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Learn how to avoid common mistakes when planting grass seed for a more full, lush, vibrant lawn. Need to know when to apply weed & feed or how to use it? Learn everything you need to know with this weed & feed guide. I am confused as to what type of  grass seeds to use. I purchased Scots sun /shade and deep shade type of seed from Home Depot, I seeded it just few …

How to Avoid Common Grass Seed Mistakes

Creating a lush, vibrant lawn takes commitment, but the rewards of a successful grass seed project are worth the time and resources you invest. A beautiful lawn can improve your home’s value, benefit the environment and enhance your family’s quality of life. Even if you’re a first-time lawn grower, you can seed right and avoid these common mistakes:

1. Planting the wrong type of seed

Choosing appropriate grass varieties is the first step in ensuring your lawn performs up to your aspirations. Grasses vary widely in their preferences and tolerances, just like other types of plants. Kentucky bluegrass and Bermudagrass, for example, differ significantly in climate and maintenance requirements. Planting grass varieties appropriate to your growing region gives your seed a natural advantage.

Even with similar seed types, all grass seed isn’t equal. Learn what’s actually inside the seed bags you or your lawn professional buy. By understanding the seed tags on grass seed products, you can be sure you invest in quality seed. Cheaper price tags can mean less seed versus fillers, old seeds past their prime, more weed seeds and lower germination rates. Getting seed right from the start benefits your lawn and budget.

2. Skipping the soil test and recommendations

Seeding success depends on an environment conducive to good grass growth. Knowing how your soil measures up on certain essentials, such as soil pH and plant nutrients, allows you to provide the foundation an outstanding lawn needs. Soil testing processed through a reputable soil laboratory eliminates guesswork and reveals changes you need to make.

Without knowing where your soil stands, well-intended soil amendments and fertilizers can harm grass instead of help — or simply go to waste. Incorporating your specific soil lab recommendations helps circumvent potential problems and unnecessary setbacks. That’s one reason turf professionals emphasize regular soil testing to start seed right and keep lawns healthy and vibrant. Your local county extension office can help with testing kits and lab referrals.

3. Using lime incorrectly or unnecessarily

Many homeowners think lime is a lawn care necessity, but that doesn’t hold true across the board. Normal lawn care can naturally cause soil pH to drop lower over time, and lime applications benefit lawns that need pH raised. But in some cases, soil pH may already be high. Using too much lime or applying it unnecessarily can be as damaging as failing to add lime when it’s needed.

When soil test results show your lawn’s soil pH is below levels needed for optimal grass health, liming in accordance with recommendations restores proper pH balance, increases nutrient availability and helps keep lawns green. While many lime products are slow to work, products such as Pennington Fast Acting Lime speed up the process and start working immediately.

4. Ignoring recommended seeding rates

Using the proper amount of seed for your project influences success, whether you’re starting from scratch or overseeding an existing lawn. New lawns or spot repairs take about twice the amount of seed needed for overseeding thin areas. Quality grass seed labels include guidance on optimal seeding rates to maximize your results.

Don’t overdo or cut corners. Too much grass seed causes undue competition for resources such as light, water and nutrients, and grass seedlings struggle as a result. Too little seed leaves lawns thin or bare. Always follow “best practice” guidelines for planting grass seed, including site preparation and good seed-to-soil contact, and stick with recommended seeding rates for lush results.

5. Miscalculating your lawn dimensions

Getting your seeding rates right requires knowing the correct size of the area you need to cover. One of the most common problems grass professionals see is when homeowners misjudge their actual lawn areas and over-apply grass seed or other products, such as fertilizers and herbicides.

Knowing your total property size is just the start. All non-lawn areas must then be deducted. This includes the footprints of your house, garage and outbuildings, as well as walkways and the driveway. Only then can you calculate your actual lawn area and the amount of seed you need. Time spent on proper measurements prevents wasted product, wasted money and poor results. Get it right and every bit of seed and labor work in your favor.

