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Why I Recommend Scotts

I sold my first bag of Scotts Turf Builder in 1965 when I was a sophomore in high school.  I was working after school and on Saturdays in a feed & seed store in Virginia.  I learned how to sell the more expensive Scotts from two men in the store who had attended a Scotts training meeting.  When someone said that they thought they needed some fertilizer for their lawn, these guys explained how the Turf Builder was designed specifically for grass and how it gave a complete, longer lasting feeding than the cheaper stuff.  The sales clincher happened when they told them that once someone tried Scotts, they always came back into the store bragging about how great their lawn looked.

I continued to run into very happy Scotts lawn owners in my first job after college as a County Extension Agent in Northern Virginia.  Because of seeing this customer loyalty firsthand, I jumped at the opportunity to work for Scotts in 1973 as an instructor in the Scotts Training Institute in the western U.S.  This Scotts school for retailers gave me the opportunity to pass along the knowledge I learned during my part-time job in high school, my agronomic training in college, and my extension agent experience helping folks with their lawn and garden questions.

Even today as a Scotts retiree and part-time blogger I get a kick out of folks telling me that they don’t mind paying the few extra bucks for Scotts because they like the way their lawn looks.  Scotts gives them “bragging rights” now just like it did back in the 60’s.  Why?  Because no other company makes a lawn food the same way that Scotts makes their Turf Builder products.

For over 15 years there were several lawns growing on concrete around Scotts headquarters in Marysville, Ohio just to prove that you can have a decent lawn in spite of your soil.  Note:  Before you make fun of my hair or tie, show me a picture of you in the 70’s.

For over 15 years there were several lawns growing on concrete around Scotts headquarters in Marysville, Ohio just to prove that you can have a decent lawn in spite of your soil as long as you fed with Turf Builder. Note: Before you make fun of my hair or tie, show me a picture of you in the 70’s.  (Click photo to enlarge)

Why Do Lawn Weed Killers Work So Well In Fall?

Why is fall a good time to kill weeds?  Two reasons:  The weeds that germinate in early fall; like chickweed, henbit, dandelions that grow from the seeds we saw blowing around in spring and others are small and easy to control this time of year.  And second, the perennial weeds that have big root systems like ground ivy, thistle, mature dandelions and others are directing lots of growth down to their roots so they can prepare for winter which means they really suck the weed killer down into their roots so they’re completely destroyed.

Fall is a great time of year to kill Ground Ivy (also known as Creeping Charlie).  Click photo to enlarge.

Fall is a great time of year to kill Ground Ivy (also known as Creeping Charlie). Click photo to enlarge.

These weeds, if left unchecked, will thrive in your lawn because the wetter, cooler fall weather is the ideal time for them to grow.  The good news is you can terminate them the same time you feed your lawn this fall with Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed & Feed, or if you only have a few, you can spot spray them with Ortho Weed-B-Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer after you have fed your lawn with Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Lawn Food (the lawn food without the weed control in it).

Plus, getting them now, before they spread, will dramatically reduce the number of weeds in your lawn next spring.  Put down Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed & Feed on moist foliage on a day when rain is not expected and do not water the day you put it down.  Spreading first thing in the morning when your grass is covered in dew works very well.  All you need is the mid-day temperatures to get between 50 and 85 degrees.  After the granules have been on your lawn for 24 hours it is ok to water your lawn.

If you have St. Augustinegrass, use Scotts Bonus S Weed & Feed to control your weeds.  Give your lawn a good watering after spreading this product.

One last bit of advice:  If you put down grass seed this fall, you should not put down weed controls in those areas you seeded until after your new grass has been mowed 4 times.

How to Improve Your Lawn without Breaking Your Budget

Want to look like you know what you are doing when it comes to lawn care AND not dip too far into your wallet to pull it off?  You ask any turf expert how they would spend their first lawn care dollar and they will tell you the same thing I am about to tell you.  (And, I know you will be thanking me later for this very important bit of lawn advice.)  You get the most bang for your buck and your efforts by giving your lawn two feedings in fall.  (If you have a southern grass like Zoysia, Bermuda, Bahia, or St. Augustine your lawn likely only needs a single September feeding.  If you have already fed your Centipede two or three times this year, you can skip any further feeding until next spring.)

The right product at the right time is important to building a thick, sturdy lawn without wasting money on unneeded applications.

Lawns that are not allowed to starve in fall give you thicker grass now and next spring.  (Click photo to enlarge)

Here’s what you need to do for Bluegrass, Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass lawns:  You spread your first fall feeding in September.  That’ll give your lawn a chance to recover from any summer lawn damage.  Now you might not see much improvement at first, but don’t get discouraged.  A lot of the improvement from an early fall feeding is happening underground, as new grass roots develop and spread.  In fact, the underground root development will go on until the ground freezes, long after the first frost.

Within a few weeks, the lawn will start looking healthier.  But the real improvement comes with the second feeding about 6 weeks after the first in late fall.  This one helps to lock in what you’ve just gained, and carry it into the spring.  What’ll happen is that your lawn’s increased root mass will absorb and store the nutrients from the fertilizer.  Once spring arrives, your lawn will quickly tap into these nutrients, for a beautiful burst of green.  In fact, a lawn fed twice in the fall will be the first to green up in the spring!

