Everything you need to know about planting new grass or improving your current lawn in 3 easy steps. Plus additional tips for seeding aftercare. My Lowes 4 step fertiizer weed and feed program. Use Scotts or Sta-Green. I show you how to create a weed free program for a lush green lawn every year! Now that the weather is warming up, outdoor activities are gearing up, and you’re finally looking at your lawn. Homeowners may be tempted to run to their local lawn and garden store to pick up a bag of Weed-n-Feed. Many “experts” will tell you that this is the best way for homeowners to control weeds and fertilize for “season long control”.
Growing your lawn from grass seed: 3 easy steps
Planting grass seed is a way to expand your lawn into new areas and maximize the green space around your home. You can also plant new grass seed to improve your current lawn if it’s looking a little dingy. You can even use grass seed to restart your lawn completely.
Before you seed, start with some quick and easy prep work.
Make sure it’s the right time of year for seeding
As an easy rule, if you’re experiencing (or are about to experience) harsh temperatures you’ll want to wait until the extreme weather passes to plant your grass seed for best results.
Either spring or fall is the best time to plant, based on your region and grass type. To keep this simple, if you’re in the northern part of the country, you’re likely in the ‘cool season’ area, meaning the best time to plant grass seeds is the fall, or typically September through November. If you’re in the southern or middle regions, you’ll likely want to plant in spring or early summer, typically March – June.
Trying to plant seed out of season may still be possible, but it can make for slower growing and hurt the chances of the new grass’s survival. Just something to keep in mind.
Use the right type of grass seed for your area
Using the same regions shown above, you’ll want to buy a grass seed type that grows best in your climate.
- Cool season grasses (northern states) include: Kentucky bluegrass, Perennial ryegrass and fescue.
- Transition zone grasses include: Zoysia, Fescue / Bluegrass blends, and Bluegrass / Perennial Ryegrass blends
- Warm season grasses include: Bermudagrass, Bahiagrass, Zoysia, and Centipede grass.
Pennington’s article on grass types based on more specific regions may be helpful if you’re still trying to decide.
Supplies you’ll need
Assuming that the timing is right, here’s what you’ll need to buy.
We recommend shopping on Amazon, Home Depot, or Lowes for fast and convenient selections. Home Depot will probably be able to provide more insight if you feel you’re still questioning what grass type or how much to buy.
Check out this article on the Spruce for the best grass seed picks in 2020.A pH Tester
This will be used to test your soil before adding the seed. You can find these on Amazon for around $10.
Grass feeder (aka fertilizer)
Once planted, the seed will need to start growing quickly, before surrounding weeds out-grow and kill it. Grass feeder should be applied right after the seeds are planted, so be sure to add this to your cart as well.
Here are the top 10 lawn fertilizers of 2020 based on BestReviews.Guide
To protect the seeds from blowing away, being burned by the sun, eaten by birds, etc. you’ll want to bury the seeds under a layer of nutrient-dense soil, like Scotts turf builder. Local nurseries and Home Depot or Lowes will have soil available, just make sure to explain your use before buying, to avoid any soil with weed seed.
3 easy steps to plant grass seed
Step 1: Prepare the surface of the lawn
Whether you are seeding for the very first time or just overseeding your existing thinned out lawn, you need to make sure you have a good, solid foundation. Make sure to remove weeds, rocks, sticks, and other debris from the lawn.
Check any uneven areas so you can try to level the ground before laying down any seed. This will help prevent water from collecting and pooling in low areas, which will cause the seed to rot.
Loosen the soil
If your soil is compacted, you will need to loosen at least the top four inches of soil. You can use a tiller or rake. This will allow air flow and will provide the best chance for vigorous growth.
You can also scatter out a thin layer of topsoil over the lawn at this stage. Since it is freshly laid, it will not be compacted, allowing good airflow. Make sure to keep enough left for coverage at the end.
