Best Grass Seed To Choke Out Weeds

Healthy lawns can help to keep weeds under control. Here, you can learn what is the best grass to choke out weeds and help keep your lawn health Bermuda grass, known botanically as the Cynodon species, is a warm-season perennial turf grass that grows widely in temperate, tropical and subtropical climes. It is a vigorous grower, reproducing vegetatively by creeping runners and stolons as well as by seed. Considered a weed itself by some, healthy Bermuda … For the good-looking, easy-to-maintain lawn, plant grass varieties that are well-suited to your climate and the lawn's intended use.

Best Grass To Choke Out Weeds

Many homeowners fantasize about having a lush, green grass carpet for their children and pets to play on.

However, accomplishing this can be challenging because of difficult growing conditions. A yard can swiftly be ruined by disease, dryness, and, most of all, weeds. Growing grass that chokes out weeds can make all the difference come the summer months.

You can find many grass seed types, yet you need to make sure you are overseeding lawn with weeds with the right grass seed.

In our guide, you can find the best grass seed you can use to grow a great lawn that can choke out weeds. By the end, you’ll have options from cool-season grasses, warm-season grasses, or a mix to offer a green lawn for longer and a hardy grass that can deal with weeds on your behalf. (Read What Kills Weeds Permanently)

Will Healthy Grass Choke Out Weeds?

Regardless of the type of grass, weeds need certain growing conditions. Thus, you need to ensure you have healthy grass growing to fend off weeds.

Here are a few ways suitable for various grasses to help them thrive.

Mowing Habits

Mowing height has a significant impact on your lawn’s health. Too short grass permits weed seeds to get sunlight, whereas taller grass blocks it. Mow your lawn in thirds; longer grass is better than shorter grass.

Mow and let the clippings fall. Grasscycling can help wipe out weed seeds while supplying nutrients to your lawn. You get less work, and your yard benefits! Grasscycling just after a rain might cause lawn illness due to damp grass blades.

Water Deeply

The only thing grass needs besides fertilizer are water. Irrigation encourages deeper roots and healthier grass, where your grass overpowers weeds and denies them nutrition. Proper watering will choke out existing weeds and inhibit new weed growth. See our lawn watering guidelines for assistance on properly hydrating your grass. (Learn How Often Should You Water Your Vegetable Garden)

Aerate Your Lawn

Weeds grow in compacted soil, which is why you see weeds in unmaintained parks and ballfields. Aeration loosens soil, allowing oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach grass roots. Weeds hate healthy soil and healthy grass. Consult a local lawn care expert for further information on aeration and available aerators.

Can You Plant Grass Seed On Top Of Weeds?

A weedy lawn can be replanted with grass seed. However, dealing with the weeds first will yield better results if the weeds are thick. Pull the most significant weeds first, then apply the grass seed if only a few weeds.

Warm-season and cool-season grasses are the two main types of grass seed. Warm-season grasses are substantially more tolerant of hot southern climes than cool-season grasses.

Warm-season grasses brown as they go dormant in the winter. Cool-season grasses proliferate in the cooler months of the year, then go dormant in the summer heat. Warm-season grasses can be reseeded in the spring and summer, whereas cool-season grasses should be reseeded in the spring and fall to get the most beautiful lawn. (Read Tall Fescue Vs Kentucky Bluegrass)

Warm Season Grasses

Bahia: This warm-season grass is preferred in hot areas with long dog days because of its heat tolerance and drought resistance. With large leaves and gritty texture, Bahia grass survives in the intense sunny areas where other grasses perish. In the Deep South, this makes it a desirable low-maintenance grass species all summer long.

Bermuda: Like many other warm-season grass types, Bermuda grass flourishes in hot regions because of its excellent ability to survive the heat and high foot traffic. Bermuda grass demands plenty of nutrients, proper drainage, and full sun exposure. Because the grass can not take cold climates well, it is best used in the southern part of the country with hot climates.

Buffalo: Despite being classified as warm-season grass, Buffalo grass thrives in a wide range of climates and is popular in places with harsh winters. In colder weather, it goes dormant and turns brown, just as other warm-season grasses. The months of April and May are ideal for planting buffalo grass.

