Ultimate Landscape and Lawn Care Checklist: Month to Month
Posted on April 14, 2023 by Jeremiah Sooter
No matter what time of year, homeowners are familiar with the constant upkeep their yards require. As the seasons change, it’s important to prune, mulch, weed, cut, water, and feed the plants and lawn around the outside of your home. All this ensures a yard retains a perfectly groomed appearance all year round.
Using a checklist is the difference between a thriving landscape versus one struggling to survive. In today’s blog, you can find all you need in this ultimate lawn care and landscape checklist for each month of the year. You will be able to reference this checklist year after year to ensure the success of your landscaping efforts.
Whether you want to know when to plant or how to look after your yard, you’ll find all you need in this helpful checklist from January until December. So let’s get started!
Although there is not much to do for warm-season or even cool-season lawns in January, some essential things prepare you for the upcoming season. For instance, begin sharpening and prepping your lawn and landscape tools.
January is known for its unpredictable weather and may not be the ideal time to plant new shrubs and trees. Therefore, it’s best to evaluate your landscape to remove unattractive plants and complete any weed removal on the warmest day of the month.
Cool-season grasses begin growing in late February, and it’s not uncommon for homeowners to notice patches of green popping up in their lawns. For areas that are not yet green, flush those areas with water to leach away any chemical or biological stresses that might be impacting those spots in your lawn.
Trim and Prune Trees
There is much conflicting information online about what time of year is best to trim or prune trees. But as a rule of thumb, pruning in late winter is a safe idea.
Warm-season grasses begin to grow in late March. So early March is an excellent time to start removing any winter growth. Also, overseed any areas you might have missed last Fall.
You can also spray herbicides for broadleaf weeds that were not controlled late last year. Finally, have your soil tested to see what nutrients might be missing that you will want to replenish.
Early Spring Planting
Most evergreen and deciduous shrubs are best planted in early spring. You can begin by planting any popular shrubs or hedge bushes, like the classic azalea plant, which grows well in zones 6-9. To maximize the showy display of your azaleas, plant by color in groups or layers.
Now that mowing season is underway, it’s time to adjust the blade height; for cool-season lawns with:
- Tall fescue set the deck to cut to heights of 2 to 3.5 inches
- Kentucky Bluegrass set the deck between 1.5 to 2.5 inches
- Perennial ryegrass set the deck to cut between 1.5 to 2.5 inches
- Creeping red or chewings fescue cut 1 to 2 inches in height
- For hard or sheep fescues, adjust the deck to cut 1.5 to 2.5 inches in height
Mow heights for warm-season lawns like Zoysiagrass and Bremudas should get cut to 1.5 to 2.5 inches, so set the blade deck to its lowest setting on your lawn mower. By mowing at this low setting you can speed-up your lawn’s green-up rate.
For a good spring cut, it’s best to trim only the top third of the grass blades each time. In periods of rapid growth, aim to mow your lawn at least once a week to maintain its shape and promote healthier growth.
In addition, April temperatures tend to hover between 60 and 75 degrees, making it an excellent time of year to level your cool-season lawn or have it topdressed. A good top dressing will get your lawn off to a good start with one-third: compost, topsoil, and sand.
Replacing or Refreshing Mulch
Now that winter is over, changing the mulch around plants and trees is essential. It helps avoid any disease spores and insects that may have survived the winter in this material.
Even if there aren’t any pests or diseases, it always makes sense to freshen up your mulch. By mulching outdoor plants and trees, you ensure the roots are well protected from extreme temperatures and stay hydrated.
Once your dormant turf revives to a lush green, it is critically important to fertilize it regularly to keep its healthy appearance. Certain warm-season grasses, like Bermuda and Zoysia, thrive on high-nitrogen fertilizers with maple bases.
Cool-season grasses, like centipede grass or tall fescue, only require a little fertilization or nitrogen to thrive. When selecting a high-nitrogen fertilizer, double-check the ratio listed on the bag. To prevent burning your lawn, follow the application instructions correctly.
Once trees or shrubs are fully sprouted, you should prune the last of any winter damage or die-back. Permanently remove any limb or shoot that appears dead or damaged back to living wood. If the tree sustained a lot of winter damage, replacing it with a new tree or shrub is advisable.
You can plant annuals as late as mid-May in the four states—anything from impatiens, marigolds, and petunias. If you’re growing starters from containers, ensure the roots are not tightly matted together so the plants can easily stretch out in the soil. To loosen, carefully break up the strands of the roots.
