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Question: I went to buy weedkiller at the store and I got so confused that I didn't buy any. There are weeds under the shrubs and in the lawn. Is there one product that will cover both situations? Is it better to use liquid or dry weedkiller? Should I apply weedkiller within the lawn fertilizer?

Answer: Weedkillers come in three major groups. Those that kill all plants are known as nonselective. And then there are chemicals that only kill grass plants and those that only kill broadleaf plants. You need to use the right one for your weed problem. If you don't have weeds in an area, applying a chemical within your fertilizer treatment could be harmful to your environment and a waste of your money.

Weedkillers can be granular or liquid. The granular variety works well when mixed with fertilizer, or applied over large areas or in windy conditions. Liquid weedkiller works very well when mixed with liquid fertilizer for spot applications and should only be used when the wind is at a minimum. Early morning and late evening are good times to apply liquid weedkiller because the wind is usually calmer and the plants soak it up better.

It is important to know what kind of weeds you have, even if you don't know the exact names. Weeds can be grass or broadleaf, and annual or perennial. Three of these categories are fairly easy to remove. Both grass and broadleaf annuals will die at the end of the season. If they can be stopped from flowering and reseeding, they can be prevented from reappearing. The best thing to do is to get the lawn grass or perennial ground-cover plants established and then apply a pre-emergent weedkiller in the spring for most of them and in the fall for a few of them. Pre-emergent weedkillers form a chemical barrier on the soil surface that stops plants as they try to sprout up through it. They will last about three months, so applications in spring and fall will prevent most annual weeds in both lawns and flowerbeds. Disturbing the barrier by hoeing or raking will allow seeds to sprout and grow. Pre-emergents will work on perennial seeds but not the mature plant.

Many broadleaf weeds grow tall enough to be killed when they are mowed. If not, a broadleaf weedkiller is used as the next step. It should be applied when the plant is actively growing. If the plant is dormant in the summer heat, not much growth will occur, so the weedkiller will not have much effect.

Just as a single drop of water will not get an entire sponge wet, the first dose of weedkiller on a mature weed may not have much effect. Several doses may be necessary to get the entire root system. It needs to be sprayed each time the weed sends up a new shoot. If the new shoot is not sprayed, it will resupply the roots with nutrients and put you back to square one.

Weeds that are both a grass and a perennial are the toughest to remove from a lawn, since lawn grasses are also perennials. If there are only a few, they can be hand-pulled or hoed out. If there are a lot of them, they need to be sprayed with a nonselective weedkiller. The spray will also kill the good grass, and the grass will have to be replanted. Limiting the spray drift will help protect the good grass. To create a shield that can block the spray and keep it only on the clump of weed grass, cut the bottom off a plastic gallon milk jug and insert the spray nozzle through the top. Set the jug on the bad grass and spray. Let the spray finish dripping off the inside of the jug before moving to the next clump so it doesn't drip on the good lawn as you move it.

Follow the label directions. Overdosing does not do any good. Usually an overdose will just burn off the leaves and result in the roots sending up more. Smaller doses over a period of time are more effective.

Email questions to Jeff Rugg at info@greenerview.com.

COPYRIGHT 2018 JEFF RUGG

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