And I know I’ve said this before, but I can’t emphasize it enough.  When it comes to lawn food, spend the few extra bucks for a really good one.  There are big differences in how lawn foods work, and with a product like Scotts Turf Builder or Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard or Scotts Natural Lawn Food, you’ll see a big improvement in how your lawn looks!  You can count on it!

Oh by the way, one of these feeding can contain a weed control like you find in Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed and Feed.  This is a great time of year to kill clover, ground ivy (Creeping Charlie), dandelions and other weeds.  Just make sure you apply to moist foliage on a day when rain is not expected.  Application to a dew covered lawn in early morning really works well.  And, don’t forget, any newly seeded areas should not be treated with weed control until after your new grass has been mowed 4 times.

How to Find the Perfect Grass Seed for Your Lawn?

You are standing in front of the grass seed shelf and looking confused. There is a big difference in price. If there ever was truth to the statement “you get what you pay for” it is certainly true when buying grass seed. Cheap seed often is contaminated with seeds from the tough to control grassy weeds because they are growing in the field alongside the good grass plants when the farmer harvests the grass seed. The grass seed farmer has to decide whether to go to the extra expense of getting rid of these weeds or to sell his seed for less because of the weed seed contamination. Scotts pays the grass seed farmer top dollar to get weed-free seed. The better grass seed varieties also cost more because those in the know, like professional turf managers, are willing to pay more to get better varieties because they will have fewer problems. Cheap seed is going to cost you more in the long run: difficult to control weeds and grass varieties that struggle to produce a top rate lawn.

Scotts best grass seed blends are sold in the Turf Builder Grass Seed Line.  You simply select the mix that matches your conditions: sun, shade, mix of sun and shade, high traffic, heat-tolerance, etc. If you have just a few bare spots, there is a Scotts EZ Seed Blend that will fill the bill.

So, how do you find the perfect Turf Builder or EZ Seed Grass Seed for your lawn?  Click here to use a great interactive tool to help you choose the Scotts® grass seed product best suited for your lawn (re)seeding project.

The best grass varieties will have less weed, disease and insect problems.

The best grass varieties will have less weed, disease and insect problems.

September Lawn Check List

All lawns need feeding. Southern lawns like (Bermuda, St. Augustine and Zoysia) should be fed once or twice this fall for a total of about four feedings a year. Centipede only likes two or three feedings a year from late spring to early fall. Northern lawns (like Bluegrass, Fescue and Ryegrass) should be fed two or three times this fall for a total of four feedings a year (or an extra fifth feeding if you lawn was neglected over the past few years). Scotts GreenMAX Lawn Food, Scotts Turf Builder or Scotts Natural Lawn Food are good choices for your first fall feeding. Your last feeding of the year can be Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Lawn Food.

The grass square on the left has strong roots because it has been well fed.  The grass square on the right is starving with very thin roots.

The grass square on the left has strong roots because it has been well fed. The grass square on the right is starving with very thin roots.  (click photo to enlarge)

Some lawns need seeding. Fall is a great time to seed Northern lawns (like Bluegrass, Fescue and Ryegrass). If you have more dead grass than bare soil, rent a Slit-Seeder to help make sure the grass seed comes in contact with your soil.  If you are only seeding small areas, you can use a rake or spade to break the soil surface prior to seeding.  For our best grass seed, go with one of the Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed blends rated for Sun, Sun/Shade, Dense Shade, High Traffic, or Heat-Tolerance. Spread Scotts Starter Food for New Grass the same day you seed. Water a couple of times a day for several weeks. Mow your new lawn when it is tall enough to cut with the height set at around 2-1/2 inches. About a month after seeding, feed your new lawn with Scotts Turf Builder. If you only have a few bare spots, Scotts EZ Seed is a good choice because the special mulch holds moisture next to the seed while it is germinating.  Do not use a weed control on your new grass until after it has been mowed 4 times.

Grass seed that lies on dead thatch in a lawn will likely not reach the soil and will likely not begin to grow.

Grass seed that lies on dead thatch in a lawn will likely not reach the soil and will likely not begin to grow.  (click photo to enlarge)

Some lawns need weeding. Fall is a great time to kill weeds without hurting your good grass. Ground Ivy (Creeping Charlie), Clover, Chickweed, baby Dandelions from the seed that blew around last spring and lots of others tend to show up in your grass this time of year. These weeds are in your lawn because the wetter, cooler fall weather is the ideal time for them to grow. The good news is you can terminate them the same time you feed your lawn this fall with Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed & Feed, or if you only have a few, you can spot spray them with Ortho Weed-B-Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer after you have fed your lawn with one of the Scotts Lawn Foods mentioned above. Put down Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed & Feed on moist foliage on a day when rain is not expected and do not water the day you put it down. Spreading first thing in the morning when your grass is covered in dew works very well. All you need is the mid-day temperatures to get between 50 and 85 degrees. After the granules have been on your lawn for 24 hours it is ok to water your lawn. If you are in Florida or Texas and have St. Augustinegrass (including Floratam), zoysia, centipede or carpetgrass, use Scotts Bonus S Weed & Feed to control your weeds. Give your lawn a good watering after spreading this product. One last bit of advice: If you put down grass seed this fall, you should not put down weed controls in those areas you seeded until after your new grass has been mowed 4 times.

