When is the best time to use weed and feed on your lawn? You need to make sure not to apply it more than twice a year, and at least 2 months apart… Weed and feed lawn products combine a lawn fertilizer with a weed killer and/or weed preventer in one product. Different turfs call for different types of products, and application timing is critical. Check out these tips for before and after application for lawn weed and feed fertilizer. When is the best time of year to seed your lawn? What is the worst time of year to seed? Check out this blog post to learn more.
When to Apply Weed and Feed to Your Lawn
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.
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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!
Weed And Feed Lawns: Where To Begin
Weed & Feed products combine a lawn fertilizer with a weed killer and/or weed preventer in one product. One application does double duty, treating random weeds spread across an entire lawn while also feeding and greening grass. Weed & Feeds come in two basic formulations, granules and liquids. But before you make an application, here are some things you need to know about weed & feed products.
Weed & Feed Starts With Weeding…
The “weed” half of “weed & feed” contains some mix of herbicides to kill lawn weeds. Almost all products contain a post-emergent herbicide, but some also combine a pre-emergent herbicide designed to prevent new weeds from sprouting.
Post-Emergent herbicides kill existing lawn weeds like Dandelion, Clover and many other common weeds. The complete list of weeds can be found on your product’s label. These post-emergents are always selective herbicides, so they will not harm existing grass when applied as directed. New innovations, like BioAdvanced 5-in-1 Weed & Feed, also kill grassy weeds like Crabgrass, eliminating the need for multiple applications of additional herbicides to achieve control.
Pre-Emergent herbicides are meant to keep new weeds from germinating and growing. Timing is the key, apply too early and the preventer can become ineffective while weeds are still dormant. Apply too late and seeds may have already germinated. You’re probably most familiar with Crabgrass preventers that are applied in early spring.
…And Ends With Feeding
The “feed” half of “weed & feed” is all about fertilizer. Most fertilizers are a mix of nitrogen and other macro-nutrients, and sometimes micro-nutrients, in varying amounts. Nitrogen (N) is the most important element in lawn fertilizers and comes in two basic forms – fast-release and slow-release. Most lawn fertilizers include a mix of fast-release and slow-release forms to provide quick green-up and sustained growth.
Fast-Release Nitrogen (often referred to as water-soluble nitrogen or WSN) such as urea and ammonium sulfate, is readily available and absorbed quickly by the grass, resulting in fast green-up. Unfortunately, it can also can burn your lawn if applied improperly, and can leach through the lawns root zone or run off the lawn in heavy rain, causing pollution.
Slow-Release Nitrogen (often referred to as WIN or water-insoluble nitrogen), such as sulfur-coated urea, methylene urea and animal manures, are released more slowly to the grass and provide more sustained, even growth – up to 3 months for methylene urea.
Before You Begin, Know Your Lawn Type
Before applying any type of weed & feed or fertilizer product, you need to identify your type of grass. Some fertilizers can be applied to all lawn types, but most weed & feed products are specifically labeled for certain types of grasses. Apply the wrong product to the wrong type of grass and you can damage your lawn. Use caution and read the label. If you’re still unsure, use the toll-free number found on the label to contact the manufacturer.
When To Apply
Weed & Feed products are most effective when weeds are small and actively-growing, namely spring and fall.
In spring, wait to apply until you’ve mowed your lawn two times before applying to be sure it has emerged from dormancy.
In fall, be sure to check the with local Cooperative Extension System office for historical frost dates in your area. Many Weed & Feed labels will recommend application timing based on that date.
Most weed & feed products will have temperature restrictions as well, be sure to check the label. Do not apply to water-saturated soils, lawns under stress from drought, disease or prone to injury.
How To Apply
For liquid weed & feed products, be sure to use one of the sprayer types recommended on the label and follow label instructions for mixing and spraying.
For granule weed & feeds, use a rotary or drop-type spreader. Drop spreaders apply fertilizer very precisely in a narrow band directly below the spreader, while a rotary spreader broadcasts over a wider area. The application pattern is very important. Be sure to follow label instructions.
