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Archive for Sunday, October 26, 2003

Tilling, mulch good methods to fight weeds

October 26, 2003

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Henbit and chickweed are two weeds most of us do not think about until we see them blooming in spring. Chances are, however, that both of these are growing in your yard, garden or flower bed right now. Considered self-seeding winter annual weeds, the seeds from last spring's flowers already have germinated and are starting to grow. So, if you have had problems with these weeds in the past, here are a few tips to help you control them:

Henbit is a rather showy spring blooming weed. The violet flowers, born on stems 8 to 12 inches tall, are quite striking on a warm March day. They are commonly found in cultivated areas such as farmers fields, flower beds, gardens and in the lawn. Chickweed, on the other hand, has a lower growth habit with creamy yellow blooms. Mix the two plants together and you can create a beautiful spring display with little effort. As with most weeds, they can be invasive and easily take over if left unattended.

Because both weeds are self-seeding, the plants that were there last year are not the same plants that we are finding this year. They are, however, plants that sprout from the seeds that were dropped earlier this spring. The seeds have started to germinate and will continue to grow all winter. Then, as the days get longer and the temperatures rise next spring, both will bloom and start over the process.

If you had henbit or chickweed last spring, now is a good time to control them before next year. Start with mechanical controls. Hoe or lightly till bare soil in the garden and around flowers, trees and shrubs. For added control, apply a fresh layer of mulch -- 2 to 3 inches should be enough. For hard-to-reach or non-cultivated areas, the broad-leaf weed killer Trimec is the best product to use. Spray on a sunny day when the air temperatures are above 55 degrees. Avoid spraying newly sprouted grass seed because dieback may occur. Likewise, avoid spraying desirable trees and shrubs. As always, read and follow all label directions.

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