6. Planting without regard for proper timing

It can be tempting to plant seed as soon as the need arises. But proper timing has an important impact on results. Grass growth occurs in seasonal cycles, which vary according to the grass types common to different regions. Timing your seed projects to coincide with growing cycles greatly improves your rate of success.

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For most of the country, fall is the best time to plant grass seed. This is when cool-season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescues peak in growth, and conditions enhance fast germination and establishment. When paired with innovations such as water-conserving Pennington Smart Seed, proper timing leads to other advantages, including less input of resources, less maintenance and better results.

7. Using weed treatments or weed & feed fertilizers with seed

One of the ways weed treatments work is by preventing germinating seeds from establishing roots. But these products, known as pre-emergents, can’t distinguish between harmful weed seeds and desirable grass seed you put down. Using these products too close to newly planted seed — in timing or proximity — stops grass seed in its tracks, along with the weeds. Post-emergent weed treatments aimed at existing broadleaf weeds can also injure immature grass seedlings.

Always read and follow herbicide and fertilizer labels, especially the instructions for use on newly seeded lawns and your grass type. As a general rule, avoid pre-emergent weed treatments at least 10 to 12 weeks before seeding — or longer for some products. After planting, reserve broad-spectrum weed treatments until new lawns have been mowed at least two to three times; for fall-planted seed, that usually means spring.

When it comes to your lawn aspirations, you can bypass common grass seed mistakes and head straight for success. Make the most of your investment of time, money and grass seed, and enjoy the exceptional results. Pennington is committed to helping you grow the finest lawn possible and enjoy all the benefits that a beautiful, healthy lawn holds.

Pennington and Smart Seed are trademarks of Pennington Seed, Inc.

How to Use Weed & Feed to Revive Your Lawn

Lawn care experts and green-thumb DIYers often use weed & feed to produce beautiful lawns and flower beds. Whether you’re keeping your lawn lush or needing to revive some of that emerald green color, using this product is a must. So what is it, and how is weed & feed used to create lush, beautiful yards? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is weed & feed?

Weed & feed is a term universally applied to lawn chemicals that both kill weeds and promote a healthy lawn. In general, it kills ugly weeds while helping your grass better absorb water and nutrients to improve its growth.

But as your grass begins to grow, it can start choking out unwanted weeds — meaning that you can phase out this chemical product slowly over time. But if you start to see growth decline or weeds take over your lawn, re-introduce weed & feed into your regular lawn care routine.

There are two types of herbicides generally used in weed & feed, which one you use (and when you use it) depends on the current weed situation you’re facing.

How does weed & feed work?

Weed & feed is a combination of minerals and systemic or non-systemic herbicides. The minerals provide nutrients (via fertilizer) to help your grass grow, while the herbicides kill the weeds.

Two forms of weed & feed are available for homeowners today. These are:

  • Granules: Granular weed & feed comes in small, dry pellets covered with herbicide. You spread the granules over your lawn when it’s wet, allowing the weed & feed to stick to the weeds.
  • Liquid: Liquid weed & feed is often mixed with water and sprayed over your lawn using a sprayer. You can apply the liquid version to wet or dry grass.

Regardless of which one you choose, you must follow the directions on the container to get the best results. Certain herbicides are best for certain weeds, so be sure to read labels carefully when choosing a brand.

Try to determine which weeds are present in the yard and then compare them to the products available. (The container will list which weeds are killed by the herbicide.) The minerals are largely the same, though some formulas may perform better for specific types of grass, be it Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass, Kentucky Bluegrass, or any other.

Pre-emergent vs. post-emergent weed & feed

There are two types of weed & feed:

  • Pre-emergent weed & feed
  • Post-emergent weed & feed

Knowing which to apply is vital to clearing weeds and promoting a healthy lawn.

What is pre-emergent weed & feed?

You use pre-emergent weed & feed to kill weeds before they grow, so you can apply it on lawns with weeds already under control. For the best results, apply pre-emergent weed & feed each year, usually at the start of spring. This helps prevent weeds from returning. It’s best used on crabgrass and Japanese stilt grass.

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Even if you completely killed the weeds the year before, they could return because new weed seeds are constantly transported into your lawn by air. So, even a perfect lawn should be treated with pre-emergent weed & feed annually.

