Weed or Feed.....or Both??!!!
begins each spring and repeats each fall: what can I do to keep the weeds out
of my grass?!
Since most of us fall into the trap of the herbicide companies to WEED
and FEED our grass at the same time, it seems appropriate to look at exactly
what it is we are buying and if it is what should be in the trunk as we head
out to conquer the undesirables in the turf.
A “weed’n’feed” product is a combination pre-emergent herbicide
(WEEDer) and fertilizer (FEEDer).
Most have just a touch of the nitrogen fertilizer and are mostly the
pre-emergent, but the label should tell you how much of each and what type of
each (organic or synthetic) they are.
Depending on where you are --- north or south ---- in Texas and what sort of
grass you have, March may mean different things to different folks when it
comes to your lawn. Most of the
state has had a dormant carpet of brown for a few months now with only a few
patches of green, tipping you off on where the winter weeds are hiding. (For those with cool season grasses, such as fescue, weeds
might not be as much of an issue while the weather is crisp.
Cool season grasses typically show stress, and then weeds, during the
dog days of summer instead.) For
all but the southern tip of the state, a weed-n-feed product is inappropriate
during the late winter when a pre-emergent weed inhibitor would best work
because it is not yet time for the grass to be actively growing.
Damage may occur with an increase in nitrogen coupled with a few warm
days followed by a cold snap. Another
injury often seen with weed-n-feed products is the accidental overdose into
nearby flowerbeds, causing damage to susceptible shrubs.
Now that you have determined to weed today and wait till spring to feed, how
can you get rid of these pesky winter weeds?
Well, for one thing, it is probably too late to eradicate them at this
point unless you have the time and inclination to pick them out one-by-one by
hand. A pre-emergent product
works by hitting only the seed and preventing it from germinating.
So you will need to plan on a double whammy: treat now for spring weeds
and again in late summer for the winter weeds.
next decision is what type of pre-emergent to use.
These herbicides come in several forms, but one of the most promising
is an organic method that I found out about unexpectedly.
Early each fall I visit the black-eye pea capital of the world and my
hometown, Athens, to purchase enough of our favorites to put up and last
through the winter.
My dad and I began talking weeds with the farmer at the produce stand
and he enlightened us on the virtues of corn gluten meal.
He’d been testing this product for several years in his commercial
fields with wonderful results.
Now convinced that going “organic” might not be so bad after all
(“not just a bunch of hippie nuts”), his crops have been multiplying ever
since with less effort and less cost on his part.
After my own research and his heartfelt recommendation, (http://www.uwex.edu/ces/wihort/turf/CornGluten.htm)
I will be turning my lawn, veggie garden, and non-reseeding perennial beds
over to this product along with my usual newspaper/mulch and will let you know
the results. Remember that you should always check the label to make sure that
what you are buying is what it is recommended for in use.