Centipede: Centipede grass is noted for high heat tolerance and low maintenance needs. This makes it a popular lawn grass for folks who don’t want to spend much time on their lawns. Centipedes prefer full sun, but they can also take partial shade. It thrives in the Southeast because of those requirements. When all threat of frost has gone, sow centipede grass seed in the spring.

St. Augustine: St. Augustine is one of Florida’s most popular grasses because of its ability to withstand extreme temperatures and humidity. It has blue-green grass blades that quickly grow across a yard. St. Augustine can also withstand saltwater, making it a popular choice for coastal areas. Planting plugs is one of the most successful ways to establish St. Augustine grass since it spreads quickly when sown in the spring or summer.

Zoysia: Zoysia lawn is tough, low-maintenance grass and is well-known for resistance to heat, drought, and heavy foot traffic. Zoysia lawns create dense grass that chokes out weeds while requiring little upkeep. Although some zoysia grass varieties are only grown from Zoysia sod or Zoysia plugs, several grass seed businesses offer a Zoysia seed variety. Once the fear of frost has passed, you should seed Zoysia grass in the spring.

Cool Season Grasses

Fescue: Tall fescue grass is the most common grass in the United States. This is due to its ability to adapt to various climates, as it can withstand heat, cold, shade, and drought. This is attributed to a deep root system that can reach two to three feet deep. Tall fescue is simple to grow, although it can suffer from excessive traffic. Tall fescue should be planted and reseeded in the fall and spring.

Kentucky Bluegrass: Blue Grass is the type of grass most people envision when they think of the ideal lawn. Kentucky bluegrass is a favored plant because of its rich green color. This grass is tough to grow and requires a lot of attention and care. Because of its thin root system, which does not endure heat well, is better suited to northern lawns. In the spring and fall, Kentucky bluegrass can be planted and reseeded.

See also  Weed Seed Shop

Perennial Ryegrass: Annual ryegrass, a transitory grass used for erosion control, should not be mistaken for perennial ryegrass. Year after year, perennial ryegrass returns. Ryegrass is ideal for new lawns because it germinates quickly. It thrives in cooler locations with mild summers, but it can even be found in the southern United States. In the fall, perennial ryegrass should be sown or reseeded.

Will overseeding choke out weeds?

Overseeding your current lawn with new grass seeds fills in bare patches and promotes stronger grass. A dense grass lawn with no bare spots shadows the soil beneath it, preventing weed seedlings from receiving sunlight and destroying them. Thick-growing grass extracts moisture and nutrients from the soil before weed seedlings can reach them. To get the best results, use a weed killer on lawn weeds, then overseed to build healthy grass that won’t let weeds come back.

  • Weeds are less likely to invade bare regions that have been overseeded with grass.
  • Overseeding thickens lawns, preventing weed seedlings from receiving sunlight and nutrition and suffocating them.
  • Without using herbicides, regular overseeding creates a thick, weed-resistant lawn.
  • Grass plants, like all other plants, deteriorate and die. You may restore your lawn with fresh grass plants by overseeding. This continuous replenishment ensures that your lawn remains thick enough to smother new weeds. This means you won’t have to use chemical weed killers on your existing grass as often.

Removing Weeds Before Overseeding

  • When you kill existing weeds before overseeding, you get the best results. This is because no amount of grass, no matter how thick, can choke out existing, established weeds. Only healthy grass can prevent new weed seeds from germinating.
  • Any weeds present when you overseed can rob your new grass seedlings of water, nutrients, and sunlight. To give your grass a fighting chance, get rid of the weeds.
  • Overseeding will not kill or choke out existing weeds. A thick, overseeded lawn will suppress new weed growth.
  • Kill established weeds before they deplete your grass seedlings of water and nutrients.
  • If you eradicate existing weeds before overseeding, you’ll receive a better germination rate and more new grass sprouts. Overseeding weed-infested grass will cause a low yield, as fresh grass has difficulty competing with the weeds in an existing lawn.

Best Time of Year to Overseed Entire Lawn?

