Lawn Care How to Guide

New lawn, old lawn, we all need lawn care.

The lawn is going to suck up some nutrients out of your soil in order to grow. Keeping the ground supplied with these nutrients is important. There are fertilizers out there geared to help out in every stage of care. Even if you have established lawns or are planning on planting a new one, there are specific needs each one has. Nitrogen(N)-Phosphorus(P)-Potassium(K) (looks like 20-0-10 on the bag). Some other ingredients to look for in a great lawn care fertilizers are zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium. Each phase is different and will have different numbers and volumes or each.

We are going to go through problems that can occur causing your healthy lawn to go bad and solutions to those problems. This is not as complicated as it sounds. With the information in this straight forward article you will be much more confident in growing and maintaining a healthy, lush lawn.

Established Lawns

If you are not satisfied with the condition of your lawn and have been fertilizing, the soil laboratory at UMN can analyze a sample. Go to for more information. Sometimes the soil has changed in PH or has lost a specific nutrient your current soil is lacking. Your results will tell you exactly what is required to get your lawn looking its best again. It may be that your lawn also has either a disease or a pest problem. We will address those later in the article in detail. There is also a four step program listed below to assist you in your seasonal care and maintenance of your lawn.

New Lawns

Whether you are reseeding or starting a new lawn, your fertilizer needs to be specific to new seeds. This means NO herbicides (such as weed preventers as these will prevent germination). This includes contact weed killer as well. The fertilizer should also have a high Phosphorus (middle number 10-*25*-12) content. Minnesota is a zero-phosphate state, so establishing a new lawn is the only time you are permitted to fertilize with phosphorus. Your fertilizer back will have all the information for you depending on your preference in application.

Grass Seed

Bonide’s Dura Turf line has proven to be effective and beautiful. The labels are designed to make it easy for the customer to know what they need. If the grass will be in full sun, then “Full Sun” seed is what you will need, for shade, “Shade” is what you will need. All varieties are disease and insect resistant to protect your investment and keep a healthy lawn. Don’t forget to pick up that seed starter fertilizer to get your new seeds off on the right foot. You don’t need to wait, come on in first thing in the spring to get your lawn in prime condition for the season. On the back of the seed bags, there will be a sticker. It is important to note that all Bonide seeds have 0% Weeds. Why would you want to buy lawn seeds with weeds mixed in?

Fertilization Through the Season

Early Spring -April 15 – May 15 Choices: (Phase 1): Bonide Turf Food or Starter Fertilizer or Crabgrass Preventer (for established lawns), this also comes in a broad leaf preventer for ornamental beds(over 200 broadleaf weeds covered). We also carry an organic fertilizer called Chick Magic.
Late Spring -Early Summer May 15 – June 15 Choices: (Phase 2) Turf Food or Weed and Feed or an organic product
Late Summer – Early Fall August 15 – September 15 Choices: (Phase 3) Bonide Turf Food, Starter Fertilizer or Insect and Feed(this is the dry time insects start to emerge) or organic Chick Magic if your lawn requires it.
Fall – September 15- October 15 Choices: (Phase 4) Winterizer or an organic product
Late Fall – October 15 – Snow Cover Choices: Turf Food or Winterizer or an organic product

Don’t Have Crab Grass

The seeds that drop from crabgrass can stay dormant for years and will emerge when your lawn is dry and in poor condition. This leaves room for the seeds to flourish and take over. Keeping your lawn mowed, watered and spreading a crabgrass preventer early in the season make it difficult for these annoying weeds to grow. That’s why we recommend fertilizer with crabgrass preventer right away in the spring.

How to Apply Weed Killer to Your Lawn

Some weed killers work through contact, meaning they absorb the chemical through the leaf surface and translocate the chemical throughout the plant. Since weed killers are dependent on contact, it is very important to get good contact with the foliage.

Broadleaf Battle

If you know your lawn is going to be riddled with broad leaf plants, Crabgrass weed preventer and weed preventer for lawns and ornamentals is what you want to spread right away in the spring. However, if your lawn needs to be reseeded to fill in where the dead broadleaves are leaving too much room, consider using Weed Beater Ultra by Bonide to rid lawn of broadleaves and then reseed in two weeks. If you use a pre-emergent before you seed the seeds will not take due to the layer of protection that has been put down for the weed seeds that lie dormant.

