Lawn Care Tips

It looks like winter temperatures have finally left most of the U.S, and that means it’s time to give way to spring.  It also means it’s time to brush up on our frugal lawn care tips.  From checking lawn sprinkler systems and sprinkler heads, to putting down some post-emergent weed killer, the spring lawn care work you put in will pay huge dividends later in the summer by producing a beautiful, healthy lawn.

lawn care tips
Photo courtesy of Mish Bradley

How Often Should I Water My Lawn?

Some of this depends on how well-established your lawn is, and the kind of conditions you live in.  For new lawns, it is recommended that they get daily watering (or at a minimum, every other day) until the lawn has established a strong root system.  Older, more established lawns, should only be watered two or three times a week to encourage roots to dig deeper for water sources, which leads to a healthier root system.

What’s the Best Time Of Day to Water My Lawn?

The best time of day to water your lawn is early morning, just before sunrise. The temperatures are relatively cool, so no worries about evaporation. Watering in the heat of the day can be counterproductive because much of the water will evaporate when it hits the surface of a hot lawn.  Watering in the evening can lead to fungus and grass disease because the lawn blades do not have adequate time to dry before nighttime.

How Short Should I Cut My Grass?

Mowing height depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of grass, your climate, etc.  Generally speaking, grass should be cut relatively short early in the year to discourage weed growth. As the spring wears on, and the temperatures begin to rise, it is recommended to raise your mower blade slightly as well.  A taller lawn will withstand periods of extreme heat and be more drought-tolerant than a lawn with shorter grass.

When Is The Best Time To Put Down Weed Killer and Fertilizer Products?

The best time to put down weedkiller is before weeds appear. In early spring, before the weather begins to warm, putting down a pre-emergent weed killer can significantly reduce the number of weeds in your lawn.  Once weeds appear, treat them with a “weed and feed” product that acts as both a fertilizer and weed killer, or spot treat with a liquid weed killer. Take care in selecting the type of weed killer to use to be sure it is safe for your type of lawn.  If you are unsure, ask a local nursery, landscaping company, or agricultural extension.

Inspect Lawn Sprinkler Systems and Sprinkler Heads

If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, spring is a good time to run it through all the various zones to make sure sprinkler heads are properly adjusted.  If you discover a broken sprinkler head, pick up a replacement at a home improvement store.  Though most sprinkler heads are simply threaded onto the PVC pipe running below, take care removing them or you could pull a pipe joint loose somewhere downstream and have a bigger mess to clean up.

Putting these spring lawn care tips into practice will help you establish a beautiful, green lawn for many seasons to come, improving your curb appeal and the value of your real estate property.


  1. “How Often Should I Water My Lawn?”
    -How about never? Is never good for you?

    Sorry to be the curmudgeon so early in the morning. But really, if you live in an area where a lawn doesn’t want to grow naturally, why spend money to have one? If you really feel the need to devote money, time, and energy to growing something where it can’t maintain itself without serious intervention from you, why not grow things you can eat? That would at least make the best (and most frugal) of a bad situation. Turn your lawn into a garden.

    A green monoculture lawn maintained with toxic chemicals (and if you really study it, even chemical fertilizers have serious detrimental effects) is really an idea whose time should long have passed. It’s a form of keeping up with the Joneses, and buying into society’s expectations that often don’t make any sense, in my opinion.

  2. Ditto to what Kate said. Why pay $$ to put fertilizer (often recycled industrial waste)on your lawn? It’s neither frugal, nor prudent given the deleterious effects on the environment and, potentially, anyone who spreads such chemicals around.

  3. @Kate and Sean: If I lived in the country, I would have little use for a lawn, but stuck in the middle of a neighborhood means that we are expected, to some extent, to “keep up with the Joneses.”

    Let’s face it; a green lawn adds value to a home, and there is some evidence that thick grass helps keep surface temperatures low which reduces cooling costs (I personally think that’s a bit of a stretch, but I thought I’d mention it).

    I appreciate your concerns about the environmental impact of fertilizers, weed killers and the like. I’m probably not as “green” as I should be, but I do only use lawn products once or twice a year to get the lawn started and to knock down weeds in late spring. After that, I let whatever happens happen.

    Now, most of my neighbors on the other hand, walk the yard several times a week pumping out Roundup, weed killer, etc. taking aim at individual weeds that pop through – I’m definitely not up for that.

  4. My garden is producing a plethora of devil grass, wire grass, etc. I’m moving that indestructable grass to the bare spots in my lawn.
    Killing the grass is impossible but MOVING it might work.
    Fingers crossed!

  5. I read an interesting article a couple of months ago that theorized early morning watering is one of the causes of depletion of bees. Early morning watering reduces the pollen available for bees. The writer moved his watering to midmorning and the bees seemed much more abundant.

  6. I agree with Kate and Sean. When I was growing up, we had green grass all the time. It was just the grass that was there. My dad NEVER watered, fertilized, or anything. It managed to stay green even when others were going around and watering their yards. That is mostly because most of the grass people plant aren’t suited to their environment. We had a lot of Bermuda grass, among other and it did just fine.

    Another BIG problem I have with watering the lawn (besides the waste in money) is that it is a HUGE waste of potable water. There are people around this world that have to walk 10 miles to get their clean drinking water and we live in such EXCESS that we sprinkle it on the ground. It’s disgusting in my opinion that we can be so careless with our limited resources and think we “deserve” to have a green lawn. It doesn’t mean anything to have a green lawn, honestly.

  7. A good fertilizing rule of thumb is to fertilize four times a year, around your holidays: Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. The first one adds stuff to keep down the crabgrass. The second should focus on weed control and fertilizing (weed & feed). The third can as well, but can include some insect control to keep the grubs away. The fourth will get the lawn ready to go dormant and will put stuff down to keep dandelions and spring weeds down the following year.

  8. If having a lawn is expected, maybe its size could be gradually decreased until it’s the size of … a stamp 😉

    In terms of watering, unfortunately some geographic regions have a lot of water and others have far less. Like oil. Distribution is not equitable because people do not adjust their population growth only to those two resources.

    Anyway, the worst kind of watering is the 10 minutes on and off every day. Instead, soak it once a week — put out an empty tuna^H^H^H^Hdolphin canor something similarly deep. Once the can is full, stop watering.

    And use a reel mower, like this