A Note From Neil on Weed-And-Feed Products

The Sperry home lawn photographed three days ago.  While this would be the time to apply weedkillers, it’s obviously way too early to fertilize the St. Augustine.

I came back to Texas with my Ohio wife almost 40 years ago to work for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service (now Texas AgriLife Extension) as Dallas County Horticulturist. A big part of my job was answering phone calls from the county’s gardeners, and it seemed like half the calls had to do with damage done by weedkillers in fertilizers.

Don’t get me wrong: I believe in inorganic fertilizers, and I’m certainly not afraid to recommend herbicides to deal with weeds, at least until a lawn can be brought into improved vigor. The problem is that the two products don’t really travel together very well. Here is my reasoning:

• It’s time right now to deal with existing weeds, also to apply pre-emergent weedkillers to prevent germination of summertime weeds. However, for the northern two-thirds of Texas, it’s too early to fertilize our warm-season grasses. If you use a weed-and-feed product, you’re either going to be too early for efficient use of the plant food or too late for the herbicide to give you the best results.

• You seldom need to apply weedkillers over your entire lawn, but fertilizers need to be spread uniformly. There’s no point in applying products that really aren’t needed.

• Some weedkillers do damage to trees and shrubs. Weed-and-feed products make way too much contact with woody plants’ root systems. Damage is far too common, as I saw first back in 1970 and have seen each year thereafter.

In short, it’s not all that difficult to apply the best possible fertilizer at the best possible time and only to those parts of your yard and garden that need it. It’s not much more work to make a second treatment to deal with the weeds.

That’s why you’ll never hear me recommend, nor will you ever see me sell, a weed-and-feed fertilizer. It’s a personal thing based on a lot of years of experience.

Posted by Neil Sperry
Back To Top