Spring has sprung and that means getting your landscape to look its absolute best! Why not start out with some weed and feed? Read more about how and when to apply weed and feed to your spring landscape! 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. My Lowes 4 step fertiizer weed and feed program. Use Scotts or Sta-Green. I show you how to create a weed free program for a lush green lawn every year!
When is a Good Time to Apply Weed and Feed?
As soon as the winter months are over, legions of homeowners rush outside to check how their lawns survived the cold. Most of them will head inside with disappointment. If you are among the majority of Americans with sad-looking lawns this spring, you may already be planning to wake it up with a quick application of weed and feed over the weekend. But before taking the trip to your local garden store to pick up a few bottles, there are several good reasons why using weed and feed now may not be the best idea for the health of your grass. It is important to know when to apply weed and feed.
What is Weed and Feed?
The term “weed and feed” is a general term for a number of products. Most of these products combine post-emergent broadleaf herbicides to kill weeds such as dandelions and clovers with fertilizers to give your lawn a quick dose of the nutrients it needs after a tough winter. Weed and feed products are produced by most major lawn care manufacturers and come as a ready-to-go liquid or in a dry granular form.
Deciding When to Apply Weed and Feed
Timing is everything when it comes to lawn care. If you apply weed and feed too early, you risk the chance that you will miss attacking the weeds that have not yet started to grow, and they will survive the application. But, on the other hand, if you wait too long, your grass won’t get the nutrition it needs to grow well. The ideal time to apply weed and feed is in the early spring, just about the same time that you notice your lawn needs the first trim of the season.
Besides choosing the best time of the year to apply weed and feed to your lawn, you need to keep an eye on the weekly weather forecast as well. Avoid treating your lawn with weed and feed when the weatherman predicts rain is on the way. A spring storm shortly after an application will dilute the herbicide too much to be effective. If a surprise downpour does happen to catch you off-guard, you should not reapply the treatment because you will then risk overfeeding your lawn.
Tips For Success with Your Weed and Feed Application
Even when you choose the perfect time and weather for a weed and feed treatment, things can still go wrong. You can increase the chance of a successful application by following these tips:
- Your grass should be between 3 to 5 inches tall.
- Use a sprinkler to moisten your lawn lightly before applying the weed and feed treatment.
- Don’t water your lawn for 48 hours using weed and feed.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid over treating your lawn.
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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 To Apply Weed and Feed-Complete Year Round Guide
As a Lowes garden manager, one of the most asked questions I get is about healthy, green, weed free lawns. Here are my tips and directions for your Lowes lawn care program applying Sta Green or Scotts.
Weed and feed fertilizer will help improve your lawn.
The number one question: When is the best time to apply weed and feed to my lawn?
Well…it depends really. Where you live, whether you have sun or shade, and lots of other things make a big difference in what your lawn needs. Most regions in the United States can apply weed and feed from March till November.
A well-fed lawn is healthier, which means it has a better root system to combat heat, cold, drought, mowing, foot traffic and other stresses.
One easy to follow rule is to use the summer holidays as your guide.
If you’re going to fertilize, remember the summer holidays of Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day as good times to apply.
Memorial Day-Weed and Feed
July 4th– Fertilizer with Insect Control
Labor Day– Fall Fertilizer
Remember, crabgrass control will need to be early spring, so maybe around Easter.
There are some simple rules to follow when choosing and applying your weed and feed products. Lowes can help you build a successful program specifically for your lawn with Scotts Turfbuilder and Sta-Green Fertilizer programs.
And while fertilizing even once a year will improve the condition of the lawn, a well-fed lawn that receives 4 feedings a year will do much better.
Weed and Feed Basics and the 4 Step Process
Ok, this is my disclaimer: This is my version of the 4 step program that I have used for years. It works! Make sure you always follow instructions on the bag and use the correct settings on your spreader.
You will find many different versions of weed and feed programs out there. They all will be some variation of the following:
Step 1. Crabgrass Preventer
Step 2. Weed and Feed
Step 3. Summer Fertilizer with Insect Control
Step 4. Fall or Winter Fertilizer
The #1 Mistake: Skipping Step 1 and not using a crabgrass preventer.
The best looking lawns don’t have crabgrass for a reason; they use a crabgrass preventer every year! You can skip it if you want, but I don’t recommend it. Most people don’t realize this, but Scotts Halts and Sta Green Crabgrass both have fertilizer as well in the bag. So take care of the crabgrass and get in that first application of fertilizer.
Your soil supplies some of the nutrients that grass needs but most soils are not able to provide all of them during the entire growing season. Fertilizer helps your lawn stay healthy by promoting new blade and root growth and will aid in recovery from summer foot traffic and pest damage.
Weed & feed is the generic name for a broad range of lawn chemical products designed to strengthen existing grass and kill off certain weeds. It generally improves your lawn’s ability to absorb water and food, and adds necessary nutrients which promote healthy growth. A healthy lawn discourages weed growth and enables a strong root system for your lawn.
