Should You Use Weed and Feed? Weed and Feed 101

Weed and feed products are a popular lawn care tool used by homeowners to eliminate weeds and fertilize grass simultaneously. But should you use weed and feed for your lawn? Here is a comprehensive guide to weed and feed, including pros and cons, tips for using it effectively, and recommendations on when it may or may not be the right choice for your lawn.

What is Weed and Feed?

Weed and feed products combine an herbicide meant to target broadleaf weeds and a fertilizer designed to nourish grass. The concept is that you can take care of two lawn care tasks – weed control and fertilization – in one application.

Weed and feed products come in liquid or granular forms. The herbicide component kills weeds by disrupting plant growth hormones. The fertilizer provides nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to strengthen grass plants.

Manufacturers design weed and feed products to be applied during the early spring or fall when weeds are actively growing but grass plants are dormant. The goal is to eliminate weeds without harming desirable grass.

Pros of Using Weed and Feed

There are some potential advantages to using a weed and feed product on your lawn:

  • Convenience: With one application, you can both remove weeds and fertilize the grass. This saves time compared to doing the tasks separately.
  • Cost-effective: Purchasing a combined weed and feed product is usually cheaper than buying separate weed control and fertilizer.
  • Easy to apply: Weed and feed products are designed to be easy for homeowners to apply with a broadcast or drop spreader. Granular varieties are simple to spread.
  • Thickens grass: The fertilizer component helps grass grow greener and thicker to crowd out future weed growth.

Cons of Using Weed and Feed

However, there are also some potential drawbacks to using weed and feed:

  • Harms beneficial plants: The herbicide does not discriminate and may damage or kill desirable flowers, vegetables, trees, and shrubs if spread improperly.
  • Ineffective on some weeds: Certain tough perennial weeds may not be fully eliminated by the herbicide concentration. Repeat applications are often needed.
  • Potential grass damage: Applying weed and feed during hot weather or to stressed grass may cause fertilizer burn or other unintended plant injury.
  • Poor timing: When applied at the wrong time, weed and feed won’t work well because weeds and grass aren’t at the right growth stages.
  • Temporary results: A single use of weed and feed will not provide season-long weed control. Regular applications would be required.
  • Masks issues: Fertilizing weedy lawns can make the grass grow thicker, masking underlying problems that are contributing to weed growth.

Tips for Using Weed and Feed Effectively

If you do choose to use weed and feed, follow these tips to get the best results:

  • Read and follow all label directions carefully to avoid misapplication.
  • Apply when daytime temperatures will remain below 85°F to avoid damaging grass.
  • Time the application based on weed and grass growth stages as specified on the label.
  • Use a drop or rotary spreader for even coverage and calibrated to the suggested settings.
  • Water product into lawn lightly after application to activate the herbicides.
  • Allow 4-6 weeks to see full weed-control effects. Reapply as directed if new weeds continue to sprout.
  • Remove existing weed growth before application for best efficacy.
  • Avoid runoff by not applying before heavy rain and sweeping up any product that lands on hard surfaces.
  • Keep people and pets off treated lawn until product has dried per label instructions.

When to Use Weed and Feed – And When to Avoid It

Weed and feed can be an appropriate choice when:

  • Trying to revitalize a thin lawn overrun with weeds.
  • Seeking a quick visual improvement in lawn appearance.
  • Dealing with early seasonal weeds like dandelions.
  • Wanting the convenience of combined weed control and fertilization.

However, you may want to avoid weed and feed if:

  • Applying near landscape plants you want to protect.
  • Dealing with stubborn perennial weeds like thistle or bindweed.
  • Trying to address substantial lawn issues like heavy thatch buildup.
  • Growing grass in poor soil that needs amendment.
  • Unable to properly time application to weed and grass growth stages.
  • Looking for sustainable and organic lawn care.

Alternatives to Weed and Feed

Instead of using weed and feed products, consider these alternative options:

  • Spot treat weeds using a post-emergent herbicide applied only where weeds exist instead of blanketing the entire lawn.
  • Hand pull weeds for light infestations and avoid herbicides entirely.
  • Apply separate fertilizer and weed control products to maximize results by selecting targeted solutions.
  • Overseed thin areas to thicken up grass instead of masking issues with fertilizer.
  • Dethatch and aerate to improve lawn health holistically and prevent future weeds.
  • Adjust mowing height and watering to optimize growing conditions so grass crowds out weeds.

The Bottom Line

Weed and feed offers a simplified solution by combining weed killer and fertilizer in one product. But it does have downsides and won’t be the right choice for every lawn or gardener. Consider your specific weed problems, lawn health, and application factors before deciding if you should use weed and feed or explore alternate integrated weed management strategies. With the right planning, you can keep your lawn lush, green, and weed-free.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is weed and feed?

Weed and feed is a lawn care product that combines herbicide to kill broadleaf weeds with fertilizer to nourish grass plants. The goal is to eliminate weeds and strengthen the desirable grass simultaneously in one application.

When should you apply weed and feed?

Weed and feed should be applied when weeds are actively growing and grass is dormant, usually in early spring or fall. Applying during summer heat or to stressed grass may damage lawns.

How long does weed and feed take to work?

It typically takes 4-6 weeks after applying weed and feed to see the full effects. Existing weeds will yellow and die off during this time. Reapply per label directions if new weeds continue sprouting.

Does weed and feed kill all weeds?

Weed and feed mainly targets annual and some perennial broadleaf weeds. Tough perennials like bindweed, wild violet, and clover may not be fully eliminated and require repeat applications or alternative control methods.

Is it OK to use weed and feed in the summer?

No, weed and feed should not be used during summer’s hot weather which can burn and damage lawns. It won’t work well anyway since summer weeds and grass are in the wrong growth stages.

How long after using weed and feed can I reseed my lawn?

Wait at least 4-6 weeks after applying weed and feed before reseeding lawns. The herbicides require time to break down so they don’t impact new grass seedlings. Always follow product label guidance on reseeding.