Fall’s a great time to attack weeds

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Step ahead: Lawn and garden herbicide treatments should begin in the fall to eliminate weeds overtaking the yard in the spring. | Photo courtesy of ARAcontent

The crisp days of fall will soon be here, but a long dry summer has left many homeowners looking out on lawns and gardens overtaken with invasive weeds and vines. A yard full of these noxious plants is sure to make it difficult to enjoy the cooler outdoor temperatures.

In 2012, the nation faced one of the hottest summers on record in the last 60 years. With more than two thirds of the country experiencing severe to extreme drought, conditions were ideal for pesky weeds to flourish. Weeds like dandelions, crabgrass and clover easily tolerate hot temperatures and dry soil, overtaking lawns and gardens and lingering throughout the cooler fall months. Ivy and other aggressive vines thrive in the summer heat, climbing and covering bushes and trees and ultimately killing the plants underneath with their shade.

Rob Billinger, nursery manager at Saunoris Brothers Garden Center in Frankfort, recommended using a liquid weed killer vs. granular to get rid of these invasive weeds that thrive in hot, dry weather.

“The chemical gets into the plant easier using a liquid product. Weed Beater Ultra is the best that we carry,” Billinger said.

Left untreated, invasive plants can quickly become health and safety hazards. Kudzu can grow up to a foot per day, causing tree limbs to break under its weight, damaging homes and outdoor living spaces. Common grass weeds like nettles and thistles sting and prick the skin, and contact with dangerous plants like poison oak, ivy and sumac cause moderate to severe allergic reactions in almost all people.

Billinger said this summer’s extreme heat and drought-like conditions caused many lawns to suffer die-back — brown patches and fungus. He said that early to mid-fall is a great time to address this by seeding.

“You should also put down a fertilizer to green it up,” Billinger said. “Seed and fertilize around Labor Day or so and then fertilize again around mid-October.”

Two to three treatments are usually all that is needed to completely destroy these types of plants.

Effective herbicide options exist for every type of weed and vine. The Environmental Protection Agency rigorously tests herbicides for potential human health and environmental impact before they can be registered and sold for use. As with all pesticides, users should always read labels and use and store products accordingly.

With just one or two follow-up treatments after an initial fall herbicide application, invasive plants are eradicated at the root, and people can take back their lawns and gardens to enjoy the beauty of fall.

Finally, Billinger said it never hurts to aerate the lawn to break down thatch and help roots to take. Billinger said a contractor is usually hired to do such work.

Courtesy of ARAcontent