Identify and control weeds in your lawn

Hi, this is Skip with Father and Son Pest and Lawn Solutions. And today, what we're going to do is we're going to do some weed identification. We are here at a large empty lot, and we're going to walk around, and we're going to look at different weeds in this lot, talk about them, and talk about how to control them. Many of these weeds are ones that you'll find in your own lawn. So, hopefully, you'll learn some things today about weed identification and how to control weeds. Okay.

So what we have here is some Virginia buttonweed. This is a very common weed, and it's a very aggressive weed. As you can see, it has these little white flowers on it. This is the time of year that these flowers bloom. They don't always have these white flowers on it, but it's got four very distinct petals on this weed. And you can also notice that some of the leaves of the Virginia buttonweed have kind of a reddish or purplish color. And I've noticed that sometimes just, I don't know if it depends on where it grows, but sometimes the whole mass of weed will be this purple color, and sometimes it'll all be green, and sometimes it'll be a mixture like this one is.

So this weed is pretty aggressive. As you can tell, it has these runners here, and you can work your fingers under these runners. And you can see how far these runners actually extend out from this weed, and it all comes from a central stem right in the middle of the plant. And I can kind of work my fingers around here to the central stem, and I can grab it. And I usually can't get the whole root out. As you can see, that broke. The root broke off, so this weed will eventually come back. But I just wanted to show you how big that weed is. And this weed will actually take over healthy grass. So, if you have Virginia buttonweed growing in a health healthy lawn, it will actually smother out good, healthy grass. Now, another thing I want to show you about this weed is all of the seeds. You see these little seeds here? These are all little seed pods on this weed, and this weed reproduces by distributing all of these seeds as well as sending out runners.

So it's a very aggressive weed. And, as soon as you notice this weed, you want to start treating it so that it doesn't actually choke out part of the lawn, which it will do if you allow it to and don't treat it. There's actually only a couple herbicides that control this weed. One of them is called Celsius. That's what we use to control Virginia buttonweed. Another one is called Quicksilver, but Celsius is the main and best product that you can use to control Virginia buttonweed. You can see a little bit of it here is still in the ground. And, even though you pull it like I did, most often you can't get the entire root. See there's a little bit of it still left there. And it just snapped right off. So that root will reproduce, and that weed will come back. So it's a whole lot easier and more effective to spray it than to try to pull it. So that is Virginia buttonweed.

The next weed we're going to talk about is dollarweed. And that's what we have right here. It's very common weed. This is the one that most people are familiar with. If you'll notice, it's growing, actually growing in water, and dollarweed is actually an aquatic plant, and it loves moisture. So you'll many times find it in areas of a lawn that have a high water table, or that get a lot of irrigation or just are very kind of wet or saturated. However, dollarweed can also survive in areas that are drier than this area right here. Dollarweed is also very aggressive. If you allow it to get out of control, it can choke out a healthy lawn because it has underground runners that it propagates through. It has no seeds, but it sends out underground runners, and you see all the dollarweed around here. This is all propagated through underground runners, and it just keeps spreading and spreading and spreading.

Dollarweed is actually one of the easiest weeds to control. There is a product called Trimec that does a great job at controlling dollarweed. You can use it at a very low rate so it doesn't hurt the grass, but the dollarweed will not tolerate it. And it will kill the dollarweed off really well. Dollarweed is very adaptive to its environment. So, if you mow your grass on a regular basis, dollarweed will thrive at the height at which you mow the grass. If you don't mow the grass and all the grass around it gets tall, dollarweed will grow up. You probably, maybe even seen it growing up through the tops of bushes. It'll do that. It'll adapt to just about any environment it's growing in and outcompete the plants that are around it, including the lawn. So dollarweed is something that you really want to stay on top of and control. And it's an easy one to control.

While we're here in this wet, marshy area, let me also talk about out this. This is torpedograss. As you can see, it's kind of a bluish-green grass. Again, it likes marshy, wet areas. It also propagates through underground runners. So torpedograss will invade lawns in wet, marshy areas. And you'll see this grass popping up around your St. Augustine, centipede, Zoysia, whatever you have planted. And there's one product and one product only that will control torpedograss. It's called Quinclorac. There's another manufacturer that produces it and they call their product Drive, D-R-I-V-E. But it's the same active ingredient as Quinclorac.

