Weedy Turf

Weeds Gone Wild!

Do you feel like your weeds have gone wild this year? Crabgrass, chamberbitter, spurge, oh my. The weeds are out in force. This article will let you know about some of the weeds out there and what you can (or cannot) do about them.

It seems like the weeds are worse than last year and they probably are. Because of all the rain we had and the lack of ability to mow as often, the weeds were happy to sprout and able to seed.

Types of Weeds Out There

Chamberbitter is a summer annual. The seeds can stay in the ground for years before sprouting. Photo credit: Denise DeBusk.

As I was out in my garden continuing to pick up sticks from the storms, I found myself with a garbage can yanking out weeds. Before I knew it, the whole can was filled. Many of the weeds stood above the grass like chamberbitter, also known as little mimosa. This sensitive weed has wart-like fruits filled with seeds under the leaves. I knew that if I mowed these down then I would just be adding to next year’s seed bank. I tore these out with glee, hoping that maybe I will have fewer of these weeds next year.


As I stared down at my socks and gloves, I noticed a plethora of seeds from Spanish needle (black 2-prong seeds), West Indian chickweed (sticky green seeds), and beggarweed (strips of green pods). I started trashing the mammas of those seeds as well. Just imagine how well weeds have adapted to spread their seed.

For those butterfly enthusiasts (me included), you may have cringed when I said that I tore out Spanish needle. Many weeds out there are great butterfly nectar plants, including Spanish needle. I made a judgement call based on the location of the weeds in my St. Augustinegrass. Some weeds for butterflies in a different location would be a different call.

There are many weeds that are more prevalent this year because of the extra water. Sedges and dollarweed prefer moist to wet soil. I saw a swath of sedge grow where water pooled at the office grounds.

What You Can Do About Them

During my weed pulling escapade, I even grabbed some of my tools to make it a little easier. My dandelion weeder, also called a weed puller, is great at getting low-growing plants with deep taproots. There are other assorted tools that can make weeding a little easier like a weeding knife to easily dig in and not damage the grass and all kinds of hoes to get between plants.

Seeds on Pants

Weeds can be spread very easily through the yard. Photo credit: Denise DeBusk

One thing I didn’t bother doing was spray herbicides to kill the weeds. This was because the weeds were already seeding. If I sprayed them, it would just put the seeds in the ground faster.

After the first frost, the summer annuals will die. To keep them from coming back, it is best to apply a pre-emergent herbicide mid-February in central Florida and early March in north Florida. The brands names may have the word “Preventer” in them. Some common active ingredients include pendimethaline for grassy weeds and atrazine for broadleaf weeds.

I don’t recommend “weed and feed” products because when you fertilize and when you control weeds are at different times by about a month. If you put it out when you should be preventing weeds, the fertilizer will run-off and not be used by the plant. If you put it out when you should fertilize (in mid-April), it will not control the weeds. The herbicide needs to be there before they come up.

An alternative to chemicals is to live with the weeds. If you keep your grass healthy and mow it to the right height, your grass may outcompete the weeds or you’ll just see green (in lots of different shades). You may even have some wildlife that appreciates the variety of vegetation.

Click here more information on weed management for Florida lawns.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *