Weed And Feed Or Seed First

Schedule for taking care of lawns and cool season grasses in Minnesota Should I Fertilize Or Seed First? Why should your fertilize first? What are the best fertilizers to use? Read on for this and more tips. Seeding & Fertilizing Missouri Lawns: One Size Does Not Fit All Spring has kicked into full gear, and a number of targeted advertisements have been released which are aimed at rousing us out of

Lawn care calendar

It is important to schedule lawn care maintenance during times that match the life cycle of the turfgrass.

  • Do not add fertilizer too early in the spring. This may encourage the grass to grow during a time when it should be slow or dormant.
  • Do not spray to control weeds when temperatures are warm. This increases the likelihood of damaging the lawn.
  • Do not fertilize in hot mid-summer months. This can cause irreversible damage to your lawn.
  • Manage how much water you use and water lawns at the right time to keep them healthy.

Minnesota lawns of cool season turfgrasses bear the stress of changing weather and can survive harsh winters.

These grasses endure throughout the seasons because they grow rapidly during spring and fall when temperatures are cool and then become inactive during the heat and drought of summer.

A sustainable lawn care routine should support this natural life cycle of cool season grasses.

Seasonal plant growth cycle

In early spring, roots are long and full of nutrients stored from the fall. Shoots, the part of grass visible above ground, use this stored energy for growth.

In warm summer temperatures, leaf and root growth slow down. Plants rest during times of heat and drought. Roots can be damaged when soil temperatures are above 85°F.

In the fall months shoots start to grow again and nutrients are stored in the long roots for the winter. Optimal shoot growth occurs with air temperatures of 55 to 75°F.

Cool-season root growth is stimulated by soil temperatures above 32°F, and is optimal with soil temperatures between 50 and 65°F.

When to schedule lawn maintenance

It is important to schedule your lawn care maintenance during times that match the life cycle of the turfgrass.

  • Do not add fertilizer too early in the spring. This may encourage the grass to grow during a time when it should be slow or dormant.
  • Do not spray to control weeds when temperatures are warm. This increases the likelihood of damaging the lawn.
  • Do not fertilize in hot mid-summer months. This can cause irreversible damage to your lawn.
  • Crabgrass doesn’t develop until late spring or early summer, so don’t apply herbicide used to prevent pre-emerging crabgrass in the fall.

See Water-saving strategies for home lawns for information on how and when to water.

Should I Fertilize Or Seed First? + [More Tips]

A plush, thick lawn is a desirable asset that can turn your property from ordinary to stunning. However, achieving it requires knowledge of the best lawn care practices. The timing of fertilization and deciding should you fertilize or seed first are some of the factors that determine whether you’ll have the lushest lawn.

So, should I fertilize or seed first, you ask!

Fertilize first before seeding to help improve the soil’s health – thereby, promoting optimal growth of your seed. Apply fertilizer and seeds to the existing grass during spring to keep your turf looking lush and green. Use starter fertilizer before seeding to promote healthy, strong roots.

Read on to learn how to fertilize and seed during spring and the benefits this offers to your lawn.

Should I Fertilize Or Seed First?

If you’re planning to seed a lawn, you shouldn’t apply the seed and fertilizer together. The reason is that it can cause an irregular distribution of the materials ensuing in patchy areas. Excess fertilizer may burn the seedlings, though. Therefore, to be extra careful, it’s advisable to apply fertilizer before planting your seeds.

  • Use a 5-10-5 potassium, phosphorous, nitrogen starter fertilizer per every 25sq feet of lawn. Measure the total amount of fertilizer required to cover the whole planting area.
  • Next, start applying the fertilizer from one corner of your planting site, pushing the spreader back and forth horizontally. Work your way crosswise, overlapping the spreader’s wheels on the outer track of the previous row to warrant even the coverage.
  • Empty the remaining half of the fertilizer into the spreader and start applying from the same corner as done earlier. This time around, push the spreader vertically across your planting area.
  • Using a rake, mix the fertilizer into about 2-4 inches of the soil. Working in uniform rows, pull the rake in even long strokes to ensure that the applied fertilizer remains evenly spread. Ensure that you smoothen the soil’s surface as much as possible.
  • A pre-calculated seeding rate is in pounds per 1,000sq feet. To get the correct quantity of seed you require, divide the number of pounds by 1,000. Then, multiply the figure you get by the square feet in your planting site.
  • Divide the total amount of seed needed into 2 portions. Pour half of the portion into the drop spreader.
  • Push the drop spreader back and forth vertically over the site. It would help if you overlapped the wheels to ensure you don’t miss any spots.
  • Next, pour the second half of the portion into the spread and push it horizontally.
  • Using a weighted roller, push it back and forth horizontally to drive the seed into the soil.
  • Spread a quarter-inch layer of topsoil over the lawn. To moisten the area, apply a quarter-inch of water lightly. Be careful not to wash away the seeds.
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Why Should I Fertilize Before Seeding?