Seeding your lawn at the right time for your grass type will give you the best results. Warm-season grass lawns (including Bermuda, Zoysia grass, and Centipede grass) should be overseeded in the spring. When cool-season grasses (Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescue, and Ryegrass) are overseeded in the fall, they sprout and survive the best.

  • Overseed warm-season grasses in spring.
  • Overseed cool-season grasses in fall.

Another advantage of overseeding in the fall for cool-season grass lawns is that there will be fewer weeds. Even if your lawn were afflicted with crabgrass, it would have dropped its seeds in the spring and died off by the fall.

New grass emerges and establishes itself if you overseed in the fall. The grass grows thick, and you will have a dense turf by spring to prevent many of the crabgrass seeds from germinating.

Best Grass Seed for Overseeding?

The best grass seed for overseeding is the grass that thrives in your environment. Choose cool-season grass in areas with cold weather and warm-season grass that is heat tolerant and will perform best with mild winters; the optimal time is vital for all grasses to thrive.

It’s also worth noting that overseeding is planting more grass seed on top of an existing lawn. It’s usually better to overseed your lawn with the same grass species that already exists. This will cause a nice, consistent new lawn suitable for bare feet. (Learn How Long Does Grass Seed Last)

The best grasses for choking off weeds in your lawn are different depending on where you live. Bermuda grass is ideal if you want a weed-resistant lawn when planting warm-season grass. It takes over regions by runners and roots, preventing weeds from gaining a foothold.

Kentucky Bluegrass is the best choice for weed control in cool-season grass lawns. However, since it only delivers a lush lawn in cooler environments and doesn’t deal with heavy traffic as much, you have another option of grass to choke out weeds.

  • Zoysia lawn thrives in scorching heat but can also withstand temperatures as low as 30 degrees below zero, so it’s suitable for both harsh and mild weather situations. Amazoy plugs thrive in light and heat and are not harmed by snow or low temperatures.
  • All summer, you can find your Zoysia grass choking out crabgrass and other weeds thanks to its deep roots.
  • Zoysia grass also has countless other benefits.
  • Fewer chemicals: You save money and risk by not using weedkillers and pesticides.
  • The Zoysia grass can cure itself and doesn’t need replacing.
  • Zoysia grass acts as a network of plants and can survive heavy traffic.
  • Slopes, play areas, and bare spots benefit Zoysia grass and require less mowing.

Soil Conditions

  • Zoysia plugs thrive on a wide range of clay soils. Amazoy zoysia grass has strong roots that penetrate and generate air passageways, allowing for proper root development despite the deep nature of clay soils.
  • Amazoy zoysia grass can thrive in rocky soil, but you’ll need to mix in a layer of topsoil before planting.
  • Most salty soils will support Amazoy zoysia grass.
  • Sandy soil
  • Although Amazoy zoysia grass thrives in various soil types, you may need to raise pH to recommended levels of 6 to 7. You can do this with granulated lime.
  • Only needs 1-pound of nitrogen fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet of Zoysia grass lawn.

Sunlight

Zosia thrives in direct sunlight and can suffer partial shade so long as it receives at least 2 to 3 hours of direct sunlight every day. Soil pH can change beneath a tree, so test areas in shady areas first before sowing Zoysia seed.

Choked out Weeds

Growing a good Zoysia grass lawn from seed has proven challenging in the past. In contrast, zoysia seed has gone a long way in the last few decades. It now germinates more effectively, resulting in a magnificent lawn, but it still needs to satisfy some specific requirements to be successful.

The depth at which the Zoysia seed should be placed, the amount of light it requires, and the frequency with which it should be watered are precise measurements. To succeed, following the seed planting instructions will be necessary.

Zoysia grass resembles Kentucky bluegrass in texture and appearance. Each plug is a little piece of Zoysia sod that can be as small as a one-inch square but never smaller.

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The Best Way to Choke Out Weeds in Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass, known botanically as the Cynodon species, is a warm-season perennial turf grass that grows widely in temperate, tropical and subtropical climes. It is a vigorous grower, reproducing vegetatively by creeping runners and stolons as well as by seed.

