When Do You Weed And Seed Your Lawn

Overseeding—the process of adding new grass seed to existing turf—is something that you should tackle once per year, and preferably in the fall, says our expert. When is the best time to use weed and feed on your lawn? You need to make sure not to apply it more than twice a year, and at least 2 months apart… That lush carpet of green can totally be yours when you make a few corrections to its maintenance schedule. Here's how to make sure you're giving your turf what it needs, when it needs it.

How Often Do You Need to Overseed a Lawn?

If your neighbor’s thick, lush lawn has you green with envy, it might be time to perform some routine maintenance on your own landscape. Overseeding—the process of adding new grass seed to existing turf—is a great starting point if you’re looking to fill in thinning or sparse patches. “Many grass types lose density over time and require periodic overseeding,” says Marc Mayer, the regional technical manager at TruGreen, who notes that you should aim to tackle this task annually. Below, Mayer explains why timing is everything when it comes to your lawn; he also shares other best practices for success.

Time it right.

Mayer advises against overseeding in the spring “due to weeds competing for space, nutrients, and water.” Instead, he suggests putting down seed in the fall when soil temperatures are still warm, which also allows the seed time to “become more established” without the stress of summer heat.

Determine your grass type.

Before getting started, it’s important to understand your grass type. If yours turns brown in the winter, then you likely have warm-season turf. Common varieties include Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede, or St. Augustine, explains Mayer, all of which respond more favorably to sodding or sprigging opposed to overseeding. However, if you reside anywhere throughout the Midwest or Northeast where grass remains green through the winter months, then you’re dealing with cool-season iterations, such as Kentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, or Ryegrass.

Prepare for overseeding.

Once you’ve determined your type, it’s time to prepare your lawn for germination. First, inspect your lawn for clumps of dead grass material, also known as thatch, as this will help ensure “good contact of seed with soil.” Next, mow your grass to the shortest height your mower will allow, bag the clippings, and then rake your lawn in order to remove any leftover debris and loosen the top layer of soil. Then apply your seed.

Don’t forget to water.

According to Mayer, “watering is one of the most important aspects of successful overseeding.” After applying seed, a heavy watering is in order, after which a daily watering should be performed until seeds germinate, which can take up to two weeks. Once germination has occurred, continue to water thoroughly every few days. “It’s important to keep the soil bed moist during the germination process or seed failure could be the end result,” says Mayer, adding that it’s also important to avoid heavy activity, such as mowing, on the delicate area.

Make it an annual practice.

“Annual overseeding is recommended to thicken lawns and make them more attractive, but also to introduce improved varieties of grass that are hardier, less prone to insects and diseases, and more drought tolerant,” explains Mayer.

When to Apply Weed and Feed to Your Lawn

If you desire a healthy, lush lawn all year round, timing matters! It’s just as important to understand when your lawn needs it, as it is to understand what it needs.

One of the fundamental tasks required to improve your lawn’s health, is providing it with the right level of protection against the onslaught of lawn weeds.

So, to find when is the best time to use weed and feed on your lawn, please read on.

What is Weed and Feed and When Is The Best Time To Apply It?

With myriad different recommendations on best practices and solutions, homeowners are mystified when trying to determine the best weed killer for their greensward. Weed and feed products, unlike weed killer or hand pulling them, offer twofold benefits — they kill weeds and fertilize the lawn in a single application.

An estimated 25 million pounds of weed ‘n feed is applied by Americans and landscaping professionals to; home lawns, parks, cemeteries and anywhere else grass is found, each year.

It is in fact one of the most used lawn care products today, given the sheer convenience it provides when trying to get rid of a weed strewn lawn.

Weed and feed is a combination of herbicides and fertilizer. The three phenoxy (selective) herbicides are Dicamba, 2, 4-D and/or MCPP, which are chemicals designed for broadleaf weed control of dandelions, dollarweed and much more. The feed aka fertilizer is typically a combination of phosphorous, nitrogen, and/or potassium.

