Lawn Care Guide

How to Maintain a Healthy Lawn

Since most pesticides came off the market in Ontario, any homeowners puzzle over the right strategy to keep their lawns healthy. Proper lawn care, don?t at the right time can make your lawn greener than it?s ever been!

Step 1 ? Aerating and Thatch Control

  • Aerate or dethatch in the spring and fall before top dressing or fertilizing. Lawn care companies can provide these services.
  • Use only a core (not a punch type) Aerator if your soil is extremely compacted and heavy.
  • A well-growing lawn should be dethatched most every Spring. You can dethatch with a rake if you want a good work out, or you can rent a dethatcher or better yet buy a dethatching blade for your lawn mower.
  • Aerating creates space in heavy compacted soil for penetration of air, water and nutrients.
  • A healthy lawn has 1cm (1/2 inch) of thatch ? more than 2.5cm is too much.
  • Unhealthy amounts of thatch prevent water and nutrients from reaching roots and can harbor insects and diseases.

Step 2 ? Improving Soil Quality

  • Grass grows best in a moist, fertile soil that is not waterlogged.
  • Sandy soil and heavy clay both need humus to improve the texture.
  • A deep dense root system is most important to support top growth in grass.
  • A minimum of 4 inches (10cm) of soil is needed. More soil = deeper roots.
  • Soil samples can be sent for analysis. The results will include levels of phosphorus, potassium, pH and lime.
  • pH Levels are the measurement of acid and alkaline level. The best level is between 6.0 and 7.0. Tests can be done by Agri-Food Laboratories, Imperial Rd. Guelph, 1-800-265-7175,
  • Top dress lawn with good quality top soil (1/4 to ? inch), consisting of loam, peat moss and compost will improve soil conditions.

Step 3 ? Overseed

  • Top-dressed and over seeding are ideal opportunities to introduce drought resistant grass mixes.
  • Best time is early fall, but can be done in spring if there is winter damage.
  • Red Fescue tolerates shade and drought conditions, requires low-fertility, grows well in the sun, has very fine leaves and spreads by runners.
  • Perennial Rye is drought tolerant, prefers full sun, but tolerates shade. Retains its green colour very well during mid-summer heat stress.
  • Many perennial Rye grasses contain levels of endophytic fungus. Hairy Chinch Bugs, Bluegrass Billbugs and Sod Webworms don?t like the taste.

Step 4 ? Mowing

  • Mow High: 6 to 8 cm (approx. 3?)
  • Keep Mower blades sharp
  • Mow frequently ? cut no more than 1/3 of shoot length
  • Leave clippings on the lawn to provide a natural source of nitrogen

Step 5 ? Fertilizing

  • Very important to grass health. Provides nutrients to out-grow weeds.
  • Use a slow-release type and follow instructions. Use a spreader for even application.
  • Nitrogen needs to be applied each year. Phosphorus and potassium are stable in soil.
  • Late fall fertilization is best to increase fall and spring root growth and also results in an early spring green up. Promotes a thicker lawn.
  • Also fertilize in mid-Spring.

Step 6 ? Check for Weeds and Insects

  • Pull any broadleaf weeds by hand.
  • Annual weeds ? to prevent flowering ? Hand pull and/or mow.
  • Apply Corn Gluten in early to mid-Spring to prevent weed seeds from germinating.
  • Perennial Rye grass mixes will minimize Chinch bugs, Bluegrass Billbugs, and Sod Webworms
  • Nematode spray for grubs.

Step 7 ? Irrigating

  • Let a healthy lawn go dormant during extended dry periods. It can survive 4 to 6 weeks without adequate water.
  • Water only if an extreme drought or lawn under stress. If your lawn is dormant:
    • Check regularly for insect pests
    • Keep traffic off
    • Stop mowing
    • Do not fertilize
  • If you do water?
    • Water deeply: 2.5 cm (1 inch)
    • Water infrequently: Less than once a week
    • Water before 10am to avoid evaporation and for best health
    • Follow any regional watering restrictions.

Month-by-Month guide




  • ? Clean up, rake and investigate winter damage.
  • ? Apply corn gluten for Crab Grass or other weed seeds.
  • ? Wait 30 days to overseed


  • Aerate and dethatch if needed.
  • Top-dress and overseed if needed.
  • Pull dandelions and other weeds.
  • Fertilize with Turf Revolution Green Acres (5-1-5).
  • Apply Nematodes for Grubs


  • ? Pull dandelions and other weeds
  • ? Monitor Grubs


  • ? Monitor Grubs
  • ? Monitor Chinch Bugs
  • ? Fertilize with Green Earth Summer fertilizer (9-3-4)


  • ? Re-apply nematodes for Grubs
  • ? Late August ? Overseed with drought resistant grass such as perennial Rye grass and/or Red Fescue


  • ? Monitor and pull weeds


  • ? Fertilize with CIL Golfgreen Fall fertilizer