Q: Can I overseed my lawn and prevent weeds at the same time? Can I do it right now?
A: If you have a Kentucky 31 or blended fescue lawn or any of the special shade grass mixtures, you can certainly overseed through the month of February and into March. The benefits of early dispersal of seed are that the soil has been loosened, rains are certainly coming, and weeds have not yet grown enough to choke out the new grass. In fact, a light cover of snow over the seed can be beneficial.
Obviously, the weather is a problem this year, there is no guarantee that there will be no late freezes. The main threat to newly emerging grasses would be a hard freeze that could damage the tender seedlings. Another threat would be light freezes and thaws that push the seedlings out of the ground.
If you keep your eyes on the weather reports and choose just the right time, early seeding can produce a nice lawn. Be sure to include fertilizer along with the seed. Treat with lime if your soil test says you need it.
You cannot use weed prevention products, called pre-emergent weedkillers, that are often packaged as "Weed and Feed" on a newly seeded lawn. These products prevent weed seeds from germinating, and they will kill all your new grass seed. Read those labels carefully. Get only the plain fertilizer products.
If your lawn is seriously in need of help, plan to seed again in the fall around September, depending on the weather. Fall is the optimum time for fescue renewals, but our weather has been so hard on our cool season grasses that a spring effort may be required.
Contact Pat Lea at firstname.lastname@example.org.