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A drought this summer has left my backyard in rough shape. Weeds have really been spreading. I didn't fertilize last summer, fall or winter but picked it up this year doing applications in spring and summer. The weeds had already germinated, though.

I'm debating about the next step. Do I apply Scott's Step 4 (which doesn't include weed control), Weed and Feed, or hire Tru-Green to get it under control?

Thanks.

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First you have to get everything vigorously growing again! Allowing a lawn to go dormant is pretty bad for a lawn. Ok for one maybe two times but you'd better be doing all the other practices necessary for this monster of our landscapes! I didn't read that this was about your lawn and I think we are just assuming this is about your lawn. Need to know what zone you are in, your maintenance practices when that lawn is healthy or at least growing, what fertilizer, how often you fertilize, any other chemicals used for moss, insects? How often and how you decide to water your lawn (only water when you see footprints and water DEEPLY), how long has your lawn (plants) been dormant. If your maintenance practices are correct you won't have weeds or very few which would indicate hand pulling. Making your lawn drought tolerant, weed free depends on the height you mow (no shorter than 3"), how you've trained the roots by only watering when you can see footprints and then water 4-6" deep until you only need to water once per week. Use an extended release organic fertilizer such as Dr. Earth's Lawn Fertilizer formulated for the time of season. Aerate by pulling plugs out of your lawn bed and leaving them in place to disintegrate. Keep your mower blades SUPER SHARP. Bag your clippings and use them thinly on plant beds. 3" high grass is able to produce enough food for the huge root systems that can grow deep to get at moisture other lawns that are watered shallowly and daily aren't able to use. Deep watering provides moisture below 4-6" to promote roots to 'come get it'. Watering everyday promotes a shallow root system that if a watering is missed will flip out and go dormant. Dormancy creates a great canvas for weed infiltration. 3" high vigorous grasses shade the soil so weed seeds are unable to germinate much less compete.

Do not use Scott's or Ortho or any of the other big company chemical companies. Fast release looks great real fast but is not healthy for your grass 'crop'. Pesticides and herbicides are not necessary unless the maintenance was incorrect and a bandaid is necessary. Fertilizer is A MUST because us humans have screwed up the soils and chemicals the plants need have to be provided by us humans. Organic lawn fertilizers take longer to see results but those results are amazing. They also add bacteria for decomposing thatch as well. The synthetic fertilizers have to be done a minimum of 4X per year with attention to formulations. The extended release of the organic fertilizers one only needs 2 or 3 applications. Aerate once per year, mow no shorter than 3" not a bit shorter (cool season grasses), sharp blades, collect clippings, water DEEPLY and allow to dry until you can see your footprints on the lawn and fertilize, follow directions with the new organic lawn fertilizers and your lawn should be lush and dark green. Never OVER DO fertilizer, far worse than too little fertilizer. Check out the lawn recommendations on this site to become a knowledgeable professional of the lawn monster and you will save money and be the envy of your neighborhood. Do a soil test before adding any chemicals such as lime! Cheap at your closest Cooperative Extension Service if not free. Pulling weeds by hand should not happen if you follow proper maintenance and fertilization practices. Send pictures, please so that we are able to understand the extent of weeds and the health of your lawn. NEVER USE TRU LAWN or other similar practices!! I could go into more detail but first let's not worry about weeds just get your grasses healthy again, drought tolerant, mow high, water deeply, allow to dry out before watering again and try some decent fertilizer.

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It is a subjective question, but the answer depends on a few things:

  1. How extensive the weeds are. If your judgment is that they are extensive, then you want to consider drastic measures, including professional help. Also, if the weeds are extensive, disposal might be an issue to consider. Most landscapers/lawn care companies will take care of that for you, at additional cost.

  2. DIY will involve a certain level of physical labor, in terms of pulling, spraying etc. That is a big factor.

  3. Unless you turn over your entire lawn, weeding is an ongoing, multiple year process (I am fighting that in my landlord's mostly uncared for yard, surrounded by neigbhors downtown who also don't care, so it is a cyclic battle). So, you could just have professionals come in this year, and then do it yourself. Or try it yourself now, and see how it goes and maybe call in someone later. Or, just do it yourself, year after year.

Because of our pets, strays, possums and squirrels, and my unique situation, I pull weeds by hand 100%, and over the last 4 years since I started, it has become easier, and I am gaining insight into where, when and how the weeds attack, but it is quite labor intensive, yet preferable to me. For many, the garden needs to be on self-maintenance most of the time, so your goals will direct what path you eventually pick.

So, there are many things to consider.

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    YES. But any of the Scott's products and likely the products Tru-Green will use as well, will contain toxic herbicides/pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. You'd be better off hand pulling weeds - invest an hour or so each week until you've reached the point where maintaining at your comfort level only takes 10-15 mins. And you will improve the quality of your soil, and thus your turf, if you stick with slow release organic fertilizers. – That Idiot Sep 9 '16 at 12:25
  • I agree. It really depends on how the OP wants to handle it. We do not have a lawn, and we also use no herbicides or non-organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are used sparingly. – Srihari Yamanoor Sep 9 '16 at 17:51
  • I think there is way too much focus on weeds. They are not necessarily a bad thing. A weed is a plant out of place. Simple idea. Pesticides are a bandaid on a problem that with knowledge and correct practices would not happen. Fertilizer is not a part of pesticide classification. Fertilizer is critical to add what us humans have screwed up. More is not better!! Correct formulations are critical. – stormy Sep 10 '16 at 20:36

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