What is the recommended schedule for chemical lawn care applications?

From Susan in New Jersey.....

Susan's Question:

I use a company that applies all the necessary lawn care applications. Some of these are fertilizer, grub control, weed control, etc. I am somewhat satisfied with what they are doing. However, I find them to be very aggressive in trying to sell me more applications than I signed up for which makes me not trust them!

In addition, it's confusing as to which applications are really necessary.  Would you be able to give a recommended rundown or schedule of what you feel, with all of your experience, would be advised? 

I read your page on lawn care which is helpful, but what I am looking for is a more specific schedule on just the product applications.

My Answer:

In regards to your question, I understand your concern.  I am not trying to knock my competitors, this may or may not be happening in your situation.  

Some companies compensate their workers based on the additional services they sell to their customers.  Unfortunately, sometimes everything they sell is not necessary.  This may or may not be your situation.  

It sounds like you are very happy with their service other than their aggressive sales pitch.  I have always treated my customer's lawn as if it was my own.  I wouldn't do anything to their's that I wouldn't do to my own. I am way to honest. The downside is I will never be rich. The upside, I can sleep at night.  

Without knowing the specifics and without seeing your lawn I can speak in general terms to your question.  Let me start out by saying that I am a firm believer that the fewer chemicals you put on your lawn, the better. 

Fertilizing Lawns - An easy way to remember the correct fertilizer schedule you should follow is the Spring and Summer holidays.  Your lawn should be fertilized around Easter (2nd week of April), the 4th of July and Labor Day (early September).  I actually only fertilize my own lawn 2 times a year.  I usually omit the 4th of July fertilizing.

Weed Control Methods - It will be obvious in mid-April if your lawn has weeds.  Remember, even a healthy lawn may have a few weeds.  In that situation, I recommend spot treating the weeds rather than applying chemicals to the entire lawn.  The only pre-emergent that I would apply is for crabgrass control.  If you do have crabgrass, that can be applied around St.Patricks Day.

Weed & Feed - I recommend this be applied only once (early June).  If you want to prevent weeds in the Spring, you could also have this applied at the end of October.  I actually did this last fall.  It appeared that it was not going to be a typical fall. It was much warmer than usual and I wanted to take extra precautions.  I am glad that I did, because the winter thus far has not been a typical Chicago winter either (in terms of temperature and snow).

Grub Control - This is only necessary if you actually have grubs. If you are not sure whether you have grubs or not there are a few sure signs: 

  • your lawn looks stressed out
  • your lawn is looking discolored
  • if in those discolored areas you can easily lift the grass.

There is an easy way to check and see if you have grubs.  In early May, soak the area your are going to check (affected area), take an old coffee can and cut around the perimeter with a knife.  Make sure to go 6 inches deep.  Pull up the plug of grass and save it. Check to see if there are any grubs.  It will be very obvious if you have grubs or some other lawn pest.  If there aren't any, replace the plug of grass and water the area.  If grubs are present I recommend ortho grub-ex.  It is a granular/powdery product.  I will typically apply this in early June.

I hope I answered your questions in enough detail.  If you have further questions, please let me know.

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St. Augustine Grass - A warm season grass common in the Gulf Coast area.