Understanding Weeds – How to Kill them?Written by Chris Coffman
When I was a child, I loved to pick Dandelions. The pretty yellow flowers were small, colorful, and looked nice tucked behind my ear! However, if one had popped up in front yard, my hair accessory would have been considered an atrocity!
I often feel sorry for weeds. They are plants too. In fact, if you flipped through a botany field guide, you may be surprised at plants you find classified as weeds! But simply put, a weed is really defined as a plant out of place. Clover in one persons flowing lawn may be considered fashionable, whereas on another, not. Golf greens are often covered with bentgrass, but if it crept up in some yards, it would be considered a weed. While perhaps pretty on their own, weeds stick out like a sore thumb in yards because they may be of a different color, size or texture. This is distracting from beauty of otherwise sprawling green turf. Aside from aesthetic values, weeds can also drain nutrients from grass and other plants, and this competition of resources can thin what should be lush. And what’s worse is that weeds are fighters. They can withstand conditions that your wanted greens cannot, so they are almost inevitable!
Treating weeds begins with correct identification. There are two classifications of weeds: Grassy and Broadleaf. These are further broken down into groups like perennial, biennial, and winter and summer annuals. These, as you may gave guessed, depict their growing patterns. Grassy weeds are, as they sound, like grass. However, they are unwanted grass, or grass that is growing in a different type of lawn. Some examples are annual bluegrass, barnyard grass, crabgrass, creeping bentgrass and foxtail. Broadleaf weeds may appear more to be what most people picture weed-like growth to be. Since they are broad, they are more easily distinguished. Some examples are yarrow, knotweed, chickweed, clover, ground ivy, thistle and my favorite, dandelion.
Once you understand what is growing in your lawn and decide that it is unwanted, you can treat it and/or control it. Weeds can actually be controlled by your lawn care maintenance. If you maintain a dense and vigorously growing lawn, you are already combating problem. Weeds can be a sign of underlying problems in environment beneath. So by just killing them, you are simply putting on a band-aid, not solving problem. For example, some weeds grow in situations of compacted soil, such as knotweed. You can also control growth by taking better care of grass, rather than focus on weeds. You can raise or lower mowing height, change frequency of mowing and changing amount of time between irrigating. Also, you can increase or decrease application of fertilizer and aerify soil. This will maintain better grass, thus keeping growth dense and vigorous, which as discussed above, does not attract weeds.
Fertilizing Your Lawn Written by Chris Coffman
Your lawn takes nutrients out of soil that it is bedded in and uses these nutrients to aid its growth. If your soil lacks these nutrients your lawn will ultimately suffer. So while fertilizing makes your lawn greener it also provides a top of any nutrients that your soil is lacking helping grass to grow. When nutrients are available, lawn develops healthier roots which invariably grow deeper allowing lawn to draw upon water and nutrients in soil. Furthermore, deep roots reduce thatch and browning. Finally, fertilizer contains nutrients that grass needs to resist disease and drought.
Fertilizers also offer additional benefit of including chemicals to inhibit or kill weeds. The three primary nutrients in a fertilizer are Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. Each element has its own affect upon grass. Nitrogen stimulates grass growth and greening. Phosphorous stimulates development of roots and seedlings. Potassium promotes disease and drought resistance.
As weather changes, so too does your lawn have changing needs. In heat of summer, your lawn needs water and little else. In order to survive cold weather, your lawn needs to have healthy roots and so a fertilizer to promote root growth should be applied before cold weather sets in. At other times of year your lawn needs nutrients to enable growth and greening. Weeds also have their own growing seasons so you should fertilize at beginning of various weed growth seasons.