This Lawn Care Schedule for Warm Season Lawns is easy to follow and only uses 4 different products.
Nailing down a solid lawn care schedule can be a bit overwhelming for DIY’ers. Honestly, I understand why. There’s tons of products out there, and every spring companies aggressively market their newest products. It can be challenging to know what information to trust.
There’s so much to consider: What product to use, when to apply it, how to apply it, etc. It makes since that companies such as Scotts have made a killing selling 4 step fertilizing programs. The idea behind these programs is to remove all the guess work and confusion and instead sell convenience and organization.
I have nothing against these step programs, and my feeling on them is always the same. They are better than nothing. But if you want a next level lawn you have to break away from these generic lawn care programs.
If the thought of breaking away from the 4 step programs scares you, don’t worry, I’ve done the hard work for you.
By following this lawn care schedule below you’ll stop wasting money on ineffective products and be on your way to a next level lawn. The best part about the program outlined below is that it only uses 4 different products!
It’s important to point out this program is for warm season lawns. However, if you have a cool season lawn then check out this awesome lawn care schedule that uses only 3 products: 3 Product Lawn Care- Cool Season Lawns.
To get started let’s take a look at the 4 products in this warm season lawn program…
1) Prodiamine 0-0-7
Before talking about this first product there’s one thing I can’t emphasize enough: The importance of soil temperature. If you continue to follow my lawn care philosophy, you’ll see that it’s centered around soil temperatures. Your lawn doesn’t care about calendar dates, it cares about soil temperatures.
Check out this link to see the important soil temperature thresholds and what it means for your lawn. It also covers what tools to use to get soil temperatures in your lawn: The Importance of Soil Temperature In Your Lawn
The reason I bring this up now is because the first product I recommend for this program is Prodiamine 0-0-7.
Prodiamine 0-0-7 is a pre-emergent herbicide which prevents broadleaf weeds such as crabgrass. This granular, pre-emergent herbicide needs to be applied at the right soil temperature to be effective.
As the soil temperature hits 55, weeds will begin to germinate in your warm season lawn. That’s why you want to apply this product slightly before that, when soil temps average 50 degrees for 24 hours.. This is the first application of the season, usually in late winter for most warm season lawn regions.
Notice how this product doesn’t contain any Nitrogen (which is the first number of the 0-0-7). That’s because unlike cool season grasses, warm season grasses don’t really start growing right when soil temps hit 55. Warm season grasses take a little longer for blade growth to spring into action since they prefer hotter temperatures. So for now, applying nitrogen would be a waste and could even cause stress.
While the Prodiamine 0-0-7 doesn’t contain nitrogen, it does contain some potassium. Potassium is beneficial to warm season grasses in late winter so this product provides that added bonus. To get a better understanding of what the numbers on your bag of fertilizer mean check out: NPK meaning
Purchase here: Prodiamine 0-0-7
2) Lesco 19-0-7
This product is a combined fertilizer and pre-emergent herbicide. I recommend using this for your 2nd application as soil temps hit 65 degrees. That is when broadleaf weeds will be in full germination mode. It’s also when your warm season lawn is waking up and looking for it’s first shot of nitrogen.
I also recommend applying this product for a third time later in the year as soil temps head back down to the 70 degree range after the heat of the summer. That’s when Poa Annua and fall broadleaf weeds germinate.
A major benefit of this product is its availability. I’ve seen it in most Home Depots but if you don’t see it in stock you can purchase online and do a ship to store option here: Lesco 19-0-7
The active chemical in this product is Dithiopyr. It blocks a lot of the same weeds that the Prodiamine does. In my opinion it does a better job at preventing Poa Annua in the 3rd application heading into fall.
Lastly, you’ll notice this product contatins 7% potassium. That’s another benefit since the other go to fertilizer in this program is Milorganite 6-4-0. Since Milorganite doesn’t have Potassium this product will be a good way to get potassium into your lawn.
3) Milorganite 6-4-0
When you’re not applying Lesco’s fertilizer and pre-emergent combo, shift to a good organic fertilizer such as Milorganite. Organic fertilizers have so many benefits:
- Builds soil health instead of temporarily feeding roots
- Slow release for longer lasting results
- Doesn’t burn if over applied or applied in poor conditions
- Eco friendly
Milorganite has 6% nitrogen, 4% phosphorus, and 0% potassium. This works great in this program with the Lesco product since it provides a balance of the Macronutrients N-P-K. It also contains iron which helps give your lawn that dark green color.