Weed and feed can be in either liquid or granular form, but regardless of which type you choose, both kill just the weeds, and not regular, healthy grass blades, unless you apply too much.

See also  How To Get Seeds From Male Weed Plants

Here are some quality picks worth your time;

Post vs Pre-Emergent Weed and Feed

When to use weed and feed will mostly depend on the type you’re using, whether post or pre-emergent weed and feed. The latter, just as the name suggests, targets weeds before they establish themselves, but does not affect existing broadleaf weeds.

The post type weed and feed is the most common way of getting rid of existing weeds, and preventing them from growing back.

This type of weed control solution is an ideal choice if you want to get rid of weeds that have already grown above ground, and nourish the soil quickly at the same time.

When to Put Down Weed and Feed?

Knowing when to weed and feed is essential, but before applying the best weed and feed, it is important to identify your type of grass, because some solutions can be applied to all lawn types, and others are designed for certain types of grasses and weeds.

If you apply the wrong product to the wrong grass and weeds, then damage to your healthy green lawn is inevitable.

When Is It Too Late To Use Weed and Feed?

It is generally considered too late at the end of fall. After this, if you are in a cold area, winter will start to take hold and the weed killer element will have nothing to work upon.

It works when the weeds are actively growing, or before they sprout, depending upon whether you have a post or pre – emergent type.

Do Not Use It During Winter

Regardless of the type of weed or grass, applying weed and feed during the winter will have absolutely no effect on the appearance of your lawn in the following spring and summer. Hence, weed and feed is most effective when applied in the spring and fall.

Early Spring And Fall Are The Best Times For A Healthy Lawn

Weed and feed products should be applied no more than twice a year, so one application in the spring, and another in the fall if the first one didn’t resolve the issue.

Further, each application should be at least two months apart, because not waiting long enough between applications could cause the herbicides to build up to high levels that can kill a healthy lawn and other vegetation.

Considering weed and feed products contain chemicals, there are a few safety precautions you need to take, starting with making sure kids and pets stay off the lawn until it dries completely.

It is best to wait until the next heavy rain or when the granules have completely dissolved before allowing foot traffic on your lawn.

If you’re applying pre-emergent weed and feed, then the best application time is prior to weed seed germination. But if you’re trying to control summer weeds, early spring is the best time to apply weed and feed.

However, if you’re trying to kill crabgrass, or your product includes a crabgrass preventer, you should apply weed and feed in mid-April. As mentioned earlier, post emergent weed killers will only kill weeds that are actively growing at the time of application.

Given that fertilizer applications aren’t recommended in the summer, such as at daytime temperatures above 90-degrees, the types of herbicides used to kill tough broadleaf weeds such as dandelions and clover should be applied from late spring onwards.

You should also note that even if you apply the best product, chances are that you won’t be able to get rid of all the weeds completely. Reason being weed seeds can spread fast, whether it’s kids running across the lawn, wind blowing them around or birds depositing them.

Should I Mow Before Applying Weed and Feed?

The question is, do you have to cut your grass before applying the weed & feed? If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that the answer is always “it depends.”

It depends on the type of weeds you’re trying to get rid of, the species of grass you have, the phase of the season when you’re applying herbicide, how the herbicide works, and, of course, how you mow.

If you have large broad leafed weeds, and are using a post-emergent product, then it’s best not to mow too short before putting down weed and feed, better to have a larger leaf area for the product to work on.

If you are going to be using a granular product, you can cut the grass not less than 2 days before application, then water it in, as it needs to get under the surface to start working.

So, the general rule is; only mow at least 2 days before you apply weed & feed products, and don’t mow before 2 days after the weed and feed application.

How Long To Stay off Lawn After Weed and Feed?

You should be good to use your lawn again after 24-72 hours. This give the fertilizer time to work its way into the soil. See the paragraphs below for when to water after application.