Fall is a great time of year to kill Ground Ivy (also known as Creeping Charlie).  Click photo to enlarge.

Fall is a great time of year to kill Ground Ivy (also known as Creeping Charlie). Click photo to enlarge.

How to Prevent Poa Annua (Annual Bluegrass) From Invading Your Lawn?

This is a reminder for all of you who have asked me about killing Poa Annua (see photo) back in spring. Now is the time to put down a preventer before it has a chance to germinate this fall.

This is an early spring picture of Poa Annua in a Bermudagrass lawn.  Notice the light colored seeds.  (Click photo to enlarge)

This is an early spring picture of Poa Annua in a Bermudagrass lawn. Notice the light colored seeds. (Click photo to enlarge)

Lawn weeds like Poa Annua (Annual Bluegrass), Common Chickweed, and Henbit are “Winter Annuals”.   This means they germinate in fall, thrive in spring and then die during summer, but not before scattering seed so the cycle can start all over again in fall. (“Summer Annuals”, like Crabgrass, Foxtail and Barnyardgrass, have the opposite cycle of germinating in spring, thriving in summer and dying just prior to winter, but not before scattering seed so the cycle can start all over again in spring.)

If you vowed last spring that you wanted to stop these winter annual weeds from invading your lawn, you need to pick up a bag Scotts Halts or Scotts Turf Builder with Halts so you can treat your lawn now. (One of these Halts products is the correct product to use even though it says to apply in spring to prevent crabgrass.  Read further in the directions and you will see info about applying this time of year to prevent Poa Annua and other winter weeds) Be sure to water after application.

Caution: If you are planning to plant grass seed this fall, you should not spread weed prevention in those areas as it will keep your good grass seed from germinating.

Five Most Asked Lime Questions

Since fall is a great time to put down lime, doing a soil test now will tell you if your lawn needs lime and how much lime it needs.

Since fall is a great time to put down lime, doing a soil test now will tell you if your lawn needs lime and how much lime it needs.

Why spread lime on a lawn?

Answer: Lime helps to raise the soil pH level in acidic soils. Soil pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline your soil is. A pH of 7 is neutral, acidic soil registers below 7, and alkaline soil above 7. Your lawn can tolerate a fairly wide pH range of 5.5 to 7.5, with 6.5 being the ideal pH for growing grass. When your pH is in the ideal range other nutrients in your soil and in the lawn food you spread are more available to your grass plants. When the pH is outside of this ideal range, some of the nutrients get locked up by the soil and your grass can suffer.

What areas of the country usually need lime to raise soil pH?

Answer: Many lawns in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Northwest are growing in native soil that is naturally acidic. The reason I say that all lawns in these areas are not necessarily growing on acidic soil is because soil chemistry can vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. Also, over the years lime may have been spread on a particular lawn on a regular basis raising the soil pH out of the acidic range. For example, when I first tested my Georgia clay soil I found that it was acidic and needed lime. After several years of putting down lime, a soil test showed my soil no longer needed lime. I plan on testing my soil every 2 or 3 years. Although not as common, you can find acidic soil in other parts of the U.S.

How do you figure out the pH of your soil?

Answer: A soil test kit that you buy in your local garden center can be used to measure your soil pH. Most states offer more complete soil testing through their Extension Service. Check for soil testing labs in your state by doing an internet search with your state’s name and the words “soil testing labs”. Other info on these tests provides values for available phosphorus, potassium, micronutrients and organic matter. As a former County Extension Agent, who looked at hundreds of soil test results for home lawns in Virginia, I know that the primary actionable number to look for is soil pH. You can ignore the other measurements if you are feeding your lawn regularly unless one of them shows up as being abnormally low. For example, if you find that phosphorus is low in your soil, you can substitute a Starter Lawn Food for one or more of your feedings during the year to help raise this important nutrient in your soil.

Will I hurt anything if I put down lime on my lawn without going to the trouble of getting a soil test?

Answer: Probably not in areas that are known to have acidic native soils. It is always a good idea to do a soil test first before spreading lime on your lawn. If you live in any area that I mentioned above that has native soils that tend to be acidic, you could spread up to 50 pounds of lime per 1,000 sq. ft. That’s 250 lbs. of lime on a 5,000 sq. ft. lawn. To spread this much lime, you may find you will need to go over your lawn several times with the spreader set at one of the higher settings. You will also find that granulated lime is easier to spread than pulverized or powdered lime.

When is the best time to put lime on a lawn?

Answer: Lime can be applied anytime the soil is not frozen. Fall is a great time to spread lime since the upcoming alternating freezing and thawing of your soil can help to transport lime from the soil surface down to lower parts of the soil.