Maintenance A little bit of service and preventative maintenance can ensure that your lawnmower, string trimmer and other implements are running efficiently and won’t break down before you place My Lowes 4 step fertiizer weed and feed program. Use Scotts or Sta-Green. I show you how to create a weed free program for a lush green lawn every year! Now that the weather is warming up, outdoor activities are gearing up, and you’re finally looking at your lawn. Homeowners may be tempted to run to their local lawn and garden store to pick up a bag of Weed-n-Feed. Many “experts” will tell you that this is the best way for homeowners to control weeds and fertilize for “season long control”.
A little bit of service and preventative maintenance can ensure that your lawnmower, string trimmer and other implements are running efficiently and won’t break down before you place them back into storage for the winter. Such machines are typically gasoline powered, so they should be serviced using the following simple steps:
and other handheld lawn machines, which typically have two-cycle engines and run on a mixture of gasoline and oil. Four-cycle engines, common on lawnmowers, will need to be drained of oil.
5. Clean the equipment. Use a putty knife and wire brush to knock off accumulated grass and mud, then reattach the blade if you removed one earlier.
6. Fill the oil tank. If you’re servicing a four-cycle engine, refill the oil tank with fresh oil.
7. Replace the air filter. This improves airflow to the engine, allowing it to run more smoothly.
8. Replace the spark plug. Although your old spark plug may still work properly, installing a new one is a cheap and easy way to ensure optimal performance.
How to Mow Your Lawn in the Spring
It may surprise you that there’s more to grass cutting than cranking up the lawnmower and pushing it across the lawn. Both mowing height and frequency are important to the health of your grass.
Though it may reduce the number of times you have to mow, cutting your grass short is harmful to your lawn in the long run. Mowing with a low blade height removes nutrients stored in leaf blades and exposes the soil to sunlight, allowing weeds to take hold more easily. Taller grass is better able to compete with weeds, thanks to a larger root system and a higher tolerance for heat. It also shades the ground, allowing the soil to retain water more effectively.
Given these benefits, it’s a good idea to cut your grass at the tallest height recommended for your grass type, which are as follows:
Common bermudagrass: 1-2 inches (2.5-5 centimeters)Fescue: 2-3.5 inches (5-9 centimeters)Kentucky bluegrass: 2-3.5 inches (5-9 centimeters)St. Augustine: 2-4 inches (5-10 centimeters)Zoysia: 0.5-1.5 inches (1-4 centimeters)
Mow your lawn often enough so that you’re only removing the top one-third of the blades. This places less stress on the grass, and the smaller clippings are able to decompose more easily. Avoid bagging these clippings; this added organic matter is actually quite good for the soil
Fertilizing Grass in the Spring
Once your grass is well-established, you can encourage its growth and discourage weeds by applying a combination of fertilizers and herbicides. When you should apply these substances and how much you should apply depends on several factors, like where you live and the extent of your weed problem.
Fertilizer can help your lawn grow thick and lush, but if it’s not used properly, it can actually damage the grass. A slow-release nitrogen fertilizer is best, and no more than 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) of nitrogen should be spread per 1,000 square feet (93 square meters). It should be applied early in the season when the turf begins actively growing, so the timing varies among regions. Fertilizer should not be applied too early or late, however, as lingering cold or early heat can stress the grass. Check the packaging to see when and how much you should water after applying the fertilizer.
Herbicides must also be used with care, as their effectiveness often depends on when they’re used. If you have a widespread weed infestation, it’s best to apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn before the seeds germinate in the spring. Be aware, however, that you can’t use this treatment if you plan to plant new grass, as the herbicide will also prevent those seeds from germinating. For more isolated problems, spot treating with a non-selective herbicide should be enough to do the trick. Ultimately, the best way to discourage weeds is to have a thick, healthy lawn.
Planting Grass in the Spring
Once you’ve cleaned and repaired your lawn, you may need to reseed parts of it that are particularly bare or brown. This can dramatically improve the appearance of your grass, but there are a few simple steps you should follow to ensure that it won’t look worse after you plant than it did before.
First try to address the soil conditions that prevented grass from growing in the past. Call your local Cooperative Extension office to find out where you can get a soil test; this will tell you what nutrients your lawn is lacking. Once you’ve corrected your soil composition, aerate the ground to avoid any problems with soil compaction.
