Should i fertilze before i weed and seed

Everything You Need to Know About Weed and Feed

Weed and feed is the lawn care equivalent of the shampoo-and-conditioner-in-one products in the hair care aisle. They promise to save you time while giving you the same results by applying two different products. However, you’ve probably noticed that two-in-one hair care products haven’t led to the extinction of individual shampoos and conditioners. Many people believe it’s better to weed and feed your lawn as a two-step process for much the same reason.

If you’d like a healthy green lawn but don’t like the idea of applying fertilizers and weed killers yourself, House Method’s recommended lawn care service provider is TruGreen. TruGreen has offices throughout the US and Canada, so there’s likely a TruGreen branch near you.

  • Large variety of plan options tailored to homeowners wants and needs
  • All services are backed and performed by TruExpert℠ Certified Specialists
  • Services provided in 49 states

What is Weed and Feed?

Weed and feed is the term used for lawn care products that contain both herbicides (weed killers, the “weed” part of the name) and fertilizer (the “feed” part). Weed and feed is designed to fertilize your lawn while also killing weeds in your grass, like dandelions and clovers.

Many people like the idea of using weed and feed because it means they only need to do a single application of product rather than separately applying herbicide and fertilizer. They see it as a way to do twice the work in half the time.

The weed killer in weed and feed is either pre-emergent or post-emergent.

  • Pre-emergent herbicides prevent weed seeds from germinating, so they need to be applied very early in the year before the weeds begin to sprout.
  • Post-emergent herbicides work on weeds that are already growing, so they should be applied later in the year, usually in the summer. Broadleaf weed killers might even be more effective in the fall.

Get Rid of Weeds Now

with the help of a professional lawn care service, TruGreen

Tips for Using Weed and Feed

Suppose you still think the benefits of a two-for-one application outweigh the negative aspects of weed and feed. In that case, the Weed Science Society of America offers some tips to follow so you get the best results with minor environmental damage:

  • Please read the label before you purchase to know what you’re buying and how to apply it.
  • Identify the kinds of weeds growing in your yard and make sure the herbicide in your product targets those weeds. If you don’t know what the weeds are, contact your local Extension agent or check an online resource, such as those produced by the Extension Service.
  • Identify the kind of grass growing in your yard. A quick rule of thumb: cool-season grasses stay green all year while warm-season grasses go dormant and turn brown in winter. It would be best to fertilize cool-season grasses in the fall and warm-season grasses in the late spring or early summer. Choose a weed and feed that works in that fertilization period.
  • Apply the product with post-emergent herbicides early in the morning when the dew is on the grass, or water the lawn before applying. The granules will stick to the wet blades of grass and release the herbicide better than with dry blades.
  • Follow the directions that come with the product, including using the recommended amount at the suggested time of year or growth stage for weeds. Applying too much weed and feed or putting it down at the wrong time of year is a waste of money and could damage your lawn.
  • Keep the product off other landscape plants. If any gets on the sidewalk or driveway, use a blower or broom to sweep it back into the lawn.
  • Clean your hands and shoes after applying the product so you don’t unwittingly take the chemicals into your house.
  • Keep kids and pets out of the yard for a few days after treating your lawn. Studies show that lawn chemicals stay in the grass for at least 48 hours, and dogs who’ve been exposed to properties treated with herbicides may have a higher risk of certain cancers.
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Alternatives to Weed and Feed

The easiest alternative to applying weed and feed is to treat feeding and weed killing as two separate processes. Apply fertilizer at the time dictated by the kind of grass growing in your yard —fall for cool-season grasses, late spring or early summer for warm-season grasses.

Treat for weeds at an appropriate time. If you genuinely think you have weed seeds all over your yard waiting to sprout, apply a pre-emergent over the entire yard in late winter before the seeds germinate. If you’ve applied pre-emergent in previous years and have your weeds under control, putting pre-emergent over the whole yard may be overkill. In that case, it makes more sense to see if any weeds do come up and spot-treat them with an appropriate herbicide based on what’s growing in your yard.

