Winter Weed Control On Warm-Season Grasses

warm season grass

This picture is a Bermuda grass lawn in Opelika, AL entering dormancy. Each year, as the temperatures drop, this is what happens to most warm season grasses when exposed to freezing temperatures. They take on this almost camouflage-look to them.

Except for parts of Florida, most warm season grasses enter into a dormant state during the winter. They will turn brown and do not green-up until next spring through early summer. Even though the grass turns brown, there are still broadleaf weeds and annual grasses that continue growing throughout the winter dormant period.

Types of Winter Annual Weeds

The broadleaf weeds are classified into annuals and perennials. They can also be broken down into winter germinating and summer germinating weeds. Winter weeds germinate in the fall/winter, grow throughout that period and then die when the warm weather returns the following year.

These plants will produce flowers and seeds during that time, which will then germinate again next year. That is why applying a weed control application or two during the dormant-turf period will help to eliminate these weeds from your lawn.

Most broadleaf weed control products will take care of the majority of the winter annual weeds like Henbit, Large Hop Clover Poa Annua and Chickweed.

One good thing about warm-season grasses turning brown in the winter is that weed control applications from Spring-Green can be used on grassy weeds like annual bluegrass and Dallisgrass.  The grass you wish to control are often still green and growing while the desired grasses are dormant.

Controlling Winter Annual Weeds

Now is a good time to apply a pre-emergent weed control product to prevent many annual grasses from germinating. As the name implies, these products will control these problem weeds, like crabgrass, from germinating in the spring. Once the pre-emergent application is completed, it’s important to water the lawn at least half an inch to ensure it reaches the grass root growth, especially of there is no rain in the forecast.

Even though your yard may be brown during the winter, keep in mind this is completely normal during this time. There are a few tasks that you can still do to have a more weed-free lawn next year. If you have questions on winter annual weeds or lawn maintenance, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

Winter Weeds That Just Won’t Die

yellow weed

As I was walking my dog during the morning of New Year’s Day, I spotted a dandelion seed head poking through the snow. I found it interesting that this dandelion actually produced a flower in December, but it’s most likely due to some unseasonably warm weather. I think it shows just how opportunistic a weed can be when the weather is suitable for flower production.

weed in snow

Weeds are amazing plants. In some cases, they are beneficial as they will quickly cover bare ground to keep it from eroding away.

The problem comes from the difficulty in removing them when trying to plant more desirable plants in their place. Weeds will germinate, grow and reproduce through various means much faster than plants that we prefer to grow.
Of the almost 250,000 plant species found worldwide, about 3% or 8,000 plants are considered weeds. They are especially designed to spread quickly, either by wind currents, movement by water, carried in by animals, carried unseen in bales of hay, straw or even on the tires of cars.

A weed is a plant that is not only in the wrong place, but intends to stay.
– Sara Stein

The seeds that they spread can germinate if brought to the surface within a couple of years. There are even cases where seeds were found in archaeological excavations that were 100’s of years old  and still germinating when planted.

Many of the weeds we deal with in our lawns and landscapes are not native to North America and originated in Europe or Asia. To farmers, weeds cause more loss and add more costs than dealing with insects, diseases, rodents, birds, deer and other grazers. In fact the number one complaint from customers of lawn care companies involve weeds growing in their lawn.

According to the Weed Science Society of America, more than 200 weeds have developed resistance to common weed control products. They also stated that more than 240 weed species are reported to be “allelopathic” and produce chemicals from their roots that inhibit the growth of nearby plants.

Controlling weeds is a major concern mainly because of the trait that makes a weed a weed; its ability to out compete with other plants and grow in conditions where most other plants cannot tolerate.

Trouble with winter weeds? Contact your local Spring-Green for more information.

Winter Weed Control in the South

While the northern parts of the US are in the process of hunkering down for the winter, the milder temperatures of the southern states are providing the ideal temperatures to control many troublesome weeds in what soon will be dormant lawns.

Even though these lawns may be dormant, many weeds are just starting to become active in the fall. These weeds are known as winter weeds. They can be annual, biennial or perennial in regards to life cycles, and these winter weeds can be very difficult to control.

winter weeds

The Different Types of Winter Weeds

The ones that are most troublesome are the winter broadleaf annual weeds, which include common chickweed, henbit, lawn burweed, large hop clover knawel and parsley-piert.

Winter annuals germinate in the fall, grow during the winter, and then develop flowers and set seeds in the spring and finally die when the weather turns hot during the summer. The seeds they leave behind will germinate in the following fall.

