The Development Period
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New seedlings or plugs will not begin putting on runners until the plant has developed a good root system. This period (which requires warm weather) may vary from a few days for the fast growing Bermudas to several weeks for slow-growers such as Centipede or the Zoysias.
High temperatures, adequate moisture, and nitrogen are essential for rapid growth. If any one of these factors is missing the growth will be slow, even though the presence of the other factors will help.
Do not become discouraged and neglect your lawn in the early stages of development. Given a good start, and good care, these grasses will increase their rate of spread as time goes by.
Millions of words have been written on weed and crabgrass control and there are hundreds of different herbicides and combinations on the market to control them. The best weed control is a vigorous, dense turf which, in most instances, resists the invasion of weeds. During the establishment period of a new lawn, hand-pulling or hoeing will likely destroy as many grass seedlings as weeds. Herbicides used to control weeds are grouped into two categories:
- Nonselective, which will kill all plants regardless of species - use only as spot treatments or to control unwanted growth along or in beds, walls and driveways.
- A selective herbicide will kill certain plants when applied properly without seriously affecting other plants.
Preemergence herbicides are applied prior to weed seed germination and growth and effect the germination process. Preemerge herbicides are only recommended for lawns that have been established for at least one full growing season. The easiest way to apply a preemerge herbicide is to use a weed and feed fertilizer in the early spring. Never apply a preemerge herbicide, or fertilizer containing one, before seeding or soon after seeding as it will have the same detrimental effect on grass seed.
Postemerge herbicides are applied directly to actively growing weeds and are specific to weed types such as broadleaf or grassy weeds. Additionally, most postemerge herbicides are specific to certain grass varieties. Always Read and Study Labels before purchasing and Applying Any Herbicide. If you have any doubt seek advice from the Cooperative Extension Service, a reputable lawn and garden store, or a lawn care company.
The simplest solution for many people is to mow the weeds and make a fairly presentable lawn from them until such time as the permanent grass, given treatment favors it, chokes out the weeds and makes a weed-free lawn. Mow regularly to a height of approximately 1.5" for Bermudas and Zoysias, 2" for Centipede, 2.5" for Tall Fescue, and 3" for St. Augustines. Mow off weed seed heads before the seeds can mature, and do not disturb the soil and hence bring new weed seed to the surface where they can grow.
Once a dense turf is produced, continued good management will enable it to keep most weeds crowded out.