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The Fallacy of Weed and Feed Products Cont.

Perennial weeds Perennial weeds have the capacity to reproduce by seeds and underground plant parts such as rhizomes, nutlets or bulbs. Generally, perennial weeds are more difficult to control than annual weeds because of their ability to “come back” from underground plant parts. Control of perennial weeds is best achieved with a post-emergence herbicide. This should be applied in May or June, right after the weeds have begun growing again. Most people in the south want to get an early start on their lawn maintenance in the spring so begin applying their weed and feed in March. By the time the perennial weeds actually start growing in May or June, all of the active ingredients have been leached from the soil or are no longer effective. This means you are unnecessarily adding chemicals to the environment as they are not performing the anticipated function.

Warm Season Grasses

In the south, Centipede, St Augustine, Zoysia and Bermuda are the dominate grasses used for lawns and all four are well suited to handle the long, hot southern summers. Once again, in an effort to achieve the best lawn in the neighborhood with the least amount of effort the weekend gardener wants to get an early start. However, March or April are far too early to fertilize the warm season lawn. The proper time is after the last frost, when the lawn begins to turn green on it's own, which is May or June. Fertilize earlier and you risk stimulating new growth. This new tender growth is very susceptible to a late killing frost.

The practice of 'winterizing' the lawn is another practice promoted by weed and feed manufacturers and totally inappropriate for warm season grasses. The spurt on new growth from the fertilizer and an early frost can lead to winter kill. A commonly asked question in the spring is then "Why do I have dead spots in my lawn?" The answer usually lies in the attempt to 'winterize" the lawn.

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