Weed And Feed New Grass Seed

Caring for freshly planted seeds in lawns is no easy task, but with the right care you can have a lush and thick turf. Read our DIY article, to learn where to begin in caring for newly planted seeds in your lawn and how to develop it into a thick vegetation. Our Lawn Coaches share some tips on what to do after you plant and water your grass. See our recommended fertilizer type and what to do for shady areas. Learn about what types of fertilizer is best for new grass, whether it’s better to use lawn starter fertilizer or regular fertilizer and how to keep your yard looking great year-round.

How to Care for Newly Planted Seeded Lawn

As your lawn becomes thin, weak, or has bare brown spots then it may be time to plant new grass seeds. By planting new grass seeds you can achieve a greener and fuller lawn that will be the source of envy amongst your neighbors. Not only does a freshly planted lawn look better, but it will help prevent weeds and other diseases from growing in your turf.

Just as it sounds seeding your lawn is planting new grass seeds a few inches below the soil of your lawn. With a little time and patience your seeds will mature and sprout into healthy turf grass.

If your lawn is starting to look thin or worn out, our step-by-step DIY care guide will show you exactly what beginning gardeners or homeowners need to do when planting new seeds within their turf. By following the recommended steps and products you can effectively grow your seeds into a vibrant and thick lawn.

What Type of Grass Do You Have In Your Lawn?

Before you plant new grass seeds into your turf, it is important to know what type of grass you have in your lawn. This will be determined on the location and climate of your area.

For example, while there are many species of grasses they will belong to two groups known as warm-seasoned grass or cool-seasoned grass.

Warm-seasoned Grass

In hot or humid areas that are between 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit are best suited for warm-seasoned grasses. Typically, this will be in the southern half of the United States in states such as Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, California, Arizona, Arkansas, and New Mexico.

Common species of warm-seasoned grasses are Bahiagrass, Bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass, Centipede grass, Zoysiagrass, and Carpetgrass.

Warm-seasoned grass will not thrive in cooler winter months and will become dormant typically from November to January.

Cool-seasoned Grass

Cool-seasoned grasses are often referred to as northern grasses because they are typically grown in the northern region of the United States where climates are normally between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cool-seasoned grasses will grow in the winter or cooler months, and become dormant or brown in hot weather. Normally, in the second half of spring (April) and the summer months (May to August) the grass go into dormancy.

Examples of cool-seasoned grasses are Kentucky Bluegrass, Fescues, Bentgrass, Annual Ryegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, and Creeping Bentgrass.

If you are still unsure as to what type of turf your lawn has then you can consult with your local extension office, governed by the national pesticide information center or refer to Solutions Grassy Weed Control Guides.


Before applying the following steps and products, make sure you have the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks, safety glasses or face shield, long-sleeve shirt, long-sleeve pants, closed-toe shoes with socks, and a coverall or Tyvek suit.

Step 1: Prepare the Ground by Mowing or Raking

To help prepare your new lawn then you will need to remove existing damaged turf by either mowing or raking.

For large scale areas where the turf is dead, you will want to go ahead and mow. Adjust the blades on the mower to the lowest setting to scalp the yard. You want to scalp the yard to allow seeds to reach the soil as easily as possible. Normally, you want to avoid this, but since the turf is too far gone to recover it will not hurt to perform this step.

Now for areas where there are still patches of green turf, you will want to remove excess layer of dead grass roots and blades (known as thatch) by raking. Raking bare ground areas (will look like brown spots in your turf) before applying new seeds will also help your seeds make contact with the soil more easily and lessen compact soil.

Step 2: Apply Seed at Right Time of Year

Choose a grass seed that will thrive in your climate and location.

Warm-seasoned grass seeds should be planted in the second half of spring when the weather is warmer and to the late summer (July).

For cool-seasoned grass seeds you will want to plant in the fall (second half of August to first half of October) when the soil is still relatively warm from summer. When you plant your cool-seasoned grass you will want to give your seeds enough time to germinate two months before the first frost of winter.

Before proceeding to the following steps, wait at least 30 to 45 days to allow your seeds to become established. You may water your newly planted seeds after application.

Step 3: Water Your Seeds Infrequently

Keep in mind that a newly planted lawn will take consistent watering more than an established lawn. If not followed vigorously, then the results will not be as effective.

There is not a precise measurement of water to be given for newly seeded turf, but you will need to keep your seeded turf moist and not to the point of run-off. If you are seeing puddles of water then you have given your seeds to much water.