To achieve a blooming lawn, proper feeding of your grass seeds is vital. Even so, ensure that you choose the best grass seed suitable to your landscape depending on factors such as climate and the purpose of the lawn.

Fertilization is the most crucial factor to help improve the health of your lawn. Why? Fertilizers add essential nutrients to the soil that supplement the existing ones.

Some soils are deficient in nutrients critical for a healthy seed growth cycle. Erosion can wash away the soil’s nutrients. Weak soil lacks adequate organic matter to support the proper germination of your grass.

Furthermore, poor soil attracts insects and weeds and is more vulnerable to diseases such as yard fungus. Without a boost from fertilizer, therefore, you’ll most likely end up with a lackluster lawn with dry patches of grass.

Also, be careful not to over-fertilize your lawn. Excessive fertilizer can quickly reach into the soil at a higher rate than the roots’ ability to absorb it.

Over time, the lawn can transform into a cloggy yard with wet grass. These conditions can also encourage weak overgrown turf that contributes to buildup and may force you to mow your lawn too frequently.

Moreover, too much fertilizer can additionally kill the vibrance of your lawn because of dead-looking grass.

Which Type Of Fertilizer Should You Use?

Lawns are living creatures that go through various stages of growth. They also need diverse forms of nutrition to support their development throughout the different stages.

Emerging grass stalks in a new lawn need sufficient nutrients to jump-start their growth. The starter fertilizers have a higher phosphorus percentage which helps promote strong, healthy roots.

When a lawn is in its infancy stages, a starter fertilizer is preferable to a regular fertilizer. Freshly germinated seedlings require high amounts of phosphorus. Phosphorus is a critical ingredient during germination as it stimulates root growth for new seedlings. They also need to release nitrogen very quickly.

After maturity, lawns can thrive with regular fertilizer, which contains lower phosphorus levels. The use of phosphorus is prohibited in some areas unless you are cultivating a new property. Ensure that you follow legal guidelines when choosing a fertilizer for your lawn.

When choosing a fertilizer, it’s essential to consider the NPK Ratio. The ratio informs buyers of the fertilizer’s nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratio content. Each of these nutrients plays a different role in supporting the growth of your grass seeds.

Nitrogen is vital for the growth of leaves and helps your grass look greener. Phosphorus is responsible for the development of roots and stimulating fruit production. Potassium boosts the plants’ immunity and reinforces their ability to withstand extreme environmental conditions.

A bag of fertilizer labeled “10-10-10” therefore means that it contains 10 pounds of each variety of nutrients and the remaining weight as filler.

During application, apply regular fertilizers four to six inches away from the roots of the plants. Starter fertilizers are very strong and can burn parts of the seedlings, such as tender leaves, roots, and stems. Before inserting seeds, ensure you dilute the cup of fertilizer for milder effects.

How To Seed And Fertilize Your Lawn In The Spring?

The best technique to thicken your lawn is to apply the appropriate fertilizer and seeds to the existing grass in spring. A new application of grass seed during the spring allows it to develop well before it becomes too hot in summer.

The fertilizer helps the newly sown seed and the existing grass develop healthily. Once the freshly planted seed becomes established, the lawn becomes thick, welcoming, and green.

  • Mow the lawn so that it’s cropped close to the soil. Using a metal rake, remove any existing thatch.
  • Apply new grass seed uniformly and evenly to the existing turf using a spreader.
  • Apply the starter fertilizer as per the package specifications.
  • Spread a quarter-inch layer of peat moss over the fertilized and seeded turf to help protect the seeds and help them sprout.
  • You should keep the grass consistently moist to help the seeds develop promptly. Continue watering the turf until the new grass is long enough to mow.
  • Apply more fertilizer to the over-seeded garden after 6-8 weeks to progressively deliver the required nutrients to the turf. It helps keep the lawn green and thick.

FAQs

Should I Apply Weed-And-Feed Products Before Or After Seeding?

