Weed control is best done in the fall. According to Mary Jane Frogge, Extension Associate at the University of Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County, “A majority of weeds come from seed unsuspectingly planted by the gardener.  In other words, weeds we allow to go to seed. For example, a common pigweed plant, with its long reddish taproot, produces one hundred and seventeen thousand 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 forty 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 only 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 Extension in Lancaster County NebLine, August 2004, page 6)               

          Digging or killing weeds in the fall so they don’t go to seed, will reduce your work load for next spring and summer.  Also, after the first cool nights, or a light frost, the plants are starting to take nutrients down to the root system to get ready for winter.  Kleen-up or Round-Up, or a systemic weed killer such as Trimec, sprayed on the leaf, will be taken down to the root and you get better control than in the spring and/or summer when the plant is pumping food from the roots up to the blades. Late fall is a good time to go after those weeds in the lawn, the garden, and the flower bed.

          In the vegetable garden, don’t till the weeds and their seeds into the soil after harvesting without removing the seed heads or you will be fighting weeds all next year. Also don’t just spray the weeds and then till or spade them into the soil as many seeds continue to mature and become viable even after the plant is dead. Purslane is especially hard to get rid of and must be pulled up and thrown away as every little piece that is left in the garden will sprout this fall or next spring. Purslane is a succulent so Kleen-up and Round-up will not kill it. Use Trimec, or Super Brush Killer. These recommendations also apply to your flower garden. If the weeds do over winter, apply a weed killer early in the spring before planting. You can replant 7 to 10 days after using Kleen-up or Round-up. Glysophate is the active ingredient.  

          For the lawn, I like liquid weed killers that you spray on with a spritz bottle or a 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. Another advantage of liquid weed control is you can spot treat the weeds without putting the herbicide on the whole yard and areas where it is not needed.  This is better for the environment.          

          For many broadleaf weeds like dandelions and other hard to kill weeds such as ground ivy, henbit, and white clover, a good time to go after them is after the first light frost. Liquid weed control that contains 2-4-D, MCPP, and Dicamba (such as Trimec, or Earl May Lawn Weed Killer, or Ortho Weed-B-Gone II),  or “Earl May Super Brush and Weed Killer”, or Triclopyr (Ortho Weed-B-Gone Chickweed, Clover and Oxalis Killer for Lawns) will control dandelions, and many other broadleaf weeds without hurting your grass if applied at the proper rate and according to label directions. Don’t water for 24 hours after application so the chemicals stay on the leaf and do their work.

          Use of a “sticker spreader” such as “Turbo” at the rate of two teaspoons 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. 

          Don’t worry about crabgrass this time of year. Crabgrass is an annual grass and will die with the first frost.  Apply a pre-emergent crabgrass control next spring about Arbor Day (last Friday in April) to prevent the crabgrass from growing. Crabgrass usually starts to germinate the 1st week of May. However, foxtail and spurge do not germinate until sometime in June so do not put it on too early. If you do the chemical will wear out before you control these and you will not control weed seeds that germinate in late summer. A second application of a pre-emergent the middle of June is recommended for good season long control. 

          For organic gardeners, weeds can be controlled with a weed killer containing “corn gluten”. It will kill weeds this fall if you follow the instructions above. Also there is a granular formulation that can be applied in the spring as a pre-emergent herbicide.  The pre-emergent works fine but has a short residual of about 30 days so more than one application is needed for season long control. Why not try it and support our Nebraska farmers.

          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 least one day before application.

           For more information on lawn weed control go to www.ianrhome.unl.edu/search. In the top box scroll down to “Extension” and in the bottom box type in the name of the weed you want to kill or “G1045” for the publication “Turfgrass Weed Prevention and Management”. This can be downloaded and printed free. Or go to www.lancaster.unl.com for garden and lawn information, good tips, and access to other websites. Copyright 2006 **************************************************************



          Now is the time to buy your tulips and daffodils while the selection is good. When buying tulip and daffodil bulbs remember that there are early spring, middle spring, and late spring varieties.  If you want flowers for the whole spring season buy some that bloom at different times. If you want a big splash of color all at once get varieties that bloom at the same time. Early spring for tulips in Lincoln and South Central Nebraska is the end of March or first part of April.  Late spring bulbs bloom in early May.  

          DO NOT PLANT TULIPS AND DAFFODILS NOW!!! Now is too early to plant your tulips and daffodils and some other fall bulbs. The days are too warm and the soil is too warm. Planted now, they will break dormancy and then may be injured when the ground freezes. Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus, Allium, Surprise Lily, and most other bulbs that are planted in the fall for spring flowering, do best when planted at least after the first of October. When planted the middle to the end of October, the soil is cooler and the roots start to grow but the bulb does not break dormancy.  Tulips can even be planted up until the time the ground freezes hard.  I have planted tulip, crocus, and daffodil bulbs at Christmas time when the ground was not frozen yet. The next spring they were beautiful.

            If you buy your bulbs now, store them in a cool, dry location until time to plant. Then plant them about 8 to 9 inches deep with about a tablespoon of bone meal added in the bottom of the hole.  As soon as you have finished your planting give the ground a thorough soaking.

Copyright Sept. 26, 2006