Growing new grass and controlling weeds in Michigan

mirasolaSeptember 15, 2013

I moved into a new home a few months ago in Michigan, and as an overeager first time homeowner I decided to patch up some dirt spots with grass seed in July without doing much research. I've now learned that's a huge mistake (most of it has died), and that Aug-Sep is probably the best time so that the roots can build up strength over the winter. But I still have some questions:

First, is it too late to lay new seed in Michigan, or should I wait until next year? Weather can be so up and down, so I worry it will frost too early and kill the seed again. I'd be laying it down in the next couple days if it's feasible with Pennington 1 step complete seed.

Second, there's a bit of a chickweed problem in the lawn. We pulled a lot out, but I'm not sure if we got all the roots and some of it is still there, so I'd like to treat it with something like Weed-B-Gon Chickweed, Clover, & Oxalis Killer. If I apply this to the lawn, will it prevent new grass seed from growing? I'm wondering if I should focus on killing the chickweed now, and then just wait to plant new grass next fall. Ideally I'd like to do everything now, but I want to get it right this time, so better safe than sorry.

Lastly, when is a good time to fertilize the whole lawn before the winter? And should I avoid applying it to seed areas?

Sorry for the lengthy post, but this is new to me and it's not always easy to find info specific to my area. Appreciate any info anyone can provide!

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Yes, you can still seed. I would not treat the chickweed now because that will delay getting the seed in. If you have full sun, then I would suggest using a seed with about 10% Kentucky bluegrass in it. The KBG will spread and fill in thin spots in the future so you don't have to continually overseed. But if the area is shady, then you should pick a seed with no KBG but one that has fine fescue in it.

Next year you can treat the chickweed.

Winterizing seems to be a thing you do in the north. It is best done after the grass stops growing but before the first frost or snow. If you have KBG, it will turn brown (dormancy) so you would try to time it for before that happens. I hope tiemco comes in to advise on that aspect of this. If it were me I would use an organic fertilizer at that time instead of the high N winterizer. Deal with the true winterizer in 2014.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 1:14AM
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Thanks for the advice - very helpful.

One other thought I had was around transplanting patches of grass. We're hoping to dig up part of our backyard early in the spring to lay pavers for a patio. In a video I watched, they recommended digging up the grass in blocks in case we wanted to insert them in other parts of the lawn. Since this is already established grass, my thought was that it would be safe to transplant this to the front yard in springtime - is this right? Or should we also wait to do this in the fall?

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 9:35AM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Sod can be done in the spring. Use a sod cutter to cut it at about 3/4 inch deep.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 3:27PM
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It's blatant theft, but it saves time in re-writting the info evrytime.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fall fertilization

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 6:46PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Grass I hope you don't mind...I reran the spell checker and caps checker, fixed a few commas, and basically left everything else the same. I put it into an HTML format for posting here. Grass, please write to me from my member page.

Here's Grass1950's message from the link...

Credit and apologies to Texas_Weed for plagiarism and following his lead, but some concepts are just darn good ideas and some facts are, well, facts.
What follows is a generic calendar of recommended lawn care practices designed to help you care for a Kentucky Bluegrass (KBG) lawn. Please understand this is generic and time tables may have to be adjusted for you geographical location.
With the exception of "organic", the use of the term "fertilizer" means synthetic fertilizer, either slow or fast release will do with the exception of the last fertilizer of the season= urea 46-0-0, which, to my knowledge, is only available as fast release and is applied with that property a priority.

March through May


Mow when it first turns green or when you first notice growth as the grass comes out of winter dormancy with the mower set at 2 to 2 1/2 inches. Mowing at his height will encourage KBG's early prolific spring rhizome and spreading ability. Practice mulch mowing, aka grass re-cycling, which means simply leaving grass clippings on your lawn. Grass clippings decompose quickly and can provide 1 percent of the total weight of the clippings in additional nitrogen and potassium and another .4% of the clippings weight in phosphorus. That can be 25% or more of the lawn's fertilizer needs. If prolonged rain or other factors prevent frequent mowing and clippings are too plentiful to leave on the lawn, they can be collected and used as mulch.


Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet around May 30- June 1st. This will supply nutrient needs of the grass into the heat of summer and allow the grass to store carbs for survival during summer dormancy. Use a complete nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K) turf-grade fertilizer with a 3-l-2, 4-1-2, triple 12 or triple 19 ratios (for example, 15-5-10, 20-5-10. 12-12-12, or 19-19-19). Let a soil test be your guide to select a proper ratio of NPK to adjust for any deficiencies.

To determine the amount of product needed to apply 1 pound of' nitrogen per thousand square feet, divide 100 by the first number in the fertilizer ratio. For example, for a 20-5-10 product, divide 100 by 20. The result is 5.0 pounds of product per thousand square feet.

Weed Control

Apply pre-emergence herbicides to control crabgrass, goose grass, foxtail, etc. by the time the forsythia are in full bloom.


