Seed Or Weed And Feed First

Learn the difference between pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides, when you should apply them, plus how to apply weed and feed. If your lawn failed to live up to expectations this summer, don’t wait until next spring to take action. The late summer/early fall season is a great time to rejuvenate your lawn. It’s important to keep in mind that even the most attractive lawns don’t look that way on their own. Creating and caring for a beautiful lawn takes time and effort. Performing a few key maintenance

Pre-Emergent, Post-Emergent, and Weed & Feed: What’s the difference?

Weeds can haunt even the most meticulously maintained lawn. Luckily, the list of herbicides available for homeowners is extensive. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to decipher the difference in products. We’re here to help you differentiate between pre- and post-emergent herbicides and simplify your weed control.

An Herbicide Discussion

Watch the video below to see Super-Sod’s own Shannon Hathaway discuss pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicides in her class titled “Proper Care of Warm Season Lawns.” Shannon answers questions from her pupils and gives recommendations for tackling weeds such as nutsedge and clover.

Pre-Emergent Herbicides

Pre-emergents attack weed seeds before they have a chance to germinate. This means you interrupt the growing process before weeds even become visible. With pre-emergent, you are taking preventative measures.

When to apply pre-emergent herbicides : Pre-emergents are applied in the winter before green-up and in the fall to prevent weed seeds from germinating. However, they’ll be a waste of money after your weeds have already appeared. In a typical year in the Southeast, apply pre-emergent between February 15 and March 1 for summer weed prevention and again between late September and early October for winter weed prevention.

Forsythia is the signal : Want a visual reminder of the best time to apply pre-emergent in winter? Forsythia, a shrub with yellow flowers, is a natural indicator for pre-emergent applications. When you see forsythia beginning to bloom, you know it’s time to tackle weed prevention for the spring.

Treatment Options : Visit your local Super-Sod store to discover the right products to protect your lawn from weeds. For those not near Super-Sod, some products we like are 0-0-7 with Stonewall and Hi Yield. Always check the pre-emergent label to guarantee your grass type is listed and you treat your lawn properly.

Post-Emergent Herbicides

Post-emergent herbicides are instrumental in knocking out those pesky weeds once they’ve surfaced for the spring.

When to apply post-emergent herbicides: When weeds start popping up around your lawn, start searching for post-emergent products for the spring and summer.

How to identify weeds: To identify the type of weed you have, take a picture or a sample and show it to your local Extension agent who can help you identify the culprit. If you would rather turn to technology, you can download the ID Weeds app, available for free download on both Apple and Android devices. This helps you identify the weed by selecting plant characteristics to narrow down the species. To identify weeds common to your stateor geographic region, check out Preen’s Weed ID website or PBI Gordon Corp’s These sites provide herbicide product recommendations, but be sure to shop around and call your local Super-Sod to ensure you purchase an herbicide that’s approved for your grass type.

Treatment options: To treat your lawn, drop by your local Super-Sod for products that will eliminate the weed(s) . If you’re not near a Super-Sod, visit a garden center to select a post-emergent herbicide. Wherever you pick up your post-emergent, be sure to read the label carefully and follow instructions. Check the label to confirm the herbicide is safe to use on the type of lawn you have!

Weed and Feed: Herbicide and Fertilizer

We’ve discussed pre-emergents and post-emergents, but we haven’t touched on the elusive “weed and feed” that is so popular for fighting off weeds and helping your lawn simultaneously. Weed and feed products are those that contain both fertilizer and herbicide for your lawn.

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Is weed and feed a pre-emergent or a post-emergent? Weed and feed can contain either pre- or post-emergent herbicides. It’s important to read the label to determine which kind your weed and feed contains. If your weed and feed contains pre-emergent herbicides it will likely have “prevent” or “preventative” on the label. This means you should apply it to your lawn in winter or fall, as explained above in the pre-emergent section.

Weed and Feed on Warm Season Lawns (Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede ): If applying a weed and feed to a warm season lawn in the winter or fall, b e sure the weed and feed formula you use does not contain any nitrogen. Applying nitrogen to your Bermuda, Zoysia, or Centipede before your lawn has completely greened up or at the end of the growing season while it’s entering dormancy will damage your grass. To check this, make sure the first number in your fertilizer formula is zero (i.e., 0-0-7).

Weed and Feed on Cool Season Lawns (Tall Fescue): It is okay to apply a weed and feed with Nitrogen to tall fescue in spring and fall. Avoid nitrogen on Tall Fescue from June through August.