What Are Some Common Winter Weed Control Methods?

Most of these weeds can be treated with broadleaf weed control products, which are available at hardware stores, garden centers and home improvement centers. Lawn care companies like Spring-Green also offer programs that are designed to keep these weeds from becoming a major nuisance in your lawn. In many cases, these weeds distract from the uniform appearance of the lawn and will often overtake the desired grasses.

Winter weeds are probably the most annoying;, they are an annual bluegrass also known as poa annua . This annual weed has two periods of germination. The first period is in the late summer, usually in early September. The second is in late winter/early spring, usually late February to mid-March.

Winter weeds 2

Since annual bluegrass is in the grass family, broadleaf weed control products will not be effective. The product that is usually applied to control annual bluegrass is a pre-emergent weed control product.

Pre-emergent weed control inhibits the formation of a new plant from the seed the plant leaves behind. Annual bluegrass is a prolific seed producer. The same pre-emergent weed control product that is applied to control crabgrass will also control annual bluegrass.

Taking care of weeds during the winter on warm season turfgrasses will help to assure that the lawn will be more attractive in the spring. The best weed control method of all is a thick, well-fertilized lawn that is mowed high and receives adequate moisture during the growing season. However, you may find it easier to contact your local lawn care provider , such as Spring-Green, to help you care for your lawn.

Winter Weed Control on Warm-Season Grasses

With the colder weather hitting the states lately, we don’t need to be worrying about weeds, right? Wrong! Areas with warm season grasses, like Alabama, can still have a weed problem even when the turf goes dormant.

Except for parts of Florida, most warm season grasses enter into a dormant state during the winter. They will turn brown and not green-up until next spring through early summer. Even though the grass turns brown, there are still weeds that continue growing throughout the winter dormant period.

These broadleaf weeds are basically classified into annuals and perennials. They can also be broken down into winter germinating and summer germinating weeds. Some weeds germinate in the fall/winter, grow throughout that period and then die when the warm weather returns next year. Winter germinating weeds will produce flowers and seeds during that time, which will then germinate again next year. That’s why winter weed control on warm season grasses is so essential—applying a weed control application or two during the dormant-turf period will help to eliminate these weeds from your lawn.

Most broadleaf weed control products will take care of the majority of the winter germinating annual weeds like Henbit, Large Hop Clover and Chickweed. One good thing about warm season grasses turning brown in the winter is that a non-selective weed control product like Round-Up can be used on grassy weeds like annual bluegrass and Dallisgrass. Be sure the desired grasses are completely dormant, but that the grass you wish to control is still green and growing before using Round-Up.

Winter is also a good time to apply a pre-emergent weed control product to prevent many annual grasses from germinating. As the name implies, these products will control problem weeds, like crabgrass, from germinating.

Even though your yard may be brown during the winter, there are still a few tasks that you can do to have a more weed-free lawn next year. Talk to your local Spring-Green professional to find the right program for your lawn and budget!

Spring is Still Six Weeks Away

Last week was Groundhog’s Day and according to the news, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so there are six more weeks of winter left. Whether or not you believe in the prognostication abilities of said rodent, winter for much of the U.S. has hardly materialized this year. It seems almost surreal that less than 14 inches of snow has fallen so far this winter in the Chicago area, especially considering that we had over 22 inches in just one day in early February of 2011.

I speak with Spring-Green Franchisees throughout the U.S. on a regular basis. Many of the southern locations are well underway and they are completing early applications on home lawns and landscapes. Winter weed control  is the primary focus on the still dormant warm season grasses.

Lawn Care in Transition Zones

Those Franchisees that are in the Transition Zone are chomping at the bit to get started with the mild weather that they have been experiencing so far this year. For those who may not be familiar with the term “Transition Zone,” it is the dividing line between the warmer south and the cooler north. In regards to lawn care , it is the area where it is too cold for most warm season grasses to survive during the winter and where it is too hot for cool season grasses to survive during the summer. There is one grass, Turf-Type Tall Fescue , which can handle both extremes better than any other type of grass.  It is the predominate grass grown in the Transition Zone.

For those Franchisees in the northern areas, it is too earlier to start fertilizing lawns  or doing much else in the way of outdoor garden work. Even though many home improvement stores are sending out advertisements with pictures of fertilizers, garden tools and even plants, there is still a distinct possibility that cold weather will return and snow will fall. In many states, it is against the law to apply fertilizer on frozen ground. The best thing to do is enjoy the mild weather, and be patient as spring will return in just six weeks – if you believe a groundhog.