University of Maryland Extension

Best Practices - Lawn Care

best practice logo                                                            lawn mower on home lawn

  • Perform a soil test every three years.
  • Turf-type tall fescue is the recommended type of grass for sunny lawns in Maryland. Fine fescues are used on low-maintenance sites and for areas that receive less than 4 hours of direct sunlight. Read Recommended Turfgrass Cultivars for Certified Sod and Professional Seed Mixtures (PDF) HG 77.
  • Late summer through early fall is the best time to sow grass seed and to perform lawn renovation. 
  • Consider planting groundcovers in shady areas and around trees where grass does not grow well.
  • Set your mower height at 3 inches. Mow more frequently when your grass is actively growing (spring and fall) and less frequently when your lawn is dormant during the hottest, driest part of the summer. Do not remove more than 1/3rd of the grass blade at each cutting.
  • Apply lawn fertilizer in the fall and fertilize according to University of Maryland Extension fertilizer recommendations (see page 2). The optional applications, listed in the UME fertilizer schedule, are not necessary for lawns older than 8-10 years because older lawns require less nitrogen. Also sweep any fertilizer that lands on sidewalks or driveways back onto grassy areas.
  • A thick, dense lawn is the best defense against weeds. Hand pull or spot treat broadleaf weeds with a liquid broadleaf weed herbicide.
  • Established tall fescue lawns generally do not need to be watered. They will go dormant during the hot, dry part of the summer and green up again when cooler temperatures return and rainfall increases. If watering is necessary, such as with a new lawn, water for a longer period of time but less frequently to encourage a deeper root system.  Frequent shallow watering encourages a weak, drought intolerant root system.
  • Do not bag grassclippings but allow them naturally decompose on your lawn. This practice contributes about 25% of the nitrogen your lawn needs for the year.
  • Look into lawn alternatives for a more natural, more sustainable landscape.
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