It’s always a sad time for lawn care enthusiasts like me and you to watch the leaves fall, temperatures drop, and early morning frosts on the lawn. We’re all eager for winter to hurry up and springtime to roll around so we can begin our annual lawn care routine. But the lawn care season truly starts now in the fall. Here’s why.
One of the most crucial fertilizer feedings of the year is post-summer. Your turf takes a beating in July and August with extreme temps, drought, insects, fungus, and other environmental stresses. So feeding your lawn in the early fall helps repair the yard – and a late-season application will strengthen your grassroots and ensure your turf has enough food to withstand the long winter.
But one overlooked task is weed control – specifically broadleaf weeds like ground ivy, chickweed, black medic, and more.
Having a healthy lawn is the number one way to combat the most common weeds naturally. This is why best cultural practices like proper watering and frequent mowing throughout the season are essential. Thick turf will crowd out most weeds to the point of being its natural weed barrier.
The good news is that most 3-way herbicides will do the trick. Cooler outside temperatures will make your grass less susceptible to herbicide damage and burn while spraying according to the label directions—ester-based herbicides are great options these cooler times of year.
I always have good luck and recommend herbicides with triclopyr, 2,4-d, and Dicamba. All-in-one solutions like Speedzone, T-Zone, or my personal favorite, End Run with Trimec are great options. These will offer a quick burndown of the leaf tissue while getting knockdown effects through the roots.
At Lawn Phix, I use On Deck – a 2-way herbicide with 2,4-D, Dicamba, and a built-in surfactant – and mix with Triclopyr 4 and Induce pH non-ionic surfactant. I also lower the pH of the tank water to 5.0 pH using citric acid. When spraying these tough weeds on customers’ lawns, I need to make sure these weeds are smoked within two applications. Tough, it’s a good idea to be prepared to spray 1-2 more times in the early spring, two weeks apart, to ensure complete control over broadleaf winter weeds.
I have complete posts linked to the following weeds, but here are a few that you need to keep an eye out for in the fall.
Creeping Charlie / Ground Ivy
Creeping Charlie (or ground Ivy) is a perennial weed that comes back every fall and is one of the most difficult to kill. As the name suggests, this ivy will creep up and spread quickly if not managed. Ground Ivy will form purple flowers, and its leaves will become thicker, waxier, and more resilient to herbicides. Be sure to read the labels of your weed killers, but you may want to use a non-ionic surfactant to ensure maximum penetration into the plant.
Chickweed is an annual weed and can also spread quickly. It will form white flowers in the fall, drop its seeds, and germinate new plants the following year. A fall pre-emergent is a good strategy for increasing chickweed, especially if you bypass late summer aeration and overseeding. This will be one weed where you will need another springtime post-emergent weed killer to finish the job.
Spurge is very common in the autumn and relatively easy to get rid of (especially in comparison to ground ivy or wild violet). You will most likely see spurge along sidewalks and in the cracks of driveways, landscape beds, and thinner lawn areas. Spurge can be hand-pulled easily or use a broadleaf herbicide that covers a broad spectrum of weeds.
I hope this quick post on the importance of fall weed control was helpful. While the days of mowing and laying fat stripes in our lawns are becoming far and few between, there’s still plenty of work to do in the fall. Feed your lawn and target these weeds now, and you’ll be glad you did come springtime – your lawn will be much healthier and better off for your efforts.