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.
Continue reading...

Spring & Summer Insects – Japanese Beetle

Remember digging around as a kid and coming upon these white grubby worms. We used to try to fish with them. Don’t remember if I ever caught anything. Then there were these shiny, metallic green insects with copper-brown wing about 3/8-inch in length. These insects are probably both different stages of the Japanese beetle, and this guy can reek havoc on your lawn and garden!


The beetle starts as a small white egg laid in the soil. If moisture is sufficient, they will absorb it and enlarge, becoming rounder as they do. They grow into the white grub stage that is so familiar in lawns. By August they are about full size (almost an inch long). They can live in almost any soil and a major infestation of these grubs can destroy a lawn in short order.


Japanese beetles overwinter in the grub stage. As the soil temperature lowers they move deeper. When the temperature starts to rise again in the spring they move back up to the roots of you plants and start feeding again. After a feeding period of 4-6 weeks, the grubs pupate in an earthen cell and remain there until emerging as adults. Adults generally emerge from the ground sometime from May to July, depending on your location. They live for about 30 – 50 days feeding on your plants. After a few weeks the females dig into the soil and lay their eggs. They can lay 40 – 60 eggs in their lifetime.


Adults fly long distances to food plants; so, just because you see an adult infestations, does not necessarily mean that they are in your turf. Adults feed on leaves and flowers of many plants including rose, bean, grape, and crabapple. Feeding injuries to leaves usually result in conspicuous “skeletonizing injuries” where larger veins are avoided leaving a lacy “skeleton” of the leaf.


Turf control. Look for areas of brown turf and search in adjacent green areas for grubs and pupae. If the damage is extensive insecticides may be needed to control grubs and adults. There are several granular insecticides for grubs. The best time to apply is from mid-July until end of September. There are also several organic treatments as well.


For adult beetles simply removing the beetles by hand may be the best solution if the infestation is not severe. The presence of beetles on a plant attracts more beetles. Thus, by not allowing beetles to accumulate, plants will be less attractive to other beetles. Different chemicals are available to kill the adults but should never be applied in windy conditions or when bees are foraging.


Japanese beetle traps. Think twice before using the trap. Most traps contain a lure with the scent of flowers and the sex pheromone of the female. The pheromone will attract beetles from a few thousand feet resulting in more beetles fling toward traps than are caught.


Cultural Control. Carefully selecting plants that are not susceptible to Japanese beetles is the best way to prevent them. Certain common landscape plants are inevitably attacked. Your local nursery should be able to provide you with a list of plants seldom damaged as well as offering suggestions on best chemical applications for your area to use to control a Japanese beetle infestation.

Continue reading...