Weed And Feed Or Grass Seed First

Do I weed and feed before I seed?… 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. Breaking the Spring Seeding Cycle Loading player for /content/dam/ext_vt_edu/topics/lawn-garden/turfgrass/turfandgardentips/tips/Breakspringseedcycle.mp3. Break the Spring Seeding Cycle:

Weed And Feed Or Grass Seed First

I have a lawn that has different issues. I have weeds, some clumps of things that I can’t tell weather or not it’s weeds or some kind of grass, patches in the front where not much grass is growing at all, and in the backyard I have thicker grass. I bought some new seed to put down in the front and I also bought some Scott’s weed and feed to put down. Problem is which do I do first? How do I identify the different kinds of things growing on my lawn? I read the directions for the weed and feed and it said that you have to put it on the lawn like early in the morning when there is dew on the lawn and then you have to make sure there will be about two days before you have any new rain. That has been very difficult because it seems like lately it rains every day. My lawn looks pretty bad right now and I would like to have a nice lawn, but I also don’t want to break the bank or use chemicals that will be bad for the environment. I don’t know, but maybe the weed and feed was a bad choice.

Any help is appreciated!

vintagejuls Green Thumb Posts: 429 Joined: Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:12 am Location: Southern California / USDA Zone 10

Lawns are water hogs

It sounds to me like your lawn has been deprived of water. If you have dirt, plant the seed and water that area a little bit every day (but NO Weed & Feed there).

For the remainer of the lawn which you think is some weeds and clumps (crabgrass probably), use the weed and feed early in the morning since the lawn is moist with dew and then water right after; proceed with daily or every other day waterings. If watering daily, just 5 minutes will do. Weed and feed is all nitrogen which grass loves; so applying the nitrogen makes the grass grow and squeezes out the weeds. But since grass is a water hog you have to give it lots of water and then once your lawn is established you can back off on the watering some (1X a week). After applying the lawn food or weed & feed (nitrogen rich), the grass requires water to avoid burning which will cause yellowing. So make sure the grass is moist and the weather cool before you feed it anything. I’ve made the mistake of applying lawn food when it was too warm.

Another tip is how you mow your lawn. Mowing your lawn too low opens it up for weeds. Depending on how many bare spots you have or clumps, let it grow out so you can get an idea of how and what is growing.

I’m new to lawn care but have had much success with my suggestion here. You will see results in 30days or so.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Newbiegardner, you have to choose which one you want to do at this time – seed or control weeds. Doing both is an impossible task. Also, I’d say it is too late to start trying to grow grass anyway. Normally, it’s something that begins earlier in spring, and this is May already. The major problem is impending high temperatures, whereas the new grass won’t have time to establish its roots system good before having to deal with high temps. Besides, the best time to seed is fall. It can be done in spring, but you can expect better results doing it in early fall between mid-August and mid-September.

I expect you are growing Kentucky Bluegrass there in Indiana. You might have fescue, but I kind of doubt it. If you know what type of grass you have, please let us know. If I’m right and it is Bluegrass, I don’t think you have to worry about the bald spots for long. When properly maintained (as the maintenance schedule will help you do), Bluegrass will grow to fill in empty spots. You might look up in the fall and decide you don’t really have to overseed afterall.

Ordinarily, I don’t recommend using weed-n-feed combo products, but you have it so you might as well use it. Just make sure the product is labeled for broadleaf weeds like dandelion and clover. Follow instructions on the label for when and how to apply and heed the rain specifications. No one should offer advice that differs from what the label tells you. If this is a particularly high rainy season, then hold off on applying.

Thanks for the responses. I used the weed and feed and it didn’t cover very much before I ran out. Not sure if I should go out and buy more to cover the rest of my lawn or if I should just keep it all cut for now. I’m not sure what kind of grass I have. It’s almost like I have different kinds. Some places I have thick soft grass and other places it is a rougher kind of grass. I could try to take some pictures. I will look at the schedule. I just wish there weren’t so many weeds. They look awful. Do you think I should buy more weed and feed to cover the rest of the lawn? Or is there something else I can use for all the weeds?

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Thanks again,

I’m very sorry, NG, but I can’t tell you if you should purchase more or not. I don’t know the size of the bag you bought and also don’t know the size of your lawn. I don’t know if you used too much since you said you ran out, and I don’t know if you need more. The instructions on the bag tell you how much to apply and offers the settings on your spreader. You’ll have to heed those.

