Keeping your lawn looking lush and green means that you need to weed frequently and apply fertilizer at the right times of the year. Altogether, it can be an energy- and time-consuming exercise, especially if you have a large yard. Although you may be able to dig up a clump of crabgrass or dandelion by hand on occasion, it’s not plausible to hand-weed or fertilize an entire lawn regularly.
The good news is that if your lawn looks a bit drab and weedy, you can bring it back to life by using “weed and feed” fertilizers and herbicides. Designed to introduce essential nutrients into the ground that accelerate the growth of your grass, these products help you maintain thick and healthy turf, while minimizing pesky lawn weeds.
Ahead, read our guide to understanding weed-and-feed products, as well as the details on our top-favorite picks among the best weed-and-feed options available.
- BEST OVERALL: Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed
- EASIEST APPLICATION: Scotts Liquid Turf Builder
- BEST FOR COOL SEASON GRASS: GreenView Fairway Formula Fertilizer Weed & Feed
- BEST FOR WARM SEASON GRASS: Scotts Turf Builder Southern Triple Action
- BEST FOR WEED PREVENTION: Preen One LawnCare
Before You Buy
Maintaining a healthy lawn includes mowing, weeding, watering, and fertilizing. However, fertilizing isn’t always necessary. Over-fertilizing your lawn will make the grass grow more vigorously, causing you to have to mow more frequently or lead to run-off which ends up in your local watershed.
Excessive fertilizing can result in lawn burn, which is when the nitrogen and salt levels in the soil are too high and cause yellow to brown strips or patches of dead grass. A lawn, as with any type of plant, only needs fertilizing if the soil lacks the vital nutrients to help it grow. In situations like these, fertilizing your soil is essential.
Types of Weed and Feed
Weed-and-feed products come in two forms: liquid and granular. Although the liquid forms are easier to apply and provide faster results, it’s more economical to use the granular form. Spray or liquid weed and feed are designed for small yards.
Granular weed and feed covers more area, often 5,000 square feet or more, and are available in 18-lb bags and larger. Granular versions offer a better value for your money, but you do need to water your lawn after application for it to penetrate the grass.
Some weed-and-feed options out there feature slow-release formulas so you don’t have to fertilize as often. However, to achieve good results plan on treating your lawn at least once every 8 weeks from the start of spring.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Weed and Feed
Selecting a fertilizer and weed killer that’s compatible with your grass species will give you far better results. Different nutrients have different effects on your lawn, from enhancing color to developing stronger root systems. Additionally, since many products include herbicides or weed preventatives, it’s important to know the types of weeds that come up in your lawn.
Type of Turf Grass
Choose a weed-and-feed product based on the type of grass you have. Grass species have different nutrient requirements, so not all of them are safe for every species of grass. Using the wrong product can damage your grass.
In general, grass species are divided into two categories: warm season and cool season. The seasons do not refer to the time of year, but the climate and average soil temperature range.
Warm-season turfgrasses grow best with average soil temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm-season grasses thrive in warmer climates found in the Southeastern and Southwestern United States and include Bahia grass, Bermuda grass, carpet grass, Saint Augustine grass, and zoysia grass (Japanese lawn grass).
Cool-season turfgrasses grow best with average soil temperatures between 60 and 75 Fahrenheit. Cool-season grasses thrive in the cooler climates of the Midwest and Northern regions of the United States. Some cool-season grasses are Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall and hard fescue.
To grow a lush lawn, your soil needs to have essential nutrients. Fertilizers temporarily add nutrients to the soil. Fertilizers denote their nutrient ratios as NPK. This denotation represents the percentage of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) in the product. This is how the nutrients help grass:
- Nitrogen helps the grass to grow properly and develop a green color.
- Phosphorus helps to develop strong root systems.
- Potassium protects plants from disease, drought, and cold.
There are at least 11 states that ban phosphorus fertilizer use or sale. Luckily, many lawn weed and feed products available have adapted to this and have removed phosphorus from the product. Don’t worry—the weed and feed will still green up and thicken the grass without the additional phosphorus.
Fertilizers can also contain secondary elements and micronutrients needed for healthy growth such as sulfur, calcium, magnesium, boron, iron, molybdenum, zinc, copper, chloride, nickel, and manganese.
To find out exactly what nutrients your lawn needs can be determined by conducting a soil test. You can either purchase a test to use at home or take a soil sample to your local cooperative extension testing office.
Many fertilizers also have built-in herbicides or weed preventatives. Some products are better at killing certain types of weeds and pests than others. In general, most weed and feed target common types of broadleaf weeds including plantain, chickweed, creeping charlie, dandelions, and clover.
Weed preventers, or preemergent weed killers, block weed seeds that are already in the soil, like crabgrass, poa annua, chickweed, and henbit, from germinating. Identify the type of weeds that are infesting your lawn and then make sure you choose a product that’s made to take care of it.
