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Is it Grass or a Weed? How to Pull Lawn Weeds and Plant New Grass Seed for a Thick and Healthy Lawn

As summer is about to wind down, I can (almost) guarantee that this grass (weed) is growing in your yard right now... does it look familiar?

lawn grass weed tall fescue

What is this grass/weed?

Well, technically it's a grass called Tall Fescue. But if your yard is made up of any other nice grass like Kentucky Blue Grass, it's considered a weed. Tall Fescue doesn’t die with any chemical except Roundup. It overtakes your nice Kentucky Blue Grass by spreading all over your yard. The color blends in with your grass (especially if you have been watering), but the blades are very thick. Many people mistake it for crabgrass, but it’s darker.

lawn grass weed tall fescue surrounded by Kentucky blue grass

Even if you don’t water your lawn or let it go dormant, this stuff will stay alive and look green. Like this nearby yard... looks like grass, but in reality, the weeds are thriving.

 lawn grass weed tall fescue surrounded by dormant grass

With the fall coming up and hopefully some cool weather, it’s an important time to take a sweep through the weeds in your grass. If you don’t take care of them now, they will continue to come back and be a bigger problem next year. If you can’t find any of this weed, it means you probably have an outstanding thick yard. Congrats! Though as I walk the dog each night, I can see it in most of my neighbor’s yards and my front yard has several patches of it. This weed will come back every year if you don’t take care of it and spread and get bigger.

Here's how to remove the weeds and plant new grass seed to help get a healthier and thicker lawn:

Step 1: Pull Out or Kill the Weeds

You have two options to get it out: pull it out by hand or kill it with Roundup. I prefer to pull it out by hand. Depending on how big of an area it's in, you can get the whole job done in a day. Plus, I do try to limit the amount of chemicals we use in the house with kids and a dog running around, and also if you're not careful, Roundup will kill the good grass around it. You also have to wait for Roundup to work, and eventually you'd have to cut it down with a weed eater or take it out anyways. Here's a quick look at how to pull the weed.

I carry a 5-gallon bucket around with me and just dump the bucket in my yard waste bin as it fills up. I probably got 4 buckets filled up with this front yard patch.

lawn grass weed tall fescue
lawn grass weed tall fescue

Once it is all removed you will have a bunch of empty spots in your yard. Kiersten said our old house looked like the moon with craters when we got done. Neighbors who didn't know what I was doing thought we were crazy, but after a couple of years seeing what I turned our lawn into, they understood why. At our old house, we had these weeds throughout our entire yard. Kiersten and I spent days pulling it out of our front and side yard, but ended up using Roundup to finish it off in the backyard.

Lawn with bare spots after pulling weeds

Lawn with bare spots after pulling weeds

Lawn with bare spots after pulling weeds

Step 2: Fill Holes with New Soil

Next, you will want to fill each hole with some new soil. This keeps your ground level and provides good soil for your grass seed to grow. By this time in the summer, you can really use whatever soil you have sitting around. If you don't have any soil left from other planting projects, I'd recommend a basic bag of Top Soil - it's cheap and will work just fine.

Lawn with bare spots after pulling weeds adding soil

Step 3: Sprinkle Quality Grass Seed

After putting down the soil in all the empty spots, you need to sprinkle the grass seed into each spot. I have tried almost every kind of grass seed that you can buy in the area. I started off using cheap grass seed and learned my lesson to pay a little more and get quality grass seed.

 Lawn with bare spots after pulling weeds adding grass seed

What type of grass seed should you use?

Remember what you’re putting into your lawn right now will be your future grass. The best type of grass seed should have a mix of Kentucky Blue Grass seeds. They now make many different varieties and just like other seeds, grass seeds have really improved as far as being disease and sun resistant. Lots of cheap grass seed bags will have lots of annual grass and even weeds. Annual grass works good for filling a spot quickly, but obviously it won’t come up again next year. I see several people using the patch looking soil that you simply put on the spot and water. It comes up really fast which means it’s annual and it doesn’t look very good the following year. I see people replacing it year after year. Kentucky Blue Grass will take 14-30 days to start growing.

The kind of grass seed I swear by is called Maypark Grass Seed Mixture by Earl May. I was drawn to this because when researching, it matched up to what quality golf courses use for grass. If you go to a nice golf course, they know what they’re doing. Obviously, they water a ton, but they’re always aerating and overseeding. Maypark has a blend of the best bluegrasses for sun and it also has fine fescue for your shady parts. Compared to cheaper brands of seed it’s more disease resistance. This grass seed is specifically made, created, and tested for Iowa.

Earl May's MayPark Lawn Seed
Earl May's MayPark Lawn Seed

The big chains may sell quality grass seed, but I can buy the same quality grass seed in every state. Think about how different the climate is from state to state. Whatever you buy for grass seed try to buy a seed that is made for your area. You don’t have to take my word for it, simply Google the importance of quality grass seed.

Step 4: Rub the Seed Into the Dirt

After sprinkling the grass seed, I gently rub the dirt to make sure the seed is mixed in and covered a little bit with the soil.

Lawn with bare patches after pulling weeds and adding grass seed

Step 5: Water

You don’t need to soak the grass every day, but you should make sure to water it once a day by just spraying it with the hose or running your sprinkler for a few minutes. If you have time, water it in the morning and evening.

water fresh grass seed on lawn in patches pulled weeds

Fall Lawn Planning

I’m going to wait to aerate until September and will also plan to over seed my entire yard then. Hopefully I can show a picture of what these patches look like in a few weeks. I’ll use the same exact Maypark Grass Seed Mixture when I over seed to give my lawn that uniform green look. In September I will again seed right over the top of these spots. Remember the best defense against weeds is to have thick grass. This isn’t a fun project because your yard isn't going to look good right away. But continue to water and watch the spots fill in over time and eventually weeds won't be a big problem, and you'll have soft carpet-like grass... which is my goal.

Need a Lawn Fix? Here's what we used:

*DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!


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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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