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Coping with Weeds

One year of seeds brings seven years of weeds!  This might sound like an “old wives tale” but in fact, it’s true.  Dealing with weeds before they have the chance to seed is the most efficient and effective way to have a beautiful area for your family and pets to play. 

STEP 1: KNOW YOUR LAWN

Many selective herbicides work well with fine-leafed grasses such as couch as they are designed to kill the broadleaf weeds within it but when applied to a broadleaf grass like Buffalo, they will kill the grass as well as the weeds.  All products are clearly labeled showing whether they are suitable for Buffalo so it is crucial to check the packaging carefully.

STEP 2: IDENTIFY THE WEEDS

Often there is more than one weed present in a lawn at any time but this doesn’t pose an issue as the herbicides available are broad spectrum and treat multiple varieties.  Even still, it is important to know what weeds you are dealing with so that you can choose the best product.  Use our “Weed Chart” to help with this identification but if that doesn’t help, bring in a sample to your nearest Better Pets and Gardens store.

STEP 3: CHOOSE THE CORRECT WEED KILLER

Non-selective Herbicides
Non-selective herbicides kill every plant they contact and so they must be used around the garden with care.  Glyphosate is the most common ingredient and works quickly on all leafy weeds whilst leaving the soil unaffected for future plantings.  It moves through the plants leaves to the roots taking two to three weeks to take effect.  Mixing a teaspoon of urea in to the water with the glyphosate before spraying will make it work more quickly since the plant will work harder to take up the nitrogen in the urea, thereby taking up the glyphosate as well.

Glyphosate should never be sprayed over an entire lawn unless it is to be killed or removed. “Spot Touching” with a paintbrush is suitable on individual weeds in the lawn but care must be taken as it will kill any plant it touches and dries on. If glyphosate is accidentally sprayed onto wanted plants, rinse it off immediately with fresh water.

A good way to prevent overspray when spraying near a lawn or other plants is to cut the base off a plastic bottle then place it over the weed and spray down inside the neck.

Another clever trick when applying glyphosate is to attach sponges to the inside of an old pair of kitchen tongs.  Use this to wipe glyphosate on both sides of a weed’s leaf easily and effectively.

Path weeder products often only need to be applied once a year.  They control existing weeds and leave a pre-emergent chemical in the soil for up to 12 months to stop further seeds and weeds from germinating.  They are not suitable for use in garden beds or areas that are intended to be planted out in the future.

Weed killers for woody plants such as trees and blackberries are very effective and are either sprayed on actively growing plants or painted on to freshly cut trunks and stems.

Recently more natural weed killers have become available that are even safer than before.  These contain ingredients such as vinegar and salt which cause unwanted plants to dehydrate and burn from the top down.  These are best applied on hot days and are particularly good for controlling algae, lichen and moss but as with other non-selective weed killers, they will damage any plant they contact.

Lawn herbicides should be applied half way through the lawn mowing cycle allowing time for the chemical to be taken up but not so soon after a cut that it might burn.  For example, if the lawn is mown every fortnight, apply the lawn herbicide after one week.

Selective Herbicides

Selective herbicides are those that are able to kill the weeds but not the lawn.  Often these contain two types of hormone-based weed killers that deal with a broad spectrum of weeds.  They work by forcing the weed into an excessive and disordered growth pattern causing curling, yellowing and eventually death.  These are available in forms to suit Buffalo lawns but always check packaging first.

Selective herbicides are also available in the form of “feed and weed” products which allow gardeners to deal with the weeds at the same time as fertilise the lawn resulting in healthier growth that is able to discourage further weeds.  Check the instructions well on these products as some are suitable for Buffalo lawns and some are not.

Winter Grass has specific needs as it is such a prolific seeder so specific herbicides are available containing both pre-emergent and post-emergent ingredients to stop seeds from germinating and so break the cycle.  Winter Grass herbicides should only be used on established lawns but are generally safe for use on Buffalo.

It is far more fun relaxing on the lawn then pulling weeds from it so be diligent but don’t become obsessed.  Aim for a beautiful, prickle-free lawn that everyone can enjoy, even if it does have a few weeds.  The best way to do this is to keep the lawn healthy with regular mowing and fertilising.  This will keep the lawn tight and allow it to cover any bare earth where seeds and weeds might otherwise grow.

APPLYING HERBICIDES SAFELY & EFFECTIVELY

  1. Do not apply in windy conditions or if rain is expected within 24 hours.
  2. Do not apply when soil is dry or lawn is suffering from moisture stress.  Better to water the lawn well and wait a couple of days until it has recovered.
  3. Don’t mow for 7 days after applying.
  4. Keep pets away until the lawn and leaves have dried.
  5. Keep specific sprayers and applicators for weed killers or wash them very well after use.
  6. Although weed killers are very safe, wear gloves when mixing and rubber boots or shoes when spraying.
  7. Always read mixing and safety instructions on packs carefully.  Mixing a stronger blend will not kill weeds any faster and will only result in wasting money.