Skip to Content

How To Care For Your Lawn: Full Guide (For Beginners)

A lawn in the process of being mowed, longer on the sides with a mowed shorter section in the middle.

Most homeowners value maintaining a beautiful lawn while reducing overall upkeep costs. Why? Because your lawn is often seen as a welcome mat to your home or garden. As a result, it’s one of the first things people see while approaching or passing a house. However, a beautiful lawn doesn’t just happen overnight. So, what is the best guide to taking care of your lawn for beginners?

  1. Begin with the right seed.
  2. Remove thatch, weeds, and moss.
  3. Fertilize correctly.
  4. Be smart with watering.
  5. A clean cut is best.
  6. Maintain your mower.
  7. Fix and fill in the fall.
  8. Aerate your lawn.
  9. Consider over-seeding.
  10. Consider top dressing.
  11. Improve soil drainage.

Fortunately, if you have just moved into a home with a yard or finally have time to take care of your lawn, then this is the right guide to discover great, lush lawn methods and secrets. Let’s take a deeper look at how this guide may assist you in maintaining your lawn.

Complete Guide To Taking Care Of Your Lawn

Every homeowner dreams of having a lush green lawn. Nothing beats strolling over the cool grass with your bare feet in the summer.

Though we all appreciate our own little bit of nature, most homeowners know that a beautiful lawn isn’t always a given. It requires effort and knowledge, and fortunately, it does get easier to maintain over time. First, it is worthwhile to learn how to plant grass seeds and when to water and fertilize your lawn.

You may have learned how to mow a lawn as a child, but you may not have mastered the delicate balance of optimum blade height and mowing timing. When you master the art of lawn mower maintenance, mowing the grass becomes a breeze. However, like a car, a mower needs regular maintenance.

Weeds are unavoidable unless you take preventive measures. Fortunately, both conventional and natural weed killers are plentiful. When it comes to figuring out what to put on your lawn first, fertilizer and weed killers should come to mind.

Note: This post may contain affiliate links which will take you to online retailers that sell products and services. If you click on one and buy something, I may earn from qualifying purchases. See my Affiliate Disclosure for more details.

So, with a bit of forethought and year-round maintenance, you can create the perfect lawn while still having time to enjoy it. Starting with the right seed, I’ll teach you how to maintain your grass so it is looking its best all year.

Step #1: Begin With The Right Seed

Unsurprisingly, success is determined by the seed. Therefore, it’s critical to obtain excellent grass seeds that are well-suited to your environment and growth circumstances to produce a healthy lawn.

HOT TIP: Consult the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to ensure you’re planting the right seed for your environment.

Where you reside determines whether you plant warm-season or cool-season grasses. Warm-season lawn grasses grow more active throughout the summer months and are ideally suited to southern regions. However, during the winter, they usually go dormant and turn brown.

Cool-season grasses thrive on northern and transitional zone lawns, where the summers are mild, and the winters are frigid. They stay green all year, but they might turn brown and fall dormant under extreme heat or dryness.

Furthermore, after the lawn is actively developing, spring fertilizing is suitable for warm-season grasses (including zoysia and Bermuda) six weeks after the last frost date. Remember that a lush, green lawn may take a few seasons to establish. Still, you will be rewarded if you are patient and follow the proper care and watering instructions.

Step #2: Remove Thatch, Weeds, and Moss

These nasties can stifle development by preventing air and nutrients from reaching the roots. In addition, weeds may emerge everywhere in the garden due to the numerous methods by which they can be introduced. For example:

  • birds flying overhead
  • cats wandering around
  • your attire and footwear

In addition, lawn weeds can appear as seed heads or blooms, and there are many different forms in lawns. That said, pulling up the entire plant, roots and all is the simplest method. This can be done by hand or with a tool. If there are a lot of weeds, spray them immediately with a low-toxicity weed killer sold on Amazon.

Furthermore, thatch is an organic covering that can accumulate between the leaves and the soil, made up of:

  • dead leaves
  • grass
  • root stems

The build-up causes an obstruction, preventing crucial moisture and nutrients from reaching the roots in the ground.

Thatch areas are simple to spot since the ground will feel spongy, and nutrient deficiency will result in dull, lifeless spots on the grass. Scarification, or raking and removing mulch from the grass, is the most effective approach to eliminate thatch. Several instruments are available to help with this procedure, including an electric lawn scarifier, sold on Amazon.

A hand holding moss pulled from grass, with a patch of mossy grass in the background, along with a hand rake and a large rake.
Moss will diminish the ability of grass to thrive

Finally, mosses are nonflowering plants that may wreak havoc on your grass. As a result, they flourish in regions with a lot of :

  • wetness
  • shade
  • poor grass

The level of moss will rise if left uncovered or untreated, decreasing the grasses’ capacity to flourish. The initial circumstances for its development include:

  • clay that resides within the soilsShade
  • insufficient drainage
  • large quantities of thatch
  • drought

Furthermore, the cause of the moss must be recognized and minimized before you can remove the moss. Then feed and scarify the lawn to keep it under control.

Step #3: Fertilize the Lawn Correctly

Fertilizer is an integral part of creating and maintaining a healthy, green lawn. Unfortunately, most homeowners ignore lawn fertilizers because they are unsure of:

  • which products to use
  • how to apply them
  • when to use it

To make matters worse, if lawn fertilizer isn’t administered correctly, it could potentially cause more harm than good.

Fertilize cool-season grasses (such as Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue) in the fall, and warm-season grasses in the spring (including zoysia and Bermuda). To discover what nutrients are needed, start with a soil test, which you can buy on Amazon.

Fertilizing Lawn For Beginners

Fertilizing a lawn is a straightforward process. A regular subdivision grass can usually be fertilized in about 20 minutes here is how to do it:

  1. Apply water to your lawn. Give your grass a good soaking a few days before you feed it to guarantee that the soil is prepared to receive grass fertilizer.
  2. Choose the most appropriate spreader for your lawn. In addition, there are two types of spreaders: broadcast and drop, and both are sold on Amazon. Using a spreader is pretty easy, and you may even change the spreader’s parameters. For proper coverage, each fertilizer product has its own spreader setting. After purchasing your fertilizer, check the bag to ensure you’ve chosen the correct setting for your spreader.
  3. Apply a perimeter application of grass fertilizer. By fertilizing the perimeter first, you may fertilize the rest of the lawn without worrying about missing any of the margins. In addition, you may prevent getting grass feed in garden beds, sidewalks, or roadways by using the various functions on your spreader.
  4. Pattern your way through. Feed your grass in a mowing pattern by going back and forth in straight lines, slightly overlapping each pass.
  5. Handle the leftover product with care. Return any unused fertilizer to the bag and store it for future use once you’ve done feeding your grass. Please keep it away from dogs and children in a cold, dry location.

The next thing to remember is what to know when buying fertilizer. When purchasing fertilizer, there are three numbers on the label. These figures show the percentages of the three most essential nutrients for grass:

  • nitrogen
  • phosphate
  • potassium

For example, a 20-5-10 bag will contain:

  • 20% nitrogen
  • 5% phosphate
  • 10% potassium

The remainder of the bag normally contains filler material that aids in fertilizer application uniformity. In the spring, a 20-5-10 lawn fertilizer is an appropriate starting point.

Finally, fertilizing right before a downpour puts the water supply at risk of chemical discharge. Instead, consider organic fertilizers like fish emulsion and blood meal (both sold on Amazon). Avoid synthetics and use all-natural compost tea that you can either buy or easily make yourself, even in excellent conditions. Here’s a quick video showing you how to make it:

Step #4: Be Smart With Watering

Watering your lawn is its own form of art. If you overwater grass, the roots will be profound but sparse. On the other hand, if you underwater grass, it will develop many shallow roots. Finding a happy medium for your grass is the key. Water your grass first thing in the morning when the weather is more relaxed, and the breezes are calmer, resulting in less evaporation.

