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My Most Important Fall Lawn Tip

October 23, 2012

Here’s a little known lawn secret: If you have a Bluegrass, Fescue or Ryegrass lawn, your grass roots are still growing in your soil that is warmer than air temperatures.  Even if you’ve already fed this fall, another feeding now can really help build your grass roots.  So put on your gloves and ear muffs and get out your lawn spreader, and feed your lawn one more time with Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard.

You won’t be alone.  Expert turf researchers will be doing the same thing with their lawns.  For example, Ohio State University turf experts say you should get your last winterizing feeding down by the middle of November.  Virginia Tech, Penn State and Michigan State Agronomists also agree that you get a big benefit from a November feeding. So, even if you are in the far north, this coming weekend is not too late to get your lawn fed.

I have more good news for you. Rather than raking your tree leaves, save time by mowing them to dime size just prior to feeding. This will help them “compost on your lawn”.  This video from Michigan State turf agronomist Rebecca Finneran shows you how you can “throw away your rake” this fall.

One last bit of advice. If you’ve got weeds and want to spread Turf Builder WinterGuard with Plus 2 Weed Control instead of Turf Builder WinterGuard, your mid-day temps need to still reach 60 degrees the day you apply.

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  1. Greg permalink

    I live in Northeast Ohio and installed a new lawn at the end of September. I used a 70%-30% bluegrass/ryegrass mixture. It is coming in good. I applied a starter fertilizer at the time of planting. Can I apply a treatment of the Winterguard now without it hurting the new grass?

    • Hi Greg
      Yes you can feed your new grass with Turf Builder WinterGuard. Use the one without the Plus 2 Weed Control.

  2. bob Kern permalink

    I just purchased scotts bonus S I READ THE BACK AND IT SAID DO NOT APPLY TO BAHIAGRASS Your email said to use bonus s what should i do

    • Hi Bob
      Bonus S is for St. Augustinegrass (including Floratam), Centipedegrass or Zoyia. You are correct, this product should not be applied to Bahiagrass or Bermudagrass. The weed and feed for these grasses is Scotts Turf Builder with Plus 2 weed control or Turf Builder WinterGuard with Plus 2 weed control. The Plus 2 products should be applied to moist foliage when no rain or irrigation is expected for 24 hours. If you wanted to spray your weeds without harming your good grass, you would use Ortho Weed B Gon for Sourthern Lawns.

  3. Ryan permalink

    I live in central Ohio and was planning on putting down my last treatment of Scotts WinterGuard this weekend. However, with Hurricane Sandy looming i’m not sure how much rain we’re going to get so is it best to wait until after all the rain? Or will the first week or two of November be too late?

    • Hi Ryan
      You can put your WinterGuard down up until the middle on November. An inch or less of rain would be fine. If you think you will be getting more than a couple of inches you could wait till after since you still have plenty of time. With all the wind, you could then mulch your tree leaves to dime size or smaller and put your WinterGuard down then.

  4. Susan Braun permalink

    I live in west central Ohio. How short should I cut my lawn for the winter?

  5. Scott permalink

    I live in Chicagoland area and I over seeded in mid September. I power raked, spread a fine layer of new top soil over entire lawn, over seeded in all directions with Kentucky bluegrass, raked seed into soil, then sprees Scott’s starter fertilizer and watered twice a day until emergence.

    Results: Spotty growth, thin in areas and some weeds popped up. I mowed it four times and just put down Scott’s winter guard before blowing out the sprinklers because we just got our first frost.

    Can I expect better growth come spring with some seeds maybe not germinating yet? What do you suggest I do first thing come spring? I want thicker lawn and want the weeds killed off right away. I had a nice lawn bed just a little thin after our rough summer and no weeds. Now I over seeded thinking it wold just thicken it up and it hasn’t turned out week so far and I have weeds now. Need some advice to get my lawn back.