In many of the areas in which KBG grows best (temperature zones 4,5 and 6), Mother Nature will often take care of the irrigation needs of KBG in the spring; however: water should be present to a soil depth of 4 to 6 inches. Probe with a screwdriver to determine moisture depth. KBG needs a weekly application of about 1 to 1 1/4 inches of water. On sandy soils it often requires more frequent watering, for example, 1/2 inch of water every third day. It may be necessary to irrigate an area for 3 to 5 hours to apply 1 inch of water. (It requires 640 gallons of water to deliver 1 inch of water per thousand square feet.) Because clay soils accept water slowly, irrigate just until runoff occurs, wait 1/2 hour until the water has been absorbed, and then continue irrigating until the desired depth or amount is obtained. Best watering frequency for conservation is determined by looking for temporary darkening- bluish gray color, foot printing, wilted, folded, or curled leaves indicate that it is time to water. Proper irrigation may prevent or reduce pest problems, environmental stress and drought/heat dormancy.

Thatch Removal

Even if proper water, mowing, and fertilizing techniques are followed thatch can be a problem with KBG. Before thatching, make sure you actually have a thatch problem. Thatch is not detrimental unless it exceeds 1/2 inch. Some thatch accumulation is beneficial as it insulates the roots from heat and helps retain moisture. If needed you may vertically mow or mechanically plug aerate in late March to early May to remove the thatch (layer of un-decayed grass) BEFORE applying a pre-emergent. It is advisable to wait to address thatch until late September- early October or, if overseeding, late August- early September and incorporate de-thatching/aerating with the overseeding. Weed pressure is dramatically less in the fall and the subsequent spring pre-emergent will help prevent weed seed germination. Aerating is not recommended if you have rhizotomatious weeds like poa trivialis or quackgrass--at the very least, those areas should be avoided.

June through August


Increase mowing height. If you will be watering regularly (2-3 times a week as needed for 1-1 1/4" of water per week), or in the event of, extended cool and rainy periods during the summer, height should be 3-3 1/2", -the highest height at which the grass blades will stay upright and allow airflow to prevent disease/fungus. Otherwise, mow at the mower's highest level

If you are able and willing to irrigate throughout the summer, you can apply 1/2 pound of N/1,000 each month throughout the summer. Use a fertilizer with iron content when available. Whether or not you plan to irrigate, you can use organic fertilizers like Milorganite throughout the summer months--Milorganite has iron content which will improve the color and photosynthesis ability of the grass.. Organics will not harm turf during drought and will provide nutrients when conditions are conducive.


Follow the March through May irrigation guidelines above. If you are not irrigating regularly and allowing the grass to go dormant, you should water 1/2 to 1" every 3 weeks to keep the grass crowns alive so the turf can recover once cooler temps and rain return.

Weed Control

Apply post-emergence herbicides through-out the growing season as needed to control summer annual and perennial weeds such as crabgrass, clover, knotweed, and spurge. Products like WeedBgone, WBG Max with Crabrass Control and WBG CCO. Similar products with the same AI herbicides usually control several different weeds in a lawn effectively. Be sure the product is labeled for use on KBG. Use Tenacity to control Bentgrass and Poa annua.

Apply post emergence herbicides only when weeds are present. Be sure to follow label instructions and note temperature limitations of product if used.

Mid August, if you are not overseeding in the fall, apply a pre-emergent to prevent germination of weeds like poa annua and chickweed etc. if they have been present in the yard.

Insect Control

KBG grass is most susceptible to insect damage from white grubs and billbugs and to a lesser extent to web worms. Check for these insects and control them if necessary. (e.g. Bayer 24hr grub killer)

Disease Control

Modern cultivars have increased KBG resistance to disease. Proper blending of cultivars and proper cultivation techniques (mowing, fertilization and watering) can dramatically reduce the incidence of disease and/or disease damage. Identify any signs of disease and immediately take appropriate remedial action. If disease has been a reoccurring problem, take appropriate preventive action as and when needed.

September through November


Once the dog days of August end and night temperatures are consistently in the 60's, incrementally lower the mowing height to 2-2 1/2" to encourage fall rhizome growth and spreading and to help prevent winter snow mold.


Once summer temperatures have moderated and the turf has revived (Late August to September 1st) apply 1# of N per 1000 sq ft. of lawn. A balanced NPK is advised such as a triple 12 or 19 to help prepare the lawn for winter dormancy. A second application of N (1/2-1#/k) is recommended October 1st to insure the turf stays green and photosynthesis continues.
Once the turf has ceased or dramatically stopped top-growth (mowing is no longer or barely needed), apply 1# N per thousand sq ft. (k) of urea (46-0-0) for winter root growth, carb. storage, early spring green-up, and spring rhizome production. In addition you can apply lime, sulfur, gypsum, etc. if a soil test indicated a deficiency.


In zones where KBG does well, fall weather should supply sufficient rain. Otherwise, follow the March through May irrigation guidelines..

Thatch, Aerating and Overseeding

See March - May above.

December through February
Build a snowman and enjoy the holidays.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 9:47PM
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