Applying topsoil will also level out the lawn for a nice and even look, which will also help you avoid puddles when you are watering. If you encounter divots or holes, this is a good time to fill them in to prevent problem areas once the grass starts growing.
Step 2: Enrich your soil with nutrients to help grass seeds grow
If you’re planting new grass seed because your lawn is dead or struggling to grow, there may be deeper issues to address with your soil.
This is where you’ll need to get out your pH tester. Ideally, the pH for most grass types is between 6.0 and 7.0.
If your soil’s pH is under 6.0, it is too acidic, meaning it needs nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium. Lime (aka limestone) can be applied to the soil to help increase the soil pH and make those nutrients more available.
If your soil’s pH is above a 7, add compost, peat, sulfur, or fertilizer to lower the pH.
Step 3: Lay and feed the grass seed
When laying down seeds, you must do a pretty heavy application for a brand new lawn. Try to maintain an even application over the entire area so that everything gets covered.
Alternatively, you need lighter coverage when overseeding an existing lawn. Put more grass seed in sparse areas to promote growth.
To lay the seed, you can just use your bare hands or a spreader for larger areas.
Cover up the seeds or work the seeds into the soil
When seed is only applied to the surface level of the ground, it will dry out quickly and will not germinate. It might also get washed away by water or wind.
Add another thin layer of the soil that you purchased onto your lawn to bury the seeds.
If you do not have soil to put on top of the seeds, the seed must be worked into the soil; about ⅓ to ½ inch deep. After sowing the seed, use a rake to work the seed into the soil and smooth the surface.
This will keep the water from evaporating immediately, thus keeping the ground moist. It also protects the seeds from wildlife.
Add your feeder
Once the seed is applied to the soil, treat the yard with fertilizer to accelerate growth.
Maintaining your lawn after seeding
Water every single day
The final step in successfully planting grass seed is to keep the lawn adequately moisturized all the time. This is very crucial in the process.
If the seed dries out, it will die. After sowing grass seed, they will need constant and frequent watering unlike the “water deeply and less frequently” watering for mature grass. This is to help the seed germinate and develop its root system for a healthy lawn.
On the other hand, overwatering will hinder the germination process as well, so you need to use just enough water to keep the soil moist at seed depth. It should be moist, never soggy.
You must commit to water the new or overseeded lawn at least two to three times every single day to keep the top inch of the soil moist at all times. The germination time for grass seed ranges from 5 to 30 days depending on the variety or longer in cooler temperatures.
Check moisture levels
Once the seedbed has started to establish itself and sprouts have begun to pop out, continue to check the ground’s moisture regularly. If you notice it getting dry, add some water.
Remember, these new grass seedlings have very short roots and they will still require very frequent watering so the roots can spread out. Steps one and two will just go to waste if the watering part will not be done appropriately, so your commitment is a must!
For after-care, whether you have seeded a new lawn or just filled in a bare spot, start mowing your grass after 8 weeks or until the grass has reached a mowing height. Do not cut it too short and do not cut more than one-third of its height as it will stress out the grass.
How long does new grass seed take to grow?
Generally speaking, it takes between 7 and 30 days for grass seed germination to begin.
Can you just sprinkle grass seed on top of your existing lawn?
While it’s possible to simply sow the new grass seed over your existing lawn, taking the time to prepare your lawn beforehand will increase the likelihood of seed germination and improve your end result.
Will grass seed grow if I just throw it down?
Probably not. Some seeds on the soil’s surface will sprout, but the germination rate will diminish, and you will not be left with ideal results.
Will grass seed germinate on top of soil?
It depends how loose your soil is. Grass seeds are not strong enough to grow through soil. They’re meant to be placed on top of loose, prepared soil. Germination can quickly suffer from too much soil on top of them.
When To Apply Weed and Feed-Complete Year Round Guide
As a Lowes garden manager, one of the most asked questions I get is about healthy, green, weed free lawns. Here are my tips and directions for your Lowes lawn care program applying Sta Green or Scotts.
