If you’re a novice gardener, there is a very good chance that you’ve ruined your yard with weed killer. The thing about learning when to apply weed killer is that not enough companies will admit that it will often kill weeds. However, it will also kill the rest of your garden in the process.
Healthy grass becomes collateral damage while a novice gardener is trying to get rid of bindweeds, broadleaf plaintains (ex. white man’s foot), broad-leaved docks, cat’s ears, cleavers (ex. stickyweeds or goosegrass,) clovers, common daisies, common self-heals, creeping buttercups, creeping (slender) speedwells, clovers, dandelions, ground elders (ex. Bishop’s Weed), groundsels, hairy bittercresses, herb roberts, lesser celandines, marestails, oxalis (ex. creeping woodsorrels), red dead-nettles (ex. purple dead-nettles), rosebay willowherbs (ex. fireweeds), spurges and/or stinging nettles.
Is it possible to kill any of these weeds without hurting the rest of your garden? Yes, but you must be very careful with how it is placed.
Weed Killer – All you Need to Know!
What causes weeds
Improper fertilization, irrigation or mowing practices attract weeds way too easily and help to overtake your lawn. Bluegrass, crabgrass and goosegrass can grow, produce seeds and die within a season. How? It’s usually caused from overwatering, compacted soil and/or mower blades that are set too low.
If your grass is lower than 2 inches, chances are you will be at a higher risk of weeds. For people who live in areas with excess sun and heat, this could do wonders for tropical flowers but will not be the best kind of friend for your grass. Healthy grass in fertile soil, however, is a weed’s worst enemy. Well, that and weed killer.
Types of Weed killers
If you’ve walked into a home improvement store and picked up the first weed killer bottle or bag you can find, stop. Do you know the difference between contact weed killer, non-selective weed killer, residual weed killer and/or selective weed killer?
- Contact weed killer is self-explanatory. It sticks to any weeds that it comes in contact with. It must be applied early in the day and during the growing period. This process, on average, takes two weeks.
- Non-selective weed killers are usually the biggest pain. They’re equal-opportunity killers and get rid of anything nearby. Avoid walking over areas where your shoes can spread weed killer out, or sprinkling weed killer on windy days because it has no favorites; its goal is to get rid of it all. If there are certain plants that would be in danger, consider covering them beforehand.
- Selective weed killers may be the best to purchase if you already know which weeds you can tolerate and which ones are deal-breakers. These herbicides kill a particular type of weed, which is usually listed on the package. They will usually leave others unharmed.
- Residual weed killers go a step further. Instead of looking for weeds on the surface, this product poisons the soil surrounding the weeds. However, that soil then becomes useless for other flowers, plants and grass to grow, in addition to ruining it for weeds. Like non-selective weed killer, plants and flowers you actually want can too quickly become collateral damage. They do come in handy for areas where you wouldn’t want plants to be anyway, such as your driveway, sidewalks, patios and garage.
Best time to apply weed killer
Where you live will largely determine when you should put down weed killer and which one to use. Generally speaking, early spring is the best time to do it.
If you’re in a cold-weather climate where it feels like spring will never come, stubborn ice and snow may get in your way. Most weed killers will not take effect until you have consistently dry-weather days. Then re-apply about eight weeks later to keep common weeds like crabgrass out of your yard.
But don’t get so hung up on spring showers and flowers that you overlook the fall season. Fall is the best time to really get a handle on weeds because weeds are more vulnerable. You may not even notice how well it worked until next spring when the snow melts, but maintaining your lawn throughout spring, summer and fall will give you a leg up on the following spring.
Keeping a thick, healthy makeup of grass and fertilizing your lawn will do wonders to let weeds know they’re not welcome.
Some people have a love-hate relationship with weed killer and dodge it altogether. Mowing your lawn every three to five days during growth periods (on average, keeping it at 2.5 to 3 inches in the summer), and sufficient irrigation and fertilization usually keep weeds from becoming too big of a problem.
When the lawn is mowed, make sure to leave the grass clippings, which provide approximately 20 percent of grass fertilization. Should you use organic compost fertilizers? Consider them. But apply according to gardening direction, usually applying once or two annually.