The other day I was out doing some work around my property and had not one, but two thistles growing in my lawn. Thankfully, thistles in their rosette stage are easy enough to kick out of the soil and kill off, but I’m glad I noticed them before they bolted, flowered, and spread. As our weather starts to warm up, it’s likely that you’ll start seeing some early weeds growing in your lawn. If you have a warm-season lawn composed of a species like bermudagrass or Centipedegrass, it should still be mostly dormant at this time of year. A lot of the green you’re seeing could very well be weeds trying to take advantage of the warm, sunny weather we’ve been having.

There are a few ways you can try to manage weeds in your lawn. Depending on how many weeds are present, you may be able to physically remove them, like I did with the thistles, either by hand or by mowing. Be careful to time your mowing so that you do not spread flowering plants around your lawn- spreading weed seeds will only make the problem worse in the future. Be sure to follow fertilization recommendations for your species of lawn to help give the turf the best chance of survival. Aeration can also be helpful in reducing thatch and allowing air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots of your grass.

It can be very helpful to actually identify the type of weeds you have present. Your local Extension office is happy to help with weed identification – send us a few good photos of the plant from far away, close up, and a zoomed in shot of the leaves and any flowers that might be present. If you can get a good identification on the weed species, you can tailor your lawn care and herbicide treatments appropriately.

 Even if most of your lawn weeds are still in their early stages of growth, they can still be hard to kill. The winter annual weed that are starting to grow now include henbit, chickweed, and dandelions. These weeds are best controlled through pre-emergent herbicides applied back in October. Applying herbicides in the fall can reduce or eliminate the weeds you see in the spring. In the spring, you’ll most likely need to use several applications of herbicide to make a difference in weed number and growth. For Centipede and St. Augustine lawns, we can use atrazine to target our problem weeds. Bermudagrass and Zoysiagrass are best treated with products containing benefin.  As a general recommendation for winter annual weeds that appear in the early spring, you’ll need at least 2 treatments of herbicides, applied 30 days apart. You can also spot-treat weeds with 2, 4-D. Herbicides that are applied to lawns now are going to do a lot to help prevent later spring and summer weeds. As always, be sure to follow all label instructions for herbicide applications to ensure proper rate, application, timing, and safety protocols are followed.

If you need help with weed identification or specific control recommendations, please contact us at or 706-359-3233.

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