Identifying Weeds


dandelion Dandelion
Dandelion is a familiar perennial weed. These grow in spring and fall lawns on long taproots. If you dig them out be sure to get at least 2 inches of the taproot, or the root will re-sprout, yielding two plants. A thick, healthy lawn is it’s own defense against this weeds seeds. Spot-spray dandelions with a post-emergence herbicide that doesn’t kill grass.
diggingcrabgrass Crabgrass
Crabgrass is an annual weed. It gets its name from the crab-like circle in which the weeds grow. Crabgrass will appear in weak or bare areas of a lawn. A pre-emergence herbicide is the best treatment. Your local garden center or extension office can help fine-tune timing of treatment in your region.
creepingcharlie Creeping Charlie
Creeping Charlie, also known as Ground ivy will grow in sun or shade. It is an aggressive perennial weed which is tough to treat. Use a post-emergent herbicide to spray plants. Again a well established lawn is it’s own defense against this weeds.
clover White or Dutch Clover
This perennial weed tends to grow where soil is poor and low in nitrogen. Proper fertilization can help eradicate this weed. For existing weeds use a broadleaf herbicide according to label instructions. You’ll typically need to make several seasonal applications in both spring and fall to eradicate this weed.
chickweed Chickweed
Chickweed appears in lawns that are thin and experience poor drainage. It prefers shady, moist soil with higher fertility. Use a pre-emergent herbicide in early spring and fall to prevent seeds from germinating. A lesser known trick – crush the stems slightly and apply fertilizer. The nitrogen kills the plants. Don’t overdo it, you might burn the grass, but it will recover.
annualbluegrass Annual Bluegrass
Annual bluegrass is an annual weed. The grass blends well with fescue lawns, but stands out in other turf. A pre-emergent herbicide application then can prevent seed germination. Consider aerating and adding compost to improve soil drainage.
plantain Broadleaf Plantain
Broadleaf plantain is a perennial weed. Plants can grow in shady or sunny conditions. It tends to appear in poor, thin lawns with compacted soil. It can survive in drought or overwatering. Aeration will help keep this weed under control.
violetweed Violet
Violets are perennial weeds that tend to appear where lawns are thin due to shady conditions. Don’t be be fooled by this pretty purple bloomer (also flowers in shades of white and lavender). Violets can quickly take over a shady, thin lawn and are very difficult to control. Treating with a post-emergent, broadleaf herbicide kills plants, but be sure to follow label instructions carefully regarding application rates and follow-up sprays.
henbitt Henbit
Henbit is a winter annual. Purple to pink blooms appear at the top of stems above deep green scalloped leaves. It will grow in sun and part shade. It spreads and roots along its stems. Henbit is easy to pull but a heavy infestation may require a post-emergent herbicide. A fall pre-emergent herbicide will interrupt seed germination.
yellowwoodsorel Yellow Wood Sorrel
Yellow Wood Sorrel or Oxalis is a perennial weed. It spreads by creeping stems and seeds. Leaves resemble clover with yellow flowers on top of foliage. Often you’ll see Oxalis spreading through gravel mulch because it prefers dry, open spots. But it also likes moist, well-fed lawns. This is a tough weed to beat, especially in warmer regions. Spot treat small patches using broadleaf herbicide.
pricklyletuces Prickly Lettuce
Prickly lettuce is a cool season annual weed. It’s a winter weed in southern regions. Leaves have prickles along their undersides and can be uncomfortable on bare feet. Prickly lettuce spreads by wind-borne seeds, much like a dandelion. A post-emergent broadleaf herbicide can be spot sprayed on individual plants. The best defense against prickly lettuce – healthy, well-maintained lawn!
hairybittercress Hairy Bittercress
Hairy bittercress is a winter annual in warm regions and a summer annual in cooler zones. Plants appear where soil is overly moist. White flowers appear on stalks that stand well above leaves and form elongated seed capsules that spew seeds quite far. A serious infestation may require a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide when plants are young.
CommonPurslane Common Purslane
Common purslane is a summer annual weed. Because it two root systems, a taproot and fibrous roots that form along sprawling stems, it can spread by seeds or stem fragments. This weed appears in thin lawns that aren’t well-watered. Purslane tends to take over in newly seeded lawns. Avoid spring seeding for cool-season grasses, and you’ll skip many problems with purslane.
wildonion Wild Onion and Wild Garlic
Both cool-season weeds with similar appearances. Wild onion stems are solid; wild garlic has hollow stems. You’ll spot them in early spring or dormant warm-season turf. Plants spread by seeds and bulbs and are difficult to control. Keeping plants mowed short, even in dormant lawns will help. You’ll need a selective broadleaf herbicide to kill them. Make sure the label states that the product kills these plants and not grass. Spray these weeds when they are actively growing and 2-to-12 inches tall.
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Lawn Care Part 5 – Organic Lawn Fertilizers

In this series of posts we have attempted to provide you with enough information to enable you to make informed decisions on feeding and care of your lawn. In part two we discussed the several types of fertilizers that are available. In part three we discussed the timing for applying fertilizer. We provided tables with general guidelines which you can use to help determine the best fertilization program for you and your lawn. In part four we provided tips for distributing lawn fertilizer. We hope that you take the time to do it right. Too much nitrogen applied improperly can definitely ruin your lawn.

In this post we will discuss organic lawn fertilizers. The primary advantage of these fertilizers is that the slow-release nitrogen sources do not have to be applied as often as do the quick-release sources and that the potential of damaging your grass from over fertilization is greatly reduced. These natural products require the microorganisms in the soil to break them down before grass can use the nutrients contained in them. Complete decomposition of most organic fertilizers takes around two months in warm soil. This means that the nutrient goodness you get from them is steadily introduced into the soil on a slow pace, just like nature intended.

The oldest slow-release products are the natural fertilizers such as compost, cottonseed meal, sewage sludge, and manures. These products are not typically used as turf fertilizer, for obvious reasons. They are normally used as soil conditioners in gardens to add nutrients, to help improve soil structure and to help to retain soil moisture, reducing plant stress due to temporary moisture stress.

There are several commercial organic dry fertilizers, such as Ringers, Espoma, Greensense, and Texas Tee. They are protein based and must be digested by soil microbes before the nitrogen becomes available to the roots. The ingredients of these commercial fertilizers include ground corn, alfalfa, cottonseed, corn gluten meal, soy, other grains, as well as blood meal and feather meal. Any ground seed or bean is good as an organic fertilizer including used coffee grounds. You can often find these same ingredients in bulk form at farm or feed stores. A good application rate for these grain based fertilizers is 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Organic fertilizer may be applied any day, any time of day, and at any amount without fear of hurting the turf. Give it 3 weeks for the microbes to process the protein before the benefit is seen in the grass. Commercial brands can be found at organic garden supply stores and at some farm and feed stores. The commercial brands might go as high as $30 for a 30-pound bag. A typical retail price for 50 pounds of bulk alfalfa pellets or corn meal is $3-$7 at a farm/feed store. Call around, as prices will vary depending on the availability in your area.

Organics also increase soil biotic activity that is good for everything that resides there including grass roots, earthworm and microbes. All of these things working in tandem creates a super stable structure for the grass to “dig” into and stay healthy for the long haul. Organic lawn fertilizers are an environmentally positive way to produce a lush, vibrant lawn, supporting overall plant growth and health better than chemicals targeted for specific performance.

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