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Spring Lawn Seeding Questions

March 12, 2013

Every year about this time, the Scotts Help Center answers thousands of questions.  Among the most common are questions dealing with seeding.  Here are some of the most common:

Q.  We have a lot of bare spots in our lawn this spring.  Do we need to plant grass seed in these places?

A.  It depends upon the size of the bare spots.  If they are only a few inches across, these spots will eventually fill in themselves if you feed your lawn in early spring and again in late spring.  If there is a thick layer of matted tree leaves in the bare spot, raking will speed the process.

Q.  Do I need to spade up the soil before seeding bare areas?

A.  Spading or rototilling is usually not necessary for seeding bare spots in thin areas.  However, it is important that the soil be broken up to a depth of about one inch, so that your seed will have a lodging place where it can take root and grow.   This can be done with a sharp tool, such as a spade, edger, trowel, or hoe.  In larger areas, a machine called a slit seeder, which cuts grooves in the soil and plants grass seed at the same time, can be rented.

Q.  Do I need to mulch the seeded area with straw?

A.  If you are seeding into thin areas where some grass already exists, the mulch in Scotts EZ Seed does the job of helping to keep your seed from drying out.  If the seeded area is a slope, mulching with straw will help hold the seed in place in case of hard rains.  Do not put straw down too heavy.  You should still be able to see about 50% of the soil when looking down through your straw mulch.

Q.  Do I need to fertilize when I seed, or can I wait until after the new grass sprouts?

A.  Your new grass will develop faster when you feed it.  Use a special food like Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass.

Q.  How do I keep weeds from sprouting where I am trying to grow grass seed?

A.  Use a special weed preventer that will prevent weeds seeds, like crabgrass, from growing while allowing your new grass to sprout unharmed.  Scotts Turf Builder Starter Food for New Grass plus Weed Preventer is especially designed for this purpose.

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18 Comments
  1. Mary permalink

    Hi, I live in Houston, can I spread Scotts turf mixed with Ortho Max ant killer?

    • Hi Mary
      You can not mix two products together in the same spreader, however you can put down Southern Turf Builder and then Ortho MAX Fire Ant Killer the same day. You could then water after spreading both products.

  2. Robert marshall permalink

    Can I weed and feed with grass food at the same time

    • Hi Robert
      Since a Weed & Feed gives a feeding, it is geneally recommended to wait at least a month before putting down another feeding. If you tell me where you are located and a little bit about your lawn’s condition, I would be happy to recommend a product schedule for your situtation. For example, you still may live in an area where there is still time to put down a feeding that will also prevent weeds like crabgrass. It may be a little too early to put down a weed & feed that will kill weeds like dandelion. However, if you live in an area where it is too late to prevent crabgrass, your product options are different.

  3. CRAIG SMITH permalink

    Hello, I live in New Orleans my grass is 90% grass and 5% crabgrass. Would it be the correct thing to spreed weed and feed over the whole yard and than grass seed?

    • Hi Craig
      Based on where you live, your lawn is either St. Augustine, Bermuda, Zoysia, or Centipede. I point this out because knowing what kind of lawn you have helps in selecting the right product for weed control. Your lawn type does not make any difference when you select your lawn food. It is too late to prevent crabgrass in your area as it has already begun to germinate for this year. You could get some prevention of later germinating crabgrass with Scotts Bonus S Weed & Feed on all the lawn types in your area except Bermuda. If you have Bermuda or Zoysia you can spray crabgrass with Ortho Weed B Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer. Read my blog on Killing Southern Weeds to see your weed killer options:

      http://tipsfromashton.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/killing-southern-lawn-weeds/

      In all cases feeding will help your grass fill in thin areas without seed. You can feed with Scotts Southern Turf Builder or GreenMax. Hope I have helped you figure this out.

  4. Vickie permalink

    I live in northeast Ohio. I have checked the weather and the next couple weeks supposely is not to get below freezing but close. Would I be able to reseed my yard?

    • Hi Vickie
      Generally the soils warm up enough in your area for grass seed germination around mid to late April. You can seed prior to that and the seed will be in place to germinate as the soil warms. You don’t really get a jump start by seeding early as the soil needs to warm up for germination to start. If you had a lot of weeds in your yard last year, be sure to put down the Starter Lawn Food plus Weed Preventer when you seed.

  5. Pam Dobson permalink

    I live in southern Ohio we are expecting snow in the next couple of days. Can I put down the pre-emergent lawn food before the snow or wait until there is no snow in the forecast,

    • Hi Pam
      It is ok to put down before the snow, however you still have some time yet to put your Turf Builder with Halts down in your area. You want to get your application down before the yellow forsythia bushes in your area stop blooming. They are blooming now down here in Atlanta.

  6. Diamond permalink

    Hi Ashton,
    I live in central FL, in the 9.b climate, I have a mix of Bahia, St, Augustine, and Bermuda. I have never treated my lawn, but now my lawns looks more like a grazing field with all the different weeds I have sprouting every where. I have several bare spots, and I do have a dog. What is the best way to start developing a great lawn?

    • Hi Diamond
      Having a mixture of grass types means that you need to take care when selecting a weed control. If you tend to favor one over the other three this will help guide you in which weed control to use. If your lawn is full sun, all three grasses will grow well. If you have some shade, your St. Augustine will do the best. Here is a link to a blog posting I did on selecting weed controls for various southern lawns:

      http://tipsfromashton.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/killing-southern-lawn-weeds/

      You can see from this post that Ortho Nutsedge Killer can be used on all lawn types and you get a wide range of weeds with this product. The Ortho Southern Weed B Gon can be used on all lawn types except for one variety of St. Augustine called Floratam. You should spray a small area first to see if your St. Augustine is Floratam where you will see it discolor after use. Many times it will bounce back from this temporary conditions.
      If you feed your grass 4 times this year, you will be surprised at how well it fills in. You should also plan to put down Ortho Fire Ant Killer over your entire lawn as this will also kill chinch bugs and fleas, ticks. If after feeding you still find bare spots, you can transplant some sections of sod from one area of your lawn to another to speed up the spread.

  7. Jean permalink

    I have a fescue lawn & the grass are seeding. Can I wait till the seeds drop to the soil for reseeding? I really don’t like doing it because the grass is really long.

    • Hi Jean
      Go ahead and mow your lawn at the normal mowing height (around 3 inches is good for fescue). Most of the seeds you are seeing will not be viable (meaning they will not actually grow) because they will not get the chance to fully ripen like they do in the fields where they are grown to provide us with grass seed.

  8. Pat permalink

    What can I do for a area that is bare from our dog peeing on the lawn all winter? Is there a special seed that will stand up to this urine problem?

  9. Dan koshak permalink

    I have many bare spots in my front lawn. I bought Scotts
    EZ seed to repair. I will water in but do I need to cover the area with hay or can I use pine needles , of which I have plenty? First time using your website and it is terrific and so helpful. I live in Spartanburg, SC – Zone 7. I used to have a beautiful, luscious lawn but putting in the hands of a professional really loused it up.

    • Hi Dan koshak
      You do not need any additional mulch over the EZ Seed. When the brown colored mulch in the product turns light brown, water until it turns dark brown. Continue to do this until you see growth and then start to lengthen the time between watering by skipping a day or so and water for longer periods of time to encourage deeper roots. Mow when your grass is tall enough to cut. Your goal is to establish strong roots prior to the hot, dry weather in your area. Good Luck!

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