Lawn care is a meticulous business. It’s like farming on a domestic scale, the patient, diligent application of intelligence, hard work, and chemistry to nurture the grass you want and remove the weeds you don’t.
But it’s also like farming in that your lawn will need different feeding and treatment at different times in the cycle of the year. What suits it in winter will be different to what it needs in spring.
And the aisles of your garden supply store are stacked with screaming promises of what this preparation or that will do for your lawn, but how do you know what’s really best?
We’ve found the 11 best weed and feed treatments for your lawn – and we’ll tell you how and when you should be using them.
Products In This Review
$18.87 | Buy now on Amazon
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, they say. That’s the principle behind the Shake ‘N Feed All Purpose Continuous Release from Miracle-Gro.
Here’s the thing with this – it’s not a weed killer as such, and if you apply it to weeds you can actually see, they will shrug and continue to make a nuisance of themselves all over your lawn.
But if you pre-treat your lawn with the Shake ‘N Feed All Purpose, and apply it regularly, it will stop the weeds before they sprout, which has got to be good for your back, right?
We know of course there will be gardeners out there muttering about snake oil because the point of this weed and feed is that you get a negative visible result (an absence of weeds), but you can do your own research – see roughly how many weeds you have in your garden now, then get rid of them and then apply the MiracleGro. See how many weeds you don’t have in the aftermath.
An extra bonus with this weed and feed is that it’s completely safe to use on food plants too, so if you have beds of produce alongside your lawn, you can keep them weed-free too, without any of the harmful after-effects of weedkiller.
- Not a weedkiller
- Safe for food plants
- Stops weeds before they grow
- The proof of it working is a negative result
|Miracle-Gro 3002010 Shake 'N Feed All Purpose Continuous Release...||$18.87||Buy on Amazon|
$14.86 | Buy now on Amazon
OK, so you missed the MiracleGro window, and now you have weeds emerging all over your lawn.
Many Americans turn to Scotts to deal with their weed problems, and we’re no different – because it works. Scotts Turf Builder is, we think, the best of the post-emergent weedkillers on the market.
Apply the granules to a wet lawn, any time between early spring and late fall, then once applied, avoid watering the lawn for around 24 hours to let the granules do their work.
What happens then is that the “Weedgrip” chemistry in the granules adherers to weed foliage, targeting the plants you don’t want, while the grass-feeding formula gives a thickening effect to your lawn.
If you start in early spring and apply regularly, wait six weeks or so between applications until late fall, you should see an impressive lack of weeds throughout the seasons. And yes, before you ask, it’s effective on dandelions among its weedkilling hit list, because you know dandelions.
Nice enough to look at, but give them an inch and they’re breeding machines, till you don’t have a lawn but a dandelion field.
While this is great for most grasses, maybe avoid using it on warm-season turfs like Carpet Grass.
- Covers a wide range of weeds over the course of two weeks
- Even targets the insidious dandelion
- Can be used throughout the majority of the year
- Less suitable for warm-season turfs like Carpet Grass and St Augustine
|Scotts 25006A 5M Turf Builder Weed Feed, 5,000 sq. ft||$14.86||Buy on Amazon|
$12.36 | Buy now on Amazon
If granular Turf Builder is good for both weeding and feeding, it should come as no surprise that the liquid version is too.
As with the granular version, you can use the Liquid Turf Builder in almost any season, and with most popular grass types. It does exactly what it claims to do, killing weeds, feeding grass, and it’s also among the easiest weed and feed to apply, coming as it does in a spray bottle.
Safe around children and pets, you can direct the application of Liquid Turf Builder to boost the nitrogen in your lawn’s soil and it helps get rid of even tough weeds like dandelion and knotweed without all the usual – less productive – pulling.
If you want to apply it on a wider scale, all you need to do is attach the applicator to your garden hose and boom! Widespread weed death while your grass flourishes.
