WEED & FEED DOES A POOR JOB OF MULTITASKING

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ARTICLE FROM THURSTON COUNTY DEPT OF WATER & WASTE MGMT, “TALKIN TRASH” SPRING 2005

Spring is here and the grass is growing like a weed. In fact, the weeds are growing pretty well also! Before reaching for a bag of weed-and-feed, consider this: Weed-and-feed products can be wasteful, pollute water bodies, and bring dangerous chemicals into your home.

Weed-and-feed products are a mixture of herbicides (weed killers) and fertilizers. While multitasking seems easy, there are a number of problems with combining these tasks.

Use of weed-and-feed is inherently wasteful. In most yards, the weed killer is distributed over the entire yard, even areas without weeds. In some very weedy yards, the opposite may be true – the fertilizer may be wasted because there is too little grass to fertilize.

Weed-and-feed products also pollute water bodies. The chemicals wash into streams, lakes, or Puget Sound, or leach into groundwater – our source of drinking water. The chemicals are also tracked into homes, where children and pets are particularly exposed.

So what to do instead? Simply separate weeding and feeding.

To Weed: Decide if weeding is necessary. View the lawn from across the street to see if the weeds are even noticeable from a distance. Would frequent mowing help keep them from setting seed? If there are only a few, try hand-pulling the weeds. If there are many, perhaps you could add low-growing flowers for a meadow look. If you choose to use a weed killer, spot apply it directly to the problem weeds.

To Feed: Leave grass clippings on the lawn, or use a mulching mower. Grass clippings provide one-third to one-fourth of the nitrogen your grass needs for the year. Also use organic or slow-release fertilizers – they release food at a rate closer to the amount of time it takes for the plants to actually use the nutrition.

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