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 Sta Green and Scotts weed and feed fertilizer for 2015 that will help improve your lawn.
The number one question: When is the best time to apply weed and feed fertilizer 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.
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. Use a 4 step program of feedings for best results, and follow the guide below.
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. A good weed and feed program will also help in reducing and controlling weeds and replacing lost nutrients.
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 doesn’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 Your Lawn
The most important thing you can do for your lawn is to feed it. 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.
Here are general guidelines for applying weed and feed in most areas of the United States. Fertilize your lawn in the spring, early fall and/or late fall (such as April, early September and early November). However, if you live in an area with long, cold winters, then late May, late 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. You can add one more treatment in midsummer, but avoid fertilizing when the temperature is too hot, particularly when it’s 90 degrees or above. Read our guide on southern weed and feed
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. This helps 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.
Lawns wake up in the spring. 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, are weed killers which must be applied before the weeds germinate. They are ineffective if the weeds are already actively growing.
Step 1 should include pre-emergent weed killers mixed with fertilizer and designed to be spread in early spring. This can be from late March to late April. Crabgrass normally germinates when the ground temperature reaches 55° F – the ground temperature at which dogwood trees start to bud and forsythias begin blooming. 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.
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. However, 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 granules 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.
Need to know when to plant grass seed in your state for best results? Read our grass seed guide now.
By Victoria Stone