Lawn fertilizing, weed-spraying advice needed!

Alright, we're giving our lawn service the boot, and I'm going to see if I can make our lawn look as good or better than the lawn service could, at a much better price of course.
I need advice from all of you lawn-care turf-grass fanatics out there. I know I'll only do this on an ongoing basis if it doesn't take a lot of time and isn't a pain in the you-know-what. So all advice on how to do this is appreciated!!
I'm going to buy a good broadcast spreader to apply fertilizer 4 times this year to our 1/4 acre Minnesota lawn. I want a broadcast spreader that is going to be trouble free, easy to push and hopefully provide many, many years of service. The cheap ones, I've learned, aren't worth buying. I've been reading up, and it seems like the best ones have pneumatic tires, stainless steel parts that resist rusting, and upper end gear boxes, something like this Earthway broadcast spreader: (Amazon.com product link shortened)89&creative25&path=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2FB0000BYDXN%2Fqid%3D1143655890%2Fsr%3D1-2%2Fref%3Dsr_1_2%3F%255Fencoding%3DUTF8%26s%3Dgarden%26v%3Dglance%26n%3D286168 .
Would this be a quality spreader at a decent price, or are there other, better built or more dependable broadcast spreaders that I should consider that don't cost a fortune?
Secondly, I need a good weed sprayer that has a high enough capacity that it doesn't have to be refilled constantly, and I like the idea of the ones that don't have to be pumped constantly. I couldn't find much info online about what the best sprayers are, but this one on wheels, with a 4 gallon capacity, that doesn't need pumping, seems to get good reviews on Amazon: (Amazon.com product link shortened)89&creative25&path=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fproduct%2FB00006LPPE%2Fqid%3D1143656366%2Fsr%3D1-1%2Fref%3Dpd_bbs_1%3F%255Fencoding%3DUTF8%26s%3Dgarden%26v%3Dglance%26n%3D286168 .
Is this a good sprayer, or is there a better one out there that has high capacity and doesn't cost a fortune? Are there any commercial sprayers that would work better? Are backpack sprayers any better?
Also, does anyone know where to get the best prices online, for either a broadcast spreader or sprayer?
I'm planning to buy my fertilizer, and possibly weed chemicals, from a farm-supply store, rather than at a normal retail gardening store. By buying the more generic fertilizer and chemicals, I'm hoping I'll save a lot compared to the $45 per visit that the lawn care companies charge. Does this sound like a good battle plan? Anyone else saved a lot of money doing this?
Any advice, suggestions or feedback on my grand plan here would be appreciated, as would any spreader or sprayer recommendations. Thanks in advance for your help!!
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DK



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I've done my own lawn of about 12000 sq ft for years and found the basic Scotts Speedy Green type rotary spreaders that go for about $45 perfectly adequate. Not sure it's worth it to spend more money to do a 1/4 acre. Mine is 10 years old now and still works fine.
For spraying, I use either a 2 gallon tank type that you can fill with water and pressurize at the same time from a garden hose (also has a hand pump), or for bigger jobs a backpack sprayer that has a hand pump on the side and various spray nozzles. Once you have the lawn under control, and good turf established, all that should be needed is occasional spot treatment for weed control. I use the small sprayer to kill weeds in beds too. For the lawn, a 2 gallon tank full of herbicide is enough for a couple of treatments, lasts maybe 6 weeks.
I fertilize twice. Once with pre-emergent crabgrass control/fertilizer in Spring, then once in early Sept, again in mid Oct.
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Following on from here DK, if your lawn is in good nick you may not need to spray it at all, or spray it only occasionally. I have very little broad leaf or rogue grasses in my lawn and cut out most of what does appear with a knife. The small amounts of very difficult grasses I get rid of with a small amount of roundup applied to a leaf using a paint brush. This is a fairly labour intensive method but saves on buying sprays and pumping toxins into my soil.
I do not know your gorwing conditions or the type of grass you use. I have a fairly wet climate, humid summers and foggy winters with some frosts and grow rye and fescue mixes. I find fertilising once in spring and once in autumn is perfectly fine. 4 times ayear may be over kill. I use blood and bone which gives me a good enough result as any synthetic fertiliser and importantly, for me anyway, encourages the build up of soil humus which in turn helps stimulate micro organisms, fungi, bacteria, worms etc. They help to keep your soil in good working order (in fact, they are essential).
rob
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Our lawn is mostly bluegrass, I believe, with probably some fescue in the mix too.
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DK


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Purdue U says to spray for broad leaf plants about first frost so it goes down in the roots. The 4 times with fertilizer is becuse the people selling the stuff wat the money.
From Mel & Donnie in Bluebird Valley
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Thanks for the tip on spreader. It's also good to hear that a 2 gallon sprayer will last through many weeks w/o needing refilling.
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DK


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It's possible (and more likely than you might imagine) that the growing conditions on your lawn are more friendly to weeds than grass. This means that you may end up poisoning your land every year, which is bad because the chemicals you need to use have not been, and cannot be proven safe.
Have you spoken with your state's cooperative extension about soil tests, and ways of helping the grass compete with the weeds? And, what are your expectations? Perfection, like a golf course?
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I haven't talked with our extension office, but have checked out their Web sites and recommendations on fertilizing schedule and all that.
I'd say, I have moderate expectations ... doesn't have to be like a golf course, but I don't want half my lawn to be weeds neither, because they tend to take over quickly and fill in more of the lawn. My goal is to improve the conditions for the grass to grow, so thicker grass will prevent so many weeds from popping up.
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DK

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Well, just watch the chemicals, especially if you have kids or pets. As I said, it is nowhere near as safe as its vendors claim.

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