How Soon After Seeding Can You Weed And Feed

The first greens shoots are appearing after planting grass seed, but you may be wondering when it's safe to walk on the green patches. Here's what you need to know about seeding and mowing your fresh new lawn. From April SportsTurf “Q&A with Pamela Sherratt: Q: We are getting ready to overseed our soccer field this spring. What weed control options are there? A: Successfully growing cool-season turf from seed in the spring can be a challenge because the weed pressure is so great, which is one if the reasons why the recommended

How Long After Planting Grass Seed Can You Walk On It Or Mow It?

Timing is crucial for watering, mowing, and walking on the lawn after planting grass seeds in good soil. The right timing creates a lush grass carpet, but mowing too soon or watering too late may have the opposite effect.

We’re here to answer your gardening questions on the best lawn care for fragile grass sprouts. One lush lawn care secret is to wait before mowing the lawn, giving new grass a fair chance to grow to a decent height and strength. I know when the grass starts to sprout across the yard, it’s easy to get excited and eager to fire up the lawn mower – but it’s not yet time. A few things need to happen before new grass in your front or back lawn is ready for mowing.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE SEEDED GRASS TO GROW?

How long does it take for new grass to thicken?

It takes about two months for new grass plants to thicken and cover bare patches. The type of grass sprouts varies in germination length, but it takes on average about two weeks. For example, Perennial rye germinates after 5-7 days and is the right height for mowing within three weeks to a month. Carpetgrass, however, takes 2-3 weeks to germinate, and you’ll have to wait with the mower for about two months after seeding. Some turf-grass types like St. Augustustine grow from sod or plugs.

Lawn grass and turf grass need nutrient-rich soil. One way to thicken the grass is lawn fertilizer. Make sure you use starter lawn fertilizer on seedlings that promote healthy root growth. Avoid using lawn fertilizer for established grass on overseeding because the formula might be too strong and burn the sprouts.

When can you cut grass after seeding?

Wait until the grass has strengthened before you mow the lawn. It takes about four weeks for grass seeds to germinate. If you cut too soon, the mower blades and wheels will pull the grass sprouts out of the ground because the seedlings haven’t had enough time to establish a root system. Mowing too soon also results in poor root spread; the lawn mower compacts the soil, and seedlings aren’t strong enough to push through.

HOW DO I WATER MY LAWN FOR THE BEST GRASS?

How soon after cutting grass should you water?

If your lawn needs moisture, water it after you’ve mowed the lawn. The best time to water lawns is early in the morning before the sun is too intense. When watering early in the morning, the ground stays cooler during the day, providing less stress on the grass. If you water late in the day, the water evaporates quickly, and the wind blows it away from the turf. Wet grass is more susceptible to fungus and mildew at night.

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How many hours should you water your lawn?

Grass and plant seeds need lots of water to grow. If it is hot, you’ll probably need to water them twice a day; otherwise, daily should be sufficient. Keep the top 1/4 inch of topsoil moist when overseeding; it helps to establish strong roots.

Beautiful lawns need about 1-1.5 inches of water per week. Water established seedlings 2-3 times per week instead of daily. It takes about 20 minutes of watering three times per week to maintain an inch of moist soil. Sweltering days require longer watering to avoid heat stress.

Is it bad to water new grass every day?

No, if you are overseeding or seeding in bare patches. Water heavily after overseeding to wash seeds into the sparse areas. For the next 10-14 days, keep the soil moist by watering daily one inch deep. After germination, water three times per week and for more extended periods for deeper root growth. When the new grass is established, water according to the recommendations for the type of grass planted.

By watering deeply 2-3 times per week, the roots grow deep, making the lawn more drought-resistant and thicker. Daily watering of an established lawn creates shallow grassroots that result in week turf that won’t withstand harsh weather.

WHAT IS THE RIGHT GRASS HEIGHT FOR A HEALTHY LAWN?

Can cutting grass too short kill it?

Yes, if you cut your grass too short, it can die. It may be tempting to cut the lawn short, so you don’t have to mow the lawn that often. However, if you cut new grass too short, you remove most of the photosynthesizing grass leaf blades; the turf drains the energy stored in the roots, leading to starvation.

When cutting grass too short, the established lawn can’t protect new grass seed against germinating weed seeds or heat stress. The soil won’t stay moist without the shade provided by the regular lawn, and the new grass blades are exposed to the air without protection.

WHAT ARE PROPER MOWING TECHNIQUES?

Can I mow after overseeding?

It is better to wait a couple of weeks before you mow after overseeding. As mentioned above, seedlings have a growth period for grass establishment. Wait with the mower until the turf height is about 3-4 inches. Then mow a third of the height each time.

Use the grass clippings as mulch for garden beds or lawns to help protect the yard from heat.

Can you walk on the lawn after overseeding?

