Great question, and there are many different answers, however it all depends on what your expectations are… What are your goals for your lawn? And what is your budget?
Let’s say you want a green healthy weed free lawn all year long.. Well to be honest you are probably best to work with a local lawn care specialist that focuses on residential lawn care. I would not recommend that you work with one of the national providers, as they often churn their customers in a short period of time, you can quickly see the poor reviews the national companies have with a quick online search. I would recommend that you look for a locally owned company that only does lawn fertilization. I would not recommend that you work with a company that also does lawn mowing, as turf fertilization and weed control is its own discipline. The landscaping company in Lebanon, Tennessee, or lawn mowing company in Kannapolis, North Carolina, that you are hired to mow and fertilize are not as good as the companies that focus solely on lawn spraying and fertilization.
When you hire a good company they will handle the necessary applications to keep the lawn in its best performing shape. Typically a program will consist of 4-6 applications per year. These applications are typically spread out, the first occurring in the early spring, the second in late spring, the third in mid-summer, and the fourth in early fall, and the last in late fall, sometimes a winter application will also be recommended. The first two applications of the year will have a fertilizer to boost the growth of the turf, a post emergent to kill the weeds that have germinated, and also a pre-emergent to prevent the weeds from germinating in the summer.
The first two applications are the most important as they will set you up for success. If they are not properly applied, then you will not have very good results. The mid-summer application is generally a light fertilizer to promote color and growth through the rough summer. The fall applications are applied in conjunction with seeded to promote seed germination and also take care of any weeds that pop up in the fall. The winter application should you get one helps maintain color and health throughout the cold months.
Now, if you are a diehard do it yourself, you can apply the applications yourself, but to be honest, by the time you buy the needed fertilizers and chemicals and factor your time, the cost will be about the same. If you tackle it yourself, work with a good local supply company, such as your local CO-OP or your locally owned lawn and garden shop. Typically these stores will have a more knowledgeable staff than the big box stores.
One of the main challenges to tackling this yourself is the spraying of the weeds that have already popped up. The pros have big tanks of chemical that they use, but you will have to use a granular weed and feed. This product will not work unless you apply it doing the very early morning while the grass is still wet from the due, as the particles have to stick to the leaves of the weeds in order to be effective in killing the weed. The best bet is to work with a Pro.
This plan works well for southeastern climates such as caring for your lawn in Nashville, TN. If you live in a warmer climate such as Florida you will want to read our guide for caring for St. Augustine turf.