Weed and Feed vs. Fertilizer

fertilizerProducts labeled as “weed and feed” are a combination of broadleaf herbicide and grass fertilizer. They often include a high-nitrogen mix of beneficial minerals, which is good for common North Texas grasses.

However, there are pros and cons to using a weed-and-feed product versus applying your fertilizer and herbicide separately. While a 2-in-1 package deal is always tempting, it’s best to educate yourself before purchasing and using any lawn care product.

After all, you don’t want to damage the good results you’ve already worked so hard to achieve, right?

In this article, we will explore the differences between weed-and-feed products versus fertilizers, including when it is best to use either one of them.

The Main Differences

Fertilizer is meant to fortify your lawn- at the level of the topsoil and the root system- to promote verdant, healthy growth. It comes in a variety of mixtures, but the ones most commonly used in North Texas cater to our most popular grass types, which generally need a lot of nitrogen.

Conversely, weed-and-feed products are commonly rich in nitrogen, but also include some form of weed killer. It’s tempting to simplify your lawn care by using this 2-in-1 package, and there are appropriate times to do so. But experts warn against using a weed-and-feed every time you see a need for one or the other, as it is sometimes best to separate the two and apply accordingly.


The most important factor to consider when it comes to all lawn and garden care tasks is the timing. For instance, many experienced homeowners who take pride in the beauty of their yard already know that there are good and bad times to mow, water, and aerate their yards.

The same is true for applying weed killers and fertilizers. If you apply either one too late in the fall, for instance, it’s basically a waste of product because your grass is already going dormant. Likewise, applying either one at the hottest part of summer can cause chemical burns.

But just because both of these products share a few common “not now” times for application, that doesn’t mean their timelines are in sync regarding when it IS good to use them.

For instance, early spring is a great time to nourish your lawn with a fertilizer while also applying a pre-emergent herbicide. But there are several weeds that actually thrive on nitrogen-rich fertilizers, so it’s not a great idea to use a weed-and-feed product in late March, and then again in early May. You may be feeding intrusive vegetation that’s only just beginning to sprout!

The thing is, fertilizer is most effective in the springtime, to promote new growth- and in the fall, to promote healthy roots. And yet, most weeds are most active in late spring and summer. So again, the timing of application doesn’t always line up very well.

You also need to keep in mind that weed-and-feed products come with both pre- and post-emergent herbicides. For weeds that have already sprouted in early spring, a pre-emergent mixture will not be effective.

Learn more about effective Spring weed pre-emergents.

Finding a Balance

While most North Texas grasses thrive on nitrogen-rich soil, it’s always a good idea to get a soil test done once in awhile. Well-balanced lawn care is essential to propagating a beautiful yard. Nitrogen encourages top growth, which can lead to a visibly beautiful lawn….for awhile.

But we all know that any plant is only as healthy as its roots. This is why it’s critical to check your soil and provide an adequate amount of phosphorous and potassium. This promotes deep, robust growth in your lawn’s root system, benefiting its overall health and longevity.

Once again, the point here is that weed-and-feed products tend to be rich in nitrogen, and that may not be exactly what your yard needs for every fertilizer application.


Most weed-and-feed mixtures use a combination of 2,4-D, mecoprop, and dicamba. These chemicals do a great job of preventing broadleaf weeds like dandelions and clover. However, if you’re facing a potential issue with grassy weeds like crabgrass, these products will not help.

Properly caring for your lawn is all about paying attention and understanding what’s really going on. Chronic re-application of a broadleaf weed killer, via weed-and-feed products, can potentially saturate your topsoil with an unnecessary and ineffective amount of chemicals.

If your yard looks healthy and weed-free, then it’s perfectly fine to only use a fertilizer at your next application. But if you’re seeing a few trouble spots cropping up, take a moment to inspect them. Apply what’s necessary, rather than defaulting to a 2-in-1 product that may not be effective.

Weed and Feed is a combination of fertilizer and broadleaf herbicide that is usually applied to lawn mid-season as a way to knock down weeds and feed the grass in one easy application. The fertilizer ratio can vary, but most popular brands usually feature a high nitrogen water-soluble fertilizer that encourages top growth. The vast majority of these products are in a granular form that is applied over the lawn with a broadcast spreader or drop spreader.

Final Thoughts

There are reasonable times to utilize weed-and-feed products. But it’s important to be mindful of timing, and of your lawn’s overall needs. Be sure to consider the education we’ve provided when caring for your yard.

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