Weed and feed fertilizer will help improve your lawn.
The number one question: When is the best time to apply weed and feed to my lawn?
Well…it depends really. Where you live, whether you have sun or shade, and lots of other things make a big difference in what your lawn needs. Most regions in the United States can apply weed and feed from March till November.
A well-fed lawn is healthier, which means it has a better root system to combat heat, cold, drought, mowing, foot traffic and other stresses.
One easy to follow rule is to use the summer holidays as your guide.
If you’re going to fertilize, remember the summer holidays of Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day as good times to apply.
Memorial Day-Weed and Feed
July 4th– Fertilizer with Insect Control
Labor Day– Fall Fertilizer
Remember, crabgrass control will need to be early spring, so maybe around Easter.
There are some simple rules to follow when choosing and applying your weed and feed products. Lowes can help you build a successful program specifically for your lawn with Scotts Turfbuilder and Sta-Green Fertilizer programs.
And while fertilizing even once a year will improve the condition of the lawn, a well-fed lawn that receives 4 feedings a year will do much better.
Weed and Feed Basics and the 4 Step Process
Ok, this is my disclaimer: This is my version of the 4 step program that I have used for years. It works! Make sure you always follow instructions on the bag and use the correct settings on your spreader.
You will find many different versions of weed and feed programs out there. They all will be some variation of the following:
Step 1. Crabgrass Preventer
Step 2. Weed and Feed
Step 3. Summer Fertilizer with Insect Control
Step 4. Fall or Winter Fertilizer
The #1 Mistake: Skipping Step 1 and not using a crabgrass preventer.
The best looking lawns don’t have crabgrass for a reason; they use a crabgrass preventer every year! You can skip it if you want, but I don’t recommend it. Most people don’t realize this, but Scotts Halts and Sta Green Crabgrass both have fertilizer as well in the bag. So take care of the crabgrass and get in that first application of fertilizer.
Your soil supplies some of the nutrients that grass needs but most soils are not able to provide all of them during the entire growing season. Fertilizer helps your lawn stay healthy by promoting new blade and root growth and will aid in recovery from summer foot traffic and pest damage.
Weed & feed is the generic name for a broad range of lawn chemical products designed to strengthen existing grass and kill off certain weeds. It generally improves your lawn’s ability to absorb water and food, and adds necessary nutrients which promote healthy growth. A healthy lawn discourages weed growth and enables a strong root system for your lawn.
The “weed” portion of weed and feed is one of a variety of broad leaf-targeted herbicides, usually Dicamba or 2,4-D, that attacks dandelions, dollarweed, and most other green leafy weeds. The chemical is applied to and absorbed by the leaves of the weed.
The granules will not sit on grass blades, which is why weed and feed generally won’t kill grass unless it is incorrectly applied. There are also liquid forms of weed and feed that are generally applied with a sprayer.
The “feed” portion of weed & feed is a fertilizer that contains some combination of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to green up your lawn. The exact blend of fertilizer ingredients varies by brand, but all products will contain some percentage of nitrogen. Some products also include additional benefits, such as timed-released nitrogen for extended feeding.
When to Weed and Feed With Lowes Sta Green or Scotts
While feeding your lawn once a year will improve its condition, feeding it four times a year will make it even healthier. If you put your lawn on the regular schedule it will stay lush and green all season long.
Fertilize your lawn in the spring, early fall and/or late fall (such as late March, early April, early September and early November). However, if you live in an area with long, cold winters, then late April, August and the end of October may be best.
In most climates, late fall tends to offer better results because that’s when weeds grow stronger roots and take the herbicide to the roots along with it, killing them. You should also never fertilize any cool-season lawn during hot summer months.
If you live in the southern or western parts of the United States, such as Florida, Texas, Alabama or California fertilize your lawn in early summer and again in late summer or early fall. The application process is slightly different if you are using a product for southern lawns, such as Scotts Bonus S.
