I have long emphasized that my lawn care schedule is not difficult and will yield results in under one year, if you just stay true to it. But through calls received on last weekend’s radio show, at my book signing at the Arbor Gate, via email and in Facebook posts, I’ve learned that people new to the schedule or the area are overwhelmed with weeds.
It seems they’ve become frozen in “analysis paralysis” and don’t know what to do with all the weeds they've got right now. Many don’t know where to begin, because my schedule is all about fertilization and pre-emergent herbicides. But c’mon … that shouldn’t stop you from killing the weeds that are up at this moment.
So, let’s dive a bit deeper into early season, post-emergent weed control, so those inundated with weeds can make some headway.
We’ll start with some basics.
You most likely have very unhealthy soil. The healthier the yard, the better its natural defense against weeds … with or without a pre-emergent.
So get a healthier yard by:
- Following the schedule
- Mowing at the appropriate height
- Keeping up good irrigation practices.
- Aerating and compost top-dressing
Most weeds that crop up in the early part of the year can be hit with a broadleaf weed killer — a post-emergent herbicide. Cool-season herbicide, used while temperatures are still 45-75 degrees, include Fertilome Weed-Free Zone and, the most popular and readily available, Bonide Weed Beater Ultra. I've always recommended liquid versions of broadleaf weed control, because granular weed-and-feeds with atrazine are so damaging to groundwater supplies and the roots of trees and shrubs. Plus, you can spot treat with liquids.
If you wait until daytime highs start creeping into the 80s to control broadleaf weeds, then stick with the best-known broadleaf weed control, Bonide Weed Beater for Southern Lawns. Cool-season herbicides become ineffective and stressful to grass once high temperatures are consistently in the 80s. And, as always, you should use a surfactant with any liquid weed control. Read this tip sheet to learn why.
I’ve also mentioned Bonide’s Weed Beater Complete, which works as a pre-emergent herbicide and a post emergent herbicide together. It’s sort of a 3-in-1 granular product, but the post-emergent capability is only for broadleaf weeds. So, if you’ve not applied any pre-emergent herbicide, and you’re covered up with broadleaf varieties such as dollarweed, use a liquid broadleaf killer such as the Weed Beaters from Bonide to wet the leaves. Then apply the granular Weed Beater Complete. Its instructions call for wetting the area first anyway, so why not do it with the added benefit of the broadleaf weed killer. And you get the 2-in-1 pre-emergent herbicide to boot.
Most important: You must get only the products I name from local providers I specify. I don’t send people to big mass merchandisers because they carry other weed killers that are not formulated for southern grasses, like St. Augustine. The most obnoxious weeds that appear early in the season (dollarweed, clover, oxalis, dandelion, thistle, chickweed, henbit, wild geranium, nettle, etc.) are broadleaf weeds. The only annoying grassy weed that appears early is poa annua (wild Kentucky bluegrass), and that doesn't usually look bad as long as you keep it mowed. Poa annua will also burn off with the heat, so I don't pay it much attention. Prevent it altogether in November with a regular pre-emergent herbicide as called for in The Schedule. If you're not sure exactly what weeds you're faced with, check Texas A&M’s handy weed identification resource.
Finally, check out my Ten Rules of Herbicides and their usage. I promise that you can become your neighborhood’s weed-eradication specialist if you follow them.