See also  Pulling Weeds And Planting Seeds

We recommend using a hose-end sprayer, so you can adjust the setting to a light fan spray setting to avoid washing the seeds away from turf. If you are using a sprinkler system, then use an oscillating or rotator head sprinkler system for gently watering newly seeded turf.

Lightly water the lawn once a day in the morning and again in the evening if the seed dries out. For evening applications, spray several hours before dark to avoid your seeded turf from retaining water.

Once your seeds germinate and emerge from the surface you will keep following the recommended steps, but will need to spray an inch of water no more than once a week.

Step 4: Fertilize Turf After Seeds Become Established

Once the seeds from turf has reached an height of one to two inches then you may apply a starter fertilizer.

You will want to avoid using a weed and feed fertilizer due to these products ability to target pre-emergent weeds underneath the soil. If a weed and feed fertilizer is applied to your soil then it will inhibit your seeds from growing.

Starter fertilizer are specially formulated to contain a higher phosphorous level, the middle number in the three set of fertilizer numbers. Phosphorous is especially needed to help promote new root growth of freshly planted seeds.

Once you have selected your fertilizer you will need to use a push or broadcast spreader for application. Determine how much starter fertilizer to use by measuring the square footage of the treatment area. Follow the formula (length X width = square footage) to find out how much square footage is in your treatment area.

Then, load the measured amount of fertilizer into your spreader and begin broadcasting the product at the edge of your treatment area. You will walk all the way around your treatment area in a straight line keeping a moderate pace as you walk. Once you have treated the perimeter of your treatment area then walk back and forth across the turf until the space in the middle is covered.

After evenly applying your fertilizer you will water the lawn 1 to 2 days after.

Step 5: Apply Weed Control

You will want to apply a post-emergent herbicide like MSM Turf Herbicide when your seeded lawn has been mowed at least three times. Typically, this will be at least one to two months after seeds have emerged from turf.

Remember, when the grass exceeds a height of 3 inches you can mow your turf. If applied when grass is still young or has not been mowed three times then it may be damaged if herbicide is sprayed too soon.

We recommend using a post-emergent like MSM Turf Herbicide because it will need to make contact with the leafy plant tissue of the emerged weed. This product does not work as a pre-emergent and will not target weeds beneath the turf soil, thus it will not unnecessarily damage grass seeds.

For easier control and application upon targeted weeds, a handheld pump sprayer will work best for direct spot application on weeds. Before applying MSM Turf, calculate how much product to use based on the square footage of your treatment area. You can do this by multiplying the length and width of the treatment area together (length X width = square footage).

The general mix rate is 0.025 to 0.05 fl. oz. of MSM Turf Herbicide per 1 gallon of water per 1,000 sq. ft.

Key Takeaways

When Can I Plant New Grass Seeds?

  • Depending on the type of grass seeds and whether it belongs to warm-seasoned or cool-seasoned grass will vary the time of seeding. A general rule is if it is a warm-seasoned grass you will want to plant seeds in the first half of spring to late summer. For cool-seasoned grass seeds you will plant in the early fall (September) and at least 1 month prior to when the ground freezes in your location.

What is the First Thing To Do When Planting New Seed into Your Lawn?

  • Watering your newly seeded lawn is a crucial step that needs to be continuously completed. You will want to lightly water your seeded area until it moist, but not to the point of water gathering in puddles. For best results, water once in the morning and again in the evening if seeded area is not lightly moist. You may return to a regular water schedule when grass seeds reach a height of three inches.

What to Avoid When Caring for Newly Seeded Turf?

  • You will want to avoid treating your newly planted seeded lawn until 30 days have passed. If treated appropriately, your seeds will have become established. During this time, you may apply a starter fertilizer that contains a high phosphorous level. Do not apply a weed and feed fertilizer for this will work into turf roots to eliminate pre-emergent weeds and unintentionally kill your seeded turf. Once your turf has been mowed at least three times then you may apply a post-emergent herbicide like MSM Turf.

How to Care for Newly Planted Seeded Lawn

“Before planting seeds into your turf, examine the area for any signs of stress such as from weeds or fungi. If you do not see these signs on your turf then does not mean it is not present. To determine if you have any underlying diseases you will want to take a sample of your soil and grass and send it your local extension office or refer to our weed and fungi control guides.”

How Do I Fertilize New Grass Seed?

So you’ve planted your grass seed and you’ve been faithfully watering the new plants. Now what? There are many decisions to make during seeding season so we asked the Lawn Coaches for some advice. This is what they had to say when it comes to choosing starter fertilizer:

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Lawn Coaches on Starter Fertilizer

Lawn Coach, Brian Hiatt, explains how fertilizer helps your lawn, “Putting down the right amount of starter fertilizer will help to get the grass germinated faster, getting the new grass ready for the winter. A second round of starter fertilizer four weeks after the seeding would improve your results even more.”