Milorganite is usually available in the big box stores but if not, you should be able to get it shipped to your local store: Milorganite
4) Image Southern Lawn Weed Killer
No pre-emergent plan is perfect. You’re going to have weeds pop up from time to time, so it’s important to have a good post-emergent, liquid herbicide at hand.
Image Southern Lawn Weed Killer is my favorite post-emergent for southern lawns. It is safe to use on most warm season grass types and has a long list of weeds that it kills. You have to be very careful on warm season grasses to read labels, especially when dealing with post emergent herbicides. A lot of products can be used on some warm season grass types but will kill others.
Also some post-emergents can kill dormant warm season lawns. That’s why this product is one of my favorites. It’s relatively safe in most situations. I like to make things as dumb proof as possible. But ultimately, read the label anytime you apply any product to your lawn!
This label says ‘for St. Augustine and Centipede grass’ but if you continue reading the smaller print it mentions it’s safe for other warm season grasses such as Zoysia and Bermuda.
Since this product is a concentrate it will need to be mixed in a tank sprayer. I’d recommend buying this product online from amazon since it can be a little hard to find in the stores (amazon affiliate): Image Southern Lawn Weed Killer
Keep this herbicide mixed and ready to use throughout the season. Once a week, walk your lawn and spot spray any weeds that have popped up.
Benefits of This Program
1. It’s a more aggressive and effective approach to combating weeds with pre-emergent herbicides. This schedule calls for applying pre-emergent herbicides at 3 specific times during the year.
Most of the 4 step programs only cover pre-emergents in the first step.
This program also uses a liquid herbicide for spot treating existing weeds which is more effective than granular post-emergent herbicides.
2. Focus’s on soil temps instead of calendar dates. Weed seeds don’t care what the date is.
3. All these products are easy to use, and easy to access.
4. It uses organic fertilizer for most of the applications which has many long lasting benefits.
The 4 Product Lawn Care Schedule
As you get familiar with this schedule I highly recommend you check out this post: How to Fertilize Your Lawn
So many people fertilize their lawn incorrectly. It’s important to have an understanding of how these products should be applied and at what rate.
This plan makes no mention of treating for grubs, fungus, or insects. The truth is, you may not ever need to treat for those things unless it’s necessary. If you’ve had such problems in the past, or suspect you currently have a problem then incorporate the necessary treatment into this plan.
Notice, the plan above makes no mention of winterizer fertilizer. This is more optional for southern lawns but feel free to learn all about winterizers here: Winterizer Fertilizer
Also, this plan is best used if your starting out and your lawn ‘needs work’. Eventually you should switch to a slightly more advanced plan that incorporates some other balanced fertilizers and pre emergents. Check out this plan here: Lawn Care Program for Warm Season Grass (2)
Testing your lawns soil is so important. A soil test is simple, inexpensive, and will give you exact data on all the major macronutrients and micronutrients as well as your lawns PH.
Without having that data, you’re ultimately just guessing at what your lawn needs. While the plan above provides a nice balance of the macronutrients, there could be a nutrient that is severely deficient, or in excess, and you may need to use a temporary fix it type fertilizer. These fertilizers are extra rich in specific nutrients and lacking in other nutrients.
Lastly, and most importantly, your soil PH could be off. Most lawns need a ph of 6-7. The more the ph is off, the harder it is for your lawn to use the nutrients in the fertilizer. This means you’ll be wasting money spreading fertilizer on a lawn that won’t even be able to benefit from it.
My favorite Soil Test is this one by yard mastery: Yard Mastery Soil Test
Check Out These Posts Next
Lawn Care Program for Warm Season Grass (2)
Lawn Care Schedule Using 3 Products (Cool Season)
How to Measure Square Footage of Lawn
The Importance of Soil Temperature in Your Lawn
Top Dressing Lawn: Advice and Benefits
Lime Your Lawn: A Complete Guide
How to Kill Weeds Without Killing Grass
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Hello Mark. I live in Texas and have a bermuda grass lawn. I’ve decided to do my own lawn care thanks to the confidence I now have after reading the info posted. I did a soil test today and it revealed little to no nitrogen and adequate phosphorus and potassium. Should I apply the pre-emergent as recommended here (prodiamine 0-0-7)?
