I used to just use the Scott's 4 step annual program. I was going try out the 4 step annual program at my local Menards (which is like a Home Depot) or Stein's (local nursery) here in MI to see how that works. The fertilizer company wants to charge me $50 per application.
Do you aerate at the end of the year? I used to use a manual one it is a lot of work, I look silly using it, and it takes forever. I have a pretty small yard.
I would add a few points.
- 1) consider getting your supplies from Lesco/John deere. It is what most professionals will use if there is one in the area.
- 2) part of what you get with a lawn service is their guarantee, most will come out and retreat weeds till the problem is corrected and you are satisfied. It may take a few calls.
- 3) most everything is negotiable. Most lawncare services are competing for business. Price a couple out. I had it to the point where the lawn service cost was about what I was paying for Lesco products.
Then it just comes down to preference.
Still keep in mind there is a difference between fertilizer and weed control.
Menards claims to have a 4-5 step yearly program for your lawn. The problem is that only step 2 actually claims to treat broadleaf weeds, and that is with a granular product.
Weeds need to be treated during steps 2, 3, and 4-5. The thing to understand is that weeds grow back all year long even after you treat them and will never stop growing back until your lawn is thick enough to prevent them on its own. Weeds will never be effectively treated with granular. If you truly want results, you have to use liquid.
The other problem is that Scotts, Menards, etc are selling a packaged product with pretty labeling all over the country. Scotts will sell the same thing in Wisconsin, Texas, California, and North Carolina. Each of those areas have different grass types, different soil, and different climate/weather conditions.
This is incredibly important to how you treat your lawn.
I know you want a quick fix to your lawn. If you want to do it yourself, go ahead and buy Scotts, Menards, or from Steins.
The fertilizer product will probably be ok. BUT if you want to kill weeds, you NEED to get a liquid product and go spray your weeds. Preen is a very common product home owners use.
2-4D is fine as well, just make sure you read the label to apply correctly without frying your lawn.
A five step program for you would be:
- A pre-emergent in the spring before April 15. Menard's Step 1.
- A weed and feed application application in mid to late May. Spray weeds now. Menard's Step 3. (Skip Menard's Step 2 because they say they have Trimec in it which I believe is totally ineffective, but we don't want to take chances and burn the lawn if you are spraying weeds yourself. Too much herbicide can be harmful to the lawn.)
- A weed and feed application in late June-early July. Spray any visible weeds again. Menard's Step 3.
- A weed and feed application in mid August – early September. Spray any visible weeds. Depending on your climate and weather conditions, this spray application and the next one in Step 5 are the most effective time of year to kill off weeds. Menard's Step 3 again.
- A winterizer application high in Nitrogen and Potassium before November 1st. Just as in #4, if you still have visible weeds this is a fantastic time to spray and kill them off for next year. Menard's Step 4.
When you work with a professional lawn care company, they are going to be putting down a different kind of fertilizer at each visit through out the year.
Different times of year require different blends of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (the 3 main active ingredients in fertilizer). However, you will be ok to use the same Mendard's Step 3 product as long as you are consistent with it.
I know it is a lot but if you want a nice yard all year around it is worth it