Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Kelly Heidbreder

Weeds can tell you a lot about your lawn

As you run across your turf, I'm sure you'll notice that other little plants are popping up. Some people think anything that's green and covers the soil is a perfectly good lawn. But about 75 percent of the yard could be packed with healthy perennial rye and bluegrass and the other 25 percent is more than you bargained for. They are "the other turf plants."

Other people think of the other turf plants as unwanted weeds. Whether you love them or hate them, it's nice to know what you are looking at and how to deal with it. Weeds are usually a good indicator that there is some kind of stress on your lawn.

A big patch of weeds can be a big bull's-eye on a patch of bad soil. Crabgrass, annual bluegrass, Carolina geranium, and plantain say you have acidic soil. They like soil with a pH of 4.8. You might see jimsonweed and tall morning glory in areas with a low pH. Take a soil test of the area. Your results might find that you need to add some lime to kick that pH level up a notch or two.

Dandelion, pigweed, chickweed, and wild mustard appear almost anywhere. But they will look stunted and pale when the soil is too acidic.

Get your soil tested. It's not hard to do. Farmers do it all the time, and so should you! Clean your trowel and bucket, then go around the yard and dig 10 small holes. They should be eight to 10 inches deep. Dig about half a cup of soil from each hole and put it in your clean bucket. Make sure the holes are scattered around the turf part of your yard, especially in the weedy areas. Let the soil dry on newspapers for a couple days, then call your county extension office for instructions on where to send your soil sample. They will send information on what to put on your lawn to make the soil healthier.

The roots will slip out of the soil more easily if they are moist. A dry root is reaching for any moisture it can get, and the dry soil is holding on tight. Cultivate and hoe the garden when the soil is dry.

The best time to pull those weeds is just after it has rained. If it will be a while before there is precipitation in the forecast, just hose your garden down one morning and weed later in the afternoon or the next morning. Try not to walk where you weed. You might be picking up seeds on the bottom of your shoes.

Some common broadleaf weeds in your turf are annual bluegrass, plantain, dandelion, and Canadian thistle. You can usually spot annual bluegrass by its pale green blade and feathery seed head. The abundant seed head almost makes the lawn look white. Plantain has a wide leaf and is usually lower than your turf.

You can hide these weeds by mowing at least two and a half inches high. A broadleaf weed herbicide in late summer and early fall will also help.

You've got to bend over or get one of those weed pullers on a long handle. Do your best to get every bit of the root. A new plant will quickly grow on a small piece left behind. Start pulling early in the season. Keep on top of those weeds in the early spring and summer.

Those plants will have less of a chance to spread their seeds. But you might need some pain reliever after you get the job done.

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