    • Hi Scott
      Sounds like you did things right to get new seed going. You will see your young Ky Bluegrass plants fill-in thin areas as they grow. You will likely not see more germination. Not sure if you fed with straight WinterGuard, or if you used the WinterGuard with Plus 2 weed control. If you just fed, and since your new grass has been mowed 4 times, you can spray your weeds with Ortho Weed-B-Gon MAX on a day this month that the temps hit in the 50’s. When you feed next spring, you will see continued growth to fill-in thin areas. If your bare spots are larger than 4 to 5 inches across, you will need to seed those bare spots. Your feeding in early spring will be Turf Builder with Halts to prevent crabgrass. You will need to skip any bare spots that you seed. If you need to do a lot of seeding, you will want to use our special crabgrass preventer that is compatible with new seedings.

      Here is a link to my blog posting from spring that talks about grass seed failure problems:

      Good Luck with your lawn.

      • Scott permalink

        I put down winter gaurd two weeks ago without the plus 2 weed control. To clarify to kill these weeds should I spray with Weed b one max or apply another application of winter gaurd except this time ill use the kind with plus 2 weed control? Thanks just trying to kill the weeds before temps drop below 50.


      • Hi Scott Since you have already fed, use the Weed B Gon MAX to kill your weeds provided you have mowed 4 times and the mid day temps are getting in the 50’s.

  6. Hugo permalink

    Hello Asthon,
    So I re-seeded and I have new grass growing in. Along with the grass I’m growing clovers. So I know that clovers means my soil is low on Nitrogen. I laid down some Winter guard and after doing the calculation of the 32% nitrogen in a bag of 12.5 lbs with my spreader setting at 3.25, i realized that my 1,240 sq ft lawn only got about .77 lbs of nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft. I know I should lay down at about 1 lb of nitrogen per 1,000 sq ft. So my question is, should i lay down more to conpensate the .23 lbs I still need or should i wait a few months and apply another application. Also, it would be helpful if Scotts provided what the spreader seeding meant, to make adjustments in accordance to the 1 lb per sqft. Thanks for the help

    • Hi Hugo
      You can feed again with WinterGuard between now and Thanksgiving in most areas as the soil is not frozen and the daytime highs are still getting into the 40’s and 50’s. (For example, in Virginia, Va Tech suggests the last feeding between Mid-Nov and Dec 10. Ohio State suggests mid-Nov for Ohio.) If your new grass has been mowed 4 times, you can spray your clover with Ortho Weed-B-Gon Chickweed and Clover Killer on a day when your temps are in the 50’s. The Ortho Dial N Spray hose end sprayer does a great job of spraying this herbicide.

  7. Tony Grisanti permalink

    Just finished applying my 4th part of the program.The Lawn is looking good and thick but I am having a problem with chick-weed (creeping Charley).I’ve managed to wipe out some of it with a product from a Nursery in a spray bottle.I need something I can spread with my Scots Rotary 2000.could you suggest a Scots product to wipe it out. Thank You

    • Hi Tony
      Since you have already fed and since temps are dropping, I recommend you spray your weeds with Ortho Weed B Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer. It is best to do this on a day when temps are getting into the 50’s.

  8. I fertilazed my lawn a couple months ago and a it was after (about a month and a half) I used lawn starter and reseeded. About two weeks later I used Weed-B-Gone. Now I am afraid I overdid it. The lawn looked better than I ever remember it before the last feeding but now it looks yellow over a lot of it. I live in Oregon off the High desert so the weather has been great for the lawn. Can I save it?

    • Hi Chuck
      Sorry to hear about your grass. Weed B Gon kills weeds without hurting your good grass, however there are situations where your good grass can be injured. New grass seedlings must be mowed 4 times before they can tolerate the spray. These new seedlings may not bounce back. If older grass is especially dry and the weed control is sprayed during hot weather (temps in 90’s); or if the weed control is put down too heavy you can get grass injury. Watering after this happens can help the lawn recover if the injury is not too bad. One other thing to note is that there are a couple kinds of grasses that are more sensitive. One is bentgrass, commonly found in the PNW west of the Cascades (not so much in your area) and the other is Poa Annua (Annual Bluegrass) also found frequently in Oregon (however mostly west of the Cascades). If you have one of these kinds of grasses they can be more prone to injury. Hope this extra info helps.

