Cooperative Extension Service 
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Hendry County Extension P. O. Box 68 LaBelle, Florida 33975-0068 Phone (863) 674-4092

Hendry County Horticulture News

Weed Control in Turf

Weeds are common to all lawn grasses. They increase the maintenance cost of  a lawn, reduce the aesthetic appeal of turf and in some cases may contribute to allergies and poisonings.

Weeds compete with desirable plants for water, nutrients and sunlight. They also harbor insects and diseases that might attack lawn grasses, trees and shrubs.

Lawns which are properly maintained are less apt to be plagued with weeds. A vigorously growing lawn provides little area for weed seed to germinate and will usually smother out those that do germinate.

The use of chemicals to control weeds in home lawns, recreational areas and public parks is a relatively common practice.  Herbicides (weed killers) are widely accepted and there are chemicals available to control broadleaf weeds and grasses in lawn grasses, around trees, ornamental plants, along ditches and fence lines, in areas difficult to maintain with mechanical equipment and in annual flowering plant beds.

Before you can effectively control weeds and grasses you must first be able to recognize your weed problem. Weeds can be classified into three broad categories. First, there are the annuals which complete their life cycle in less than one year and are usually easiest to control. There are summer annuals, such as crabgrass, goose grass and Florida pusley and winter annuals such as common chickweed,  henbit and black nightshade.

The second category is the biennials, which require more than one year, but less than two years, to complete a life cycle. Cudweed and bull thistle are examples of this group.

The third and most difficult group to control are the perennials. They live for more than two years and may possibly last indefinitely.

Perennials are classified according to their method of reproduction. There are two types, the simple and the creeping perennials. Simple perennials reproduce by seed only and examples are dock, broadleaf plantain and Florida betony.. Creeping perennials reproduce by both seed and vegetative parts and are the most troublesome to control. Examples of this group are creeping beggarweed, dollar weed (pennywort), Bermuda grass, nutgrass and Johnson grass.

Herbicides can be useful if applied properly and incorporated into the overall weed control program. Both pre-emergence and post-emergence herbicides, in combination with proper mowing and lawn fertilization may be needed for a good weed control program. Check with the Hendry County Extension Office for the proper chemicals to use on specific weeds or for  weed identification.

Calibration of equipment is an important part of any herbicide application. This is simply making the necessary adjustments to the sprayer so that the proper amount of chemical will be applied to a specific area.

Regardless of the herbicide used, care should be exercised and the chemical must be applied in accordance with instructions on the manufacturer's label. Remember the label is the law and you can be held liable for problems arising from the misuse of herbicides or other pesticides.

Be sure that the herbicide you buy states on the label that it can be used on your particular lawn grass. Using the incorrect herbicide on your lawn can seriously damage it and possibly cause harm to valuable plantings nearby.

In many instances spot or targeted applications of herbicides can be used to satisfactorily control weeds,  reducing the amount of chemical needed and lowering treatment cost.  Proper use of herbicides can result in a more beautiful lawn increasing the over all appeal of your landscape.  Good luck and good gardening.

Gene McAvoy is the horticulture agent with the Hendry County Extension Service.  Direct your horticulture questions to PO Box 68, LaBelle, FL 33975,  e-mail - or phone 863-674-4092 or  863-983-1598.  You are also welcome to visit the Hendry County Extension Office at 225 Pratt Blvd., LaBelle.   Office hours are from 8:00 - 5:00.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an Equal Employment Opportunity - Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin.

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