Lawn Care Corner: Managing Mature Weeds - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Lawn Care Corner: Managing Mature Weeds

Tina Bond

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Managing mature weeds is an uphill battle. Biologically, they’re at a stage in their life cycle when they’re producing seeds or other reproductive structures, perpetuating their survival for potentially years to come. Their leaves are nice and thick and covered with thick, waxy cuticle or leaf hairs, and roots have grown deep into the soil, firmly anchoring them in the ground. Overall, their growth rate has slowed and they’re generally harder to control using methods from hand pulling to chemicals. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to pull a mature thistle from the ground, but it isn’t easy and dangerous, considering their prickly leaves!

You’ve probably heard this hundreds of times, but it is worth repeating. The best defense against weeds (or any turfgrass pest) is a healthy stand of turf. It is important to use cultural practices to grow healthy turf, but to also use integrated weed management to effectively manage weeds. 

Prevention is taking steps to prevent weed establishment, such as using certified seed when establishing turf and cleaning mowers and other equipment to prevent weeds from spreading. Chemical controls include pre- and post-emergence herbicides that are a good tool for managing troublesome weeds. Preemergence herbicides, like Echelon, control emerging or developing weed seeds. These are applied just prior to germination and require water for activation. Postemergence herbicides, like Dismiss NXT and Solitare WSL, control weeds after they have emerged. Postemergence weed control works best on young weeds that are actively growing because they’re more susceptible to herbicide applications.

Getting a handle on weeds early is a lot easier than trying to control them later when they’re older and less susceptible to control. I’ve seen 5-foot-tall thistle sprayed with 2,4-D and live to see another day.

Created in partnership with the experts at FMC True Champions.

Tina Bond

Tina Bond, DPM, is a FMC Technical Service Manager with FMC Professional Solutions.