Posted at 10:36am on October 05, 2018

Don't Let Your Weeds Go To Seed!

 As we ourselves may be tiring from our labors in the garden this season, the weeds in our lawn have something different in mind. They are alive and well, using up as many nutrients in our lawns to produce as many seeds as possible (tens of thousands), to stick around as long as they can (fifty years). Really.

Don't let your weeds go to seed. 

As we see cooler temperatures this time of year we also see new weeds crop up, while others are just now reaching maturity and becoming noticeable throughout the landscape.  While we wish the old adage "one year's seeding makes seven year's weeding" were true, the truth is often times more complicated- and more drawn out- than that.  The truth is that the weeds you see this year are not the problem, but the seeds lying dormant. Weed seeds can germinate year to year, or even many years from now if the conditions become right. While some weed species persistence in the soil is reduced after a few years, species like common lambs quarters can take between 56-78 years to see a 99% reduction in the soil seed bank. And these aren't meager producers. Lambs quarters produces up to 72,500 seeds PER PLANT.  Now, while most weeds on average produce around 5-10,000 seeds per plant, that's still a lot of seeds. And weeds.

We don't tell you this to scare you; fortunately lambs quarters isn’t extremely prevalent locally (don't worry you're safe), but we tell you this to paint a picture of the importance of routine, and continual weed removal and maintenance in your lawn and garden. On the bright side, we're here to help.

First let's identify a few of the most common weeds in our lawns: notably creeping charley, clover, and dandelion. Creeping charley, or ground ivy is a perennial evergreen in the mint family, known for its willingness to spread. Identified by its small scalloped edged leaves and its blueish funnel-shaped flowers, creeping charlie spreads out like a mat, not only through seed but by rooting where the vine nodes touch the ground.  It can also be spread by mowing without a bag; leaving just a fraction of the rhizome behind in mowing can result in a new plant.

Clover is a plant we're all mostly familiar with, but when its not bringing us luck its bringing us an untidy appearance to our already creeping charlie covered lawns. Clover is known for its three part leaves and its small white flowers which attract bees. This small perennial can thrive in nitrogen depleted lawns (as it produces its own) which is why feeding and seeding are so important; a thick, strong lawn is able to crowd out clover. With clovers shallow root system, simply raising the mowing height to deny clover sunlight can also be an effective method in reducing or eliminating it.

Aah, the dandelion- childhood's favorite weed, adulthood's most recognizable nuisance. Gone are the days when those little balls of fluff represented the freedom of summer; now we see them for what they are: a weed with an aggressive parachute breeding strategy that poises the seeds to rapidly spread and germinate. The effectiveness of this strategy can turn one flower to a field of yellow in weeks. Unlike other weeds with fibrous root systems, dandelions have a strong center taproot which can grow 15 feet deep in ideal conditions. To control them, the taproot must be fully dug up and removed from each flower. As with many weeds, removing them once they are seen is an effective way to prevent the population by reducing plants that go to seed. 

All of these weeds can be actively controlled by hand pulling, however, to greatly reduce or eliminate them we recommend chemical herbicides. Fertilome's Weed Out is a great everyday weed control system for your average weed populations. For more active weed infestations, or for large areas of creeping charlie, Fertilome's Weed Free Zone is a great product for tough to kill weeds that won't harm your lawn. These sprays are not only effective in weed control, but the dispersal method also allows for follow up fertilization and seeding within a shorter time span, usually 1-2 weeks.