Apply fertilizer and weed killer at the same time? We show why this is not a good idea and which alternatives are better suited against weeds.
Who does not know it: Spring lets its blue ribbon flutter through the air again – and instead of our garden plants, weeds are already in the starting blocks. Wouldn’t it be perfect to fertilize our dream plants while killing the weeds? In this article, we show why this sometimes works with a lawn fertilizer with a weed killer – and unfortunately not at all otherwise.
Because many garden owners want a fertilizer that cares for their plants and destroys weeds, in this article, we clear up the rumors about the effects and disadvantages of such fertilizers. Then we will give you good alternatives to using weed killers in your garden.
Effect of fertilizer with weed killer
Perhaps you have already noticed that only lawn fertilizers with an additive for weed killing are offered. What seems strange at first glance is due to the mechanism of action of the weed killers. Within the various active ingredients, there are selectively acting agents or “total herbicides”. The selective agents work either only against monocotyledonous plants (monocotyledons) of dicotyledonous plants (dicotyledons).
If applied to a planting, only the plants against which the agent works would be damaged. This is of course very useful when treating an area on which only one type of plant grows – such as a lawn. It is a “monoculture” of monocots. A weed killer that acts selectively against dicotyledons would only damage unwanted wild herbs. Of course, all monocot wild herbs were spared. The “total herbicides” damage all plants that they reach. They are only used when the vegetation on an area is to be completely killed.
Conclusion: effect of fertilizer with weed killer
Our gardens contain monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants in a colorful mix. Because hardly any hobby gardener can be expected to know the affiliation of each plant, the use of a fertilizer with a weed killer would inevitably lead to damage to beloved garden plants. Only lawns are suitable for this because of their very uniform planting.
Expert tip: Monocotyledons (monocotyledons) are all plants that only develop a single cotyledon during germination. In our gardens, for example, lawn grasses, lilies, crocuses, gladioli, ornamental grasses, and irises are monocots. However, many garden plants are dicotyledons, they usually form two cotyledons when they germinate. Examples are magnolias, laurels, water lilies, roses, asters, dogwood, witch hazel, cabbage family ( Brassicaceae ), and cucurbit family ( Cucurbitaceae ), hibiscus ( Hibiscus ), wine, all fruit trees and butterflies ( Fabaceae ) – to name just a tiny section.
Disadvantages of fertilizers with weed killers
Weed killers (herbicides) are pesticides that kill plants. However, this does not mean that they can only cause damage to plants. Weedkiller fertilizers also have the following disadvantages:
- Pesticides can harm pets, wildlife, and the user. Proper use is important to minimize the risk.
- The use of mixed plantings carries the risk of unwanted damage to desired plants. Uniform plantings have the problem that when a selective agent is used, the wild herbs that belong to the undamaged group of plants are spared. For example, weed grasses in the lawn are spared weed killers that act selectively against dicotyledons.
- The packaging of a fertilizer containing pesticides must be disposed of properly so that the environment is polluted as little as possible. The storage of fertilizers containing pesticides should be carried out under safety precautions: children and animals must not reach them. The use therefore always means an effort and of course a residual risk.
- Keeping your garden free of wild herbs will reduce biodiversity. Useful insects will not find native and bee-friendly forage plants or suitable breeding places if every small sprouting of wild nature in the garden is combated.
Alternatives to fertilizers with weed killers
Anyone who does not want to open the gates and doors to wild herbs even without using fertilizers with weed killers has various other options to put them in their place. In the following, we will introduce you to preventive and combative measures that can be carried out entirely without pesticides.
Optimal cultivation as an alternative to fertilizers with weed killers
Your garden plants develop worse under unfavorable living conditions than they actually could. This results in a lower level of competitiveness: areas are overgrown less quickly and densely, emerging wild herbs seize the gaps and compete with our plants for water and nutrients. Optimal cultivation includes careful planting at the right time, the best possible care, and the preparation of good soil conditions. Constant coverage of the soil is particularly important: if extensive planting is impossible, the turf should be preserved by at least regular mulching of the lawn.
You might so like: Natural Fertilizers: Uses And Benefits Of Natural Fertilizers
In vegetable patches, proper crop rotation is essential to produce healthy plants. Because the repeated cultivation of the same plant on one location causes “soil fatigue”, that is decreasing yields and poorer growth. The reasons for this are one-sided nutrient deprivation and the accumulation of specialized pests and inhibitors in the soil. This article gives you detailed information about crop rotations.
Choice of plants/varieties as an alternative to fertilizers with weed killers
Even before planting or sowing, you can make the fight against wild herbs harder or easier: Choose plant species and varieties that are not very sensitive instead of slightly ailing or cold-sensitive variants.
Pay attention to quality when shopping: Perennials and trees directly from the producing nurseries are usually more expensive, but higher quality than those from hardware stores or even supermarkets. Domestic plants are always better adapted to the local conditions than exotic plants. And the following applies in particular to new lawns: It is worthwhile to choose a standard seed mixture (RSM) that is adapted to the location and that contains the grass that suits your needs.
Choice of location as an alternative to fertilizers with weed killers
At the beginning of each planting, the site conditions should be considered. This includes the following points:
- The local weather: is there a risk of late frosts in spring or early frosts in winter? Does it tend to rain a lot or little in the region? Is it windy often?
- The microclimate: what does the planting site look like? What about exposure, moisture, possible proximity to groundwater?
- What soil conditions are there at the planting site? A soil analysis will give you the best answers to this question. For example, you can have a soil analysis carried out by the Raiffeisen laboratory service.
Planting should be appropriate to the location to maintain healthy and competitive plants. Here you will find, for example, a selection of perennials in the shade, here are some suitable perennials for partial shade.
Sowing and planting time as an alternative to fertilizers with weed killers
There are optimal planting or sowing times for every plant. If these are adhered to, the respective plant has the best possible start in life. Failure to comply can result in a coincidence of the sensitive youth phase with cold, heat or the appearance of large pest populations, which terminates or at least restricts growth and gives the better adapted wild herbs a growth advantage.
Diet as an alternative to fertilizers with weed killers
By optimizing the nutrient supply for your ornamental plants, they have an advantage over the more frugal wild herbs. When fertilizing the plants, you should also consider soil care: Organic fertilizers or bio-fertilizers maintain or improve the soil quality and thus promote the growth of more demanding garden plants. The natural loosening of the soil means that any wild herbs that may emerge can be removed more easily and completely. Organic fertilizers offer exactly the right nutrient supply for different plant groups that is necessary for optimal growth.
Physical measures as alternatives to fertilizers with weed killers
With all the prevention, the emergence of wild herbs can never be completely avoided. Instead of resorting to weed killers, you can use the following methods:
- Reduce the entry of weed seeds. Dense hedges that are planted towards the source of weed seeds are particularly effective. Such sources can be meadows, flower strips, and near-natural areas. In addition, weed control in your garden should of course always be carried out before the seeds are formed to reduce the spread.
- Mechanical measures such as hoeing, weeding, and milling – carried out regularly – keep areas free from weeds.
- If you do not want to plant or mulch areas – for example between vegetable crops – you can use mulch films that keep the soil shaded and prevent wild herbs from emerging.
- If you want to use heat, flaming is also possible. Of course, this only applies to paved areas – except for unplanted areas.
You might so like: