Lawn Maintenance / Establishment Calendar

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  • Mow at 3 to 3 ½ inches. Leave grass clippings on the lawn where they decompose quickly and can provide up to 25 percent of the lawn’s fertilizer needs.
  • It is best not to fertilize tall fescue after March with a high nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Tall fescue lawns ideally thrive better with 1 inch of water per week. Irrigate just until runoff occurs, stop and allow to soak in, then continue to supply the adequate amount.
  • Apply pre-emergence herbicides to control crabgrass, goosegrass, and foxtail. Apply by the time dogwoods are in bloom.
  • It is generally not necessary to remove thatch.


  • Mow at 3 ½ to 4 inches.
  • Do not fertilizer tall fescue at this time.
  • Water as needed to avoid drought stress.
  • Watch out for brown patch disease (irregular shaped patches of dead or dying turf). Brown patch likes high humidity and temperatures above 85 degrees. It becomes severe during prolonged, overcast wet weather with evening temperatures above 68 degrees. Apply fungicide during severe brown patch outbreaks.
  • Control weeds as necessary by spot spraying.
  • Check for and control white grubs in July and August.


  • Mow at 3-3 ½ inches.
  • If you have not done a soil test apply a complete nitrogen-phosphorus potassium (N-P- K) grade fertilizer with a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 ratio (that is, 12-4-8 or 16-4-8). Fertilize with 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in mid-September and again in November.

How do you determine how to apply 1 pound of nitrogen from a bag of fertilizer? If you want 1 pound then convert the first number on the bag to a percentage and divide 1 by that percentage (the first number always represents the nitrogen content). For example, if you have 10-10-10 divide 1 by .10 and you get 10. That means you need to buy 10 pounds of fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet of lawn. You can also divide 100 by the first number on the fertilizer bag and get the same result. Let’s say you are using a ratio that is 18-24-12. Then you would divide 1 by .18 and you would get 5.5 pounds of this fertilizer per 1,000 square feet to achieve 1 pound of nitrogen. For example, if you had 3,000 square feet of lawn and you were applying 10-10-10 fertilizer at the rate of 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet then you would need 30 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer. If you had 45,000 square feet of lawn and you were applying 10-10- 10 fertilizer at the rate of 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet then you would need 450 pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer.

  • Apply broadleaf herbicides to control broadleaf weeds like chickweed, henbit, and other weeds as necessary.
  • Check for white grubs and control if needed.
  • Aerate lawns that are grown in compacted soils or lawns with heavy foot traffic.
  • Overseed lawns from September through October. Use a blend of turf-type fescue cultivars at 6 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet, and apply a starter type fertilizer (high in phosphorous). Do not let the seedlings dry out.


  • Mow at 3 inches and remove debris.
  • Fertilize with 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in February.
  • Apply broadleaf herbicides as necessary for control of chickweed, henbit, or other weeds.


Warm Season Turf Maintenance/Establishment

Warm season grasses such as Bermuda, centipede, and zoysia should be planted or reseeded in May/June. You can now buy seed for these warm season grasses. Warm season turf should be fertilized in May, June, July, and August at ½-1 pound of Nitrogen per 1000 square feet. Centipede does not like as much nitrogen so apply ½ pound at each fertilization. Centipede also does not like shady areas and tree roots. Bermuda is the most drought tolerant of all the warm season grass choices.

  • Overseed with ryegrass in October when warm season grass begins to go dormant in order to have a green lawn all winter.
  • Apply pre-emergence and post-emergence herbicides in November and December to control annual bluegrass and winter annual broadleaf weeds.
  • Apply broadleaf herbicides as necessary for control of winter annual weeds like chickweed and henbit in December-February.
  • Apply post-emergence herbicides as needed during the summer months to control summer annual and perennial broadleaf weeds like white clover, knotweed, spurge, and lespedeza.

For more information about lawns, or if you have other gardening questions, feel free to contact N.C. Cooperative Extension of Franklin County at 919-496- 3344.