Winter can be a difficult time for lawn care. Even if your area does not get much snow, the cold weather can make it hard for your grass to grow, and frost can damage your plants. However, winter is also a great time to spray weed control on your lawn! Controlling weeds in winter means ensuring a healthier and more attractive lawn for the following season.
The following information is intended to inform you about the benefits of spraying your lawn for weeds in winter. Be sure to call your local lawn care company for more information before it’s too late and the damaging effects of winter arrive!
Is Winter Lawn Care Really Necessary?
Most people think that their lawn care duties are over when the temperatures drop and their grass goes into dormancy, but this is still a crucial time in the preservation of your grass! Winter lawn care is actually very important, and it can help to prevent problems in spring. For example, if you don’t remove the dead leaves from your lawn in fall, they will block the sunlight and prevent your grass from getting the nutrients it needs to grow. Likewise, if you don’t address weeds in winter, they will take over your lawn as soon as the weather warms up.
What Is Winter Fertilizer?
Before we get into the importance of spraying winter weed control, let’s quickly address winter fertilizers. Typical commercial fertilizers contain a certain ratio of major nutrients, known as the NPK ratio. This ratio denotes the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that are present in a product. Unlike spring or summer fertilizers, winter fertilizers have a unique and adjusted NPK ratio that is more conducive to maintaining a healthy lawn during the cold winter months.
- Nitrogen – This is the most important and abundant nutrient found in typical commercial fertilizer, but the amount of nitrogen in winter fertilizers is often greatly reduced. While nitrogen is still important late into fall for the production and storage of carbohydrates, applying too much fertilizer after your lawn stops growing for the winter will stress and damage your turf.
- Phosphorus – Higher levels of phosphorus are usually found in winter fertilizers that are meant to be applied in fall. These types of fertilizers are often referred to as “winterizing” products because they are designed to prepare your lawn for the approaching winter. Phosphorus promotes deeper roots and energy storage, both of which are key for springtime success.
- Potassium – This is the most important nutrient used in winter fertilizers. Potassium is crucial in strengthening grass and roots to make them better able to withstand disease, pests, and especially cold soil temperatures. Without an increase in potassium, your lawn will have a much more difficult time trying to survive the winter and all the issues that can plague your turf through the colder months.
What Is Winter Weed Control?
Fertilization efforts are always optimized when they are performed in conjunction with weed control, and that is certainly true during winter. For this reason, many winterizing fertilizers include a pre-emergent herbicide in them. Without the use of a pre-emergent in winter, any effects you hope to achieve through fertilization will be greatly diminished. While winter fertilizers will help your lawn store nutrients and prepare for spring, winter weeds will simply consume all the nutrients present in the soil if they are not remedied.
Many people think that the best time to address weeds is in spring or summer when they are more visible. However, spraying weed control in winter can actually be even more effective. Weeds are much easier to kill when they are young and small, so spraying them early on can help to prevent them from taking over your lawn months later. After all, the entire point of pre-emergent is to stop the spread of weeds before it begins, so attacking those winter weeds before they pop up in your lawn is the best way to deter weed growth and encourage healthy turfgrass to grow.
Signs Of Winter Weeds
Weeds are always a problem for any lawn, but they can be especially troublesome in winter because they compete with your grass for the limited amount of sunlight, water, and nutrients that are available during the time of year. As your grass struggles to grow, more and more weeds will begin to emerge and absorb the nutrition that should go to your lawn. Come spring, a lawn that goes untreated during winter is much more likely to see unsightly weeds popping up all over the place, which will lead to other noticeable issues like thin grass, bare spots, pests, and especially the dreaded snow mold disease or other fungal diseases.
Weeds are not difficult to identify during a lawn’s growing season because they have distinct characteristics from desirable turfgrass. During the summer, if there is a patch of grass that clearly grows at a faster rate than the struggling turf around it, there is a good chance you are looking at a weed in your lawn. Similarly, if you see bright green grass emerging in your lawn through winter, you are likely looking at grassy weeds.
Here in Louisiana, a healthy lawn in winter will turn yellow as it enters into dormancy. This is because warm-season lawns cease growing when soil temperatures dip below 65 degrees, which means any thriving greenery you see sprouting up through the soil are probably weeds that can withstand colder temperatures. If you do not treat these weeds that grow in your lawn over winter, your lawn may remain yellow and patchy during spring because the winter weeds absorb all the nutrients and water.
Check out this article for more information on common weeds in Louisiana. Below are just a few weeds that you may find in your yard during the winter months.
- Dandelions – Dandelions are one of the most common and troublesome weeds that can plague a lawn. They have deep roots that make them difficult to kill, and they also produce a lot of seeds that can spread quickly.
- Clover – Clover is another common weed that often shows up in lawns. It is a low-growing weed with small leaves that can be difficult to control.
- Crabgrass – Crabgrass is an annual grassy weed that germinates in spring, but it often shows up in winter as well. It has a spreading habit that can quickly take over a lawn if left unchecked.
- Henbit – Henbit is a common winter weed that has purple flowers and square-shaped stems. It germinates in fall and often takes over lawns that have been damaged or neglected.
Don't Stop Spraying Your Lawn This Winter!
Fortunately, because your lawn is not actively growing during winter, we can be a bit more aggressive when it comes to winter weed control. Too much of any product will have negative results, but this is the time of year to aggressively go after weeds without worrying too much about damaging your grass!
The expert technicians at Brothers Lawn Service & Landscaping know just what your lawn needs this winter. Our weed control program, along with other important winter lawn care and landscaping services, will make sure your lawn is professionally maintained throughout the winter months. Call Brothers today for all your winter lawn care questions and concerns!