Note: Just like in warmer, low-elevation areas, lawns may not be economically or environmentally responsible. Check with your county's cooperative extension service to find out if a lawn makes sense in your area.
Get your mower ready: Let the lawn-care season start by taking care of your mower. Bring your mower in for service in early spring; you'll beat the rush so your mower is in tip-top shape when you need to start cutting your grass. Don't forget to sharpen the blade of your mower at least once a year. A sharp blade will keep your lawn looking healthy and can prevent some disease issues.
Prevent crabgrass problems: Crabgrass and other annual weeds sprout each year from seed. Stop this lawn pest with a well-timed application of pre-emergence herbicide. Spread the pre-emergence herbicide as forsythia blooms start to drop.
Aerating: If your lawn doesn't grow well due to compacted soil, spring -- when your grass starts actively growing -- is a great time to aerate. This loosens the soil, allowing grass roots to reach deeper and the soil to absorb moisture better.
Mowing: Start mowing once your grass reaches about 3 inches tall. Keep most cool-season grasses about 2 inches tall -- this helps the grass ward off weeds and withstand summer drought. Don't remove more than one-third of the leaf length in one mowing.
Fertilizing: If you feed your lawn a couple times a year, a light application of fertilizer will help get your lawn off to a great start. Keep it light and select a slow-release or organic fertilizer. Fertilize when your lawn needs mowing for the first time; don't feed it earlier.
Control grubs: If grabs have been a problem in your area, attack them with a grub-control product that continues to work through the season. Apply your grub control in early June.
Mowing: Watch how your lawn grows. During hot, dry periods, it may only need mowing once every two or three weeks (when it reaches about 3 inches tall). During cooler, moister periods, it may need mowing twice a week.
Watering: It's fine to let your grass go dormant during drought. It'll turn brown, but it will stay alive and then go green and start growing when the rains come again. If you don't want a brown summer lawn, select drought-tolerant types or plan on giving your lawn about 1 inch of water a week.
Fertilizing: Fall is the best time to feed your lawn. Feed your lawn in early fall and again in late autumn.
Mowing: As temperatures cool, your lawn will start growing faster again. Mow regularly through the end of the season.
Clean up: Clean up fallen leaves. Here's a time-saving tip: Instead of raking up the leaves, run them over with your lawn mower several times. You'll chop up the leaves into fine pieces; they'll decompose and add to your soil's structure.
Overseeding: Autumn is the ideal time to overseed or start a lawn from scratch. Just be sure to give your new grass at least a month before your first average frost date so it can get established.
Attack perennial weeds: Perennial weeds are most susceptible to attack in autumn; attack them with a broad-leaf herbicide.
Aerating: Cooler autumn temperatures mean your grass will start growing more again -- so it's also a great time to aerate to loosen compacted soil.