Preventing weeds in your lawn and landscape

Wayne Hobbs
Posted 2/8/17

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – No gardener or homeowner likes weeds. Whether they are in the lawn, in your beds, or in your garden, they usually mean continual work to pull up the plant and its roots or …

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Preventing weeds in your lawn and landscape

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – No gardener or homeowner likes weeds. Whether they are in the lawn, in your beds, or in your garden, they usually mean continual work to pull up the plant and its roots or possibly apply a chemical treatment. However, some steps can be taken now to reduce your workload during the year.

Weeds in the Lawn

For anyone managing a lawn, weed control seems to be a huge concern but there are some management practices that can make the task easier and give you a healthier lawn. First of all, the University of Florida recommends avoiding the use of all “Weed and Feed” products. Herbicides and fertilizer are rarely needed together at the same time so when used, these products tend to be applying either unneeded fertilizer or chemicals. These excess products can end up in our water sources and the herbicides can actually be harmful to your lawn, slowing its growth.

For proper weed management, a pre-emergent herbicide can be applied to stop weed seeds from germinating. February is the optimum time for warm season weeds so it can act upon the seeds before they begin to grow. Another application can be considered in September or October to control cool season weeds.

Throughout the year, if chemical treatment is needed, attempt to utilize post-emergent spot treatment of weeds instead of broadcast sprays to limit the amount of herbicide applied to the lawn. All products should be applied utilizing the directions on the label and should be checked for safety on your turfgrass species. It is also best to identify the weed to ensure the product you are using will work.

It is also best to follow mowing, fertilizer, and irrigation recommendations to keep your lawn healthy, which helps fight off weeds. For example, overwatering or over-fertilizing a lawn can lead to excessive weed growth, especially dollarweed. If your turf it thick and healthy, weeds will have a harder time growing within it. Your first fertilizer application in this area should be mid-April, when the grass comes out of dormancy for the year.

Other ways to prevent weed growth in turf include choosing a good variety for our area, limiting human or vehicle traffic, controlling pests and attempting to keep weed seeds out of the area. Tools, mowers and even your clothes and shoes can carry weed seeds.

Another option is to learn to tolerate some weeds in your lawn. You may be surprised to find some interesting plants such as wildflowers may emerge. You can even move areas of turf into landscape beds to reduce your use of irrigation and chemical products.

For more information on weed management in lawns, visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep141.

Weeds in Landscape Beds

In garden beds, weed control is most often done by hand or with spot treatments of chemicals but your workload and chemical usage can be lessened. Consider utilizing a weed blocking material such as landscaping fabric to stop weeds from growing. Other options that can do the same job are newspaper or cardboard.

Weed blocking materials should then be covered with mulch. We recommend a mulch that will break down over time so that it will help build up the fertility and water-holding capacity of the soil but all should be spread at a thickness of two to three inches thick. Options include pine bark, pine straw, hardwood mulch and even fallen leaves. You could also consider a product such a Melaleuca mulch, which is made after disposing of the invasive species. This will help control weed growth and can also lessen water loss near the plant and protect plants from some diseases.

Just like turfgrass, excessive irrigation or fertilization will give weeds an optimum environment to thrive in.

Pre-emergent herbicides can also be applied to landscape beds around this time of year but be careful around newly established plants. Post-emergent products can also be used to spot treat weeds as they appear. Always follow the instructions on the products label.

For more information on weed control in beds can be found at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep523.

If you have any questions about landscape and garden topics, or need plant or pest materials identified, contact the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Office online at http://www.clay.ifas.ufl.edu, follow us on Facebook, or call by phone at (904) 284-6355.

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