June 27, 2018

Improve Lawn Care with Turfgrass Management Calendar

By Adam Thoms

Iowa State University Extension

Persistence and good timing are two traits necessary for managing turf. A well-timed plan, and the ability to stick with the plan for several years, is critical to being able to improve the health and appearance of a yard.

Help formulating that plan can be found in Iowa State University Extension and Outreach publication “Turfgrass Management Calendar: Kentucky Bluegrass Lawns” (HORT 3093). The publication provides a management and action plan that runs from March through November, giving instruction for yard maintenance activities for spring, summer and fall.

“Typically the questions we get about improving yards show that people are doing the right things but at the wrong time of year,” said Adam Thoms, assistant professor and extension turfgrass specialist at Iowa State University. “Hopefully this publication will help increase people’s
success rate.”

The management calendar provides research information on why certain activities should be done in one part of the year rather than another.

“One of the biggest misconceptions we see regards when to seed a lawn,” Thoms said. “Everyone wants to seed in the spring, but our best success rate has been seeding in the fall. There is less competition from weeds, less disease pressure and soil already has an elevated temperature which helps improve seed germination and limits competition for resources.”

The publication provides specific instruction for how to mow, water, fertilize and control weeds through each season, as well as season-specific instructions such as managing tree leaves in the fall or insects during the summer.

While following the timeline set out in the publication can help improve a lawn’s overall health and appearance, Thoms councils one thing above all in growing a healthy, robust yard.

“Have patience,” Thoms said. “If you see an issue with your yard, remember that declines in quality don’t happen overnight. At the same time there is no magical thing that will improve your yard overnight. It’s a gradual process, but patience and a well-thought-out plan can bring a yard back to what it once was.”

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