Seeding after spectracide weed and feed

How Many Days Do You Have to Wait Before Seeding After Weed & Feed?

You want a beautiful lawn for your family to enjoy, but it’s no longer enough to just mow it. You have to fertilize, water, kill weeds and then reseed any bare spots. Using a weed and feed product saved you some time, so now you’re ready to plant some grass seed. You may have to wait a bit longer, though, depending on the type of weed and feed product you used.

Weed and Feed

Weed and feed products consist of fertilizers such as nitrogen or potassium, and a pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicide. If the weed and feed is designed for spring application, it contains a pre-emergent. If it is designed for later in the growing season, it incorporates a post-emergent herbicide. Knowing which one you are using is important because the herbicides affect plants in significantly different ways.

  • You want a beautiful lawn for your family to enjoy, but it’s no longer enough to just mow it.
  • Using a weed and feed product saved you some time, so now you’re ready to plant some grass seed.

How They Work

Pre-emergent weed and feed is applied in early spring so the herbicide is in place before the undesirable weeds germinate. Pre-emergent herbicide works by inhibiting germination. It must be watered with at least one-half inch of water to move the chemical from the surface into the soil. Post-emergent herbicides, however, must be applied while the weeds are actively growing because for the chemical to work, the herbicide must be absorbed into the plant.

Why You Wait

Since weed and feed products are designed to prevent germination — or to eradicate a living plant — they can, for the most part, have a similar effect on young turf grass. The only exception is the pre-emergent herbicide siduron, which is actually used to assist in seed germination. When using a pre-emergent that does not contain siduron, wait a minimum of two months before seeding. If using a product designed for broadleaf weeds, read the label carefully, because the active ingredient in these post-emergent herbicides have a wider range for the waiting period. Grass can be planted in as little as one month after application for products using 2,4-D to as much as six months for atrazine-based products.

  • Pre-emergent weed and feed is applied in early spring so the herbicide is in place before the undesirable weeds germinate.
  • Post-emergent herbicides, however, must be applied while the weeds are actively growing because for the chemical to work, the herbicide must be absorbed into the plant.
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Proper Seeding Methods

When you are ready to seed your lawn, use a garden rake to remove debris and to break up the surface to ensure the seed comes into contact with the soil. Broadcast the seeds in two directions to ensure complete coverage, and water the ground lightly and often for up to two weeks — keeping the soil moist. Once seedlings have established, gradually reduce the frequency of the watering, but lengthen the amount of time per watering. This will encourage a deep root system for your grass.

How Long After Using Weed Killer Can You Sow Seed?

It makes sense to be cautious about sowing seed after using weed killer. Certain herbicides can harm sprouting seeds and young plants. However, while you must wait several months to sow seed after applying some weed killers, you only need to wait a few days after applying others. The reason for this difference lies in the effect of the active chemicals in the individual products. Read the label carefully and follow all the directions when applying a weed killer.

Sowing Seed After Applying Glyphosate

You can sow seeds in as little as a week or even sooner after spraying glyphosate, a systemic, nonselective weed killer. Glyphosate moves from the leaves to the roots of plants, destroying the entire plant, but leaving no residue in the soil. The chemical affects many types of plants, including weeds, grasses and desirable plants, but after the liquid is absorbed into the plant, it doesn’t pose any further threat. You can safely sow ornamental flower seeds a day after spraying with glyphosate and grass and vegetable seeds, three days after, even though the herbicide takes up to seven days to destroy weeds. If you remove the dying weeds too soon, live roots could remain in the soil, ready to regrow. Another systemic weed killer that doesn’t affect seeds is pelargonic acid.

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Pre-Emergence Weed Killers and Sowing Seed

Pre-emergence weed killers prevent seeds from sprouting. They create a chemical barrier on the soil surface that suppresses seed development. What this means is, if you sow your own seed after applying a pre-emergence weed killer, the seed isn’t likely to grow. However, some pre-emergence products only affect grassy weeds, so you can safely sow most vegetable and flower seeds after applying these herbicides. The same doesn’t apply to reseeding or overseeding your lawn. Grass seed won’t sprout until a pre-emergence weed killer has decayed and become ineffective. For example, it isn’t safe to sow lawn seed until four months after applying a crabgrass preventer.

Warning

Sowing seed after applying a pre-emergence weed killer disturbs the chemical barrier on the soil surface, which means that weed seeds may germinate too.

Seed Sowing and Selective Weed Killers

Many selective weed killers leave little or no trace in the soil, and they target certain plants while leaving others unharmed. Generally, these types of herbicides destroy either grassy weeds or broadleaf weeds. You can safely sow most seeds in your vegetable or flower patch a day after applying selective herbicides, such as sethoxydim, clethodim and bentazon, for grassy weeds. These herbicides only affect your desired plants if the plants belong to the grass family. For lawns, herbicides that destroy broadleaf weeds are effective, but it isn’t safe to reseed until a month after applying these products, unless the label states differently.

  • National Pesticide Information Center: Can I Plant Vegetables After Using a Weed Killer?
  • Oregon State University: Top 10 Reasons Your Herbicide Failed
  • Scotts: The Questions People Ask Most About Grass Seed
  • The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment
  • Roundup: When can I replant/reseed after use?
  • The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture: Common Herbicides for Fruit and Vegetable Weed Control
  • Roundup: How Soon Can I Replant After Using Roundup Weed & Grass Killer Products?
  • Michigan State University Extension: Get an Early Start on Vegetable Garden Weed Control
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A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in 1998 and has been writing about gardening and homes since 2007. Green’s work appears in SFGate, Mom.me, The Pink Plumber and many home services blogs .