Author Topic: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?  (Read 6123 times)

ReadySetMillionaire

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How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« on: April 01, 2016, 07:15:14 AM »
My fiance and I are first time homeowners.  A lawncare professional knocked on our door yesterday and quoted us for six treatments at $69 each, or a total of $413 for the year. He said that was normal for our area (NE Ohio), but I wasn't sure about whether we needed six treatments and thus just got his number and told him I'd call today.

After sleeping on it, $413 seems awfully expensive, especially when we aren't too anal about our yard. Our basic requirement is that we don't want a million dandelions sprouting all year (which my dad, who has lived here for 40 years, says will 100% happen if we don't do something).

So what should we do? Is there a fertilizer or weedkiller you guys would recommend? I'd really like to just do this myself this weekend.

Thanks.

ooeei

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2016, 07:30:33 AM »
I think that probably depends on your lawn.  What soil type it is, what type of grass you have, what the water you use contains, etc etc.  You can generally send off some soil to be analyzed and use that information to help choose the appropriate fertilizer.  You can probably contact a university with a horticulture dept or master gardener near your area (http://mastergardener.osu.edu/), and ask them for advice.  Having the grass/soil info will help them with their recommendation (but you may want to contact them before the analysis).  They may not know exactly what to do, but will probably be able to point you in the right direction.

I certainly wouldn't pay someone $400 to fertilize my lawn for the year.  All they're doing is probably buying some bagged fertilizer from home depot and using a $20 spreader to put it on your lawn.  If they're a really legit operation they may have analyzed the local soil and have a regimen they use customized to your area.  That's something you can do yourself, and will help you better take care of your lawn and any garden plants you may have in the future.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 07:36:12 AM by ooeei »

MayDay

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2016, 07:38:12 AM »
I live in central oh, my in laws are in NE.

You don't need to treat or fertilize it at all. Just mow it.

This is assuming you don't want a perfect lawn. Why a few dandelions are offensive is beyond me.

Even if you do choose to treat, twice a year is plenty. Go buy a spreader at HD and a bag of the weed and feed, and do it yourself. It takes 10 minutes.

The Happy Philosopher

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2016, 07:42:41 AM »
Let the dandelions bloom...be subversive ;)

Axecleaver

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2016, 07:44:07 AM »
It's so much cheaper to do this yourself. Go to home depot and get a spreader - depending on your yard size, a hand spreader might be enough, a tractor-pulled version will give you a more even distribution. You can get specialized "weed and feed" mixes that will suppress dandelions and add a little nitrogen. A slow release fertilizer applied about 2-4 weeks after average last frost is best. Don't apply it too early - the lawncare companies like to start selling in April, but you want to give your grass about a month to wake up before you start encouraging growth with nitrogen.

A cheaper way to do this is to grow a healthy lawn - you can achieve low dandelion counts by mowing frequently, fertilizing with nitrogen in the late spring and late fall, and doing an annual aeration. Those spike shoes are good budget aerators. You can fertilize a lawn with just about anything, what really matters is the total nitrogen per area measure. Mixing up your own compost tea is the best thing for a lawn.

Of course, the best alternative is to eliminate your grass entirely and grow vegetables instead :). Dandelion greens are delicious and one of the first edibles available in early Spring. The flowers also make a fancy dandelion wine with natural yeast.

BlueMR2

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2016, 07:58:14 AM »
NW OH here.  I'm on a limited version of the Scott's step system.  I bought one of their walk behind spreaders and use their stuff (tells you exactly how to dial in the spreader).  I only do Steps 1 and 2 (fertilizer plus pre-emergent and fertilizer plus weed killer) and I just do one application of each per year.  A big bag of each lasts me 3-4 years roughly.  That combo keeps my yard in decent shape at very low cost (and less environmental impact).

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2016, 08:08:33 AM »
NW OH here.  I'm on a limited version of the Scott's step system.  I bought one of their walk behind spreaders and use their stuff (tells you exactly how to dial in the spreader).  I only do Steps 1 and 2 (fertilizer plus pre-emergent and fertilizer plus weed killer) and I just do one application of each per year.  A big bag of each lasts me 3-4 years roughly.  That combo keeps my yard in decent shape at very low cost (and less environmental impact).

Thanks for all the replies so far.

Something like this is what I'm looking for--easy, little maintenance, not complicated. I'm pretty busy working 55-60 hours a week and don't think I have the time or energy to do anything more complicated than the above.

So, can you let me know your exact brand/mix and the exact product?

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2016, 08:42:35 AM »
About fertilizing, this is my schedule

  • Around March 15th (or when the magnolias bloom in your neck of the woods), I put down pre-emergent fertilizer. This prevents weeds from coming up
  • Around May 15th (or 2 months after first treatment), I put down the broadleaf killer fertilizer

Here are some other suggestions
  • Do not use the insect killer, since it kills the earthworms which are very beneficial to your soil
  • Cut your grass on the highest setting. This will help keep your grass healthy and help smother the weeds
  • Use a mulching blade
  • Sharpen your blade at least once and optimally twice a year.

