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Purchasing the right grass seed is critical for lawn care. Learn how to pick grass seed and the importance of reading seed labels. Learn how to identify and treat the 10 most common lawn weeds such as nutsedge, crabgrass and dandelion.

How to Pick Grass Seed & Importance of Reading A Seed Label

No two bags of grass seed are created equal, which can make knowing what type to purchase a challenge. Push past all the marketing gimmicks and fancy wording—and choosing grass seed is all about reading the specifics on the label in order to have a healthy lawn.

Grass seed labels can include a mix of numbers, percentages and industry terminology. Below, we decipher the most common items found on a seed label so that you can make smart decisions when it comes to learning how to pick the right type of grass seed or hiring a company to put seed down for you.

Plus, reading seed labels and choosing grass seed carefully can help you grow a lush lawn that naturally keeps weeds at bay (even those pesky winter weeds).

Pure Seed/Purity

Purity is the percent, by weight, of pure seed of each component in the mixture. Not all the pure seed is live seed. Look for percentages over 97.5—the higher the better.

Variety/Kind

Variety is the specific type of grass included. Do not buy seed that does not list the variety. Variety not stated (VNS) seed lots often include older varieties not well adapted to lawns.

Germination

Tells how much of each pure seed variety included will sprout (the amount of live seed in the bag). Look for percentages over 80—the higher the better.

Crop is the percent, by weight, of seeds in a package that are grown as a cash crop. Examples may include orchardgrass, timothy, clover, redtop and bentgrass, which are considered weeds in turf. Look for seed with a crop of less than 0.3%—the lower the better.

Inert Matter

Inert matter is the percent, by weight, of material not capable of growth (i.e. filler). Filler can be any substance added to take up space. For example: broken seed that couldn’t be removed, dirt, corn cobs, sand, etc. Look for the percentage to be less than 2—the lower the better. Otherwise, you’re paying for “junk”!

Weed Seed

Weed seed is the percent, by weight, of weed seed in a package. It can be difficult and expensive to catch all weed seeds during the cleaning process. Acceptable limits range from 0.0% – 0.3%. The lower the percentage of weed seed, the higher the quality of grass seed.

Noxious Weed

Most states have certain weeds so troublesome and undesirable that a tally of their presence in the seed mixture is required on the seed label. You want a seed that reads “NONE” under this category.

Picking the Right Seeds Is a Robust Defense Against Weeds

You should read seeds labels closely so that you select the optimal variety for the given season and climate. A thriving, dense-growing lawn will naturally crowd out weeds. For example, lawns planted with warm-season grass seed (such as Bermuda grass, Centipede grass, and St. Augustine grass) are vulnerable to henbit. Henbit is an annual winter weed. It often takes hold in patchy spots in a lawn where the grass grows less densely.

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Key Takeaways: How To Pick Grass Seed

  • Buy certified grass seed—it’s guaranteed by the seller to give you the kind of seed named on the package.
  • Generally speaking, the higher the cost of grass seed, the higher the quality of product.
  • Avoid…
    • Buying seed out of bulk bins
    • Seed mixes containing annual ryegrass
    • Contractor type blends of ryegrass

    If you have any questions about reading a seed label or signing up for an aeration and seeding service, get in touch with your local NaturaLawn of America expert.

    Common Lawn Weeds and How to Get Rid of Them

    Even the best-tended lawns come under attack from common weeds. Weed seeds float in on the wind, creeping weeds claim more territory, and weeds you thought you pulled quietly continue to grow. How well your lawn copes with the onslaught depends on the weeds involved, the response you choose and your lawn’s overall health. Understanding common lawn weeds and the options available to fight them can help you successfully combat the invasion.

    To help simplify weed defense, we’ve charted 10 common lawn weeds, including their characteristics, type and how they spread, and most importantly- how to eliminate them. Weeds, like ornamental garden plants, can be annuals or perennials. Annual weeds, such as crabgrass, complete their entire life cycle in a single growing season, and then die, leaving seeds behind to continue the legacy. Perennial weeds, such as dandelions, come back year after year from their roots, and distribute new seeds to boot. Weeds can also be grass-like, broadleaf or sedge. Choosing the right weed control product requires understanding the weed you want to fight and its stage of growth. Pre-emergent weed controls, sometime called preventers, work to keep weed seeds from germinating and developing. Post-emergent weed controls fight weeds that have already germinated and emerged from the soil.