With all fertilizer schedules, you can add one treatment in midsummer, but avoid fertilizing when the temperature is too hot, particularly when it’s 85 degrees or above.
> Read our guide on southern weed and feed
Some Products Need Dry Lawn, Others Need Wet Lawn
For most areas of the United States, weed and feed products should be applied to a wet lawn either from rain or dew, on a calm day and left on the surface for 24 to 48 hours.
You can also wet the grass with a garden hose or turn on your sprinkler system for a few minutes before applying weed and feed.
The general exception is crabgrass control and southern weed and feed products.
Note: Scotts Bonus S, Sta Green Southern weed and feed and most crabgrass control products should be applied to a dry lawn.
A wet lawn helps fertilizer particles stick to the blades of grass and the weed leaves. To ensure that the particles have the best chance of doing their job, don’t water the lawn again for 48 hours.
If you’ve recently used grass seed, sod or sprigging, wait until your new grass has been mowed at least three times before applying any weed and feed product. For best results use a broadcast spreader set to the level indicated on the product package.
Early Spring: March – April. Step 1
Feeding your lawn in the spring strengthens roots and gets it off to a good start. Crabgrass control is the number one reason to use a pre-emergent fertilzer. If you had crabgrass last year, apply a combination fertilizer with a pre-emergent to control it.
Pre-emergents, such as those commonly used to prevent crabgrass, is weed control which must be applied before the weeds germinate. They are ineffective if the weeds are already actively growing.
You will only have about a 3 week window to apply Step 1. Use Scotts Halts plus Crabgrass Preventer or Sta-Green Crab-Ex Crabgrass Preventer. This early application is the most important part of getting a weed free and healthy green lawn. Yes, use it even if you didn’t have crabgrass last year.
Soil Temperature Map: Find your local ground temperature here
Step 1 should include pre-emergent weed killer and fertilizer used in early spring. This can be from mid March to late April.
Crabgrass normally germinates when the ground temperature reaches 55° F . This is also the ground temperature at which dogwood trees start to bud and forsythias begin blooming.
Late Spring: April – June. Step 2
Spring is prime time for lawns. Your grass is busy growing and using up stored energy. Step 2 weed and feed fertilizer is designed to strengthen existing grass and kill off weeds at the same time. Its also the best time to apply a weed and feed product.
Weeds want sun, water and food, which, is what your lawn needs too. That’s why you want to supply the lawn with a weed and feeding product designed for this time of year. Your grass is growing and unfortunately, broadleaf weeds are actively growing, too. It improves your lawn’s ability to absorb water and nutrients.
Weed & feed has a fertilizer to help “green up” your lawn. It also has a weed killer that targets broadleaf weeds like dandelions and many others. Many weed and feed products also have timed-release nitrogen for extended feeding.
The weed killer in post-emergent types of fertilizers are contact killers, and are effective only if the weeds are already actively growing. They will not kill weeds which have not yet germinated.
Applying in the spring and summer also gives your lawn a nitrogen booster that helps build the roots of your grass. Feed your lawn with a combination of fertilizer with broadleaf weed control like Scotts Turfbuilder with Plus 2 Weed Control or Sta-Green Weed and Feed.
Summer: June – August. Step 3
If you’re going to fertilize, remember the summer holidays of Memorial Day and Labor Day as the best times to apply. But what about summer months? What to do around the Fourth of July? Step 3 weed and feed products are designed for maximum effectiveness with a late-spring to mid summer application. They contain herbicides designed to kill actively growing broadleaf weeds like dandelions.
These herbicides are much more effective if you apply them in the spring or even the fall. At that time, the weeds are either growing or storing up reserves for winter and moving nutrients from the leaves to the roots. They move the herbicide to the roots at the same time, resulting in a better kill.
You can still apply weed and feed in the summer
It is not recommended to apply if the temperature will be above 90 degrees and no re-application of any fertilizer for another 30 days.
Summer is tough on grass. You can still apply a weed and feed product, but do so cautiously. Heat, drought, foot traffic, and insects stress it out. Feeding your lawn in the summer still helps to protect and strengthen it against these problems.
