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Winter Lawn Weeds
Come December, most warm season lawn grasses, such as Bermuda and St. Augustine, have gone dormant. But a dormant lawn doesn’t mean winter weeds take a break. In fact, there are an entirely different set of weeds that germinate, thrive and reseed in the coldest part of the year here in North Texas. These weeds can become a big eyesore in your spring lawn and garden.
Here are some lawn weeds that are particularly pesky in North Texas:
Henbit, Lamium amplexicaule
Henbit is one of the most noxious winter weeds that can quickly take over your lawn and garden beds. Henbit is easy to spot: it has square stems (because it’s in the mint family), rounded scalloped-edged leaves, and blooms with pinky-purple flowers. The best way to control it is to never let it flower since it seeds so prolifically. Removal when plants are young seedlings is the best way to get it under control and stop it from spreading.
Wood sorrel, Oxalis spp.
Wood sorrel is a low, creeping plant that covers bare ground quickly. It can be hard to completely eradicate because it forms underground bulbs that go dormant during the summer. So you might think you’ve gotten rid of it, but as temperatures cool, plants begin to grow again. Wood sorrel produces tiny yellow flowers. The seed capsules that follow, once ripe, explode & send seed flying up to 10′.
Chickweed, Stellaria media
Chickweed is an annual broadleaf weed with low, creeping stems that form a mat. It especially likes cool, wet areas with partial shade. Chickweed has tiny, daisy shaped white flowers.
Annual bluegrass, Poa annua
Annual bluegrass is a quick-growing grassy weed. While you or your neighbors might seed Kentucky bluegrass for the winter lawns this annual version is NOT the one you want in your yard. Annual bluegrass is easy to distinguish because it has a wide leaf blade, grows vigorously, and produces seed heads seemingly overnight. The plants grow in clumps with a bunch-like pattern. Seed heads are white and feathery.
Methods of Control
The best way to control most weeds that invade your lawn and garden is simply by manually pulling them before they have a chance to spread. While this might be a little hard on your back, weed-pulling is actually good exercise that gets you outside and away from all the holiday treats. It’s important to make sure to remove as much of the weed as you possibly can including all of the roots.
Pro Tip: Pulling weeds is much easier when the ground is soft – like following a rain. And you’ll be able to extract more of the roots.
If getting on your hands & knees isn’t for you, make sure to keep up on mowing and weed eating. If you can keep your lawn mowed often enough to keep weeds from flowering and producing seeds, you can reduce their population over time.
Weeds in the lawn can also be controlled by using chemical herbicides. We aren’t fans of using harsh chemicals, and suggest using natural alternatives. Most organic weed control products are what we call “top burn” products. That means they are not systemic (they don’t enter the plant), but rather burn the foliage on the top growth. Organic weed control products will typically take several applications to kill most weeds. You can improve their efficacy by spraying organic herbicides on a sunny day when temperatures are above 65 F degrees.
One of the best ways to limit weed spread and suppress weeds in your lawn is to keep it healthy. To start, be sure your lawn areas get enough direct sunlight. Lush, vigorous lawns will strangle out weeds before they can take hold. Additionally, if you keep your lawn fertilized (or let us handle it with our SEASONS program), watered correctly, and exercise proper mowing heights, and you will set yourself up for success.