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Pam McKay, general sales manager
|Green Up the Grass
Kill Down the Weeds!
With some people chompin' at the bit to get busy with their lawn care, I thought it was worth re-issuing the email tip we put out at about this same time last year. It's important because of the discussion of the use of a 15-5-10 fertilizer in February through early March. If you've listened to the radio show lately, you know how much I'm trying to encourage you to put down that 15-5-10 very soon. And since it's already February 6th, I think this tip from last year, with some timely edits, is well worth the reading (or re-reading in some cases).
EARLY GREEN UP TRICKS OF THE TRADE
The best kept secret in lawn fertilization, one that was even kept from me up until two years ago, is the use of a basic 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer in late February/early March. You may recognize the ratio from the GardenLine fertilization schedule mentioned earlier. Only this 3-1-2 is a basic immediate release fertilization. And the best fertilizer I've found for this very purpose is a 15-5-10. But remember it should not have the words slow-release or controlled-release on the bag.
The pratfall that most everyone encounters after being lulled into a false sense of security from the early green up, is forgetting to follow the basic fertilization schedule Click Here at the first of April. Another hurdle is to make sure that there are no freezes on the horizon. But all is not lost even if you miss the basic fertilization by 2-3 weeks. Just get busy, and try to get back on schedule.
WEED - AND - FEED
Touchy subject for me, but there is a limited window of opportunity that I recommend using a weed-and-feed. But be forewarned, I've never been a big fan of weed-and-feeds because most carry a very caustic chemical known as Atrizine. And, if misused or over-applied, Atrizine is notorious for moving very quickly through soil and eventually contaminating ground water. Beyond that, the other main reason I have trouble recommending it is because of the way it burns roots of trees and shrubs. Just read the bag... even the weed-and-feeds warn against getting it near the drip line of trees and shrubs. But I do realize that many people need to solve the problem of winter weeds before they get busy with the basic fertilization schedule. So, here is your one and only opportunity. But in order to use a weed-and-feed, especially one with the Atrizine herbicide, take have to take this annual pledge with me:
I (INSERT NAME HERE) DO SOLEMLY PLEDGE TO USE A WEED- AND-FEED FERTILIZER ONLY ONCE IN A YEAR AND I FURTHER PLEDGE TO MAKE SURE THAT I FOLLOW APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS EXPLICITALLY, SO AS NOT TO OVER USE OR OVER- APPLY BASED ON THE THREAT THAT SOME WEED-AND-FEEDS POSE TO OUR GROUNDWATER SUPPLIES AND TENDER ROOTS OF TREES SHRUBS. WITH JUSTICE AND GARDENLINE FOR ALL!!!
I'm not sure whether to talk first about the "weeds to come" or the weeds that may already be up in the lawn. Since most of the weeds that are up now will burn away in the heat of a Texas summer, lets focus first on keeping late spring and summer weeds from being a problem. This too is done during the end of February through the first of March with Pre- Emergent Herbicides. More specifically we are looking for the pre- emergent herbicides to control the grassy weeds that are such a problem from May through July - weeds like Crabgrass, Goosegrass, Dallisgrass and Johnsongrass.
The only truly effective way to control these weeds is to prevent them from being that problem. Which, if you think about it, means that if you do the pre-emergent right, you'll never need to use a weed-and-feed. And that is the beauty of the pre-emergent herbicide. But it is critical that these pre-emergent applications are put out before the end of March. The best pre-emergent herbicides for February application are Barricade, Pendemethlin, Betasan, Treflan, Surflan. Green Light makes three pre-emergent herbicides for this purpose. One is known as First Down and the other is Amaze.
The third bag from Green Light simply says Betasan. One of the newest pre-emergent herbicides comes in a fertilizer formulation from Fertilome. It is called Fertilome's All Seasons with Barricade. Nitro Phos also has a "barricade only" product this year. This actually kills the proverbial two birds with one stone, in that the Barricade fertilizer's carrier is a 3-1-2 fertilizer, lumped in with the herbicide (refer to early green up section). Finally, the Pendemethlin herbicide comes marketed as Pendulum. In most cases, you will probably need to put out one of these pre-emergent herbicides once again in May, just to be on the safe side and prevent any new weed seeds from germinating June through August.
Usually, if you have a bunch of weeds already up, they are what we know as the winter germinating weeds and they could have been prevented with the use of two pre-emergent herbicides back in November. Nevertheless, if that didn't take place or if for any other number of reasons you have clover and poa anna or chickweed, or henbit and other groups of nefarious weeds out and about, then let's knock them back with a post-emergent herbicide. Most post-emergent herbicides kill only broadleaf weeds. So, if you're problem is mostly the thin seed-head heavy poa anna (that often looks like rye grass gone bad) don't worry heat will take care of it. Most post-emergent herbicides are also of the liquid variety. You can either use a concentrate in your own pump-up sprayer or a dial-in hose-end sprayer. But the best news in recent years is the technological advancement of the ready-to-use sprays you simply attach to the end of a water hose.
As of 1999 the best names for post-emergent herbicides were Green Light Wipe Out; Ortho Weed-B-Gone; Fertilome's Weed Out and more recently Bonide's Weed Beater for Southern Lawns. The Green Light and Bonide products are two that I know come in a ready-to-use form that attach to the hose. In all cases, these products must be used according to the instructions. And here's your final "best kept secret" with regards to the broadleaf weed killers... Use a surfactant! What's a surfactant? It helps the herbicide actually stick to the leaf. Hi Yield makes a bottle called Spreader Sticker; Monterry makes two called No Foam A and No Foam B, and for the do-it-yourselfer in all of us, one tablespoon of liquid dish soap per gallon of water of spray will also help. My favorite, is the Spreader/Sticker from Hi Yield. Also, make note, that some of the Rady-To-Use sprays might have a "surfactant" built in. Just read the label. Finally, I don't care how bad you think the weed problem is, if you try to double the dosage of any of the products I just recommended, you will almost assuredly kill your grass.
Until next issue, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
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