Keeping weeds out of your Florida lawn can seem a lot like keeping alligators out of the Everglades: an impossible mission. Fortunately, weeds can’t eat you, so your odds of success increase in the battle for a beautiful yard. Even so, weeds come in a multitude of makes and models for which no single eradication technique or herbicide will work. You win the war on multiple fronts, and the first strategy is to know your enemies.
Common Types of Weeds in Florida Lawns
According to the University of Florida’s Weed Management Guide, weeds mainly fall into three broad categories:
Under these categories, weeds subdivide into annual, perennial and biennial, meaning their lifecycles may stretch over one season, one year or three-plus years.
If your weed management plan includes herbicides as well as manual removal, you’ll most likely want to choose chemical products that work selectively on each type or species of plant. Nonselective herbicides will kill any green plant including your grass. Care must abound during its use. However, sometimes a scorched-earth policy of weed control gives you the opportunity to capture the field and re-establish a lawn from scratch. Before you install a new carpet of sod, be sure to apply a nonselective herbicide, per directions, over the area. Once all vegetation has died, bring on the weed-free sod.
Managing Weeds with Healthy Turf
A thick lawn should be able to blockade the advance guard of the many species of Florida weeds. When grass grows thick and hearty, weed seeds have difficulty receiving sufficient light by which to germinate and grow; and the grass hogs all the available the food. Just as weeds can steal soil nutrients and choke out an ailing lawn, so too can a vibrant turf rob weeds of their necessary resources.
If the lawn has reached a point of such gross neglect that re-sodding presents the best remedial option, be sure to select a Florida-friendly cultivar engineered to resist weeds. If you prepare the ground in advance, and the sod crew executes a professional installation, then attentive maintenance should inoculate your grass from another weedy blitzkrieg. But which turf variety should you buy?
Great anti-weed turfs from Duda Sod include:
- Empire Turf
- Icon Zoysia
- Celebration Bermuda
- Tifway 419 Bermuda
Duda Sod’s other varieties also perform well, but will require greater vigilance and care to ensure the turf remains stalwart against weeds. Before selecting your new turf, whether from Duda Sod or elsewhere, be sure to visit the sod farm and inspect the offerings. The last thing you need is to pay for existing weeds in your new lawn.
Reinforce your lawn’s vigor by:
- Watering only as needed
- Refraining from over watering
- Fertilizing properly according to the soil conditions and type of turf grass
- Aerating annually
- Minimizing foot traffic
- Alternating mowing patterns to avoid compaction and ruts
- Treating pest infestations at the first sign
Stop the Spread of Weeds
Although naturalists well know the nutritional and medicinal benefits of dandelions, these ubiquitous weeds can drive any homeowner or lawncare professional crazy. When each matured seed head contains upwards of 172 seeds that float on the thermals until they implant somewhere in your lawn, how do you prevent them? The answer: you probably can’t entirely. But, if you catch and remove them before they anchor their large taproots to bedrock and shoot up their cheery flowers, you can at least prevent the launch of another 172 new seeds per head.
Even less prolific weeds spread quickly, and not always by seed. While you may not be able to convince your neighbors to rein in their weed patches, you can take several steps to prevent your own inadvertent distribution of seeds. Do this by:
- Re-seeding and mulching the bald spots
- Extracting weeds from hard-to-mow areas such as fence lines, rock gardens and landscaping islands
- Rinsing mower blades, trimmers, tilling machines and any other lawn maintenance tools after treating weeded areas
- Disposing of clippings containing weeds rather than using them as mulch
Choosing a worthy turf, promoting its health, knowing the types of infiltrating weeds and treating them appropriately to forestall their spread will help you combat the foes of magnificent lawns. For more information, please see our post “Controlling Weeds on Your Florida Lawn.“