Our Top Picks
Now that you have a clearer sense of which ingredients would provide the greatest benefits to your lawn, consider the weed and feed options below. The tried-and-true products have demonstrated effectiveness in their respective categories, proven to yield excellent results for your lawn.
Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed knocks out dandelions, clover, and other common weeds while feeding your lawn. Although it works on many common turf grass such as fescue, centipede grass, Kentucky bluegrass, ryegrass, Bahia grass, zoysia grass, and Bermuda grass, it’s not recommended for some warm-season grasses such as Saint Augustine grass, Dichondra grass, or carpet grass.
- Boosts grass health and targets weeds
- Bag covers up to 5,000 square feet of lawn
- Works on most common grass types
- Not for some warm-season grasses
- Requires spreader for best effect
- Keep kids and pets off lawn for 24 hours
Easily fertilize your lawn while killing dandelions and clover. Scotts Liquid Turf Builder gives your lawn a quick boost of nitrogen while controlling weeds. It is easy to apply, too—simply attach the applicator to your garden hose and spray.
Scotts Turf Builder helps to control buckhorn, chickweed, clover, dandelion, ground ivy, henbit, knotweed, and more. Use it during any season, with almost any grass type. When used as directed, it won’t burn the lawn, and it’s safe to use around children and pets.
- Boosts nitrogen in lawn
- Kills major weeds like clover
- Easy to use with garden hose
- Covers 4,000 to 6,000 square feet of lawn
- Must apply while weeds are actively growing
- Product sometimes clogs in bottle
GreenView’s formula fertilizes your lawn, kills over 200 species of lawn weeds, and helps prevent crabgrass from growing. It contains both slow-release and quick-release nutrients that provide nutrients for up to 12 weeks at a time.
Due to the slow-releasing formula, this fertilizer is usually best suited for use on established lawns that have a healthy root system. Using it on new grass may result in burning and stunted growth. This product is safe for use on cool-season grasses only.
- Helps prevent crabgrass in cool-season turf
- Can kill more than 200 weed species
- Contains quick- and slow-release nutrients
- Covers 15,000 square feet of lawn
- Not safe for new lawns
- Designed only for cool-season grasses
- Not available in some states
Warm-season grasses need a weed and feed that can stand up to heat and drought conditions That’s where Scotts Turf Southern Triple Action comes in. Specially formulated for use on lawns of warm-season grass, it’s safe on Saint Augustine grass, zoysia grass, centipede grass, and carpet grass.
However, it is not recommended for use on Bermuda grass. Note that this product also contains an insecticide that targets fire ants, mole crickets, sod webworms, fleas, and more, and it can keep them away for up to 6 months.
- Best for most warm-season grasses
- Kills common weeds like chickweed and clover
- Fertilizes thick lawns up to 8,000 square feet
- Also kills fire ants
- Not recommended for Bermuda grass
- Requires spreader to apply evenly
This weed and feed product works best on lawns where weeds are already growing and taking over the yard. Preen One is a preemergent herbicide that can be applied to established turfgrass to control and eliminate over 250 weeds, including dandelions, and has a low-release fertilizer that will feed your lawn for up to 8 weeks.
This weed and feed is safe for most types of cool- and warm-season grasses, but it is not recommended for use on Saint Augustine grass, Dichondra grass, or carpet grass.
- Kills up to 250 weed types
- Pre-emergent herbicide
- Slow-release fertilizer lasts up to 8 weeks
- Safe for most warm-and cool-season grasses
- Not for use on St. Augustine or Dichondra grass
- Most effective if applied before weeds emerge
- Requires spreader for even application
The best weed and feed gives a struggling lawn help fighting weeds and encouraging lush grass growth, and our top pick, Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed, clears common weeds, plus feeds lawns of up to 5,000 square feet. If weed prevention is the top priority, try Preen One LawnCare, which includes pre-emergent herbicide.
How We Chose the Best Weed and Feed
Weed and feed products help restore health to a lawn in need of more nutrients and fewer weeds. Formulas come in liquid and granular form, and this curated list of products includes both types. We analyzed the nutrients in these weed and feed picks, along with secondary nutrients to improve soil and turf health. We also looked at the grass types each product worked on, as well as common weed types each targeted.
After selecting the right weed and feed, you may still have questions about using it. Consult these common questions and answers below.
Q. Can you use weed and feed and fertilizer at the same time?
Both products can be used together. In fact, it’s common for weed and feed to contain fertilizer to encourage grass growth.
Q. Is liquid weed and feed better than granular?
Research conducted by Purdue University Turfgrass Science indicates that liquid weed and feed tends to be the most effective. Liquid formulas are applied using a sprayer, which covers more surface area on the weeds. These products also stick to weed leaves better since they don’t rely on extra moisture.
Q. Should you mow before weed and feed?
For best results, mow your lawn a few days before applying weed and feed. Similarly, you should wait at least a few days after applying the product to mow the lawn again. This gives the herbicide in weed and feed time to absorb into the leaves.