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Pull winter weeds before they seed

I like the progression of spring this year compared to last year. I couldn’t keep up with my garden chores last year, and things really got ahead of me.

There is quite a bit happening in lawns, gardens and landscapes. The most prominent problem at this time is the visibility of winter annual weeds. These are pretty much everywhere, with hairy bittercress being one of the worst at this time.

Winter annual weeds are those that germinate in the fall when we have cool temperatures. They hang around during the winter months until the cool spring weather hits, then they take off with a vengeance. Examples of winter annuals include hairy bittercress, chickweed, henbit, deadnettle, prickly lettuce, annual bluegrass and others.

Right now, they are close to going to seed in the Miami Valley, if they haven’t already. If you have any of these in your gardens, you need to get rid of them before they drop seeds and cause more trouble for you next year.

Hairy bittercress is really an interesting plant in that its ability to spread is pretty amazing. If you just touch or brush a plant with seeds, you will notice seeds flying everywhere. Sometimes they fly 6-8 feet from the plant. I have seen this plant become a major problem in landscapes in the past few years. Pull it before it goes to seed.

Winter annuals can be killed with herbicides labeled for their control. First identify the plant and then select the appropriate the herbicide. However, as they get closer to developing seeds, the leaves absorb very little herbicide and it’s not as effective.

There comes a point in time with winter annuals that you are better off pulling them — but again, get them before they go to seed.

The other option to control winter annual weeds in turf areas is to make sure the turf is nice and thick. These weeds grow in open areas and if the lawn is thin, winter annuals take advantage.

After you kill out or pull these weeds, fill in bare spots with grass seed and fertilize to increase lawn density.

Pest control

A final note, gypsy moth and European pine sawflies have hatched. If you have issues with these pests, you might want to start inspecting and determine control options. Both of these are much easier to control when they are small.

However, keep in mind, gypsy moth is a caterpillar and the sawfly is a not; therefore, products that control caterpillars won’t kill the sawfly. Choose your pesticides appropriately and read the label to make sure that you hit the target pest.

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