How To Use Weed And Seed

A step-by-step guide on how to get rid of lawn weeds without damaging your grass. Tips for Liquid Weed & Feed. Weed and feed is a type of fertilizer formula that contains herbicide to kill weeds while providing nutrients to your lawn. They are available in liquid and granule formulas, but liquids are ideal for ensuring total coverage of the weeds and often work more rapidly. Liquid weed and …

How to Get Rid of Weeds

Learn how to kill weeds in your lawn without killing your grass.

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Most lawn weeds are opportunists that take root wherever they can find the space and catch a few rays of sunlight. If you already have a weed problem on your hands but aren’t sure what types are popping up on your lawn, read about some of the most common types of weeds.

For those of you who are ready to fight the good fight, here’s a step-by-step guide that will help you get rid of weeds when they start growing on your lawn. (For those of you who want a jump start before weeds become a problem, read our guide on How to Prevent Weeds from Growing.)

How to Get Rid of Weeds

Learn to Read Weeds

Sometimes weeds are a clue to soil or site problems. Correct them so your landscape favors lawn grasses and discourages weeds. For example, ground ivy grows best where the soil surface remains damp. It also thrives in areas too shady for good grass growth. So consider improving soil drainage by aerating—removing small cores of soil—if ground ivy is a problem. And, to allow more light to reach the surface of the soil, selectively remove tree branches in shady areas.

Hand-Weeding

Growing a healthy lawn with proper mowing and watering can keep weeds from sprouting. Here’s how to go after the weeds you have:

Hand-weeding is still the best defense on small lawns where the number of weeds isn’t overwhelming. It’s most effective against annual broadleaf weeds. Pulling them while they’re young—before they flower and seed—is the simplest way to prevent them from spreading.

Catching perennial weeds early is crucial. Dandelions, for example, develop deep taproots that are hard to pull once they mature. Yank the entire plant, including the root—any root pieces left underground will grow new plants. If new sprouts grow, pull them repeatedly to eventually starve and kill the weed.

Weeding is easiest when the soil is moist. Tools like the dandelion digger help get at the root by probing deep into the soil. Once the weed is out, promptly reseed the bare spot; otherwise, new weeds will fill it in.

Pulling Weeds Permanently: Step 1

Susan Johnston Carlson

Perennial weeds such as dandelions should be pulled when they are young. When soil is moist, push a sharp spade or dandelion digger into the soil, angled downward toward the center of the plant, and loosen the soil around it.

Pulling Weeds Permanently: Step 2

Susan Johnston Carlson

Use the tool to pry the weed upward while pulling it; try not to break off the roots.

Pulling Weeds Permanently: Step 3

Susan Johnston Carlson

Once the weed and roots are out, smooth the soil, work in some compost, and patch the area with lawn seed. Keep the soil evenly moist until the grass is 1 inch high.

Pry Weeds From Paving with a Weeder

The Telescoping Crack Weeder ($9.95) from Lee Valley Tools removes grass and other weeds from crevices in patios and walkways. The L-shaped stainless-steel blade fits between bricks and other pavers to reach and scrape pesky plants. The aluminum handle adjusts from 28 to 45 in., which means you can weed kneeling or standing.

Off with their heads with a scuffle hoe

The scuffle hoe (also called an oscillating or action hoe) gets its names from the double-edged hinged blade that rocks back and forth with a push-pull motion. As it rocks, it slices weeds off at the crown. Repeated beheading depletes the weed roots of stored food and the plant dies. Shallow cultivation also avoids bringing more weed seeds to the surface where they can sprout.

Flame weeds

Gas-powered flamers kill weeds by heating them to the point that their cell walls burst. A single pass with the flamer, such as the Primus Gardener Weed Destroyer shown ($46.95), kills young annual weeds. They won’t look charred but will die within a few hours. Tough perennial weeds with deep roots usually regrow and require repeated treatments.

Never use a flamer in an areas that’s dry and fire-prone, or in planting beds covered with flammable mulch.

Herbicides

Use herbicides as a last resort—when nothing else works on a particular weed or when your lawn is completely overrun. And follow directions carefully. Used incorrectly, herbicides can injure or kill turf and other desirable plants.

If you use a herbicide, choose one that’s labeled as safe for the type of turf you’re growing and effective against the weeds you’ve got. The label states when and in which conditions to use the product. Some herbicides work only within a certain temperature range; others work only when applied at a specific time of year.

Herbicides fall into three major categories: preeemergence herbicides, postemergence herbicides and weed-and-feed products.

Preemergence Herbicides

Preemergence herbicides kill germinating seeds before seedlings break through the soil. Crabgrass is the primary target. The most common preemergence herbicides are synthetic. Natural, nontoxic preemergence herbicides made from corn gluten are safer, though you might have to apply them for several seasons for them to be fully effective.