See also  Weed And Seed For Bermuda Grass

As always, we would recommend that you read the manufacturers directions included on the packaging. (If all else fails, read the instructions!).

You should also not carry out aerating, or spread new grass seed after weed & feed usage, as it can possibly damage any new emerging grass seedlings.

How Long Does Weed and Feed Take To Work?

How long weeds take to die after applying weed and feed will depend upon the type of product you use. Most post-emergent herbicides will start to take effect from between 5 and 7 days. The full effect could take as long as 3 weeks to completely kill off the weeds.

Pre-emergent herbicides work by preventing the weed from growing in the first place, so you shouldn’t see weeds popping up after using this type of product.

When To Water After Applying Weed and Feed Fertilizer Application?

With a granular product, it is important not to water for at least 24 hours after application. The reason for this is that you need the product to stay in contact with the leaves of the weeds to be most efficient.

It goes without saying that if you water too soon after you apply weed and feed, you will wash it off before it starts working.

Since no two products are built exactly the same, you should refer to manufacturer’s usage guidelines.

Many products can be watered in, so that the active ingredient is absorbed by the roots.

If you’re applying a liquid weed and feed product such as Scotts complete 4 step program, you don’t need to water the lawn after application, since both the fertilizer and herbicide are already in liquid form.

The nitrogen acts as the fertilizer, and gives your lawn a boost, while the herbicide kills weeds such as ground ivy, chickweed, and buckhorn.

Make sure to check the weather forecast for your area before carrying out your weed feed exercise.

If you can afford the irrigation system cost, don’t forget to turn off that zone or zones for 24 hours after, and remember to turn it back on again afterwards!

6 Lawn Care Mistakes to Stop Making So You Can Have Healthier Grass

That lush carpet of green can totally be yours when you make a few corrections to its maintenance schedule. Here’s how to make sure you’re giving your turf what it needs, when it needs it.

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.

Timing is everything with lawn care. You can aerate, weed, water, and mow in the correct way and still have a lawn that’s struggling. Whether you rely on do-it-yourself lawn treatments or hire professionals, it’s important that your grass gets what it needs to thrive during the optimal time frame. For example, even something as simple as turning on your sprinkles too late in the day could encourage diseases to crop up (not to mention waste water). Here are the most common lawn care mistakes to avoid, and how to time all your yard work just right so you end up with the best-looking grass on the block.

1. Treating Broadleaf Weeds When It’s Dry

Dandelions, clover, and creeping Charlie are some of the most common broadleaf weeds you’ll encounter, but plenty of other plants can invade quickly and spread relentlessly. To keep them in check, you may decide to use a granular weed-and-feed product or spray an organic liquid broadleaf weed killer.

The right time: Treat actively growing weeds; apply granular products on a dewy morning or spot treat with an organic herbicide ($13, The Home Depot) on a warm, sunny day.

Why timing matters: Used properly, broadleaf weed killers are highly effective when conditions are optimal. For example, the granules of weed-and-feed products, which are applied with a spreader, must stick to the leaves of the weeds to be effective. That requires moisture, so the perfect time to apply is in early morning when there’s a heavy dew on the lawn⁠. If the grass isn’t wet, you’ll be wasting your time and money. Warm temperatures often help liquid treatments work faster, too. However, if you’ve been having a hot but dry summer, you’ll want to water your lawn first.

2. Applying Weed Preventers Too Late

Preemergent herbicides ($30, The Home Depot) or weed preventers, control crabgrass and other weeds by stopping their seeds from germinating. An application early in the growing season works wonders; it’s like vaccinating your lawn against weeds.

The right time: Apply preventer when forsythia blooms drop (can be from March to May).