Both types of spreaders have adjustable application settings. How much fertilizer is applied varies according to the settings on the type and model of spreader you use. Read the spreader manufacturer’s instructions before fertilizing to help you calibrate your equipment to ensure proper application rates. You’ll find the proper setting for your type of spreader on the specific fertilizer label. If not, there should be a toll-free phone number to call. Do not use the spreader until you are sure it is set properly. You can learn more about calibrating your spreader and spreader settings. Be sure to read always and follow label instructions.
Other Things You Should Know
Mowing – For best results, mow your lawn 1-2 days prior to application. Clippings from your next three mowings should be left on the lawn. Be sure not to use these clippings as mulch or compost around flowers, ornamentals, trees or in vegetable gardens.
Do Not Rake – Heavy raking will disturb the weed preventative barrier and reduce the effectiveness of this product.
Watering – Many weed & feed products instruct you to wait 24 hours before watering in. Be sure to consult your specific label.
Feeding New Lawns – Most new lawns don’t need to be fertilized until 6-8 weeks after planting. However, that can vary depending on how the soil was prepared before planting and the type of fertilizer used. Consult your local Cooperative Extension System office or nursery for recommendations on fertilizing new lawns.
When is the best and worst time to seed your lawn?
When is the best time of year to seed? What about the the worst time? Here’s the answer from best to worst:
1) Most successful
The last five weeks of summer to early autumn, pending the weather, is the best time of year to seed. At this time, day and nighttime temperatures are cooling, dew is more present on lawns, and annual broadleaf weeds and crabgrass are dying. This means new turf can easily establish with little to no competition. If you’re going to seed, this is absolutely the best time of year to do it. Don’t miss your opportunity otherwise you’ll be waiting an entire year for the next window to open.
When you do seed, watch it closely. Kentucky bluegrass mix can take upwards of 4 to 6 weeks to fully emerge while perennial rye can take 1 to 2 weeks. If you seed during drought conditions, and the seed doesn’t take, don’t hesitate to seed again. Getting something established before the ground freezes is paramount and will make a big difference in what you’re able to do with the new turf the subsequent spring. The thicker your turf is in the fall, the better it’ll hold crabgrass pre-emergent the following year.
By mid-October your window to seed is usually rapidly closing. A mixed bag of seed or hydroseed can take upwards of 4 to 6 weeks to emerge and establish itself to the point that it’s able to survive the winter. Remember, at this stage in the turf’s life it’s not all about the blade…it’s about its root system. The harder the soil (due to it being frozen) the more difficult it is for roots to penetrate deep underground. At this time of year use perennial rye grass, which grows faster.
3) Early spring
Early spring is second to last on this list for a few reasons. Yes, the seed is likely to grow just fine because of the typically wet, cool weather. However, here’s the caveat: Under many circumstances, pre-emergent crabgrass control and broadleaf weed control will negatively impact the new turf. It can also be challenging to near impossible to keep young turf alive through the brutal New England summer. We do not recommend aerating and overseeding (or renovating) an entire lawn at this time of year. While aerating is beneficial, the process can actually pull weed seeds from the soil depths to the surface, exacerbating weed problems. However, if you want to patch up a few small spots, this may be a fine time to do so.
4) Late spring (May/June) – late July/early August
There is little to no long-term success when seeding an entire lawn or large sections of your property at this time of year. Doing so could set your lawn back a few to several years. You’ll be constantly battling crabgrass and weeds.
If you’re overseeding, keep the following in mind:
- Always aerate before you overseed. The seed germinates in the plugged holes which presents a cool, wet, soft, and favorable growing environment. Little to no seed establishes when placed directly on top of soil that hasn’t been cultivated.
- It may take upwards of 2 to 3 years to see the full results from a single aeration/overseeding as new grass emerges from the holes and the canopy of already existing turf thickens.
- If you’re patching up small areas of your lawn, loosen up existing soil and apply top soil. This will give the new seed a better chance to take root. Otherwise, it’s like trying to plant grass on concrete.
- Just because new seed emerges in the fall it doesn’t mean it’ll survive the following year without proper care. For example, if you forget about it several months later, it’s very unlikely to make it through the summer. This turf needs to stay well-watered and manicured.
- It’s not uncommon to have to seed areas of your lawn that succumbs to summer heat or general wear and tear. Adhering to the tips presented here will give your lawn the best chance of success.
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