In every good movie, there is always the good guy or gal who is supposed to be the hero. One person or team you’re always rooting for and hoping to win. But, also in every movie, there is a villain to stand in the hero’s way. For many of us, our yard is that movie, and weeds are the villain. You always look at it and hope the good grass will beat the weeds, but it rarely does on its own. The more you look the more you see, and then the realization that the weeds are just too strong sets in. However, you can save your yard, using integrated pest management (IPM) principles.
The first IPM principle we need to use for weed control is biological control. This is enhancing the biological factors that help and protect the grass. A healthy yard is a weed resistant yard, and the right fertilizer plan can help. Many people never get a soil sample for their yard and can’t identify issues with fertility. If the grass is too weak to grow properly, weeds can easily out compete it. Note that the grass may still grow, but not optimally. A soil sample is relatively cheap and is available through our extension office.
The second principle we can use is mechanical control. This principle has more to do with using certain tools or practices to assist the grass. The one that sticks out the most to me is aeration. Using an aerator and getting oxygen to the root zone has a major impact on grass health. The aerators loosen up compacted earth, also benefiting the roots, and allows water, oxygen and nutrients to reach the roots directly. Most likely you only need to do this once a year to reap the benefits.
The last principle and last resort for weed control is chemical control. This step maybe avoidable if the other principles are followed, but sometimes the weeds are just to strong. One chemical that I have found recently is called Prodiamine 65 WDG™. This is applied in the January/February timeframe before weeds start to pop up. It gets in the soil and prevents weeds from ever germinating. Used correctly, this could be an effective, over the counter option for many folks. As with any chemical you should follow the label and if possible, employ a lawn care professional to apply.
We want to avoid using chemicals if at all possible for yard care. If the yard is well fertilized, aerated and watered, many yards will outperform the weeds. By following these few IPM principles, your story can have a happy ending still and a healthy yard is not out of reach. Please always consult a lawn care specialist and follow safety guidelines of any equipment or products you use. Feel free to call me here at the extension office and I’ll help anyway I can. Be safe out there.