- Easy to apply by attaching a garden hose
- Can be used in most seasons
- Even kills tough weeds like dandelion and knotweed
- Safe around pets and children
- Not suitable around flower beds, vegetable beds, or trees
|Scotts Liquid Turf Builder with Plus 2 Weed Control Fertilizer, 32 fl....||$12.36||Buy on Amazon|
$62.00 | Buy now on Amazon
One of those products that explains itself on the way in, Scotts Winterguard Fall Weed and feed is useful to apply to wet lawns in the fall, to effectively give your soil a spa treatment over the winter, helping your grass strengthen its root beds, while still blitzing the likes of dandelion and clover.
Weirdly enough, while it’s definitively a fall application that gives this weed and feed its main purpose, if you apply it in early spring, you can also teach the eager crabgrass a lesson it wasn’t expecting. This is a weed and feed that has had its formula tweaked recently, to give you twice its previous weedkilling power.
- Enriches the soil over the winter if applied in fall
- Deals with touch weeds, including dandelions
- Can also be uses in spring to tame crabgrass
- Improved formula now more effective
- The lawn must be wet before this is applied, or it struggles to be absorbed
|Scotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall Weed and Feed 3: Covers up to...||$62.00||Buy on Amazon|
Scotts Turf Builder Southern Triple Action – Weed Killer, Lawn Fertilizer, Fire Ant Killer & Preventer 8,000 sq. ft., 27 lb.
$49.99 | Buy now on Amazon
This is one of the only weed and feeds we’ve found that takes significant soil differences and pests to your lawn into account.
Available in a standard ‘Northern’ or this ‘Southern’ variety, there’s a lot of similarity between the options, but it works as both a lawn fertilizer, a weed killer, and a pesticide for the particular bugs that are likely to ravage your lawns.
Death to the dandelion, the clover and the crabgrass is, by this far down our list, pretty much a given, but the Southern formulation also tackles weeds like dollarweed, oxalis, chickweed and henbit.
What’s more, it’s also the antidote to all those higher up that advise they shouldn’t be used on the likes of St Augustine and Carpet Grass.
Granular in format, you can spread it easily, either manually or with an electric spreader. Less of a seasonal product, you should probably apply this weed and feed every 4-6 months to get the best, most consistent results.
Be sure to keep children and pets off the lawn after application until at least the lawn has been watered.
- Suitable for use year-round
- Particularly geared to southern soil and critters
- Useful on St Augustine and Carpet Grass – unlike many others
- You have to keep kids and pets away from the lawn, at least until it’s been watered, due to the way this product works
|Scotts Turf Builder Southern Triple Action - Weed Killer, Lawn...||$49.99||Buy on Amazon|
$19.94 | Buy now on Amazon
GreenView is another company that has made a strong reputation in weed and feed formula. This one’s a granular formulation that kills 250 species of weed, giving you a good broad base to work with.
What’s also useful about the GreenView weed and feed is that it uses time-release formulations, to keep feeding your grass for up to 8 weeks without having to be reapplied.
Unlike the Scotts Southern, this weed and feed has been formulated for general use all across the country, with ingredients that should help every kind of desirable grass that’s out there.
The slow-release formula is a friend to gardeners though, allowing you 8 weeks between re-applications, rather than the 4-6 weeks of some weedkillers higher on our list.
It is true thought that this GreenView weed and feed is slightly less potent than some others – certainly, less potent than the Fairway blend from the same company (see below). If you have a tenacious but not especially virulent breeding weed problem, this is one that has your name on it.
Unlike some others, this is best used straight after mowing, so your lawn can absorb it and let the time-release formula begin its work.
One thing it’s good to see about the GreenView weed and feed it that it comes with a money-back guarantee. If this weed and feed doesn’t both weed… and, well, you know, do the other thing, then you’ve lost nothing but labor in trying it out.
And if you’re wondering why – if it’s less powerful than the Fairway blend – we’ve marked this weed and feed higher up our list of recommendations, it’s very simple. Price.
We wouldn’t let price overrule performance in any list, but the GreenView weed and feed delivers effective weedkilling, time-released nourishment for your soil and your grass, comes phosphate-free, so it’s not about to pollute waterways, and it does all that at a budget-friendly price-point. That’s enough for us to rank it higher than it’s stable-mate.
