You should mow your lawn once a week at 3-1/2" to 4", or more frequently if it is exceptionally fast growing. We mow our customers' lawns at 3-1/2"; taller grass helps choke out weeds, supports a deeper root system, and has more leaf surface for photosynthesis. The last mowing in November should be at 3".
It is beneficial to leave the clippings in the lawn as long as the volume of the clippings is not excessive. You should not have any significant amount of clippings left on the surface of the lawn when you are done mowing (we double cut or cross cut the lawns we mow to prevent this).
You should do a 4-step lawn application program that includes three fertilizations: one with pre-emergence crabgrass control, one with broadleaf weed control and one with surface insect control. A fourth and final fertilization is done in the late fall.
If you have had grub problems in the past, or the company doing your applications says you have a current grub problem, you should do a (5th step) grub application. If your lawn looks like it is being dug up in spots, this sometimes indicates a grub infestation, as birds or skunks are digging up the lawn to eat the grubs.
Sometimes, if a lawn is particularly hungry (lawn is not deep green), it may benefit from an additional fertilization beyond the standard four.
Every lawn should be limed once a year (6th step). Lime helps keep the chemistry of your soil in balance. It helps improve lawn color and lawn density, it helps control thatch, and increases root development. If the lawn is very mossy, then liming twice a year is desirable. If you want to take it a step further, you can have a soil test done to determine the exact amount of lime you should apply and the type of lime to use.
Consistent deep watering is very important. In May and June, it is good to water your lawn two to three days a week for 30 to 45 minutes per area or zone. In July, August, and September, watering four to five days a week for 45 minutes per area or zone is recommended. Do not water during the day; too much evaporation occurs during daylight hours. Finish your watering before the sun comes up or water after the sun goes down. Do not water in the middle of the night. We water our lawns from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. five days a week for 45 minutes per area or zone.
The above schedule must be adjusted based on current weather conditions and your specific lawn conditions. Remember, it is much better to water for a long duration (deep watering) less frequently than for a short duration more frequently. We see many sprinkler system timers set to water 10-20 minutes per area or zone. This is very bad for the lawn because it encourages shallow root growth. If you don't have in-ground irrigation, we highly recommend it. It is very difficult to water your lawn enough during dry, hot weather conditions without in-ground irrigation.
We highly recommend every lawn be core aerated once a year. This helps control thatch (much better than dethatching), improves soil structure, helps create pockets for new roots, and opens the way for water and fertilization to reach the root zone of your lawn.
Shade Conditions (Important)
Grass needs 6 hours of direct sunlight daily to be optimally healthy. Grass planted and growing in shady conditions, or receiving little direct sunlight, will always be in a state of decline and will need overseeding once a year, or every other year, to maintain a reasonably good appearance.