I usually use Scott's or Vigoro from Home Depot. Vigoro is usually cheaper. Should not matter.

MayDay

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2016, 08:47:20 AM »
NW OH here.  I'm on a limited version of the Scott's step system.  I bought one of their walk behind spreaders and use their stuff (tells you exactly how to dial in the spreader).  I only do Steps 1 and 2 (fertilizer plus pre-emergent and fertilizer plus weed killer) and I just do one application of each per year.  A big bag of each lasts me 3-4 years roughly.  That combo keeps my yard in decent shape at very low cost (and less environmental impact).

Thanks for all the replies so far.

Something like this is what I'm looking for--easy, little maintenance, not complicated. I'm pretty busy working 55-60 hours a week and don't think I have the time or energy to do anything more complicated than the above.

So, can you let me know your exact brand/mix and the exact product?

It is really as easy as:  go to HD.  Buy Scotts spreader.  Look on Scotts bag of Weed and Feed or Pre-emergent.  It will have a chart telling you when to do what.  Pick the 2 steps you want to do, buy the bags of stuff, spray them out when the bags say too.  Done.  It takes ten minutes each time, all you do is pour some in the spreader and push it back and forth across the lawn until you cover everything.  It is way faster than mowing.

The lawn guys make almost nothing on mowing.  They make all the money on fertilizer and weed killer applications. 

SandyBoxx

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2016, 09:17:00 AM »
We live in an area where weedkillers have been banned recently - and wow do the dandelions grow! 

Our first two years of trying to "deal" with the dandelions was a headache, with constant mowing trying to keep them under control.  Then I discovered this site: http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp

Last year we mowed (we have a mulching mower) way less often and with the blade set way higher, and watered less frequently (we would put an empty tuna can out to make sure we watered at least an inch's worth.)

We ended up with a really green lush lawn, and while we still had a few dandelions here and there, our neighbours on either side had a sea of yellow!  We also usually overseed once a year - no fancy spreaders - we just throw the seeds around with our hands. :)

HTH, enjoy your new home!
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 09:21:40 AM by SandyBoxx »

kite

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2016, 09:55:02 AM »
Paying to spray chemicals get rid of dandelions isn't on my priority list.  We do use a weed puller to keep dandelions out of the garden (gotta get the taproot) where they'd be competing with veggies for nutrients.  But within the lawn, we mow enough to lop their heads before they spread. 

We read all kinds of stuff about pesticide use in agriculture  (where it actually makes sense....people do have to eat).  And there's endless debate on the safety and environmental consequences of weeds developing resistance.   I'm not offended by the sight of yellow flowers.   We will use RoundUp on poison ivy and I know that glyphosate is relatively safe for that purpose.  But dandelions & clover aren't a threat, so I have no interest in working or paying to eradicate them.   
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 10:01:20 AM by kite »

Fishindude

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2016, 10:09:31 AM »
All those lawn care treatments will do is cause you to mow more often.
If you want to get rid of dandelions, go to a farm store such as Tractor Supply and purchase some 2-4-D broad leaf killer in the farm chemical area.  It will be much cheaper and better than the lawn stuff.   Mix per the instructions and spray the entire lawn when it's hot and dry, after dandelions are evident.  It kills broad leafs (dandelions) and does not harm grasses.


starbuck

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2016, 10:19:50 AM »
But dandelions & clover aren't a threat, so I have no interest in working or paying to eradicate them.

Dandelions and clover also keep the honeybees in your neighborhood happy. Your local beekeeper thanks you.

Dezrah

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2016, 10:59:35 AM »
In the spirit of the day, I suggest that you "make" your own fertilizer. Just maintain a healthy diet low in red meats. As a bonus, you'll save quite a bit on your water bills.

jacksonvasey

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2016, 02:20:53 PM »
This is a great article, and the practical upshot is you can be very lazy and cheap about your lawn:
http://www.richsoil.com/lawn-care.jsp

If you insist on using commercial fertilizer, consider using organic (ringer or milorganite), as they're not as disruptive to the soil chemistry as synthetic fertilizers.

Also, dandelions are good for bees and other bugs.  Nothing wrong with them, in my opinion.

HipGnosis

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2016, 02:47:57 PM »
Grass roots are actively growing when temperatures are between 55 and 65 degrees.
If you fertilize before then, you're fertilizing the weeds.  After then, you missed the window.
Grass shoots start developing when temperatures are between 60 and 75 degrees.

MoonShadow

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2016, 03:01:40 PM »
My fiance and I are first time homeowners.  A lawncare professional knocked on our door yesterday and quoted us for six treatments at $69 each, or a total of $413 for the year. He said that was normal for our area (NE Ohio), but I wasn't sure about whether we needed six treatments and thus just got his number and told him I'd call today.

After sleeping on it, $413 seems awfully expensive, especially when we aren't too anal about our yard. Our basic requirement is that we don't want a million dandelions sprouting all year (which my dad, who has lived here for 40 years, says will 100% happen if we don't do something).