Now you’re ready to buy seed and spread it on your lawn. Before choosing a seed, determine which varieties will work best in your region of the country and with the amount of sunlight in your yard. Then roughly estimate the size of the area where you plan to plant, as seed coverage is recommended in pounds per square foot. If you’re spreading the seed over a large area, it is best to use a broadcast spreader, but smaller areas can be seeded by hand.
Don’t ignore the grass once you’ve planted it. Water regularly to maintain soil moisture and fertilize with a slow-release, low-nitrogen product. Mow when the grass reaches 3 or 4 inches (7.6 to 10 centimeters) in height, but try not to trim off more than a half-inch (1-centimeter) as doing so could stress the plant.
Cleaning and Repairing Your Lawn in Spring
If your lawn is already well-maintained, all you need to do is give it a light raking once the ground has dried out. However, problem areas should be addressed quickly, as they can stress your lawn and make it more susceptible to weeds and disease.
One common problem is uneven ground. Low spots cause poor drainage, while high spots are often scalped by the lawn mower. Since these situations create poor growing conditions for grass, grab a shovel, cut away areas that are raised, and fill in those that are depressed.
Another issue that plagues lawns, particularly in high-traffic areas, is soil compaction. This occurs when the soil becomes densely packed, making it difficult for grass to take root and allowing hardier weeds to take over. To test your yard for this problem, stick a garden fork into the ground. If the tines fail to penetrate 2 inches (5.08 centimeters), your soil is compacted and should be loosened with an aerator designed to remove small plugs of soil from your lawn.
Even if the soil is properly prepared, you can still have a problem with thatch, a tangle of above-ground roots common in dense, spreading grasses like Bermuda and Zoysia. In especially bad cases, a thick mat of thatch can make it difficult for water and nutrients to reach the soil. You can break up thatch with a specially designed rake or with a mechanized dethatcher for larger jobs.
When To Apply Weed and Feed-Complete Year Round Guide
As a Lowes garden manager, one of the most asked questions I get is about healthy, green, weed free lawns. Here are my tips and directions for your Lowes lawn care program applying Sta Green or Scotts.
Weed and feed fertilizer will help improve your lawn.
The number one question: When is the best time to apply weed and feed to my lawn?
Well…it depends really. Where you live, whether you have sun or shade, and lots of other things make a big difference in what your lawn needs. Most regions in the United States can apply weed and feed from March till November.
A well-fed lawn is healthier, which means it has a better root system to combat heat, cold, drought, mowing, foot traffic and other stresses.
One easy to follow rule is to use the summer holidays as your guide.
If you’re going to fertilize, remember the summer holidays of Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day as good times to apply.
Memorial Day-Weed and Feed
July 4th– Fertilizer with Insect Control
Labor Day– Fall Fertilizer
Remember, crabgrass control will need to be early spring, so maybe around Easter.
There are some simple rules to follow when choosing and applying your weed and feed products. Lowes can help you build a successful program specifically for your lawn with Scotts Turfbuilder and Sta-Green Fertilizer programs.
And while fertilizing even once a year will improve the condition of the lawn, a well-fed lawn that receives 4 feedings a year will do much better.
Weed and Feed Basics and the 4 Step Process
Ok, this is my disclaimer: This is my version of the 4 step program that I have used for years. It works! Make sure you always follow instructions on the bag and use the correct settings on your spreader.
You will find many different versions of weed and feed programs out there. They all will be some variation of the following:
Step 1. Crabgrass Preventer
Step 2. Weed and Feed
Step 3. Summer Fertilizer with Insect Control
Step 4. Fall or Winter Fertilizer
The #1 Mistake: Skipping Step 1 and not using a crabgrass preventer.
The best looking lawns don’t have crabgrass for a reason; they use a crabgrass preventer every year! You can skip it if you want, but I don’t recommend it. Most people don’t realize this, but Scotts Halts and Sta Green Crabgrass both have fertilizer as well in the bag. So take care of the crabgrass and get in that first application of fertilizer.
Your soil supplies some of the nutrients that grass needs but most soils are not able to provide all of them during the entire growing season. Fertilizer helps your lawn stay healthy by promoting new blade and root growth and will aid in recovery from summer foot traffic and pest damage.
Weed & feed is the generic name for a broad range of lawn chemical products designed to strengthen existing grass and kill off certain weeds. It generally improves your lawn’s ability to absorb water and food, and adds necessary nutrients which promote healthy growth. A healthy lawn discourages weed growth and enables a strong root system for your lawn.
