Garber: The weed battle is on
May 12, 2012
It’s been the perfect storm with an early spring and just enough hand watering and natural precip to germinate weed seeds. Dandelions are blooming their yellow heads off, bind weed is winding its way around the garden and thistle, mallow and other weeds are taking off.
If you’re down for the fight and fixing to win, arm yourself with these seven strategic bits of info:
#1 – Fertilizer needs to be in your arsenal. According to researchers at Colorado State University, weeds thrive even better in lawns that are not fertilized. A healthy lawn wards off weeds, and part of building a healthy lawn is with proper fertilization.
#2 – Drying out weeds won’t help you kill them. Again according to CSU, drought-stressed weeds may look like they are about to die, but they aren’t. The healthier the weeds, the easier they are to control because healthy weeds have a better uptake when weed-killing products are applied.
#3 – Know your weed before you pull it. If the numbers are manageable, many weeds can simply be dug out with a dandelion digger, a hoe or similar tool. Be sure to get out all the root or it will grow back. Other weeds like bind weed and thistle should not be pulled because their roots grow deep. Pulling these weeds activates their regenerative root systems to start more growth. Pull just one weed and you’ll trigger more to show up in its place.
#4 – When you apply a weed treatment, know its limitations. Here are two critical distinctions with weed-zapping products:
• Selective products are effective because they’re designed to select traits they work on like “broad-leaf weeds.” These products are effective on dandelions (broad leaves) in the lawn because they deal with the dandelions without harming the grass (thin blades/leaves).
• Non-selective products will zap any plant they contact. So if you use a common product like Roundup or one of the newer horticultural vinegars, you need to know that they will zap both the dandelion and the lawn if you apply them on turf weeds.
#5 – For any product, follow the label. Find out what the product is good for and where it might do more harm than good. If you use a product that requires mixing with water, don’t assume more is better. According to USDA scientists who do testing, using more product is usually less effective than the recommended amount.
#6 – Is there a breeze? Whatever treatment you use, beware of it drifting even in a slight breeze. Many gardeners can tell you sad stories about when they sprayed dandelions and the breeze drifted the product over to the daisies.
#7 – The best strategy in the weed war is always the offense. The more proactive you are in the battle against weeds, the better your success. Treating weeds early and effectively gets the best results.
For early-season weeds like dandelion and mallow, removing or treating them before they develop and disburse seeds gives the best long-term control. Deal with weeds before they can go to seed that reproduce whole new crop.
Courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company based in Silverthorne that is a member. You may contact them at (970) 468-0340.