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Can You Seed and Prevent Crabgrass?

I hear this question quite a few times this time of year asked in two ways:  “I put down my crabgrass preventer earlier this spring, how long do I need to wait before I can seed?”  OR, “Can I prevent crabgrass and seed at the same time?”

If you have already put down Turf Builder plus Halts Crabgrass Preventer the directions state that you should not plant grass seed for 4 months after application.  This would mean you will need to wait until the end of August to seed.  You may be able to get around this if you only have a few small areas you want to seed.  I have seen folks break the crabgrass germination barrier in those spots by cultivating the soil to a 4 inch depth (to disrupt the crabgrass barrier), then mixing in an inch of compost like Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Soil, and then seeding with Scotts EZ Seed.  This is not practical if you want to seed a large area, so you will need to wait until early fall to put down your grass seed.

If you have NOT put down your crabgrass preventer yet and you want to seed this spring you should use Scotts Starter Lawn Food plus Weed Preventer instead of Halts.  (Note:  this is a different active ingredient that does not last as long as Turf Builder plus Halts, however it is your best choice if you want to seed in spring.)

Crabgrass seedlings about a week after germination.  Crabgrass gets its name because it sprawls from a central root low across the ground. It can become a problem quickly because it is able to grow vigorously in hot, dry conditions choking out your good grass. Before dying in the fall, a single weed can distribute thousands of seeds which will be ready to germinate in spring.

Crabgrass seedlings about a week after germination. These seedlings quickly choke out new grass seed that is trying to germinate at the same time.

Dandelions: Hate Them OR Love Them

If you hate dandelions here are tips to get rid of them.  If you love dandelions here are reasons to maybe love them a little bit more.

Why get rid of dandelions in the lawn?

Yellow dandelion blooms in spring are pretty.  If it stopped there we would love them in our lawns.  The trouble begins when their puffballs start blowing seeds into areas that we do not want them growing like in our landscape.  But here is the real reason to put these lawn wreckers on your hit list:  A foot-long taproot that steals water from your good grass all summer long and plants that thrive flat on the ground under your mower blade to restrict grass growth.

Dandelions spread into ground cover beds via seeds from puffballs.

Dandelions spread into ground cover beds via seeds from puffballs.

How do you kill dandelions without hurting your good grass?

If you have lots of them, put down Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed.  The unique, small particles in this lawn food stick like glue to your dandelions.  This is absolutely crucial for penetrating and killing them root and all.  Plus your lawn gets a deep Turf Builder feeding to help it fill in where the dandelions once grew.  For best results apply to a moist lawn when rain or watering is not expected for 24 hours.  Do not use on St. Augustinegrass, Floratam, Dichondra, Lippia, carpetgrass or bentgrass.

Dandelions are pretty when they bloom, however they soon spread seeds by puffballs to take over your landscape and vegetable garden.

Dandelions are pretty when they bloom, however they soon spread seeds by puffballs to take over your landscape and vegetable garden.

If you have only a few dandelions and other weeds, you can spot spray them with Ortho Weed B Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer. Do not use on Floratam (a variety of St. Augustinegrass), Centipede or Bahiagrass lawns.

If you planted new grass seed this spring, hold off treating those areas until your new grass has been mowed 4 times.  And one more thing:  Do not attempt to kill your dandelions with Roundup as you will likely kill some of your good grass by accident.

Why do I have dandelions even though I put down a weed & feed?

Some folks put the weed & feed down too early before the dandelions appear.  Unlike the crabgrass preventer that goes down before you see the crabgrass, dandelions are perennials and can’t be prevented because they grow back from their root as well as from seed.  So for dandelions and many of the weeds in your lawn you kill them after you see them.

The dandelions looked like they were starting to die after I treated them, but why did they grow back?

If the dandelions got an adequate dose of weed control, they will be dead root and all. What I have typically seen is a 90% plus kill after an application of a good weed & feed (like Turf Builder Weed & Feed) that went down at the correct rate. If the lawn is loaded with lots of mature dandelions, sometimes it takes the second application in fall to do a complete kill plus kill baby dandelions that grow from seed in the soil during late summer.

Also keep this in mind: getting rid of the weeds is only half the battle. Your lawn will be a stronger competitor against new weeds if you feed your lawn regularly (about 4 times a year) and mow your grass a little bit taller.  Most lawns are healthier if the grass height is 2-1/2 to 3 inches tall after you mow.

Why is it hard to get rid of dandelions by digging them?

It’s tempting to pull the top off of dandelion weeds that pop up in your yard.  If you miss getting the whole root it will easily come back. Dandelions grow like carrots and produce what is called a tap-root. If you plan on pulling weeds then try using a slim trowel or dandelion puller to get the whole root.

