Such lovely weather we’re having, and while it’s switching from frost to sun and wet to dry, those cool-weather weeds are blanketing our yards and flower beds.  Many local people are asking about what weeds they are seeing, and most just want to know how to get rid of them!

There are over a dozen of the most pesky cool weather broadleaf weeds.  Chickweed, Sticky Willy, Henbit, Carolina Geranium, Clover, Dandelion, Dichondra, Burrweed, Oxalis, Prickly Lettuce, Purslane, Spurge, Wild Onion, and various invasive grasses, like Barngrass, Johnson Grass, Goose Grass, and Dallisgrass turn up while we’re hiding inside from the cold.  (You can Google images of these, or just come over to my yard – I have them all!) Part of the problem is that most of the broadleaf weeds will die back each year when the weather warms, but they have underground parts that increase and multiply, so if you don’t get them dug out, or if they and the rest flower and seed before you do something, they can easily take over a lawn that needs warmth to come out of dormancy.

If you don’t mind using chemical products, you need to consider using a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall.  If you’d rather not go that route, corn gluten meal has been useful for some folks, but timing is critical; you need to apply it before the soil warms to 55 degrees, which should interrupt the germination process of most weeds.  Keeping a yard journal of when your favorite weeds appear this year will help you time your application next year. Weed-and-feed products aren’t all that beneficial; the best time to use a fertilizer isn’t a real good time to use an herbicide. And plain fertilizers need to be used according to the calendar and directions on the label as well.  You don’t want to make the weeds happier, healthier, and stronger by feeding them!

So right now, you’re looking at your yard with lovely clover flowers, children making daisy chains, bees making honey, and your St. Augustine is cowering under all this spring activity.  One important choice is, can you live with this until it gets really warm, and the cool weeds die back?  If the answer is h*** no! then you mow early and often, to keep the weeds from flowering.  In flower beds, you dig out the offenders, whenever possible, getting those little bulblets under the oxalis, for example.  Bag that chickweed; all that pulling you are doing can loosen any seeds that have formed, dropping to your newly bare soil, and hiding till next year.

Once weeds are well established in a lawn, there are some chemical options, but they have to be used carefully to avoid destroying the nearby grass in the process.  If you create a barrier, like a bucket or oatmeal box with the bottom cut out, you can push it around the offender, and spray with a spray bottle filled with an herbicide like glyphosate (Roundup contains glyphosate, for example).  This can be really time-consuming, but if your lawn isn’t totally overrun, or if your offender is close to a beloved bush, this is a great way to gain some control.  And if you practice this activity on a daily basis, you get a little exercise, and those weeds will eventually give up and die.

One note worth mentioning: those grasses listed earlier will NOT respond to your broadleaf weed controls in the same way, because anything you do to them short of pulling them out will kill the surrounding St. Augustine.  They are all grasses, after all, and operate differently.

A few other notes on lawn issues: fungal diseases and insect damage can occur, beginning now and continuing through the summer.  Unfortunately, many of them are the result of too much or too little water, too much or too little nitrogen, and temperature changes.  If you see funny patches, or spots or mold on your grass, call the Chambers County AgriLife Extension Office for identification and control suggestions.  Whether it’s a lawn, a flower bed, a vegetable garden, or an orchard, there is expert advice through the good offices of Texas A&M Horticulture to help.

– Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.