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One of the most misunderstood areas of property maintenance is lawn treatment.  Among the common misconceptions is the idea that fertilizer alone is weed-inhibitive in some way.  It isn't.  A second is that an almost magical transformation can take place with just one or two applications.  In truth, for lawn treatment to be successful, it must become a regular part of one's maintenance program, just like mowing, performed on a regular schedule each season, year after year.   This is not to say that no progress can be made in one year's time; rather it is a reminder that just as a lawn that looks beautiful immediately after mowing will become unsightly again within a week or so, a lawn that is not treated on a regular basis will likewise begin to deteriorate if this routine is terminated.

In any case, the following is a summary of the goals each step in a standard lawn treatment program aims to achieve, along with a general schedule for each application.

 

Fertilizer is intended to nourish and strengthen the turf, aiding it in resistance to adverse conditions, etc. It is repeated two or three times throughout the season as even the slow-release varieties (which we routinely use) remain effective for a period of six to eight weeks. It does not control weeds of any kind. Crabgrass control is applied as a pre-emergent to prevent growth of this particular weed (before it appears in early spring), but does not inhibit dandelions or other common vegetation pests. Broadleaf weed control, by contrast, involves use of a broad-spectrum herbicide to control dandelions and other more common weed varieties. It is recommended this be applied twice per year as these plants re-seed themselves in both spring and fall, making control measures at these times necessary for optimum results. The program also includes a step for control of insects, which can be applied as a curative measure once a problem is detected or (more highly recommended) a season-long treatment to prevent infestation. Fungus control is another curative option, which can be implemented if conditions warrant.

It should be noted also in regard to any area of pest control that no herbicide/pesticide can be expected to completely eliminate pests. Rather, the aim is to significantly reduce the presence of these unwanted organisms -- hence the term "control".

As for a time frame each step is to be applied, generally spring  fertilizer and crabgrass control are applied in March, broadleaf weed control is applied mid-April to mid-May, and again in Sept., and fall fertilizer is applied anytime from October through early Dec. dependent upon weather conditions of a particular year. If a mid-season fertilizer is opted for, this would be applied mid-June to mid July. This type of fertilizer is high in potash and phosphorus and aids in moisture retention and disease resistance when grass is most vulnerable as a result of heat stress.  Insect control and fungus control can be applied at pretty much whatever point during the season a problem is detected, as can liming, which is commonly applied every two to three years depending upon soil tests at your property.


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