Weed Control Tips for Fall

With the change of seasons comes the change of lawn problems. Weeds aren’t just a summer headache for lawns—they’re also a problem during the cooler months. Each region has its own particular tough to deal with winter weeds.

Pre-emergence herbicide

The easiest way to control winter weeds is through application of pre-emergence herbicide. These liquid or granular herbicides are spread or watered onto the lawn. They work by inhibiting seed-sprouting. Unfortunately, pre-emergence herbicides do not work on perennial weeds with established root systems. In order to control perennial weeds, you need to identify the type of weed and either hand-dig or find a herbicide that will work to control the weed type.

Broad leafed vs. grassy weeds

Warmer areas with warm-season grasses (Bermuda, zoysia, centipede grass) are likely to have problems with both annual and perennial weeds of the grassy and broad-leafed variety. Grassy weeds and broad leafed weeds respond to different treatments. Whether the weed is annual or perennial also makes a difference in treatment and eradication.

In order to kill perennial weeds, you have to treat them with systemic fertilizer while they are actively growing. Glyphosate is a systemic herbicide. A systemic herbicide is a herbicide that is soaked up by the plant and integrated into the plant’s system in order to kill the plant from the inside out. Glyphosate does require temperatures of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit to grow, and is not effective on all weeds. Annual weeds can generally be killed with contact herbicides, which are herbicides that kill on contact.

In order to select the right herbicide to kill the weeds that are problematic in your lawn, you need to properly identify the weed. These are some of the most common winter weeds:

  • Grasslike weeds: annual bluegrass, little barley
  • Annual broadleaf weeds: wild celery, mallow, shepherds purse, mustard, Florida betony, burrclover
  • Perennial broadleaf weeds: clover, henbit, dandelion, plantain, thistle, and wood sorrel, onion.

Once you have identified the weed, you can search for the right herbicide to control it. Always read the label on the herbicide. All chemicals are labeled for the plants that they can kill. If the chemical isn’t labeled for a specific weed type, it won’t do any good to apply it.

Cultural controls

Non-chemical methods of weed control are called “cultural controls.” Watering the lawn the right amount, planting the right type of turf in the right place, controlling winter weeds at the beginning of spring for healthy turf, mowing at the right height, and any type of activity that controls that environment into which weeds can sprout can prevent weeds from taking over the turf. A healthy lawn is the first line of defense from weed problems. Practice good lawn care techniques and you’ll have fewer problems with winter lawn weeds. 

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