Spreading seed is an inexpensive way to grow a lush lawn, but exposed soil between germination and establishment makes it vulnerable to weeds. Although chemical weed preventers have different mixtures and instructions, you should not apply them while seeding or immediately afterward. You must allow one to four months between applying this type of chemical and spreading seed.
Cool-season grasses are usually seeded, as opposed to warm-season grasses that usually need to be grown from sod or plugs. Because cool-season grass seeds germinate best in fall, apply your chemical preventer in spring to actively kill off weeds in spring and summer. In general, temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit are good for weed preventer application. Hot days often cause the chemicals to vaporize into the atmosphere, reducing their effectiveness. By the time fall seeding weather arrives, the chemicals are no longer active and the grass seeds will be able to sprout.
Even if you time your weed preventer and seeding periods correctly, you need to do the job right to get an even lawn with no bare patches. Apply seeds uniformly across your yard using a drop spreader on a mild fall day. Spread up to 1-inch of organic mulch over the seeds to conserve moisture and encourage germination. Water the seeds at least twice a day for short, 10-minute sessions. You do not want to wash away the seeds, but they need consistent moisture to grow. Hand pull any weeds that appear while the grass seedlings develop. Do not apply any chemicals for weed control.
Avoid the need for weed preventers by keeping your lawn healthy. Once established, only water your turf once a week during the growing season. Up to 1 inch of water during this watering session allows roots to search deeply for moisture to create strong grass. Shallow grass roots die in stressful conditions, like drought, and allow weeds to grow in thinned spots. Allow your turf to grow to a healthy height as well, typically between 1 and 3 inches, depending on the species. Long grass blades mean the grass can produce enough energy to stay healthy and compete with weeds. In short, healthy and well-maintained grass has less problems with weed growth.
Chemical weed preventers, also called preemergent herbicides, are usually granules or liquids, but both require water to work. As the preventer soaks into the ground, it leaves a residual film in the top 1-inch of soil. Because most seeds germinate at or just below the soil’s surface, these preemergent herbicides remain active against any germination processes for up to four months, depending on the chemicals involved. Organic weed preventers work in a similar way. With many weeds being members of the grass family, all seeds, including desired lawn species, fail to germinate and sprout after you’ve used a weed preventer.
Cool-season turfgrasses grow best with average soil temperatures between 60 and 75 Fahrenheit. Cool-season grasses thrive in the cooler climates of the Midwest and Northern regions of the United States. Some cool-season grasses are Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall and hard fescue.
Fertilizers can also contain secondary elements and micronutrients needed for healthy growth such as sulfur, calcium, magnesium, boron, iron, molybdenum, zinc, copper, chloride, nickel, and manganese.
Granular weed and feed covers more area, often 5,000 square feet or more, and are available in 18-lb bags and larger. Granular versions offer a better value for your money, but you do need to water your lawn after application for it to penetrate the grass.
Type of Turf Grass
The good news is that if your lawn looks a bit drab and weedy, you can bring it back to life by using “weed and feed” fertilizers and herbicides. Designed to introduce essential nutrients into the ground that accelerate the growth of your grass, these products help you maintain thick and healthy turf, while minimizing pesky lawn weeds.
Weed-and-feed products come in two forms: liquid and granular. Although the liquid forms are easier to apply and provide faster results, it’s more economical to use the granular form. Spray or liquid weed and feed are designed for small yards.
In general, grass species are divided into two categories: warm season and cool season. The seasons do not refer to the time of year, but the climate and average soil temperature range.
Warm-season turfgrasses grow best with average soil temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm-season grasses thrive in warmer climates found in the Southeastern and Southwestern United States and include Bahia grass, Bermuda grass, carpet grass, Saint Augustine grass, and zoysia grass (Japanese lawn grass).
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