Healthy Lawn care and riddance of weeds
Lawn has developed over time sparse and bare spots. Weeds have invaded practically everywhere. Will use a product that supposedly kills the weed, not the grass. Would like to have a nice, full lawn again. I no longer subscribe to a lawn care service. Also, I try to be mindful not to use products that could be harmful to bees and other wild life. How should I get started this spring?
Oakland County Michigan
There is considerable detail to having a nice lawn. It doesn't just happen as you've learned. It must be watered correctly, fertilized correctly and maintained correctly. First, lawns need a minimum of 1 inch of water per week. Michigan's climate will not support a lawn season long so supplemental watering will be needed. If you have irrigation you have complete control. If you don't it will require dragging garden hoses around and unless you have a postage stamp sized yard, it's difficult to impossible to water uniformly and timely. If you can't meet this challenge, I suggest you not attempt to spend the time and money necessary to have a nice lawn.
If you think you want to go ahead with it, the best time to renovate is early fall, end of August, early September when days are shorter, nights are cooler, and weed and crabgrass growth are on the wane. Begin with an aeration that pulls out 3" plugs, which relieves compaction and allows water and nutrients to better reach the root zone. Fertilize and reseed soon after. Raise your mower deck to 3 inches or higher and mow high for the duration, not mowing any reseeded areas until you have good establishment. Mowing high is the only way to have the root growth and dense turf desired. This because the top growth supports the root growth and not the other way around as most people think. Scalp the lawn and it jettisons roots it does not need. Then fertilize with winterizer about Halloween. Come spring, apply crabgrass preventer when the forsythias are in full bloom for optimum effectiveness. Mow HIGH all season. Fertilize in August and Halloween again and you should be seeing improvement.
And yes it s possible to have a nice lawn using a minimum of chemicals, without crabgrass preventer or weed control, once dense growth is achieved. You can spot spray weed growth at any time of the season with Weed B Gon. The latest product contains quinclorac which will take out crabgrass too. Read all directions on the label. Do not use weed control on any reseeded areas for 6 weeks however. Too much detail to list here but the single best thing you can do for your lawn is to mow high, whether you do anything more or not.