- Time-release nourishment for soil and grass
- Effective, if never brutal, weedkilling power
- Money-back guarantee
- Phosphate-free product to guard against water pollution
- The right price point to deliver all these bonuses
- If you have virulent, easily pollinating weeds, this may feel a bit like a soft option
|GreenView Weed & Feed - 13 lb. - Covers 5,000 sq. ft.||$19.94||Buy on Amazon|
$29.99 | Buy now on Amazon
Like the GreenView, the Preen LawnCare weed and feed has its most-wanted list of 250 different weeds, and it will kill them stone dead if it gets the chance to do so. That includes the lies of dandelions and the interminable crabgrass.
There’s no doubt that this post-emergent weed and feed will absolutely do what you want it to. Simply apply the granules to a damp lawn from a lawn spreader, and you should see results within weeks.
If you have a big emergent weed problem, the Preen formulation will kill them, while simultaneously enriching and thickening your lawn coverage.
If you want an immaculate lawn, getting the enriching power of a lawn feeder coupled to a weedkilling agent is a classic wham-bam, and while like the GreenView, you have to re-apply this weed and feed every 8 weeks or so, diligence and effort is what lawn maintenance is all about – if you didn’t want to have to work at it, you could have a wild garden – it’s a different kind of job.
But for the effective treatment of weeds while enriching the soil of your lawn, the Preen formulation is a product that keeps its promises, which in this day and age is worth celebrating.
Where you might struggle is that its effectiveness is not universal – it’s a case of applying more often the worse your weed problem is, so you could find yourself Preening every 4 weeks or so. Too much? Too often? Go for one of the more time-release formulations. If you have the weeds that need it though, Preen’s formula, applied monthly, will get the job done.
- Kills 250 varieties of weed
- Delivers results in weeks
- Stops crabgrass even four weeks after it has emerged
- Can get labor-intensive if you need to use it every 4 weeks
- Not suitable for St Augustine or Carpet Grass – serious lawn injury will result if used on these grasses
|Preen 2164169 One LawnCare Weed & Feed-Covers 5,000 sq. ft, 18 lb||$29.99||Buy on Amazon|
GreenView 2129267 Fairway Formula Spring Fertilizer Weed & Feed with Crabgrass Preventer, 18 lb. Covers 5,000 sq. ft
$35.99 | Buy now on Amazon
This is the big brother of the GreenView weed and feed that features higher up our list. It’s a more costly prospect than the higher-rated option, and that plays into the placement of the two.
That said, the GreenView Fairway Formula has lots to recommend it.
Apply the granules in the early spring, to a wet lawn using either a drop or a broadcast spreader, and wait 3 days after application before you mow the lawn.
Like some others on our list, this weed and feed has had its formula upgraded recently, so now it not only kills over 200 species of weed, but its 65% nitrogen formula can keep your lawn nurtured and nourished for up to 3 months.
That’s 12 weeks from one application, due to the same time-release nitrogen-rich lawn-feeding chemistry as the other GreenView product on our list.
GreenView calls this its Fairway Formula weed and feed, and it does that for a reason – it believes the product is good enough for use by those who need their lawns to be impeccable for their business as well as their home.
And by extending the length of time between treatments, the Fairway Formula is certainly the gardener’s friend, cutting down the regularity with which you need to apply your weed and feed.
As you’ll be expecting by now, St. Augustine and Carpet Grass don’t do well with this weed and feed, but most other forms of lawn grass in the US will take to this formulation well.
Why so low down our list? Mostly the cost factor – as a weed and feed aimed potentially at professional green-keepers, or at least designed for people who are as serious about their lawns as green-keepers have to be, you’d be naïve if you didn’t expect there was going to be a premium price attached to the Fairway Formula.
And it’s certainly true that in reducing the number of times you have to apply it, GreenView is saving you effort, as well as potentially product, and therefore expense. So there are logical reasons why it should cost more than some others on our list.
The question of whether it’s worth as much more as it charges is personal choice. If you have mobility or bending issues, it will be worth more to you by virtue of cutting down the regularity of your weedkilling.
For us, this remains a premium product, and while it’s excellent at what it does, there are better balances out there between performance and expense. That’s why it’s still by all means on our list, but somewhat further down than either GreenView or we would have expected it to be.
