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Round 1: Why It’s Important

Pre Emergence

Timing is everything when it comes to spring weed control. Normally, the blooming of forsythia will approximate the time of crabgrass germination and provide a window of several weeks to apply pre-emergent herbicide.

While the flowering of forsythia is a good cue, crabgrass germination actually occurs after the soil temperature has reached 55ºF for several consecutive days.

A pre-emergent herbicide is a weed killer applied prior to the emergence of the weed from the soil.
Some chemicals prevent all seeds from germinating, including grass seed. Grass seed cannot be applied for 6-12 weeks after application, depending on the specific product.

Tip: Corn Gluten Meal is an organic alternative initially used as feed on hog farms but discovered to have pre-emergent characteristics.

Post Emergence

Accompanying the spring resurgence in growth of lawn grasses is a host of weeds that also are responding to warming temperatures and spring rains. There are both opportunities and concerns in post-emergent (i.e. after weed emergence) weed control in the spring.

One must know what they are working with to understand control alternatives. For instance, many winter annual weeds (henbit, chickweed, bittercress, annual bluegrass and so forth) are in the last stages of their life cycle and will soon die as temperatures warm. A postemergent herbicide application now will likely provide some control, but not 100% kill because the plants are now quite mature and in the process of flowering and producing seed. After flowering, why treat with a postemergent herbicide? The plant will soon die anyway. In the future, a more reasonable plan is to treat winter annual broadleaf weeds in the fall (either with PRE or early POST materials) to optimize their control, and know that about the only way to chemically control annual bluegrass in lawns is by PRE applications in early fall.

Cool-season perennial weeds such as dandelion, clover, and plantains can be controlled in the spring with appropriately selected and timed herbicide applications.

It has been said that “weeds begat weeds” and it is true. Once a weed dies, the opening in the turf canopy is an open invitation for the next season’s weed seed to germinate. A pre-emergent herbicide is used to control germinating weed seed, but consider that most of these products will also control any grass seed that has to be applied.

Mid-late spring also a good time to spot spray weeds like dandelion and clover. If you can eliminate them before they go to seed, you’re ahead of the game.
These measures will give you a great head start on the weeds and provide an advantage to the turf so you can spend more time enjoying the lawn.

As a part of our Lawn Application Program, B&A does investigative work to better understand why the weed is present. Weeds exploit poor quality turf. The best weed control is a thick, healthy turf, so your detective work needs to uncover what factors are limiting turf performance. Are there soil-related problems such as pH, fertility, poor drainage, or compaction? Could the limiting factor be shade? Was the turf previously damaged by an environmental extreme or pest attack? Weeds possess incredible capacities to occupy and dominate environments where other plants cannot survive. Therefore, we need to focus on providing growing conditions that optimize turf growth and development, and that is best done with fertility, mowing, irrigation, etc.

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