If you desire a healthy, lush lawn all year round, timing matters! It’s just as important to understand when your lawn needs it, as it is to understand what it needs. One of the fundamental tasks required to improve your lawn’s health, is providing it with the right level of protection against the onslaught of lawn weeds. So, to find when is the best time to use weed and feed on your lawn, please read on.
What is Weed and Feed?
With myriad different recommendations on best practices and solutions , homeowners are mystified when trying to determine the best weed killer for their greensward. Weed and feed products, unlike weed killers or manual weed removal, offer twofold benefits — they kill weeds and fertilize the lawn in a single application.
An estimated 25 million pounds of weed ‘n feed is applied by Americans to; home lawns, parks, cemeteries and anywhere else grass is found, each year. It is in fact one of the most used lawn care products today, given the sheer convenience it provides when trying to get rid of a weed strewn lawn.
Weed and feed is a combination of herbicides and fertilizer. The three phenoxy (selective) herbicides are Dicamba, 2, 4-D and/or MCPP, which are chemicals designed to kill broadleaf weed, dandelions, dollarweed and much more. The feed aka fertilizer is typically a combination of phosphorous, nitrogen, and/or potassium.
Weed and feed can be in either liquid or granular form, but regardless of which type you choose, both kill just the weeds, and not regular, healthy grass, unless you apply too much.
Pre-Emergent Weed and Feed vs. Post-Emergent Weed and Feed
When to apply weed and feed will mostly depend on the type you’re using, whether pre-emergent weed and feed or post-emergent weed and feed. Pre-emergent weed and feed, just as the name suggests targets weeds before they establish themselves, but does not affect existing weeds.
Post-emergent weed and feed is the most common way of getting rid of existing weeds, and preventing them from growing back. This type of weed control solution is an ideal choice if you want to get rid of weeds that have already grown above ground, and nourish the soil quickly at the same time.
When to Apply Weed and Feed?
Before applying weed and feed, it is important to identify your type of grass, because some solutions can be applied to all lawn types, and others are designed for certain types of grasses and weeds. If you apply the wrong product to the wrong grass and weeds, then damage to your healthy grass and lawn is inevitable.
Regardless of the type of weed or grass, applying weed and feed during the winter will have absolutely no effect on the appearance of your lawn in the following spring and summer. Hence, weed and feed is most effective when applied in the spring and fall.
Weed and feed products should be applied no more than twice a year, so one application in the spring, and another in the fall if the first one didn’t resolve the issue. Further, each application should be at least two months apart, because not waiting long enough between applications could cause the herbicides to build up to high levels that can kill healthy grass and vegetation.
Considering weed and feed products contain chemicals, there are a few safety precautions you need to take, starting with making sure kids and pets stay off the lawn until it dries completely. It is best to wait until the next heavy rain or when the granules have completely dissolved before allowing foot traffic on your lawn.
If you’re applying pre-emergent weed and feed, then the best application time is prior to weed seed germination. But if you’re trying to control summer weeds, early spring is the best time to apply weed and feed.
However, if you’re trying to kill crabgrass, you should apply weed and feed in mid-April. As mentioned earlier, post emergent weed killers will only kill weeds that are actively growing at the time of application.
Given that fertilizer applications aren’t recommended in the summer such as in temperatures above 90-degrees, post-emergent herbicides to kill tough weeds such as dandelions and clover should be applied from late spring onwards.
You should also note that even if you apply the best weed and feed product, chances are that you won’t be able to get rid of all the weeds completely. Reason being weed seeds can spread fast, whether it’s kids running across the lawn, wind blowing them around or birds depositing them.
When to Water and Mow Lawn After Weed and Feed Application?
Since no two weed and feed products are built exactly the same, you should refer to manufacturer’s usage guidelines. Some weed and feed products can be watered in, so that the active ingredient is absorbed by the roots.
If you’re applying a liquid weed and feed product such as Scotts Liquid Turf Builder, you don’t need to water the lawn after application, since both the fertilizer and herbicide are already in liquid form. The nitrogen acts as the fertilizer, and gives your lawn a boost, while the herbicide kills weeds such as ground ivy, chickweed, and buckhorn.
Weed and feed provides myriad benefits for your lawn, most notably the ability to nourish your lawn with fertilizer, and kill weeds with a single application. The key to applying weed and feed is timing, where it should ideally be applied in late April/ early May and then again, if necessary, in September .
In terms of mowing your lawn, it is best to mow a day or two before weed and feed application for best results. But be sure to collect these clippings right after you mow and before spreading the weed and feed, and not use them as mulch or compost around healthy grass and plants.
Additionally, ensure that your lawn is cut to a normal height — three to four inches, depending on the type of grass, and wait approximately two to four days after mowing to apply the weed and feed. Most importantly, don’t apply too much weed and feed, as this will over-saturate your lawn with the feeding chemical, and spread the chemical evenly across the lawn, preferably with a broadcast spreader.