Posts Tagged ‘broadleaf weeds’

Organic weed control

Published by mrgrass on May 19th, 2014 - in Broadleaf Weeds

Most folks do not understand or believe that lawn weeds can be effectively reduced with organic products and methods.   There are several effective sprays which will specifically reduce broadleaf weeds while leaving surrounding turf grass unharmed.  Your lawn can be treated with organic products in the spring and or fall and generally two sprays do just as good a job as conventional treatments.

 
If you have dandelions, clover, hawkweed, or even ground ivy and violets, organic sprays can significantly reduce these weeds and many more in your lawn.  A cautionary note on weeds they are a sign of a bigger problem in your lawn.  Weak lawns with poor soil quality, low soil pH, compaction, and thin turf create the ideal environment for promoting more weeds than grass.  So while you may want to attack the known, visible issue – broadleaf weeds, the big picture issue is generally more complex and should be dealt with first or in conjunction with organic weed reduction.

 
Many weeds indicate a sour soil or compaction.  Plantain and Pineapple weeds (pictured below) are classic indicator weeds growing in compacted soil.  You can see plantain on playgrounds, ball fields, or even paths along roads where traffic causes compaction in the soil.  The solution is core aeration in combination with spraying for the weeds.  Once the weeds are gone, you need to replace the empty space with hybrid turf grasses better suited for the location.  Appropriate timing is critical along with the proper sequence of events for successful results.

 

Plantain weedPineapple Weed means compacted soil

 
Organic weed control should and can be used in conjunction with lime, aeration, compost tea, and a variety of slow release fertilizers for substantial visual results most folks look for when spending money on their lawn.  If you are considering a longer-term approach and want to be environmentally conscious, look for a licensed lawn care company ‘.  As I have said before, even organic products can cause harm in the hands of untrained or unlicensed workers.  If an organic product is designed to attack a pest, be it a weed, insect, or disease, you must be licensed to legally use these materials.  This makes sense doesn’t it?  After all, why would you want to hire a company not truly prepared to do the job right – ethically, legally, and morally when it comes to your family, pets, and the environment?

 
Don’t let weeds get you down this year, now you know you have choices and knowledge is the power for success.

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Broadleaf weed problems?

 

As Labor Day approaches, you are likely forced to think about school resuming and the sad state of affairs with your lawn.  If you have an average lawn in New Hampshire or Vermont, you are likely going to find fat broadleaf weeds like plantain, dandelions, and clover among a host of other weedy villains.  Let us not forget to give tribute to the massive crop of crabgrass which has now grown into your driveway, patio, and walkway cracks!  You my friend have lawn problems!  What to do?  There must be something that can be done!

If you attempted to treat for weeds this summer, your efforts were most likely in vain due to high temperatures and dry conditions.  Broadleaf weeds are best reduced when they are actively growing which usually occurs with cool fall or spring weather when soil moisture is adequate.  Any summer spraying usually just causes the surrounding turf to brown under the stress and the weed itself might look a worse for wear but does not die.  This year brought such unusually hot and dry weather, attempting to keep a lawn free of weeds and especially crabgrass seemed like spraying a house on fire with a garden house.  While proper mowing does help, irrigation became vital if your well supported the flow or your town did not put a watering ban in effect.  Brown grass caused the soil to heat up quickly where dormant crabgrass and annual weed seeds popped up and grew overnight, basking in the hot noon sun.  That is the past and explains why your lawn may look the way it does today, even with professional care.

Moving forward, you have two main options, renovate and repair damaged lawn areas to regain lost lawn or go after the weeds once we get cooler, wetter weather.  My advice to most folks is to aerate and seed in the fall and repair any lawn damage without the pressure of crabgrass and annual weeds, that are now dying (something about them dying in the fall).  With reduced competition, fall becomes the best time to overseed and aerate a lawn after a brutal New England growing season.  Go after the weeds next spring when seeding is less effective and crabgrass lurks, just waiting to over run your best efforts in lawn repair.  There is little time now to spray for weeds and seed, given most weed control products have a one month waiting period before seeding is recommended. My advice for the average home owner is to get as much grass back now and then deal with the weeds next spring.  Try improving the soil quality by adding sea kelp or compost tea to get an edge next spring.  The next few months are critical and should be taken full advantage of if you really want to make a difference in your home lawn; not only this fall but to set the stage for the entire growing season of 2013!