The “weed” portion of weed and feed is one of a variety of broad leaf-targeted herbicides, usually Dicamba or 2,4-D, that attacks dandelions, dollarweed, and most other green leafy weeds. The chemical is applied to and absorbed by the leaves of the weed.
The granules will not sit on grass blades, which is why weed and feed generally won’t kill grass unless it is incorrectly applied. There are also liquid forms of weed and feed that are generally applied with a sprayer.
The “feed” portion of weed & feed is a fertilizer that contains some combination of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to green up your lawn. The exact blend of fertilizer ingredients varies by brand, but all products will contain some percentage of nitrogen. Some products also include additional benefits, such as timed-released nitrogen for extended feeding.
When to Weed and Feed With Lowes Sta Green or Scotts
While feeding your lawn once a year will improve its condition, feeding it four times a year will make it even healthier. If you put your lawn on the regular schedule it will stay lush and green all season long.
Fertilize your lawn in the spring, early fall and/or late fall (such as late March, early April, early September and early November). However, if you live in an area with long, cold winters, then late April, August and the end of October may be best.
In most climates, late fall tends to offer better results because that’s when weeds grow stronger roots and take the herbicide to the roots along with it, killing them. You should also never fertilize any cool-season lawn during hot summer months.
If you live in the southern or western parts of the United States, such as Florida, Texas, Alabama or California fertilize your lawn in early summer and again in late summer or early fall. The application process is slightly different if you are using a product for southern lawns, such as Scotts Bonus S.
With all fertilizer schedules, you can add one treatment in midsummer, but avoid fertilizing when the temperature is too hot, particularly when it’s 85 degrees or above.
> Read our guide on southern weed and feed
Some Products Need Dry Lawn, Others Need Wet Lawn
For most areas of the United States, weed and feed products should be applied to a wet lawn either from rain or dew, on a calm day and left on the surface for 24 to 48 hours.
You can also wet the grass with a garden hose or turn on your sprinkler system for a few minutes before applying weed and feed.
The general exception is crabgrass control and southern weed and feed products.
Note: Scotts Bonus S, Sta Green Southern weed and feed and most crabgrass control products should be applied to a dry lawn.
A wet lawn helps fertilizer particles stick to the blades of grass and the weed leaves. To ensure that the particles have the best chance of doing their job, don’t water the lawn again for 48 hours.
If you’ve recently used grass seed, sod or sprigging, wait until your new grass has been mowed at least three times before applying any weed and feed product. For best results use a broadcast spreader set to the level indicated on the product package.
Early Spring: March – April. Step 1
Feeding your lawn in the spring strengthens roots and gets it off to a good start. Crabgrass control is the number one reason to use a pre-emergent fertilzer. If you had crabgrass last year, apply a combination fertilizer with a pre-emergent to control it.
Pre-emergents, such as those commonly used to prevent crabgrass, is weed control which must be applied before the weeds germinate. They are ineffective if the weeds are already actively growing.
You will only have about a 3 week window to apply Step 1. Use Scotts Halts plus Crabgrass Preventer or Sta-Green Crab-Ex Crabgrass Preventer. This early application is the most important part of getting a weed free and healthy green lawn. Yes, use it even if you didn’t have crabgrass last year.
Soil Temperature Map: Find your local ground temperature here
Step 1 should include pre-emergent weed killer and fertilizer used in early spring. This can be from mid March to late April.
Crabgrass normally germinates when the ground temperature reaches 55° F . This is also the ground temperature at which dogwood trees start to bud and forsythias begin blooming.
Late Spring: April – June. Step 2
Spring is prime time for lawns. Your grass is busy growing and using up stored energy. Step 2 weed and feed fertilizer is designed to strengthen existing grass and kill off weeds at the same time. Its also the best time to apply a weed and feed product.
Weeds want sun, water and food, which, is what your lawn needs too. That’s why you want to supply the lawn with a weed and feeding product designed for this time of year. Your grass is growing and unfortunately, broadleaf weeds are actively growing, too. It improves your lawn’s ability to absorb water and nutrients.
Weed & feed has a fertilizer to help “green up” your lawn. It also has a weed killer that targets broadleaf weeds like dandelions and many others. Many weed and feed products also have timed-release nitrogen for extended feeding.
The weed killer in post-emergent types of fertilizers are contact killers, and are effective only if the weeds are already actively growing. They will not kill weeds which have not yet germinated.
