Last Updated on October 3, 2022 by Grow with Bovees
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 and When Is The Best Time To Apply It?
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 killer or hand pulling them, 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 and landscaping professionals 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 for broadleaf weed control of 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 blades, unless you apply too much.
Here are some quality picks worth your time;
Post vs Pre-Emergent Weed and Feed
When to use weed and feed will mostly depend on the type you’re using, whether post or pre-emergent weed and feed. The latter, just as the name suggests, targets weeds before they establish themselves, but does not affect existing broadleaf weeds.
The post type 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 Put Down Weed and Feed?
Knowing when to weed and feed is essential, but before applying the best 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 green lawn is inevitable.
When Is It Too Late To Use Weed and Feed?
It is generally considered too late at the end of fall. After this, if you are in a cold area, winter will start to take hold and the weed killer element will have nothing to work upon.
It works when the weeds are actively growing, or before they sprout, depending upon whether you have a post or pre – emergent type.
Do Not Use It During Winter
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.
Early Spring And Fall Are The Best Times For A Healthy Lawn
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 a healthy lawn and other 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, or your product includes a crabgrass preventer, 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 at daytime temperatures above 90-degrees, the types of herbicides used to kill tough broadleaf weeds such as dandelions and clover should be applied from late spring onwards.
You should also note that even if you apply the best 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.
Should I Mow Before Applying Weed and Feed?
The question is, do you have to cut your grass before applying the weed & feed? If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know that the answer is always “it depends.”
It depends on the type of weeds you’re trying to get rid of, the species of grass you have, the phase of the season when you’re applying herbicide, how the herbicide works, and, of course, how you mow.
If you have large broad leafed weeds, and are using a post-emergent product, then it’s best not to mow too short before putting down weed and feed, better to have a larger leaf area for the product to work on.
If you are going to be using a granular product, you can cut the grass not less than 2 days before application, then water it in, as it needs to get under the surface to start working.
So, the general rule is; only mow at least 2 days before you apply weed & feed products, and don’t mow before 2 days after the weed and feed application.
How Long To Stay off Lawn After Weed and Feed?
You should be good to use your lawn again after 24-72 hours. This give the fertilizer time to work its way into the soil. See the paragraphs below for when to water after application.
As always, we would recommend that you read the manufacturers directions included on the packaging. (If all else fails, read the instructions!).
You should also not carry out aerating, or spread new grass seed after weed & feed usage, as it can possibly damage any new emerging grass seedlings.
How Long Does Weed and Feed Take To Work?
How long weeds take to die after applying weed and feed will depend upon the type of product you use. Most post-emergent herbicides will start to take effect from between 5 and 7 days. The full effect could take as long as 3 weeks to completely kill off the weeds.
Pre-emergent herbicides work by preventing the weed from growing in the first place, so you shouldn’t see weeds popping up after using this type of product.
When To Water After Applying Weed and Feed Fertilizer Application?
With a granular product, it is important not to water for at least 24 hours after application. The reason for this is that you need the product to stay in contact with the leaves of the weeds to be most efficient.
It goes without saying that if you water too soon after you apply weed and feed, you will wash it off before it starts working.
Since no two products are built exactly the same, you should refer to manufacturer’s usage guidelines.
Many 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 complete 4 step program, 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.
Make sure to check the weather forecast for your area before carrying out your weed feed exercise.
If you can afford the irrigation system cost, don’t forget to turn off that zone or zones for 24 hours after, and remember to turn it back on again afterwards!
Should I Add The Grass Clippings To My Compost Pile?
If you’ve used organic weed and feed, then you’re OK to add the grass cuttings to your compost pile, but if you used a chemical based product, then rather leave the clippings on the lawn to allow rain to wash the feeding chemical back into the soil.
Final Thoughts On The Best Time To Put Down Weed And Feed
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 a spring application 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 using weed and feed on a wet lawn 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 weed killers, and spread the chemical evenly across the lawn, preferably with a broadcast spreader or drop spreader.
Now you know exactly when to apply weed and feed to your grass to achieve a lush healthy lawn!