The use of weed-and-feed lawn products presents a dilemma for many gardeners. These products, designed for convenience by combining weed control and fertilization in a single application, raise several concerns regarding their effectiveness and environmental impact. But are they really the best choice for lawn care?
One significant limitation of weed-and-feed is the timing of application. These products often contain pre-emergent herbicides that work by inhibiting seed germination or killing emerging seedlings. Therefore, they must be applied before the weed seeds germinate, which can be challenging to time correctly. Moreover, the advice often given for lawn care, such as raking lightly and seeding thin or damaged areas, may conflict with the use of these products. Frank Rossi from Cornell University suggests that “Spring is a race for space between grass and weeds,” emphasizing the importance of timely and appropriate lawn care methods.
Another concern is the environmental impact of weed-and-feed products. Applying these fertilizers indiscriminately can introduce toxic chemicals across the lawn, affecting areas without weeds. This widespread application can be detrimental to the environment, including trees and other landscape elements. Additionally, the effectiveness of these products is questionable. Herbicides in weed-and-feed mixtures need to be absorbed by weed leaves, but certain weeds with small leaves, such as clover and black medic, are often not effectively controlled. These limitations are highlighted by NDSU’s Yard & Garden Report.
Mowing practices also play a crucial role in lawn care, especially after applying weed-and-feed products. It is recommended to remove clippings from the first three mowings following application to avoid potential toxicity issues, as noted by the OSU Extension Service. However, this can be labor-intensive and counterproductive to natural lawn recycling processes.
Given these considerations, it’s worth pondering whether the convenience of weed-and-feed products outweighs their limitations and potential environmental impact. While they offer a quick solution for busy gardeners, it’s crucial to evaluate their long-term effects on lawn health and the environment.