Usually in March I run my column on “Lawn Care by Holidays”. I have been properly informed that doing lawn care on certain dates may be easy to follow, but may not be the most efficient and economical. I agree with them but I have found that with certain stipulations it is an easy way to remember approximately when to do what. 

          The lawn care companies have been on the phone and calling all their old customers as well as new ones. Their advertisements are starting to come in the mail and be in all the newspapers. Also the garden centers, hardware stores, and box stores are all stocked up and ready to sell you a 4-step program, a 5-step program or even a 6 step program. Remember that these heavily advertised, 4-step, 5-step, and 6-step programs have been great marketing tools for the garden centers, hardware stores, box stores, lawn care companies and especially the fertilizer manufacturers but are not necessarily good for your lawn and the environment. Whether you do it yourself or have a lawn care service, do not contract for more chemicals and services than you really need. More is not better, and do not put the first step on too early. Also remember you are the one paying the bill and should be the one to decide what and how to take care of your lawn.


           1. Arbor Day (or when the soil temperature is 55 degrees F. for 4 or 5 consecutive days):          Apply a pre-emergent crabgrass preventer. Fertilizer is not important if you applied a winter fertilizer last year in October. The following products do a good job but the residual is longer in some:

          (a) Team or Pendimethalin is the active ingredient in Scotts, Ace, and many other brands. These products have a residual of about 60 days. Therefore a second application is required in early June to control late germinating Crabgrass and to control Spurge and Foxtail that does not germinate until June or early July.

          (b) Earl May, Ferti-lome, and some other brands use Barricade (prodiamine) that has a residual of about 90 days. Dimension (Orscheln and Hi-Yield) also has a residual of about 90 days. A second application is still recommended in early June.  

          (c) Bonide now has a product called “Weedbeater Complete” that prevents the germination of Crabgrass seed in the spring and suppresses the germination of the Yellow Nutsedge nutlets. The active ingredients in “Weedbeater Complete” are Prodiamine (found in Barricade), and Sulfentrazone (found in Dismiss that is an agricultural/farm product). Sulfentrazone is a pre-emergent that also has some post-emergent qualities. This has been used in agriculture for a number of years and now is being used on turfgrass. As mentioned above, it will suppress the germination of the Yellow Nutsedge nutlets. Prodiamine is a very good pre-emergent product and has the longest residual (about 90 days) of any turfgrass pre-emergent. This product with Sulfentrazone costs almost the same as the regular Barricade pre-emergent.

          When you apply “Weedbeater Complete” and other pre-emergent crabgrass products, is important!!! Both Crabgrass and Yellow Nut Sedge starts to germinate when the soil temperature is 55 degrees F. for 4 or 5 consecutive days. This product, when applied at the right time and according to label instructions, will also control or suppress the germination of Chickweed, Foxtail, Knotweed, numerous Sedges, Pigweed, Purslane, Speedwell, Prostrate Spurge, and Goosegrass. If you apply it too early the chemicals will be weak in June when Foxtail, Spurge, late germinating Crabgrass, and late germinating Yellow Nut Sedge start to germinate.

          2. Memorial Day: Apply a second application of Crabgrass control about Memorial Day. You don’t need fertilizer in this second application. Remember, the more you fertilize, the more you have to water, and the more you have to mow. If fertilizer is needed apply a summer fertilizer that is low in nitrogen, has no phosphorous, is high in potash, and is high in iron. This product will not burn your grass when applied according to label directions, and the iron is what makes your grass really green.

          When we have a Spring that is wet and cool, Crabgrass and Yellow Nutsedge germinate later than usual and this second application of pre-emergent is extremely important. The years I have not put on a Memorial Day application I had a bumper crop of weeds germinate in late June, July, and for the rest of the Summer.

          3. July 4th:  Apply a preventative grub control containing Merit or Mach II but without fertilizer, between July 4th and July 15th. Most of the grubs we have are the Masked Chafer larvae from eggs laid by June Bugs in July. The eggs start hatching in early August and any preventative grub control must be in the ground for a couple weeks before the eggs hatch for maximum effectiveness. After the eggs hatch and you see the damage in the lawn, a product called Dylox is the best control and begins working within 24 hours.

          4. LABOR DAY: Apply a regular, slow release fertilizer around Labor Day. Buy the best slow release, high nitrogen fertilizer with iron that you can afford.

          5. COLUMBUS DAY: Apply a winter blended fertilizer in October. A winter fertilizer (or some call it a fall fertilizer) is usually lower in Nitrogen (first number on the bag) than the Labor Day application, and higher in Potash (third number on the bag. The middle number is phosphorus and most of our lawns have enough so anything below 4, and even zero is ok.

          This same lawn schedule will work with a Turf Type Tall Fescue lawn. In future articles I will deal with mowing, watering, weeding, fungus control and other lawn care practices.         

          For more information on planting, growing, and maintenance of cool season grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass, and Turf Type Fescue contact your local County Extension Office or go to “”. On the left in the search box type in the kind of grass you have. Click search and many University of Nebraska-Lincoln publications will be available for viewing and printing.

Copyright 2013