How to Identify and Control Summer Lawn & Landscape Weeds

summer annual weeds

In the world of weeds, there are weeds that are around all the time such as perennials, and then there are weeds that only show up for a short time, also called annuals. Both life cycles can be frustrating when trying to control them and perennials are usually more difficult to eliminate.

Many perennials have deep or extensive root systems that make hand pulling an almost futile effort. Annuals, since they only live a short time, can usually be pulled out and disposed of, but they often leave behind hundreds if not thousands of seeds, waiting for the right temperature and moisture levels to start growing again.

Types of Annuals in your Lawn and Landscape

There are two types of annuals: winter and summer. Winter annuals germinate in the fall, over winter in a vegetative state and then start growing again in the spring. In the warmer parts of the country, winter annuals continue to grow throughout the cooler winter months. At the end of their life cycle, winter annuals will flower, produce seeds and die with the heat of the summer. Summer annuals germinate in the spring, grow leaves, produce a flower, seed head and then die with the cooler weather of fall. We are amid the summer annual season.

All soils contain seeds of various plants, which are mostly weeds. Weed seeds can germinate even after being underground for many years. If you have ever weeded your garden and removed all the weeds that were growing there, in just a few days, a whole new crop will begin to emerge. Keeping weeds under control in a garden is an unending chore.

Using mulch is a great way to keep weeds under check, but even it must be maintained on an annual basis. This means adding fresh mulch every year. A three-inch layer of mulch will keep weeds down and provide nutrients to the plants growing in the garden as the mulch decomposes. If not maintained, in a year or so, the mulch will be covered in all types of weeds.

Summer Annual Weeds

Probably the most notorious summer annual is crabgrass. This hated summer annual grass type weed will germinate as early as February in the South and as late as July in the North. Each crabgrass plant can produce several thousand seeds that are left in the soil to germinate again next year. There are weed control materials that help to prevent crabgrass from germinating. There are newer weed control products that will selectively control crabgrass without damaging the desired turf grass. Crabgrass can be hand-pulled, but often, the population is so great that this would be a daunting task.

There are many broadleaf weeds that are summer annuals. Some are mainly in the South, such as Chamberbitter, while others are more universal, such as Oxalis, Spurge and Knotweed. For the most, these weeds can be easily controlled with most commercially available weed control products. Be sure to read the product label before using and make sure the product will only kill broadleaf weeds without damaging your lawn.

If weeds are a problem in your lawn, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. They can work with you to get your weeds under control and help create a healthy better looking lawn.

Controlling Crabgrass: 10 Things You Should Know

crabgrass growing in your lawn

I am completing my 40th year in lawn care and have heard the question, “Why is there so much crabgrass this year?” for the last 39 years.  I had nothing to compare the amount of crabgrass that was evident during my first year, so I did not realize it was a problem. The point is, crabgrass will germinate every year, even if a preventer has been applied to the lawn.

Dealing With Crabgrass – Expert Lawn Care Advice

10 Things to Know When Dealing with Crabgrass:

  1. Pre-emergent materials will only prevent it from germinating if the correct amount is applied and at the right time.
  2. It is equally important to follow good cultural practices of both proper watering and mowing.
  3. Of all the follow-up practices, mowing height has the most effect on crabgrass germination. After observing lawns for the last 40 years, the people that mow their lawn short have the most crabgrass problems.
  4. A preventer, provides a type of barrier that prevents new seedlings from pushing past the soil line. The seeds will germinate, but as they reach this barrier, the plant will die.
  5. Crabgrass can still germinate despite using pre-emergent materials, but usually only along the edges of: lawns, sidewalks, driveways and other impervious surfaces.
  6. In many parts of the country, two successive applications of pre-emergent products are applied to extend its control abilities.
  7. On average, pre-emergent materials remain active for two months.
  8. Although the properties of these materials allows them to bind to soil particles, excessive rain after an application causes the material to wash further into the soil, rendering them useless.
  9. Each crabgrass plant can produce several thousand seeds throughout the summer.
  10. When working against the many seeds in the seed pool, some are bound to find a way to germinate. As it has been said many times, nature finds a way to keep growing.

Controlling crabgrass can be difficult, regardless of what type of summer we have. There is a lot of it on lawns this year, but it has been a problem on some lawns for a long time. If crabgrass is a problem in your lawn, contact your local Spring-Green professional.

Should You Overseed Your Lawn This Spring?

lawn

A common question we receive in the spring is in regards to overseeding your lawn.  If you live in an area with warm season grasses, like Centipede or Bermuda grass, reseeding is not a very common practice and it does not work all that well. For those who live in areas where cool-season grasses like bluegrass or turf-type tall fescue grow, seeding can be a successful and a necessary part of caring for your lawn.

The best time to overseed an existing lawn is late summer until early fall. If you did not have a chance to do so last year, it might be something you want to take care of this spring.

