Weedy Lawn; It All Begins with the Rain

Central Florida has been experiencing unusual May rain for a few weeks. Ample amount of rain makes landscape plants happy. Unfortunately, with each rain event it is likely that weeds seeds are going germinate and emerge in lawns and landscapes. The problem with weed is that it competes with the desired plants for space, nutrients, water and sunlight. Not to mention that weeds can also provide a safe harbor for insects and act as diseases vectors. In addition, weeds always grow faster than turfgrass which makes them very unsightly in the lawn. Weed control is very time consuming, herbicides are very expensive and because herbicides are toxic, we must be very careful when handling them.

Weed Control- The first step in getting rid of weeds is to accurately identify the weeds. Each herbicide was not manufactured to control every weed in the lawn. If you are unable to ID weeds in the lawn, then take it for a free ID at your local UF/IFAS Extension office in Osceola County. Early weed detection is critical to prevention of the weeds spreading before they become a larger problem by taking over the entire lawn and landscape. Secondly, purchase an herbicide that has the identified weeds listed on the label. Reading a pesticide’s label before use cannot be overemphasized. Do not apply herbicides if rain is expected within 24 hours of application. Also, the label may state not to apply if temperature is above 90 degree Fahrenheit. Applying herbicides during period of high temperature may cause plant injury (burning). Herbicides work best on weeds that are growing. When considering applying herbicides, do not mow grass two day before applying herbicides or mow two days after herbicides application.

Cultural Practices- It is important to note that having a dense turf will reduce the amount of weed pressure in the landscape. If lawn is infested with weeds that are bearing seeds, mow lawn and bag clippings. Mulching or returning the weeds with seed to the lawn will increase weed problems. Do not scalp the lawn; this will also encourage weed problems. A great mowing rule is never to remove more than a 1/3 of the grass height during each mowing. Avoid overwatering your lawn; apply only about ¾ of inch of water per application. Lawns should be irrigated twice a week during summer months, and this includes any rain that may have occurred. Be certain to turn off your irrigation if you have received sufficient rain.

Although moss and algae are not like your regular weeds, I receive frequent calls inquiring about moss or algae growing in the yard. Moss and algae will thrive where there is heavy shade, excessive moisture, shallow compacted soil, acidic soil, and soil with low fertility. To get rid of moss or algae, correct any of the existing above-mentioned problems. Although there are chemicals available to control moss and algae, if the cause is not remedied, then moss and algae will return.

For more information on weeds and any other lawn and landscape relating topics, contact Grantly Ricketts with the UF/IFAS Extension in Osceola County at 321-697-3000 or email gricketts@ufl.edu.

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