It’s dangerous to combine weed-and-feed products and fertilizer. When you use herbicides on the lawn before sowing, the chemicals in the products can kill young grass seeds and prevent germination.

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When you use the herbicide before seeding, it’s advisable to wait for 6 weeks before seeding. If you plan to apply the products after planting, wait 6-8 weeks when the lawn has been mowed 4 times before use.

Can You Fertilize During Fall?

The fall season is the ideal time to fertilize your lawn, more so if you’re planting cool-season grass. It allows seeds to be firmly rooted before the cold winter season starts.

Conclusion

A beautiful and well-maintained lawn requires careful preparation. The seeding process must be conducted in a proper way to encourage optimal growth. Fertilizer is an essential addition to your yard to optimize the lushness of your lawn.

However, timing is critical in achieving a balance that gets the most benefits out of the fertilizer. The decision on “should you fertilize or seed first” can be the deal breaker in nurturing your grass.

Also, following a seeding schedule can increase your lawn’s chances of thriving. Squeeze in your fertilization activities between fall and spring to get the best out of the fertilizer.

Ensure your lawn is well maintained and frequently mowed to help the fertilizer bring out the best a perfect set of greens in your landscape.

Seeding & Fertilizing Missouri Lawns: One Size Does Not Fit All

Spring has kicked into full gear, and a number of targeted advertisements have been released which are aimed at rousing us out of our winter doldrums and getting into action in our lawns and gardens. For the most part, this push out the door is a good thing, and results in homeowners taking an active part in their outside environment and providing for the health of their lawn. It is critical to realize, however, that these advertising campaigns are national in nature, and do not take into account the nuances of each geographic region and climate. As any Missourian knows, Missouri’s weather is full of nuances and therefore doesn’t allow for easily contrived blanket statements.

In Missouri, we are situated in the U.S. transition zone, meaning our temperatures vary widely between our winter and summer seasons. Sub-freezing temperatures during fall and winter cause warm-season turfgrasses like bermudagrass and zoysiagrass to go dormant and sometimes (perhaps after this 2014 winter) may result in winterkill. Sweltering summer temperatures cause considerable heat stress to cool-season turfgrasses such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, which can subsequently suffer from severe disease outbreaks. Because of this unique Catch-22, selecting the correct turfgrass species and cultivar that has the highest tolerance to these varying conditions is crucial to a successful lawn. Additionally, timing of fertilizer applications must match the type of grass (warm- or cool-season) that you are managing. The following brief guide is intended to serve as a general guide for decisions regarding lawn seeding and management. For more detailed recommendations, please see MU extension publications G6700, G6705, G6706, and MG10.

Choosing the Right Turfgrass Seed & Planting It at the Right Time

Viewing the broad array of turfgrass seed choices in the home improvement store can be a daunting experience. However, if you know your growing environment, and know what turfgrass species is most suited for Missouri, the process of elimination can be fairly straightforward. For the most part, cool-season turfgrasses are the only lawn grasses that are available to seed. Most warm-season grasses, such as zoysiagrass, will need to be sodded or sprigged and are discussed later.

Several “easy”, or “ as seen on TV” seed products have been recently introduced to the market. These products are marketed nationally and may lead to utilization of turfgrass species that are not suited to the brutal Missouri environment. Pay particular attention to the state-mandated label on the back of every seed bag that describes the variety, turfgrass species (or kind), and amount of seed the package contains.

  • If the variety is “not stated” or “NS”, then beware, as this is often cheaper seed that may come from various sources and is not adequately tested.
  • Secondly, use a turfgrass species suited to Missouri and not to more northern climates. A mixture of red fescue, perennial ryegrass, and Kentucky bluegrass may work in Massachusetts, but would be ill suited to cope with a Missouri summer. Turf-type tall fescue, or a mixture with a very high percentage of this species, should be used here for cool-season lawns.
  • Lastly, check the percentage of inert material that is included in the bag. This could be mulch, fertilizer, or anything else that may improve germination and establishment. However, the inert material is not seed and will impact how much yard area the bag can adequately cover. A single bag of one of these newer products may cost $30 and only cover 250 sq ft. Conversely, a 50 lb bag of an improved tall fescue blend may cost $80 and cover 7,000 sq ft for seeding a new lawn. To seed the equivalent 7,000 sq ft, the new product would cost nearly $1000. A more economical solution would include adequately preparing the seedbed (which should be done either way), irrigating effectively, and applying fertilizer separately.
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Far and away, tall fescue is the most appropriate and popular species for lawn use in Missouri. The turf-type tall fescue cultivars are more tolerant of heat, drought, diseases, and insect damage than other cool-season species. Tall fescue is tolerant to moderately shaded environments. Hard, sheep, creeping red or Chewing’s fescue may also be appropriate as part of a mix for use in shaded areas. These species however, have a narrower leaf blade, are not as heat or drought tolerant, and will require more frequent irrigation during a dry summer to survive.

