Only use a weed and feed if the weed infestation is completely uniform over the entire lawn and all species of weeds targeted will be affected by the herbicide in the weed and feed. This scenario doesn’t occur often, so it is more likely the use of an herbicide and a fertilizer separately will be needed. If the weeds are uniformly spread over the area to be treated, match the appropriate weed and feed product to your grass, the seed you have recently applied or want to apply, and the time of year.
It’s important to know a little about herbicides so you can make the best choice for when to apply seed in an area that has been treated for weeds. The most common types of herbicide in weed and feed products are selective and systemic. Selective herbicides target a species of plant to kill while systemic herbicides work by being absorbed though the roots and then transported throughout the plant, killing it from within. Read the bag label to see what kind of herbicide is used in the weed and feed you are considering using or have used. The bag label will tell you how many days you must wait before applying seed to a lawn that has been treated with that product.
It is important to know what kind of grass you have growing or want to have growing. Certain chemicals act differently on different species of grass and weeds. For example, the common herbicide 2,4-D is toxic to some cultivars of St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), which grows in the area roughly covered by U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. Another common herbicide, atrazine, is potentially lethal to grass when applied in temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the instructions on the bag of each weed and feed product to determine how it will affect seeding.
Herbicides can target weeds before they germinate from seed – pre-emergent – or as developed plants – post-emergent. Before you seed, you can use a non-selective, post-emergent herbicide to control any weeds in the area to be seeded. Most of these can be applied up to two weeks before seeding to control any existing weeds. Herbicides should not be used after seeding until the new seedlings are established. Mowing and spot treatments can be used to control weeds until the seeded area is actively growing and requires only maintenance watering. Establishment times vary depending on the type of seed you use and your weather conditions.
Weed and feed fertilizers are often used in combination with seeding. Weed and feed formulations consist of two components: a herbicide to kill weeds and a fertilizer to strengthen the turf. The herbicide will weaken the grass as well as the weeds and the fertilizer will strengthen the weeds as well as the grass. When applying seed over a weed and feed application, remember that some weed and feeds can prevent grass seeds from growing.
Sara DeBerry is a graduate of the University of Florida holding a masters degree in environmental horticulture and a minor in entomology and nematology. DeBerry has been writing for government agencies since 2004 and has published peer reviewed scientific articles during her studies at UF.
Before applying any fertilizer or herbicide product, put on a mask, safety goggles, gloves, long sleeves, long pants and closed toe shoes. After applying the weed and feed and cleaning the spreader, wash your clothing in hot water and detergent to remove any dust or residue.
If you are unable to find Super Turf Builder Weed and Feed, Scotts Turf Builder Triple Action provides similar results. It kills weeds, prevents the new weeds from sprouting and feeds the grass.
If you have a very small lawn, an alternative to the granular Scotts weed and feed products is the Scotts Liquid Turf Builder with Plus 2 Weed Control. This liquid fertilizer provides a quick boost of nitrogen as well as killing clover, dandelions and other weeds. Simply attach the garden hose and spray the lawn when the weeds are actively growing.
The Nitty Gritty
Wait for a calm day when temperatures are not expected to rise above 90 degrees Fahrenheit and no rainfall is expected for at least 24 hours. Water the lawn first to moisten the grass, or start the application when the grass is moist from dew. The product should be applied while weeds are actively growing in the lawn. A second application may be made, but wait at least 30 days — and do not use the product more than twice each year.
A well-kept, healthy lawn should be plush, free of weeds and diseases, and as green as the neighbors’ envious hearts. Weed and feed products are designed to provide needed nutrients to the grass while poisoning weeds that want to steal the lawn’s food. Scotts Super Turf Builder with Plus 2 Weed Control works on several species of lawn grasses. While the company’s website recommends waiting four weeks to put down grass seed after applying the weed and feed, seeding first means waiting a different length of time before you use the product.
Scotts Super Turf Builder with Plus 2 Weed Control, now called simply Super Turf Builder with Weed and Feed, contains more nitrogen and phosphorus than plain Turf Builder Weed and Feed, to provide faster green-up. Super Turf Builder contains 29 percent nitrogen, 2 percent phosphorus and 3 percent potassium, while plain Turf Builder contains 28 percent nitrogen, no phosphorus and 3 percent potassium. The active weed-killing ingredients are 2,4-D and mecoprop. Environmental health agencies in some areas list 2,4-D as a chemical known to cause cancer or birth defects, so use with caution.
The Scotts website question-and-answer section states that grass seeds should be allowed to germinate and grow tall and strong enough to be mowed four times before you apply weed and feed. No entirely specific time period is provided, because different grass species grow at different rates, and growth is affected by many variables, including soil quality, temperature and rainfall or manual irrigation.
Weed and feed products consist of fertilizers such as nitrogen or potassium, and a pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicide. If the weed and feed is designed for spring application, it contains a pre-emergent. If it is designed for later in the growing season, it incorporates a post-emergent herbicide. Knowing which one you are using is important because the herbicides affect plants in significantly different ways.
Pre-emergent weed and feed is applied in early spring so the herbicide is in place before the undesirable weeds germinate. Pre-emergent herbicide works by inhibiting germination. It must be watered with at least one-half inch of water to move the chemical from the surface into the soil. Post-emergent herbicides, however, must be applied while the weeds are actively growing because for the chemical to work, the herbicide must be absorbed into the plant.
Weed and Feed
Since weed and feed products are designed to prevent germination — or to eradicate a living plant — they can, for the most part, have a similar effect on young turf grass. The only exception is the pre-emergent herbicide siduron, which is actually used to assist in seed germination. When using a pre-emergent that does not contain siduron, wait a minimum of two months before seeding. If using a product designed for broadleaf weeds, read the label carefully, because the active ingredient in these post-emergent herbicides have a wider range for the waiting period. Grass can be planted in as little as one month after application for products using 2,4-D to as much as six months for atrazine-based products.
You want a beautiful lawn for your family to enjoy, but it’s no longer enough to just mow it. You have to fertilize, water, kill weeds and then reseed any bare spots. Using a weed and feed product saved you some time, so now you’re ready to plant some grass seed. You may have to wait a bit longer, though, depending on the type of weed and feed product you used.
When you are ready to seed your lawn, use a garden rake to remove debris and to break up the surface to ensure the seed comes into contact with the soil. Broadcast the seeds in two directions to ensure complete coverage, and water the ground lightly and often for up to two weeks — keeping the soil moist. Once seedlings have established, gradually reduce the frequency of the watering, but lengthen the amount of time per watering. This will encourage a deep root system for your grass.