Warm-Season Lawn Leveling
In late May and throughout June, temperatures rise into the 80s, making it the perfect time to level a warm-season lawn. You also want to be mindful of ground moisture. If the ground is too wet, lawn leveling can encourage mold growth.
As temperatures begin rising going into the summer months, it’s essential to pay close attention to your water cycles from your lawn to your surrounding landscape that, includes:
- Trees and shrubs
You’ll also want to prepare a watering schedule that rotates the days you water your lawn and when you water other plants. You can help conserve water during periods of water shortages. In addition, irrigating your yard, landscapes, and garden in the early morning or evening will reduce evaporation.
It’s time to raise the deck on your lawnmower to help your grass endure those long hot summer days. The taller turfgrass, the better it will shade the soil, slowing the effects of ground evaporation.
For cool-season grasses follow the below prescribed mowing heights offered by the University of Missouri’s, Department of Plant Sciences.
- Tall fescue set the deck to cut to heights of 3 to 4 inches
- For Kentucky Bluegrass cut to heights of 2 to 3.5 inches
- Perennial ryegrass: 2.5 to 3.5 inches in height
- Creeping red, chewings, hard, or sheep fescues cut to 2 to 3 inches tall
Warm-season lawns can continue to be cut at the same heights used in April. That will help remove any dead leaf and reduce thatch build-up.
Lawns and Droughts
For best results, mowing your lawn is advisable when it’s cool and moist. It is often advised not to cut a dry lawn, as it can cause further deterioration of the turf due to wind and sun exposure. Such conditions don’t help a lawn in recovery. Instead, water it or wait for rain before cutting.
September is the perfect month to fertilize those cool-season lawns for homeowners in the four states. To get the best out of your lawn, use a high-quality fertilizer that contains a 30-2-4 or 29-3-4 that contains timed-release nitrogen. It will slowly release beneficial nutrients to your lawn without burning and will continue fertilizing your lawn until next Spring, when you feed again.
Temperatures can range between 60 and 80 degrees widely, making September the second best time of year to level either cool-season or warm-season lawns:
- Cool-season lawns: Bluegrass or ryegrass should be leveled at 60-75 degrees.
- Warm-season lawns: Bermudagrass or Zoysiagrass should be leveled in temperatures around 80 degrees.
You can also consider topdressing or turfgrass.
In September you can begin raising the blade deck on your mower for warm-season lawns to cut to heights of 2 to 2.5 inches, resulting in a thicker, lusher lawn.
Considering the type of plants and turfgrass, you should adjust the watering schedule accordingly for maximum efficiency. As the weather turns cooler, plants require less water to thrive, making it easier to manage the health of your landscape. But take care to avoid waterlogging specific zones, like areas with mulch.
If you want to have a green lawn for more months out of the year, you can overseed your warm-season grass, like Zoysia or Bermuda, with any variety of fescue.
Take out spent summer annuals to allow the soil to rest and rejuvenate over Winter. After adding a good soil amendment of organic matter, till the bed to ready it for the cool winter months.
Final Lawn Mowing
You’ll continue to mow your lawn to regular heights until the grass stops growing or begins to brown. After the final mow, recondition your lawn mower with an oil change and store it away for the season with an empty fuel tank.
Fall Yard Cleanup
In November, cleaning up fallen leaves and debris is essential to start a new composting pile. Raking is a great way to get the job done and tidy your yard.
Conduct an end-of-season soil test. If the results show your soil is acidic, apply lime. Applying lime in early December benefits the pH balance of a lawn and the surrounding landscape. To apply, use a broadcast spreader at a rate of 5 pounds per 100 square feet.
Landscaping and Lawn Care Tools
Clean and store all your landscaping and lawn care tools to keep away until next season.
Need Help With Items on Your Lawn Care and Landscape Checklist
There’s a lot of work that goes into caring for a lawn year-round. If you need help checking off some of those items consider hiring a professional lawn care and landscaping company, like the team at Ground Up Services. When you hire their lawn care and landscaping professionals, they can help checkoff some of the item on your annual checklist, including:
- Supplying a chemical-free compost
- Apply topdressing
- Perform lawn leveling
- Broadcast fertilizers
- Mow and edge your lawn once weekly
- Plant trees and shrubs
- Fall clean up
Their team of professionals can help you with these additional yard and drainage services.