Every spring, homeowners across the U.S. renew their commitment to having the greenest and nicest looking lawn in their neighborhood. Part of this effort usually includes a weed and feed product; however, that may be a waste of money.
Timing is Everything
Weed and Feed is simply a weed killer mixed with lawn fertilizer, but for the product to work correctly it needs to be applied at the right time. That is, it needs to be placed on the lawn when the grass needs fed and when the weeds need eliminated. Unfortunately, that is a relatively short window of opportunity — and is dependent on the type of weed killer in the product.
Understanding Weed Killers
Products designed to eliminate weeds in your lawn fall into two categories: pre-emergent and post-emergent. For a pre-emergent weed killer to work it must be absorbed into the ground before weeds are visible because the chemical works by inhibiting germination. Post-emergent products, though, are effective only if the weed is growing since the chemical must be absorbed by the plant. So, if you are applying a weed and feed product with pre-emergent killer on a lawn filled with weeds, the weeds will not be affected.
A strong stand of grass is always the best defense against weeds because quality turf grass creates a natural barrier. Creating a lawn this way requires four main components: quality seed, quality soil, proper watering and feeding. To create a nice looking lawn with less dependence on herbicides, buy a quality seed designed for your region (there are two main regions: warm season and cool season) and pick a variety that best suits your lawn’s sun exposure (shady vs. sunny or a mix). Once you have purchased seed:
- · Take a soil sample and amend your soil as needed
- · Feed lawn 2-3 times per year — based on soil sample
- · As needed, water lawn deeply
What if I Already Have Weeds?
If the weeds are visible and overtaking your lawn, purchase a quality post-emergent herbicide — or an organic alternative — and spread it on your lawn according to manufacturer’s directions. If only a portion of your lawn has weeds — like dandelions — spot treat the weeds with a post-emergent or hand-pull them. By treating at the weed level, you greatly reduce the amount of herbicide introduced into your lawn.