When it comes to lawn care, you’d be surprised how much science is involved.

You’re shooting in the dark from the start. You don’t even know what “kind” of grass you have, never mind determining the right herbicide and fertilizer to care for it.

But it seems like a Catch 22. You use chemicals to kill invading plants and hope it doesn’t destroy your grass— then, you lay down compost to nourish your turf and hope it doesn’t breed pesky weeds.

You just want a green lawn, but all the fancy instructions, complex chemical labels and scary industry terms are intimidating.

Don’t worry. We’re here to help. Let’s take it back to the basics—

Understanding the Role of Herbicides on Weeds

Herbicides are pesticides used to eliminate unwanted plants, like weeds, from your yard. Because they are controlled substances designed for killing plant life, they’re not something we recommend choosing without proper understanding of their effects.

Pre-emergent vs Post-emergent Herbicides

The key to preventing unwanted weed growth is to “nip in the bud.” Just as you remove buds from a plant to prevent it from flowering or fruiting, you have to off the weeds before they start growing.

This is what we call a pre-emergent herbicide, as it kills weeds when they begin sprouting from seeds. It will not control existing weeds; that’s what a post-emergent herbicide is for.

Selective vs Non-selective Herbicides

A selective herbicide is exactly as it sounds. Once laid down, it’ll target or “select” specific plants, such as broadleaf weeds or dandelions, but leave your grass unaffected.

Non-selective herbicides kill all plants. They don’t discriminate against weeds— they wipe out everything in their path. This is not the kind of stuff you want to lay on your turf; it’s best for areas like sidewalks where you want a clean-slate from any plant growth.

Contact vs Systemic Herbicides

These two terms relate to the way the plant absorbs chemicals. Contact herbicides will only destroy what they touch. When spraying contact herbicides on existing weeds, the plant will shrivel up and die, but the roots will remain.

Systemic herbicides actually absorb into the plant itself and shoot through the root system itself; so once hit, the entire structure crumbles.

Always Read the Herbicide Label & Do Your Research

Traditional weed prevention products like Weed & Feed boast the fact that they both kill weeds and fertilize your lawn with nutrients. But they’re designed to be cheap and quick solutions, often hiding the affect the concoctions have on your soil’s phosphorus and other mineral levels.

Other products like Turf Builder resemble herbicides, but are actually fertilizers that don’t target weeds. Although Turf Builder specifically offers variations of their product that do offer weed control, ensure you’re doing your homework before you pick up any ole’ jug at your garden shop.

Just like you read the label on food products before buying them for your children, you too should be mindful of the chemicals you use outside of your home. Here at Swazy & Alexander, we have BeeSafe product options to protect your family and the environment without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Before Using Herbicides, Check Your Soil & Grass Type

Be sure to check your grass and soil to see which kind of nutrients it requires for rich growth. No two lawns are the same, and your property has its own unique needs.

Not sure how to test your soil? Our expert technicians can check your PH balance and offer recommendations for neutralizing for a healthy turf. Be sure to test your soil prior to exploring fertilization options, too!

Understanding the Role of Fertilizers on Your Turf

After treating your turf with herbicides, you’ll want to ensure you’re keeping it lush and vibrant with proper fertilization practices during the fall. When it comes to feeding your lawn, ensure you’re selecting the best type of application for your property’s needs.

Liquid Fertilizers

Liquid solutions are often water-soluble, synthetic chemicals or powders. They help to provide an even application and release nutrients quickly to plants.

Spayable fertilizers can be applied to your treetops and directly onto high foliage and give the mixer more control, but it’s best to leave the blending to the experts since it is easy to burn foliage.

Granular Fertilizers

These dry blends are created by combining various nutrients and traditionally disperse more slowly, allowing for less applications.

Granular fertilizers are more effective to use before your plants begin to grow in the spring and can also be specially crafted by fertilization professionals for your lawn’s unique needs.

Organic Fertilizers

This is your all natural stuff— no chemicals or hidden additives.

Sometimes viewed as the more expensive choice, organic fertilizers often overlooked, but can often be the most nutrient-rich and environmentally safe application option and have become much more cost effective recently. Organic fertilizers will build the microbes in your soil, which is a key element to effective fertilizer uptake.

When Purchasing Fertilizer, Stick to the Big 3 Minerals

Although many fertilizers are packed with a long laundry list of ingredients, keep your eyes peeled for these three: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. They help your grass stay green, strengthen its roots and build stronger plant cells.

These three powerhouse minerals also help your lawn maintain moisture, fight disease and survive stressors like heat and impact. Some additional nutrients found in common fertilizers are helpful, but oftentimes the other stuff is just “filler.”

Coveting a Brag-Worthy Lawn?

Weeding and feeding your turf certainly brings life to and brightens up your property, however, there are many other ways to make your house the nicest on the block.

We have some tips just for you! Check out our Ultimate Guide to Curb Appeal for six ways to instantly increase your home value.