- Start a log. Write down what you applied to the lawn and when. It helps understand mistakes and keep track of nitrogen levels. I use an online excel file that I could access from the phone. Here is an example of it: Log + Tenacity + Prodiamine Calculator
The lawn is starting to wake up from the winter break. There might be some matted down grass and some snow mold. A light rake will help it not retain moisture. The winter winds could bring some debri so it is good to pick up any leaf piles. The mower could use some tune up and fresh gas.
If grubs have been a problem in the past or if you dont want any risk with them, then spring is the time to apply a grub preventer. GrubEx (chlorantraniliprole) is my choice. Apply as soon as your lawn greens up. A second product is imidacloprid, but there are studies that link it to environmental issues (bees). MSU Grub Article
Tier 2/3 - Collect your soil sample and get it analyzed. A soil test is the best way you are providing the nutrient the lawn needs.
Tier 3 - It is possible that you might see some Poa Annua. If you did the PreM in the fall, it should only be a handful, so pull them by hand. Otherwise, Tenacity herbicide is an effective tool. Using the 2oz rate, do a blanket application. This will turn the poa annua white so you could see it. Then do spot treatment applications at the 2oz rate every week for 2 weeks. A higher rate seems not to be as effective since it stops the poa annua from absorbing and it bounces back. YMMV.
One of the key activities to perform is applying a pre-emergent control of weeds. It is easier and cheaper to prevent the weeds from growing than to kill them later. A pre-emergent (PreM) product will last a couple of months and it creates a barrier that prevent seeds from developing (weeds or good seeds). The PreM should be applied when the forsythia blooms and/or use this tracker from MSU: GDD tracker
Timing matters, so have the product at hand by mid February.
The best two PreM are prodiamine (brand name barricade) and dithiopyr (brand name dimension).
Tier 1 - Most stores will sell a Pre Emergent product mixed in with fertilizer. Try to find one with one of the names above and low on nitrogen. This is an old article but a good one: How to Select a Crabgrass Preventer
Tier 2 - I would leave the option of going with the Tier1 approach or trying the Tier 3 granular dithiopyr.
Tier 3 - Two options
Dithiopyr is sold as water soluble and granular (apply at 0.5ai/acre rate). It is more expensive in granular form. It provides some post control to crabgrass. It is best to source it locally since shipping cost would be high (50lb bag). On of the advantages of granular is not dealing with water in the cold weather. Lesco Site One sells is as 0-0-7 at some sites (ask).
is sold as a water soluble granulate (apply at the 0.65ai/acre rate for spring). It is applied in liquid form and it is the cheapest per area. It does require the use to a sprayer and the practice to do it correctly. It is best to practice in the summer with just water on your concrete driveway to get the handle of things. Once you have done it, it is easy. Here is a prodiamine calculator Log + Tenacity + Prodiamine Calculator
GrassDaddy shows How to apply liquid crabgrass preventer
in this youtube video.
I've seen a couple of post of members being able to buy prodiamine in granular form (0-0-7). I did the math once (and I hope it is correct), but the Prodiamine WSG is around $0.15/ 1000 sq ft. Depending on the size of your yard, using granular will be expensive.
This Turf Tip
from Zac Reicher shows in a nice graph why to use the rates I recommend