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War on Weeds: Amateur Attempt Ends in Disaster
The winter freezing temperatures damaged lawns and scarified weed seeds (increased germination) making for a weedy spring. Most lawns had far more weeds than turf in the beginning and it was ugly! But what may even be worse than winter damage is when a homeowner goes after weeds with a bottle of Roundup!
Professionals Struggles to get it Right
The war on weeds for me started before optimum conditions and continues today as I continue to pound the weeds with selective herbicides. The diversity of weeds was great, weather was unpredictable and the weeds were reaching critical mass - weed control was an imperative but risky. As a professional at weed control I knew that I was on the “thin line” between killing weeds and destroying a lawn.
Weed Control is Difficult
But for the amateur that line is often crossed and weeds + turf are killed. Weed control is difficult. When an amateur tries his or her hand at weed control rarely have I seen success but rather disaster or at best a waste of time and money. Why? Because of the many variables -, the watered down antiquated consumer products, unfamiliarity with plant species, application methods or impact of herbicides on target and non-target species - make weed control nearly impossible for the amateur.
Best Method: Kill the Weed not Turf
When you kill the weeds and the surrounding turf or even if you just weaken the turf, the weeds will quickly populate weak or dead areas. Optimum results are achieved when you weaken or kill the weeds with no impact on the turf. Then the turf can quickly populate the area.
Domination not Elimination
Herbicides are not created for St Augustine turf – they are adapted from agriculture. The prevailing philosophy in agriculture is not clean field but weed reduction. Therefore most herbicides adapted for St Augustine turf are for weed reduction – not elimination. The prevailing philosophy for turf is to reduce the vigor of the weeds using the agriculture products and allow the St Augustine to out compete (dominate) weed species.
The best way to wage war on weeds is to have a healthy lawn and when absolutely necessary apply herbicides. But if you are fighting weeds to have a healthy lawn – you have already lost the war. Weeds do not kill lawns! Weak, thin turf allows weeds to grow. Focus on the turf. To have a healthy “weed free” lawn you MUST water as often as law permits and mow as high as your mower will go. Then use the herbicides to weaken and discourage weeds.
ILoveTurf.com - May 10th, 2010
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