Lawn Care Basics
Your Seasonal Guide to a Lush Lawn
Learn what your lawn needs to look its best with our easy season-by-season care guide.
Transform your yard into the envy of the neighborhood by grooming a gorgeous lawn. Taming weedy, patchy, or thin grass isn’t difficult. It helps to remember that your lawn is a living, growing field made up of many individual grass plants. By tending your grass like you would a tomato plant or pot of petunias, you’ll be on your way to a beautiful lawn.
The secret to success is tackling the right steps at the right time. Learn what your lawn needs to look its best with our easy season-by-season care guide.
Clean up. Kick off the growing and mowing season with a quick spring cleaning. Grab a lawn rake to rake out dead grass and dead remnants of annual grassy weeds, like crabgrass, goosegrass, and barnyard grass. Pick up any sticks or other debris that have accumulated on the lawn over winter.
Mow high. Double-check your mower deck height, and position it to cut grass at the highest possible setting for your grass type. Cutting high encourages grass plants to grow thicker with deeper roots, which creates a lawn of healthy grass that will help to crowd out weeds.
Apply fertilizer. Lawns wake up from winter dormancy with an appetite. In the North, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Halts Crabgrass Preventer with Lawn Food if you battled crabgrass last year. If that wasn’t a problem, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food around the time of the first mowing to nourish grass plant roots and prepare the way for a strong grass growing season. Feed again two months later with Scotts® Turf Builder® Weed & Feed if broadleaf weeds are a problem; if not, apply Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food again. With all products, be sure to follow label directions.
In the South, feed your lawn in early spring with Scotts® Turf Builder® Bonus® S Southern Weed & Feed if weeds tend to be a problem. If they are not an issue, use Scotts® Turf Builder® Southern Lawn Food. Both help thicken your lawn and protect against heat and drought. In both cases, feed again two months later, making sure to follow label directions.
Beat weeds. Spot-treat dandelions or wild violets using Scotts® Spot Weed Control For Lawns. This weed killer controls weeds without harming grass. By spraying, you avoid disturbing grass roots and unearthing dormant weed seeds, both of which can happen when you hand-weed.
Patch and thicken. Repair bare spots in both cool- and warm-season turf using Scotts® EZ Seed®. Timing is crucial for success: Aim for an early spring sowing for cool-season grass and a late spring sowing for warm-season grass. If your lawn is worn and thin, thicken it by overseeding. In the north, overseed with Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick’R Lawn™ , a product specially designed for thickening up thin lawns that combines grass seed, fertilizer, and a soil improver into an easy-to-use product that is applied with a Scotts® spreader. In the south, use the appropriate Scotts® Turf Builder® Grass Seed product for your grass type, and get your new grass off to a good start by using Scotts® Turf Builder® Starter® Food for New Grass.
Mow high. Gorgeous summer lawns start with long, deep, healthy roots that snake through soil to find moisture. The surest way to encourage deep roots is by mowing high—as high as you can for your type of grass. Sharpen mower blades at least once a season to ensure a clean cut on individual blades of grass, which helps reduce moisture loss.
Treat for grubs. Apply Scotts® GrubEx® if you had a grub problem last year, spot an invasion of beetles in early summer, or know that a neighbor is fighting grubs. These pests munch their way through grass roots, resulting in dead patches in an otherwise healthy lawn. Time your application for before or just after grubs hatch, usually in late spring or early summer.
Water. To keep grass green, healthy, and growing, provide at least 1 inch of water per week, either through irrigation or rainfall. Time irrigation for early morning (between 6 and 10 a.m.) to minimize water loss to evaporation.
Feed. Both warm- and cool-season grasses benefit from summer feeding. Warm-season grasses grow most actively during summer heat, so feeding helps fuel and sustain the intense growth. Scotts® Turf Builder® Summer Lawn Food, a 2 in 1 lawn food and water maximizer is ideal for feeding warm-season grasses in the summer. It helps drive water into dry soils and feeds to build strong, deep roots, so even during the heat of summer, you can have a green lawn. If your lawn is under attack from insects, feed with Scotts® Turf Builder® Summerguard®, which combines lawn food with insect control.
Fertilize. For cool-season grass, fall provides ideal growing conditions. Give grass a head start on strong root growth by using Scotts® Turf Builder® WinterGuard® Fall Lawn Food twice in fall: once around Labor Day and a second time six to eight weeks later. For warm season grasses, only one application is necessary, in early fall. If you’re battling weeds, conquer two tasks at once by using Scotts® Turf Builder® WinterGuard® Fall Weed & Feed.
Seed. Consider sowing grass seed in bare areas of your lawn, using Scotts® EZ Seed®. In the north, fall is a great time to thicken a thin lawn by overseeding with Scotts® Turf Builder® Thick’R Lawn™.
Mulch leaves. Chop leaves with your lawn mower to create roughly dime-size pieces. Leaves this size can lie on the lawn without harming grass and will eventually decompose. If you dislike vacuuming leaves from under shrubs or along walkways, rake them into grassy areas and mow over them.
Mow short. In late fall, drop mower height and cut your lawn 1 to 2 inches shorter than normal. In areas with falling leaves, a shorter lawn prevents leaves from matting down the grass. In snow-prone regions, a final fall mowing on the short side helps prevent snow mold on grass come spring.
Limit lawn traffic. Grass goes dormant for winter in all but the warmest regions. Protect resting grass plant crowns by limiting foot traffic. Avoid parking vehicles on lawns in winter.
Melt ice carefully. Choose ice melt products that are designed to be used around the lawn. Rock salt (sodium chloride) can damage plant roots when used excessively, but Scotts® Ice Melt contains calcium chloride, which gets the job done with less product so there is less chance of causing harm to your lawn or hardscapes.
Make plans. Consider any lawn problems of the past year and come up with solutions you can tackle in the coming year. Sharpen mower blades so they’re ready to go in spring. Schedule lawn feedings by creating reminders on your phone or calendar, or make it all easy by downloading the Scotts® My Lawn app, which gives customized recommendations on how and when to care for your lawn.