The Optimal Time To Apply Weed And Feed

Keeping weeds out of your yard while maintaining a healthy lawn may be pretty challenging at times.

A weed and feed product combines an herbicide and a fertilizer, and it is designed to control the weeds on your lawn while encouraging healthy grass growth.

Applying weed and feed may be tricky because it works best when weeds have already sprouted.

So when is the best time to use weed and feed on your lawn?

The optimal time for applying weed and feed is in the spring, when the weeds have already sprouted and again in the fall before the grass goes dormant. It is essential to wait for at least two months between weed and feed application to avoid causing harm to your grass.

Do your research before applying a weed and feed to your lawn to ensure the product is compatible with your grass type. 

Always follow the manufacturer’s application instructions on the label.

When applied properly, a weed and feed product will rid your yard of unsightly weeds and give you a lush green lawn.

Keep reading to learn more about applying weed and feed to your lawn, as well as helpful tips for the best results.

when to apply weed and feed 1

What Is “Weed And Feed”?

Weed and feed products consist of weed killer and fertilizer all in one.

The selective herbicides in weed and feed include Dicamba, 2,4-D, and MCPP.

These herbicides are designed for broadleaf weed control for weeds such as dandelions, clover, and chickweed.

The fertilizer in weed and feed is usually a mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, promoting healthy growth.

These tried-and-true fertilizers provide the nutrients your grass needs to grow a stronger root system and keep your lawn green.

Weed and feed is available in a granular or liquid form, and both types are easy to use.

Both forms of weed and feed work by sticking to the leaves of common weeds. 

Once the weeds have died, the fertilizer will be absorbed into the soil to nourish your grass.

The weed and feed is designed not to stick to blades of grass, but if the product is not used correctly, it will cause damage to your lawn.

Weed and feed products will either be formulated with a pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicide.

A pre-emergent weed killer works by stopping weed seeds from germinating, while the post-emergent version kills weeds that have already sprouted.

Choose the formula best suited to your lawn care needs.

Check out our post on when to fertilize new grass for the best results.

Deciding When To Apply Weed And Feed

Aside from applying at the most optimal times of the year, there are a few other considerations when deciding when to use the product.

It is vital not to water your lawn for at least 24 hours after weed and feed application, so you will need to ensure no rain in the weather forecast.

Watering your lawn too soon after application will wash the weed and feed away, and it will not work as intended.

A few pre-emergent formulas need to be watered after application to be absorbed into the soil, so it is essential to read the instructions on the product label.

You will also need to plan weed and feed applications around your mowing schedule.

It is best to apply the product two days after mowing, and the lawn should not be mowed again for two days after the weed and feed is used.

Take care not to cut your grass too short, as the weed and feed will not have any leaves to stick to.

The grass needs to be at least 3″ inches tall for the product to cling to the grass blades and weed leaves effectively.

If you use a post-emergent weed and feed product, you will need to wait until the weeds have already sprouted on your lawn before application.

If you apply a post-emergent formula with no weeds, the product will not work correctly.

Daytime temperatures need to be above freezing but less than 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C) before applying weed and feed to your yard.

It is important to avoid applying the product during extreme heat or drought.

Do not apply weed and feed to your lawn in the late spring, or your grass will not receive the nutrients in time to grow a stronger root system.

You may apply weed and feed in the summer as long as it has been at least 30 days since the last application and the temperature is not too high.

Never apply a weed and feed product in the winter, as the product will not produce any results when your lawn is dormant.

How To Apply Weed And Feed

Always follow the manufacturer’s application instructions on the product label to avoid scorching your lawn.

Use a broadcast spreader to cast the product evenly across your lawn.

Adjust your lawn spreader settings to accommodate the proper application rate for your lawn.

You may either do one sweep across your lawn using the product at full strength or apply the product at half strength in two passes.

You only need to apply a weed and feed product twice per year, and more than this is considered hazardous to the environment.

The weed and feed may build up and run into nearby streams and ponds.

The fertilizer in the product will then cause excessive algae blooms which are harmful to the native plants and fish population.

Do not apply too much on your lawn, as this will scorch your grass.

If you accidentally apply too much, consistently water your lawn with 1-2″ inches of water for at least four days to flush the weed and feed from your yard.

Overwatering may cause run-off if there is no proper drainage system in your lawn, so proceed with caution.

Once the product has been flushed from your lawn, do not use another weed and feed product for at least one year.

If you have recently seeded your lawn or installed sod, you will need to wait until the grass has been cut at least three times before applying a weed and feed product.

To avoid any herbicides from getting into your garden, you may want to put plastic over the area during application.

Safety Considerations When Using Weed And Feed

when to apply weed and feed 2

Wear protective gear, such as long pants and sleeves, gloves, and sturdy shoes when applying lawn chemicals.

