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Essential Guide to Proper Lawn Turf Care

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Business Advice

A healthy, beautiful lawn is the foundation for an eye-catching landscape. As a professional, you know that turf care is about more than just mowing and watering; it’s a complex process that involves understanding your lawn’s unique composition and needs.

Proper turf care is important for lawns of all sizes and types. Whether you care for smaller areas or service sprawling acres, the principles remain the same. This guide will help you understand the complex needs of turf and provide expert tips on lawn turf care, from mowing and fertilizing to pest control and winter preparation.

Understanding Your Turf

Not all lawns are created equal. Different lawns have different turf types and grasses, as well as different soils. To maximize your level of lawn turf care service, it’s important to know what kind of grass you’re dealing with.

Different types of turf

The first order of business is getting to know your lawn turf varieties. Different types of turf vary by climate:

  • Cool-season turf: cool-season grasses are hardier, and can tolerate cold winters better than warm-season grasses. They’re best suited for lawns in northern climates and include varieties like fescue and bluegrass.
  • Warm-season turf: warm-season grasses thrive in warmer climates, and are better suited for lawns in southern states. Varieties like St. Augustine, Bermuda, and Zoysia are all warm-season turf varieties.

Factors to consider when selecting the right type of turf

Your client’s property location and natural features will play an important role in determining which turf is most suitable for their needs. As you decide which turf is right for each client and job, consider these key factors:

  • Shade tolerance: some turf grasses require full sun to do well, while others thrive in shady conditions.
  • Foot traffic: if the lawn is subject to heavy foot traffic, you might want to choose a more durable turf.
  • Maintenance: some lawns require low maintenance and others need more frequent care. Different types of lawns have different mowing, fertilizing, and watering needs. Ask your clients what their long-term goals are for regular maintenance and care.

Climate considerations

Not taking climate into consideration is a setup for failure. Climate dictates not only the type of lawn turf you choose, but also how often you water, fertilize, and mow. Understanding your lawn’s climate requirements can help ensure its longevity.

Proper Irrigation

Over-watering or under-watering is a quick way to kill a lawn. Knowing how often and for how long to water it is critical for lawn health.

How much water your turf needs

The amount of water required depends on factors like rainfall, temperature, soil type, lawn turf type, and lawn size. You should adjust your commercial turf care watering schedules accordingly to ensure the lawns get enough moisture without over-watering or stress due to drought.

In general, lawn turf should be watered for shorter periods of time but with more frequency to encourage deeper root growth. Short and frequent waterings help lawn turf develop deeper roots that are better able to handle drought-like conditions.

The best time of day to water

As a rule of thumb, lawn turf should be watered in the morning, ideally between 4 and 10 a.m. This will give your customers’ lawn enough time to absorb the water before it evaporates during the heat of day. Watering lawns at night can increase susceptibility to lawn diseases since the lawn remains wet for extended periods of time.

Importance of proper drainage

Poor lawn drainage can lead to standing water, which prevents lawn turf from getting the oxygen it needs to survive. Signs of poor lawn drainage include puddles of standing water or soggy patches in the lawn. If a lawn is poorly draining, consider adding a drainage system.

How to avoid over- or under-watering

The just-right watering technique is a science and an art. Lawn treatment must include enough water to keep the lawn healthy without over- or under-watering

A few tips to help you avoid over- and under-watering:

  • Use a rain gauge to accurately measure how much rainfall each lawn is getting every week. This will help your team adjust watering schedules accordingly.
  • Use a lawn irrigation system to automate lawn turf care and avoid over-watering the lawn.
  • Check for signs of stress in lawn turf like wilting or discoloration, which may indicate under-watering.


There is no one-size-fits-all magic fertilization formula. The truth is that effective fertilization is all about customization. Lawn turf needs vary depending on factors like lawn size, climate, soil type, and lawn turf type.

What type of fertilizer to use

Fertilizers come in both organic and synthetic options, with each having its pros and cons. Organic fertilizers are typically slow-release and can improve the overall health of lawns over the long term by increasing soil fertility. Synthetic fertilizers may be faster-acting, but they can also cause lawn damage if over-applied or used too frequently.

How often to fertilize

When it comes to fertilizing frequency, best practices include applying lawn fertilizer 2 to 4 times per year, depending on lawn turf type and climate. Timing matters as well—applying lawn fertilizer during periods of active growth will help the lawn better absorb it and give it the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

Signs of over-fertilization

Is it possible to over-fertilize? Yes! Avoid lawn damage from over-fertilization, always follow the directions on your fertilizer label. Signs of lawn over-fertilization include lawn discoloration, wilting, lawn thatch buildup, and lawn burn (brown or yellow lawn turf).

