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Local Landscapes: Control those winter weeds


Jeff Wilson/MSU Extension Service



It's usually around this time of year that those annoying winter weeds start popping up in our front yards. What has been a clean tan lawn for the last three months quickly becomes a mass of purple and green weeds. They can be a real nuisance and are sometimes difficult to get rid of.  


There are two basic types of weeds in our yards, annuals and perennials. The annual weeds germinate during the winter, grow to maturity, produce seeds and then die. They come back each year from the seeds produced the year before. The perennial weeds are different in that they don't die; they just go dormant for a season. They then grow back from the roots. Within these annual and perennial groups there are also grassy weeds and broadleaf weeds. They are each treated and controlled differently.  


Some of the most common annual winter weeds are annual bluegrass, sow thistle, henbit and lawn burweed. Henbit has deep purple blooms that can be attractive ... if they are in someone else's yard. Lawn burweed is also referred to as sticker weed because of the burrs that poke into your feet. They can be a real stickler. 


The best method to control these annual weeds is with a fall pre-emergent, also called a weed preventer. It is important to apply this before the weeds germinate (begin to grow). The best time to do this in north Mississippi is usually around mid-September. Weed preventers can prevent as much as 85 percent of annual weeds from ever germinating! 


Some of the most common perennial winter weeds are dichondra (Dollar Weed), clover, dandelion and wild garlic (sometimes called wild onion). Since they come back from their roots, a weed preventer will not keep them from growing. This means you may have to spray or treat them, along with the few winter annual weeds that also grow.  


Before you treat your lawn for weeds you always need to know what kind of grass you have, since not all weed killers can be used on all types of grass. Once you know your grass type and once you have identified the weed, then you can select the proper weed killer to use.  


For many of the grassy weeds, a product containing Atrazine or Imazaquin will usually work. For most all winter broadleaf weeds a product containing 2,4-D works well. Remember, you always need to read the label and make sure the product is safe on your turf type. If you need help with this contact your local MSU Extension office.



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