There are herbicides independent of fertilizer. I normally people use those rather than combos. They work better and they’re easier to apply with less guess work. Weed-b-Gon and Bayer Advanced are two that I know about. The maintenance schedule will also help control the weeds because it helps you to properly maintain the grass so it grows healthy and thicker and is able to crowd weeds.

Don’t worry about pictures. I can’t tell from looking unless they are extremely close so I can see the ligule and auricle and such, but you can identify them if you like. [url=https://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/turfid/ItemID.aspx?orderID=GR&orderDesc=Grass]This site[/url] can help you examine the characteristic parts. Check the Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and the Fescue (tall). You remind me that you are likely right about the different types. Cool season grasses are very often mixed together in a lawn, and they are normally Tall Fescue, Bluegrass, and Ryegrass. Nothing you can do about having different types unless you get rid of all of it and start from scratch, but the maintenance schedule will guide you in bringing the lawn into better condition and appearance.

Hope I helped. Let me now if you have other questions.

I followed the directions very carefully. I just really don’t know how big my yard is and I didn’t buy enough. I guess what I was trying to ask is should I finish my yard with what I have used on part of my yard, or would it be okay to switch to something else to treat the rest of my yard? I’m just wondering if the Bayer product might be easier to use. Can you tell me when I go to seed in the fall how I prepare the lawn for seeding? I have never planted grass seed before.

Thanks so much for all of your help,

Oh, I understand now. So, yes you can switch, but that means the part of the lawn you missed won’t get any fertilizer. So will you also finish fertilizing with a product that is not a combo? You can if you want to, but I do recommend you finish fertilizing whichever product you use. Or, you’ll be able to tell the difference in a week or two between the areas that did get fertilizer and those that didn’t. Two different color grasses LOL, although that will only be temporary for a few weeks. And yes,

Just in case you were thinking about overseeding your lawn, please don’t. You have recognized a hodgepodge of different grass types and it doesn’t look so good. You’re already experiencing the near impossibility of trying to manage a hodgepodge lawn. Overseeding into it will add more different ones and only make it worse. The labor that is required for overseeding is the same for starting new. The only difference in cost is the price of the herbicide product. The seed selections in the article I linked are elite Bluegrass. They are the best and were bred for appearance, general overall disease resistance, and to reduce manager input, so you won’t have to irrigate as much, nor will you have to mow as often.

If you don’t want to use Roundup, then the organic vinegar should do the trick. I don’t know of anyone who used the vinegar for an entire kill, but I don’t expect you will have a problem with it.

However, if you do use Roundup, read the label very carefully. You want the one with the only active ingredient is glyphosate. You do not want the one that contains other herbicides. Those others will prevent your seeds from germinating. It’s not difficult to know the difference. You just have to be sure to select the right one.

Even though you plan to seed in the fall, still follow the maintenance schedule up to then. It will help condition the soil. Your grass and your seeding success starts with and depends on the soil.

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.

See also  Golden Seed Weed
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.

Summer Months

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.

Breaking the Spring Seeding Cycle

Loading player for /content/dam/ext_vt_edu/topics/lawn-garden/turfgrass/turfandgardentips/tips/Breakspringseedcycle.mp3.

Break the Spring Seeding Cycle:

As winter breaks and temperatures warm up, many spend some time outdoors, working in the lawn and garden areas, enjoying the sun and making a list of things to get done this year. As we look at the lawn, we often see thin or bare areas, weedy areas, and parts of the lawn we just wish looked better. We get excited as the days get warmer, and we decide, this year, I am going to fix this lawn up. A trip to the store follows, bringing home grass seed, fertilizer, maybe lime, and perhaps even straw for the more ambitious of us. That spring, we work so hard, getting the areas worked up, seeded, fertilized, and maybe even applying lime, and then covering our newly planted seeds with straw. We drag hoses, followed by watering, watering, and more watering, and watch with satisfaction as our new grass comes up, looking great, and all spring our level of satisfaction is high.

However, all good things must come to an end, and as summer gets closer, the day and night time temperatures continue to climb. Our beautiful grass isn’t looking so good, even though we are watering it regularly. It is getting lighter green, not growing, and just isn’t doing well. Finally, in the heat of summer, that beautiful grass gets thin, turns yellow, brown, and then just dies. Unfortunately, that’s not the end of the season. By working the area up, watering it and fertilizing it, we also made a great place for weeds to grow, and soon, without the new grass growing in the area, crabgrass and weed seeds germinate and grow. They move right into the area where our beautiful grass was only a few short weeks ago. These terrible looking weeds grow and grow, getting nice and thick. Finally, as fall arrives we get the first frost, the weeds and crabgrass turn brown, leaving the same unsightly area that we had when we started all the way back in March. Frustrated and tired by this time, we vow to either attack that area again next spring, or maybe, after trying several times, to just throw in the towel and let the weeds and crabgrass have that area.