How to determine the right amount of fertilizer for your turf

To determine the right amount of lawn fertilizer, first test the soil to check for nutrient levels. Once you know what’s in the soil, you can determine the right lawn fertilizer and amounts that are best suited for your lawn turf type.

Mowing and Maintenance

Mowing is your lawn turf care bread and butter, so let’s break down the best practices.

Proper mowing height

The lawn mowing height should be determined by lawn turf type. The rule of thumb is to never remove more than 1/3 of the lawn blade in a single mowing session.

Importance of regular mowing

Mowing lawn turf regularly is essential for overall lawn health. When lawns are mowed on a regular basis, the lawn blade can produce more carbohydrates for energy and growth. These should be communicated to clients and ideally all customers should have a routine schedule.

How to avoid scalping

The lawn scalping is a lawn turf care no-no. Scalping lawns (cutting very low) can cause lawn stress, lawn damage, and lawn disease.

The best time of day to mow

Mowing lawn turf in the morning, late afternoon, or early evening is ideal when temperatures and humidity levels are lower.

When to aerate and dethatch

The best time to aerate and dethatch lawn turf is in the spring or fall when lawns are actively growing. Customers will appreciate that aeration helps lawn turf absorb more water, nutrients, and oxygen while dethatching removes lawn thatch buildup.

Dealing with Pests and Diseases

Very few things can ruin turf more rapidly than a lawn pest infestation or lawn disease. Stay alert for warning signs as your teams perform regularly scheduled maintenance. Rapid response can save lawn turf for pest damage!

Common pests and diseases

Pests and lawn diseases vary by region, but some are ever-present. Common lawn pests and lawn diseases include lawn grubs, lawn mites, lawn fungus, lawn nematodes, and lawn weeds.

How to identify and treat pests and diseases

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of lawn pests and lawn diseases, so you can quickly identify a problem before it has the chance to spread. Key warning signs of lawn disease and pest infestation include lawn discoloration, lawn thatch buildup, lawn spots, lawn patches, and lawn wilting.

Natural and chemical treatments

Natural lawn care products, such as lawn insecticides and fungicides, can help combat lawn pests and lawn diseases. Always talk to clients about their preferred treatment method. Some may have strong feelings about organic vs. chemical products.

Importance of regular monitoring

Regular lawn inspections (at least once a month) should be a built-in part of your service plans. These will help your team proactively identify any problems with lawn health, pests, and diseases early on and save you the headaches down the road.

Preparing for Winter

Winter is rough on turf, follow these steps to protect your clients’ assets from damage.

Steps to prepare your turf for winter

Pests and lawn diseases vary by region, but some are ever-present. Common lawn pests and lawn diseases include lawn grubs, lawn mites, lawn fungus, lawn nematodes, and lawn weeds.

  1. Reduce lawn mowing height – lawns should be mowed shorter in the fall to reduce lawn stress and lawn damage during cold winter temperatures.
  2. Fertilize lawn turf – lawn fertilizing helps lawns survive winter dormancy periods by keeping them strong, healthy, and well-fed.
  3. Aerate lawn turf – lawn aeration helps lawns absorb more water, nutrients, and oxygen for winter.

Tips to protect your turf from winter damage

  • Topdress lawn turf – top dressing lawns with compost or sand helps lawns retain moisture and protect the lawn during cold winter temperatures.
  • Remove lawn thatch – lawn thatch can trap moisture and snow leading to lawn damage, lawn wilting, and lawn disease.
  • Overseed lawn turf – lawn overseeding helps lawns form strong root systems which is essential for lawn survival during winter months.

Importance of regular maintenance during winter

Regular maintenance routines like lawn mowing, fertilizing, watering, aerating, and dethatching lawn turf during the winter help lawns survive the cold and look their best come springtime. Keeping up with critical turf care during the winter will prevent lawns from lawn discoloration, lawn wilting, lawn patches, and lawn damage.


Overall, proper lawn turf care during all seasons is essential for keeping your customers’ lawns looking their best. Understanding turf type, proper irrigation, fertilization, mowing techniques, and maintenance can help your lawn care team provide a competitive level of service for your clients.

Timing and consistency are key to keeping your turf looking great. Scheduling regular inspections and winter turf maintenance is a breeze with LMN, the premier lawn care software.

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