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Article: Get Pesky Broadleaf Weeds Under Control.

We sure could use some rain.

Lawns have slowed way down and some are starting to turn brown. Now is a good time to survey your lawn for problems, but I wouldn't recommend applying any chemicals or fertilizer until there is some major rain predicted.

I have noticed the lawns that are the brownest are the ones that have been mowed too low, or scalped, all summer. Remember not to remove too much each time you mow and leave the grass 2 to 3 inches tall after mowing.

If you are like me, you might have areas of your lawn that are not as dense and have more weeds than other areas. Some lawns seem to have a perpetual problem with broadleaf weeds, especially dandelions. Fall is an excellent time of year to get them under control.

It makes sense that weed control in lawns begins with a healthy, vigorous, dense stand of turf. Healthy turf aids weed control by growing to fill bare areas, shading the soil surface and shading newly emerged weeds. Without sunlight, many new weeds just can't survive.

Most recommended turf management practices, although not solely intended as weed-control methods, do aid in weed control. Management practices that promote healthy turf help reduce weed establishment. Here are some examples:

n Test your soil now and keep the pH in the proper range (6.2 is ideal for turf). Add lime if recommended.

n Add fertilizer at rates recommended on the soil test report. Fall is the best time of year to fertilize cool season grasses.

n Irrigate during periods of limited rainfall to relieve stress and encourage growth. Turf thrives with an inch of water per week.

n Mowing can stress turf if too much vegetation is removed at one time. Set your mower higher to remove less than one-third of the vegetation to avoid scalping.

n Bare soil is a prime area for weed invasion. Bare areas should be reseeded or sod applied. Leaving soil bare just invites weed invasion. Cover reseeded areas with straw mulch to increase germination.

Using these agronomic practices will help control weeds, but regardless of how good your management is, weed seeds will germinate and seedlings will emerge. When this occurs, you can use chemical control methods. Herbicides help homeowners maintain a lawn that is free of unsightly weeds.

Herbicides, or for that matter any garden chemicals, are not substitutes for the good management practices outlined above. Before using any herbicide, consult your local Cooperative Extension office, garden center or lawn care expert. If you don't feel comfortable applying chemicals to your lawn call in a professional. The New River Valley has a number of good lawn service companies.

Consider the potential environmental dangers of using herbicides (or any garden chemical) indiscriminately. Use them only according to the label directions and dispose of any remaining chemical properly. Make sure they are getting on the target plants only. A hand-held sprayer is good for spot spraying and may be all you need.

Broadleaf herbicides are formulated to kill broadleaf plants. This simply means that they will not kill grass, but they will kill other broadleaf landscape plants if you are not careful. Some herbicides (2,4,-D for example) translocate through the leaves down to the roots of the target plant to kill it. These can be dangerous to other plants if they "drift" when you are spraying them. Plants such as tomatoes, grapes and roses are particularly susceptible to 2,4,-D.

Others herbicides such as dicamba go into the soil and travel through the root system. Do not apply dicamba close to flowers, shrubs or trees. Be careful with "weed and feed" formulations and don't over-apply them to fertilize your trees. Many broadleaf plants can absorb dicamba from the soil and translocate the material to the growing points. Distorted or malformed leaves will be produced if this occurs. Use caution during application of this material near broadleaf plants.

Crabgrass is a problem in many lawns. This summer annual weed has already matured and deposited its seeds for next year. The best thing to do to fight this pest this fall is to out compete it by overseeding for a good thick lawn. Next March, apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent the seeds from germinating.

Don't forget that fall is a great time of year to plant bulbs, perennials, trees and shrubs. Visit local garden centers for good deals this time of year. In future columns I will talk about all the fall garden chores still left to do.

Jim May is a certified arborist and earned a master's degree in horticulture from Virginia Tech.

Source: Roanoke Times & World News

Publish Date: 2005-09-15

ARTICLE: Identifying your garden weeds will help you to understand how they grow and how to eliminate them once and for all in your garden.

Knowing exactly what is growing in your garden – plant or otherwise - has its advantages. You can research just what the weeds need to grow and eliminate these from you garden –thus getting to the root of the problem rather than just either pulling the pests out or spraying them with a chemical.

To eliminate all weeds you need to regularly tend to your garden by weeding and general maintenance.

The following are weeds found in most everyday gardens:

Hairy bittercress

This is a common weed that seems to develop very quickly and can easily take root in compost of new plants – check before you buy anything new before planting.

Annual meadow grass

This is often found in lawns and also appears in neglected borders. It can be prevented by good and regular maintenance of both lawns and borders and regular mowing.

Annual nettle

This nettle is a regular weed found in most gardens. They tend to spring up rather quickly in beds, borders and any vacant spaces in-between plants. This nettle needs a chemical weedkiller for the prevention in future years. Try glyphosate or glyphosate trimesium.

Groundsel

This is also found in borders and beds and after setting seed it grows just about anywhere. Ensure that you handweed and remove all seedlings. Covering the ground with bark chips or gravel can stop them spreading.

Chickweed

This is a small root-ball with lots of little leaves. Handweeding regularly usually keeps these weeds at bay.

Dock

Although helpful when the nettle is around, these are also weeds and grow from small root sections. For removal you will need a weedkiller containing 14-D or MCPA.

Horsetail

This weed has underground stems and can spread and grow very rapidly. Digging from the surface is rarely successful so the use of a glyphosate weedkiller is recommended.

Couch grass

Often found in borders and beds this weed has spreading roots. Try smothering with black polythene or laying bark chippings