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Weed and Feed, or Weed then Feed? It Depends: Are You Going to Seed?

by Brett Freeman, All About Lawns Columnist

How has your lawn weathered the summer? Is it the envy of your neighbors? Or has it become a mosaic of bare patches, weeds, and grass? Take time to take stock: the condition of your lawn right now should determine what you do to prepare it for winter.

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  • Make it greener
  • Eliminate patches
  • Less weeds
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Kill Weeds, Then Overseed

If your lawn has become sparse and patchy, you definitely want to overseed before the weather gets cold, but if you have a weed problem, this should be addressed first. You may not be able to use a weed-and-feed fertilizer, because these contain a pre-emergent, which can prevent both weed and grass seeds from germinating. Instead, use a lawn weed spray to target weeds in your lawn. Give it at least a week to kill weeds, and then pull up the remains of any large, broadleaf weeds like crabgrass that would prevent grass seed from reaching the soil.

Overseed and fertilize at the same and take care to give the new seed light watering daily until it germinates. Also, instead of using a winterizer or starter fertilizer, use both, mixing them at a two-to-one winterizer to starter ratio. This mixture can give the new seed the potassium and phosphorous it needs to establish itself quickly, as well as provide the entire lawn with slow-release nitrogen that can help it survive the winter.

Lawn Care: Let the Past Guide You

If your lawn has been invaded by winter weeds like bluegrass or chickweed in the past, use a winter fertilizer that includes a pre-emergent to prevent these weeds from getting established in your lawn.

If not, or if you plan on overseeding a summer grass like St. Augustine or Bermuda with rye grass to provide color through the winter, spare your lawn the weed killers, and go with fertilizer only.

About the Author
Brett Freeman is a freelance journalist. He also owns a landscaping and irrigation company in North Carolina. Previously he has worked as a beat reporter, a teacher, and for a home improvement company, and he used to own a bar/live music venue.

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