Lawn Coach, Matt Stewart, talks about how fertilizer prepares your grass for the winter, “It’s important to give your seed fertilizer to allow it to have the strength to make it through the winter. It’s the seed’s best chance of survival.”

What Kind of Fertilizer Should You Use?

New seed requires a different fertilizer than established lawns. Seedlings that are germinating need phosphorus and potassium to build healthy and strong roots. Nitrogen is used in the foliage part of the plant. The higher degree of nitrogen can always be added later but phosphorus and potassium need to be in the soil from the beginning.

TIPS: Always avoid the use of any of the “weed & feed” fertilizers with new seed.

These may work great for spring use on established lawns, but the chemicals used in these fertilizers can damage or kill your newly planted grass while it is attempting to establish itself.

Bonus Tip for Grass in Shady Areas!

Lawn Coach, Jason Clarkson, talks about shady areas – “I recommend a tall turf type fescue even for shady areas in the lawn. To help improve the quality of turf under those shady areas, thin the trees to allow more sunlight. Turf grass needs three things to grow; water, oxygen, and sunlight.”

When To Fertilize New Grass: Secrets From Lawn Care Pros

No one likes having a patchy lawn. So last year you decided to do something about it. You seeded new grass into problem areas and waited for it to grow. Grow it did—until it started dying off. What happened? How can you stop this from happening again and get your lawn back to the healthy, vibrant green you remember? Lawn care professionals understand that knowing when to fertilize new grass can make the difference between a thriving yard and grass that is less equipped to handle the brutal Southern heat.

In this post, we’ll discuss when to fertilize new turf, the difference between lawn starter fertilizer and regular fertilizer, how often to apply starter fertilizer and the answer to the question: When should I fertilize my lawn after seeding?

What Will I Learn?

Do I Really Have To Fertilize My Grass?

Of course, you don’t have to fertilize! But you’re probably going to want to.

Well, let’s talk about what lawns need in order to grow and stay healthy and green. Namely, nutrients.

These nutrients can come from organic matter and minerals that are already in the soil. This nourishment can also be derived from fallen leaves, grass clippings and the like.

The sad truth is that the soil in large parts of Texas and other parts of the south isn’t all that nutrient-rich, and there’s probably not enough naturally-occurring organic matter to make up the difference in most cases.

The impact of these types of soil on your lawn? More insects. More weeds. A higher chance of disease, including yard fungus. Increased chance of erosion. Your grass might thin. You’ll suffer patchiness and increased runoff.

Basically, all kinds of bad things that you don’t want.

Fertilizer can provide the additional nutrients your yard needs to prevent these problems and keep your grass healthy and looking good.

Unfortunately, fertilization isn’t as simple as deciding to do it and picking up some fertilizer from your nearest home improvement store. You have to know what’s best to use. When to use it. How often.

Lawn Starter Fertilizer vs Regular Fertilizer

Would you feed a newborn baby a slice of pizza? Of course you wouldn’t. And obviously, that’s a ridiculous question.

Because you know that babies have special needs. In order to grow and develop in the beginning, it is vital that they receive the nutrients they need from their mother’s milk or baby formula.

Here’s the thing, though. A lot of people do the equivalent of feeding a newborn a slice of pizza when they try to fertilize new grass.

They use regular fertilizer instead of starter fertilizer.

Both can provide plants with valuable nutrients, but they are not interchangeable. The nutrients they contain differ, and plants need each type at different stages of their life cycle.

Regular fertilizer contains a mix of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus at a 1-2-1 ratio. That’s great for established plants, but not so wonderful for seedlings.

In fact, the main ingredient in most starter fertilizers is phosphorous, which makes grass seeds much more likely to germinate and sprout. Many also contain quick-release nitrogen to assist in germination and the development of the seed. In other words, they are specially formulated for seedlings.

So, when do you add starter fertilizer to your new turf?

Knowing When To Fertilize New Sod Matters

Many people think of fertilization as something that happens after plants are already in the ground–or after turf is installed. In reality, however, waiting this long is a bad idea.

The best times to fertilize your new sod are either:

  1. Before you sow the seeds, or
  2. While the seeds are being sown.

Fertilizing earlier will provide your grass seeds with a nutritional “boost” that can help as they try to take root and establish themselves.

Here’s how you do it.

Before installing your new turf, till the starter fertilizer into the ground with a hoe.

