Stop them before Spring: Weed control in the landscape

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GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Nobody likes weeds. These out of place plants mean more work, and often more money and pesticides, for us in our lawns, landscapes and gardens. However, with some planning you can work to reduce that amount of time controlling weeds and have a great looking garden.

Weeds in the lawn

For anyone managing a lawn, weed control seems to be a huge concern but there are some things you can do to make it 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, extra products end up not doing much and washing away. These 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 (before March 1st) is the 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 use 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.

You should also mow, fertilize, and irrigate properly keep your lawn healthy, which helps it 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 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, cardboard, or newspaper to stop weeds from growing.

Put mulch over this covering at a thickness of two-to-three inches. Use a mulch that will break down over time such as pine bark, pine straw, hardwood mulch, and even fallen leaves. This will help control weed growth, control water loss and slow weed growth.

Just like turfgrass, excessive irrigation or fertilization will give weeds an optimum environment to thrive in so only use these when needed. You can also use pre-emergent herbicides in landscape beds at the same time as your lawn but be careful around newly established plants. 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. We will also be holding a class on weed control on Wednesday Feb. 19 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at our office that is free to the public. To register and for details visit ClayExtension.Eventbrite.com.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information, and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions, or affiliations. USDA, UF/IFAS Extension, FAMU and Board of County Commissioners Cooperating.

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