“A majority of weeds come from seed unsuspectingly planted by the gardener…in other words, weeds we allow to go to seed”, according to Mary Jane Frogge, Extension Associate at the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension Service in Lancaster County.

          “For example, a common pigweed plant, with its long reddish taproot, produces 117,000 seeds per plant.  That means just nine pigweed plants allowed to go to seed disseminates over one million seeds. And these seeds are viable for 40 years.  Purslane, with its pinkish, fleshy stems and leaves, produces fifty-two thousand seeds per plant. Purslane seeds are viable for twenty-five years. And how about the common dandelion? It typically produces fifteen thousand seeds per plant. So do not let weeds go to seed. A gardener who does not let weeds go to seed will have significantly fewer weeds each year.” (University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County NebLine, August 2004, page 6)

          Weed control is best done in the fall. Digging or killing weeds in the fall so they don’t go to seed will reduce your workload for next spring and summer. After a light frost, the plants are starting to take nutrients down to the root system to get ready for winter. A systemic weed killer such as Trimec, Trimec Plus, Total Weed Control, Kleen-up, or Round-up, sprayed on the leaf, will be taken down to the roots and you get better control than in the spring and/or summer when the plant is pumping food up from the roots to the leaf blades.  Be aware that Kleen-up and Round-up will kill everything while Trimec, Trimec Plus, and Total Weed Control, will kill your weeds but not your grass. All the listed products will kill your flowers and your vegetables, so be careful.  

          For the lawn, I like liquid weed killers that you spray on with a spritz bottle or small pump-up sprayer rather than the granular kind, such as a weed and feed you apply with a spreader. The granules need to stick to the blades of grass to be effective and usually they don’t stick very well. Liquid weed control containing Trimec (Earl May Lawn Weed Killer, Earl May Total Weed Killer, Ortho Weed-B-Gone Weed Killer for Lawns), will control dandelions and many other broadleaf weeds and not hurt your grass. For hard-to-kill weeds, such as ground ivy, henbit, and white clover, two or three applications 7 to 14 days apart may be needed for a good kill. Don’t water for 24 hours after each application to allow the chemicals to do their work and do not mow your lawn for at least three days after application. 

          Use of a “sticker spreader” such as “Turbo” at the rate of one teaspoon per gallon of water, or “Acme Sticker Spreader” following the label instructions, will help the solution stick to the leaf of the weed. Most weeds have a waxy leaf and the sticker-spreader helps the chemical stick to the leaf and thus is more effective.

          One final tip: Never apply a liquid or a granular weed killer to a drought-stressed lawn.  An application to dry soil may burn the grass surrounding the weeds and cause more stress. Water thoroughly at the least one day before application. 

            I will have more about weed control next week.

Copyright Sept. 3, 2005