Stillwater News Press


January 14, 2012

In the Garden 01-15-12

Most Oklahomans realize the steps to a gorgeous lawn begin now, in the still of winter.

Lawns or turf can have different purposes and do not necessarily limit themselves to one species of grass. To many homeowners, pleasure is in a lawn’s uniformity, not diversity, and to this end they strive.

As in any planting, proper management is the key to success. Consider two things. First, vigorous plants overcome weeds. Second, a healthy lawn is not necessarily attained by the application of more fertilizer and water.

Many factors contribute to weeds in the lawn. Compaction or low fertility, insects or disease, excess water or shade and incorrect mowing height are all conditions that can give weeds the advantage.

Herbicides and pre-emergents may temporarily eliminate the problem, but identifying the predominant weeds and the underlying cause for opportunity leads to good management. In the long run it will save you time and money while creating a healthy environment for your grass, pets and children.

The agricultural extension office, OSU and local nurseries are available to help us identify weed and solutions. Seek information as well as solutions.

Weeds have different preferences. Knowledge is a pathway to success. For instance, shallow and frequent watering encourages crabgrass seed to germinate and weakens deep-rooted grasses.

Similarly, not all pre-emergent or contact herbicides are effective in all situations. One brand may work well in Bermuda grass while the next will take out the weeds and the lawn. Following these simple rules may save you from disaster.

Always follow directions. Look for weeds controlled and types of grass it can be applied on. Observe recommendations for temperature and watering parameters in application.

If it is the first time you have used a product, consider applying it to a small test area before covering a thousand square feet. When using a liquid herbicide, designate a separate sprayer to protect other plants from traces of residue later in the season.

Reseeding a lawn requires a minimum six- to eight-week waiting period after application of a pre-emergent herbicide. Exposure to light always gives weed seeds an advantage, making pre-emergents most effective in established turf.

If you are like me, the battle against weeds in the lawn, in your mind and in life is an ongoing process. When small and poorly rooted, they require less effort and less herbicide to eradicate. Get busy now identifying problems. Nip it in the bud.

LeeAnn Barton, Stillwater, can be emailed at

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