The “weed” portion of weed and feed is one of a variety of broad leaf-targeted herbicides, usually Dicamba or 2,4-D, that attacks dandelions, dollarweed, and most other green leafy weeds. The chemical is applied to and absorbed by the leaves of the weed.
The granules will not sit on grass blades, which is why weed and feed generally won’t kill grass unless it is incorrectly applied. There are also liquid forms of weed and feed that are generally applied with a sprayer.
The “feed” portion of weed & feed is a fertilizer that contains some combination of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium to green up your lawn. The exact blend of fertilizer ingredients varies by brand, but all products will contain some percentage of nitrogen. Some products also include additional benefits, such as timed-released nitrogen for extended feeding.
When to Weed and Feed With Lowes Sta Green or Scotts
While feeding your lawn once a year will improve its condition, feeding it four times a year will make it even healthier. If you put your lawn on the regular schedule it will stay lush and green all season long.
Fertilize your lawn in the spring, early fall and/or late fall (such as late March, early April, early September and early November). However, if you live in an area with long, cold winters, then late April, August and the end of October may be best.
In most climates, late fall tends to offer better results because that’s when weeds grow stronger roots and take the herbicide to the roots along with it, killing them. You should also never fertilize any cool-season lawn during hot summer months.
If you live in the southern or western parts of the United States, such as Florida, Texas, Alabama or California fertilize your lawn in early summer and again in late summer or early fall. The application process is slightly different if you are using a product for southern lawns, such as Scotts Bonus S.
With all fertilizer schedules, you can add one treatment in midsummer, but avoid fertilizing when the temperature is too hot, particularly when it’s 85 degrees or above.
> Read our guide on southern weed and feed
Some Products Need Dry Lawn, Others Need Wet Lawn
For most areas of the United States, weed and feed products should be applied to a wet lawn either from rain or dew, on a calm day and left on the surface for 24 to 48 hours.
You can also wet the grass with a garden hose or turn on your sprinkler system for a few minutes before applying weed and feed.
The general exception is crabgrass control and southern weed and feed products.
Note: Scotts Bonus S, Sta Green Southern weed and feed and most crabgrass control products should be applied to a dry lawn.
A wet lawn helps fertilizer particles stick to the blades of grass and the weed leaves. To ensure that the particles have the best chance of doing their job, don’t water the lawn again for 48 hours.
If you’ve recently used grass seed, sod or sprigging, wait until your new grass has been mowed at least three times before applying any weed and feed product. For best results use a broadcast spreader set to the level indicated on the product package.
Early Spring: March – April. Step 1
Feeding your lawn in the spring strengthens roots and gets it off to a good start. Crabgrass control is the number one reason to use a pre-emergent fertilzer. If you had crabgrass last year, apply a combination fertilizer with a pre-emergent to control it.
Pre-emergents, such as those commonly used to prevent crabgrass, is weed control which must be applied before the weeds germinate. They are ineffective if the weeds are already actively growing.
You will only have about a 3 week window to apply Step 1. Use Scotts Halts plus Crabgrass Preventer or Sta-Green Crab-Ex Crabgrass Preventer. This early application is the most important part of getting a weed free and healthy green lawn. Yes, use it even if you didn’t have crabgrass last year.
Soil Temperature Map: Find your local ground temperature here
Step 1 should include pre-emergent weed killer and fertilizer used in early spring. This can be from mid March to late April.
Crabgrass normally germinates when the ground temperature reaches 55° F . This is also the ground temperature at which dogwood trees start to bud and forsythias begin blooming.
Late Spring: April – June. Step 2
Spring is prime time for lawns. Your grass is busy growing and using up stored energy. Step 2 weed and feed fertilizer is designed to strengthen existing grass and kill off weeds at the same time. Its also the best time to apply a weed and feed product.
Weeds want sun, water and food, which, is what your lawn needs too. That’s why you want to supply the lawn with a weed and feeding product designed for this time of year. Your grass is growing and unfortunately, broadleaf weeds are actively growing, too. It improves your lawn’s ability to absorb water and nutrients.
Weed & feed has a fertilizer to help “green up” your lawn. It also has a weed killer that targets broadleaf weeds like dandelions and many others. Many weed and feed products also have timed-release nitrogen for extended feeding.
The weed killer in post-emergent types of fertilizers are contact killers, and are effective only if the weeds are already actively growing. They will not kill weeds which have not yet germinated.
Applying in the spring and summer also gives your lawn a nitrogen booster that helps build the roots of your grass. Feed your lawn with a combination of fertilizer with broadleaf weed control like Scotts Turfbuilder with Plus 2 Weed Control or Sta-Green Weed and Feed.
