Applying Fertilizer / Weed Control on the Lawn.

Fertilizer first then Weed Control? or Weed Control first then Fertilizer?

I use a nationally known brand of lawn fertilizer on my grass. There are FOUR suggested applications per year. The first one is fertilizer with crabgrass control, the second is fertilizer with weed control, the third is fertilizer with bug control, and the fourth is fertilizer with a product that helps the grass through winter. The four different feedings are spaced out at two month intervals throughout the growing season.

Each of the four different products has fertilizer as its base, PLUS a different additive to it, to be applied at certain times during the grass feeding period. Over the years I have applied the different suggested applications at the directed time. Some I still follow, where as others I don’t bother doing anymore.

The other day I bought the first suggested application. The one that consists of fertilizer with crabgrass control. This year it was about $52 dollars for a 40 pound bag. The cost of fertilizer alone, without the suggested additive (crabgrass, weed, bug, etc.) was about $36 dollars, for 40 pounds.

To me, paying the full price for the fertilizer with crabgrass control is fine. Each additional feeding, if I have the time, the weather is appropriate for feeding, and if I want to spend the money, is just going to be for the fertilizer alone, priced at $36 dollars.

Spreading the fertilizer on the lawn …There are two kinds of fertilizer spreaders, they are Broadcast and Drop Spreaders. Their names are self-explanatory. Broadcast spreaders throw out fertilizer as you walk along. Drop spreaders, drop fertilizer straight down from the fertilizer hamper, through the machine, to the ground.

I have a drop spreader which has two wheels. When I start to fertilize the lawn, as I make the first pass across the grass, the wheels of the spreader make indents into the grass. At the end of the first row, I make a quick turn and try to line up the wheels of the spreader with one of the wheel indents in the grass. I then proceed to fertilize the second row. (see illustration) By doing it this way, I have relatively even distribution of the fertilizer across the grass, and don’t miss much lawn surface.

I lent my spreader to my neighbor. She ran fertilizer around her lawn, not trying to line up the wheels of the spreader with the indents. She missed a lot of the lawn surface. A week or two after fertilizing, the lawn looked like it had Zebra Stripes.

When it comes to lawn fertilizing, LESS is MORE. Never set your spreader to drop or broadcast more than the recommended rate. Try not to overlap the fertilizer application, as you spread it on the lawn. If you do so, you have just raised the application rate. Too much fertilizer will burn your lawn.

Make sure you space out each feeding by two months. If it is hot for a long period of time, with no rain in sight, and your lawn is brown in Summer, skip any suggested fertilizer application. Wait until there is a rain period again and your grass starts to green up.

When applying any kind of garden chemical/fertilizer wear safety glasses, a dust mask, rubber gloves and rubber boots.

Weed Control …The second fertilizer application to the lawn is supposed to include weed control. They suggest that you apply it early in the morning, when there is dew on the grass. If there is no dew, mist the lawn with the hose. You then apply the fertilizer with weed control. The moisture on the weed’s leaves, helps to adhere the fertilizer/weed control on to the leave. The weed control absorbs into the leaf and works its way down into the plant killing it. Three days late, you are supposed to water the treated area, now washing the fertilizer off the dying weeds, and into the ground.

This is all well and good, if you have a small property. My lawn is too big, and watering it all in, after three days, is out of the question.

When it comes to the second lawn fertilizing, I will apply the fertilizer alone ($36. for 40 pounds), without the weed control additive.

Spraying on Weed Control …If I feel weed eradication is necessary, I will spray it on with a device attached to the hose. (see illustration) Liquid weed control comes prepackaged at hardware stores, and garden centers. All you have to do is attach it to the end of your hose, turn a knob, which starts the product flowing, and you apply weed control until the plastic bottle with concentrated product is empty. The device properly mixes the weed control concentrate and water. A weed control that Does Not hurt your grass, but kills weeds is called a Selective Herbicide.

When applying liquid weed control, wear safety glasses, a dust mask, rubber gloves, and rubber boots. Don’t get any of the product on your skin. If you get any on your clothing, wash your clothing when you are done. Also, wash your boots with the hose when you are done. Don’t track any chemical product into your house.

Apply liquid weed control in the late morning, on a hot, not windy day. Pick a day, when there will not be rain for a day or two after applying the product.

If you have many spots on your property that need weed control, first go out and mark off the areas. Insert a bamboo garden stick into the ground, at each location that needs treatment. This way you will know which areas to consecutively hit with product.

You can turn the weed control applicator on or off at any time, while applying the product.

The first spot to apply weed control is the furthest location away from your house, or source of water for your hose. Start there, spraying the product in a sweeping movement, slowly stepping backward as you work along. Pick up the hose, and pull it back, as you go. If you have help, have that person pull back the hose for you. Make sure they are wearing protective eye, nose, hand, and foot gear.

Weed control does not hurt your grass, but a Selective Herbicide does not know the difference between a weed and a foundation plant, garden perennial or annual you have planted. Make sure you don’t get product on them. If you do, wash them off with clean water. Hopefully you will have washed off the weed control product.