Note: because of the slow-releasing properties of this weed and feed product, it is best used on established and healthy lawns. Using it on new grass may result in stunted growth.
- Time-release nourishment for your lawn
- Kills over 200 varieties of weed
- Reduces the number of applications you need to give your lawn in any given time period
- Up to 3 months of lawn enrichment from one application
- Price – this has a premium feel and a premium price tag
- Beware of using this on new grass – it may stunt its growth
- Not suitable for St Augustine or Carpet Grass
|GreenView 2129267 Fairway Formula Spring Fertilizer Weed & Feed with...||$35.99||Buy on Amazon|
BioAdvanced 100532514 Weed & Feed Crabgrass Killer Science-Based Solutions Lawn Fertilizer, 24-Pounds
$70.65 | Buy now on Amazon
The more options we include on this list, the more there’s an easy divide between the relatively immediate but labor-intensive weed-napalms, and the time-release weedkiller and soil-feeders that mean you don’t have to revisit or re-apply them for many more weeks at a time.
The BioAdvanced weed and feed falls very definitely into the second camp. You apply it just the once in either spring or early fall, and continue to reap the weed-free grass-feeding results for what amounts to a season.
With a slow-release 25% granules formula, you’re feeding your lawn with everything it needs to be green and lustrous, while also killing dandelions, crabgrass, and other weeds stone dead over time. BioAdvanced makes a big point of being scientifically developed – because obviously.
Other companies mix up their weedkiller like moonshine in a hut out back – but it does mean the BioAdvanced weed and feed comes with more restrictions than some other weed and feeds.
Like a couple of others in our list so far, it’s best to use the BioAdvanced only on already established lawns, and it comes with a list of the only grasses for which it’s suitable.
If you have: Bermudagrass, Fescue, Zoysiagrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrass, Buffalograss, or Seashore Paspalum lawns, congratulations, you’re good to go with BioAdvanced. If you have anything else, best look elsewhere.
On the flip side, BioAdvanced has a formula that not only nurtures root growth in your grass, it helps make it more resistant to heat and drought – which as climate change begins to make its presence ever more felt, might be enough to convince plenty of lawn-owners to follow the science and go with BioAdvanced.
If you go with it, you’re looking to spread 2.4 pounds of granules evenly every 1000 square feet with a rotary or drop spreader. Ideally, to make sure of even coverage, start from the borders of your lawn and work your way in.
- Time-release formula gives you an “apply once and walk away” solution
- Feeds the roots of your grass while killing every weed it encounters
- Helps make grass resistant to heat and drought
- Very specific list of grasses on which it can be used
- Useful only on established lawns
|BioAdvanced 100532514 Weed & Feed Crabgrass Killer Science-Based...||$70.65||Buy on Amazon|
$19.98 | Buy now on Amazon
The march of the slow-released, chemically engineered weed and feeds continues with the UltraGreen from Pennington.
It delivers a slow-release 10.5% nitrogen and 5% iron that acts fast, but continues to feed your grass and kill your weeds for up to 3 months between applications.
In common with some of the higher-ranking weeds and feeds, the UltraGreen kills more than 250 species of weed, so it’s an all-around win – 3 months of grass nourishment, plus every weed imaginable killed equals one healthy, weed-free lawn for 3 months at a time. In terms of what grasses you can use it on… would you like to take a guess?
It’s effective on both warm and cold grasses, but… St Augustine
While the product is safe for both cold and warm (which is to say both northern and southern) grasses, it is not suitable for St. Augustine. Makes you wonder whether St Augustine did something wrong, because most of what are technically the best weed and feeds on the market will shrivel or scorch or harm it if you use them on it.
The struggle is real, St Augustine lawn-growers, but at least there’s one option in our list specifically suited for you and your Carpet Grass growing friends.
To apply the UltraGreen, wait till late spring – April-June would be ideal. Then apply to the actively growing weeds with a spreader and prepare to watch your lawn thrive and your weeds die.
- 3 months of time-release nitrogen and iron to feed your grass’s roots.