A natural product called corn gluten meal, sometimes referred to by its initials, CGM, may offer some hope for an organic alternative to weed and feed. CGM is a byproduct that results from wet milling corn. An Iowa State University professor found that it reduces seed germination, and it has been patented for use as a natural pre-emergent agent. CGM is about 10% nitrogen, the main ingredient in most fertilizers, so it’s also a natural fertilizer.

But if a natural, organic weed and feed sounds too good to be true, it might be. There are several reasons why CGM hasn’t become the go-to weed and feed product:

  • CGM is very expensive.
  • It only works on certain kinds of weeds.
  • It typically requires multiple applications.
  • It must be applied at the right time to stop seed germination.
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Skip The Chemical Weed Killer

The most environmentally friendly way to avoid weed killer is to pull the weeds out of your yard by hand. Weeding is never a fun task, but you don’t have to worry about chemicals being tracked into your home or being washed off and polluting local waterways if you hand-weed.

Various weeding tools are available to make the chore a little easier. These include long-handled, foot-operated tools that grip the weeds and allow you to dig up the roots without having to bend down.

The best defense against weeds is a thick, healthy lawn. Keep your property adequately watered, apply fertilizer when necessary, and take steps such as aerating when necessary may be all your lawn needs to stand tall against a weed invasion.

Spray Weeds or Fertilize Grass First?

Your lawn may not look like a professionally maintained park if it has dandelions and other weeds scattered around it. If you plan to use weed killers to deal with the weeds and fertilizers to make the grass lush, you need to apply them in the right order for the best results.

Weeds First

Spraying weeds with a safe herbicide is the first course of action to improve your lawn. Weeds steal water and nutrients from your grass, especially because both plants’ roots populate the first few inches of the soil. If you have bare spots across portions of your lawn, you can till these areas to bring any weed seeds to the surface. Apply a preemergent herbicide to the bare soil and wait the recommended period of time before reseeding with the appropriate grass species. Bare spots less than the size of your hand will fill in naturally. Spray any weeds that appear with an herbicide, such as a glyphosate product, to stop further weed growth.

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Timing Grass Fertilization

After spraying the weeds with herbicide, it is good practice to wait at least one week before fertilizing. In fact, your grass needs fertilizing even through the fall and winter. A good rule of thumb is fertilizing at least four times a year, such as every two months during fall, winter and spring. Skipping fertilization during the summer is often practiced because the water to wash the nutrients into the soil, whether from rainfall or watering, may evaporate quickly and impede the fertilizer’s performance.

Improving Soil Health

Relying on herbicides for constant weed control is not the best way to maintain your lawn. A healthy, thick grass structure creates a barrier to germinating weed seeds because sunlight cannot penetrate through the blades to stimulate seed growth. Grass blades should stand at least 2 inches tall to retain this barrier against weed seedlings. In addition, keeping a pH meter handy to test your soil is a practical strategy for maintaining your soil. If your soil stays at a pH of 7.0, the grass has the best environment for thick and lush growth.

Weed and Feed Considerations

The lawn improvement marketplace is full of convenient weed and feed products. However, these mixtures do not kill established weeds; rather they use preemergent herbicides to impede weed germination. If you have an established weed problem, avoid the weed and feed mixtures and use the spot spray strategy. Overall, using herbicides and fertilizers separately allows you to control their application closely for the best lawn care.

  • University of California Integrated Pest Management Program: Weed Management in Lawns
  • Stover Seed Company: Planting Grass From Seed
  • Greenview: Weed Control in the Home Lawn
  • University of Maryland Extension: Lawn Establishment, Renovation and Overseeding

Writing professionally since 2010, Amy Rodriguez cultivates successful cacti, succulents, bulbs, carnivorous plants and orchids at home. With an electronics degree and more than 10 years of experience, she applies her love of gadgets to the gardening world as she continues her education through college classes and gardening activities.