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Do It Yourself vs. The Lawn Professional. Time & Money

Your free time is worth a lot!

There is an old saying “time is money” which refers to how valuable time is to everyone.  One might say that weekend time, or time away from work might be considered the most valuable, as it relates to family, friends, and recreation.  Time is a premium commodity and is both highly prized and savored by Americans after an exhausting work week.

This exact philosophy applies to caring for your home lawn, regardless of its size.  Many people hire a company to mow their lawn because it saves them hours per week that they can spend doing more enjoyable activities.  The same correlation can be made to applying lawns treatments to keep your lawn healthy and green.  Applying a lawn treatment might seem easy on the surface.  However, doing the treatments right and using the correct products can pose a serious dilemma to the average home owner.  Let’s consider the real cost of time and money involved with these types of activities.

First, you need to have a spray rig or a dry spreader to apply lawn materials.  Most spreaders available at the hardware store are sweet little things, not really setup for ease of use.  Consider hard plastic tires versus air inflated commercial grade tires while walking an acre, no comparison!  Now you have invested in a $60 throw away lawn spreader with no real serviceable parts.  Now comes the hard part, what are you going to put down on your lawn?

A toy spreader for home use, very sweet

You now have to shop for the actual goodies, the fertilizer or lime; perhaps even blended with some other items to knock back weeds, bugs, or minimize crabgrass growth.  There are lots of commercial formulations made by large companies trying to simplify this difficult task by labeling the times of year as “Steps” for instance.  This is where Step One would be in the spring and Four or Five would be in the fall.  While the essence of this seems logical, what is or is not going on in your lawn certainly may not reflect your real lawn care needs at a given time during the growing season.  What’s the big deal you might say?

Well, if you are treating for chinch bugs but really have a grub problem that is a real problem.  You have now applied a pesticide unnecessarily and have not solved the issue at hand.  Don’t forget, these products are not cheap; you can lay down a quick $100 to treat a quarter of an acre without even looking at the receipt.  Don’t forget about the damage still being done or the cost of a lawn renovation.  Diseases and insects are real threats and are not easy to diagnosis without some field experience and education.

Back to the time element; the time involved shopping, carrying the bags back home, and actual application can easily turn into half a day barring any confusion, weather issues, or other time consuming delays.  Most lawn care products also have rates and ranges, but that assumes you know what you’re treating. The TV ads make treating your own lawn seem easy, like grilling up a burger on a Saturday night, but this is oversimplified.

Best case scenario, you bought everything you need – and used up most of your prized Saturday morning and into early afternoon putting down a weed and feed plus lime, plus crabgrass inhibitor.  Let’s assume you did the job right.  How does this really break down in terms of time and money spent?  Most products you find at the hardware store are either setup for a 5,000 or 15,000 sq.ft. yard. A recent online search brought up the following data to fertilize a lawn and treat it for both broadleaf weeds and crabgrass:

I will use a common lawn size of 8,000 sq.ft. Which means you will need two bags of the aforementioned product @$65 each, now you have to store a partial bag for use next spring.  Hmmm, wonder if it will be useable next year?  $130

1hr shopping for fertilizer and bringing it home   $25

1hr for application/cleanup                                $25

Approximate total cost of $180, excluding your spreader.  Remember, I said the job was done correctly, what if it was not?  Oh my.

A professionally licensed and insured applicator in VT or NH could do the same treatment in 15-20 minutes and charge you between $60 and $95 depending upon your location and actual materials/rates used, which do vary.  The old saying, “you get what you pay for” surely does have a legitimate basis.

If you want the job done right, would like more free time, and still want to enjoy your landscape, perhaps this is the year to explore alternatives to doing the work yourself.  The math sure looks good, what about your lawn?!

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