- Kills over 250 kinds of weed, including dandelion, clover, and crabgrass
- Safe for use on both northern and southern lawns
- Not suitable for St Augustine lawns
|Pennington 100536600 UltraGreen Weed & Feed Lawn Fertilizer, 12.5 LBS,...||$19.98||Buy on Amazon|
$23.46 | Buy now on Amazon
The world is going more and more organic, in the belief that that necessarily equates to humane, or better than non-organic solutions. It doesn’t necessarily mean that, but things that are made by people who believe it does can certainly end up being kinder to natural systems. Natural systems like lawns, grass growth and weed life cycles.
That being the case, it’s surprising that Espoma Organic Weed Preventer Plus Lawn Food, while an admirably clear statement of its intent, is actually one of the few organic lawn treatments readily available.
It’s important to realize the power of words here – this is billed as a weed preventer, rather than a weedkiller, and that’s where we came in with the significantly less organic MiracleGro. Prevention, rather than cure.
So how does Espoma do the things it claims to do? Well, first, it’s made from 100% corn gluten meal, so it’s pet-friendly and mostly kid-friendly (some of the more extreme gluten allergies excepted).
We like that, it has a healthy, friendly vibe to it. Safe to use around pets and most kids is a big plus, when you consider there are weedkillers on our list where you have to stop kids and pets going near the grass for a while once they’ve been deployed.
There’s a 9% nitrogen content in Espoma too, which your lawn will essentially suck up like OJ for breakfast. 9% feels like a healthy dose of nitrogen, especially given the organic nature of the Espoma weed preventer.
Except you could argue the news gets better, because Espoma actually does kill some weeds. Quite the parcel of weeds, in fact – black nightshade, purslane, annual bluegrass, smooth crabgrass, the irrepressible dandelion and a whole lot more.
So while marketing itself as a weed preventer, we’re happy to tell you it kills some of the things that can make your lawn look like it’s broken out in acne.
Is it as long-lasting or slow-acting as some of the weed-death chemistry on our list? No – that’s what science is all about, extending the capabilities of what can be achieved by nature alone. But if you want an organic solution to weeds and a nitrogen-juicy feed for the grass on your lawn, Espoma could well be the way to go – especially since it’s relatively lonely in the market right now.
More organic weedkillers (or preventers) coming onto the mainstream market might well give it more of a fight on its hands than it currently has, but while it’s here, it’s got to be worth checking out – if the weeds you have are among the weeds it kills.
If you go with Espoma, apply it twice a year, in the spring and the fall. Unlike most of the more chemically convoluted weed and feeds we’ve seen, it should be applied to a dry lawn, ideally just after moving.
Use a drop or broadcast spreader, and overlap your spreading so you don’t get a striping effect. Check your weather forecast – if they’re showing CGI sunshine for the next 24 hours, water your lawn lightly, and then wait for Espoma to do its thing.
- Organic, pet-friendly, kid-friendly weedkiller
- 9% Nitrogen to feed your lawn’s roots
- Apply only twice a year for results
- Kills dandelions and crabgrass just like the chemical big boys
- Not suitable for new lawns, only those that are already established
- Has a much smaller pocket full of weeds that are affected by it
|Espoma Weed Preventer Plus Lawn Food, Natural Lawn Food, Prevents...||$23.46||Buy on Amazon|
How do weed and feed products work?
If you’re going to spray or scatter weed and feed products all over your lawn, it only makes sense to understand how they work. That way you can have a better appreciation of what’s going on, both above the surface and beneath it.
Weed and feed products usually work in either 2 or 3 phases, depending on which brand you buy.
Many weed and feeds have only one level of herbicide in their chemistry. In fact, many have a herbicide that only affects weeds with wide leaves (also known as broadleaf weeds).
Like an atom bomb that kills all the people but leaves the buildings standing, these broadleaf herbicides will attach themselves to broadleaf weeds – your dandelions, your clovers, your ground ivy and similar species.
Meanwhile, your grass, which – spoiler alert! – is not a broadleaf plant – is left entirely unharmed.
Score 1 for selective herbicides!
Oh. Crabgrass. Darn it.
