The concept of a “lawn treatment” or “grass treatment“is a confusing one to many of you folks. I know that clever lawn care marketers want you to think so, but treating your lawn is not as simple as buying a bag of fertilizer and throwing it down a few times per year.
There is a specific lawns treatment for just about any lawn problem, but few yards require all of them be used every single year. As many of you know, I am not a fan of the “throw the kitchen sink at it” approach.
I prefer a balanced approach that incorporates timed lawn treatment based on the needs of the turf that particular season. In other words, what works during a rainy year, will not work during a dry one. In addition, we do need to keep an eye out for the environmental impact we as homeowners have when we use lawn products.
Ok, enough rambling; let’s explore some of the basic lawn treatment practices I recommend.
Nutrient Lawn Treatment
I know you know this already, but nutrients are the basis for any lawn treatment program. Proper fertilization will promote a thicker lawn; and a thick lawn resists ALL other problems, naturally! The key is to feed your lawn only what it needs to keep it healthy without causing it to overgrow. We use nitrogen to keep the lawn green, potassium to strengthen the roots, and iron to give it the dark blue shades that it apart from the neighbor’s. (it is all about beating your neighbor right? )
I recommend Milorganite as your base organic lawn treatment. It is slow release nitrogen and iron combined in a nice, organic package. I also recommend a spring and later fall application of 20-20-10 granular fertilizer to promote strong roots.
Here are a few more helpful articles for you:
What do the numbers on the bag of fertilizer mean?
Milorganite organic lawn care fertilizer information
Iron applications for lawns
How to apply lawn fertilizer
Weed Control Lawn Treatment
The word, “herbicide” is NOT a bad word! I know that there are environmental extremists out there who want to outlaw the use of herbicides and pesticides, but they are just plain ignorant. (BTW-for you Canadian readers, it is against your laws to apply any pesticide products to your home lawn! Sorry guys)
The big problem with herbicides is their misuse by homeowners and uneducated professionals. If used properly, herbicides can actually reduce the need for other lawn chemical applications.
Think about this: if you don’t spray your weeds, and they spread to your neighbor’s yard; then he may be forced to spray more pesticides year-after-year as your weeds invade his space. You follow that? (stepping off my soap box…)
I always recommend you use a pump sprayer (mix concentrate with water) and spot spray weeds in your lawn. Mix the herbicide according to label directions and spray carefully and target your application only where the weeds are and no where else! In my lawn, I get a few weeds per year and I just pull them by hand, but when I first started out, I never used more than one gallon of weed control over the entire year because I was very careful to only use what I needed and no more. I never use “weed-n-feed” products; ever!
Here are some helpful articles for you:
Weed N Feed bags are the real environmental problem.
Insect Lawn Treatment
For this one, I need to break things into a list. I look at insects like this:
(1) Lawn Damaging Insects
–Surface feeding damaging insects (Cinch Bugs, Billbugs and Sod Webworm)
–Sub-surface (below ground) damaging insects (Grub Worms)
(2) Nuisance Insects (ants, fleas, spiders, ticks)
I promise you that 90% of insect problems in a healthy lawn need absolutely no treatment at all. In fact, grub worms really only damage lawns that are unhealthy to begin with. Put it this way (and I am bragging a bit here): my lawn — pictured in the sidebar — gets grubs in it every year. I know this because I find them. But I don’t lose sleep over it because my lawn is so healthy that it just grows out as fast as the little buggers can eat!
Once again, a thick lawn will resist pretty much anything thrown at it!
Now most of you are still working on getting your lawn healthy, so for your sake, I would recommend a once-per-year treatment for grubs. Put this application down in the later spring BEFORE grubs become a problem. The best grub treatments contain the product Merit.
As far as above ground insects (both nuisance and damaging types), you can use a general lawn insecticide (granular preferred) in April that will take care of them all year. I do apply this lawn treatment each year so I can enjoy summer picnics without the hassles of ants and the like.
Disease Lawn Treatment Applications
Lawn fungus and disease can be a problem if we get a super wet, cool spring. These problems are magnified if your grass type is not resistant. In my lawn, I always get summer leaf spot problems because my turf is 100% Turf Type Tall Fescue. However, if your lawn is a mixture of grass types (most Midwest lawns are KY bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass) then you stand a better chance of having very little problem with fungus.
Either way, most lawns will benefit from an application of fungicide in April or early May just as a precaution. The key with disease controls is getting them down BEFORE problems arise. My good friends at BASF Turf have the very best in disease control products for lawns.
More helpful articles:
Non-Chemical Lawn Treatment
Remember how I said thick lawns resist all other problems? Well, here are a few things you should do to assist your lawn in being as thick healthy as possible that require no ‘chemicals’ at all.
Aerate your lawn every spring and every fall
Water your lawn properly
Mow your lawn the right way; consistently
I hope these do-it-yourself lawn tips will help you in your quest for a thicker, greener lawn. If you are looking for step-by-step lawn treatment information (a spoon-fed yearly lawn treatment guide), stay tuned for my upcoming ebook: DIY Lawn Treatment Guide; Step by Step. I am hoping to have this book available by spring of 2009. Stay tuned!____________________________________________________________
Wondering "what to" put on your lawn and "when to" put it down? Get my $7 Step By Step ebook and learn it! I am really proud of the results my readers are getting using this easy to follow lawn treatment schedule.
You can start at ANY time during the year... I wrote the book so it is easy to get into lawn care no matter what time it is... Just start NOW! Lawn Care, Step By Step