Ultimate Lawn Care Guide for Grand Rapids Lawns

A lush, green lawn has a huge impact on your home’s appearance. A well-maintained lawn adds beauty, character and curb appeal to your property and increases the value of your home. It also provides an inviting entrance for family and guests, as well as a welcoming atmosphere for neighbors and potential buyers. A beautiful, well-manicured lawn echoes a well-maintained home, but keeping your lawn looking its best year-round is not an easy task. Even small lawns take time and effort to look great, but if you own a large property, lawn care becomes a big commitment that might be too large to tackle without the help of a professional lawn care service. Proper lawn care and maintenance is a complex task that’s affected by property size, location, climate and weather conditions. Harsh Michigan winters bring freezing temperatures accompanied by rain storms, snow storms, hail and ice that can do significant damage to your lawn and property. Winter protection services provided by professional lawn care companies help to protect your property from winter hazards. In the warmer seasons of spring, summer and fall, new growth is abundant in your lawn and landscape, but it also brings weeds, insects and diseases that prey on new, healthy growth. Professional lawn care and maintenance provides essential fertilization and pest maintenance that helps to protect your property from warm weather problems. Whether you have a large estate property that requires constant upkeep, or a small lawn that only needs regular maintenance, professional lawn care services offer numerous advantages. The extra costs you pay for the services will be well-worth the extra time you’ll gain for things you enjoy.

1. How often should my lawn be cut?

To keep your lawn looking its best year-round, weekly mowing is advised.

2. Is there a correct grass height?

The ideal height to cut your lawn is 3 inches throughout the growing season. If you cut too short, you cut into the crown of the grass plant which can result in a yellow unhealthy appearance.

3. How often should my lawn be watered?

In general, most lawns require one inch of water each week. It doesn’t matter if the water comes from rainfall or your hose, but you may need to adjust your water needs based on your property’s soil conditions and weekly weather conditions.

4. When is the best time to water my lawn?

The best time of day to water your lawn is early morning, between 6:00 am and 8:00 am. Watering in the morning allows wet grass blades adequate time to dry out through the day, reducing the possibility of fungal problems in your lawn.

5. How do I know if my lawn has been over-watered?

If your lawn feels soggy or has standing water, or you have runoff in the driveway or street, it has definitely been over-watered. Although many homeowners think over-watering is better than underwatering, it can actually cause yellow grass, weeds, fungus and thatch.

6. How do I know if my lawn is dehydrated?

A quick way to tell if your lawn is dehydrated is to walk across it. If your footprints remain for two hours, your lawn needs water. You can also dig down about one inch deep into your soil with a screwdriver or knife. If your soil sticks to the tool when it’s removed, your lawn doesn’t need water.

7. How do I know what grass type I have?

Grasses are divided into two types, warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses. Warmseason grasses grow best in areas with mild winters and hot, humid or dry summers. Coolseason grasses prefer mild, wet, snowy winters and warm, dry summers. Grass type charts can help you identify your grass.

8. What is the best way to care for my grass type?

In general, warm-season grasses thrive in hot sun and go dormant and die during winter months. Cool-season grasses thrive in cooler climates and don’t do well in hot sun. There are many varieties of both warm-season and cool-season grasses, so proper care depends on your grass type and climate.

9. Is fertilizer important? Fertilizer provides essential nutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, for your soil which promotes new lawn growth and strong root systems. Most soils are not healthy enough on their own to provide proper nutrients for lawn health year-round.

10. What is the difference between lawn food and lawn fertilizer?

In general, lawn food is less harsh than fertilizer, but it depends on the exact product you choose. Lawn food helps to keep your grass green year-round, while fertilizer typically targets your soil and root systems to promote new growth and strong grass.

11. When should I fertilize?

The best way to achieve ultimate results with your lawn is to fertilize on a regular schedule. A schedule beginning in early spring and continuing until late fall is optimal and should include five tailored applications.

12. How do I know if my lawn has been over-fertilized?

The most obvious sign of an over-fertilized lawn is brown grass that is caused by too much nitrogen. Fertilizers that provide a slower release of nitrogen or organic fertilizers with manure or compost are less likely to damage your lawn.

13. How can I make my lawn healthier?

A healthy lawn requires proper care that includes water, fertilizer and regular maintenance. It’s important to provide these lawn care essentials at the right time and in the correct amount. Without the right balance, your lawn is likely to suffer.

14. Why do I have certain problems in the backyard and not the front yard?

Problems in the backyard that don’t occur in the front yard are probably caused by differences in soil type, drainage, water, sun and shade. Your backyard usually gets heavier foot traffic from kids and pets that can cause damage to your grass.

15. How do I control weeds?

Weed control depends on the type of weeds you have in your lawn. There’s a wide variety of stubborn broadleaf weeds and creeping weeds that are abundant in Grand Rapids landscapes. Some have stronger root systems that cause faster growth and spreading, so it’s important to identify the type of weed.