Take Note: Spray on weed killers should be applied to dry grass and left to dry for 12-48 hours depending on what the instructions say on the bottle. Another fact to take into account is that the grass should not be freshly mowed or mowed for 72 hours after application. So mow on Sunday (or day of your choice), apply the product Wednesday, then wait to mow again until the next Sunday. This allows the product to have the best possible results. This procedure should also be used for granules.
Granules on the other hand should have a damp surface before application and then left to dry 48-72 hours after for the optimal results. Always read the instructions on the product you are applying. Not the case in applying these products to your lawn. If you want the best bang for your buck, follow the instructions to the T.

Common Insects and Diseases and Solutions

Snow Mold

This happens where the snow sits on the lawn for longer than is desirable.

Solution: Think of spring during the winter and try not to pile too much snow in one place. If there is an area that does get a lot of snow, aerate the lawn every spring. Use less fertilizer in that area in the fall and make sure all the leaves are picked up.

Dollar Spot

Starts out as small as a dollar coin but can be the size of a baseball, that eventually expand into much larger areas. It’s caused by heavy dew in warm moist areas. They also seem to thrive in lawns with less than desirable levels of nitrogen.

Solution: Fertilize in spring and summer for a solid prevention tactic. Check to make sure the nitrogen in your product is high (that’s the first number *16*-0-8) Watering in the A.M. to ensure the moisture has the heat of the day to dry. INFUSE is the go to product for lawn fungus. It comes in a spray or granule for you to choose from. Application rates are right on the bag of the container.


Your yard will turn your yard just that color, an orangey brown. Shady, dewy areas where there is high compact soil with little nutrients is where this fungus is prolific.

Solution: Mow on a frequent regular basis and keep the bag on your lawn mower. Aerate well so soil is not so compact. Higher nitrogen levels also make this disease hard to survive in. INFUSE every 7-14 days for 3 weeks for treatment.

Powdery Mildew

Grass will have a white layer of dust on it that you are able to rub off. Affected areas will curl up and die. SHADE is the culprit. When you are seeding make sure you get full shade grass. We do provide a sun and shade mix so that if you have both in your yard you do not have to buy two different bags and spread twice.

Solution: Make sure your lawn has a run off place for the excess water to go. Water only in the A.M. so it has the rest of the day to evaporate. Drop the blades on your mower accordingly, keeping grass shorter so it has more sunlight and air. INFUSE to treat infected lawns.

Pythium Blight

Caused by sun and shade provided on sporadic schedule. Due to moist mornings or evenings. Looks like a thick cobweb has formed in a section(s).

Solution: Refrain from over fertilizing, always read the application instructions provide on the label. Mow when dry and water sparingly in this particular area. INFUSE fungicide for treatment. Fusarium Blight
This makes doughnut hole in your grass, leaving a little patch of green in the center. This disease is also referred to as the “frog eye” disease. Not to be confused with the Ring Spot, Yellow Patch, or Summer Patch.
Solution: Keep from over fertilizing by following the above schedule. Water on a needed rather than a regular basis. If it rained 2 & 1/2 inches no need to water until that moisture has had a chance to be absorbed or dissipate. Apply a fungicide in late spring.

Above Ground Insects

Most of these are night feeders and eat at the base of the blade so (if you can catch it) grass will turn yellowish first then brown. This can happen in moist or dry conditions based on what the insect prefers. Most prefer it warmer however, that’s why you apply the Insect and Feed by Bonide in Phase 3 when the weather is hot. If infestation has occurred we have a Bonide product called Ant, Flea & Tick Killer. It covers more than just those particular insects however, those just happen to be the 3 most common pests our gardeners prefer to be rid of. It covers, chinch bugs, the ever dreaded earwigs (which only feast on decaying matter on the surface of the soil indicating a much more serious problem than infestation), spiders, silverfish, clover mites, millipedes, crickets, sod webworm and others.

Below Ground Insects

Grubs are one of the most destructive underground bugs. Chewing on the roots of your grass and leaving mass sporadic areas of dead grass. There is another variety that comes out at night to nibble on your beloved hostas and hydrangeas. Mass quantities of these little guys can cause some serious damage. We have a product that nips this problem in the bud. Bonide’s Grub Beater. Not only does it kill grubs, but all turf feasting insect that comes along.