Heartland Turf and Landscape Lawn Care

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Weed & Feed vs. Professional Lawn Fertilization

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Weed and feed is a popular lawn care product, and technique, that many homeowners use in an attempt to fertilize and weed their lawn at the same time. Though weed and feed certainly saves on time and effort, lawns struggle to sustain their health without balanced fertilizers that actually address underlying issues

What We Mean By "Weed & Feed"

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If you enjoy a little DIY lawn care but you have a busy schedule, you may be familiar with weed and feed products. Weed and feed is a type of fertilizer that contains weed killers. The idea is that you can fertilize and weed your lawn all at once, saving you time. While this may sound like a good idea in theory, it’s actually not the best way to take care of your lawn.

Weed and feed products are typically less effective than fertilizer and weed killer applied separately. In addition, they can be harmful to your lawn if not used correctly. They are, however, a convenient choice for a homeowner who just wants to apply some basic lawn care with minimal time and energy.

What's In The Box?

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Anyone who is determined to just use weed and feed on their lawn should know what exactly they are using. The ingredients in a regular commercial fertilizer differ from what would be considered weed and feed. The main differences are that weed and feed contains elevated nitrogen levels, and it contains a broad-spectrum herbicide, which is designed to kill many different types of weeds.

As most of you reading this are probably aware, the macronutrients found in commercial fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, along with a variety of other micronutrients. These nutrients are divided into the perfect ratio to sustain healthy grass growth throughout the various seasons. The problem for weed and feed products is that most have dangerously high levels of nitrogen in an attempt to provide a fast green-up for your lawn. Excess nitrogen in fertilizers leads to turf burn and damaged soil.

Weed and feed also includes some kind of weed-killing chemical. A popular option for weed and feed products is 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, which is better known as 2,4-D. This herbicide is designed to kill broadleaf weeds while leaving grass unharmed. Unfortunately, this chemical has been linked to cancer in animals, and it is often only good for a temporary solution to weeds.

Weed & Feed Is Harmful To Your Lawn

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The entire point of weed and feed products is to quickly attain a weed free and green lawn. The problem with this strategy is that healthy lawns do not simply appear overnight. The idea of applying a single product that will take care of all your lawn care needs sounds too good to be true… because it is.

The best fertilizers are tailored to the needs of different grass types, climates, soil conditions, etc. Blindly applying nitrogen-rich fertilizer without taking any additional factors into consideration will often result in grass blades getting stressed and even dying. Similarly, the herbicides used in weed and feed are just general weed killers that may not target the certain weed types or soil conditions that exist in your lawn. Below are a few of the most important reasons you should avoid weed and feed for your lawn.

  • It’s easy to apply the wrong amount. Because everything about weed and feed is targeted towards general lawn care, the instructions on the package will likely not be tailored to the needs of your lawn. This leads to applying too much or too little weed and feed, both of which damage your lawn.
 
  • You will miss the benefits of pre-emergent. Applying pre-emergent herbicide early in the growing season helps block germinating weeds from ever emerging. Weed and feed does not provide the same kind of protection.
 
  • It does not work on all weeds. The chemical found in most weed and feed (2,4-D) targets broadleaf weeds like dandelions or clovers. Grassy weeds like crabgrass or annual bluegrass will still ravage your lawn if you only apply weed and feed.
 
  • It can be harmful for the environment. Perhaps the most widely accepted reason to avoid weed and feed products is that they can be dangerous to the ecosystem. Birds eat the granules that do not dissolve, and chemical runoff from 2,4-D has been linked to cancers in salmon populations.

Do Not Apply Additional Fertilizers

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Many people ask if they can or should use other fertilizers in addition to the fertilizers found in weed and feed. This can be done safely, but it is extremely difficult to apply both fertilizer and weed and feed at the same time without severely damaging your lawn.

As we have stated, too much nitrogen or other chemicals found in fertilizer will damage your lawn. This is especially true if you already have a weed and feed product that contains a high level of nitrogen. DIYers often try to supplement their weed and feed with more complete fertilizers to get a better balance of nutrition for their grass and soil. This usually results in lawns experiencing fertilizer burn, which requires even more time-consuming lawn care remedies.

We recommend avoiding additional fertilizers until you have determined that your lawn can handle it without being damaged. The best way to determine if your lawn needs more fertilizer is to have a soil test done. This will help you understand the nutrient levels in your soil and what, if anything, needs to be added.

Professional Lawn Fertilization Is The Best Solution

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The benefits of having fertilizer and herbicide applied separately by a professional should be obvious at this point. Instead of buying a one-size-fits-all product and guessing at the application, you can have a lawn care company tailor a fertilization and weed control program specific to your lawn’s needs. This will produce a healthier lawn with fewer weeds in the long run.

At the very least, please call your local lawn care provider for tips and advice on how to safely apply weed and feed to your lawn. In case you are still not convinced, we will leave you with the following benefits of professional lawn fertilization:

  • Professional companies have years of experience.
  • They know the types and amounts of products to use.
  • They will not damage your lawn with low-quality fertilizers.
  • Companies have access to better equipment and products.
  • Scheduling recurring fertilizer treatments makes life easy.
  • You get both fertilization and weed control programs designed for your lawn.

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