Naturally Trees - Expert Arborcultural Planning, Advice and Care Since 1998

How caring for your lawn could kill your trees

by Andrew Scales | October 18, 2010

For many of us, the love of weed free lawns has lead people to buy weed and feed control products. Approximately 3 million kilograms of any one of these products can be used on domestic lawns every year in the US alone.

Before thinking of purchasing, or even using these products, consider the following WARNING about what can happen to your trees.

During the hotter months of the year, we are frequently asked by homeowners “what's wrong with my sick or dying trees”.  Time after time the cause of tree deaths can be traced back to incorrect use of weed and feed control products. 

If you use weed and feed control products consistently over two to three years you can for all intents and purposes kill a tree by burning/poisoning its roots.  While these products work at killing weeds, what you don't see is the root systems of trees and the damaged being done.

Remember that feeder roots grow out radially from a trunk to at least the extent of the canopy, and often to a distance of two to three times the radius of the canopy. Therefore, any chemical weed control within that sensitive area can be detrimental to a tree’s longevity.

When the microscopic feeder roots come into contact with the chemical it throws the tree into distress.  These products can sometimes be used for years without a problem and then trees can die in a matter of weeks.

WARNING’s are written on the containers of weed and feed products, but if you don’t read the labels you might be killing your trees without even knowing it.

The manufacturers of weed and feed products know the chemicals have the potential to be harmful to trees and strongly recommend that homeowners should read the instructions before using these products and if it is used correctly, weed and feed products will give you the results you are looking for.

What should you do if you have been using these products and are worried about your trees?

  • First, stop using the product if the directions say don't put it near trees
  • Apply plenty of water to dilute the chemicals
  • Speak with one of our Arborists for further advice.


Other things to consider when applying products:

Do not spray on windy days, avoid spray drift onto wanted plants. Do not apply to foliage or near roots of trees