Fertilization and Weed Control: The Basics

Fertilizer and weed control – you know your lawn needs it to look its best and remain a beautiful part of your home’s landscaping. But many people have questions about this complex topic. Here are some basics to help you better understand the complex interactions between fertilizer, weed control methods and your lawn’s good health.

Benefits of weed control and fertilization

You know that when you have a nice lawn to maintain that you need to do something about weeds and that you need to provide fertilizer for your lawn to remain lush and beautiful. But what exactly needs to happen to keep your lawn in this delicate balance? We’re glad you asked.

Let’s start with fertilization. A healthy lawn actually has fewer problems with weeds, insects and disease, because it’s doing what it’s supposed to – growing well. As plants grow, they use the natural nutrients that are in the soil. If these nutrients aren’t restored through fertilizer, your lawn begins to sicken and die. But that doesn’t mean you can just grab a bag of 13-13-13 fertilizer, toss some down and call it done. Your soil type plays into this balance, as do the existing nutrients. If you put on too much fertilizer, you can burn the grass or cause an overabundance of a nutrient, such as nitrogen. Nitrogen excess causes great looking tops, but virtually no roots, leaving you with a brown, dead lawn as soon as summer rolls around and the plants can’t take up enough water to survive.

Weed control helps keep your lawn from being overrun. A thistle or dandelion that goes to seed can produce hundreds of seeds to start their own weeds elsewhere in your lawn. Tilling up some types of weeds can cause the weed to spread even further vegetatively as it’s cut into smaller pieces and spread throughout your yard. Weeds are naturally bred for competition, so they’re great at stealing the light, water and soil nutrients your grass needs.

 

Why seven is the recommended number of treatments

As mentioned above, too much fertilizer can actually hurt your lawn, so you want to split up fertilizer treatments around the year. What’s more, plants will need different amounts of fertilizer based on the current weather conditions and whether they’re cool or warm season grasses. Weeds also start growing at different times of the year, so treating your yard for henbit in the early spring won’t protect you at all against crabgrass when summer rolls around. For this reason, your weed control treatments should also be split up around the year. At SuperScapes, we’ve found seven treatments of either fertilizer, weed control agents or both at different times of the year to be just right for northeast Oklahoma.

 

The difference between buying products in the store and doing it yourself versus hiring a professional

Professional companies provide you with an in-depth soil analysis and recommended treatments customized for your soil. Though you can always buy products at a store and DIY your fertilizer and weed control, you’ll need to figure out how much of what nutrient your soil needs, what the life cycles are of the weeds you’re trying to remove and which products work the best at which time, and that’s before you add extenuating circumstances such as heavy rains, drought or pest cycles for the year. Beyond that, you’ll need to invest your time into not only educating yourself on these topics, you’ll also need to spend time applying them. What’s your time worth?

The other difference is that some products are not available for public purchase. You may have  difficult time, for example, finding an organic fertilizer you’d be willing to let your 2-year-old crawl around on. Some pesticides are only available to licensed applicators who have had training to ensure they are using the product properly to avoid potential health or toxicity issues. Some things are just better left to the professionals.

 

Timing of applications

The next question you should explore is when you should apply these products. Should you apply the fertilizer before a rain so it’s carried into the soil or after a rain so it doesn’t run off and cause an algae bloom in local waterways that kills marine life? Should you apply more nitrogen during a drought? What about when you’ve had a number of overcast days that is slowing down plant growth? What about herbicides if you’ve had a particularly cool spring? Do you still apply them at the same time? Timing of application has a lot of variables, including when to apply pre-emergent weed control based on soil temperature.

As you can see, taking care of fertilizer and weed control can be a complex topic, requiring a professional touch to get the best possible performance out of your lawn. If you still have questions about lawn or landscape maintenance or need help, please feel free to contact the professionals at SuperScapes, where super service is the standard.