Winter Weeds to Look Out For
If you think you’re out of the weeds just because winter has set in, you may be wrong. Hopefully you’ve put in the worthwhile labor that’s necessary to cultivate a dense and resilient lawn that’s resistant to intrusive plants. That, after all, is the best preventative measure against weed infestations.
However, sometimes our lawns are left vulnerable to weeds despite all our best efforts. If you’ve got some weak spots in your lawn that are practically inviting a patch of unwanted intruders to settle in, it’s best to know what to look for and how to take action.
Chickweed and Henbit
Both of these plants are named for the fact that chickens think they’re a tasty treat. And to be honest, many foraging enthusiasts don’t blame them for it. Chickweed and henbit are both edible, offering a mildly bitter flavor, with henbit being a bit mintier due to the fact that it is, well, in the mint family.
Both produce small, attractive flowers that tend to bring pollenators into your yard. While these are fun features to offer, we know that doesn’t mean you actually want them in your yard.
Chickweed and henbit grow in a “sprawling” nature, and for those who like a pristine carpet of grass, their presence is considered a nuisance. They’re considered broadleaf weeds, so the best defense against them is a post-emergent broadleaf killer with potent chemicals such as 2,4-D.
Here we have yet another edible broadleaf with a bad reputation. While not truly invasive, this opportunistic flowering plant is still widely considered an eyesore.
They’re fairly winter-hardy, and the most eco-friendly way to handle them is by uprooting them with a trowel. However, if you don’t feel up to the task when it’s 40 degrees outside, we don’t blame you. Once again, a broadleaf herbicide like dicamba will do the trick.
Kentucky bluegrass is not universally considered a weed, but its prolific growth pattern is often unwelcome in established lawns. As an annual, bluegrass tends to overwinter after seeding in the fall, and then it releases its seeds come springtime.
Ryegrass is also considered a legitimate turf in some regions, yet eschewed as a weed in others. Again, this mixed reputation is attributed to the fact that it spreads rapidly and can overtake lawns where other grass types are already in place. Ryegrass is a perennial, meaning it blooms multiple times per year.
For both of these, a pre-emergent herbicide is your best bet if you have reason to believe your lawn is at risk. This is because, once they’re established, you’re faced with task of spot-treating problem areas with chemicals that can easily harm your lawn. Grass-specific herbicides simply aren’t targeted enough to kill this grass, but not that grass right next to it.
Many would rather not mess with a pre-emergent treatment, or with a weed killer that can damage your turf, especially in the winter. To avoid invasive grass species altogether, you want to put in your best effort to nurture a grass bed that’s simply too dense for them to take root in the first place.
For more pro tips on weed control any time of the year, check out Preventing Weeds in Your Lawn.