16. How can I keep my neighbor’s weeds from spreading to my lawn?

Although you have no control over your neighbor’s lawn care, the best way to keep weeds from spreading to your lawn is regular lawn care and maintenance. If weeds invade your lawn, you can stop them early and prevent further spreading with regular maintenance.

17. Do I need to worry about grubs?

Grubs, the larvae of various beetles, like to feed on the roots of grass and plants. They are a common lawn problem in most areas and hard to spot because they live in the soil. Grub preventative applications in the late spring and summer will stop grub problems that damage your lawn in the early fall.

18. What do I do if I have moles?

Moles in your lawn can be recognized by the volcano-like mounds they leave where they dig tunnels. Since they live underground and feed on various insects, you may never see them, but if you control the food source you can control the moles.

19. Should my lawn be dethatched?

If you have a heavy layer of thatch, it may be necessary to dethatch your lawn so your grass can get proper water, air and nutrients to grow. Dethatching is a big job and is best left to a professional lawn care company that has the right equipment for faster results.

20. Why do I have mushrooms in my lawn?

Mushrooms are a common fungus growth typically caused by over-watering or wet soil and rainy weather. They will not harm your lawn, and can be easily knocked down with a rake or lawn mower. They can be collected and composted, but never eat them since they can be poisonous.

21. Why do I have moss in my lawn?

Moss in your lawn can be caused from acidic or wet soil, compacted soil, poor drainage, low soil fertility and too much shade. If you have any of these conditions and your grass is not growing well, moss can quickly fill in those areas where grass isn’t growing.

22. What can be done about brown spots from my dog?

Dog urine causes brown spots on your lawn, but giving away the dog is certainly not an option. Although the spots are brown, they may turn green again with more irrigation or lawn food. Adding bark around the base of your trees, a favorite place for your dog, will help protect the grass, unless your dog is female.  How do I know if my lawn is diseased? Most lawn diseases are caused by some type of fungi that invades grass blades and top soil. Depending on the type of fungus, you may see white, cobweb-like spots or rust on grass blades; brown, black or bright green circles on the lawn; or white/pink mold after snow melts.

24. How do I stop my lawn from getting diseased?

Lawn diseases can be caused by fungi, bacteria and insects, and there’s a wide variety of each. Identifying the culprit is essential to getting rid of the disease. Pest maintenance service through a qualified, professional lawn care company is advised for best, long-term results.

25. Why does my lawn look better in some areas than others?

Your lawn has different amounts of sun and shade throughout the day based on surrounding trees, shrubs and plants. It may also have inconsistent soil types, nutrients and drainage controls, as well as problems with insects, diseases and wildlife in some areas and not others.

26. How dangerous are pesticides?

Pesticides that contain harmful or toxic chemicals can be quite dangerous. These chemicals spill into the soil and air creating toxic soil, water and fumes. Although sometimes necessary, chemical pesticides do pollute the environment. An IPM or Organic program are recommended.

27. Do I need to worry about the use of pesticides if I have pets/children?

Organic lawn care is a great alternative to chemical pesticides. Organic lawn and tree care provides a safe chemical-free environment for your family and pets. It promotes green living and protects the environment from toxic fumes and harmful chemicals that spill into the atmosphere.

28. Should my lawn be seeded in the Spring?

In most areas, it’s best to seed your lawn either in the spring or early fall, depending on the type of grass seed you use. You want to avoid seeding in the summer, because new seed needs to stay moist and will require constant watering during summer heat.

29. How do I know if my lawn has been or needs to be over-seeded?

Over-seeding is the planting of grass seed directly into existing turf. It can be beneficial to old lawns that look worn and thin. When done correctly, it’s an easy way to fill in bare spots, improve the density of turf, establish improved grass varieties and enhance your lawn’s color.

30. What could prevent seed from germinating?

Seed needs to be kept moist, not wet, to germinate properly. Other conditions such as planting too shallow or too deep; temperatures that are too hot or too cold; soil that’s too loose or too compacted; soil fungus; and strong winds can also keep your seeds from germinating.

31. Why does my lawn look worse in the Summer than in the Spring and Fall?

The main reason that your lawn might look worse in the summer is high temperatures and less water. During summer, your lawn requires more water to keep roots moist and encourage new grass growth. Heat and sun quickly dry out your soil and rob your lawn of needed moisture.

32. Do shady lawns need special treatment?

Lawns rarely do well in dense shade. Most grass types need at least four to six hours of full sun each day to stay thick and green. Without sunlight, grass becomes thin, less resilient and prone to disease. If your lawn is shady, it’s important to choose shade-tolerant grasses that grow well without sunlight or prune shade trees to allow sunlight to penetrate through the branches.

