Seeding of the lawn can be done at any time, although it is highly recommend to be done in the fall. The seeding process is all about timing in the pick or How to take care of a lawn after you've put down the seed. Loyalty Lawn Care provides the St. Louis area with professional lawn care services.
The Seeding Process
Whether you are starting with an existing lawn or have some grass established, seeding is always a process that takes time and patience. The mix of weed control and seed is a very fine balance which usually involves picking one or the other. This process can go a couple different ways depending on the time of year that this process is set to start, it can also take several years to get the results expected.
Starting the process off in spring can be tricky. Spring is the time of year that weeds are most prevalent and the best time to control them or prevent them. Pre-emergent needs to be down in the spring before the soil temperatures reach a consistent 55 degrees to help prevent crab grass from germinating. In the spring months, we highly recommend using weed control over doing the seeding. A full season of the lawn care program will get the weeds under control before planning a fall seeding. The more weeds that are under control, the easier the seed will germinate and grow.
Spring Start – Fall Seeding
After the fall seeding has been completed, it is crucial to follow the recommendations given on caring for the newly seeded lawn. The quicker the seed germinates and begins to grow; the better off the lawn will be the next year. In the following year, TurfGator recommends continuing the lawn care program beginning with the pre-emergent barrier during the early spring application. Without mature enough grass, this barrier cannot go down until the second lawn application which could allow more crabgrass to germinate than if this barrier had gone down during the first lawn application.
Spring Start – Spring Seeding
While spring is a good time to seed, be aware that there will be a struggle with weeds throughout the year. With a spring seeding, weeds cannot be controlled at all until early summer. Our commercial grade weed control products will interfere with the new grass seedlings, as well as prevent seed from germinating. Once the grass is mature enough, our post-emergent weed control sprays can be used to help get the weeds under control.
First of all, we recommend doing the fall aeration and overseeding in the current year. We are not concerned as much with the weeds lingering from the summer such as crabgrass, spurge, and nutsedge because they are about to stress out and die from cool fall temperatures. These weeds are annual weeds meaning that just because they grew there this year, does not mean they will automatically grow there next year.
Also, if your home is a new build, the compacted bare dirt is a breeding ground for these summer weeds. The fall weeds that are present or popping up will only last a little while before the winter temperatures stress them out too. Also, by putting an aerator on the lawn our technicians will be puncturing and tearing up the weeds, which will also stress them out and kill them. Any “skeletons” left from dead weeds should be left where they lay, as they will act as a natural straw blanket and help protect your seed and new seedlings.
Our technicians will leave you a care sheet on how to take care of your newly seeded lawn, we recommend following this sheet as closely as possible to get the best germination this year, rather than the seed germinating next year.
Fall Start – The Following Year
In the following year, the full 7-application lawn care program of fertilizer and weed control in will get the weeds more controlled throughout the year. For the first lawn application (March through early April) we will apply a pre-emergent barrier which helps prevent crabgrass and other grassy weeds from germinating. The sooner we can get this down the better; this is why it is so important to follow our seeding care sheet to get the grass to germinate this year, rather than next. If the grass is not mature enough at the 1 st application, we will need to wait until the second application (April through early June) to apply the pre-emergent or spray for any weeds. If the pre-emergent barrier is not down before crabgrass starts germinating, some may pop and grow within the lawn which is more difficult to treat rather than prevent.
Seed, Treat, Repeat
Regardless of when the first seeding was done, we recommend aerating and overseeding again the following fall to help thicken the lawn even more and introduce new life into it. This will also help fill any bare or thin areas in the lawn where weeds have died off. The thicker the lawn, the fewer weeds are present.
We would recommend following the lawncare program in the future years to continue to control weeds and fertilize the lawn, we then recommend assessing the lawn during the summer months to determine if the lawn will need the aeration & overseeding yet again that fall. At this point, it may not be completely necessary if all the thin & bare spots are pretty well filled in, but it would still be highly beneficial to the lawn to introduce the new life and continue the thickening process. Once the lawn is well established, we recommend aerating every year to keep the soil loose and highly recommend seeding every year, or at least every other year to build or maintain the thickness.
The processes set out above should get you the results you are looking for over time, with care and patience. The owner of TurfGator has actually gone through this same process for their own personal lawn, as well as the lawns of their neighbors, and several other customers. Each of those processes averaged out to be about 3 years to get a full turn around.
Unfortunately, there is no seeding method that will give the lawn a sod-like appearance just from doing it once, seeding is a process rather than a one-time result so unless you are willing to pay the money for sod, growing a new lawn from scratch is a process, no matter which method is taken.
To Sum It Up
Seeding of the lawn can be done at any time, although it is highly recommend to be done in the fall. Timing is everything in the pick or choose balancing game of weed control and seeding. These recommendations are valid for new lawns, as well as for the reseeding established lawns.
It is 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.
Care and Maintenance of a Lawn after Seeding
Care after lawn renovation, for at least the first two months, is important for successful seeding. Changing weather patterns in Maryland including warmer than normal temperatures in late summer and fall, fluctuating periods of very wet, and then very dry weather are making seeding more challenging even during the recommended time for lawn projects. Seeding in the fall and then again in the spring may be necessary for a thicker lawn if all of the seed did not germinate and grow with your first attempt.
is critical to successful lawn establishment. Once wet and seed germination has begun do not let the seed dry out. Postpone reseeding an area during a drought if irrigation cannot be provided.
- A newly seeded lawn requires daily watering during dry periods.
- When conditions are windy and dry, the planted area may require several light waterings a day. Pay special attention to soil moisture on hot, windy days, when humidity is low.
- Sandy soils dry out quickly and require more frequent irrigation. Watering with a light mist is best. The idea is to keep the top layer of soil moist but not saturated.
- As seedlings grow and mature, the frequency of watering is decreased, but the duration of watering is increased. The water now needs to be available at the root zone and should penetrate the soil so that the top 4-6 inches of soil is moist.
- It is best to water earlier in the day so leaf blades do not remain wet overnight.
is an important part of a lawn maintenance program that is often overlooked. Mowing lawns too short (scalping), or infrequently, causes grass to become susceptible to drought injury, weed infestations (especially crabgrass), and foot traffic injury.
- Begin to mow the new turf when it reaches a height one-third higher than the normal mowing height (e.g., if a 3-inch height is desired, mow when the turf reaches 4 inches). Typically, under optimum growing conditions, this is four to six weeks after seeding. And when mowing during the season follow the “one-third” rule. Remove only one-third of the vegetation (measure from the soil line to the blade tips) at each mowing. Removing too much of the leaf blade at each cutting stresses the new lawn.
- Soil should be dry enough so that ruts are not formed by the wheels of the lawnmower.
- Mower blades should be sharp, so a clean cut is made.
- Generally, mowing needs to be done on a weekly basis during the growing season.
applied according to soil test results during the initial seeding period is sufficient for 6-8 weeks. Follow-up applications of fertilizer are made as part of a regular maintenance program. For cool-season turf, if the seeding was done in the fall, fertilizer cannot be applied later than November 15th. For seed sown in spring, do not apply after June 1st. Refer to the University of Maryland Extension home lawn fertilizer schedule.
- Tilling the seedbed exposes dormant weed seeds to water and light prompting them to start to grow. Competition from weeds is greatest on turf sown in early spring. Hand pull the weeds in small areas.
- Grass seedlings are sensitive to chemical injury, so broadleaf herbicides should not be applied until the lawn has been mowed at least three or four times. Follow label directions.
- Young seedlings are easily injured. Newly seeded areas should be restricted from foot traffic for a least a month after the seed has germinated or until the new lawn has been mowed at least a couple of times.
By Debra Ricigliano, Maryland Certified Professional Horticulturist, University of Maryland Extension Home and Garden Information Center (HGIC), 2019. Reviewed and edited by Jon Traunfeld, HGIC Director.
Based on HGIC publication HG 102 Lawn Establishment, Renovation, and Overseeding
Do Not Seed in Spring Because of Pre-emergent
Whether your lawn is a small patch of grass or several acres, it’s important to take care of it properly to keep it healthy all year long. The pros at Loyalty Lawn Care know the tips and tricks to keep your lawn green. But what about grassy weeds like crabgrass and foxtail? These pesky plant pests can overtake an otherwise healthy lawn and cause problems aside from the obvious visual concerns. The best way to ensure that these grassy weeds don’t ruin the look or health of your lawn is to use pre-emergent.
What is pre-emergent?
Often used alongside fertilizer, pre-emergent is not fertilizer itself. Instead, it is an herbicide that works to prevent grassy weed seeds from germinating. The reason that it is used in conjunction with fertilizer is because the latter is an effective carrier agent for the pre-emergent to bind to. This product is often referred to as weed and feed.
Should I add pre-emergent to my newly seeded lawn?
In a word, no. Because newly seeded lawns are still germinating, the pre-emergent can affect germination in the process. More mature lawns are sturdier against the herbicide, so it’s best to wait at least 4 months after planting the lawn to apply the pre-emergent. If you are unsure about the best timeline to follow for your lawn, don’t hesitate to reach out to Loyalty Lawn Care with your questions.
When should I apply pre-emergent?
Like many things when it comes to your yard, pre-emergent has seasonality to it. It’s most ideal to apply a pre-emergent herbicide before the temperature of the top 4 inches of soil reaches 55 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 5 days in a row. This translates to daytime highs of the upper 60’s to mid-70s for the same amount of time. We recommend considering a pre-emergent application in the late winter to early spring to maximize its effectiveness.
Every pre-emergent product is a bit different, but you can expect a single treatment to last approximately 3-5 months.
Can I overseed after applying pre-emergent?
While it is best to over seed in fall, after applying your preemergent, it’s important to give your lawn some time to for the product to lose its effectiveness before moving on to the next step. Therefore you shouldn’t be overseeding immediately after applying this herbicide – it’s best to wait at least 4 months between. If you must seed sooner some detailed prep work must be completed to assure you have a quality seed bed that won’t be harmed by the pre-emergent herbicide.
Have more questions about your lawn and the intricacies of keeping it green? Contact Loyalty Lawn Care with all your lawn care questions today.