If you remember, last fall
I was discussing how ideal the autumn situation was for wildflowers.
The drought had resulted in reduced plant cover on roadsides,
vacant lots and pastures. The wildflower seeds that were laying
dormant on the soil did not have any competition for a place
in the sun. When the rains started wildflower germination and
potential was exceptional. The rains, however, did not stop
and the winter was ideal for bedstraw, henbit, thistles, and
other cool weather broadleaf weeds. They have been on a growing
binge. Everything is green and lush. Unfortunately, the bluebonnets
and many other desirable blooming weeds are being overwhelmed.
The expectation now is that we may have a mediocre wildflower
For controlling the bountiful weed
crop in our lawns there are several tactics that can be followed.
I like the strategy where the lawn is mowed on a regular basis,
usually once per week, to prevent the production of seed heads.
The warm weather will start soon and the cool weather weeds
will decline quickly. It will be unfortunate in some cases because
the annual bluegrass, rye, and rescue grass has produced a very
For those of you who prefer a more
active tactic against the weeds, Weed-Be-Gone, Wipe-Out and
similar products will kill broadleaf weeds like henbit, clover
and bedstraw. They are contact herbicides that kill existing
weeds. Read the label closely to insure that they are applied
in a manner that does not kill trees or flowers.
One product type that I DO NOT recommend
is Weed and Feed. The timing is all wrong. We may
need the herbicide now but it is too early to fertilize the
lawn. The fertilizer is utilized by actively growing cool weather
weeds, the same ones we are trying to kill. Buy herbicide and
fertilizer separately. Fertilize your lawn with slow release
lawn fertilizer in April or May.
For readers that have trouble with
summer weeds like sandburs or crabgrass, it is time to apply
a pre-emergent granular herbicide. A pre-emergent herbicide
such as Amaze, XL, Balan, Betasan, Portrait, etc. prevents weed
seeds from germinating. Applied now to lawns it will prevent
summer weeds from growing. Again, read the label carefully.
Do not apply a pre-emergent herbicide to areas where you want
wildflowers or grass seed to grow. The herbicides do not know
the difference between desirable seeds or undesirable seeds
and prevent both from growing.
Like lawn fertilizer, we have a tendency
to apply lawn seed early. Bermuda and buffalo grass can be grown
from seed in full sun situations but not in March. The soil
is still too cool for effective germination. Wait until late
April or even May for fast coverage.
There is a lot to do in the landscape
now, but resist the temptation to plant grass seed, fertilize
the lawn, or use weed and feed. Wait until late
April on the grass seed and fertilizer, and never use the weed
and feed, it is not effective in San Antonio.