5. If it is over 85 degrees do not spray your weeds either chemical or natural solutions as the weeds plant cells close and do not absorb anything. Spraying early in the morning to avoid the heat is the best time.
It’s been the perfect storm for Colorado’s tough weeds, with an early spring and just enough hand-watering and natural precipitation to germinate seeds.
If you’re down for the fight and fixing to win, arm yourself with these seven strategic bits of info.
• Fertilizer needs to be in your arsenal. According to researchers at Colorado State University, weeds thrive even better in lawns that are not fertilized. A healthy lawn crowds out weeds, and part of building a healthy lawn is proper fertilization.
• Drying out weeds won’t help you kill them. Again according to CSU, drought-stressed weeds may look like they are about to die, but they aren’t. They’ve evolved to thwart drought. But the healthier that weeds are, the easier they are to control because healthy weeds are better able to take in anything you put on them.
• Know your weed before you pull it. If the numbers are manageable, many can simply be dug out. Other weeds, such as bindweed and thistle, generally should not be pulled because their roots grow deep. Pulling these weeds just activates their regenerative root systems to start more growth. (If you’re trying to fight bindweed naturally, cut it.)
• If you apply a weed treatment, know its limitations. Here are two critical distinctions among weed-zapping products:
Selective products are effective because they’re designed to select certain plant traits to work on, such as broadleaf weeds. These products are effective on dandelions (broad leaves) in the lawn because they deal with the dandelions and don’t harm the grass (thin blades/leaves).
Nonselective products will zap any plant they contact. So if you use a product like Roundup — or one of the newer horticultural vinegars — you need to know that they will affect both the dandelion and the lawn.
• For any product, follow the label. Find out what the product is good for and where it might do more harm than good. If you use a product that requires mixing with water, don’t assume more is better. According to USDA scientists who do testing, using more product is usually less effective than the recommended amount.
• Is there a breeze? Whatever treatment you use, beware of it drifting even in a slight waft.
• The best strategy in the weed war is to be always on the offensive. The more proactive you are in the battle against weeds, the better your success. Treating weeds early and effectively, before they develop and disperse seeds — sometimes tens of thousands of them — gets the best control.
Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado. This article originally appeared in the Vail Daily.