Applying in the spring and summer also gives your lawn a nitrogen booster that helps build the roots of your grass. Feed your lawn with a combination of fertilizer with broadleaf weed control like Scotts Turfbuilder with Plus 2 Weed Control or Sta-Green Weed and Feed.
Summer: June – August. Step 3
If you’re going to fertilize, remember the summer holidays of Memorial Day and Labor Day as the best times to apply. But what about summer months? What to do around the Fourth of July? Step 3 weed and feed products are designed for maximum effectiveness with a late-spring to mid summer application. They contain herbicides designed to kill actively growing broadleaf weeds like dandelions.
These herbicides are much more effective if you apply them in the spring or even the fall. At that time, the weeds are either growing or storing up reserves for winter and moving nutrients from the leaves to the roots. They move the herbicide to the roots at the same time, resulting in a better kill.
You can still apply weed and feed in the summer
It is not recommended to apply if the temperature will be above 90 degrees and no re-application of any fertilizer for another 30 days.
Summer is tough on grass. You can still apply a weed and feed product, but do so cautiously. Heat, drought, foot traffic, and insects stress it out. Feeding your lawn in the summer still helps to protect and strengthen it against these problems.
Lawns in warm-season grass areas should be fed over the summer months as they grow steadily from spring to fall. Also consider spot treatment of weeds by using a product such as Ortho Weed B Gon.
A more common problem you will see in the summer months are insects. If you see insects in your grass, use a feeding product that also contains insect control, such as Scotts Turf Builder with SummerGuard. For additional insect control try Ortho Bug B Gon Max granules or try Bug B Gone liquid spray around the perimeter of your home.
Fall: September – November. Step 4
Fall brings back ideal conditions for your lawn. Cool nights, ample rainfall and morning dew all contribute to new growth for your lawn and prime time for Step 4. If you missed an early spring application of weed and feed, now is the time to apply.
Since the lawn is ready to grow again, it is looking for the nutrients it needs to recover from summer damage. Some experts say this is the single most important lawn feeding of the year, more important than an early spring application. Apply your final feeding right before the winter months. You can apply a fall fertilizer until the average daytime temperature is above 50 degrees.
This means most regions of the United States can apply into late October. This will strengthen roots and increase nitrogen storage for an early spring green up next year. Try Scotts Turfbuilder with WinterGuard or Sta Green Weed and Feed Winterizer.
Planting Grass Seed or Aerating after Weed and Feed
Weed & Feed prevents seed germination, so you should avoid planting new grass or aerating your lawn for at least four weeks. If you apply weed and feed in the spring and summer, spread new grass seed and aerate in the fall each year.
Reasons Weed & Feed Didn’t Work
Remember to always follow the directions on the package. Always use a spreader to apply. Here are some common reasons why a weed & feed application could be ineffective:
- Weed & feed targets broadleaf weeds like dandelions, and dollarweeds. It does nothing for crabgrass and other grassy weeds. For these, you should use a pre-emergent like Scotts Halts or Sta-Green Crab Ex crabgrass preventer in the early spring. Must be applied before weeds and crabgrass are growing.
- Mature weeds are not actively growing, so the product will not be as effective. Weed and feed should be applied early in the growing season and a couple days after mowing.
- Rain and sprinklers can wash away the granules. Make sure there is no rain in the forecast and avoid watering for two days after applying.
What if You Apply Too Much Weed & Feed?
The best way to avoid damaging your lawn after too much fertilizer application is to flush out the weed & feed. Water your lawn with 1 to 2 inches of water for about 4 days. It would be best not to apply any other weed & feed fertilizer until the following year. Unfortunately, over watering can create run-off in certain drainage situations, so be aware of your location and where the water is going.
A Healthy Lawn With Lowes Using Scotts or Sta-Green.
Enjoy a lush, healthy lawn with Scotts Turf Builder fertilizer or Lowes exclusive Sta Green Products. Both combine essential nutrients for even feeding and weed control from early spring through late fall. Both provide uniform coverage and improves your lawn’s ability to absorb water and other nutrients to keep it healthy and looking great.
Remember to use the major summer holidays as your guide to the 4 step program: Step 1 Crabgrass in early spring. Step 2 Weed and Feed around Memorial Day. Step 3 Insect Control around July 4th. Step 4 Fall Fertilizer around Labor Day.
The 4 Step Weed and Feed Program-Make Your Own
The 4 step program from Scotts has been around for years. Did you know that it’s officially only available at local hardware stores and not Lowes or Home Depot? But, you can make your own version easily.