Lawns in warm-season grass areas should be fed over the summer months as they grow steadily from spring to fall. Also consider spot treatment of weeds by using a product such as Ortho Weed B Gon.
A more common problem you will see in the summer months are insects. If you see insects in your grass, use a feeding product that also contains insect control, such as Scotts Turf Builder with SummerGuard. For additional insect control try Ortho Bug B Gon Max granules or try Bug B Gone liquid spray around the perimeter of your home.
Fall: September – November. Step 4
Fall brings back ideal conditions for your lawn. Cool nights, ample rainfall and morning dew all contribute to new growth for your lawn and prime time for Step 4. If you missed an early spring application of weed and feed, now is the time to apply.
Since the lawn is ready to grow again, it is looking for the nutrients it needs to recover from summer damage. Some experts say this is the single most important lawn feeding of the year, more important than an early spring application. Apply your final feeding right before the winter months. You can apply a fall fertilizer until the average daytime temperature is above 50 degrees.
This means most regions of the United States can apply into late October. This will strengthen roots and increase nitrogen storage for an early spring green up next year. Try Scotts Turfbuilder with WinterGuard or Sta Green Weed and Feed Winterizer.
Planting Grass Seed or Aerating after Weed and Feed
Weed & Feed prevents seed germination, so you should avoid planting new grass or aerating your lawn for at least four weeks. If you apply weed and feed in the spring and summer, spread new grass seed and aerate in the fall each year.
Reasons Weed & Feed Didn’t Work
Remember to always follow the directions on the package. Always use a spreader to apply. Here are some common reasons why a weed & feed application could be ineffective:
- Weed & feed targets broadleaf weeds like dandelions, and dollarweeds. It does nothing for crabgrass and other grassy weeds. For these, you should use a pre-emergent like Scotts Halts or Sta-Green Crab Ex crabgrass preventer in the early spring. Must be applied before weeds and crabgrass are growing.
- Mature weeds are not actively growing, so the product will not be as effective. Weed and feed should be applied early in the growing season and a couple days after mowing.
- Rain and sprinklers can wash away the granules. Make sure there is no rain in the forecast and avoid watering for two days after applying.
What if You Apply Too Much Weed & Feed?
The best way to avoid damaging your lawn after too much fertilizer application is to flush out the weed & feed. Water your lawn with 1 to 2 inches of water for about 4 days. It would be best not to apply any other weed & feed fertilizer until the following year. Unfortunately, over watering can create run-off in certain drainage situations, so be aware of your location and where the water is going.
A Healthy Lawn With Lowes Using Scotts or Sta-Green.
Enjoy a lush, healthy lawn with Scotts Turf Builder fertilizer or Lowes exclusive Sta Green Products. Both combine essential nutrients for even feeding and weed control from early spring through late fall. Both provide uniform coverage and improves your lawn’s ability to absorb water and other nutrients to keep it healthy and looking great.
Remember to use the major summer holidays as your guide to the 4 step program: Step 1 Crabgrass in early spring. Step 2 Weed and Feed around Memorial Day. Step 3 Insect Control around July 4th. Step 4 Fall Fertilizer around Labor Day.
The 4 Step Weed and Feed Program-Make Your Own
The 4 step program from Scotts has been around for years. Did you know that it’s officially only available at local hardware stores and not Lowes or Home Depot? But, you can make your own version easily.
The bags sold at independent stores, like Ace Hardware, are a slightly different analysis and the bags will have each step number printed on each bag.
For example, here’s the difference in the first two applications of the 4 step process.
4 step bag: Step 1 for crabgrass ratio: 26-0-03. Step 2 Weed and Feed: 28-0-06
Lowes bag: Comparable Step 1 Halts crabgrass ratio: 30-0-04. Comparable Step 2 Weed and Feed : 28-0-03
Not a big difference. Sure, you can make a 4 step program simply by purchasing the four bags at Lowes or Home Depot, and many of us do, but the actual 4 step Scotts fertilizer program is only available at your local hardware.