Be sure that none of the fertilizer goes deeper than four inches. This is incredibly important, because when fertilizer goes too deep, it can burn the roots of your grass.

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Once you’re done, level out the soil and you can install your new sod.

How Often To Apply Starter Fertilizer On New Grass

When do you reapply your starter fertilizer after the sod is installed and the grass starts growing in? You don’t!

Seriously. This is one of the most important things to remember: starter fertilizer should only be used before a new lawn is installed.

Why? Because it can actually damage your lawn if you use it later.

Remember the baby analogy from earlier? Well, after your lawn is installed, it’s no longer a baby, so you need to switch to more appropriate “food.”

In other words, the next time you fertilize you need to use regular fertilizer that is appropriate for the makeup of your soil and the size of your fertilization area.

Determining The Type And Amount Of Fertilizer For Your New Grass

Since the fertilizer you choose should be based on soil makeup and growth area, start by learning those two things.

Measure the square footage of the new grass you’re trying to grow in order to determine how much fertilizer you need to purchase. Then get a soil test done to learn which nutrients are present in your soil and which ones you’re lacking.

Having a soil test done may sound complicated, scary, expensive or all three, but it’s actually really easy. In most areas, there are a number of options available to you. Texas A&M even allows you to send in soil samples and get results back!

Once you know the makeup of your soil, you can determine which fertilizer ratio is best for your lawn. Many homeowners discover that their lawns already contain enough phosphorous and potassium and opt for nitrogen-only fertilizer.

If you do use phosphorous, be careful. Phosphorous levels can easily build up too much in soil, resulting in runoff that ends up in surface waters. This is bad for the environment because it can harm fish habitats and increase algal blooms.

Some homeowners are also looking for advice on choosing an eco-friendly fertilizer for your lawn. As more options become available, organic fertilizers have grown in popularity as individuals are working to find a balance between growing and maintaining a healthy lawn and minimizing the use of chemical products on their property.

When Should I Fertilize My Lawn After Seeding?

Now that your grass has been seeded and you have your new regular fertilizer, how soon should you use it? As much as you might want to encourage growth and hurry the process along as quickly as possible, it’s best to wait before re-fertilizing your new grass.

How long? At least four weeks, and possibly as many as eight.

If you give in and re-fertilize too early, the nutrients will not be absorbed by the roots, and you can have runoff that, as we already mentioned, can make its way into the water supply or harm water-dwelling creatures. Moreover, over-fertilizing can actually leach more nutrients from the soil, leaving a deficiency of nutrients when your new turf is finally ready to be replenished.

Save yourself frustration and possible contamination: do not re-fertilize early. After this, you can adhere to the following regular annual fertilization schedule:

Summer Fertilization

Technically late spring and early summer fertilization is mostly for new and neglected lawns, but if you’re reading this, your lawn likely falls into one or both of those categories.

You can give your grass a bit of extra help by applying slow-release nitrogen fertilizer in 45- to 60-day intervals throughout the season. Using slow-release nitrogen will benefit your lawn without spurring uncontrolled growth that can force you to have to mow more frequently.

Fall Fertilization

Why fertilize in the fall? There are a number of reasons.

One benefit of fall fertilization is that it bolsters lawn density. In addition, applying fertilizer in the fall helps to protect against winter weeds. Another benefit is that your lawn color tends to be better throughout the fall if you give your grass some added nourishment. Lastly, fertilizing assists in the recovery of your grass in the spring.

You’ll want to use fertilizer with modest nitrogen rates (a pound or less per 1,000 sq. ft.) so that it doesn’t leach or carry over. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you apply your last batch of fertilizer well before the first frost of the season. These vary by region, but in Texas, the absolute latest date for yearly fertilization should be November 1.

Spring Fertilization

Generally speaking, the first time you fertilize in the spring will likely be sometime between the beginning of March and the middle of April. Obviously, this can vary quite a bit by region, so another way to tell when you begin is to pay attention to your lawn.

Specifically, the grass should start to turn green and require mowing at least twice before it’s time to fertilize for the spring. Make sure it’s actually grass that needs mowing, too–weeds may need to be cut well before this, but they don’t count.

Let ABC Nurture Your New Grass For You

Does implementing a year-round fertilization schedule sound like a lot of work? It can be if you do it all on your own. Plus, there are many ways that you can make a mistake, which will put you right back at square one. Avoid these problems by letting ABC Home & Commercial Services do the hard work for you. Our professional lawn care technicians have been keeping lawns all across the south looking their best for generations, and we can help your yard, too. Schedule a service today.