The bags sold at independent stores, like Ace Hardware, are a slightly different analysis and the bags will have each step number printed on each bag.
For example, here’s the difference in the first two applications of the 4 step process.
4 step bag: Step 1 for crabgrass ratio: 26-0-03. Step 2 Weed and Feed: 28-0-06
Lowes bag: Comparable Step 1 Halts crabgrass ratio: 30-0-04. Comparable Step 2 Weed and Feed : 28-0-03
Not a big difference. Sure, you can make a 4 step program simply by purchasing the four bags at Lowes or Home Depot, and many of us do, but the actual 4 step Scotts fertilizer program is only available at your local hardware.
Here are a few more helpful guides for weed and feed, grass seed and crabgrass control:
8 Reasons Weed-‘N’-Feed May Not Be Right for You
Now that the weather is warming up, outdoor activities are gearing up, and you’re finally looking at your lawn. Homeowners may be tempted to run to their local lawn and garden store to pick up a bag of Weed-n-Feed. Many “experts” will tell you that this is the best way for homeowners to control weeds and fertilize for “season long control”.
The reality is, you will pay top dollar for a subpar product. Once you factor in the product costs and your time, it will be less expensive in the long run to hire a professional that is certified in lawn weed control and fertilization. Personal Lawn Care, Inc. provides three weed control and three fertilization applications with free touch-ups throughout the season. Our program provides true “Weed-n-Feed” for your lawn.
Here are 8 reasons you shouldn’t use Weed-n-Feed
1 Wrong Amount: One of the reasons most homeowner are unhappy with their Weed-n-Feed application is due to an improper rate of application. If you apply the product too thin, the weeds will be able to break through; too heavy and you risk burning your lawn or stressing it out. Sometimes the product itself is poorly formulated or simply too strong for your lawn.
2. Bad Timing: There is a small window of time (usually 6-12 weeks) where you can control spring weeds. If you have a hard time fitting lawn care into your schedule (like most homeowners) and it creeps into May or June before you apply Weed-n-Feed products, they will at the least be ineffective and at most damage your lawn. Unfortunately your local lawn and garden center will sell Weed-n-Feed products well into the summer.
3. You don’t water it in: There are two irrigation aspects that must be met when using Weed-n-Feed products. First, the leaves of the weeds must be wet before the product is applied. To take care of the weeds that have already germinated, the product must stick to the leaves. Then, about 24hr later it must be watered in. The product has to soak into the soil to work on germinating weeds. Products that your local lawn professional apply soaks deeper into the soil preventing germination. Basically knocking out those weeds before they have a chance.
4. The product doesn’t cover all weeds: Even though the Weed-n-Feed you get at your local lawn and garden center says it covers a broad spectrum of weeds, they may be overselling their product. Most of their products are sold nationwide. It is impossible for one product to cover every weed eventuality. Personal Lawn Care tailors the products applied to meet your specific weed control needs. This provides targeted control for even the hardiest of weeds.
5. Won’t prevent weeds in the future: Just because your Weed-n-Feed takes care of your dandelions now, it may not take care of the crabgrass that springs up a week later. There may be products that last longer, but for better control, contact your local lawn care professional.
6. You don’t know how safe the product is: There is a lot of debate about products used for weed control. The Weed-n-Feed products available may contain any number of chemicals. Just because the Department of Agriculture approves a product to be used on your lawn, doesn’t mean that it is safe for you, your children, or your pets. Over the past 30 years, Cullen Beard, owner of Personal Lawn Care, has taken great care in choosing which products are applied to your lawn. His background as a science and chemistry teacher makes him qualified to research the products in depth. “If I wouldn’t use the products on my own yard, around my own children, then I won’t use it on yours”.
7. Too much Nitrogen: The “feed” part of Weed-n-Feed products is usually a high nitrogen fertilizer. High nitrogen fertilizers should only be used during the summer when the lawn has come completely out of dormancy. Providing your lawn with too much nitrogen too early in the season will weaken root growth thereby making it more susceptible to drought or other stresses. Cullen recommends a high phosphorous fertilizer in the spring followed by a high nitrogen fertilizer during the summer.
8. Can interfere with seeding: If you are planning to seed your lawn, Weed-n-Feed will stop you in your tracks. Because Weed-n-Feed kills the weeds as they are germinating, it will also kill your delicate grass shoots. If you are planning on seeding, you should refrain from using any pre-emergent weed control until the new grass is well established.