Here are a few more helpful guides for weed and feed, grass seed and crabgrass control:
8 Reasons Weed-‘N’-Feed May Not Be Right for You
Now that the weather is warming up, outdoor activities are gearing up, and you’re finally looking at your lawn. Homeowners may be tempted to run to their local lawn and garden store to pick up a bag of Weed-n-Feed. Many “experts” will tell you that this is the best way for homeowners to control weeds and fertilize for “season long control”.
The reality is, you will pay top dollar for a subpar product. Once you factor in the product costs and your time, it will be less expensive in the long run to hire a professional that is certified in lawn weed control and fertilization. Personal Lawn Care, Inc. provides three weed control and three fertilization applications with free touch-ups throughout the season. Our program provides true “Weed-n-Feed” for your lawn.
Here are 8 reasons you shouldn’t use Weed-n-Feed
1 Wrong Amount: One of the reasons most homeowner are unhappy with their Weed-n-Feed application is due to an improper rate of application. If you apply the product too thin, the weeds will be able to break through; too heavy and you risk burning your lawn or stressing it out. Sometimes the product itself is poorly formulated or simply too strong for your lawn.
2. Bad Timing: There is a small window of time (usually 6-12 weeks) where you can control spring weeds. If you have a hard time fitting lawn care into your schedule (like most homeowners) and it creeps into May or June before you apply Weed-n-Feed products, they will at the least be ineffective and at most damage your lawn. Unfortunately your local lawn and garden center will sell Weed-n-Feed products well into the summer.
3. You don’t water it in: There are two irrigation aspects that must be met when using Weed-n-Feed products. First, the leaves of the weeds must be wet before the product is applied. To take care of the weeds that have already germinated, the product must stick to the leaves. Then, about 24hr later it must be watered in. The product has to soak into the soil to work on germinating weeds. Products that your local lawn professional apply soaks deeper into the soil preventing germination. Basically knocking out those weeds before they have a chance.
4. The product doesn’t cover all weeds: Even though the Weed-n-Feed you get at your local lawn and garden center says it covers a broad spectrum of weeds, they may be overselling their product. Most of their products are sold nationwide. It is impossible for one product to cover every weed eventuality. Personal Lawn Care tailors the products applied to meet your specific weed control needs. This provides targeted control for even the hardiest of weeds.
5. Won’t prevent weeds in the future: Just because your Weed-n-Feed takes care of your dandelions now, it may not take care of the crabgrass that springs up a week later. There may be products that last longer, but for better control, contact your local lawn care professional.
6. You don’t know how safe the product is: There is a lot of debate about products used for weed control. The Weed-n-Feed products available may contain any number of chemicals. Just because the Department of Agriculture approves a product to be used on your lawn, doesn’t mean that it is safe for you, your children, or your pets. Over the past 30 years, Cullen Beard, owner of Personal Lawn Care, has taken great care in choosing which products are applied to your lawn. His background as a science and chemistry teacher makes him qualified to research the products in depth. “If I wouldn’t use the products on my own yard, around my own children, then I won’t use it on yours”.
7. Too much Nitrogen: The “feed” part of Weed-n-Feed products is usually a high nitrogen fertilizer. High nitrogen fertilizers should only be used during the summer when the lawn has come completely out of dormancy. Providing your lawn with too much nitrogen too early in the season will weaken root growth thereby making it more susceptible to drought or other stresses. Cullen recommends a high phosphorous fertilizer in the spring followed by a high nitrogen fertilizer during the summer.
8. Can interfere with seeding: If you are planning to seed your lawn, Weed-n-Feed will stop you in your tracks. Because Weed-n-Feed kills the weeds as they are germinating, it will also kill your delicate grass shoots. If you are planning on seeding, you should refrain from using any pre-emergent weed control until the new grass is well established.