Read these 10 Weeds Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Lawn tips and hundreds of other topics.
Clover is a reseeding, cool season annual plant. It is a member of the legume family, meaning that the plant can convert atmospheric Nitrogen to a form that the plant can take up and use for growth. It thrives in soils with low fertility and can compete with the grasses that were selected for low fertility growing conditions (Centipede and Fescue). The clover usually dies off as soon as summer heat sets in, but it will return as soon as temperatures remain cool enough for it to grow.
Regular mowing prevents the clover from setting flowers and producing more seed. Reasonable fertilizer application improves soil fertility and promotes a dense turf. A timely application of a preemergent herbicide in late fall prevents the weed seeds from generating new clover plants. Adopt a program that promotes the development of the grass, and the clover will gradually cease to be a problem. Acute infestations of clover can be treated with a broadleaf herbicide. Always read and follow label directions.
Dollarweed is a constant pest weed in warm season lawns. Dollarweed thrives under overly moist, clay soils, but it also invades lawns in loamy compacted soils. Managing soil tilth and moisture are the best defenses against Dollarweed, and a program of regular fertilization combined with high mowing eventually renders it harmless. If your lawn is infested with Dollarweed, mow it high, aerate and topdress, and make sure the lawn is fertilized properly. Once the grass is healthy, treat the lawn using a product containing Atrazine.
Crabgrass is a warm season, annual weedy grass. It germinates in spring, grows all summer long, and dies with the first frost. The seeds need both heat and light to germinate. The best defense against crabgrass (and its relatives) is a dense stand of healthy turf. If the weed seeds cannot reach bare, sunlit soil, they will not sprout. Where crabgrass was a problem last year, treat with a pre-emergent herbicide formulated to control crabgrass in your grass type. Then develop a watering, mowing and fertilization schedule that prevents crabgrass by promoting the turfgrass.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the old saw goes. Preventing weeds means developing a dense mat of healthy turf. Promoting that thick, green, weed-free carpet is really easy--all you have to do is make sure the lawn is watered, mowed and fertilized properly. Have the soil analyzed at least once every three years, and head off chemical and nutrient problems before they show up in sparse turf.
Creeping Charlie (or ground ivy) rapidly invades turf where conditions are shady and moist. Thus, your first defense is to insure that moisture levels are managed properly and that the lawn receives adequate sunlight. Profuse infestations can be removed with a power rake. Power raking should be followed by a program of broad-leaf herbicide application, along with proper maintenance. The cleaning product called "Borax" can be used to help control Charlie. Consult your extension service to determine whether your state allows the use of Boron-based treatments for this weed.
Moss is an indication of compacted soil, too much shade and a probable imbalance in soil pH. If the mossy areas are not large, you can use a shovel to turn the soil and work in some compost. This is enough to correct most moss problems. If the mossy areas are large, you should consider renting or buying a garden tiller. You should also remove any large tree limbs that are 20' or less above the ground. Consider removing small trees (water oaks and chinese tallow or 'popcorn' trees in particular) before they get too large and exacerbate the problem. If the mossy areas are beneath a large, old oak, forget it. The roots from the oak will interfere with your soil aeration process, and your tiller is likely to destroy enough of the roots to significantly damage the tree. You are best served by planting shade loving ground covers such as ivy, monkey grass or hostas. Lastly, you should have your soil analyzed for pH and lime as recommended.
Bermuda is often viewed as a weed in Fescue lawns, and vice versa. The different requirements of these two grass types have them locked in mortal combat in lawns across the "transition zone," an area of the country with a climate that favors both grasses but is ideal for neither. Mow fescue lawns very high and plant ornamental shade trees. Mow bermuda lawns very close and prune or remove trees. Don't fertilize fescues after Memorial Day. Don't fertilize bermudas after Labor Day.
Nutgrass isn't really a grass--it's a member of the sedge family, distinguished by three-sided stems and star-like florescence (the flower). It forms new plants readily from seed, as well as from a small rhizome-like tuber buried several inches in the soil. Removal or killing the tuber is the only way to control it. Sedges are capable of splitting reinforced concrete slabs, puncturing pool and pond liners and forcing its way through asphalt driveway. Basagran, Vantage, Image and Poast are all labeled for control of sedges. One or more of these may be a restricted use pesticide in your state. Roundup, if applied properly, will kill the plant, tuber and all.
Wild onions, wild garlic and wild chives are an eyesore in dormant warm season lawns. These simple, aromatic monocots grow rapidly, setting flowers and producing new seed that propagates the plant. They grow in moist, cool conditions that send warm season grasses into their dormancy. Though they do not compete with the grass for nutrients or sunlight, they are a visual problem that detracts from the lawn. The easiest, cheapest way to deal with them is to mow'em down. Mowing frequently during cool months prevents them from setting flowers and producing new plants. It also collects leaf debris. In fall, use a pre-emergent herbicide labeled for use in your grass. In the grass' growing season, make sure your maintenance program develops a thick, dense stand of turf.
Violets are a broadleaf weed that can be controlled through a program of regular lawn maintenance--watering, fertilization and mowing. Violets are rarely a serious problem in properly maintained lawns. Thick, healthy grass prevents the violets from spreading as profusely as they would if the lawn were neglected. Low maintenance lawns are frequently invaded by violets. Once the grass has become healthy and is actively growing, treat with an all-purpose broadleaf herbicide labeled for use on violets in your grass type.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|