See also  Purple Weed Seeds

Why timing matters: Weed preventers are not effective against weeds that have already begun to grow, so you must apply them before germination to gain any benefit. Crabgrass, the primary target of lawn weed preventers, normally germinates just after forsythia blooms, so take your cue from Mother Nature. When you notice forsythia bushes dropping their blossoms (March to May, depending on your region), apply a weed preventer like corn gluten meal ($39, Walmart) and water as soon as possible to activate it.

Need to reseed? For cool-season grasses, fall is the ideal time; plant warm-season grasses in late spring. But remember: Don’t apply crabgrass preventer at the same time that you seed your lawn; it stops all seedlings from growing, even the ones you may want to grow.

3. Not Fertilizing Your Lawn

As grass (or any plant) grows, it uses up nutrients in the soil. When you mow and bag up clippings, over time all the soil nutrients will get used up so you’ll need to add fertilizer. If you let clippings decompose back into the soil instead, that will help a little, but you may still need to replenish available nutrients once in a while. A soil test every year will show you how much you may need to add. When you feed your lawn is important, too.

The right time: North: Feed in fall and spring. South: Feed in spring and summer.

Why timing matters: Grass needs to be fed when it’s actively growing. For cool-season grasses⁠ (bluegrass, fescues, and ryegrass⁠) this primarily means spring and fall. For warm-season grasses such as zoysia, bermuda, and St. Augustine, late spring and summer are the prime growing times.

In addition, cool-season grasses benefit from feeding in late fall (October or November), when growth has slowed but the grass is still green. The result is earlier greening and better appearance the next spring. Experts agree that this may be the most beneficial time to feed a cool-season lawn.

Warm-season lawns should not be fed in fall unless they’ve been overseeded with winter ryegrass. Also, avoid fertilizing any dormant grass, either in winter or summer (drought can cause grass to go dormant in summer); the application will be wasted.

4. Aerating Your Lawn at the Wrong Time

You do aerate, right? Over time, soil gets compacted by being walked on, and thatch builds up. Aerating helps loosen the soil again and allow water to more easily reach grass roots.

The right time: Aerate when soil is moist and grass is actively growing.

Why timing matters: A common mistake is aerating when soil is dry and hard, and aerators are unable to penetrate the soil deeply. Water your lawn before aerating, or wait for a good rain. Ideal conditions for aerating occur more often in spring and fall (for cool-season grasses), but summer also is acceptable for well-watered lawns.

5. Watering Too Late in the Day

No matter where you live or what type of grass you have, your lawn will probably need at least some irrigation to keep it green during extended summer dry spells.

The right time: Water early in the morning.

Why timing matters: Early morning is the best time to give your lawn a drink. The warmth of the sun will soon dry the grass and lessen the chance of disease. Avoid nighttime watering, which can encourage disease because of prolonged wetness, and watering during the warmest times of the day, when a lot of the water may evaporate before the plants have a chance to absorb it.

When it’s necessary to water, do so once or twice a week, long enough to wet the soil several inches down. This encourages deep roots compared with frequent, but shallow, irrigation, and it will make your lawn more drought-tolerant. Some cities and municipalities have recommendations or restrictions on the timing and frequency of watering to help cut down on waste so it’s a good idea to check that you are following those guidelines, too.

6. Not Mowing Frequently Enough

Mowing may seem like a no-brainer, but how⁠ (and how often⁠) you do it has a significant effect on the health and appearance of your lawn.

The right time: Mow as needed⁠, so that cut off no more than a third of the height of your grass at a time. For example, if you set your mower at 2 inches, don’t let the grass get taller than 3 inches before mowing.

Why timing matters: Many homeowners ritually mow on weekends, effectively putting their lawns on a seven-day mowing schedule. Most of the year, weekly mowing may be fine. But in spring, when growth is vigorous, mowing may be necessary every four or five days. Longer intervals allow the grass to become too tall between cutting, stressing the lawn and making it less attractive. Keeping a well-mowed lawn is also an easy way to discourage fleas and ticks, because both pests prefer to hide out in long grass.