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The Key to Winter Weed Control is to Start Early

It never fails that come March and April, the desire for many of our lawns to begin to breaking dormancy is met with the horror that the only things that seem to be green are the weeds that we have been ignoring throughout winter. This may include white clover, dandelions, chickweed, the painful lawn burweed, or so any other species. These weeds may be welcome to some homeowners as some serve as early pollen sources for pollinators, but they can also be a nuisance to others.

For the latter homeowners, the key to controlling those weeds is to begin in late fall or early winter. Waiting until the weeds are obvious by either their height and flower signals that the plant is mature, and this makes the plant much more resistant to any type of chemical that may be applied. Also, in some cases like lawn burweed, destroying the plant after it matures does not rectify the issue of the potentially painful burred seeds. By applying appropriate herbicides when weedy plants are young and immature, we see a greater effectiveness of our product, resulting in less overall spraying. For a better idea of when to spray weeds in South Carolina, the HGIC 2334, Lawn Weed Control Timing Chart may be of use.

Some weeds, such as Carolina geranium, can be easily removed by hand-pulling; however, you may encounter others that are much more resistant and require herbicide application, such as Florida betony. Prior to spraying, make sure you have correctly identified your weeds and the grasses in which you want to spray; reach out to your local Extension agent if you are unsure or would like recommendations.

For more information on weed control throughout the year in South Carolina, see HGIC 2310, Managing Weeds in Warm Season Lawns.

Immature henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), known for its purple flowers and square stems, is a common winter annual that is best control in late fall. Adam Gore 2020, Clemson Extension

Immature henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), known for its purple flowers and square stems, is a common winter annual that is best control in late fall. Adam Gore 2020, Clemson Extension

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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