During the Spring, you need a lawn care regimen that addresses your turf grass needs. Some lawns will need a great fertilizer to help develop a deep root system. Other lawns may require a weed killer to get rid of dandelions, clover, and other broadleaf weeds. Yet other lawns may need to prevent or even kill crabgrass.
Although there are different products designed to treat each lawn ailment, in many cases, a single, multi-purpose product will work. The most well-known multi-purpose lawn product is "weed and feed," which fertilizes the lawn while simultaneously controlling weeds. Weed and feed products come in both a liquid or granular form. Granular is the most common and is typically applied with a spreader.
How does weed and feed work?
All weed and feed products share two basic components, regardless of brand or variation.
The first component is a weed-control agent, which helps kill and prevent weeds in your lawn.
Pre-emergent herbicides help prevent weed seeds from growing. Post-emergent herbicides will kill weeds that have already started to grow.
Most weed and feed products contain multiple herbicides to control a broad range of weeds. However, others are more targeted to prevent a specific type of weed. It's important to check the labels to ensure the product you're considering is intended for the specific weed problem you're trying to control.
The second component is fertilizer, which aids in grass growth.
Different products have varying nutrient breakdowns, with nitrogen being the most crucial for lawns. Some products use fast-dissolving forms of nitrogen for quick results, while others use slow-release forms for gradual growth and longer-lasting effectiveness.
Most weed and feed products now contain no phosphorus due to water pollution concerns unless a soil test indicates phosphorus is needed.
Labels provide information on nutrient breakdowns and fertilizer effectiveness.
GreenView Fairway Formula Spring Fertilizer Weed and Feed and Crabgrass Preventer is a three-in-one product that fertilizes for up to 12 weeks, kills more than 200 broadleaf weeds, and prevents crabgrass and nine other grassy weeds.
GreenView Broadleaf Weed Control plus Lawn Food with GreenSmart uses a no-phosphorus formula that fertilizes for eight weeks but also helps lawns retain water and absorb nutrients better. It kills or controls 250 common lawn weeds.
When to apply weed and feed
For weed and feed products to be most effective, apply them when the grass and weeds are actively growing and the soil is damp. This window typically falls in April for the northern regions of the United States when the temperature consistently hits 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
In contrast, it's ideal for the southern regions to apply the product earlier, typically in late February or early March, due to an earlier growing season.
Plant blooms can help determine the right timing since they vary yearly with the season's weather. The best timing is when forsythia bushes have finished blooming, but dandelions have not reached their "puffball" seeding stage.
How to apply weed and feed
There are several steps to apply weed and feed to your lawn for a healthy lawn.
First, apply the product after rain or when dew is on the grass in the morning. If the lawn is dry, lightly watering it before applying can help the granules stick.
It's also important to mow the lawn a day or two before applying and avoid doing so if rain is forecasted within 24 hours.
When applying the product, it's recommended to use a rotary or broadcast spreader and follow the specific spreader setting for the brand to ensure the right amount of product is applied. Make sure to make passes over the lawn, slightly overlapping, to avoid gaps or overlaps that can result in uneven application.
After two days, watering the lawn can help dissolve the fertilizer and activate it in the soil.
In terms of the number of applications needed, for northern states, one application in the spring may suffice, while southern regions may need a second application eight weeks after the first. A second application can also be made in late summer to early fall if weed problems persist.
Following these steps ensures that your weed-and-feed is applied correctly and effectively to maintain a healthy and weed-free lawn.
Tips on using weed and feed products
Weed-and-feed products are compatible with all cool-season grasses, such as Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and fine and tall fescues.
They can also be used on most warm-season grasses, including bermudagrass, bahiagrass, buffalograss, Zoysiagrass, and centipedegrass. However, certain grass types, such as dichondra, carpetgrass lawns, and some St. Augustine grass types are sensitive to weed and feed herbicides.
Refer to the product labels to determine the grasses on which the product should not be used.
Avoid using weed-and-feed products on newly-seeded lawns. Wait until after mowing the new planting at least three times before applying weed-and-feed treatment. Also, wait at least three weeks after using a weed-and-feed product before planting new grass seed and at least ten weeks afterward if the product contains crabgrass or other weed preventers.
Lawns that are stressed should not be treated with weed-and-feed products as it could further damage the lawn. Apply in the spring when the temperature is below 90 degrees and not in hot, dry summer conditions.
Flower, Vegetable, or Ornamental Gardens
Do not spray weed-and-feed granules onto flower, vegetable, or ornamental beds, as they can be harmful to most plants. Similarly, avoid applying the product around trees, closer than 25 feet from waterways, or in runoff-prone areas since herbicides can be toxic to fish. On windy days, avoid applying the product to prevent dust or particles from getting into your eyes.
Children and Pets
Children and pets should avoid weed-and-feed-treated lawns until rain or irrigation dissolves the granules into the soil. When filling spreaders, do it on a hard surface to enable easy clean-up of any spills. Remember, spills on the lawn can burn or injure the grass if not properly addressed.
Weed-and-feed products are ideal for lawns with widespread weed outbreaks. For lawns with only a few weeds here and there, larger weeds can be pulled or dug up, and patches of smaller weeds can be spot-sprayed with a liquid herbicide. Use fertilizer-only products in such cases, and reseed thin lawns or bare spots to prevent future weed germination.