Weed control is the biggest pest problem for farmers. Pests include insects, diseases, and weeds, not just insects.
Farmers spend more money on weed control than on controlling or preventing insects and diseases combined. Once weeds are entrenched – either annual by seeds or perennials by stolons or rhizomes – they are more difficult to control.
Farmers mainly use cultivation and weed control chemicals. Basically, weed control chemicals save farmers money that they would otherwise spend on fuel and labor.
Most of the time, it is better for homeowners to control weeds through cultivation. Often a hoe is simply used. Weed-free your landscape without chemicals by continuously chopping for 20 minutes or less once a week.
For good control, stay on weeds and control them as soon as they start growing. That means getting rid of weeds weekly very soon after they’re seen.
Weeds are not like most insects or diseases; When the weather changes, their population increases or decreases. As the temperatures get warmer, summer weeds grow faster and stronger.
Weeds love to penetrate into disturbed soils. Therefore, in the first few months in new landscapes, a lot of weeds grow near plants that get water, weed barriers or not. That is normal.
Get your hoe out. The first weeds to grow are annual weeds. They grow quickly from seeds and try to cover as much soil as possible. Once removed at a young age, they are gone forever. All annual weeds come from seeds, regardless of whether they occur in spring (annual summer weeds) or in autumn (annual winter weeds).
When preparing the soil for a garden, the first few plants are annual weeds, usually within one to three days of cultivation and planting just before vegetables emerge from the seed. Most of their energy is forcing new peak growth. They want to grow fast, get big, and cover as much of the ground as possible. This and its flowers / seeds spread.
These weeds are called invaders. You can use weed barriers, 3 to 4 inches of mulch on the surface of the soil, pre-emergent weed killers, or a hoe. Your decision.
Q: I made a big mistake. I used a flame weed like you suggested, near my drip jets surrounded by wood mulch. They melted where it got hot. Sorry, but now I have to fix it.
A: Flame weed killers use propane tank fire to kill weeds. They are 100 percent organic but melt plastic. Used near objects that melt or catch fire, they can cause disaster. On the other hand, it’s good for rocky landscapes.
After the rain there are weeds everywhere, and the weeds that are burned should be small. Use flame herb on days when there is no wind and shortly after it has rained or when water has wetted the landscape. If the flame weed is producing enough BTU, the damp weed doesn’t matter. You will die. It just takes a little longer.
Places where flame grasses are not used include wood chip mulch, near plastic-like drip jets or hoses, on large weeds, or in communities where flame weeds are not allowed.
Q: What is your favorite way of controlling weeds in the countryside?
A: My favorite method is to use a hoe when the weeds are small. Hoes are easy to grasp and quick to tackle weeds in landscapes and raised beds. I would finish chopping in half the time it takes to mix a chemical weed spray.
Use a hoe once a week during the growing season. My two favorite types of hoes are the hula or stirrup hoe and the diamond hoe. I use a Warren hoe and a triangular (onion) hoe to make rows of vegetables. I have four or five different types of hoes for different purposes.
My next favorite method for controlling weeds in large areas is fire or flame weed. Weed killers like the dragon types produce enough heat to kill wet weeds. They are especially good for burning back small or cut weeds that grow in rocks.
Be careful with these types of weeds if the weeds are large or bursting into flames. Have a hose and water ready for emergencies. Some municipalities do not allow weed killers without a permit.
Q: I see some areas on my fescue lawn that dry out faster than the others. I water almost every day. I hate thinking about how many times I have to water every day when it gets hot.
A: Most likely, you are watering this frequently because the sprinklers are unevenly covering the lawn. That means the pressure is too low or the sprinklers are too far apart.
Pop-up sprinkler heads should spray water from one head to the next. This is known as head-to-head coverage. These pop-up sprinklers should be evenly watered over an area provided they have similar jets, if it is not windy, and if they are watered a total of 12 to 15 minutes each time.
Maintenance companies are notorious for “mixing, not matching,” sprinkler nozzles when making repairs. This will increase the water your lawn needs. It’s a good idea to save some spare nozzles in case they need to be fixed. They are not expensive.
Sometimes water applications are broken up into three, four, or five minute applications every hour to reduce puddling and runoff on the street. However, the total number of minutes for a single application should be 12 to 15 minutes each time.
Use a long piece of rebar pushed into the soil in several places to gauge the depth of watering in the soil. The watering depth after one watering should be 10 to 12 inches in several places.
Avoid watering at night. The best time to stop sprinkler watering is just before sunrise
You barely have time before the hot summer weather arrives, so sow the lawn now. If the grass is dead in some places, use a string cutter to cut it close to the ground and apply good quality fescue seeds to the ground in those places. One pound of seed per hundred square feet is enough.
Remove loose or dead grass as you sow. Scrape the surface of the soil and lightly cover the seed twice a day with a thin layer of sand or other topper and water until you see new grass. In warm weather, it should take four to five days.
If this happens during the heat of summer, leave the dead grass alone and let it cover the ground to prevent Bermuda grass and other weeds from growing out of seeds in those dead spots. From late September and October, rake these areas until you see bare soil, then sow the same way.
Q: How can you kill Bermuda grass growing in an existing fescue lawn?
A: It is much easier to kill the fescue growing on a Bermuda lawn than it is to kill the Bermuda grass growing on a fescue lawn. Your problem is more difficult.
You have to use chemicals to fix this problem. The two chemicals are either roundup when the Bermuda grass is growing in some areas or spraying Fusilade when Bermuda grass is growing on the fescue lawn. Roundup is sprayed on the spot where Bermuda grass is a problem and kills all grass in those places.
Roundup is being sprayed in these spots now and during the summer if you see Bermuda grass trying to re-establish itself. And it will try.
The lawn is sown with good quality fescue seeds in these dead spots as early as the end of September and until October. Until this point, the dead grass will stay in place to prevent other weeds from growing in those places.
Fusilade is a grass killer. It will kill all grasses in high concentration. The concentration of the sprayed fusilade determines whether the Bermuda grass growing on a fescue lawn is killed without damaging the fescue.
So it is very important to spray Fusilade at exactly the right concentration. It is best sprayed into a fescue lawn in late September or October. As a warning, it is normal for the fescue lawn to turn yellowish after spraying with Fusilade. Follow the directions on the label exactly.
Preventing Bermuda grass from settling in a lawn is the most effective way to control it in a fescue lawn. Keep the mowing height above 2 inches. Mowing too short promotes the invasion of Bermuda grass.
Keep lawns dense and thick. Dense and thick lawns are encouraged by regular fertilizing, mowing up and using the right type of fertilizer. Lawns in our climate should be fertilized at least four times a year: Memorial Day, Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.
Clean the mowers before using them. Every time you mow, a powerful jet of water from a hose is required to clean the blades and deck.
Avoid string cutters to edge a lawn. If it must be used, never cut the edge of the grass at an angle or use string cutters around trees or sprinklers.
Bob Morris is a horticultural expert and UNLV professor emeritus. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com. Send questions to [email protected]