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do i need to remove dead weeds before seeding

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Apologies in advance if this is a duplicate; I have read some other similar questions but each scenario is so individual that it is hard to know exactly which advice to apply.

But he did seem to be right about the front – we moved in the winter, and in the spring no grass grew there – it was all weeds. Once it got cold, the weeds all died, and now the lawn on one side of my house is nice green grass, and on the other side it’s all brown dead weeds.

My yard, which is all in front and to the side of the house, is broken into smaller areas. One small area, on the shady side of the house, has a beautiful lush lawn that stays green all winter and grows nicely in the summer with minimal watering. The other side, which has no shade at all, has no grass at all and, it looks like, very poor (sandy) soil.

I don’t want to use herbicides, and I’m ok with some weeds in my lawn. I don’t need the ‘perfect’ lawn, I just want it to be soft and green in most areas – I don’t mind if it’s not perfectly lush everywhere. Last year, we removed a patio, mixed compost and topsoil into the sand underneath, and hand-seeded grass. I was pretty happy with the results – there was a fair amount of weed growth, but mostly where the grass seed had not been planted thickly enough. If I can get the same results in the rest of the yard, I’m happy.

The previous owner (we moved here two years ago) breezily assured us that ‘every spring, you just sprinkle some grass seed, get a truck to dump some top soil on top, and that’s all.’ Knowing nothing about lawns (this is our first house), we accepted that.

Spring’s arrival signals the start of fierce competition between grass and weeds in a lawn. A cool-season grass like tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) specifically recommended for coastal climates, takes six to eight weeks to establish, so you’ll need to put weed eradication, soil prep and planting on the fast track before warmer weather kicks in. The U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 7 grass comes in heat-tolerant blends suited to USDA zones 8 through 10. Warm-season grasses, such as zoysia (Zoysia spp.), which grows in USDA zones 8 through to 10 allows more prep time. It’s best sown from midspring to midsummer.

Don’t seed a weedy yard. Kill, till and fill first. Begin by tidying the area and removing dead plant material, but wait for signs of growth, including sprouting and greening, to identify and zap remaining weeds. Use a combination herbicide-fertilizer, selective or nonselective weed killer based on the severity of the weed problem and amount of salvageable yard. Honor the specific waiting period listed on product labels, generally two to six weeks, before aerating, amending and seeding.

Race for Space

Rake the top few inches of exposed soil or aerate the lawn using rake tines or a handheld or mechanical aerator. This creates drainage holes that let the soil breathe. An inexpensive soil test will help you figure out which amendments you need to use to improve soil quality. In bare areas where you want a lawn, spread and work into the soil 50 pounds of lime, 20 pounds of 5-10-5 fertilizer and 1 inch of compost per 1,000 feet.

Weed-and-feed products kill two birds with one stone in lawns. Set your spreader to broadcast the recommended amount, for example 2.9 pounds of granules per 1,000 square feet, on a pre-moistened lawn or mix liquid concentrate at a rate of 26 tablespoons per 1 gallon of water in a sprayer to cover the same area. Choose a day when rain isn’t forecast for 24 hours.

Choose a selective or broad-spectrum product that kills the weeds you’re targeting. Calculate square footage, multiplying area width by length, to figure how much you’ll need. For example, for liquid concentrate 2,4-D, which targets broad leaf weeds but won’t kill desirable grass, use 6 to 8 tablespoons in 1 to 3 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet, equal to a 20- by 50-foot space. Broad-spectrum ready-to-use glyphosate sprays kill everything and is a better choice for areas where you need to get rid of a weedy mess. You can cover 400 square feet with a 1.33-gallon trigger-spray container. Thoroughly wet the weed leaves, applying on a calm day to prevent drift.