Other species commonly sold in Missouri include Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass. Kentucky bluegrass has an advantage over tall fescue in that it spreads via rhizomes and can recover more readily into damaged areas (be aware that some rhizomatous tall fescues are becoming available). For this reason, it is heavily utilized on sports fields. However, it is more prone to diseases, heat and drought stress than tall fescue and requires more irrigation and maintenance, and by itself may only be suited for northern Missouri. A low percentage of Kentucky bluegrass with predominantly tall fescue can be a good seed mixture. Perennial ryegrass is the quickest germinating grass (~ 7 days after seeding) and can provide immediate groundcover. It also is the least tolerant to environmental stresses, and will not survive a normal Missouri summer unless intensely managed. Annual ryegrass is utilized as a cover crop, but is not suitable for use as a turfgrass in Missouri.

Timing of your lawn seeding is as important as turfgrass selection. Seeding a lawn in May, or even April, is often a losing proposition. The summer stress period is ahead, and young, spring seedlings are mere cubs cast into an environment full of hyenas. Fall seeding around mid September allows seedlings to develop over a full fall and subsequent spring into a lion that can deal with summer heat, drought, and disease. So now, buy (the hopefully discounted) cool-season turfgrass seed and store it in a cool, dry place until summer is over and fall provides the better opportunity to spread it.

Warm season turfgrass lawns

If attempting to establish a warm season turfgrass species such as zoysiagrass, bermudagrass, or buffalograss, basically flip everything around that has been previously stated. Sprig, sod, or seed these species in mid May – early June. Zoysiagrass, particularly the cultivar ‘Meyer, is the most popular warm-season lawn turf in Missouri because of its superior winter tolerance compared to bermudagrass. ‘Meyer’ is not available by seed and must be sodded, plugged or sprigged. Buffalograss, a native turfgrass species, is a hardy warm-season species that is established by seed, plugs or sod. Buffalograss is seldom used, however, since germination and establishment is slow, and requires aggressive weed control and patience.

Cool-Season Nitrogen Fertilization

A popular commercial is currently exclaiming “Feed your lawn, feed it!”, but at this time of year it should state “Stop!” Applying nitrogen fertilizer now to cool-season lawns may be aesthetically pleasing and provide a flush of gratifying darker green color. At this time of year, and particularly into late May and early June, this dark green is in reality a fool’s gold. Late spring/early summer fertilization of cool-season lawns has two ugly drawbacks. First, the lush leaf growth comes at the expense of deep root growth, as resources are diverted towards generating new leaves (which we mow off). This resource allocation is in lieu of a deeper root system, which can scavenge limited water resources during the trying times of a hot, dry summer. Secondly, lush leaf growth predisposes turfgrasses to two devastating foliar diseases, brown patch and Pythium blight. Particularly in wet, shaded lawn areas, late spring N fertilization may make fungicide applications necessary to prevent widespread damage from these two diseases.

So, like seeding, the best recourse is to save cool-season turfgrass fertilization until the fall when the plant will best be able to utilize the resource and have the summer stresses in the rearview mirror. Current recommendations are to fertilize tall fescue or cool-season lawns early- mid April with 0.5 – 1 lb nitrogen/1000 sq ft, preferably with a slow release form. Pile it on in the fall with 1 lb nitrogen/1000 sq ft in mid- September and another 1 lb nitrogen/1000 sq ft in mid-October.

Warm-Season Nitrogen Fertilization

Similar to seeding, simply flip all of the above fertility recommendations if managing a warm-season lawn like zoysiagrass. Start fertilizing in late May – early June and apply 2-3 lb N/1000 sq ft in 2-3 equal feedings between then and mid August. Do not fertilize into September as the plant will soon be going into dormancy.

As a lawyer ad would state “The choice of lawncare practice is a significant one and should not be based solely upon advertisements.” It is important to be a mindful consumer when it comes to turfgrass selection and maintenance in this dynamic climactic region of Missouri. Broad-based advertisements targeting a national audience just may not fit for this region.