If you want your property to look fully finished and well tended, a well-kept lawn can help complete that image. Sowing a lawn and keeping it thriving in Florida, like most anywhere, can be challenging. By making the right decisions before and during the planting, however, you can eliminate some of the difficulties … Spring has sprung and that means getting your landscape to look its absolute best! Why not start out with some weed and feed? Read more about how and when to apply weed and feed to your spring landscape! That lush carpet of green can totally be yours when you make a few corrections to its maintenance schedule. Here's how to make sure you're giving your turf what it needs, when it needs it.
How to Weed, Feed & Seed a Lawn in Florida
If you want your property to look fully finished and well tended, a well-kept lawn can help complete that image. Sowing a lawn and keeping it thriving in Florida, like most anywhere, can be challenging. By making the right decisions before and during the planting, however, you can eliminate some of the difficulties throughout the rest of the year. After the grass is up, proper care, such as feeding and weeding, keeps your lawn looking at its best.
Choose a drought-resistant grass, such as Bahiagrass, to make maintenance easier. According to the University of Florida, grasses like Bahiagrass do well in sandy soil, which is a plus in Florida, do not need a lot of fertilizing and have few problems with disease. The University of Florida also recommends buying scarified seed, if it’s available, which germinates faster.
- If you want your property to look fully finished and well tended, a well-kept lawn can help complete that image.
- Sowing a lawn and keeping it thriving in Florida, like most anywhere, can be challenging.
Seed your lawn during the spring or in the early summer. By planting early and giving the grass the entire summer to root, the lawn fully fills in before the fall and winter, when cold weather slows growth.
Till and rake the lawn area. Till until 1 to 2 inches of the top soil looks soft and rich, and rake to remove any debris pulled up during tilling, such as rocks and roots, which can interfere with seeding.
Use the correct amount of seed for your lawn area. According to the University of Florida, you should plant Bahiagrass at a rate of 10 lbs. per each 1,000 square feet. Other grass types vary greatly in the amount of seed needed, with centipedegrass requiring only 4 oz. of seed for every 1,000 square feet.
- Seed your lawn during the spring or in the early summer.
- Till until 1 to 2 inches of the top soil looks soft and rich, and rake to remove any debris pulled up during tilling, such as rocks and roots, which can interfere with seeding.
Spread the seed evenly around the lawn area. Throw the seed by hand or use a mechanical seeder to spread the seed. A mechanical seeder more evenly distributes the seed, according to the University of Florida.
Rake the lawn area lightly after seeding. Rake just enough to work the seed down into the soil, so 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil is on top.
Roll the entire lawn area to press the seed into the soil. Mulch with hay or straw to keep the seed from being washed away before it starts to root.
- Spread the seed evenly around the lawn area.
- Roll the entire lawn area to press the seed into the soil.
Wait to apply fertilizer to a newly seeded lawn until the grass establishes a root system. Fertilize for the first time after the grass has fully established and the lawn appears full.
Use a complete fertilizer to feed your newly planted lawn. The University of Florida recommends a 16-4-8 fertilizer.
Figure the amount of fertilizer needed for your lawn. The University of Florida recommends using ½ lb. of nitrogen if using water-soluble fertilizer or 1 lb. of nitrogen if using slow-release fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet of lawn.
- Wait to apply fertilizer to a newly seeded lawn until the grass establishes a root system.
- of nitrogen if using slow-release fertilizer for every 1,000 square feet of lawn.
Fertilize the lawn in the spring, after grass establishment, and again in the late summer or early fall. If the lawn is not thriving, fertilize up to four times in a summer.
Avoid mowing a newly seeded lawn until it is well established. Once it reaches a normal mowing height of 3 to 4 inches, mow the lawn to a height of 2 to 3 inches, depending on your personal preference.
Don’t use chemicals for weed control if the lawn hasn’t shown previous signs of weeds. With proper seeding and fertilization, many lawns never form weeds and the chemicals used to keep them at bay do more harm than good.
Create a barrier to prevent weed growth with pre-emergence herbicides in areas where weeds have been troublesome in the past. Pre-emergence herbicides prevent the weeds from coming up if applied at the right time of year. The University of Florida recommends an application date of February 1st for lawns in southern Florida, February 15th for lawns in central Florida and March 1st for lawns in northern Florida.
- Fertilize the lawn in the spring, after grass establishment, and again in the late summer or early fall.
- Once it reaches a normal mowing height of 3 to 4 inches, mow the lawn to a height of 2 to 3 inches, depending on your personal preference.