Does any of this sound familiar?

This sequence of events is all too common, and leaves the homeowner feeling frustrated; having spent time, energy, and money only to have no improvement at the end of the season. However, not only do we have an explanation for why this happens, we also have a solution! It is time to break the spring seeding cycle.

The Problems with Spring Seeding:

Although spring seeding is very common for garden crops and other plants, spring seeding of grass is very difficult due to conditions that are often beyond our control. During spring, temperature and rainfall is perfect for grass seed germination and growth. However, when temperatures climb in the summer problems begin to occur. To understand what happens, we have to back up and give some background on grass and plants in general.

See also  La Confidential Weed Seeds

The majority of lawns in our area are comprised of turf type tall fescues and bluegrass, all of which are cool season grasses. These grasses are called cool season grasses because they grow well in cooler weather, like we have in the spring and fall. Their optimum temperate for growing and manufacturing food (photosynthesis) is between 68 to 77⁰F. Above 77⁰F, grasses are able to still manufacture food, but at a lower rate. However, once air temperatures rise above 87 ⁰F (which happens every summer), photosynthesis becomes very limited. This happens for several reasons, but the major issue is that the plants try to utilize oxygen instead of carbon dioxide to manufacture food, and a process called photorespiration begins. During photorespiration, a grass plant actually uses more energy than it manufactures. So, during periods of high temperatures, plants have limited food production by photosynthesis and the plant is utilizing energy in photorespiration. Without enough energy to produce new growth, we see a significant reduction in growth, both of the shoots and roots. During this time, grass plants tend to stop growing, roots often die back, and then crowns, or tops, of the grass plants thin out. Have you ever seen this during the summer, thin and slow growing turf in your lawn?

While this happens every year to cool season turf, it usually doesn’t kill the grass. Older grass plants are well established and have carbohydrate reserves. They suffer through the summer, and then resume growth when fall temperatures arrive. However, the problem is with the spring seeded turf. These grass plants are very young, tender, and have limited roots and food reserves. With only limited food and root reserves when summer temperatures get high, these plants are unable to tolerate the stresses of summer and often die. This sets the stage for weeds and crabgrass to move in.

So what does all this mean?

Grass planted in the spring comes up great, but it lacks the root development and food reserves to deal with the high summer temperatures we have every year. It thins out, and many of the young seedlings don’t make it to the fall. There are also two other major problems with spring seeding. First, when managing cool season grasses, pre-emergent products are typically applied in the spring to control crabgrass, the number one weed in lawns. Pre-emergent products work by preventing seed germination and they cannot be utilized with new seeding because they will also prevent the new desirable seed from coming up. Second, young turf benefits from fertilization. The young turf has a limited root system and to improve the density, color and growth of young turf, moderate fertilization is recommended. However, this type of fertilization is not recommended in the spring.

So what should I do you ask? The answer is, FALL SEEDING. The best chance for grass plants to survive the stress associated with summer is for them to develop as many roots as possible and to be as mature as possible before summer arrives. To accomplish this, fall is the time to plant. Warmer soil temperatures mean faster seed germination. Typically, our rainfall patterns are more consistent in the fall, and by seeding in the fall, we allow grass plants to become established before winter sets in. They are able to grow roots well into the late fall and early winter. As spring comes, these plants develop more, get thicker, and grow deeper roots. When summer arrives, their food reserves and root development are much better, and they are able to endure the summer stress without dying like the spring seeded grass.

The New Strategy:

So, I should to wait until the fall to seed my lawn? Yes, in order to have the best results possible, waiting until fall is advised, unless you have bare areas or a limited time frame. Even in these cases, we still recommend returning in the fall to overseed again. However, don’t despair, there are a number of things you can do prior to the fall seeding event! During the spring, look over your lawn and decide which areas need improvement. Have a soil analysis performed for the area of interest, so if lime or nutrient adjustments need to be made, they can be made during the growing season. Apply a spring pre-emergent if crabgrass has been an issue, and plan ahead for broadleaf weed control. A month or more before seeding, get rid of the broadleaf weeds and crabgrass with a liquid weed control application, because the young cool season grass seedlings that we are going to plant have a tough time competing with weeds that have been growing all season. Once seeding time arrives, aerate plant, fertilize, and water and wait till next year to see how much better your lawn looks!