Have you noticed how those winter weeds that are green now in your lawn give it a ragged, unthrifty appearance? The unsightliness of the weeds is bad, but they cause the greatest amount of damage in the spring when bermudagrass is trying to break dormancy. Weeds are very good competitors for light, nutrients and water. In the spring, when bermudagrass is greening up, these winter weeds often have a two- to four-month head start on the grass. They are actively growing in the spring and will slow down bermudagrass growth by making more efficient use of the available light, nutrients and water.
Winter weeds often need to be mowed in the early spring before bermudagrass breaks dormancy and starts to green up. If you're tired of mowing weeds and don't want them to steal essential water and nutrients from your bermudagrass lawn, then try something next month that will control these weeds. By using an herbicide called glyphosate (Roundup, Kleenup, etc.) during the dormant season in January and early February, you can control these winter weeds without damaging your bermudagrass lawn. This herbicide kills any green, growing plant, so be especially careful when spraying around evergreen trees and shrubs.
To get good weed control at this time there are several "tricks" to remember. First, mix the chemical in water according to the label directions. For every gallon of solution add a tablespoon of dish soap. This allows the herbicide to enter the weed leaf blades more rapidly. Adding an indicator blue dye will help you get a good uniform coverage over the entire lawn. At the same time I like to add to the glyphosate spray a liquid pre-emergent such as surflan to help control the next summer's warm season weeds. Spraying on a day when the temperature gets around 55 F will help the effectiveness of the herbicide and also makes it more comfortable for you.
Remember, you need to plan your application for January or early February before the bermudagrass begins to green up. If you have an extremely heavy infestation of dandelion, then add the recommended amount of a broadleaf herbicide in combination with the glyphosate. In several weeks the weeds should begin turning yellow and dying, leaving your lawn looking a uniform brown color. This is the way a healthy bermudagrass lawn should look in winter.
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