  9. Hey there…if you could help me out with lawn care, I would be really thankful to you…as I am pretty new to this thing, we had a good lawn last year but then winter came and I did not kow much about taking care of it so just leftist without fertilizing or that spring is here, we want a better greener lawn,, but we have lots of thatch and weeds on the lawn. Although there is grass growing in some areas but I don’t know what type, we are in Oklahoma. Can you give me a step by step instruction on how to get a better looking lawn

    • Hi Sumerashehzad
      Based on where you live, I believe you have Bermudagrass. This kind of grass thrives in sunny areas, however struggles in shade. The main thing is to feed your lawn 3 or 4 times a year with one of the Turf Builder products. The brown growth your refer to as thatch is likely not a problem unless there is a half inch or more layer between the top growth and the soil. You can put down Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed now. Apply to moist foliage (first thing in the morning when there is dew on the lawn works well). Pick a day to apply when no rain is forecasted for 24 hours. Do not water and stay off the lawn so you do not knock the particles off of the weed leaves. The weeds will begin to die during a 3 week period after application. Feed again at 6 to 8 week intervals.

  10. Shari permalink

    We used Winterguard Plus weed control a couple of weeks ago, now we have aerated the lawn & want to heavy seed. Are we able to since we used the weed control?

    • Hi Shari
      The typical waiting period to seed after weed & feed is a month.

      • Shari permalink

        Since we put weed & feed down Sept 22nd, are we able to put lime down right now since we just aerated & is ok to over seed in 2 weeks after lime.

  11. Hi Shari
    Yes, lime now is fine and seed in 2 weeks is ok. Hope the weather cooperates with you so your grass seed gets established prior to winter.

  12. Thanks for sharing this great article! That is very interesting. I have been researching this and I am really grateful for your information.

  13. Gavin W permalink

    Oct 28 from Missouri. I am considering using winterizer with weed control. My lawn is fairly dormant due to dry conditions. If weeds are not actively growing is it a waste of time and money to apply the added weed control?

    • Hi Gavin W
      Thanks for giving me your location. If you have a Zoysia lawn that turns brown in the winter, you are past the time to feed however you could still kill weeds. If you have a Bluegrass and/or Fescue lawn that stays green longer into the winter, you still have time to put down Turf Builder WinterGuard Weed and Feed. If your temps are still hitting the 50’s during the day and you are getting some moisture, many of the weeds are still growing so it would be worth it to put down the Weed and Feed. Be sure to apply to moist foliage (such as first thing in the morning when you have dew) and pick a day when rain is not in the forecast.

  14. gerry permalink

    if I over seed in sepetember can I use scotts winterguard pluss2weed control in april will it hurt the new seeds from sepetember thanks gerry

  15. Eric Sherrill permalink

    Need some help here,

    Had to put in a yard during the summer (yes terrible i know =( , anyways had pretty good growth up til september put down weed and feed and growth as stopped. Should i put down a starter fertilizer or winterizer heading into winter.

    North East Indiana, Fescue grass.

    • Hi Eric Sherrill
      Your new lawn would benefit from a feeding of either Turf Builder WinterGuard or Turf Builder Starter Lawn Food. Since your new grass is still developing, I would suggest you feed with Starter Lawn Food as your last feeding of the year.

  16. Manuel permalink

    Need some help here,
    I had a pro. seeded my grass 6 weeks ago, he forgot to add starter lawn food,
    there is a lot of yellow spots,I have Scouts turf builder for fall and winter,
    He says if I use that will burn the new grass, what can I use

    • Hi Manuel
      You can feed your new grass with Turf Builder Starter Lawn Food. This would be better to use than the Turf Builder Fall WinterGuard Lawn Food as the Starter has the nutrient Phosphorus that is important to new grass (as well as Nitrogen and Potassium). The Fall/Winter formula only has Nitrogen and Potassium with no Phosphorus. By the way, the Fall/Winter formula will not burn your new grass because the Nitrogen is controlled to release gradually over a period of about 6 weeks. After you put down the Starter Lawn Food, be sure to give your lawn a watering.

  17. Sandi Allinson permalink

    Is Scotts Turf Builder Winter Guard Fall Weed & Feed3 effective for centeipede?

    • Hi Sandi Allinson
      Yes, you can use Turf Builder Winter Guard Fall Weed & Feed3 to kill weeds in your Centipede lawn without hurting your grass. Apply to moist foliage on a day when rain is not expected and your high temps are in the 80’s or below. You can then water your lawn 24 hours later.

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