By Oretta Croushore, Property Manager for Home Rental Services
We are getting to that time of year where it’s mostly brown and crunchy outside. There’s not a lot of green to see. It seems like the perfect time to talk about lush, green lawns that make you want to walk barefoot across them, right?
This might come as a surprise, but I can’t say I have ever given much thought to the science of lawn care. I know some people live for it. I mostly want to keep the grass low enough that I can see my dog when she’s out there and keep snakes from feeling comfy. Needless to say, I never thought too deeply about the whole weed and feed process.
I thought the name said it all. We’re weedin’ and we’re feedin’ and the grass will be happy. Like many living things, making it look beautiful and healthy is not always as simple as all that. I have learned a lot about lawn applications in my time at HRS. Since I am not aware of a filter you can put in front of your house to make it appear to onlookers that your bare, crusty dirt patch is golf course caliber, allow me to share my knowledge.
Weed and Feed Programs
When we onboard a new property, one of the things we offer to the owner is participation in the weed and feed program. We know interest, knowledge, and time vary from renter to renter. Weed and feed gives the lawn a good chance at thriving. The majority of the properties we manage take advantage of the program.
In late December, early January, we send a list of properties on our weed and feed program out to the vendor doing the applications so they can start to plan their schedule. Owners will see the billing for the annual program on their statements usually in February and March, depending on when the invoicing comes in.
Odom’s Bugs-B-Gone started handling the weed and feed applications for the properties we manage for the 2021-22 season. It was a success from start to finish, so they will be continuing for the 2022-23 season. Don’t let the name fool you. Not only does Odom’s do a great job of taking care of the creepy crawlies in a home, for the past few years, they have been taking care of lawns as well.
Jonathan at Odom’s recently gave me a bit of his time and explained the application process to me.
Here’s the breakdown of the applications and a rough timeline of when they occur.
- Pre-emergent – The first step is put down between February – March, depending on the weather. This is a fertilizer that has a crab grass and weed control. (An ounce of prevention, as they say.) The idea is to stop these unsavories before they have a chance to build an empire and take over your yard.
- Broadleaf weed control – This goes down at the end of April – May. Here we are looking to keep the cooler weeds at bay. It turns out, cooler weeds are not just the weeds that won’t let you sit with them at lunch. However, I do suspect they wear pink on Wednesdays. These are the weeds that try to pose as flowers. Dandelions, chickweed, ground ivy, clover, etc. They can be attractive but they take over the yard, eliminate your chance for a lush lawn, and make the rest of the yard generally feel bad about itself.
- Broadleaf weed control – second verse same as the first (or I guess third verse same as the second.) The cool kids are ruthless and they don’t like to take no for an answer. This goes down June-July.
- Weed control – This application goes down in August. We are in the dog days of Summer now. We need to maintain the prevention of weeds because once they come up, they are harder to get rid of. Water is important for a successful weed and feed program. It is CRITICAL at this stage. Since we are getting less rain at this time, we really want to drive those chemicals into the soil.
- Fertilizer – This is the end of Summer feeding. We’ve been focused on prevention so now we want to nourish. Give the grass a little hug. It’s been a tough season.
- Fertilizer #2 – Well, more of a chemical than actually “number 2.” This is happening about 4-6 weeks after fertilizer #1; typically around September – October. This is when we want to add necessary seed as well.
- Winterizer – Yup, give your grass a jacket to get through the cold winter months. This application goes down in early December. It seems like the grass is going to sleep so why are we going to feed it? Think of it as a bear hibernating for the winter. It needs to fill up on snacks to make it through the winter. This step is what gives you a nice green lawn in early spring and earns you the envy of all your neighbors. Isn’t that the best payoff of all?
Watering is crucial.
Watering is to weed and feed as jelly is to peanut butter. You can have PB without J but that’s going to be one heck of a dry sandwich. The turf applications need regular watering to soak the products into the ground so they can do the most good. The best results, especially in a rental situation, are seen when the house has a sprinkler system. The sprinkler is the glass of milk to the PB&J. You don’t want the sandwich sticking to your mouth; you want it in your stomach providing nutrition.
In addition to explaining the different applications to me, Jonathan explained to me the importance of proper mower height. He told me the biggest lawn failure he sees every year comes from cutting the grass too short. You should be cutting the grass short in the spring and long in the summer. The mower deck should go up as the temperatures rise.
When a yard is scaled in the heat, the grass is not protecting the yard. In turn, more weeds will grow. Think of it like a bald guy in the summer. He doesn’t just wear that Bass Pro trucker hat because it gives him clout. He has learned the hard way that a sunburned head is quite painful.
Now you know!
I hope this takes some of the mystery out of the weed and feed process for you. If you never gave it one second of thought, now you are armed with knowledge. Go ahead and impress your friends at your next barefoot backyard barbecue. Make them leave their shoes at the patio. They will wonder what your secret to lush, beautiful grass is. You will be the envy of all!