March Madness (the spring frenzy of lawn care madness, that is) is in full swing. Our phones have been crazy busy! With the recent sporadic high temperatures, weeds have exploded in the Tulsa area, especially the broadleaf weeds like henbit (those weeds with the purple flowers.)
People are calling, saying “I don’t know where all these weeds came from!” Yes, they seem to be a bit worse this year.
But every year, people call and say they still have weeds, even after we’ve sprayed. A lot of times, they don’t really, it just looks like they do. The first two points below are ones that we explain over and over and over, all day long, this time of year. I think a lot of people have this misconception that when we spray their lawns, all the weeds will disappear! We wish! Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. The following will help you understand a little more about how weed control works, and how you can speed up the process.
MOW YOUR LAWN
If you or your lawn care company sprayed your lawn, and it’s already gotten some rain or you’ve watered it yourself, you need to MOW YOUR LAWN. Unlike during the hot summer months, the weeds will not turn brown. Neither will they disappear. They will twist or curl, or simply stop growing. They’re dead, but they will remain in your lawn until the first time you mow.
If your lawn care company sprayed your lawn a week or two ago, and you now have weeds that weren’t there when it was treated, they are more than likely a new crop of broadleaf weeds. Most all lawn care companies are treating right now with a mixture of the following: a pre-emergent for crabgrass, a post-emergent for broadleaf weeds, and fertilizer. A post-emergent works on the weeds that are visible in the lawn at the time of the application. A whole new crop may have sprung up since then. There is no pre-emergent for weeds like dandelions. If it’s not time for your next application, call your company for a service call. (At GreenGrass, service calls in-between regular applications are free to full-program customers.)
If you are a DIY, be sure you put down a crabgrass pre-emergent NOW, if you haven’t already. Crabgrass will start germinating very soon, and it’s very difficult to get rid of it once it sprouts. Your home and garden store will have various brands of post-emergent weed control for the weeds in your lawn now, like dandelions and henbit. I believe there are some products that contain both pre and post-emergents, that are available over the counter.
When all chance of frost has past, SCALP YOUR BERMUDA LAWN. The average last frost date in the Tulsa area is March 27. Put your mower on its lowest setting, mow your lawn, and bag the clippings. The idea is to remove all that old dead stuff that’s been on the lawn all winter, allowing the sun to warm the soil and encourage a quick green-up. The best defense against weeds is to have a thick, healthy, actively-growing turf. DO NOT scalp your fescue grass.
Fertilizer helps fight weeds as much as weed control does. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can spray weed control, but forego the fertilizer so that you don’t have to mow as much. No fertilizer usually results in a thin lawn with a weak root system, which will be easily invaded by weeds. Bermuda grass requires higher amounts of nitrogen than most other grasses do to stay looking really nice. By coincidence, some broadleaf weeds can't withstand high fertility.
Mowing frequently during the growing season will greatly help weed control. Many people mow once per week in the summer, or (gulp) less. But when nighttime temperatures are in the 70’s, bermuda grows 24/7. If you are observing the 1/3 rule, you know that it’s never good to mow off more than 1/3 of the grass blade at once, or your lawn will look brown after you mow. For more info, read our mowing guidelines.
Mowing may seem like a mundane chore, but your mowing habits GREATLY affect the appearance of your lawn, every bit as much as watering!
Happy Easter to all!