Turf Tips: Controlling Winter Weeds

By: David Yost, Merrifield Plant Specialist and Turf Expert

Spring is just around the corner. Before long you’ll be sowing grass seed, applying fertilizer, and mowing the lawn! To return your lawn to a thick, healthy state, March is the time to begin controlling pesky winter weeds currently taking over your lawn, and preventing summer weeds.

Winter weeds include chickweed, bittercress, henbit and deadnettle, as well as perennial weeds, such as clover, dandelion and wild violets. These winter weeds actually germinate in late September and early October, but they often go unnoticed in the fall when they’re just young seedlings. They overwinter as a small rosette, and come spring they are ready to strike with a vengeance!

Winter weeds typically flower in March, but with the warmer than average temperatures we’ve had lately, they are well ahead of schedule. Many actually started blooming in February! Regardless of when they bloom, you can still stop them dead in their tracks with the right control product. At Merrifield Garden Center, our favorites to control winter weeds are:

Three of our favorites to control winter weeds: Weed Beater, Weed B Gon, Speed Zone.

All of these control products come in liquid form, in both a ready-to-use spray and a concentrate that can be mixed with water through a tank-type or hose-end sprayer. Generally speaking, liquid weed killers are ideal for controlling actively growing weeds because they typically provide better surface area coverage than granular products. Plus, since they are applied as a spray, they can be turned on or off as needed, limiting waste or overuse.

We really like Speed Zone as it contains the same three active ingredients as the other products, but also has Carfentrazone, which makes it work faster and be effective at lower temperatures (50 degrees, versus 60 degrees). Speed Zone also has a two-week waiting period before reseeding the lawn, compared to the three-week waiting period that most of the other products require. This allows you to get started on your overseeding project sooner so that you will be growing thick and healthy turf. After all, the best weed control strategy is having a thick and healthy lawn.

Most winter annuals can be controlled with just one application of weed killer. However, because perennial weeds live year-to-year with an established root system, some of them may be more difficult to control than others. Clover, for example, can typically be controlled with just one application, while others, such as wild violet, may take several applications to effectively control.

Regardless of the weed control product you use, none of them will hurt your lawn as long as they’re used as directed. Be sure to treat any existing broadleaf weeds in the lawn now, so that you’ll be ready to start building a beautiful new lawn from a clean slate.

To learn more turf tips, join us for our upcoming lawn care seminars:

  • Saturday, March 18 at 10 am at our Gainesville location
  • Saturday, March 25 at 10 am at our Merrifield location