No, it would be best if you didn’t walk on any lawns after overseeding. New grass is as fragile a new plants; seedlings need to establish a robust root system in the soil. If you want a lush lawn, then wait until the lawn is about 2-3 inches in height before walking on it.

READY TO MOW?!

With grass blades at the right height, what are you waiting for – it’s time for the following lawn care step.

  • Mow high, about a third of the blade height, to encourage deep roots.
  • Make sure the blades are sharp to avoid ripping or tearing.
  • Take care to maintain 2-3 inches height to avoid invading weeds and compaction.
  • Mow in various directions to keep the grass upright; cutting in one direction only results in blades laying down and compacting into the soil.
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Weed control during spring seeding

From April SportsTurf “Q&A with Pamela Sherratt:

Q: We are getting ready to overseed our soccer field this spring. What weed control options are there?

A: Successfully growing cool-season turf from seed in the spring can be a challenge because the weed pressure is so great, which is one if the reasons why the recommended time to do renovation is in the fall. In the real world however, athletic fields are in a constant state of renovation and so seeding is a season-long operation.

Weeds that emerge in spring, like crabgrass, prostrate knotweed, yellow nutsedge, goosegrass and annual bluegrass are particularly troublesome on athletic fields because they can germinate and establish quickly, even on compacted soils. Weed seed present in the soil is laying dormant just waiting for an opportunity under the right environmental and cultural conditions to invade a weakened turf with bare soil. Because weed pressure is so great in the spring and early summer months, it is important that the soil is not disturbed (avoid tilling as this will bring up weed seeds) and that the seedbed be treated with an herbicide that does not adversely affect germination of the desired grass seed.

There are several approaches to using an herbicide during the seed establishment period. Following is a summary of those options, based on years of herbicide trial work by Dr. Dave Gardner. One strategy is to seed in early spring and then after the seedling turf has established, apply an herbicide with pre and early postemergence activity, such as dithiopyr (Dimension, others*). This strategy requires very careful timing, and on most athletic surfaces, overseeding is not a once per year operation. Once the application of dithiopyr is made, as is the case with most preemergence herbicides, future overseeding operations must be delayed according to the label.

In fact, on areas that you plan on seeding or over-seeding in late spring or summer, hopefully you did not apply a preemergence herbicide. If you did, then be aware that almost all of the preemergence herbicides on the market are very effective at controlling not only weed seedlings, but also the seedlings of our desired turfgrasses. Fortunately, there are three preemergence herbicides that are labeled for use at seeding time: siduron (Tupersan), mesotrione (Tenacity), and topramazone (Pylex).

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Siduron has been available for use in turf for many years. It is safe for use on seedling turf. Follow the label directions carefully. When used properly, siduron will reduce crabgrass, goosegrass, foxtail, and many summer annual broadleaf weeds by about 80%.

Mesotrione is in a unique class of chemistry and this product has a very diverse label, including pre- and postemergence control of both broadleaf weeds and annual grasses. It also controls sedges preemergence and certain perennial weedy grasses postemergence. One of its key uses is the preemergence control of annual grassy and broadleaf weeds in newly seeded turfgrass. When used as directed, mesotrione will result in nearly complete control of crabgrass, goosegrass, foxtail, and many summer annual broadleaf weeds. But, it will not affect the growth and development of the seedling turf. Most effective use of this product is to apply it to the soil surface right after the seeds have been raked in but before mulch is applied.

You can then begin to irrigate as you normally would to establish seedling turfgrass. Mesotrione is very safe to seedling turf. However, some phytotoxicity has been reported if it is applied to young turfgrass seedlings. If you are using multiple applications of mesotrione as part of a program to control stubborn weeds, such as creeping bentgrass, then you want to avoid overseeding or reseeding the area until you are making your last mesotrione application. In other words, it is better to wait and reseed with the second or third mesotrione application, then to seed when the first round of mesotrione is being applied.

Topramazone is a more recent introduction to the turfgrass market. It is similar to mesotrione in its weed control spectrum and its safety to seedling turfgrass. Make sure to follow the label recommendations carefully.

After the seed has germinated there is a period of time in which your options for weed control become limited. Most postemergence herbicides for broadleaf weed control have language on the label that states that following seeding, the turf needs to be sufficiently established so that it has been mowed three times before the product can be safely used.

All of the herbicides mentioned in this column are good products and can be quite effective. You can help to improve your chances of success by avoiding the 2-4 week period each year that is the peak of germination for the particular weed species that dominate your fields. For example, each of these products is quite effective at reducing weed establishment when seeding or over-seeding in July when weed competition begins to drop off. However, each of these products can produce less than complete weed control if used in mid to late May. This is more likely to be a problem if the May timing is in conjunction with seeding a slower to germinate species such as Kentucky bluegrass. By simply waiting a couple of weeks (or seeding a couple of weeks earlier), weed seed competition may be greatly reduced, which further increases your chances of success when seeding or overseeding.

*Mention of a specific product does not constitute an endorsement over other products that may be similar