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Lawn Care Blog

Scotts 4 Step Fertilizer Review - Step One Crabgrass Preventer

crabgrass_and_fertilizer_reviewYou want to grow a green, lush, healthy lawn that’s free from weeds, yet has the deep root structure necessary to survive the cold weather of winter and hot, dry summers. There are plenty of fertilizer options on the market, but one of the more popular is Scotts 4 Step fertilizer program. At first glance, it seems to be an all-in-one solution that meets all your needs. Is that the truth, though? Today we'll look at the Scotts 4 Step Program, and more specifically, Step One: Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer.

A Look at the System

Scotts 4 Step fertilizer program is designed to kill weeds, feed your grass and keep it looking green and healthy all year long. It’s a four-step program that uses four different products to do the trick

1. Scotts Lawn Pro Step 1 Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer
2. Scotts Lawn Pro Step 2 Weed Control Plus Fertilizer
3. Scotts Lawn Pro Step 3 Lawn Fertilizer
4. Scotts Lawn Pro Step 4 Lawn Fertilizer

Today we'll be examining Step One of the Scotts Lawn Care DIY Program; Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer

Step One: Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer
Scotts recommends applying Step One fertilizer and crabgrass preventative between February and April by using a spreader (either a rotary or broadcast style spreader – hand broadcasting is not recommended for any of Scotts 4 Step fertilizer program products). Bags come in two sizes, 5,000 square feet and 15,000 square foot bags. 

The Good
It’s designed to prevent nine weeds, including crabgrass, but shouldn’t be used on either bentgrass or dichondra lawns. Overall it is a good product, that does exactly what it says, prevents crabgrass germination and does a good job with overall broadleaf weed protection.

The Bad
Application rates that will provide the best protection for your lawn will effect how much square feet of coverage you can get out of each bag. For example, the 15,000 square foot bag will not provide adequate coverage for a lawn of that size, rather instead providing better coverage for a lawn 10,000 square feet in size.

Additionally, if you apply this product too early, you may not receive adequate protection if crabgrass germinates later in the spring. Crabgrass germination is based on soil temperature AND NOT by a calendar. A "one suggested time of application" method will not work as soil temperatures differ greatly across the country.

Another drawback to the product is the fact that there is NO FULL-PROOF SOLUTION TO CRABGRASS. While this product does a good job (even a great one if applied correctly), often there is a lack of coverage from application errors, or a breakdown in the protection. This leads to a few random spots of crabgrass throughout your lawn, and means that you'll have to pay for a curative bottle of crabgrass killer to apply as small patches popup. Most home improvement stores offer an Ortho product that will cover that job for $12 and will treat 400 square feet, covering those flare ups during the summer.

Read More: Crabgrass Prevention - When's The Best Time To Apply Pre-Emergent

What It'll Cost You
Cost can be tricky to calculate. Scotts 4 Step fertilizer program is available in two different sizes, both of which are calculated by spread size. You’ll find the 37.5-lb. bag can cover from 10,000 square feet up to 15,000 square feet. However, based on my professional experience, the rate of application you should use typically allows for 10,000 square feet of coverage. Plus, as I mentioned above, you'll need to pick up a small bottle of crabgrass killer to take care of those few inevitable flare-ups throughout the year.

How Does This Compare to Hiring a Professional?
Let's be honest here. We are a lawn care company, so of course we'll bring this up. However, the real reason I bring this up is due to the fact that most DIY'ers think they're saving money by applying it themselves; which is completely not true. However, if you ENJOY putting down your own fertilizer and caring for your lawn, I encourage you to keep on doing just that, and hope that you'll check out our DIY Guides and Tips to use as a resource. 

Comparing the Costs Straight Up:
Scott's Step One: Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer: $60 (before taxes) for a bag that covers 10,000 square feet. PLUS, Ortho Crabgrass Killer 400 squarefoot bottle: $12.

Weed Pro Lawn Care: Round One Fertilizer & Crabgrass Preventer: $65 (before taxes) APPLIED on a 10,000 square foot lawn. Crabgrass Touch-Ups Throughout the Season: $0.

So, comparing the two together, it looks like Scotts DIY Product is $5 cheaper. HOWEVER, no crabgrass preventer is 100% full-proof, and you will have to treat small areas throughout the year. A bottle of crabgrass killer will cost you an additional $12, taking your five dollar savings and turning it into a loss.

Finally, Weed Pro (or a lawn care provider) applies it for you, and isn't your time worth something?

Read More: Comparing Lawn Care Programs and Prices

Final Winner: Weed Pro (professional lawn care company)

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