This is the top of a dandelion root with a young dandelion beginning to grow.  Notice that dandelion tops have been pulled off about 4 times leaving scars where it has grown back each time

This is the top of a dandelion root with a young dandelion beginning to grow. Notice that dandelion tops have been pulled off about 4 times leaving scars where it has grown back each time

Why not learn to love dandelions?

I think it is OK to love dandelions.  We all have fond memories of blowing dandelion puffballs in spring and have enjoyed watching our kids enjoy this too.  Some folks look forward to making dandelion wine from the flowers (click here for several recipes).  Other folks grow dandelion greens in their vegetable garden because they are good for you (click here to learn the health benefits and to get a few recipes).   A dandelion is not a weed in these cases because folks want it to thrive.  (One note, dandelion greens from your vegetable garden are better than ones growing in your lawn because they have the room to reach maximum leaf growth since there is no mowing and no competition from the grass.  This is the same reason you would not want to grow your spinach or lettuce in your lawn.  You also would not allow the dandelions in your vegetable garden to create puffballs unless you wanted nothing but dandelions in your garden.  You also would not harvest dandelion flowers from an area where weed controls were used.)

 

 

Extend Your Salad Green Harvest

We get three seasons of veggies from our deck planters that are located just steps away from our kitchen.  After the last of our spring harvest (spinach, lettuce, kale) we will plant summer veggies (peppers, beans, tomatoes) in early May. In mid-September we will shift back to a crop of lettuce, spinach, and kale. 

These self-watering planters hold about 4 gallons of water. The soil is Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix. We have found it is best to start with fresh soil each year and clean the roots out of the water reservoir. We fed the plants with Osmocote Plant Food when we planted them.

These self-watering planters hold about 4 gallons of water. The soil is Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix. We have found it is best to start with fresh soil each year and clean the roots out of the water reservoir. We fed the plants with Osmocote Plant Food when we planted them. (click photo to enlarge)

Rather than harvest an entire lettuce, kale or spinach plant, we pick individual leaves from these plants every evening for our salad.  The more we pick the more they grow new leaves from the center of the plant. (click photo to enlarge)

Rather than harvest an entire lettuce, kale or spinach plant, we pick individual leaves from these plants every evening for our salad. The more we pick the more they grow new leaves from the center of the plant. (click photo to enlarge)

My Fire Ant Killing Approach Works!

Spring rains and warmer weather are encouraging fire ant mounds to show up.   They wreak havoc on your lawn, and make it next to impossible to feel safe and enjoy your outdoor space with friends and family.  I have had great success with the Ortho 2-Step approach to kill the fire ants I see and control the ones I don’t see.

When you accidently encounter a fire ant colony thousands of ants are on you like a magnet with multiple stings and bites.  The Ortho 2-Step method will help you will the war on fire ants!

When you accidently encounter a fire ant colony thousands of ants are on you like a magnet with multiple stings and bites. The Ortho 2-Step method will help you win the war on fire ants! (click photo to enlarge)

Here’s how I took care of my Georgia Fire Ant problem:

Step 1 – Kill the Mound: Treat mounds you see with Ortho Orthene Fire Ant Killer.  This product is designed to kill the queen and destroy the mound.  Do not disturb the mound prior to treating.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of product over and around each mound and do not water.  Over the next several days the ants and queen in the mound will be killed.

Step 2 – Protect the Ground: Treating only the mounds you see is not enough to completely get rid of fire ants. That is because not all fire ant mounds are easily seen. Colonies may remain active underground, hidden from sight. Additionally, new queens can fly in to establish colonies or foraging fire ants may enter the yard to look for food. Use a lawn spreader to put down Ortho MAX Fire Ant Killer Broadcast Granules to protect your lawn by killing foraging fire ants and controlling new fire ant mounds from forming for up to six months.  Water your lawn after spreading the granules.

Answers to Your Grub Questions

When is the best time to put down GrubEx?

The number 1 question I get in spring is when is the best time to apply GrubEx since the package says to apply spring to late summer? You will also note a direction on the package to not apply to waterlogged soils and to water after application. Since the soils tend to be very wet this time of year and since the grubs will not be laying their eggs until summer, I asked our researchers when they apply GrubEx to their lawns. Their answer: Early May. (If you are reading this and May is in your rearview mirror and you have not put your GrubEx down yet this year, apply as soon as you can up until late summer.) A single application of GrubEx will then prevent the next generation of grubs, that will hatch this summer, from attacking your lawn.  (Click here to learn more about GrubEx.)

