Repairing lawn with weeds and bald spots

I have a large lawn that has some broad-leaf weeds (e.g. dandelions) and a few spots with thinning grass. At Walmart and Target I see bags of lawn additives like Weed & Feed and Turf Builder. Will spreading one of those products result in a more attractive lawn? Do I have to spread lawn seed too? I live in Western Washington state. Thanks for any advice. Mike
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Try rec.gardens also

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It's hard to diagnose this without seeing it or knowing more. A lot depends on the type of grass you have. If it's blue grass, it will spread to fill in spots. If it's a clump type grass, like tall fescue, the grass clumps will get larger and fill in some what, but it won't generate new plants as blue grass will.
As far as seeding, I would wait till early Sept, which is optimal time. It's late for spring seeding now, and fall is by far the best time. You also don't want to put a weed killing product down when u seed. Now, you could fertilize and deal with the weeds. If the weeds are just in spots, a small tank sprayer and Weed B Gone or similar is most effective. If it's full of weeds and a large area, then Weed n Feed type product may be best. Once you have most of the weeds under control, you can switch to spot treating with the tank sprayer, which is most effective and also minimizes the use of chemicals.
You could also rent a core aerator and use that on the lawn. It will be a big help in loosening up the soil so the fertilizer can get in and the grass can spread. I'd also get the soil tested and adjust the PH with limestone as needed.
All the above is predicated on the grass that is there being worth saving. If it's a poor grass, or not a uniform type, then you would be better off killing it all in late summer, then reseeding with a good quality grass suited for the area.
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<< If the weeds are just in spots, a small tank sprayer and Weed B Gone or similar is most effective. >>
Ditto that. I discovered that the hard way, by trial and error, using the various products.
My lawn is about 2 acres. I treat it with a 1-gallon pump sprayer using Ortho Weed-B-Gon (2,4,D). I put on a pair of rubber boots and wander around the lawn zapping every healthy-looking dandelion I see. You'd be surprised how gratifying this can be, and how little time it takes to do it. I can wander the whole 2 acres in less than 45 minutes, including stopping to refill the sprayer once or twice. I do this a couple of times a week during the peak dandelion season. This season, I would guess I've killed 300 dandelions. The neat thing is, you can see them withering within 24 hours. Each time you spray, there are fewer healthy ones. Only spray the healthy ones; don't waste time and spray on the ones that are starting to wither. Each time you spray, it takes less time because there are fewer dandelions. Right now, I'm looking out my front bay window and there are ZERO dandelions to be seen anywhere.
Another benefit of this is, if you have trees, you don't have to worry about harming them. If you read the fine print on the big bags of "weed and feed", you'll see it tells you NOT to use the product within the drip line of your trees. Weed killer is poisonous to trees as well as weeds. (It probably won't outright kill an established healthy tree, but it's not going to help it either). Using the tank sprayer to make spot applications, I don't worry about the the trees since so little product is used on a per-square-foot basis.
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If you want to seed now, do it right away. If the forecast shows a week of light rain, that would be an ideal time. Otherwise, arrange for it to get a light sprinkling for a few seconds a few times a day to prevent the seed from drying out. This will really make a difference. Sprinkleing a little fine dirt over the seed will help it hold moisture. Use a seed with perennial grasses rather than annual grasses.
Hold off on the weed&feed until the grass has been cut a few times. Don't cut until the new grass is a few inches tall. (Cut short before planting) Once you get the weeds under control, or if you don't have huge numbers, I suggest a handheld sprayer of weed-b-gon for continuing control. Just walk the lawn once a month or so, spraying the weeds. A jug of concentrate will last years this way.
The most important fertilizing is supposed to be the fall application. This is also the best time for re-seeding - just after the fall rains start. You can do it now, and again then if needed.
If you have a large yard, I recommend a "broadcast" spreader for fertilizer. It's way faster than a "drop" spreader.
Cut LONG, especially during the summer. This will allow the grass to keep more leaf, shading the roots to help retain moisture. In this climate, cutting short in the winter may help avoid disease. Water once a week heavily, rather than lightly every day. This will help the roots grow deeply for drought resistance.
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I've seen that site, didn't find any such switch when I looked, and I even had the deck removed. I'll take another peek later today, it was getting late last night so the light wasn't too good.
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Killing the dandilions in favor of a monoculture of grass is evil; an inherently reprehensible act. You should encourage dandilions and bluets and violets, and clover, and anything else that wants to grow in your lawn to do so, as long as it's not pointy.
As for the thining spots, dig one up, and see what's under it. Shallow dirt over rock? an excess of sand? Thousands of root-eating grubs? two inches of thatch?
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letting "pretty" weeds live when they are not being bad.)
--
May no harm befall you,
flip
Ich habe keine Ahnung was das bedeutet, oder vielleicht doch?
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tenplay wrote:

I was just about to tell you that now was a little late for getting started with this one until I noted the location in WA west of the mountains.
While I have some knowledge of that area, I don't know the grass problems that well. However I do know someone close by that can help you. They are at your local country extension service. They get paid by the government so they don't try to solve every problem with bags of stuff from the store. Likely you will want to have your soil tested and go from there.
Personally I find that starting off by making the conditions good for grass first is the best idea. Then take care of any weeds, the grass will fill in and take control. One suggestion is that you look for slow release organic sources of nitrogen when selecting fertilizers. You get a lot of rain and the organic sources tend to handle that a lot better.
--
Joseph Meehan

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