Keeping your lawn healthy is not as difficult as it might seem. Yet, many people still have trouble keeping their plants alive. Often, it is not the lack of attention and tending that kills the plants but overdoing certain things like fertilizing and applying herbicides.
Nowadays, a lot of gardeners use weed and feed on their lawns. In turn, this allows them to apply fertilizer and herbicide in just one go instead of using a two-step approach. While this might save time and effort, it is not always the best approach for the plants.
How Does Weed and Feed Work?
Weed and feed products have been designed to nourish and protect your lawn. They contain fertilizer and herbicide to provide nutrition to the plants and kill weeds that are competing for resources.
These products are available in the market under different brand names, but they all work in the same way. While the fertilizer type stays the same, the kind of herbicide can be different.
- Pre-emergent: These herbicides prevent the germination of weed seeds. Thus, you should apply them early in the year, before sprouting begins.
- Post-emergent: These herbicides kill weeds that are in the growth phase. They are applied in the summer or during the growing season.
Symptoms of Too Much Weed and Feed
The common symptoms of excessive use of weed and feed are dryness and yellowing of the grass.
Fertilizers contain a high quantity of mineral salts. Therefore, if you apply them in excess, you’ll see the accumulation of salts. Consequently, dryness starts to take place as the salts soak up the water, making it unavailable for the plants.
This process is called fertilizer burn, and it is prominent as yellow or brown spots in the grass. In some cases, plants can recover from fertilizer burn, while in others, it proves to be lethal.
You can determine this by looking at the color of the grass. If it is still yellowish, it is likely to recover. But if it has turned brown, there is a low chance of recovery.
If your potted plants also contain soil from the lawn, you will notice the plants turning yellow. Later, this yellow color changes to brown. You can reinvigorate old soil in the pots, but it is the lawn soil that poses the bigger concern.
How Much is Too Much?
This is something that you have to figure on your own as each lawn is different. There are a few things that you should consider when applying weed and feed to your lawn:
- Ingredients present in the weed and feed
- Frequency of weed growth in your lawn
- Soil type and texture
To determine the right amount of weed and feed for your lawn, you need to know your lawn area, the kind of product you are using, and the application frequency. Otherwise, you can wait for the lawn to discolor and realize that you are probably putting too much product.
What to Do if There is Fertilizer Burn?
If you start noticing discoloration, it is time for you to take action. You would not want to delay this process as the more you wait, the closer your plants get towards their death.
First of all, remove the fertilizer from the lawn. This is only possible if you have used granular fertilizer as it is easier to notice and remove. Use a broom to remove all the visible fertilizer from the lawn.
Water the Lawn
Then, pull out the good old sprinklers and start watering the lawn. Along with helping against dryness, water will also flush out the mineral salts from the soil or at least dilute the soaked fertilizer so that it does not cause any further harm.
Repeat the process for about a week to ensure that there is enough margin for the soil to come back to life.
Give it Some Time to Heal
Lastly, you just have to wait and see if your lawn can be salvaged or not. Do not rush to replant as fertilizer burns take some time to heal. It is better not to replant in the running season and wait for the next planting season.
Give some time to your lawn to recover. Replanting would only add more strain to it, and the fertilizer burn would likely relapse, affecting your new plants too.
The next time, be careful about how much and when you apply the weed and feed.
Tips for Applying Weed and Feed
If you put a lot of effort into maintaining your lawn, you would not want all of it to go to waste just because you decided to take a quicker route to plant care. Keep the following tips in mind when applying weed and feed.
Read the Label Carefully
Read the instructions and ingredients on the weed and feed product you are buying. Make sure that it contains the herbicide against the weeds growing in your lawn. You do not want the herbicide to kill non-target plants such as grass.
Follow the Instructions
Apply the weed and feed according to the size of your lawn and frequency of weed growth. You will find the right amount for per square yard on the product packaging.
Keep Your Kids and Pets Safe
Do not let the weed and feed go over to your driveway or the sidewalk. It is not safe for pets to ingest. If you have kids and pets and home, you need to be extra careful.
Keep your pets away from the lawn for at least two days following application. Chemical fertilizers and herbicides stay on the grass for a few days, and studies have revealed that their exposure leads to cancers in dogs.
How to Prevent Weed and Feed Overdose?
You would not have to deal with fertilizer burn if you consider the following:
Not only do organic fertilizers, such as compost, provide essential nutrients to your plants, but also, they are environment-friendly. They have a meager chance of causing fertilizer burn as they are broken down naturally by microbes at a certain pace.
Just like weed and feed, you can buy CGM or Gluten meals from different brands. They offer an effective solution against fertilizer burn. But they tend to be quite expensive, making them a less convenient solution.
The last resort is to skip using weed and feed completely and go natural instead. Use compost for fertilization and hand-weeding for removing the weeds.
It is laborious and time-consuming, but you can make a fun day out of it and get the whole family on board. In the long run, this will keep your soil and family healthy by restricting exposure to harmful chemicals.
Weed and feed are only helpful for your lawn as long as you are doing it right. Make sure that you read the label properly and only apply as needed. Otherwise, you will end up with a dead, barren garden for the whole season.
Alternatively, you can explore organic gardening as it is safer for the lawn, yourself, and the environment. Whichever route you choose to go, keep in mind that precaution and prevention will save you from a lot of work and disappointment later on.