Staying on Schedule

Now that you know the difference in herbicides, you can keep up with your fertilizer and weed control schedules by finding your grass variety on our Lawn Maintenance Guides and following the recommendations.

If you would like reminders each month about weed control and other lawn maintenance practices, join our Monthly Lawn Tips email list.

Late Summer is Time to Rejuvenate Your Lawn

If your lawn failed to live up to expectations this summer, don’t wait until next spring to take action. The late summer/early fall season is a great time to rejuvenate your lawn. It’s important to keep in mind that even the most attractive lawns don’t look that way on their own. Creating and caring for a beautiful lawn takes time and effort. Performing a few key maintenance practices now will help get your lawn back in shape and prepare it for next spring and summer. Controlling perennial weeds, fertilizing, establishing new turf with seed and aeration are basic maintenance practices commonly performed during the next couple of months.

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Controlling perennial weeds – Annual weeds such as crabgrass and goosegrass die with the first hard frost in the fall. Weeds with annual lifecycles should be controlled during the spring and early summer months. Perennial broadleaf weeds such as dandelion, ground ivy (creeping Charlie), white clover, and broadleaf plantain are best controlled during the fall months as temperatures cool (Picture 1). While these weeds may be removed by hand, such control often is temporary as the weeds will regenerate from deep taproots or special creeping stems called stolons. Broadleaf herbicides provide the best control and may be applied as a spray or be packaged with a granular fertilizer in a “weed-n-feed” type product. Make sure the purchased product controls the weeds present in your lawn and always apply according to the directions.

Thicken existing turf with fertilizer – One of the best strategies to control weeds is by having a healthy, thick lawn. However, most lawns struggle to grow during the hot, summer months especially if rainfall is scarce and the lawn is not irrigated. Many times by the end of summer the turf declines to the point that bare soil is exposed (Picture 2). Fertilizer can help stimulate the growth of the existing turf and help fill-in the thin spots. Two or three fertilizer applications may be applied during the next couple of months depending on the level of recovery that is required. Often, the final fertilizer application is made after the grass has stopped growing. This strategy is known as “late fall fertilization” and will help your lawn develop a stronger root system and green-up faster the following spring.

Establish new turf with seed – Sowing seed may be necessary if your lawn has been damaged to the extent that the growth of the turf (even with fertilizer) will not be sufficient to fill-in areas of exposed soil (Picture 3). Seed germinates readily in late summer/early fall if the seedbed is kept moist. The type of seed purchased depends on the landscape. Use Kentucky bluegrass alone or mixed with perennial ryegrass if your lawn receives full sun. If the lawn receives both sun and shade, use a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine fescue. Fine fescue should be used alone in areas that receive heavy shade. Difficult growing areas such as a boulevard or areas surrounded by concrete can be sown primarily with tall fescue mixed with a small amount of Kentucky bluegrass.

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Aeration – Consider aerating the lawn if extensive seeding is necessary. Aeration removes cores of soil without disrupting the turf canopy. Pass over the area at least two times, each in a different direction. Apply fertilizer and seed to the area and lightly water the area to moisten the soil surface. Seed will filter into the holes and germinate. Aerification is also routinely performed during the fall months to loosen soil which has been compacted from heavy traffic and to prevent thatch accumulation. Thatch is a layer of organic debris which forms between the soil surface and turf canopy (Picture 4). Too much thatch causes many problems, including poor rooting and increased disease activity.

Contacts :
Marcus Jones, Horticulture, (515) 294- 2751, [email protected]
Richard Jauron, Horticulture, (515) 294-1871, [email protected]
Cynthia Haynes , Horticulture, (515) 294-4006, [email protected]
Willy Klein, Extension Communications and External Relations, (515) 294-0662, [email protected]

Four high resolution photos are available for use with this article:
0911perennialweeds.jpg Caption: Perennial weeds such as dandelion (A), ground ivy (B), white clover (C), and broadleaf plantain (D) are best controlled during the fall as temperatures cool. Herbicides applied in the fall are readily absorbed and move throughout the weed and into the root system for complete control.
0911baresoil.JPG Caption: Fertilizers will help turf recover that has declined during the summer months. Fertilizer applications will help stimulate the turf to grow and fill-in areas of exposed soil.
0911preparesoil.JPG Caption: The fall months are the ideal time to establish new turf from seed. Small areas can be sown by scratching the soil surface with a garden trowel and evenly spreading seed over the area. Firm the soil with your foot or tamp and lightly water to moisten the soil surface.
0911thatch.jpg Caption: Thatch is an organic layer which forms between the soil surface and turf canopy. Aerification is routinely performed to remove excessive layers of thatch.