So what should we do? Is there a fertilizer or weedkiller you guys would recommend? I'd really like to just do this myself this weekend.

Thanks.

You can do this yourself for quite a savings, but you don't need to do it at all.  If you interseed some white clover, clover is a legume, a class of plants which have the nearly unique ability to 'fix' nitrogen from the air and make their own nitrate fertilizer, which is what the majority of the liquid fertilizers actually are.  Legumes do this in their roots, and they leak somewhat, so they benefit the grasses around them slightly.  It used to be that a mix of about 30% white clover was normal for grassy lawns, before the marketing blitz for herbicides convinced homeowners in the 50's that broadleaf herbicides (which also kill clover) were how a discerning homeowner maintained a lawn.  And dandelions are accumulators, as they have deep taproots that dig down deep for nutrients, and benefit the topsoil as they die and decompose.  And young dandelions leaves make for a fine salad base, sort of like spinach.  (as they grow large, they turn a bit bitter, but they are still edible if your like bittered salads)  Don't eat the flower, though, they taste nasty.  The clover is also edible, and protein rich (like peanuts, also a legume) by weight, but their leaves are particularly small, so gathering enough for a salad is time consuming.  I never apply any kind of weedkiller, fertilizer or bug spray to my lawn, because I actually do eat the weeds.  http://www.eattheweeds.com/


ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2016, 03:04:45 PM »
Clover really makes it look nice. Mine is coming in much greener than previously and I'd like to credit it to the clover we overseeded.

MoonShadow

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2016, 03:10:27 PM »
Paying to spray chemicals get rid of dandelions isn't on my priority list.  We do use a weed puller to keep dandelions out of the garden (gotta get the taproot) where they'd be competing with veggies for nutrients.  But within the lawn, we mow enough to lop their heads before they spread. 


This is largely a myth.  As I mentioned, dandelions are an accumulator using that taproot, so they only compete with veggies that have deep roots, such as carrots & radishes.  They do compete for sunlight with low lying veggies, but again, they are edible in their own right.

Rightflyer

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #19 on: April 01, 2016, 03:15:33 PM »
Just mow your grass regularly and correctly.

A few dandelions add a little colour.

We put too much crap onto the earth already for no really valid reason.

ltt

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #20 on: April 01, 2016, 05:59:21 PM »
If you go to a big box store, they will usually have the bags with the steps on them.  Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Step 4.  One you apply early spring, one early summer, etc.  It will tell you when to put it on your lawn and what time of year.  The bags aren't that expensive and you will definitely get a lot of use out of the spreader.  It can be done very inexpensively.

Papa bear

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #21 on: April 01, 2016, 06:15:30 PM »
From NE Ohio and now live in central.  If you aren't big on taking care of your lawn but want it to look decent, fertilize once in the late fall.  Mow at a high setting and mulch do not bag.  Mulch all the leaves in the fall back in the lawn, do not bag.  Spot treat weeds and crab grass if necessary with a spray.  Easy peasy.


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dess1313

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2016, 01:22:52 AM »
Mow it.  water if necessary
We only treat ours with weed and feed fertilizer.  it makes it stronger, so it chokes out the weeds more, and the weed and feed has a anti weed something in it.  works great.  get a little fertilizer spreader so you don't lay it on too think in one area

MsPeacock

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #23 on: April 02, 2016, 12:39:21 PM »
There is absolutely no need to spread chemicals on your lawn. If you water it adequately (and it doesn't take much water to do this) and mow it so it stays longish (e.g. mow more often and only cut off 1/4 or less of the grass) and leave the clippings on the lawn - your lawn will be fine.

Save yourself the $$$ and be kind to the environment and don't put weed killer and fertilizer down to grow grass. The yard runoff will end up in your lakes and streams and aquifer for your drinking water.

You can dig up dandelions if they really bother you. I don't find they make much progress in my yard and the other weeds - mostly violets - are green and inoffensive.

Bucksandreds

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #24 on: April 02, 2016, 01:09:55 PM »
I live in central Ohio and fertilize in early spring. Mid summer and mid fall. I spend $15-$20 each time and do it myself. Probably $50 per year and 1/2 hour of work. Unless you have an acre or more of lawn, $413 is absurd.

Use crabgrass/weed killers mixed in with fertilizer. Your lawn will look great.

sol

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Re: How to Treat/Fertilize Your Own Lawn?
« Reply #25 on: April 02, 2016, 01:34:32 PM »
I think lawn care is very regionally dependent, so if you're keen for acres of green the best advice is to seek out whichever one of your neighbors has the best looking lawn and ask him what he does.

Around the PNW, most lawns are swampland from December to February so we have to apply moss killer in the spring to make room for the grass to grow.  Some people also use a pre-emergent crabgrass killer but it's not necessary in most places, then they fertilize once in the spring and once in the fall.  The truly hardcore also dethatch once every two or three years.  If you have a lot of dandelions in the area (typical in neighborhoods where nobody curates their lawns) then that spring fertilizer application is usually the weed-and-feed kind.