Mayday. Mayday. Come in tower. We need your lawn care advice.
April is over and hopefully all of the rainy weather and cold mornings are gone with it. The soil temperatures are rising and as a result our home lawns are growing at a steady normal rate now. The lawnmowers are tuned-up, spring cleanups are done and out of the way and now it’s time to sit back and admire our beautifully manicured lawns.
Juusssst Kidding. While many of us would like to simply go from spring cleanup to beautiful lawn, such is not the case. As long as the grass is growing, so are the weeds. Those pesky little nuisances popping up from our lawns and laughing at us like there’s nothing we can do. Well jokes on them because through correct identification, application and control, your lawns will be back to beautiful in no time.
The most effective way to ensure your lawn is weed free is to apply a preemerging herbicide to your lawn. These are most effective against annual weeds such as crabgrass which germinate in the spring and mature in the fall. When applying a preemerging herbicide you must be sure to put down an application prior to seed germination. In the New England region this would typically be in early April seeing as crabgrass only needs a three-day window where nighttime soil temperatures are over 50 degrees. However when considering this you must realize that the earlier the application is put the earlier it will wear off so timing is critical.If you are already past this point and the weeds have already invaded your lawn then other steps must be taken. The first step in successfully ridding your lawn and property of weeds is to be able to correctly identify the weed(s) in question. By knowing this you will then have the knowledge to apply the proper herbicide necessary to eradicate the problem. If you are having trouble identifying the weed you may refer to a detailed weed identification chart at http://weedid.aces.uiuc.edu/.
Once you have identified the weed you may then decide the proper way or removing it. Since most weeds can regrow from any remnant left in the soil and getting down on your hands and knees to pull them out one by one can be time-consuming as well as tiring it is most prudent to rid your lawn of weeds through proper and controlled application of herbicides. Herbicides are often classified in two ways, selective and nonselective. A selective herbicide is effective in killing broadleaf weeds without causing damage to grass. However, a selective herbicide can severely damage trees, shrubs, and flowers so when applying such herbicides all precautions should be taken. An example of a common selective herbicide would be 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid or 2,4-D. 2,4-D is used in over 1,500 herbicide products such as “Weed-B-Gon MAX” and “Trillion.” In cases where you need to eradicate weeds and turf damage isn’t a concern such as on your driveway or other areas where grass isn’t growing a nonselective herbicide may be used. Nonselective herbicides kill all plants regardless of whether you want to kill them or not so be sure to know exactly what you are targeting and to be extremely careful when in close proximity to turf. An example of a commonly used nonselective herbicide would be Glyphosate which can be found in popular weed killers such as “Round Up.”
Once you have rid your lawn of those pesky weeds you must then be sure to practice proper lawn maintenance procedures. Through the correct practices you can ensure an environment in which a luscious weed-free lawn can thrive. Aside from getting rid of the weeds your lawn may already have make sure to stick to these three simple rules. Mow high, feed your lawn and make sure you water properly. Keeping a high mowing height for your home lawn will ensure deep and healthy roots. The better the root system your lawn has the better your overall grass quality will be. A thick and healthy lawn will help keep weeds from getting their foot in the door. This also plays into the second rule which is to feed your lawn. your lawn is a living organism, and it needs nutrients. By spreading the proper fertilizers to your lawn you are not only helping the growth and overall health of the grass but now that many home lawn care fertilizers contain preemerging herbicides you are doubling up on your effectiveness at keeping a weed free lawn. Lastly, you must be sure to water your lawn properly. Too little water stresses the grass and leaves a weak lawn where weeds can thrive. Too much watering while seeming like a good thing for the grass actually creates an environment susceptible to weeds and disease. A deep watering once or twice a week should be good for your lawn.
By staying knowledgeable and keeping a close eye on your home lawn you should be boasting best yard in the neighborhood in no time. Knowing how to identify certain weeds and what herbicides to use is step one. Step two if following the proper lawn care practices. Stick to this simple plan of attack and you be looking at a beautiful green lawn for the upcoming summer.
~Andrew P. Lanigan- Turf Intern~