Considered a weed itself by some, healthy Bermuda lawns under proper cultivation practices can overpower most other weed species and prevent them from establishing a competitive presence.

Mow your Bermuda grass to a blade height of between one and two inches. When weeds are present raise the mowing height up to 2 1/2 inches to shade the weed seeds and plants. This will prevent them from conducting photosynthesis and weaken or kill them allowing the Bermuda to gain the upper hand. Use a catcher on your mower to prevent cut weed seeds from being redeposited onto the lawn surface.

  • Bermuda grass, known botanically as the Cynodon species, is a warm-season perennial turf grass that grows widely in temperate, tropical and subtropical climes.
  • Considered a weed itself by some, healthy Bermuda lawns under proper cultivation practices can overpower most other weed species and prevent them from establishing a competitive presence.

Water your Bermuda lawn consistently to keep it lush and healthy. Apply a minimum of 1 inch of water each week in either one or two deep watering session. Ensure that the soil is wet to a depth of at least 6 inches to saturate the Bermuda root zone. Use more water in arid or hot climates and less in cooler northern or rainy climes. Avoid drought stress, which can give competitive weeds a foothold.

Pull up the competitive weeds by the roots after the lawn has been watered and the soil is saturated. Grasp the weed down at its base up against the soil and pull up and out of the soil with a firm tug. Throw the weeds away and bypass the compost bin.

  • Water your Bermuda lawn consistently to keep it lush and healthy.
  • Pull up the competitive weeds by the roots after the lawn has been watered and the soil is saturated.

Fertilize your Bermuda grass monthly to keep it growing vigorously. Use a basic lawn turf fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen and apply according to the product label instructions being careful not to exceed a dose of 1-pound of actual nitrogen for every 1,000 square feet of lawn expanse. Water in deeply after each application until the top few inches of soil are saturated.

Dethatch or aerate your Bermuda grass lawn once or twice per year to remove excess thatch and ensure that applied water and nutrients are making their way down to the root zone where they are needed. Pull the dethatching fork across the lawn surface, making two passes, the second pass being at a 90-degree angle to the first. Rake up all of the loose thatch when completed and discard it.

Plunge the aerating tool into the lawn and soil, making two passes over the area. The soil plugs can be left on the soil to act as fertilizer or raked up for a tidy appearance. Water deeply immediately after either of these procedures.

Picking the Right Grass

For the good-looking, easy-to-maintain lawn, plant grass varieties that are well-suited to your climate and the lawn’s intended use.

Viveka Neveln is the Garden Editor at BHG and a degreed horticulturist with broad gardening expertise earned over 3+ decades of practice and study. She has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing for both print and digital media.

Almost all lawn grasses are classified as either “cool season” (meaning they do better in the North) or “warm season” (better adapted to southern gardens). Our grass information will help you select varieties that will grow well in your climate and under the conditions present in your yard.

A beautiful lawn usually contains a combination of distinct grass types, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. As you evaluate a grass mixture, look at the proportions of the varieties described below to evaluate which mixture will meet your needs and conditions best. Before you make your final decision, check with your local Cooperative Extension Service or local nurseries to find out about varieties adapted to your area.

Know Your Zone

Northern Zone In the Northern United States and in Canada, where summers are moderate and winters often are cold, cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue are the primary choices.

Southern Zone The Southern Zone, with hot summers and moderate winters, provides a climate where warm-season grasses thrive. St. Augustinegrass, Bermudagrass, centipedegrass, and zoysiagrass are the most common varieties.

Transition Zone This region has hot summers as well as cold winters, making it the most challenging region for lawns: Cool-season grasses struggle in the summer heat, while warm-season types can remain brown as much as half of the year and may be prone to winter damage. Tall fescue is a popular choice in the Transition Zone because it exhibits good tolerance of both cold and heat, and it stays green most of the year. Bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and Kentucky bluegrass also are grown in the Transition Zone.

Consider the Site

Next, think about conditions in your yard. If there are no special challenges, then you should get good results from any of the primary grasses for your region. For difficult sites—those that have deep shade, a lack of water, or salty soils—other species will adapt better to the specific conditions.

