St. Augustine grass is a warm-season grass, which means it grows well in the deep South, where summers are hot and the sun is relentless. Floratam grass, developed by the agriculture experiment stations of Florida State University and Texas A&M University, is less cold hardy than other types of St. Augustine grass and less tolerant of shady growing conditions. Palmetto is more tolerant of cold and produces a brilliant, blue-green lawn. Weed-and-feed compounds contain both a fertilizer and an herbicide. Weed and feed fertilizers can be tricky to apply to all St. Augustine grass varieties because many of the herbicides that kill weeds also kill St. Augustine grass.
Granular weed and feed preparations usually consist of fertilizer granules impregnated with an herbicide. Ready-to-use liquid weed and feed preparations contain a mixture of fertilizer and herbicide. Weed and feed products that attach to a garden hose usually contain a concentrated liquid mixture of fertilizer and herbicide that blends with the water coming through your hose. Apply weed and feed mixtures only in the early spring and early summer.
Most homeowners buy weed and feed preparations for the sake of convenience. In a single application, the compounds nurture the grass with vital nutrients to make it grow thick and green, and poison the weeds to make them wither and die. Although weed and feed compounds are often more expensive than fertilizer alone, the convenience may be worth the price to a busy homeowner.
Often, weed control and fertilizer need to be applied at different times. Weed and feed preparations may not be completely effective if the weeds they control have not yet germinated, unless the herbicide is a pre-emergent formula. Apply pre-emergents from February to March to prevent weeds from germinating. Some weed and feed compounds contain 2,4-D, an herbicide that can kill St. Augustine grass. Because St. Augustine grass is sensitive to freezing temperatures, you should not use weed and feed compounds too late in the year. Jeffery M. Higgins, turf grass specialist, reports on the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service website that regular fertilization promotes optimum growth and natural weed control. The grass needs 1 lb. of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet monthly from May to August, when St. Augustine grass is actively growing. Weed and feed can be used at any application.
Weed and feed compounds containing the herbicide Atrazine are safe to use on St. Augustine grass. Atrazine works on pre-emergent weeds, which means the herbicide prevents weeds from growing. Post-emergent herbicides kill weeds that have already sprung up in the lawn. Weed and feed preparations containing asulam kill post-emergent weeds. Always read the product label to be sure the weed and feed compound is safe to use on St. Augustine grass. The label also provides valuable information on how much material to apply using various application methods, chemical analysis so you will know what nutrients your lawn will receive and a list of weed types the herbicide in the fertilizer will control.
- American-Lawns.com: St. Augustine Grass
- American-Lawns.com: Floratam St. Augustine Lawn Grass
- Louisiana State University Ag Center; Weed and Feed Damage; June 2009
- Alabama Cooperative Extension Service; Jeffery M. Higgins; December 1998
- University of Florida IFAS Extension; St. Augustinegrass for Florida Lawns; L.E. Trenholm, et al.
- Texas A&M University Extension; St. Augustine Grass; Richard L. Duble
- Clemson University Extension; Managing Weeds in Warm-Season Lawns; Chuck Burgess; Rev. November 2009
Audrey Lynn has been a journalist and writer since 1974. She edited a weekly home-and-garden tabloid for her hometown newspaper and has regularly contributed to weekly and daily newspapers, as well as "Law and Order" magazine. A Hambidge Fellow, Lynn studied English at Columbus State University.