Summer: June – August. Step 3
If you’re going to fertilize, remember the summer holidays of Memorial Day and Labor Day as the best times to apply. But what about summer months? What to do around the Fourth of July? Step 3 weed and feed products are designed for maximum effectiveness with a late-spring to mid summer application. They contain herbicides designed to kill actively growing broadleaf weeds like dandelions.
These herbicides are much more effective if you apply them in the spring or even the fall. At that time, the weeds are either growing or storing up reserves for winter and moving nutrients from the leaves to the roots. They move the herbicide to the roots at the same time, resulting in a better kill.
You can still apply weed and feed in the summer
It is not recommended to apply if the temperature will be above 90 degrees and no re-application of any fertilizer for another 30 days.
Summer is tough on grass. You can still apply a weed and feed product, but do so cautiously. Heat, drought, foot traffic, and insects stress it out. Feeding your lawn in the summer still helps to protect and strengthen it against these problems.
Lawns in warm-season grass areas should be fed over the summer months as they grow steadily from spring to fall. Also consider spot treatment of weeds by using a product such as Ortho Weed B Gon.
A more common problem you will see in the summer months are insects. If you see insects in your grass, use a feeding product that also contains insect control, such as Scotts Turf Builder with SummerGuard. For additional insect control try Ortho Bug B Gon Max granules or try Bug B Gone liquid spray around the perimeter of your home.
Fall: September – November. Step 4
Fall brings back ideal conditions for your lawn. Cool nights, ample rainfall and morning dew all contribute to new growth for your lawn and prime time for Step 4. If you missed an early spring application of weed and feed, now is the time to apply.
Since the lawn is ready to grow again, it is looking for the nutrients it needs to recover from summer damage. Some experts say this is the single most important lawn feeding of the year, more important than an early spring application. Apply your final feeding right before the winter months. You can apply a fall fertilizer until the average daytime temperature is above 50 degrees.
This means most regions of the United States can apply into late October. This will strengthen roots and increase nitrogen storage for an early spring green up next year. Try Scotts Turfbuilder with WinterGuard or Sta Green Weed and Feed Winterizer.
Planting Grass Seed or Aerating after Weed and Feed
Weed & Feed prevents seed germination, so you should avoid planting new grass or aerating your lawn for at least four weeks. If you apply weed and feed in the spring and summer, spread new grass seed and aerate in the fall each year.
Reasons Weed & Feed Didn’t Work
Remember to always follow the directions on the package. Always use a spreader to apply. Here are some common reasons why a weed & feed application could be ineffective:
- Weed & feed targets broadleaf weeds like dandelions, and dollarweeds. It does nothing for crabgrass and other grassy weeds. For these, you should use a pre-emergent like Scotts Halts or Sta-Green Crab Ex crabgrass preventer in the early spring. Must be applied before weeds and crabgrass are growing.
- Mature weeds are not actively growing, so the product will not be as effective. Weed and feed should be applied early in the growing season and a couple days after mowing.
- Rain and sprinklers can wash away the granules. Make sure there is no rain in the forecast and avoid watering for two days after applying.
What if You Apply Too Much Weed & Feed?
The best way to avoid damaging your lawn after too much fertilizer application is to flush out the weed & feed. Water your lawn with 1 to 2 inches of water for about 4 days. It would be best not to apply any other weed & feed fertilizer until the following year. Unfortunately, over watering can create run-off in certain drainage situations, so be aware of your location and where the water is going.
A Healthy Lawn With Lowes Using Scotts or Sta-Green.
Enjoy a lush, healthy lawn with Scotts Turf Builder fertilizer or Lowes exclusive Sta Green Products. Both combine essential nutrients for even feeding and weed control from early spring through late fall. Both provide uniform coverage and improves your lawn’s ability to absorb water and other nutrients to keep it healthy and looking great.
Remember to use the major summer holidays as your guide to the 4 step program: Step 1 Crabgrass in early spring. Step 2 Weed and Feed around Memorial Day. Step 3 Insect Control around July 4th. Step 4 Fall Fertilizer around Labor Day.
The 4 Step Weed and Feed Program-Make Your Own
The 4 step program from Scotts has been around for years. Did you know that it’s officially only available at local hardware stores and not Lowes or Home Depot? But, you can make your own version easily.
The bags sold at independent stores, like Ace Hardware, are a slightly different analysis and the bags will have each step number printed on each bag.
For example, here’s the difference in the first two applications of the 4 step process.
4 step bag: Step 1 for crabgrass ratio: 26-0-03. Step 2 Weed and Feed: 28-0-06
Lowes bag: Comparable Step 1 Halts crabgrass ratio: 30-0-04. Comparable Step 2 Weed and Feed : 28-0-03
Not a big difference. Sure, you can make a 4 step program simply by purchasing the four bags at Lowes or Home Depot, and many of us do, but the actual 4 step Scotts fertilizer program is only available at your local hardware.
Here are a few more helpful guides for weed and feed, grass seed and crabgrass control: