Control of Winter Weeds

Ag Biz News Column
Chad Gulley
County Extension Agent—Ag/NR
Smith County

Controlling Winter Weeds

                Last week in the Ag Biz news column, winter weeds were discussed.  The article discussed the types of weeds we are seeing in home lawns right now and went into a description of the weeds to help better identify these lawn weeds.  These winter weeds include dandelions, chickweed, henbit, burweed, and clovers in the home lawn.  This week I am following up with control options.

So I have these weeds in my lawn, how do I control them?  First and foremost, perform a soil test on your lawn to determine nutrient requirements of our desired grass species as well as to determine pH levels.  Once the soil report comes back, lime and fertilize your warm season grasses according to soil test recommendations to insure our grasses have the optimum nutrients needed to perform well.   Management such as fertility and proper water can help keep weed infestations at a minimum.  Weeds rob our desired grasses of much needed water and nutrients.  Because most of these weeds are winter annuals, they will produce seed and die back on their own come late spring or early summer.

What are my control options?  Mechanical control includes mowing and actually pulling weeds.  In heavy infestations, this is not always feasible.  Chemical control is another option but the effectiveness of chemical control requires accurate timing of applications, proper rate of application and uniformity of application. Always follow label directions for a product and observe all warnings and precautions relative to safety of the application.

Reading the label is not only recommended it is required to insure you are applying herbicides properly.  The pesticide label is the law and describes what you can and cannot do in regards to applying pesticides.  It is never legal to apply more than the recommended rate of product specified on the label.  It is also important to determine if the weed you are controlling in your lawn is listed on the label.  It is also important to determine if you can apply certain pesticides to your desired grass species.  For example, a number of pesticide labels will say do not apply this product to St. Augustine or Centipede lawns for sake of injury to the desired grass species.  Other products may be safe for application to these grasses.  The label will specify this. Post emergent control is your option for any weeds that are actively growing.   Never go off memory as pesticide labels can change over time even products you are familiar with.

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are controlled using selective herbicides with active ingredients such as 2,4-D, 2,4-D plus mecoprop (MCPP), 2,4-D plus dicamba, 2,4-D plus mecoprop (MCPP) plus dicamba, clopyralid plus triclopyr, dicamba, and metsulfuron to name a few.

Chickweed or common chickweed (Stellaria media) is controlled using selective herbicides with active ingredients such as atrazine, clopyralid plus triclopyr, 2,4-D plus mecoprop (MCPP) plus dicamba, dicamba, diquat, mecoprop (MCPP), imazaquin, and metsulfuron to name a few.

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) is controlled using selective herbicides with active ingredients such as atrazine, clopyralid plus triclopyr, 2,4-D plus mecoprop (MCPP) plus dicamba, dicamba, diquat, metsulfuron, and simazine to name a few.

Burweed otherwise known as “lawn burweed” or “carpet burweed” is controlled using selective herbicides with active ingredients such as atrazine, 2,4-D plus mecoprop (MCPP) plus dicamba, dicamba, diquat, 2,4-D, and 2,4-D plus dichlorprop to name a few.

Burclover or other clovers in home lawns in general are controlled using selective herbicides with active ingredients such as atrazine, clopyralid, clopyralid plus triclopyr, 2,4-D plus dicamba, 2,4-D plus mecoprop (MCPP) plus dicamba, dicamba, mecoprop (MCPP) and metsulfuron to name a few.

Controlling weeds in the home lawn requires us to do our homework.  Identifying the weed species is important.  Soil fertility is another important lesson that needs our attention.  Determining which control method or methods we will incorporate into our lawn management is another decision we should study on to make the best use of our resources available.  Be sure to read and follow the label when using pesticides to control unwanted vegetation in our home lawn.  Make sure the product is labeled for the grass species you have in your lawn especially if you have St. Augustine or Centipede.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

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