Hi karen, glad to hear you’re gonna tackle your own lawn care! I would still use the 0-0-7 even if Potassium levels are adequate. You’re lawn will be spending these nutrients so just because your adequate now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply both potassium and phosphorus throughout the year. As for being very low in nitrogen the 19-0-7 lesco product will be fine. Applying 3/4lb per 1000 s/f of nitrogen every 4-6 weeks as stated should definitely get your nitrogen levels up. When you switch over to Milorganite later in the season you’ll get the added benefits of the slow release nitrogen. If you’re concerned about over applying phosphorus or potassium you could look for a fertilizer with a high first number (nitrogen) and very low phosphorus and potassium levels. However, I would make these adjustments after you’ve put down your pre-emergent treatments. In other words instead of using the Milorganite you can switch to something that’s mostly all nitrogen. But honestly, this program overall should leave you with plenty of nitrogen and keep you pretty balanced on the other nutrients.
Hello, based on your program above, would you recommend only one application of the Lesco product before moving to Milorganite? I have a zoysia lawn that is fairly well established.
Hi Jeff, if you are fairly well established you could go right to the Milorganite after step 1. However I usually like to do it for the first two applications so there is longer pre emergent coverage. Personally my lawn is very established too but I still do two applications of pre emergent in the spring, ultimately though it’s up to you.
Thanks a ton for the great info Mark! I’m over here in North Carolina and am just about ready to get started for the season. I like the idea of focusing on soil temperatures. I also like the idea of two pre emergent treatments for the first two applications. I had no idea that a third application should be done at the end of summer when soil temps drop back down. It makes total sense! Thanks again
You’re very welcome Henry! A lot of people don’t realized about that third application. It definitely helps to fight off Poa Annua and other fall germinating seeds!
What time of the day do you take your soil temperature readings?
I would check early morning and then afternoon to get an average of the 2 readings. I’d also check GreenCast Online to check the 5 day average. Lastly I would look at the 5 day forecast to see what air temps will be doing. That’s usually how I determine it’s time for a pre emergent treatment or to start my fertilizer program in the spring.
Travis Ray says
Hi Mark. My lawn already looks considerably better after 1 year of following your plan. My question is are there windows to overseed in the spring? I know it’s not recommended when putting down crabgrass prevention products. I live in East Tennessee. Thanks!
Hi Travis, happy to hear you’re seeing improvements in your lawn. For seeding warm season grasses your best bet is to wait until soil temps hit 70 degrees in the spring. However, with warm season grass I definitely recommend planting plugs or sod rather than seed. In the southern regions weeds grow so aggressively when there’s bare soil. You might find that by the time grass starts germinating the weeds are already taking over. If you plant plugs or sod though you’ll quickly see the warm season grass take off as they send out roots via stolons or rhizomes. Lastly if you’re just overall thin and looking to make the grass thicker than just stick with fertilizing, especially high nitrogen during the summer months and it should thicken up nicely.
Very helpful article. So glad I found this site. Two questions please – 1. I can’t find a place to purchase Lesco 19-0-7, in store on online. Is there an alternative that you recommend?; and 2. If I apply the other products at the correct time (I have bermudagrass in Georgia), when and how many times should I apply the milorganite?
Hi Kevin, glad you’re enjoying the site! If you can’t find the Lesco product I would just apply Prodiamine 0-0-7 and then immediately after apply a fertilizer like Flagship 24-0-6 by yardmastery. This way you can get both the Prodiamine and the Flagship fertilizer easily, online by the same company. It’s a little more work since you’ll have to spread the Prodiamine over your lawn, and then do go over it again with the Flagship fertilizer but it’s definitely not a bad way to go. I would apply just the Milorganite for the remaining applications which should be about 3 times according to the schedule I outlined. Let me know if you need any more clarification!
Ryan Myhand says
Hi Mark, Thanks for the great info! I was looking on GreenCast Online at the soil temps for zip code 70395. Based on the those readings, when would you have done the #1 step when soil temps approach 55?
Hi Ryan! Wow, you guys had some pretty wild fluctuations. It looks like January is your coldest month, going off the 5 and 10 year trends I’d probably apply the first application in early February. You could always add another pre emergent application in either Nov or December for extended coverage but when it comes to fertilizing don’t go crazy on the nitrogen until the lawn is actively growing.