Time to control burweed and other winter lawn weeds

Published: Friday, March 8, 2013 at 12:29 PM.

For this year, the best way to deal with burweed and other winter annual weeds is to spray a herbicide on your lawn during a week daily high temperatures are expected to be at least in the low 50s. Which herbicide to use depends on your lawn type. In zoysia and Bermuda lawns, most winter annual weeds can be controlled with herbicides containing a combination of the active ingredients 2,4-D, mecoprop and dicamba. Brand names for these products include Weed-B-Gone, Lesco Three Way, and Speed Zone Southern.

Centipede and St. Augustine lawns are sensitive to 2,4-D. In these lawns instead apply Image, active ingredient Imazaquin, or atrazine. For burweed control, Image is more effective, though atrazine controls a wider range of winter weeds. Atrazine is sold as Purge II, Image for Centipede and St. Augustine, and HiYield Atrazine.

It is too early to fertilize lawns so avoid using any herbicides that are mixed with fertilizers. These products are commonly referred to as ‘weed and feed’. Wait until April to fertilize zoysia, St. Augustine and Bermuda lawns; and do not fertilize centipede yards until early May. Please note: Brand names are included in this article as a convenience to the reader and do not imply endorsement by NC State University nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned.

Can lawn weeds be controlled without chemicals?

There are a few organic herbicides available but none will selectively control weeds in lawns. Most organic herbicides contain vinegar, plant oils or soaps as their active ingredient. They work by burning the plant tissue they come in contact with and are most effective when sprayed directly on small weeds that have recently sprouted. Corn gluten has been promoted as a natural pre-emergent herbicide but few studies have shown this product to be effective. In addition, corn gluten contains a relatively high nitrogen level, which has the effect of fertilizing weeds.

For the long term, the most effective way to control weeds in turf is to nurture a healthy, dense lawn by following correct cultural practices. These include mowing at the correct height, having any insect or disease problems correctly diagnosed before treating, sending soil samples to the NC Department of Agriculture to determine your nutrient or lime needs, and following turf care recommendations for your lawn type available on the NCSU TurfFiles website, turffiles.ncsu.edu (click on the Maintenance Calendar tab).

Learn more!



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