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Find your recipe for success, use spring wisely

Extension advice

POSTED: February 22, 2018 2:30 p.m.
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Richard Evans is the UGA Extension Service agent in Bryan County.

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Using springtime wisely: RSpring is on its way, and the lawn will be greening up soon.

Springtime is much like preparing to cook a large meal – you need to set yourself up for success first. When getting ready to cook a large meal, you first need to look at a recipe for the ingredients needed in the kitchen.

It’s the same way for our yards in the spring. We should use this time to find out what our yard needs in order to set ourselves up for success in the late spring and summer months.

What can we do? Well, the first thing we can conduct a soil test. This serves like our recipe in our cooking analogy. The soil test lets you know what nutrients are lacking or missing entirely in your yard, from there we can start preparing the yard for success in the coming months.

The second thing we can do right now is to control weeds. To the untrained eye, many yards are starting to look green, however most of this green are weeds.

The weeds we see now are winter weeds. Many of them germinated in November or December and have grown slowly until now. As temperatures climb, these weeds will grow quickly, bloom and then die as the weather gets hot.

These weeds will be difficult to control now. They have been growing for quite a while and are well established. They should have been prevented by using a pre-emergence herbicide last fall and winter.

We use pre-emergence herbicides in mid-October and again in early December to keep these weeds from coming up. Once the weeds are up and large, they are very hard to control with chemicals.

I suggest that you mow these weeds and collect the clippings. This will make the lawn look better and remove seeds that could germinate next year.

Although these winter weeds are very difficult to control with herbicides, you can use weed killers now to prevent the summer flush of weeds. Use pre-emergence herbicides in mid-February (about now) and 45 days later (early April). These two applications should help prevent many summer weeds from getting a start.

The pre-emergence herbicide atrazine prevents broadleaf weeds better than grassy weeds. Atrazine can be used on all warm season turf except green Bermuda grass. It should not be used on Bermuda grass unless it is fully dormant (brown). Atrazine can also be used as a post-emergence weed killer after weeds emerge.

We suggest that you do not use pre-emergence herbicides on turf that is less than a year old. Avoid applying them to weak turf or during lawn green up in the spring. Read and follow all label directions. Each herbicide may have special guidelines you must follow.

If you still want to try to kill the weeds we see now with chemicals, you can spray broadleaf weeds with Weed Be Gon, Image or the equivalent.

Expect poor weed control because herbicides work poorly on large weeds. Most of these weeds are going to die in May anyway, so I ask – why spray them? Just mow them now and wait for them to die. Then prevent the summer weeds before they get started.

Some may want to apply a weed and feed, which contains a fertilizer and a herbicide. The weed killer is usually a pre-emergence herbicide. Pre-emergence herbicides should be applied first in mid-February and again in early April. Fertilizer should not be applied until May 1 for centipede lawns.

Since the fertilizer and the herbicide should be applied at different times, there is no one good time to apply weed and feed. I recommend that you apply the fertilizer and weed control separately. This will avoid problems.

Be especially careful about putting weed killers on lawn while the lawn is greening up. The lawn can be damaged by herbicides during this time. Try not to use weed killers from the time the lawn is half greened up until it is fully green.

Furthermore, you can hold off on watering until about April. If you want to start getting the leaves up, now is a good time for that as well. If you have trees in your yard, the best natural fertilizer is its own leaves.

Let’s set our lawns up for success this season by getting your recipe and ingredients figured out early.

Email or call 912-653-2231 to reach me at the Bryan County Extension office for advice or help with soil testing or any other lawn/yard related questions.

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