— Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to email@example.com. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.
I have weeds popping up in my lawn. Is it too early to treat them?
A sudden warm spell during winter can cause weeds to sprout, and I’ve noticed them all across town.
When temperatures are in the 60s, you can apply a broadleaf weed killer to control clover, dandelion, henbit, and other non-grassy weeds. Apply when there is no rain in the 48-hour forecast, and follow all instructions carefully.
The key to a weed-free lawn is a dense, aggressive turfgrass. Weeds simply don’t have room to sprout and grow in a healthy lawn. Raising the mower deck to 3 inches or higher will promote longer roots and a wider spread on your turfgrass.
Watering deeply and less frequently encourages roots to grow deeper into the soil where they are less susceptible to water stress. Healthy roots are the key to healthy grass.
What is a pre-emergent and how does it work?
Pre-emergent is an herbicide that can be applied to your lawn to prevent the growth of annual weeds. When applied at the proper time, a pre-emergent will disrupt the root growth of a newly sprouted seed, killing the plant.
There are two different kinds of annual weeds, requiring two applications of pre-emergent each year. In Parker County, warm season weeds sprout in late February to mid-March when the soil temperature increases to about 50 degrees. Cool season weeds sprout in the fall and winter, beginning in mid-September when the weather begins to cool. In order to be effective,
pre-emergent must be applied to the soil and watered in before weed seeds begin to sprout.
A pre-emergent can be purchased at your local garden store and applied to your lawn using a fertilizer spreader. The product should be effective for approximately two months. Be sure to follow all instructions carefully.
When should I fertilize my lawn?
Applying fertilizer too early in the growing season will encourage spring weeds, and do very little for the grass that is emerging from dormancy.
According to Dr. Hennon Cummings, Director of the Turfgrass Management Program at Tarleton State University, “If you aren’t sweating, it’s too early. Fertilizer should be applied after the grass has grown enough to require mowing at least four times. If you want greener grass prior to then, you should apply iron.”