Pull weeds by hand throughout the growing season, or control weeds with post-emergence herbicides if they come up. Be careful when using post-emergence herbicides on lawns. Some types of grass, including Bahiagrass, suffer damage from post-emergence herbicides.
To determine the amount of nitrogen in a fertilizer bag, multiply the percentage of nitrogen by the total weight of the bag. Since 16-4-8 fertilizer has 16 percent nitrogen, a 100 lb. bag of the fertilizer contains 16 lbs. of nitrogen. With 1 lb. for every 1,000 square feet, the fertilizer should cover 1,600 square feet of lawn.
Stay away from fertilizers with added chemicals to reduce weeds. These can damage some lawn grasses.
When is a Good Time to Apply Weed and Feed?
As soon as the winter months are over, legions of homeowners rush outside to check how their lawns survived the cold. Most of them will head inside with disappointment. If you are among the majority of Americans with sad-looking lawns this spring, you may already be planning to wake it up with a quick application of weed and feed over the weekend. But before taking the trip to your local garden store to pick up a few bottles, there are several good reasons why using weed and feed now may not be the best idea for the health of your grass. It is important to know when to apply weed and feed.
What is Weed and Feed?
The term “weed and feed” is a general term for a number of products. Most of these products combine post-emergent broadleaf herbicides to kill weeds such as dandelions and clovers with fertilizers to give your lawn a quick dose of the nutrients it needs after a tough winter. Weed and feed products are produced by most major lawn care manufacturers and come as a ready-to-go liquid or in a dry granular form.
Deciding When to Apply Weed and Feed
Timing is everything when it comes to lawn care. If you apply weed and feed too early, you risk the chance that you will miss attacking the weeds that have not yet started to grow, and they will survive the application. But, on the other hand, if you wait too long, your grass won’t get the nutrition it needs to grow well. The ideal time to apply weed and feed is in the early spring, just about the same time that you notice your lawn needs the first trim of the season.
Besides choosing the best time of the year to apply weed and feed to your lawn, you need to keep an eye on the weekly weather forecast as well. Avoid treating your lawn with weed and feed when the weatherman predicts rain is on the way. A spring storm shortly after an application will dilute the herbicide too much to be effective. If a surprise downpour does happen to catch you off-guard, you should not reapply the treatment because you will then risk overfeeding your lawn.
Tips For Success with Your Weed and Feed Application
Even when you choose the perfect time and weather for a weed and feed treatment, things can still go wrong. You can increase the chance of a successful application by following these tips:
- Your grass should be between 3 to 5 inches tall.
- Use a sprinkler to moisten your lawn lightly before applying the weed and feed treatment.
- Don’t water your lawn for 48 hours using weed and feed.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid over treating your lawn.
Do you want your lawn to look outstanding this year? Why not work with the landscaping experts at Green Acres Landscape Inc. Green Acres Landscape has been helping home and business owners create beautiful outdoor spaces since 1992. Whether you need routine landscaping maintenance or help with a new project, Green Acres Landscape can help. Call 503-399-8066 or book an appointment online.
6 Lawn Care Mistakes to Stop Making So You Can Have Healthier Grass
That lush carpet of green can totally be yours when you make a few corrections to its maintenance schedule. Here’s how to make sure you’re giving your turf what it needs, when it needs it.
Viveka Neveln is the Garden Editor at BHG and a degreed horticulturist with broad gardening expertise earned over 3+ decades of practice and study. She has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing for both print and digital media.
Timing is everything with lawn care. You can aerate, weed, water, and mow in the correct way and still have a lawn that’s struggling. Whether you rely on do-it-yourself lawn treatments or hire professionals, it’s important that your grass gets what it needs to thrive during the optimal time frame. For example, even something as simple as turning on your sprinkles too late in the day could encourage diseases to crop up (not to mention waste water). Here are the most common lawn care mistakes to avoid, and how to time all your yard work just right so you end up with the best-looking grass on the block.
1. Treating Broadleaf Weeds When It’s Dry
Dandelions, clover, and creeping Charlie are some of the most common broadleaf weeds you’ll encounter, but plenty of other plants can invade quickly and spread relentlessly. To keep them in check, you may decide to use a granular weed-and-feed product or spray an organic liquid broadleaf weed killer.
The right time: Treat actively growing weeds; apply granular products on a dewy morning or spot treat with an organic herbicide ($13, The Home Depot) on a warm, sunny day.
