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Scotts Lawn Care 4-Step Program

Scotts 4 Step program

When you’re dealing with a problem lawn, it can seem impossible to tackle all the issues that are keeping it from growing green and lush. If you’re a relative beginner in lawn care, you might find all the talk of reseeding and dethatching a little overwhelming. That’s where the Scotts 4-Step Program comes in. No matter your lawn problems or your familiarity with lawn care, these four steps will improve the issues and help you decide where to go next. This program works year-round to keep your lawn looking its best in every season.

Scotts Program Schedule: When to Start

Close up of a calendar and a pencil

Almost all lawn treatments and improvements must be timed correctly to actually benefit the lawn. If fertilizer or weed treatments are applied at the wrong time, they’ll do nothing or potentially damage the turf. This is true for Scotts 4-Step Program as well. Since the four steps are spread out over the course of most of a year, it’s best to make a plan a few months ahead of the start time. The program is designed to start before the start of growth, which can be anywhere from February to April depending on your climate. Aim to have all four steps in your possession before beginning the first step in case availability changes in the middle of the process.

Scotts Step 1: When to Apply

Close up image of crabgrass in the lawn

Any time before temperatures rise to 80 degrees F and lawn growth begins in earnest, apply Step 1 of the 4-Step Program. Scotts recommends applying before Easter regardless of your location. This is the crabgrass prevention treatment that targets this pernicious weed while it’s still dormant and weak. Existing roots will wither before they can revive for the season and germination of any hidden seeds will also be suppressed. Even a perfectly spotless lawn can develop a crabgrass infestation over the dormant season due to wind-blown seeds, so using this step every spring is the best way to keep this problem under control. This step also contains just the right amount of fertilizer to ease the lawn into strong growth without stressing it.

When to Apply Scotts Step 2: Weed Control With Lawn Food

A man pushing a broadcast spreader fertilizing the lawn with weed prevention

After a month or two pass and the weather continues to warm, follow up in April to June with Step 2 of the program. This step focuses on long-term weed control for the summer months so that seeds that land in the turf won’t germinate and get a food hold. Give your lawn at least 4 to 6 weeks between Step 1 and Step 2 since they both contain fertilizer. This weed control step focuses on the broadleaf weeds that love to emerge as summer begins, such as dandelions and plantains. Apply around Memorial Day to a damp lawn and only when there’s at least 24 hours forecasted without rain.

Scotts Step 3: When to Apply

A modern family home with a lush green lawn out front

By the height of summer, even the healthiest lawn is feeling the strain of heat, daily use, and drought. As you ramp up your watering and mowing schedule, plan for the application of Step 3 as well. Anywhere from Independence Day to early August, apply this treatment to add a boost of fertilizer with valuable iron to combat heat and drought stress. You’ll notice color staying or returning despite the challenging conditions. Either apply when rain is expected or water the lawn thoroughly after application. Check for any weeds at this point and apply one of Scotts’ spot treatments to ensure they’re not getting a foothold late in the summer.

When to Apply Scotts Step 4: Fall Feeding for a Strong Dormant Lawn

a close up of a snow cover lawn

Fall means a general slowdown in lawn maintenance, but don’t overlook Step 4 of the program. Aim to apply this treatment at least 4 to 6 weeks after Step 3 and well before mid-October. It’s a gentle fertilizer feeding to set up your turf to stay strong and healthy all winter long. Yet it’s not so strong that it will cause wild growth that increases the risk of frost damage from the cold. Watering isn’t necessary, but it will help the lawn absorb as much as possible for last-minute greening before dormancy.

Lawn issues that linger after a general improvement program are easier to spot and treat as needed. Whether you’re looking to deal with crabgrass, overseed thin turf, or just support a thriving lawn, we stock Scotts and other trusted lawn care brands here at Do It Best.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.


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