Beat Back the Weeds


Almost all weeds are categorized as being either “grassy” or “broadleafed.” Some grow in hot weather, so we call them “warm-season weeds.” Others are growing right now, so they’re labeled as “cool-season weeds.”

We’re going to confine these remarks to cool-season, broadleafed weeds such as clover, dandelions, henbit, chickweed, plantain, thistles and others. The others are addressed in the FAQ section of this website.

Any non-grassy plant can be controlled through spraying with what is labeled as a “broadleafed weedkiller.” These are usually liquids, and the active ingredient 2,4-D is usually included in them. You’ll see it in the fine print, usually on the back of the bottle if you want to look to confirm it. Many products contain two other active ingredients for added performance.

It’s important to note that 2,4-D kills only by contact, while the other active ingredients may be active through the soil and roots. You must read and follow label directions implicitly to avoid damaging valuable shrubs and shade trees.

Apply your broadleafed weedkiller directly to the weeds’ leaves. Spray on a still day and when rain is not forecast for at least 24 to 48 hours. If you are using a pump sprayer that you will use again at a later date, tag it to note that it has been used for a broadleafed weedkiller application. Even with thorough washing and cleaning, it probably should not be used for insecticides or fungicides in the future.

These are hormone-type weedkillers. For maximum benefit, it’s important that you not mow for several days before or after you treat. That will allow the weeds ample time to take the herbicide into their systems. You will notice distorted growth and eventually dying weeds.

There is an alternate way to avoid weeds in your winter/spring lawn, and that is to apply a Gallery pre-emergent herbicide the first week of September. That will kill the weeds as they germinate and try to grow, which means you shouldn’t see them at all. But that’s something to remember for the next time around.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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