If you didn't apply a pre-emergent weed killer on your lawn during the fall or February, then it's likely you'll begin seeing some weeds poke up through your plush green grass in the coming weeks. When they do, be armed to kill them on the spot.
According to Chris Thompson, the owner of Classic Landscape and Maintenance in Martinez, it's too late to apply pre-emergent weed killers, which kill the seeds.
The next best thing to getting rid of weeds, though, is to apply a post-emergent weed killer once the weeds sprout.
"Post-emergent weed killers can be applied in the next two to three weeks, after March 15," said Thompson. "Generally, you want to get a killer with a 2, 4-D chemical in it."
The most widely used herbicide, 2, 4-D -- short for 2, 4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid -- is used to kill broadleaf weeds and has many registered uses.
According to the National Pesticides Telecommunications Network, 2, 4-D works by poisoning the plant and causing rapid cell division and abnormal growth. It will kill most broadleaf weeds -- dandelion, tickweeds, chickweed, oxalis -- but any pesticide has to be used with caution.
"Some killers can't be used on Bermuda grass, so it's important to read the instructions before applying," said Thompson.
In fact, reading the directions is the most critical factor when applying weed killers, according to Thompson.
"Most people don't follow even the simplest directions on the back of the bag and end up with less-than-desirable results," he said.
Thompson said following directions can mean saved money and less worry in the long run.
When applying the post-emergent weed killer, it's also important to note how frequently you can apply it. For instance, if you apply a fertilizer that has a weed killer chemical in it, you likely won't apply that fertilizer for another two months. During that period, Thompson recommends spot spraying the weeds with a liquid killer.
"Don't spray when the temperatures get above 90 degrees," he said. "That can burn or discolor the grass."
Thompson said weeds simply are undesirable plants growing in the grass and oftentimes grass itself is misidentified as a weed.
So, if you are applying a weed killer to plants like crabgrass, it might not kill it. You'll need a grass killer for those.
"Post-emergent weed killers will kill weeds only after they begin growing," said Thompson. "But, it's important to apply a pre-emergent weed killer in October and February to kill those seeds that the weed will drop."
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