News Article for March 28, 2016:
Like many of you I worked in my lawn on Good Friday and the Saturday before Easter and then it rained starting early Easter morning so no outside Easter egg hunts. While working I did observe a lot of dollar weed in my lawn from the wet fall and winter.
Two of the most important spring time management practices for the lawn are fertilization and weed control. Both of these practices can be incorporated into one application if you will time it correctly or you can make them separate applications.
Weed control is something that you either need to do before your grasses turn green in the spring or wait until 2 to 3 weeks after your grasses turn green. I usually figure that you should have cut your grass at least twice and that does not include removing winter weeds or using your lawn mower to mulch leaves.
The reason that you want to wait is to allow the grass to re-establish itself. The initial green grass that you see is generated from energy stored that was in the crown of the plant. Once green foliage is produced the plants can absorb sunlight and convert it to energy to get the plant growing again.
When you apply herbicides to a healthy lawn, the grasses tolerate the herbicide damage but there is always some damage to the grasses. Grasses are very fragile at green-up and herbicide applications then can seriously damage the grass or even kill it.
For fertilizing you also need the plant growing and the roots to regenerate before making the application so the plants can pick up the nutrients and use them. Waiting 2 to 3 weeks after green-up will allow the real threat of frost to pass. Since fertilizer will make your grasses tender an early application could leave them vulnerable to cold damage.
When pressed for a date of application I usually will give mid-April, but this year we have warmed up early and in my own lawn the first of April will be time to start.
If you have waited for the 2 to 3 weeks after green-up you can use the Weed and Feed products that are labeled for you lawn grasses. Just make sure that your specific lawn grass is on the label before application (i.e. St.Augustine, Centipede, Carpet, Zoysia, Bermuda).
The application rates are on the bag and usually given in pounds per 1000 ft2. It is important that you measure the lawn to determine square feet and then weigh the product to insure the proper application rate. Some manufactures will have a fertilizer distributor that is calibrated for their product. Use whichever method is easiest for you to get the correct rate. I have seen some disastrous results from over application of both herbicides and fertilizers. You can also get poor growth and poor weed control from under application.
If you are going to just use weed control for broadleaf weeds like dollar weed, look at a combination of Atrazine and a 2,4-D blend. You can purchase the 2,4-D blends under retail names such as Bayer Advanced Southern Weed Killer, Green Light Wipe Out, Trimec, Fertilome Weed Free Zone, Ortho Weed-B-Gon and Spectracide Weedstop. Use the labeled rate of Atrazine and one of the blends mixed together in one sprayer with water.
When fertilizing as a separate practice put out ½ pound of nitrogen per 1000 ft2. You can accomplish this rate with a general use fertilizer such as 8-8-8 at 6 pounds per 1000 ft2 or 4 pounds of 13-13-13. Apply fertilizer to a dry lawn and then water it in to keep from burning the grass.