled across the soil surface to remove small “plugs” of dirt and thatch (a layer of dead organic matter between the soil surface and green vegetation). It is important to water the lawn before aerating it because it makes the turf softer and easier to penetrate. Also, it’s a good idea to mark the locations of any underground sprinkler lines before you aerate.

Once aeration is complete, you’ll want to apply a good lawn food to jump-start the flow of nutrients to the roots of the grass. You’ll also need to cover the aerated soil with a layer of topsoil that has been mixed with compost or other organic matter and spread about a quarter-inch thick.

The end result of aeration is denser grass that crowds out weeds, making your yard more attractive. It’s a good idea to overseed your lawn after aeration as well, because this gives it the boost it needs to resist droughts and disease. It’s important to overseed in the fall so that the new grass can get established before winter arrives. Overseeding in the spring can also help, but it isn’t as beneficial as doing it in the fall. The combination of aeration and overseeding is the most effective mechanical lawn care practice you can do.


Lawn care is a series of tasks that help your grass grow healthy and thrive. Some of the most common lawn services include mowing, fertilization, and weed control. You can hire a professional to perform these services or do them yourself. Depending on the type of lawn you have and the time of year, you might need more extensive lawn maintenance services.

A good lawn service will mow your grass regularly and clean up the trimmings afterward. This is a standard part of most lawn care services and can save you from having to do it yourself. A well-groomed lawn is a beautiful addition to any home or business.

Most companies will use a walk-behind or riding mower to cut your grass, which is a more efficient way to trim it than using a string trimmer. Lawn service companies will also know how much to mow your yard, so you don’t end up with an overgrown or patchy lawn.

Fertilization is important to a healthy lawn because it gives the grass the nutrients it needs to stay lush and green. A lawn should be fertilized every week or two during the growing season.

Weeds are a big problem for most people, but lawn care professionals can easily take care of them with regular weed control treatments. The best weed killers are non-toxic and safe for kids and pets.

Lawn care services can also help with pest problems, such as grubs, ticks, and beetles. These pests are often attracted to a lawn that is overfertilized, overwatered, or cut too short. The pests will often do more damage to the yard than the grass, so they need to be eliminated quickly.

Some companies will also do soil testing to find out how best to care for your lawn. This will help them determine the proportion of sand, silt, and clay that is in your soil, and how it affects the way your lawn grows. Soil that is too sandy may dry out and die, while clay soil will compact, making it difficult for roots to get the nutrients they need.