The herbicides in a weed and feed product will cause skin irritation.

It is also wise to wear safety glasses to avoid getting any product into your eyes.

If any weed and feed gets into your eyes, you will need to flush them with water for at least 15 minutes.

Thoroughly wash any exposed skin with soap and water after using a weed and feed, and take care to not track any of the granules into your home by rinsing the soles of your shoes and allowing them to air-dry outside.

Ensure weed and feed granules are completely dissolved before allowing any pets or children onto the lawn.

The granules will dissolve from soaking rain or watering your lawn two days after application.

Your lawn will be ready to use within 24 to 72 hours after applying weed and feed.

Be careful not to overapply weed and feed, as the chemicals may be harmful to wildlife.

Excess granules of weed and feed may get washed into storm drains and nearby bodies of water and cause toxic algae blooms.

When To Water Your Lawn After Application

When using a post-emergent granular weed and feed formula, it is essential not to water your lawn for at least 24 hours after application.

The herbicide needs to cling to the leaves of weeds to be effective.

Watering the lawn too soon after application will wash the granules of weed killer off of the leaves.

For a pre-emergent granular weed and feed, you may need to water your lawn after application to absorb the granules into the soil.

Liquid weed and feed formulas do not need to be watered after applying them because they are easily absorbed into the soil, and the plant leaves.

Liquid products may also be applied to a dry lawn.

Granular weed and feed products require applying them to a wet lawn.

The wet grass allows the granules to stick to the plant leaves.

Ensure you do not completely soak your lawn with water, as this will cause the weed and feed to become diluted and be less effective.

Do not water your lawn for at least 48 hours after application unless the instructions on the label state otherwise.

What Will Make Weed And Feed Ineffective?

If you need to get rid of crabgrass on your lawn, you will have to use a different herbicide.

Most weed and feed products are not formulated to work on grassy weeds.

Weeds like crabgrass will quickly overtake your lawn by late summer if they are not appropriately eradicated.

Apply a crabgrass preventer treatment in the early spring to ensure a healthy and lush summer lawn.

You will also need to ensure the weed and feed product you are using will control the types of weeds on your lawn.

If you wait too long to apply the weed and feed, the herbicides will not be as effective on the mature weeds.

It is best to apply the weed and feed early in the growing season, so the weeds are actively growing at the time of application.

In their active growing phase, weeds will absorb more nutrients to keep growing, so they will absorb more of the herbicide during this time.

If you water your lawn or heavy rain too soon after fertilizer application, the water will wash away the weed and feed granules, making the product ineffective.

Be sure there is no rainy weather forecast in your area and do not water your lawn for two days after weed and feed application.

13 Quick Tips On Using Weed And Feed

  • Since a weed and feed product should only be applied twice per year, it is crucial to have a successful application.

  • Allow your grass to grow between 3-5″ inches long so the product will be able to cling to the plant leaves.

  • For granular formulas of weed and feed, water your lawn for several minutes before application so the granules will stick to the weeds and grass better.

  • Avoid washing the granules away by not watering your lawn for at least 48 hours after application unless the instructions on the label state otherwise.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully for the correct application rates.

  • Applying too much weed and feed to your lawn will harm your grass because it may cause it to become scorched.

  • Be sure to spread the weed and feed evenly across your lawn to avoid oversaturating any areas.

  • A pre-emergent formula will prevent seeds from germinating, so do not seed or aerate your lawn for 4-6 weeks.

  • A pre-emergent herbicide works well if your lawn does not already have a lot of weeds because the formula prevents new weed seed germination.

  • When you use weed and feed in the spring, it is best to plant new grass seedlings and aerate your lawn during the fall months.

  • A post-emergent weed and feed works best once weeds have sprouted on your lawn and need to be destroyed.

  • Once the winter months have arrived, it is too late to use a weed and feed.

  • When the first frost of the season comes, your lawn will become dormant, and the weed and feed will not have any effect.

Commonly Asked Questions

Can I fertilize after weed and feed?

Your lawn will need to be fertilized more often than the weed and feed is applied.

A good rule of thumb is to fertilize your grass around four times per year, beginning in the early spring.

It is advisable to wait at least one week to apply fertilizer to your lawn after using a weed and feed product.

This waiting period will help to keep your grass from being scorched by too much fertilizer.

How long does weed and feed take?

It takes between 5-7 days for weed and feed to produce noticeable results.

After 21 days, any remaining weeds will completely die off.

Learn more details in our article on how long Scott’s Weed and Feed takes to work.

How long does weed and feed last?

Weed and feed products are considered dry fertilizers, and they have a limited shelf life.

If you have any leftover weed and feed, it may be stored for up to four years before losing its effectiveness.