Watering grass during the day, ideally before daybreak when the temperature is lower, will ensure maximum water absorption. However, watering grass late in the day or at night means that the heat of the sun and soil will dehydrate the grass and other vegetation, especially if it’s:

  • bright
  • warm
  • windy

Due to the lower light and temperature in the morning, water is less likely to evaporate, resulting in less waste. When you work early in the morning, the water has a better chance of reaching the roots and being effectively used. So adjust sprinklers as needed.

A person mowing grass with the sun shining on it, back view of a leg and a mower.
Maintain your mower for healthy grass

Step #5: A Clean Cut Is Best

Mowing isn’t just a job; it’s one of the most efficient methods to keep grass healthy when done correctly. Aim to remove only one-third of a blade’s height at a time. It leaves the plant with enough leaf tissue to continue photosynthesis.

For the cleanest cut, begin each season with a sharp blade. If you have a huge lawn, it may feel like the more you mow, the bigger it becomes. However, maintain your grass nicely cut for maximum enjoyment and curb appeal.

Additionally, trim and edge your yard first before getting behind the lawnmower to avoid the danger of mowing too close and injuring:

  • trees
  • plants
  • hardscaping

Furthermore, weed whacking will speed up grass mowing around barriers since you won’t have to maneuver around:

  • trees
  • mailboxes
  • fences

HOT TIP: Edging garden beds keeps turf grass from encroaching on your landscaping plants, and you won’t have to pull it back by hand as often.

Furthermore, it’s critical to think about both your demands and the needs of your lawn when selecting a mower:

  1. Do you have a bulky or small yard?
  2. Is there a lot of stuff to get around?
  3. Are you able to push a lawnmower for an extended period?

Consider your needs and possibilities before picking out a:

  • manual push mower
  • electric mower
  • gas-powered mower
  • riding mower
  • lawn tractor for bigger yards

Finally, if you get into a rhythm for mowing the grass, you may be tempted to cut in the same manner every time. Don’t! Change things up and mow in a new direction every week to decrease lawn wear and soil compaction. For example, this week position the mower horizontally and cut in a straight line, then mow next week vertically.

You may even try to replicate the gorgeous diagonal stripes of a professional baseball diamond by mowing in circles like a Zen labyrinth. Just remember to mix things up.

Step #6: Maintain Your Mower

All mowers will need maintenance at some point, whether it’s honing the blades or replacing the oil. A little mow-know-how and maintenance may extend the life of your mower and keep you from having to hurry out to the garden supply store every few years to get a new one. To keep things working smoothly, follow these maintenance and safety precautions.

With this in mind, tighten and inspect all:

  • nuts and bolts
  • belts
  • filters
  • safety shields
  • guards

For example, spark plugs should be replaced if they are broken or missing. Tire wear and pressure should be checked. Make sure your mower is ready to go so you don’t have to worry about problems.

Make sure the mower blade doesn’t grow dull to achieve a precise cut every time and save money on gas. You consume more gasoline with a dull blade, so sharpen it or have a spare blade. It’s crucial to inspect for dullness and rust before starting up the engine for the first time in the spring for those who leave a mower dormant for the winter months.

Under the deck, clipping and debris accumulation can restrict airflow and efficacy. Check for accumulation on the deck before storing it for the winter, and with the mower on its side, wash the underside with a hose.

Finally, while the operator’s handbook may not be the most exciting book on the shelf, it is critical to know the unique safety features of your equipment and serve as a helpful troubleshooting tool.

NOTE: If you’re looking for a place to store your mower and lawn tools, read my article on the 10 best storage sheds for your backyard for everything you need to know!

Step #7: Fix And Fill In The Fall

You’ll need to add a few additional jobs to your lawn-care regimen when fall arrives. Scratch bare patches and plant new seeds to fill them in for the following year. Consider applying a natural fertilizer or compost tea that works with soil organisms to:

  • strengthen roots
  • aerate the soil
  • increase drought resilience

In addition, fertilize cool-season grasses in the fall to provide the groundwork for a healthy spring lawn. Before the ground freezes, use fertilizer in October and November to encourage root development. By strengthening the lawn’s roots now, you’ll help it survive the winter and promote rapid growth in the spring.

If your grass has bare areas, treat them right away! Early October is an excellent time to spread cool-season grass seeds because the soil is still warm and there is plenty of rain, making for ideal circumstances for grass to take root and grow luxuriant in the spring.

Finally, if you want to modify the appearance of your garden, now is the time to remove old plants and replace them with new perennials. The warmer weather of autumn is not only more pleasant to work in, but it also allows young shrubs and landscape trees to establish themselves before the ground freezes.

A person with pink and yellow dotted rain boots, with aeration shoes strapped to the bottom, walking on the grass to aerate it.
Aerate the lawn every few years

Step #8: Aerate Your Lawn

Air and water can reach the grass’s root zone with this technique, which is critical for the lawn to absorb its nutrients and thrive. It’s an excellent way to deal with water-logged or drought-stricken lawns.

In aeration, tiny holes are poked into the soil at specific intervals and depths using a garden fork or special equipment – even aerating shoes are available on Amazon! Finally, it will only need to be done once every few years in most gardens. If necessary, you can treat small areas of lawn separately.

Step #9: Consider Over-Seeding

Over-seeding rejuvenates old and worn-out lawns by covering the whole area with massive amounts of seed combined with fertilizer, which can be bought on Amazon. It improves the color and reduces the possibility of weed and moss incursions while filling up damaged and thinning areas.

Before the seeds are placed, the lawn must be:

  • scarified or aerated
  • mowed
  • watered

In addition, you can purchase spreaders to aid in the equal spreading of seeds. The grass should be maintained wet after seeding for germination assistance, and a topdressing should be applied to preserve the seeds and offer nutrients. Finally, it may be done once a year to keep your grass healthy.

Step #10: Consider Topdressing

Topdressing Is utilized to improve existing soil quality by building it up. As a result, it adds drought resistance and drainage while smoothing up any flaws. Evaluate your garden soil type, to be sure you have suitable materials and consistency when adding top dressing.

To keep your grass looking lush and healthy, regularly:

  • inspect and maintain your lawn
  • remove any undesired surface detritus (dead leaves and twigs)
  • prune down plants that cause shadows

Step #11: Improve Soil Drainage

Poor drainage can cause a lawn to be wet for hours or even days. If the drainage is not corrected, it could lead to various problems for the health of your grass. As a result, the ability of the soil to absorb water and the garden’s design are the two most prevalent causes of water build-up.

Know Your Soil Permeability

Water absorption can be hampered by:

  • high quantities of clay in the soil
  • thick patches of thatch
  • soil compaction
  • layers of roots

Aeration can enhance the flow of water and air to lessen surface build-up depending on the severity of the problem. On the other hand, altering the soil type might help to achieve the required drainage levels. It can be accomplished by planting plants appropriate for the current soil type or progressively amending the soil with organic resources.

Know Your Garden Topography

With a modest flat slope, the form of your garden should naturally direct water away from home. Any dips that cause water to collect in one location might harm the grass and roots. You must avoid waterlogging in your garden.

If the grass becomes waterlogged, here are some viable options to improve drainage:

  1. Install gutters and drains to divert excess rainwater away from the lawn.
  2. Grow various wet plants that thrive in water.
  3. Reshape the area and modify the gradient.
A healthy green lawn with flowers and bushes surrounding.
There is always a solution to lawn issues


Taking care of your lawn may seem like a complicated process. This guide will come in handy whether you’re a seasoned expert trying to get back into a routine or a new homeowner learning the ropes.

Finally, it is helpful to learn how to spread grass seed and when to water and fertilize the lawn. Maintaining the equipment used to care for your lawn is just as important. No matter how dire the lawn’s circumstances are, know that there’s always a solution.

You might also be interested in: