Remove the weeds from the area by either manually pulling them out of the ground or applying weed killer to the area. Hand-pulling weeds is safer for the soil, but removing all the roots can be difficult. Chemical weed killer kills the weeds and their roots, but may damage grass seed and leave pesticide residue in the soil, if you plant the seeds too soon after the herbicide application. If you choose to use weed killer, wait 2 to 3 weeks before planting new grass seed.
Trying to grow grass in a weeded area is a frustrating task that generally provides undesirable results. Weeds are aggressive and invasive plants that choke out grass and flowers. They quickly take over an area and are notoriously hard to get rid of. When you choose to grow grass in an area overrun by weeds, you essentially have to start fresh by establishing new turf.
Till the top 6 inches of soil with a soil tiller. You can rent or purchase soil tillers at home improvement centers and rental yards. After the tiller turns under the dead weeds and soil, rake the soil with a garden rake to level the area as much as possible. Remove large rocks and break up clumps of soil.
Apply a thin layer – about 1/4 inch – of high-quality topsoil over the grass seed. Applying too thick and the seeds have a hard time germinating. Attach a garden hose sprayer with a mist option to a water hose. Dampen the top 6 inches of the soil with the water hose set on mist. Using a mist of water instead of a stream will prevent the seeds from washing away.
Cover the soil with the correct grass seed for your location and the amount needed to cover the area. For example, some parts of the San Francisco Bay area work best with warm-season grasses — such as St. Augustine, buffalo or zoysia grass — while other Bay areas thrive with cool-season grasses such as tall fescue and perennial rye. Use your gloved hands to distribute the seeds evenly over areas smaller than 150 square feet. For larger areas, use a seed spreader.
There are two types of winter ryegrass. There is the annual variety that you need to replant every year and the more permanent perennial type (Lolium perenne). The grass germinates quickly, within three to five days, and can effectively cover an area within four to eight weeks. It provides a homeowner with a bright green lawn, is great as a filler for bare patches, can mix with other ground cover varieties and assists with erosion control. The weed-repelling ability, though, is one of the biggest advantages to planting this hardy grass in your yard.
Cooler weather has set in and your yard is awash with the green of your winter rye lawn. The weeds seem to be swallowed up under the mature growth of this lush green grass. There is a definite connection between the type of lawn you have and the reduction of unwanted growths. Areas of California and other states with mild winters — generally, U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9 — can actually support this weed-deterring grass year-round.
Effect on Weeds
Winter rye grass is an excellent ground cover because it is allelopathic — the grass contains a chemical that will naturally destroy certain weeds and plants that grow in the same soil. Ryegrass planted in the yard can overcome weeds such as duckweed and crabgrass. Take care, though, as ryegrass may overcome other grasses planted in conjunction with it. For example, it can slow the growth of Bermuda grass. Combat this by cutting the ryegrass closer to the ground and reducing the water volume at the end of a cool season in preparation for the emergence of the alternate grass.
Gardeners will often plant ryegrass with other grasses to use this weed-deterring advantage. This grass is commonly grown with zoysia, Bermuda grass and blue grass, depending on water available, type of soil and lawn appearance desired. The seed or sod is also applied to lawns to fill in thinning or bare areas, as well as to take over when cooler weather halts the growth of summer ground cover.
Not only can winter rye choke out weeds, but also it can become a weed itself. Rye grass can be resistant to herbicides and be difficult to remove from areas where it is not wanted. Increasing the application of the herbicide glyphosate has proven to be somewhat effective in controlling the spread of this well-known ground cover.
The Good: The one major appeal is that it is fairly low maintenance. Zoysia grass also makes for a durable lawn as it is resistant to weeds, insects, and diseases that would be bad news for other types of grass. Zoysia is an extremely aggressive spreading grass that can literally choke out weeds. Zoysia is pleasant on the eyes and feet. It tends to have a soft, fine texture and is naturally low-growing.
Zoysia is a warm-season grass. Around here, in the Midwest, zoysia grass is a popular choice at golf courses, but not so much for homeowners. However, there are most definitely pros and cons of zoysia grass. The final decision ultimately comes down to what you personally value and strive for from your home lawn.
The Bad: While zoysia grass boasts a few attributes, there are many downsides. One drawback is that zoysia will not stay green year-round. zoysia grass will look its best for about three months of the year. Zoysia lawns lose the desired green hue around mid-autumn. Often, the lawn will stay brown well into Spring, which is a deal breaker for some. So, if year-round color is a must for you, you may want to think twice before choosing zoysia grass. Zoysia will not tolerate heavy traffic during these dormant periods. Another negative is the very poor shade tolerance under trees. Yards with sun and shade areas would require shade beds under trees or choosing a different type of grass seed to grow in shade.
The Ugly: The aggressive nature of zoysia can also be labeled invasive. Be prepared to deal with picky neighbors, should your zoysia lawn spread into their property. Zoysia grass is also prone to thatch problems, therefore routine annual de-thatching and aerification are required. Here in the Midwest, zoysia seed has a difficult time establishing because of our cool soil temperatures. Thus, most people who choose zoysia grass must plant it in plugs or sod during the summer months. This can get pricey. And lastly, zoysia grass sometimes takes two to three years to fill out and reach the desired density. It may be low maintenance, but if immediate results are what you want, zoysia grass may not be for you.