Posts Tagged ‘broadleaf weeds’

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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To weed your lawn or not to weed, that is the question!

Published by JKeefe on May 10th, 2011 - in Broadleaf Weeds, Lawn Care Companies

White clover in a lawn is very common

Many folks cannot stand dandelions, clover, violets, wild strawberry and a host of other creepy-crawly broadleaf weeds.  By definition, a weed is simply a plant that is not desired, out of place if you will.  Therefore, one person’s weed is perhaps desired by another.  I often ask clients on a consultation if they want weeds reduced or left alone.  The majority have quick answer, such as “I don’t mind them” or “kill them all!” different strokes for different folks.  The point I am trying to make is this: you don’t necessarily need to feel obligated to attack every broadleaf weed in your lawn to have it healthy, colorful, and green.  Sure, some will flower and it may not have that “golf course” manicured look, but it will certainly be functional for barbeques, picnics, or volleyball.

On the other hand, some folks like a more manicured, groomed lawn with a finer texture and a pleasing roll as the wind combs each blade into a carpet of excellence.  Broadleaf weeds are best reduced and attacked when they are actively growing, and that means spring and fall.  Tough weeds have waxy coatings which makes them difficult to thin out like ground ivy and violets.  Other weeds shake in fear at the mere sight of a bag of weed and feed being loaded up into the spreader for the inevitable is near!  Clover and dandelions are easily reduced or completely eliminated in a single season with proper timing and technique.

The dandelion is the symbol of a common weed

Weeds are like chocolate and vanilla ice cream, there is an opposite flavor and outlook on each, neither being necessarily right or wrong, better or worse.  My final word of caution for those “do it yourself” folks, be vigilant of how much and when you apply your material.  Be aware of surface water like rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds as they border your turf area.  Be careful not to apply too much product under the illusion of better results, disregarding the label instructions.  Have fun, and may your lawn be a source of enjoyment, not a burden to your summer happiness.

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