When do grubs do the most lawn damage?

Most grub damage is done in fall, however some folks do not notice they have a problem until sections of their lawn look dead in spring because the roots are gone. Sometimes the lawn can be peeled back like a carpet. In extreme cases you may see raccoons or crows tear up the lawn looking for grubs to eat.

Grubs are the white larva of common beetles, including those pesky Japanese Beetles.  They feed on your lawn’s roots, eating away where you can’t see them – until one day your lawn turns brown and you can roll up sections of it like a carpet.

Grubs are the white larva of common beetles, including those pesky Japanese Beetles. They feed on your lawn’s roots, eating away where you can’t see them – until one day your lawn turns brown and you can roll up sections of it like a carpet.

Here is the grub life cycle:

In early spring mature grubs awaken from hibernation and begin to work their way up from deep in the soil to just below the grass surface. In late spring, these grubs change into a pupae stage before turning into beetles that later feed on roses and other shrubs and trees in your landscape.

In summer, beetles burrow into the lawn and lay eggs that will hatch into grubs.

In late summer and early fall, newly hatched grubs feed heavily on your grass roots before hibernating for winter. It is during this time that young grubs do the most lawn damage as they gorge themselves prior to hibernation.

(Click image to enlarge)

(Click image to enlarge)

I treated for grubs, why do I still have moles?

GrubEx doesn’t harm earthworms, which are so beneficial to your soil. Even though you rid your lawn of grubs, you may still get the occasional mole in your lawn feasting on your earthworms.

Click here to get info covering how to rid your lawn of moles.

Should spring grubs be treated?

If you find grubs when digging in your soil during spring the first thought is to rush to get a treatment on your lawn. There are two reasons that you may not need to worry about spring grubs. First, they do not feed in late spring when they are making the shift from the grub stage to the pupae stage prior to becoming beetles. And second, if your lawn looks healthy in spring it can tolerate a few grubs without sustaining damage, especially if there are less than five grubs present per square foot.

My 4 Tips for Planting Vegetable and Herb Plants

Garden Centers are loaded with great looking vegetable and herb plants that are itching to be planted.

Garden Centers are loaded with great looking vegetable and herb plants that are itching to be planted.

  1. Keep your plants watered while they wait to be planted and do not leave them sitting on a hot driveway where roots can get over heated.
  2. Improve your soil by mixing in an inch or two of organic matter.  When planting in your native soil I like Miracle-Gro Nature’s Care Organic Garden Soil with Water Conserve.  When planting my veggies in containers I like Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix.
  3. For plants that are in peat-type pots, cut the shrink-wrap label from the rim of the pot and tear away the bottom of the pot (can leave the sides).
  4. Firm the soil around the plant to avoid air pockets.  Feed your plants.  My favorite plant food for in ground planting is Miracle Gro Nature’s Care Organic Vegetable Food.  For container gardening, I like Osmocote Flower and Vegetable Plant Food.  After feeding water your plants thoroughly.
We get more salad than you can "shake a stick at" from various kinds of lettuce, kale and spinach planted about a month ago.  (click photo to enlarge)

We get more salad than you can “shake a stick at” from various kinds of lettuce, kale and spinach planted on our deck. (click photo to enlarge)

April – What Does Your Lawn Need?

For southern Lawns your option is to feed with Scotts Turf Builder OR apply a Weed & Feed designed for your type of lawn:

  • Scotts Bonus S Southern Weed & Feed – use on St. Augustinegrass (including Floratam).  Apply to a dry lawn and water after spreading.  (Note:  This product can also be used on Zoysia and Centipedegrass lawns, however Turf Builder Weed & Feed may be a better option for these lawns depending on the weeds you are trying to kill.)
  • Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed – use on all Southern Lawns except St. Augustinegrass.   Apply to a moist lawn and do not water for 24 hours after spreading.

For northern lawns your option is to feed your lawn with Turf Builder OR apply a lawn food plus crabgrass preventer:

(Northern lawn note:  This first feeding will help your lawn recover and fill in after our tough winter. Your lawn will now be all set until you do your next feeding in about 6 weeks which will either be Scotts Turf Builder or Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed.)

You should apply your crabgrass Preventer by the time forsythia bushes in your neighborhood have stopped blooming and lost their flowers, or if you do not have forsythia, by the time you see lilacs in bloom, or before you start seeing dandelion puffballs.

You should apply your crabgrass Preventer by the time forsythia bushes in your neighborhood have stopped blooming and lost their flowers, or if you do not have forsythia, by the time you see lilacs in bloom, or before you start seeing dandelion puffballs.

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