Weeds are a Hardy Lot! They don’t want to give up and die easily. The first time you spray on a weed control, you will kill some weeds, but you will just stun others.

In the Spring and Summer the weed plants are pushing up energy from the root, directing it to the leaves. With the weed control, you are trying to work its ingredients from the leaves (top of plant) down to the root. Your objective is to go against its natural flow. That is why I say the first application will stun the plant.

A week and a half, or two weeks after the first application, reapply the spray on weed control again. The stunned weeds will be weak, and will not be able to defend themselves from the product, as they did the first time. Hopefully this application will do the trick. If it does not, wait a week and a half, to two weeks, and give it another shot.

In my area of Upstate New York, which is zone 5-4, lawn weeds are preparing themselves for winter around Labor Day weekend. The weeds, instead of pushing energy up from the root to the top of the plant (a Spring/Summer thing), are sucking energy down from the leaves to the root. They are strengthening the root for winter dormancy. A Labor Day weed control application would quickly move through the leaves, down to the root, and kill the plant.

Controlling Dandelion …If you have some dandelions in your lawn, and don’t want to spray them with weed killer attached to the hose, buy a gallon of pre-mixed weed control that comes with a gun/squeeze-button spray device. On a windless day, when you know it won’t rain for a day or two, walk around your property spraying dandelion. Wear protective eye, nose, hand, and foot coverage.

Dandelions have a root, not unlike a carrot. If you try digging out the plant, but leave any part of the root in place, the dandelion will just regrow.

A few days after spraying weed control on the dandelions, the foliage will start to look twisted, and turning a yellowish brown. All of a sudden, the dandelion will try its hardest to send up a flower, one more time, to produce seeds. As soon as you see this, cut them off with the mower.

Getting that perfect lawn …When it comes to getting a perfect lawn, I have heard it will take initially anywhere between two and four years of constant work. After you have fertilized and eradicated all the weeds, you have to maintain it. The wind blows, birds drop seeds, and your neighbor is not into a perfect lawn as much as you are. Weeds from all over will be trying to sprout in your green turf. Seasonal spot touch-ups and continued fertilization will be needed.

So now I hope you know something about applying fertilizer and weed control. It’s not that hard of a thing to do. Do what you can, as time permits. One more thing…That neighbor of yours, with the underground sprinklers and perfect lawn…Fertilizer encourages grass growth, and that perfect weed free green lawn costs more $$$ to maintain. Yes the grass might be greener on the other side of the fence, But they have to mow it more often.

Companion Posts
Why Rake Leaves? Grind them with a mower! 11-15-2010,
Al Fresco (Outdoor) Dining..Two cafe/bistro -patio tables equal one Picnic Table 5-22-2012,
Turn a Deck Planter into a Drink Station for your next Outdoor Event 5-29-2012,
Picking the Right Paint or Siding Color(s) for your Home 10-19-2011,
Choosing the Right Color ROOF for your Home 10-7-2011,
Picking a Color for Your Front Door 1-17-2012,
Foundation Planting, Laying out Foundation Plants in Front of Your Home 9-28-2013,
Planting Foundation Plants across the Front of Your Home 10-21-2013,
Distance Foundation Plants from Your Home when Planting 5-3-2012,
Looking at Evergreens in the Garden 1-31-2012,
Some Ideas about Planting Trees by Your Home for Curb Appeal 4-26-2012,
Siting a Garden Shed on Your Property 6-9-2012.


About fredgonsowskigardenhome

Your eyes deserve to view beauty. I hope Fred Gonsowski Garden Home helps to turn your vision, into a reality.
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4 Responses to Applying Fertilizer / Weed Control on the Lawn.

  1. Sue says:

    Thanks so much for this detailed step wise explanation on weed control and fertilizating your lawn. Very informative and helpful. 😊

    • Hi there Sue, spring is here and hopefully we all can get our lawns looing as we want. But remember the “grass is ALWAYS greener at your neighbor’s place”, but he or she probably has to cut it more, spend a lot of $$$ to get it looking just right, and extra effort has to be put into it. As for me, no matter what I do, every year has its challenges, and problems arise that need to be handled. My next door neighbor has underground sprinklers, people cutting the grass and a lawn service fertilizing it. No matter what, every year some problem happens where it gets damaged in some way, so it looks really nice, but perfection is never had.

  2. Joshua says:

    I am so glad I found this article – makes the process VERY clear. I am a new homeowner, ergo a new “lawnowner”. I’m dealing with crabgrass + weeds right now. From what I can tell (I live in a suburb of Chicago), I have dandelions + some kind of weed that looks like cilantro leaves, but the root is like a carrot (and freaking LONG). I tried pulling them out, but they’re tough and would just break (unless I dug them out). Give that I have both the situations above, what is the best course of action? Do I do the crabgrass first, let that do its work for two months, then come back w/ the weed killer?

    • Hi there Joshua, spray Weed Be Gone, off of the hose, on your lawn and wait two weeks, and do it again if anything looks to have survived. The Weed be Gone will not affect the grass, just the weeds. Good luck with your project.

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