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My yard work has been delayed this year. This past weekend, I finished spreading the topsoil (which has been on the driveway since May) to rebuild an area of my lawn.

Is it too late to spread grass seed this year?

If so, what's the best way to control weeds until the spring?

  • See also: gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/4964/… – Niall C. Oct 14 '14 at 13:35
  • Thanks. Had seen that and am looking for a bit more than a "guesstimate" -- and advice on the weed control. – Jacob Zwiers Oct 14 '14 at 14:34
  • Is there something you would like me to add to my answer? – J. Musser Feb 11 '15 at 16:28
  • Only thing you could have added is to come up and plant it for me :-) I didn't get around to dealing with it in the fall. Planted a Scott's mixture with an extra portion of "pure ryegrass" from garden centre in the spring and the lawn is doing well. Accepted your answer because it's closer to what I actually did, even though I would have really liked (sorry, Kate) to put it on the snow and see what happened in spring. – Jacob Zwiers Jun 16 '15 at 16:28
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If you use a mix containing mostly perennial ryegrass, you still have some time. This will germinate whenever the temperature is over 32 degrees F., but takes longer (up to three weeks or more in cold weather) than it would if planted sooner. If your mix contains Kentucky Bluegrass and/or fescue, these will not germinate well, and you will have to sow thickly.

Make sure the soil is moist, and that the top inch or so (not too deep) is worked to a fine tilth. Rake the seed in lightly, don't let the seed go very deep, as this causes much of it to rot before germinating in cold weather.

As for weeds, you really have to take care of them as they appear, as obviously you don't want to apply a pre-emergent to newly sown grass seed. After the grass is up, but before it freezes, you may be able to get in a treatment, but I think you'll have better results in spring. Don't try to control weeds right before winter if large amounts of precipitation are expected. If your grass germinates long enough before the ground begins to freeze, and you see some broadleaved weeds coming up, you can apply a general broadleaf control such as clopyralid, dicamba, 2,4-D, mecoprop, quinclorac, etc, or a three-way. It's possible that some of these aren't available to residential people.

But again, control will be better if you wait until spring, and the grass will be more ready to fill in and cover the soil, which will help inhibit further weed development.

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My father in law always said the best way to plant grass seed was on the first snow. It's easy to see how you're covering the ground, and when the snow melts that seed will get started a little, before the real serious winter shows up. In Ottawa right now you may have had a hard frost already but I doubt you've had snow yet, so according to him you're not late. Certainly I've done a little patch filling at this time of year (between Ottawa and Toronto) without regretting it.

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  • Well, that answers another of my questions which was: will frost and/or freezing kill the grass... and I expect the answer is "no". Thanks for the response. – Jacob Zwiers Oct 16 '14 at 16:46

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