33. Do overly sunny lawns need special treatment?

Heat and sun rob your soil and turf of water and nutrients creating a less healthy lawn that’s more susceptible to drought, weeds, insects and diseases. Sunny lawns need extra nutrients from plant food or fertilizers, as well as weed and pest maintenance controls.

34. How can I make my grass thicker?

Although it takes work to get thicker grass, it can be done with these procedures: •proper mowing heights •proper watering and fertilizing •proper weed controls •over-seeding your lawn •aerating your lawn every fall These complex procedures are best left to a professional lawn care service.

35. Are organic products better for my lawn?

Organic lawn products offer a safe, natural way to take care of your lawn. They don’t contain harmful chemicals like more traditional lawn products that can be dangerous to children and pets. Organic products create a healthy lawn and outdoor environment for your family.

36. Should lawn clippings be mulched or bagged?

Most of the time, lawn clippings should be mulched. When mulched correctly, lawn clippings can provide your lawn with 25 percent of its total nutritional needs for the year. If your mower is clumping, it’s best to bag lawn clippings to prevent damage and diseases from clumps on the lawn.

37. How do I level an uneven lawn?

Most lawns start out level when seed or sod is first applied, but become uneven over time from ground settling or erosion from improper drainage. Quick fixes are achieved by adding sand and soil mixtures to uneven areas, but it’s important to determine the underlying cause first for the best long-term results.

38. Should my lawn be aerated?

All lawns will benefit from aeration, perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water and nutrients to penetrate the grass roots. Although the main reason for aerating is to loosen compacted soil, it helps to establish strong, deep grass roots that produce a stronger, more vigorous lawn.

39. Is core or spike aeration better?

Core aeration provides more benefits for your lawn. A spike aerator simply pokes holes into the soil, while a core aerator actually removes a plug or grass and soil from the lawn. Core aeration loosens compacted soil better and creates more air flow and drainage to the soil.

40. How often should I aerate my lawn?

The best time to aerate your lawn is during the fall growing season, so grass can heal and fill in any open areas after soil plugs are removed. Aerate your lawn once a year. With warm-season grasses, aerate in late spring, and with cool-season grasses, aerate in early fall.

41. Should I use compost on my lawn?

Composting your lawn two or three times a year is a great way to keep you lawn green and healthy. Compost provides a safe, organic fertilizer without harmful chemicals. It contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as important trace elements not found in commercial fertilizers.

42. How can I prevent dandelions from showing up in my lawn?

Dandelions are aggressive weeds that typically invade thin, unhealthy lawns. You can get rid of them and prevent future invasions with both chemical and organic weed control, but the best way to keep them out of your lawn is by maintaining a dense, healthy lawn where weeds can’t flourish.

43. How do I get rid of ivy in my yard?

There are three basic ways to get rid of ivy in your yard, but each takes time and patience. You can smother it with plastic sheeting, spray it with herbicides or dig it up. Depending on the amount of ivy in your yard, professional lawn care services may be your best choice for efficient removal.

44. How can I get rid of crabgrass?

Crabgrass is a tough weed to get rid of once it invades your lawn. A good pre-emergent pest maintenance program can provide crabgrass weed control in the spring before crabgrass seeds sprout. To ensure proper applications, professional lawn care services will offer the best, long-term results.

45. How do I get rid of Bermuda grass?

If you want to get rid of Bermuda grass, you have four basic options: solarization, mulching, herbicides and cultivation. Each one of these methods takes time and effort, so leaving them to a lawn care expert is advised for best removal results.

46. How do I prevent the grass from my lawn from invading my garden?

Many cool-season grasses used in Bergen County spread naturally by underground runners called “rhizomes” that can break through even the most compacted soils. Borders and edging in hard materials like stone, concrete, tile and brick will help to keep grass out of your garden.

47. How much does professional lawn care cost?

Professional lawn care costs will vary depending on your location, size of your yard and the services you choose. Since lawn care companies offer a variety of services, it’s best to discuss your specific property wants and needs with a qualified lawn care expert to determine your exact costs.

48. How frequent would a professional lawn care company treat my lawn?

Basic lawn care services typically include weekly mowing, weeding, border edging, hard surface cleaning and spring and fall yard cleanups. Other services like fertilization, mulching, pruning and planting are provided at different times throughout the year.

49. How long would it take a company to treat my lawn?

Depending on the type of treatments you need, treatment plans can range from one month to one year. Routine maintenance treatments are done periodically as part of your lawn care services, however lawn problems may require specific treatments that target your exact lawn problems and concerns.

50. How long after treatment will I start to see results?

Some lawn treatments like lawn food and fertilization can have immediate effects, but weed, insect and disease control treatments may take longer to see results. Depending on the type of treatments your lawn needs, your lawn care professional can better advise you of time needed to see results.