What a year for weeds. We have never seen so many weeds early in the season in my many years in the lawn business. Why is this year different from the rest?
The mild winter weather is very conducive to early spring weed growth. Remember how warm it was this spring compared to last year’s 90+ days of snow on the ground after Christmas? Air temperatures where in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s! There was certainly no reason to go to Florida this winter. Well, this concoction dreamed up by Mother Nature produced a plethora of weeds in many parts of the country.
We have heard many complaints from homeowners about weeds. First let’s look at grassy weeds. Frequently off-type grasses appear each spring before the good grass starts to grow. Many mistake this for crabgrass but it is not. Crabgrass does not really become visible until May or perhaps even later. We tend to see a lot of barnyard grass or quack grass in early spring. Since the lawn is not yet thriving, these grassy weeds get a chance to grow without competition. Once the lawn is fertilized and you start mowing the grass these grassy weeds will quickly take a back seat to your growing lawn. You can spray these weeds with a non-selective herbicide such as glyphosate with reasonable results if it is not too cold. Jonathan Green Crabgrass Preventer plus Green-Up Lawn Fertilizer contains Dimension and will target crabgrass before and after it germinates.
Broadleaf weeds do not have grass-like appearances so they are easier to identify. Onion grass is the only one that looks somewhat like a grass that grows in bunches sometimes six to eight inches high. Broadleaf weeds can be controlled with a Jonathan Green Weed & Feed or Lawn Weed Control. Chickweed has a lower growing curly leaf with not much of a flower showing. Henbit is the small purple flower which also comes out in early spring. The most prominent broadleaf weed in spring seems to be bitter cress. Its white flower stands about three to six inches high with spreading florets near the ground. Bitter cress can appear in all areas of the lawn and especially along sidewalk curbs and driveways. Landscape beds also display a lot of bitter cress each spring. Oftentimes we think of controlling the bitter cress but forget and do not get around to it. Bitter cress likes cooler temperatures and once the lawn is fed and mowed a few times they seem to disappear. However, it will return next year because as you reach to pull these weeds or the lawn mower cuts them, the seed heads shatter scattering many more seeds for the next generation. All of these weeds can be controlled with spot spray liquids or granular broadleaf weed controls like Weed & Feed or Lawn Weed Control.
What about our old favorite dandelions? These bright yellow flowers look the worst in a nice green lawn more than any other broadleaf weed. This year they came out extra early because of the mild weather the dandelions overwintered very well. Many times over the year’s dandelions come out early and then we are hit with a cold snap and they shrink back into a much smaller head hiding the yellow flower. Broadleaf weed controls are very effective when used to control dandelions unless it is really cold.
You can achieve reasonable control of broadleaf weeds organically using Jonathan Green Organic Weed Control plus Fertilizer with corn gluten provided the product is applied before the dandelion seeds germinate. When using corn gluten we recommend both fall and early spring applications for best control of dandelions and other broadleaf weeds.
Remember, a healthy growing, thick lawn is the best defense against weeds. Be sure to follow a sound Jonathan Green lawn maintenance program including proper watering and raising your mowing height to 2.5-3.5 inches to help crowd out most weeds. Happy spring!