Controlling lawn weeds

Published 3:46 pm Friday, June 1, 2018

Our roadsides have been very eye appealing this spring. Fields of white, yellow and purple wildflowers have been a feast for the eye. We’ve had plenty of rainfall and the results have been spectacular. Daisy fleabane, lyre leaf sage, dandelions and yarrow have provide much color to our roadsides. Purple verbena is now making its appearance.

The only problem with these visions of beauty is that the seed may end up as weeds in our lawns. Trying to control broadleaf weeds in our lawns can be a daunting task. Facilis or tramp weed has already made its presence known. Virginia buttonweed, the small grass-like leaves with white star shaped blossoms, is popping up right now.

By the time you realize that you have a problem, it’s too late to control them. Many broadleaf weeds can be controlled by applying pre-emergence herbicides in the fall and late winter or by applying a post-emergence herbicide while the warm season grasses are dormant. The best months to apply pre-emergence herbicides for most warm season lawns are September and February.

They say the best offense is a good defense so make sure you have fertilized to the soil test recommendations. A healthy grass plant is better able to out compete weeds. Having the soil pH at the optimum level is critical for lawn management.

You can control many broadleaf weeds with post-emergence herbicides. The best time is when they’re little and just are making their appearance. It’s much more difficult when they’re large and vigorous. They will also leave large bare spots after their demise if you wait too long to control them.

A word of caution is necessary since many post-emergence herbicides contain 2,4-D, MCPP and/or dicamba. These herbicides can only be used on Zoysia, Bermudagrass and Tall Fescue. They will damage centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass. 2,4-D and dicamba will drift and damage non-target adjacent plants if sprayed when temperatures are above 85 degrees Farenheit. 

Atrazine is safe to use on centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass as a post-emergence to control broadleaf weeds. Call the office if you have any questions about post-emergence herbicides for lawns. Always read and follow the label directions. 

Controlling broadleaf weeds in lawns can be a challenge. Make sure your lawn is not suffering from a fertility issue. Identify the weeds that need to be controlled. Use a pre-emergence in September and February. A post-emergence can be used during the summer. 

What’s going on at the Troup County Extension?

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