    PLANTAIN

    Characteristics:

    • Broad leaves with five prominent veins running from the base
    • Short, winged leaf stalk
    • Dense, erect flower spikes

    Weed Type:

    Broadleaf perennial with shallow, fibrous roots.

    How it Spreads:

    By small, angular seeds. The mature seeds in one spike will range in color from orange all the way to black. Spikes will include seeds in shades of brown between the two extremes.

    Controls:

    • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
    • Pennington UltraGreen Southern Weed and Feed 34-0-4
    • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge

    DANDELION

    Weed Name:

    Characteristics:

    • Serrated, comb- and tooth-like leaves
    • Hollow, leafless stalk
    • Yellow, petal-like flowers mature to white puffballs

    Weed Type:

    Broadleaf perennial with a long, deep taproot.

    How it Spreads:

    By seeds that germinate year-round in accommodating climates.

    Controls:

    • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
    • Pennington UltraGreen Southern Weed and Feed 34-0-4
    • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
    • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge

    CRABGRASS

    Weed Name:

    Characteristics:

    • Flat, pointed, narrow leaves, rolled at the base with a prominent midvein
    • Short, flat, purplish-green stems
    • Fringy, spike-like flower heads

    Weed Type:

    Annual summer grass that germinates throughout the season, capable of producing 150,000 seeds per plant, per season.

    How it Spreads:

    By seeds and lower stem pieces that root.

    Controls:

    Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer III 30-0-4

    YELLOW NUTSEDGE

    Weed Name:

    Characteristics:

    • Grass-like leaves, v-shaped in cross-section
    • Erect, hairless, triangular stems
    • Golden-brown flower spikelets

    Weed Type:

    Perennial sedge that forms dense colonies.

    How it Spreads:

    By seeds and rhizomes, but primarily by underground tubers known as nutlets.

    Controls:

    • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
    • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge

    THISTLE

    Weed Name:

    Characteristics:

    • Prickly, deeply-lobed leaves
    • Slender, hairless stems
    • White, purple or pink flowers

    Weed Type:

    Broadleaf with many annual and perennial species and seeds that remain viable for many years.

    How it Spreads:

    By seeds and root fragments.

    Controls:

    • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4

    QUICKGRASS

    Weed Name:

    Characteristics:

    • Upright, flat, rough-edged, blue-green leaves
    • Leaf blade grasps the stem at its base
    • Flattened spike of alternating flowers and seeds

    Weed Type:

    Perennial grass most active during cool spring and fall seasons.

    How it Spreads:

    By seeds and rhizomes, but primarily by underground tubers known as nutlets.

    Controls:

    • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
    • IMAGE Kills Nutsedge

    OXALIS (ALSO KNOWN AS CREEPING WOODSORREL)

    Weed Name:

    Characteristics:

    • Heart-shaped leaflets, often purplish, occur three per leaf and fold down in heat
    • Hairy, upright stems
    • Bright yellow spring flowers

    Weed Type:

    Broadleaf perennial with a shallow taproot and fibrous, expansive root system.

    How it Spreads:

    By creeping stems, extensive roots, pointed seed capsules that expel seeds, and root and stem fragments.

    Controls:

    • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
    • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer
    • IMAGE for St. Augustinegrass & Centipedegrass

    COMMON RAGWEED

    Weed Name:

    Characteristics:

    • Hairy, fernlike, deeply-lobed leaves
    • Coarse, hairy stems
    • Inconspicuous, green-yellow flowers

    Weed Type:

    Broadleaf annual (responsible for hay fever) with shallow, fibrous roots.

    How it Spreads:

    By seed, with a single plant producing up to 60,000 seeds or more per season.

    Controls:

    Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4

    PURSLANE

    Weed Name:

    Characteristics:

    • Thick, purple-green, succulent leaves
    • Succulent, branching stems
    • Small, yellow flowers

    Weed Type:

    Broadleaf annual that develops thick, multi-branched mats.

    How it Spreads:

    By brown and black seed and stem fragments.

    Controls:

    • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
    • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer

    GROUND IVY

    Weed Name:

    Characteristics:

    • Rounded, scalloped leaves
    • Four-sided, mint-family, squared stems
    • Small, funnel-shaped, purple flowers

    Weed Type:

    Broadleaf, mat-forming perennial with a distinctive odor when crushed.

    How it Spreads:

    By seed and above-ground runners, known as stolons, that root at the nodes.

    Controls:

    • Pennington UltraGreen Weed and Feed 30-0-4
    • IMAGE All-In-One Weed Killer

    Weed-Control Options

    When choosing weed-control products, take into consideration your target weeds, whether they’re still seeds or emerged plants, and the type of lawn grass you grow. Different types of weeds call for different controls, and some Southern lawn grasses, such as St. Augustinegrass and Centipedegrass, are sensitive to some weed-control products. Always check the label to make sure the product you choose is suitable for your lawn grass.

    A top-notch weed-management program involves the following types of weed control products*:

    • Crabgrass Preventers: Crabgrass plants die after setting their seeds, but their seeds live on. Germination starts in spring, once soil temperatures reach approximately 55 degrees Fahrenheit – the same temperature that sends forsythia shrubs into bloom. Proper weed management works to stop those seeds from germinating and rid your lawn of any that sneak through. Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer III 30-0-4 inhibits germination and root development of crabgrass and stops many weed grasses and broadleaf weed seeds when applied in early spring, before weed seeds germinate. While controlling weeds for three to five months, this nitrogen-rich product continues to feed your lawn. Pennington UltraGreen Crabgrass Preventer Plus Fertilizer III 30-0-4 prevents crabgrass germination, suppresses other weed grass and broadleaf weed seeds and controls weed grass for three to five months while feeding your lawn with slow-release nitrogen.
    • Weed & Feed Fertilizers: As the name implies, weed & feed products tackle common lawn weeds while feeding lawn grasses to better help them act against weed invasion. Pennington UltraGreen Weed & Feed 30-0-4 and Pennington UltraGreen Southern Weed & Feed 34-0-4, both safe on Centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass lawns, kill and suppress tough existing broadleaf weeds and control new weeds for up to three months in established lawns. Applied when weeds are actively growing in late spring and early summer, and again in early fall, these weed & feed products continue to feed your lawn grass and keep it beautiful and green.
    • Targeted Weed Control: When existing perennial weeds continue to be a problem, or when new weed seeds germinate and seedlings emerge, a targeted post-emergent herbicide is the answer. For best results, treat weeds while they’re small and actively growing throughout the season. IMAGE All-in-One Weed Killer herbicide offers a broad spectrum of selective weed control for difficult sedges, crabgrass and broadleaf weeds, killing weed roots, shoots and nutlets. These weed killers target weeds only and are suitable for most cool- and warm-season lawn grasses. IMAGE Kills Nutsedge and IMAGE Herbicide for St. Augustinegrass and Centipedegrass provide targeted, selective control of tenacious, emerged weeds.

    Well maintained lawns naturally control weeds.

    Keeping your lawn grass healthy and competitive provides the best defense against lawn weed invasions. Follow these four steps to a healthier, stronger lawn:

    1. Always mow at the recommended mowing height for your type of lawn grass. This helps promote healthy root growth and increases resistance to pests and disease.

    2. Mow based on grass growth, not your calendar. Time your mowing so you remove roughly one-third of the length of the grass blades in a single mowing.

    3. Supplement natural rainfall by irrigating your lawn as needed. Proper watering provides an average lawn with the equivalent of about 1 inch of rainfall each week. This allows moisture to penetrate deeply and encourages healthy, deep root growth. Watering only once or twice per week is better than more frequent watering.

    4. Keep your lawn well-fed with quality weed & feed or fertilizer-only products, such as the Pennington UltraGreen line of lawn fertilizers.

    *Always consult the product label for your specific lawn grass type before using any type of weed control products.

    Pennington is a trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc. Alaska, Lilly Miller, Moss Out!, Image and UltraGreen are registered trademarks of Central Garden & Pet Company.

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