Weeding & Feeding 101: Know Before You Seed When it comes to lawn care, you’d be surprised how much science is involved. You’re shooting in the dark from the start. You don’t even know what When to use grass seed vs. “weed and feed” I have a stretch of my otherwise healthy South Florida, St. Augustin lawn that has thinned out over time. It’s a long, but relatively thin (maybe 15′ While establishing a lawn from seed can be done at anytime of the year, there are a few things to consider when considering seeding a lawn in the spring.
Weeding & Feeding 101: Know Before You Seed
When it comes to lawn care, you’d be surprised how much science is involved.
You’re shooting in the dark from the start. You don’t even know what “kind” of grass you have, never mind determining the right herbicide and fertilizer to care for it.
But it seems like a Catch 22. You use chemicals to kill invading plants and hope it doesn’t destroy your grass— then, you lay down compost to nourish your turf and hope it doesn’t breed pesky weeds.
You just want a green lawn, but all the fancy instructions, complex chemical labels and scary industry terms are intimidating.
Don’t worry. We’re here to help. Let’s take it back to the basics—
Understanding the Role of Herbicides on Weeds
Herbicides are pesticides used to eliminate unwanted plants, like weeds, from your yard. Because they are controlled substances designed for killing plant life, they’re not something we recommend choosing without proper understanding of their effects.
Pre-emergent vs Post-emergent Herbicides
The key to preventing unwanted weed growth is to “nip in the bud.” Just as you remove buds from a plant to prevent it from flowering or fruiting, you have to off the weeds before they start growing.
This is what we call a pre-emergent herbicide, as it kills weeds when they begin sprouting from seeds. It will not control existing weeds; that’s what a post-emergent herbicide is for.
Selective vs Non-selective Herbicides
A selective herbicide is exactly as it sounds. Once laid down, it’ll target or “select” specific plants, such as broadleaf weeds or dandelions, but leave your grass unaffected.
Non-selective herbicides kill all plants. They don’t discriminate against weeds— they wipe out everything in their path. This is not the kind of stuff you want to lay on your turf; it’s best for areas like sidewalks where you want a clean-slate from any plant growth.
Contact vs Systemic Herbicides
These two terms relate to the way the plant absorbs chemicals. Contact herbicides will only destroy what they touch. When spraying contact herbicides on existing weeds, the plant will shrivel up and die, but the roots will remain.
Systemic herbicides actually absorb into the plant itself and shoot through the root system itself; so once hit, the entire structure crumbles.
Always Read the Herbicide Label & Do Your Research
Traditional weed prevention products like Weed & Feed boast the fact that they both kill weeds and fertilize your lawn with nutrients. But they’re designed to be cheap and quick solutions, often hiding the affect the concoctions have on your soil’s phosphorus and other mineral levels.
Other products like Turf Builder resemble herbicides, but are actually fertilizers that don’t target weeds. Although Turf Builder specifically offers variations of their product that do offer weed control, ensure you’re doing your homework before you pick up any ole’ jug at your garden shop.
Just like you read the label on food products before buying them for your children, you too should be mindful of the chemicals you use outside of your home. Here at Swazy & Alexander, we have BeeSafe product options to protect your family and the environment without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Before Using Herbicides, Check Your Soil & Grass Type
Be sure to check your grass and soil to see which kind of nutrients it requires for rich growth. No two lawns are the same, and your property has its own unique needs.
Not sure how to test your soil? Our expert technicians can check your PH balance and offer recommendations for neutralizing for a healthy turf. Be sure to test your soil prior to exploring fertilization options, too!
Understanding the Role of Fertilizers on Your Turf
After treating your turf with herbicides, you’ll want to ensure you’re keeping it lush and vibrant with proper fertilization practices during the fall. When it comes to feeding your lawn, ensure you’re selecting the best type of application for your property’s needs.
Liquid solutions are often water-soluble, synthetic chemicals or powders. They help to provide an even application and release nutrients quickly to plants.
Spayable fertilizers can be applied to your treetops and directly onto high foliage and give the mixer more control, but it’s best to leave the blending to the experts since it is easy to burn foliage.
These dry blends are created by combining various nutrients and traditionally disperse more slowly, allowing for less applications.