Low-Input Areas For an out-of-the-way area that’s hard to supply with water or fertilizer, buffalograss—hardy throughout much of North America—is an excellent choice. Fine-leaf fescues also are good for low-input sites. Centipedegrass is a good choice for low-maintenance sites in the Southeast.

Shaded Sites Fine-leaf fescues are the most tolerant of shady sites. In the South, most varieties of St. Augustine are fairly shade-tolerant (with the exception of the Floratam variety).

High-Traffic Sites In the North, blends of Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass work well for high-traffic areas. In the South, Bermudagrass is preferred for its ability to recover rapidly from wear.

Seed companies often package mixes containing several species or varieties selected for a particular type of site—sunny, shady, dry, or high-traffic, for example. They do the homework of devising the best mixes in the right ratios, and the resulting lawn will perform better than if you’d planted a single species.

Salty-Sites or Sites Using Effluent Water Seashore paspalum is extremely salt-tolerant, making it excellent for sandy coastal sites affected by salt sprays, or where effluent water with high salt levels is used for irritation.

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Use the Right Variety

Each grass species is available in several (sometimes a great many) varieties, offering variations in texture, color, and growth rate. Visually, the differences may be subtle, but newer varieties often have unseen advantages. For example, they might better tolerate diseases, pests, or harsh weather. No-name or generic seed, though cheaper, is usually not worth the savings because you might end up with an older variety prone to problems.

To get the best performance from species, such as tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass, use a mix of varieties. Though you can create your own mix, it’s more convenient to use prepackaged mixes, which are formulated for specific regions. Generally, you won’t go too far wrong if you stick to recognized brands and buy seed from reputable garden centers, which tend to stock current varieties.

Cool-Season Grasses

Cool-season grasses are generally adapted to northern climates, where they grow vigorously in spring and fall and may turn brown in very hot summers. They are often sold as a blend of several varieties of the same species, such as several varieties of Kentucky bluegrass, or as a mixture of two or more different species such as Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescue. Growing blends or mixtures is a good idea—if one doesn’t grow well or is destroyed by disease, chances are that the others will take over and flourish.

The most common cool-season grasses include fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue. The new varieties of Kentucky bluegrass, unlike the old standards, are quite disease-resistant, keep their fine-textured looks without a lot of feeding, and have some drought tolerance. Fine fescue includes several grasses—chewings fescue, hard fescue, and creeping red fescue—that are often mixed with Kentucky bluegrass as they thrive in shade and drought. Perennial ryegrass is a main component of cool-season grass mixes. It germinates quickly and wears well.

Kentucky Bluegrass

  • Texture: Medium
  • Germination time: Slow
  • Shade tolerance: Fair
  • Drought resistance: Fair
  • Traffic resistance: Good
  • Optimum height: 2 to 3-1/2 inches
  • Pros: Fills in bare spots on its own, tolerates harsh winters
  • Cons: Intolerant of shade, prone to thatch, languishes in heat, favorite food of grubs

Fine-leaf Fescue

  • Texture: Fine
  • Germination time: Medium-slow
  • Shade tolerance: Good
  • Drought resistance: Excellent
  • Traffic resistance: Fair
  • Optimum height: 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches
  • Pros: Needs little maintenance, tolerates drought and shade
  • Cons: Loses color in drought; may spread undesirably

Tall Fescue

  • Texture: Medium coarse
  • Germination time: Medium-slow
  • Shade tolerance: Good
  • Drought resistance: Good
  • Traffic resistance: Excellent
  • Optimum height: 2 to 3-1/2 inches
  • Pros: Not prone to thatch, tolerant of drought and heat, good pest tolerance
  • Cons: Doesn’t spread into bare areas, may appear clumpy

Perennial Ryegrass

  • Texture: Fine-coarse
  • Germination time: Fast
  • Shade tolerance: Fair
  • Drought resistance: Good
  • Traffic resistance: Excellent
  • Optimum height: 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches
  • Pros: Tolerates traffice well, germinates and establishes quickly
  • Cons: Doesn’t fill in bare spots on its own, poor tolerance of temperature extremes

Warm-Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses love heat and are well-suited to the hot summers of the South and Southwest. In areas with little summer rain, they will go dormant without supplemental water. With a few exceptions, warm-season grasses are not very cold-tolerant, and most undergo winter dormancy. Many varieties are unavailable as seed and must be planted as sprigs or sod.

