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Extension: How to deal with pesky weeds in your lawn

Spring is right around the corner and I have many residents come in or call the office asking how to get rid of the weeds that are taking over their lawns now and in the summer. The time to start combating summer weeds is now. 

In this week’s article I want to let you know how to accomplish this and more on your different types of lawns. 

There are three primary methods of weed control. To control weeds consistently use all three. 

The first line of defense is cultural practices. This helps promote vigorous turfgrass growth and development. Weeds usually do not invade turfgrasses that are properly fertilized, watered and mowed at the correct height and frequency. 

For bermuda, zoysia, fescue and centipede lawns water 1 inch per week if there is no rainfall. Bermuda and zoysia sod laid in fall or winter months should be kept moist.  

The best months to fertilize bermuda, zoysia and centipede lawns are May-August. The best months to fertilize fescue is February, April, September and November. 

We recommend that you complete a soil test once a year. Soil tests cost $10 and can help determine what type of amendments your lawn needs.  Follow the recommendations on your soil test report for fertilizer application unless one was not completed. Then you can apply any turf fertilizer and follow the label instructions for application.  

Please note in the spring do not apply nitrogen containing fertilizers until the soil temperature at 4-inch depth reaches 65 degrees and rising. The use of herbicides without following approved cultural practices will not result in a high quality, weed free lawn. 

The second line of defense is mechanical methods. Following mowing frequency and cutting height guidelines can limit development of many weeds. This however is not an effective control of most perennial weeds. Hand-pulling a strange or new weed when it first appears will help prevent the spread of that weed.  

For bermuda, centipede, and zoysia lawns the recommended mowing height is 1 to 2 inches however in hotter weather you would need to raise the height 1/2”.  Fescue lawns mowing height should be 2 to 3 inches and raised ½-inch higher during dry periods. You don’t want to remove more than 1/3 of the total height at one time.  

The third and final line of defense is herbicides. Herbicides are important components of a lawn weed control program.  They should only be applied at certain times of the year and only control certain species of weeds.  

Many herbicides cannot be used on every turfgrass species. The product label is the best reference for safe and effective use of any herbicides.  

Always read the label prior to use of any herbicide. Again, the use of herbicides without following approved cultural practices will not result in a high quality, weed free lawn. The best months to apply a spring pre-emergence to turfs are February and March. A product that contains the herbicide benefin is recommended. You can usually find these at your local big box stores. Something like Balan. 

This will help prevent crabgrass, goose grass and other annual weeds. Anytime of the year is a good time to apply a broadleaf postemergence.  A product containing the herbicide 2,4-D + MCPP + dicamba is recommended. This would be something like Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns. You will need to spot spray to kill broadleaf plants like chickweed, wild violet, dandelion, wild onion, etc. 

Again, please read the label for application instructions and make sure the product says it is safe for the type of lawn you have.  

Beverly Adams is the Agriculture and Natural Resources program assistant for the UGA Extension Forsyth County.

Forsyth County Extension Office Upcoming Events:

• 7-8:30 p.m., Feb. 20 and 27, Woodland Stewards Program in the Extension Office Classroom;

To register email us at or call 770-887-2418. 

• Noon to 1 p.m., Feb. 19, Halcyon Arbor Day Celebration, Halcyon Forsyth

• 5:30-7:30 p.m., Feb. 21, Community Arbor Day Event, Cumming Aquatic Center 

• 11 a.m., Feb. 22, Sharon Forks Library, Pruning 101 Class given by Master Gardener Orlando Beltran

• 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Feb. 25, Master Naturalists Lunch and Learn and Silent Auction, Central Park Recreation Building Banquet Hall, speaker Jason Ulseth of the Chattahoochee Riverkeepers.

• 11 a.m. to noon, Feb. 27, Master Gardener Lunch & Learn, Sexton Hall Senior Center, Master Gardener Barbra Moyer will give a presentation on spring bulbs.

For more information please call 770-887-2418 or visit