What is post-emergent weed & feed?

The post-emergent herbicides are for weeds that are already present. You determine the frequency of application and the amount you should use by how many weeds fill the yard.

If there are so many weeds that the grass is being choked out, it may be wise to consult with a local landscaper or lawn care center for advice. Common uses for post-emergent herbicides are combatting bermudagrass and nimblewill.

How to apply weed & feed

You can apply granular weed & feed directly to a wet lawn either by hand or with a spreader. When water hits the granules, they dissolve and release the weed-killing chemicals (while also providing important nutrients to the grass).

Using a spreading allows you to apply just the right amount evenly across the lawn. Too many granules can harm grass, which would defeat the purpose. Also, overuse can result in potentially harmful runoff.

Many people choose liquid weed & feed because the chemicals are already diluted to safe levels. The liquid version may be bought in bulk or with an attached sprayer nozzle for convenience.

When to apply weed & feed

Pre-emergent herbicides can be applied at any time of day because they form a soil barrier to stop weeds from sprouting. Post-emergent weed & feed, however, is different.

When using post-emergent herbicides, check the instructions on the bottle or box. These products contain what are known as systemic or non-systemic herbicides.

Non-systemic herbicides cause damage to plant tissues, and therefore they may be applied at any time of day. However, systemic herbicides must enter the plants via the roots when the plant is undergoing active growth. Application of systemic herbicides depends largely on the growth region because plants — even weeds — grow differently in different regions.

The best weed & feed products

There is no single herbicide to kill every weed. So, to decide which product you should use, it’s important to know your weed (so you can effectively treat your lawn).

That said, many brands provide control of the most common weeds like dandelions, crabgrass, clovers, and dollarweed. Some of the best products for controlling most weeds include:

    (available in both granules and liquid) (granules) (granules) (granules)

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I mow my lawn before using weed & feed?

Most products recommend mowing the lawn a few days before applying weed & feed. This helps the plants better absorb a non-systemic herbicide. Mowing also allows better access to the soil for systemic herbicides.

How do the seasons affect the use of weed & feed?

Depending on the U.S. Department of Agriculture growth zone where your lawn is located, early spring is best for most applications. This is more important if living in a northern climate. In many southern regions, any time of the year is fine. You should time your weed & feed application based on your growth zone to see the best results. You can usually find this information printed on the label.

Does property location matter when applying weed & feed?

Some weed & feed formulas are specific to certain regions. Make sure to read each weed & feed product label to determine the right one for your grass.

C J Oakes has written for thousands of professional and small business websites since 2009. He is also the ghost-author of more than 100 books for business clients; and has written 34 books in his own name, mostly self-help and fiction.

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Scotts grass seeds from Home Depot?? #428890

I am confused as to what type of grass seeds to use. I purchased Scots sun /shade and deep shade type of seed from Home Depot, I seeded it just few days ago, then I read on the Internet, that the best grass for Portland in fall should be perennial rye grass?? Is this true?
If so where can I buy then such type of grass here?
Area I am talking about is my backyard on the north side of the house.

Multnomah County Oregon

Expert Response

The grass you planted should be fine. 100% Perennial ryegrass is not a good choice for a shady site which I assume you have since you bought both a sun and shade mix and a dense shade mix.

Also, your sun and shade mix has about 20% perennial ryegrass along with the fine fescue (20%) and Kentucky bluegrass (10%) and the coating (50%) in it and the dense shade mix is probably almost all fine fescue.

Lastly, the grasses we plant in Oregon do not persist very long before getting taken over by other grasses in the soil seed bank including annual bluegrass, bentgrass, velvet grass, and rough bluegrass.

In spite of this fact, you can still have a nice lawn if you mow it regularly, fertilize it 1 – 4 times per year depending on the site, grass type, and expectations, and irrigate it enough in the summer to maintain the stand. Note, the lawn doesn’t need to be lush green but even watering it every few weeks deeply will keep it alive (even if it’s brown) which will prevent weed encroachment.

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