Zoysia is the most winter hardy of the southern grasses and is sometimes grown up to Zone 7. It stays brown all winter in cold-winter areas, however, and is slow to green up in spring. It’s a dense grass that’s somewhat tolerant of shade and grows best in the upper South. Bermuda grass is suited to Florida and the Gulf Coast and thrives when it gets abundant water. St. Augustine grass is a coarse grass, adapted to the humid coastal areas of the South. It is not tolerant of freezing weather or much shade but stands up to sun and high traffic. Bermuda grass is common to the mild-winter West Coast and southern regions.

Bermudagrass

  • Texture: Fine-coarse
  • Germination time: Slow—use plugs or sod
  • Shade tolerance: Poor
  • Drought resistance: Excellent
  • Traffic resistance: Excellent
  • Optimum height: 1 to 2 inches
  • Pros: Vigorous spreader, quickly recovers from wear, hybrid types are fine textured and less coarse
  • Cons: Intolerant of shade, prone to thatch, invades beds, may be too agressive

St. Augustinegrass

  • Texture: Coarse
  • Germination time: Slow—use plugs or sod
  • Shade tolerance: Fair
  • Drought resistance: Poor
  • Traffic resistance: Fair
  • Optimum height: 2 to 3 inches
  • Pros: Requires moderate maintenance, reasonably tolerant of shade
  • Cons: Susceptible to chinch bugs, does not survive dry summers without supplemental watering, poor cold tolerance, susceptible to disease

Zoysiagrass

  • Texture: Medium
  • Germination time: Slow—use plugs or sprigs
  • Shade tolerance: Fair
  • Drought resistance: Good
  • Traffic resistance: Good
  • Optimum height: 1 to 2 inches
  • Pros: Effective at choking out weeds, somewhat tolerant of shade, drought tolerant
  • Cons: Long domancy, requires annual dethatching or scalping, slow to establish and recover from wear, not well-suited to winter overseeding, turns brown in winter

Buffalograss

  • Texture: Fine
  • Germination time: Medium—use plugs
  • Shade tolerance: Poor
  • Drought resistance: Excellent
  • Traffic resistance: Poor
  • Optimum height: 2 inches
  • Pros: Tolerates climatic extremes, requires little fertilizer, pest control, or mowing, tolerates alkaline soil, native to areas of North America
  • Cons: Does not tolerate traffic well, slow to re-establish, goes dormant in winter and mid-summer (if not irrigated)

Centipedegrass

  • Texture: Medium-coarse
  • Germination time: Medium—use plugs or sod
  • Shade tolerance: Good
  • Drought resistance: Good
  • Traffic resistance: Poor
  • Optimum height: 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 inches
  • Pros: Needs little maintenance, invites few pests of disease problems, grows slowly for reduced mowing
  • Cons: Recovers slowly from wear, is easily injured by freezing weather

Sod, Seed, and Sprigs

New lawns can be established by sod or seed (or sprigs or plugs, if seed is not an option). Sod is the quickest way to establish your lawn, but it’s also more expensive than the alternatives. Further, you are limited to the varieties that local sod growers have chosen to plant. One situation may demand sod: steep slopes. Slopes are prone to erosion, and heavy rains can wash away seed; sod will stay put.

Seed saves you money up front, and you may find a wider selection of varieties in garden centers. However, lawn planted from seed may take a year to develop a thick stand, and you may find yourself reseeding areas that didn’t establish well. Also, weeds may be problematic until the young grass thickens.

Many warm-season varieties aren’t available from seed, so they are sold as sprigs (stolons) or plugs. These are planted in the soil and gradually spread until they’ve filled in to form a solid lawn. Sprigs are sold by the bushel from garden centers; plugs are sold by the tray.