When Should I Apply Weed And Feed?

applying weed and feed

Core aeration and dethatching should be the focus for North Florida lawns in February while holding off until March 1 at the earliest for Weed & Feed fertilizer and herbicide application. Applying Weed & Feed at the proper time is critical to its success in providing nutrition to your grass and eliminating and/or preventing new weeds. The University of Florida recommends considering the application of weed and feed beginning on February 15 for Central and South Florida and March 1 for North Florida. That said, some recommend waiting until the warm-season grass begins to green up on its own or wait until April to fertilize. “Waiting allows for more efficient use of the fertilizer. You will not injury you lawn by waiting to fertilize but you can certainly injure your lawn by fertilizing too early,” writes Larry Williams, the Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

Be aware that most weed and feed products include not only fertilizer but a post-emergent herbicide to kill existing weeds while many also include a pre-emergent to prevent the germination of new seasonal varieties. Always read the product label and know that weed and feed products are developed for specific grasses that if applied to other grasses may harm them. Read product labels along with purchase and apply at the appropriate time the weed and feed developed for your specific lawn.

Average high and low temperatures per week heading out of Winter is the key factor in when to apply weed and feed and know that we here in North Florida have experienced a lower average temperature for most months this Winter with more evident freezing and frost days. Plus, our rainfall averages have increased over prior years. Both lower average temperature and increased precipitation undermine any potential benefit of the application of weed and feed in North Florida in February.  Applying weed and feed too early results in the nitrogen in the fertilizer component feeding the existing weeds while the dormant sod is unable to benefit and excessive rain can result in runoff that flushes the time-release herbicide components (and fertilizer) into nearby storm drains polluting nearby streams and tributaries to the St. Johns River and area lakes.

Using fertilizer and spot treating for weeds is an alternative to weed & feed products. Be sure to test your soil pH, dethatch and aerate the soil and make sure you have a system to ensure proper watering heading into Spring. Water restrictions for the City of Jacksonville loosen during Daylight Savings Time (Second Sunday in March to first Sunday in November) allowing twice per week residential landscape irrigation.
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