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Wheeler: Attack winter weeds before they seed
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This time of year, the Extension office receives many calls about home lawn care and weed control. Maintaining a lawn takes a lot of work and effort but it can be very rewarding in the long run.

One thing to keep in mind is that for most of us, getting a lawn close to the “golf course ideal” is going to be something that will require a lot of resources. However, getting it to something to be very proud to show off to the neighborhood should not be too expensive or labor-intensive.

This time of year is the season for annual winter weeds, including henbit, purple deadnettle, chickweed and trampweed. These weeds are reproduced only by seeds that germinate in the fall and get to a size that can be easily seen at this time of year. If any of the plants are showing signs of flowers, they likely will set some seed for next fall.

One good thing about these weeds is they will wither away once temperatures become too hot. But their seeds lay dormant throughout the summer, waiting for cooler temperatures to become active again.

The way to get control of winter annuals is either to apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall just prior to seed germination, or wait until this time of year and get them with a post-emergent herbicide application. In reality, you need both types of applications, at least in the first year, in order to get a handle on winter annuals.

Some good pre-emergent weed control products out there are benefin, pendimethalin and oryzalin. These are the products’ trade names, but are also sold under brand names easier to remember. One example is Surflan.

Post-emergent products that can be used now are triclopyr, 2,4-D and dicamba. I often recommend clients get a three-way herbicide for applications like this. By combining herbicides into one product, a wider range of weeds can be killed with one application, making it more cost-effective.

One of the common three-way herbicides on the market contains MCPP, 2,4-D and dicamba. This combination of chemicals is marketed by many manufacturers and can be found anywhere herbicides are sold.

A weed on most gardeners’ top 10 list is crabgrass, which sneaks up on you and can infest an area in no time. This is a good time of year to squash it before it germinates. It’s a summer annual weed that begins germination when soil temperatures are around 55 degrees. A pre-emergent application of one of the products discussed earlier will go a long way toward keeping it at bay.

Before you use any product, read the label and make sure you understand the directions and precautions. If you need help making sense of a label give the office a call.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293. His column appears weekly and on

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