Three quality products are Concern Weed Prevention Plus, WOW! and WeedzSTOP. A drawback to these and most other preemergence herbicides is that they kill germinating lawn seed. Check product labels carefully.

Postemergence Herbicides

Postemergence herbicides kill existing weeds that are actively growing. These come in two basic forms: contact and systemic. Contact herbicides kill only the part of the plant they touch. Most act quickly and work best against annual weeds. Systemic herbicides circulate inside the plant, killing the whole thing. They’re more effective than contact herbicides on perennial weeds, though repeat treatments might be needed.

You also need to choose between selective and nonselective versions of systemic herbicides. Selective herbicides kill only certain weeds, while nonselective herbicides kill any green, growing plant, whether it’s a weed or not. Most broadleaf herbicides, including products like Weed-Away and Weed Warrior, are systemic and selective to kill broadleaf weeds only. They won’t kill weedy grasses.

Glyphosate—the active ingredient in Roundup and other products—is an example of a systemic, nonselective herbicide that kills broadleaf weeds and weedy grasses. But because it also kills turf and other desirable plants, it’s safest to use it on your lawn when you want to kill an entire section and then replant it. Finale, in which the active ingredient is gluphosinate ammonium, is another nonselective used for this purpose.

When using any postemergence herbicide, don’t apply them over your entire lawn, if possible. Instead, spot-treat isolated weeds or weedy patches.

Weed-and-Feed Products

Weed-and-feed products combine fertilizer and herbicides to do two jobs at once. But their promised labor savings can backfire if the recommended time for weed control doesn’t coincide with the best time and rates for fertilizing. Most also pose an herbicide-overdose risk when used for follow-up fertilizing. Corn gluten with added organic fertilizer is the safest weed-and-feed.

Whichever herbicide you use, follow the directions. Address the causes of weeds at the same time to keep new ones from growing. And reseed the bare spots left by dead weeds. The bottom line in the war against weeds: Care for your lawn and apply only what it needs—and only when necessary.

Tips for Liquid Weed & Feed

Weed and feed is a type of fertilizer formula that contains herbicide to kill weeds while providing nutrients to your lawn. They are available in liquid and granule formulas, but liquids are ideal for ensuring total coverage of the weeds and often work more rapidly. Liquid weed and feeds are mixed with water and generally easy to apply, but there are some tips that ensure application is done safely and effectively.

Selection

Choose a weed and feed product with a high nitrogen content, but that also contains potassium and phosphorus. While grass needs nitrogen to grow lush and green, a weed and feed product that contains 100 percent nitrogen is more likely to burn your lawn. The additional nutrients provide their own benefits to your grass, while diluting the concentration of nitrogen.

Timing

Weed and feed kills existing weeds, but it does not prevent weeds in your lawn so proper timing of the application is important to avoid wasting your efforts. Apply weed and feed while it is warm, but before it is too hot. If liquid weed and feed is applied too early in the growing season, such as early spring, it will not kill the weeds because they’re not growing actively enough for the growth hormone in the weed and feed formula to cause enough of a shock to kill them. Applying it early is a wasted effort, and applying it at the height of summer may damage your lawn. The best time to apply a weed and feed product is either late May to early June, or early September as evenings begin to cool.

Application Technique

Apply liquid weed and feed over your entire lawn using a sprayer. Spray in wide, sweeping motions and do not apply more than one or two sweeps to a single area. Keep an eye out for low spots or corners, where runoff can accumulate. Apply lightly around these areas to avoid damaging surrounding plants and soil. Do not apply liquid weed and feed only to the soil. Herbicides must be absorbed through the leaves of the weeds, so the spray must be in contact with the weeds for 24 to 48 hours. Soaking the soil only wastes the product because the weed killer in the formula is not touching the leaves. Mowing the grass before application should be avoided because it removes the leaves that would absorb the herbicide.

Ideal Conditions

Apply weed and feed when you have at least 2 inches of new growth and when weather is clear, with no rain forecasted for several days. Windy conditions can cause the weed and feed to drift across your lawn, where it may contact trees or valuable shrubs and perennials. If it rains in the 48 hours after application, the weed killer will be ineffective. Even a light shower can ruin your efforts.

Post Application

Weed and feed requires enough time to absorb fully into the weeds so mowing is not recommended for at least a week. After this period, hand-pull any weeds that survived the application, making sure to remove the entire root. Do not apply more weed and feed to kill these. Once the weeds are removed, you can mow your grass without redistributing their seeds. To ensure that future weeds don’t crop up, make sure you provide the right conditions for weed-free growth, such as adequate sun, water and proper mowing.

  • PBI Gordon Corporation: Liquid Weed and Feed 15-0-0
  • Hewitt’s: Crabgrass Preventer vs. Weed Killer

Renee Miller began writing professionally in 2008, contributing to websites and the “Community Press” newspaper. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers. Miller holds a diploma in social services from Clarke College in Belleville, Ontario.

See also  Weed Seed Bank Oklahoma