Spring brings warmer weather, more sunshine, longer days, and the start of the growing season for plants. Unfortunately, plants also include weeds. Weeds tend to be the most resilient and prolific of all plants. Each weed type has its own unique growth and seed cycle that occur at various times during the year. The unpredictability of the weed cycle and vast root system, plus the constant seeding cycle, is why weeds continue to exist. Removing the whole root is the right approach, however close to impossible to achieve without destroying of the root system of the entire area. Any part of a weed root system will eventually lead to the re-establishment of the weed.
Inevitably there is one commercial property, city park, or highway medium that has a perfect lawn – super green and mysteriously, no evidence of weeds. What are they doing, that you aren’t?
Here are five tips for fighting weeds that will deliver healthy and attractive parks and landscapes.
- Rake the yard. Once the snow has disappeared from a property, don’t instantly go wild with chemicals. Over the winter, plant matter may have accumulated on top of the grass shading the soil and root structure. Wake up and stimulate growth through light raking.
- Stomp out seeds. As temperatures reach 50-65oF apply a pre-emergent type herbicide to combat the seeds (we highly recommend seeking expert landscape advice). This treatment creates a barrier in the soil, when seeds germinate they either grow down or up to the barrier and die off. Once this has been applied, water to start the treatment but don’t over water and allow the product to work undisturbed.
- Fertilizer. Once temperatures are consistently warm, there are a variety of fertilizers that can help. Your outdoor maintenance provider can assist in finding the best mix. In fact, Terracare Associates offers a custom blend that helps with water absorption and fertilization. It is important to have three specific nutrients in the mixture.
- Nitrogen (N): Nitrogen will help green the plant
- Phosphate (P): Phosphorous helps promote root growth
- Potassium (K). Potassium promotes overall plant health (i.e. a good “winterizer” will have a high Potassium number)
Fertilizing throughout the season improves grass health and stimulates growth so there is no available space for weeds to try to compete.
- Mow regularly. Mowing is a key component of the annual process. Each type of grass has an ideal cutting height for health and growth. Mowing at the proper height is an effective weed control practice and will help with the health of your lawn plant. Depending on the weather and time of year, mowing should occur every 4-5 days or every week. Our company often uses mulching mowers; this reduces the amount of matter sent to the landfill and returns the finely clipped grass to the soil as a fertilizer itself.
- Expert tip: Ask your landscape professional what type of turf is best for your property. You may have a grass that is not ideal material for your landscape.
- Spot spraying. Larger properties tend to have sporadic weeds throughout the turf. Terracare’s best practices include spot spray instead of a wholesale treatment. The “down- stream” concerns of run-off can be hazardous to the environment. Be cognizant of when and how chemicals are washed out into storm drains.
Sticking to these steps will help curb weeds on your property and make it a healthy, beautiful, and sustainable landscape for years to come.
Bill Winfield serves as Director of Operations for Terracare Associates overseeing all public infrastructure operations. Currently, he is the lead project manager on the largest public private partnership contract in the country between City of Centennial, Colorado, and CH2MHill. In addition, he supervises operations of the public works departments for Northwest Parkway and Lone Tree, Colorado, and Cottonwood Heights, Utah, and is responsible for an additional 23 infrastructure contracts and projects. He is a graduate of the University of Wyoming.