Winning The War on Weeds

Now there’s warm weather and suddenly, it’s dandelion season. They are blooming their yellow heads off, bind weed is winding its way around the garden and thistle, mallow and other weeds are soon to follow.

Here are 6 things to help you fight the war on weeds:

#1 – Fertilizer needs to be in your arsenal. According to researchers at CSU, weeds thrive even better in lawns that are not fertilized. A healthy lawn wards off weeds and part of building a healthy lawn is with proper fertilization.

#2 – Drying out weeds won’t help you kill them. Again according to CSU, drought-stressed weeds may look like they are about to die-but they aren’t. The healthier the weeds, the easier they are to control because healthy weeds have a better uptake when weed-killing products are applied.

#3 – Know your weed before you pull it. If the numbers are manageable, many weeds can simply be dug out with a dandelion digger, a hoe or similar tool. Get out all the root or it will grow back. With other weeds like bind weed and thistle you will be less successful pulling them because their roots grow deep. Pulling these weeds also activates their regenerative root systems to start more growth. Pull just one weed and you’ll trigger more to show up in its place.

#4 – When you apply a weed treatment, know its limitations. There are two critical distinctions with weed-zapping products.
• Selective products are effective because they select traits they work on like “broadleaf weeds.” These products are effective on dandelions (broad leaves) in the lawn because they deal with the dandelions without harming the grass (thin blades/leaves).
• Non-selective products will zap any plant they contact. So if you use a common product like Roundup or one of the newer horticultural vinegars, you need to know that they will kill both the dandelion and the lawn if they are applied to weeds in the turf.
#5 – When using any product, follow the label. Find out what the product is good for and where it might do more harm than good. If you use a product that requires mixing with water, don’t assume more is better. According to USDA scientists who do testing, using more product is usually less effective than the recommended amount.

Is there a breeze? Whatever you might use, beware of it drifting even in a slight breeze. Many gardeners can tell you sad stories about spraying dandelions when the breeze drifted the product over to the daisies.

#6 – The best strategy in the weed war is always the offense. The more proactive you are, the better your success. A healthy lawn that is well maintained and properly watered will be its own best defense against turf weeds. The next step is to treat weeds early and effectively for the best control.

For early-season weeds like dandelion and mallow, removing or treating them before they develop and disburse seeds gives the best long-term control. Deal with weeds before they go to seed and produce a whole new crop of weeds.

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