Granular fertilizers are more effective to use before your plants begin to grow in the spring and can also be specially crafted by fertilization professionals for your lawn’s unique needs.
This is your all natural stuff— no chemicals or hidden additives.
Sometimes viewed as the more expensive choice, organic fertilizers often overlooked, but can often be the most nutrient-rich and environmentally safe application option and have become much more cost effective recently. Organic fertilizers will build the microbes in your soil, which is a key element to effective fertilizer uptake.
When Purchasing Fertilizer, Stick to the Big 3 Minerals
Although many fertilizers are packed with a long laundry list of ingredients, keep your eyes peeled for these three: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They help your grass stay green, strengthen its roots and build stronger plant cells.
These three powerhouse minerals also help your lawn maintain moisture, fight disease and survive stressors like heat and impact. Some additional nutrients found in common fertilizers are helpful, but oftentimes the other stuff is just “filler.”
Coveting a Brag-Worthy Lawn?
Weeding and feeding your turf certainly brings life to and brightens up your property, however, there are many other ways to make your house the nicest on the block.
We have some tips just for you! Check out our Ultimate Guide to Curb Appeal for six ways to instantly increase your home value.
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When to use grass seed vs. “weed and feed”
I have a stretch of my otherwise healthy South Florida, St. Augustin lawn that has thinned out over time.
It’s a long, but relatively thin (maybe 15′ by 3′), stretch of the yard that is in the shade most of the day.
The dirt below grass in the area that has thinned out looks great (rich and black).
I don’t want really want to lay down new sod in the area, so my question is, when should someone plant grass seeds versus using some sort of weed and feed?
What is a recommended brand of St. Augustin grass seeds?
4 Answers 4
Weed and feed products do not actually contain grass seed that I am aware of. They are for fertilizing and weeding existing lawns.
If the grass in this area is the same grass as is in the rest of your yard (which looks pretty open and sunny) then I would not expect that same cultivar to do well in dense shade as well.
A trip to a good garden store in your area will provide several options for grasses that will do better in the shade than the main grass that you have. Its pretty common to have to plant more than one type of grass in lawns that have ranges of sun vs. shade. Also keep in mind that sod is usually grown in open fields and therefore the cultivars planted by the sod farmers are those that do well in constant sun, which is not what you have in this area, so another reason not to use sod in this area.
I have found that one of the keys to getting new grass seed established is watering is keeping the establishing seeds moist. I try to water new seed 3 times a day for 10-20 minutes per cycle. After the first two to three weeks you can cut this back a bit. In my climate mixing the grass seed with some milled peat moss also help because the peat retains moisture.
Seeding a lawn in the spring
Establishing a lawn from seed can be a rewarding experience and a less expensive option in comparison to sod. While establishing a lawn from seed can be done at anytime of the year, there are a few things to consider when considering seeding a lawn in the spring.
Use of Pre-emergent Fertilizer
If a pre-emergent fertilizer was applied to your lawn to prevent crabgrass and other weed seeds from germinating the same will happen to newly planted grass seed. Therefore, you will need to scratch the surface of the ground exposing the dirt which will disturb the pre-emergent barrier and allow your grass seed to germinate. If your lawn has not been fertilized yet, you will need to pick a blend of fertilizer without a pre-emergent control. If you use a lawn care provider be sure to inform them that you plan to seed in the spring and they will use a starter fertilizer blend without a pre-emergent herbicide.
Springtime weeds will seem to grow anywhere and everywhere and will grow faster then grass seed. First reaction may be to use your favorite herbicide to control those weeds, but hold off at least 60 days from the time the seed was planted or until the newly planted seed areas have been mowed at least 3 times, which ever is the later to make sure it is mature enough for weed control products.
During the summer drought months established lawns will be able to go dormant and then bounce back during the fall, but areas seeded during the spring may not be developed enough or have a deep enough root system. Consider extra watering to these areas during those periods of lack of rainfall.
Sum it up
Seeding a lawn can be done at anytime during the year; however there are things consider such as types of fertilizer to use, control of weeds and additional watering requirements during the summer months. In addition to the above information, please visit our blog on taking care of a newly seeded lawn. As always a good idea to consult with a lawn care professional and ask any questions you may have. Look around, ask friends or family, and research companies on the Better Business Bureau to find a company that you can trust.