Why timing matters: Used properly, broadleaf weed killers are highly effective when conditions are optimal. For example, the granules of weed-and-feed products, which are applied with a spreader, must stick to the leaves of the weeds to be effective. That requires moisture, so the perfect time to apply is in early morning when there’s a heavy dew on the lawn. If the grass isn’t wet, you’ll be wasting your time and money. Warm temperatures often help liquid treatments work faster, too. However, if you’ve been having a hot but dry summer, you’ll want to water your lawn first.
2. Applying Weed Preventers Too Late
Preemergent herbicides ($30, The Home Depot) or weed preventers, control crabgrass and other weeds by stopping their seeds from germinating. An application early in the growing season works wonders; it’s like vaccinating your lawn against weeds.
The right time: Apply preventer when forsythia blooms drop (can be from March to May).
Why timing matters: Weed preventers are not effective against weeds that have already begun to grow, so you must apply them before germination to gain any benefit. Crabgrass, the primary target of lawn weed preventers, normally germinates just after forsythia blooms, so take your cue from Mother Nature. When you notice forsythia bushes dropping their blossoms (March to May, depending on your region), apply a weed preventer like corn gluten meal ($39, Walmart) and water as soon as possible to activate it.
Need to reseed? For cool-season grasses, fall is the ideal time; plant warm-season grasses in late spring. But remember: Don’t apply crabgrass preventer at the same time that you seed your lawn; it stops all seedlings from growing, even the ones you may want to grow.
3. Not Fertilizing Your Lawn
As grass (or any plant) grows, it uses up nutrients in the soil. When you mow and bag up clippings, over time all the soil nutrients will get used up so you’ll need to add fertilizer. If you let clippings decompose back into the soil instead, that will help a little, but you may still need to replenish available nutrients once in a while. A soil test every year will show you how much you may need to add. When you feed your lawn is important, too.
The right time: North: Feed in fall and spring. South: Feed in spring and summer.
Why timing matters: Grass needs to be fed when it’s actively growing. For cool-season grasses (bluegrass, fescues, and ryegrass) this primarily means spring and fall. For warm-season grasses such as zoysia, bermuda, and St. Augustine, late spring and summer are the prime growing times.
In addition, cool-season grasses benefit from feeding in late fall (October or November), when growth has slowed but the grass is still green. The result is earlier greening and better appearance the next spring. Experts agree that this may be the most beneficial time to feed a cool-season lawn.
Warm-season lawns should not be fed in fall unless they’ve been overseeded with winter ryegrass. Also, avoid fertilizing any dormant grass, either in winter or summer (drought can cause grass to go dormant in summer); the application will be wasted.
4. Aerating Your Lawn at the Wrong Time
You do aerate, right? Over time, soil gets compacted by being walked on, and thatch builds up. Aerating helps loosen the soil again and allow water to more easily reach grass roots.
The right time: Aerate when soil is moist and grass is actively growing.
Why timing matters: A common mistake is aerating when soil is dry and hard, and aerators are unable to penetrate the soil deeply. Water your lawn before aerating, or wait for a good rain. Ideal conditions for aerating occur more often in spring and fall (for cool-season grasses), but summer also is acceptable for well-watered lawns.
5. Watering Too Late in the Day
No matter where you live or what type of grass you have, your lawn will probably need at least some irrigation to keep it green during extended summer dry spells.
The right time: Water early in the morning.
Why timing matters: Early morning is the best time to give your lawn a drink. The warmth of the sun will soon dry the grass and lessen the chance of disease. Avoid nighttime watering, which can encourage disease because of prolonged wetness, and watering during the warmest times of the day, when a lot of the water may evaporate before the plants have a chance to absorb it.
When it’s necessary to water, do so once or twice a week, long enough to wet the soil several inches down. This encourages deep roots compared with frequent, but shallow, irrigation, and it will make your lawn more drought-tolerant. Some cities and municipalities have recommendations or restrictions on the timing and frequency of watering to help cut down on waste so it’s a good idea to check that you are following those guidelines, too.
6. Not Mowing Frequently Enough
Mowing may seem like a no-brainer, but how (and how often) you do it has a significant effect on the health and appearance of your lawn.
The right time: Mow as needed, so that cut off no more than a third of the height of your grass at a time. For example, if you set your mower at 2 inches, don’t let the grass get taller than 3 inches before mowing.
Why timing matters: Many homeowners ritually mow on weekends, effectively putting their lawns on a seven-day mowing schedule. Most of the year, weekly mowing may be fine. But in spring, when growth is vigorous, mowing may be necessary every four or five days. Longer intervals allow the grass to become too tall between cutting, stressing the lawn and making it less attractive. Keeping a well-mowed lawn is also an easy way to discourage fleas and ticks, because both pests prefer to hide out in long grass.