Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Weeds, Weeds, Weeds

Warmer temperatures in spring brings the bad with the good.  While it's great to have the sunny skies, to be out in the garden, it also brings weeds to your turf and garden beds.  If you don't get a handle on the weeds now, you'll be pulling not only weeds all summer long but your hair out in frustration. 

What's the secret behind having a luscious lawn with no weeds?  Good balance!  The proper sunlight, right amount of water, and correct fertilization that all work to make your lawn healthy and weed free. 

Whether its' St. Augustinegrass, bahiagrass, or zoysiagrass, you need to make sure that best management practices guide your lawn maintenance.  Do you or your lawn maintenance company use the following pracctices:
  • Keep all lawn equipment clean and sterile?  Do you blow your lawn mower off after each lawncutting before going on to another yard or being stored?
  • Keep your lawn mower blades sharp?  Blades need to be sharpened after every five mowings.
  • Bag your clippings if you have a weed problem?  If not, you may be mulching the weed seeds right back into your lawn.
  • Keep your mower at its highest level?  Keeping your turf as high as possible will make it healthier and more likely to keep weed seeds out of yard.  No scalping!  St. Augustinegrass and Bahiagrass need to be mowed at 3" to 4" and Zoysiagrass should be around 2.5".
  • Watering only when necessary - not just because it's your day to water.  St. Augustinegrass and Zoysiagrass need about 1.5" of water a week, Bahiagrass needs about 1".  Watering more than your turf needs will result in short root systems that will not survive droughts and allow for turf to be more susceptible to weeds and diseases.  An easy way to tell if your turfgrass needs watered?  Walk across your turf.  After 2-3 minutes turn around and see if you can see your footprints where you walked. If you can, you need to water.  If the grass has sprung right back up again, no need to water, there is enough hydration in your grassblades. Other indications that your lawn needs watered:  grass blades that fold or turn greenish-blue.
  • Fertilize twice a year with low (0-2%) phosophorus fertilizer and an 1:1 ratio of nitrogen and potassium. 
Control of weeds can be easier if you apply pre-emergent herbicides in the early spring and herbicides in springtime and fall.  Do not apply herbicides in the summertime when the temperatures are over 85 degrees. If you only have a few weeds, then spot-treat. There is no reason to apply an herbicide to your whole lawn. If you have more than 75% of your lawn is weedy, then it might make more sense and dollar-wise to get rid of the entire lawn and replace.  Check your options. 

There are three types of weeds and identification of the weed is your best bet to getting rid of it.  Broadleaf, grasses, and sedges.  and there are different herbicides to get remove them. Make sure you read the label before you purchase so that you understand what the herbicide will kill and how to apply it.  Make sure your turfgrass is listed and the weed is listed on the label.

UF/IFAS has an excellent publication on Weed Management in a Florida Lawn. 

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