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
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.
<< 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.
If you want to seed now, do it right away. If the forecast shows a week of
that would be an ideal time. Otherwise, arrange for it to get a light sprinkling
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
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
Once you get the weeds under control, or if you don't have huge numbers, I
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
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
shading the roots to help retain moisture. In this climate, cutting short in the
help avoid disease. Water once a week heavily, rather than lightly every day.
help the roots grow deeply for drought resistance.
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?
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
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.
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