OK, phase 2. If your weed and feed claims it can kill crabgrass, it’s taking the chemical warfare to the next level. Then you’re looking at a combination of the broadleaf herbicide and a separate herbicide to deal with weeds with narrower leaves – while still not affecting your grass.
That’s quite the chemical cocktail, which is why these kinds of weedkillers are a) harder to find, and b) usually more expensive when you find them.
Phase 3? Phase 3 is the nice phase. The Feed phase.
There’s not a whole heck of a lot to this, because on the whole, grasses are not picky eaters. Give them a good Nitrogen feed and they’ll mostly be healthy and grow taller, greener and more lush – the more Nitrogen there is to go around, the more roots can grow, the more shoots can break the surface as grass. Happy days in Grassland.
Many manufacturers add a little something here and there to the Nitrogen in their weed and feed. Think of it like adding salt and pepper to your food. A little phosphorus here, a little potassium there, it all adds up to a nourishing chemical banquet for your grass. So your lawn is ‘eating’ well, while the weeds are having a whole other experience at the mercy of the herbicides.
But here’s the thing. If we gave you a huge banquet of food right now, you might well chow down until you were satisfied, but when you were sated, you’d stop eating, and other people would come along and eat from your table. All very generous, but tomorrow the food would be gone and you’d be hungry again.
If on the other hand, we gave you enough food today to satisfy your hunger and maybe go do some weights so you grew strong, and then tomorrow, when you got hungry again, we gave you some more, you’d be fed over a longer period, and you’d grow more over time.
That’s the principle behind the slow-release weed and feeds you’ve seen on our list. Feeding the grass not just today, and not just tomorrow, but for anything up to three months from a single application.
Releasing just enough to keep the grass healthy and growing and the lawn getting thicker and more lustrous, rather than dumping all the food today and having hungry grass tomorrow.
Yes, this is a simplistic model, but it’s the basics of how a weed and feed works. Targeted herbicides and a good grass meal, combined together, sometimes with the meal parceled out for growth over time.
So if you’re going to buy a weed and feed, what should you know before you click the “buy” button?
Warm Or Cold?
The USA is a big country. It has a great deal of diversity in its climate, its soil composition, and both the plants and the critters that can threaten the perfection of your lawn. It’s broken down – a little crudely – into warm and cold soil, the warmer soil being in the south, closer to the equator.
There will be weed and feeds that work well in both types of soil, but there are also weed and feeds that are specific to the kind of soil you have in your area. It’s not a disaster if you get this wrong – but some manufacturers make the distinction for a reason, so if you can get it right, get it right.
Know Your Weeds
We’ve already seen that the herbicides in most weed and feeds are picky about what they attack. Know what your weeds are, so you can buy a weed and feed that actually attacks the weeds you have.
It might be the best weedkiller in the world for X, Y, and Z weeds. If the weeds popping up all over your lawn are Type A, they’re going to survive.
Feed Your Lawn Long-Term
If you go with a weed and feed that’s all about the here and now, that’s fine, but it means more work for you in a shorter timescale, because you’re going to have to re-feed your grass pretty soon.
If you go with a slow-release feed, your job is done today, sure – but it’s also done tomorrow, and next week, and the week after, without you having to stir at all.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kills crabgrass?
If you have crabgrass already emerged in your lawn, you’re looking for a weed and feed that has the herbicide Quinclorac in it. Quinclorac attacks and kills crabgrass, while more standard broadleaf herbicides won’t, because crabgrass doesn’t have broad leaves.
Should I go for an organic weed and feed, rather than a scientific one?
You certainly can. One thing we know about the organic world is that “natural” elements can be just as dangerous as “scientific” ones, which is a good thing if you’re looking for a herbicide to kill your weeds.
It’s also usually (though not always) true that organic solutions will be kinder to, for instance, children, pets, and fruits and vegetables you’re going to eat than more scientific options.
What are the benefits of a time-release weed and feed?
If you ate a huge meal now, got stuffed and stopped, and then the meal was taken away from you, you’d be hungry this time tomorrow, right? The same is true with grass and the nutrients in a weed and feed.
By going with a time-release weed and feed, you feed your lawn tomorrow, and next week, by one action that you take today, rather than having to actively feed it again yourself.