You can overseed in the spring, but here are 4 important aspects that you should consider:

  1. Be conscious of the season for crabgrass preventers – If you seed in spring, you cannot apply most standard crabgrass preventers. These materials keep crabgrass seeds from germinating, as well as the new seeds. In the past if crabgrass has been a problem in your lawn, it would be advisable to wait until the fall to start overseeding. For most crabgrass materials, there is a 16 week waiting period between seeding and applying a crabgrass preventer.
  2. Be conscious of the season for broadleaf weed controlBroadleaf weed control is the same as crabgrass preventers, except the waiting time is less. If a broadleaf weed control is applied to an area, the standard wait time before seeding is 3 to 4 weeks. Once the new grass has germinated and become established, it has to be mowed two or three times before any weeds can be sprayed.
  3. Aerate before broadcasting seed – One of the best methods to ensue good germination is to aerate the lawn first before broadcasting seed across the area. Broadcasting seed across an established lawn will result in little to no germination.
  4. Water, water, water – Finally water is critical to the success of seeding at any time of the year. Once the seed germinates, the roots are tiny and have an immediate need for water.  If the roots dry out, the seed will die. Be sure you have some way to provide adequate water once the seed has been broadcast across the area. The best method is to have an automatic sprinkler system. If the system has not been started for the year when you complete the seeding, you may have to manually water the areas until your system is turned on. Depending on the variety of seed, you may need to keep the area moist for 4 to 6 weeks after seeding.

As you can see, seeding in the spring is not the easiest thing to do, especially when dealing with weeds. It is often better to keep the weeds down throughout the summer and then complete the seeding in the fall.  If you are a Spring-Green customer, contact your local Spring-Green and they will advise you with the best information on helping your lawn looks its best.

Weed Identification Guide: These Weeds Are the Worst

worst weeds

What are the worst weeds to have in your lawn? That is a difficult question to answer for the entire country, as certain weeds grow better in some areas than others. There are a few that seem to grow just about everywhere, so for now I’ll discuss them—and how to control them—in a brief weed identification guide. These are listed in no particular order, except being the ones I thought of first.

1. Wild Violet

wild violet weed identification

You either love them or hate them. It does have a pretty flower that can range in color from white to blue to purple. This weed prefers cool, moist shady areas, but will tolerate full sun. The difficulty in controlling this weed is its extensive root system. It has a deep taproot as well as the ability to produce above-ground roots called stolons and below-ground roots call rhizomes. Violets are extremely difficult to control and require multiple applications of broadleaf weed control products. The best time to control this plant is in the fall, after the first frost.

2. Ground Ivy

ground ivy weed identification

Ground Ivy is pretty easy to identify. It is a creeping winter perennial that can send its stolons snaking out through a lawn. This is where it gets some of its more common names such as Creeping Charlie or Creeping Jenny. It also likes moist, shady areas, but can grow in the full sun. Just like Wild Violets, it is very difficult to control, needs multiple applications, and is best controlled in the late fall.

3. Virginia Buttonweed

virginia buttonweed weed identification

Our weed identification guide continues with Virginia Buttonweed, which is probably the worst weed in the South and Southeast regions, but it can survive as far north as southern Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. It is a prostrate-growing perennial weed that can form large patches in home lawns, choking out the desired grasses. It mainly reproduces by seeds, but a new plant can grow from plant segments that are left behind from mowing or hand pulling.

4. Canada Thistles

canada thistles weed identification

There are numerous thistle species that can be found in home lawns, such as Bull Thistle, Musk Thistle, and Sow Thistle. To help with identification, almost all thistles have sharp, pointy spines either on the leaf margins, edges, or covering the entire leaf surface. Of all the different species of thistles, the worst one (in my opinion) is the Canada Thistle. The main reason for my designation of “worst weed” is that this is a perennial plant that produces extensive rhizomes that can grow three feet or more in length and quickly take over any lawn or landscape area. You may be able to control this weed when it is growing in your lawn, but if there are plants growing in surrounding areas, the rhizomes will send out a new crop of plants to take the place of those that were controlled. Thirty-seven states have listed Canada Thistle as a noxious weed.

5. Crabgrass

crabgrass weed identification

There are at least 3 species of crabgrass that can be found in residential lawns: Hairy, Smooth, and Egyptian crabgrass. Crabgrass grows very flat to the ground and spreads out, choking the desired grasses. It is an annual grassy weed that is the bane of many homeowners. It may not be as important to identify which type of crabgrass you have; what is important is that there are pre-emergent products that you can apply to help prevent it from germinating, and there are even products that you can apply to kill it if it has germinated in a lawn. One crabgrass plant can produce thousands of seeds to leave behind for the following year’s crop.

6. Dandelion

dandelion weed identification

Dandelion gets its name from the shape of the flower; it resembles the face of a lion. The most hated part of this weed is the white puffball seed head that it produces after it has flowered. Actually, the flower itself is somewhat attractive, and once it has bloomed and produced seeds, it is somewhat inconspicuous in a home lawn – unless you have a lot of them. Dandelions are perennial plants and can germinate from the numerous seeds that are spread by the wind.

7. Clover

clover weed identification

This is a plant that you either love or hate. At one time, people actually used clover as a lawn “grass.” It can be considered an indicator of low soil fertility. It has the ability to produce its own nitrogen on nodes that grow on its roots. It is a perennial plant that reproduces by stolons and seed. The flower is favored by several species of bees. It is another one of those difficult to control weeds that requires multiple applications for complete control.

There are literally hundreds of weeds that can grow in home lawns and I have just included 7 in this brief weed identification guide. The weeds that I listed can be found throughout the country with the exception of Virginia Buttonweed. The definition of a weed is “a plant growing out of place,” but you have to be the one that decides what “growing out of place” means to you.

If you do find there are several plants growing out of place in your yard, and you want to get rid of them, contact your local Spring-Green for a free estimate.