Ok, so it's springtime now, and you're looking at a pretty nice start to a lawn, you probably have a few patchy areas, so you pulled out that little bag of grass seed you saved from the fall, spread it over them, and watered it in. The rain is falling, the birds are singing, and everything is as it should be... but not so fast Dr. Greenjeans. Everybody on your block's lawn looks great too... for now.
But there are dark forces lurking nearby silently plotting to destroy all your hard work. Even if you live in a great neighborhood, it only takes one. Those nice friendly neighbors down the street with the 1981 Dodge aries up on blocks in the driveway, for whatever reason, they are going for that more natural, prarie grass/dandelion farm/noxious weed look in their home landscape. That's cool, but it need not ruin your fun.
Luckily there are simple programs out there to combat this insurgency, which if followed correctly will protect your investment. Most of your weed problems can be greatly reduced by keeping your lawn thick and healthy. Most weeds are not able to thrive in thick healthy turf, they simply can't compete for water, light and nutrients with healthy grass. I use the simple Scotts Annual Lawn Care Program, follow the link and it will custom tailor the appropriate application program to your area and type of grass. It is important to apply the correct product at the correct time, crabgrass germinates in mid spring, and requires the first step, most other broadleaf weeds germinate later, and require a different herbicide to control them. Even though it may sound like a waste of moeny to put fertilizer down it the fall, beleive me, it makes a big difference. Use caution when buying cheaper look-alike brands, they may claim to be the same, but usually you get what you pay for.
If you absolutely need to go budget on the product, at least make sure that the the N-P-K ratings on the bag are comparable. Fertilizers are required to post this three letter code on the bag, in addition to a list of the trace minerals found inside. The N-P-K rating tells you the percentage of the following: Nitrogen - helps plant foliage to grow strong, Phosphorous helps roots and flowers grow and develop, K - potassium is important for overall plant health. Careful application of this program is not harmful the environment, a little goes a long way, however, you should limit pet's and children's exposure to the lawn until it is watered in.
Good luck and Happy Growing!
Next time: The (almost) Indestructible Weed, or The One That Got Away