Now, the thing about using Quinclorac to control torpedograss is that you can only use it on Zoysia and Bermuda grass. Quinclorac will not hurt Zoysia or Bermuda, but it will kill St. Augustine and centipede. So, if you have torpedograss growing in a Bermuda or a Zoysia lawn, you can treat it with Quinclorac. But, if it's growing in centipede or St. Augustine, there's nothing that you can use to treat it that will not kill the existing lawn. Torpedograss cannot be eradicated. It can only be controlled. But, if you treat it regularly with Quinclorac, it'll suppress it so that it doesn't take over the lawn.

Next weed we're going to talk about is another very common weed. It's called spurge. You can see it right here. Spurge is, again, another very adaptive weed. A lot of times you'll see spurge growing in cracks and driveways, cracks and sidewalks. It'll show up just about anywhere. Anywhere where it can send down a root and grow, it'll grow. This is another one that is a challenge to control. However, there is one product that does a really good job at controlling spurge. It's called MSM. Another brand name for MSM is Rometsol, but using Rometsol or MSM on spurge, it will do a good job at controlling it. Spurge is a low-growing plant. A lot of times you'll see it in your lawns or in planting beds, like I said, cracks in driveways and sidewalks. It just doesn't matter. Spurge doesn't care where it grows. It'll just show up just about anywhere. But this, it's a really small leaf spreading weed, and that is spurge.

Okay. So the next weed we're going to talk about is dichondra, and this is dichondra. And, as you can see, it looks very similar to dollarweed. However, the differences, the dollarweed right here, I'm going to pluck, and I'm going to show you the difference. This is dollarweed. This is dichondra. Dichondra, as you can see, kind of has a heart-shape leaf with an indentation right there where the stem comes into the leaf. Dollarweed does not have that heart shape. So dichondra is different than dollarweed. And it also grows in moist areas like dollarweed. It is a little more challenging to control than dollarweed. The best thing, you can use the same product Trimec on dichondra that you use on dollarweed. However, it's probably going to take two or three treatments of the Trimec in order to control the dichondra, whereas it would only take one or two treatments to control the dollarweed, but a lot of times people get the two confused because they look very similar, but again, the leaf is shaped differently on the dichondra than on the dollarweed.

While we're here, here is another grassy weed. As you can see, it has this telltale crow's foot, this seed head right here. This is Pensacola Bahia grass. It's kind of like a pasture grass. It's not used very often as a turf grass because it just isn't real pretty. It doesn't have a very dense growing pattern. This is what they use a lot of times on mediums and sides of roads because it does have a lot of drought tolerance. It grows very well under stressful conditions. There's not really any diseases or insects that bother it very much.

So a lot of times, these seeds will get blown around in the wind, and they'll end up in your lawn. And you'll see these stems grow up very quickly. You could maybe mow your lawn and two or three days later have a stem like this that's a foot or more high because they just grow. They grow quickly. And, again, you can see what the leaves look like. And they grow in clumps. They don't have runners. They don't spread. Pensacola Bahia grows in clumps. The same product that we talked about that controls spurge, which is Rometsol or MSM, will also suppress Pensacola Bahia grass. So, if you have some Pensacola Bahia growing in your lawn and you want to suppress it, you can use the MSM product, and it will do a pretty good job at doing that.

So here we have a very common weed, Florida pusley. And it looks actually very similar to Virginia buttonweed because it has little white flowers on it like Virginia buttonweed. As a matter of fact, I picked a Virginia buttonweed flower, just to show you the comparison between the two. The Virginia buttonweed has four petals on the flower, and the leaves are a little more oblong. They look more like grass stems, whereas the pusley has five petals on the flower, and the leaves are a little broader, and they're more velvety. The Virginia buttonweed leaves are a little slicker and the pusley leaves are a little wider and more velvety.

Pusley is actually a lot easier to control than Virginia buttonweed. We talked about the product Trimec that controls dollarweed. It also does a good job at controlling Florida pusley. It's also similar to Virginia buttonweed in that it starts at a central location and just kind of expands out using runners to propagate with. Unlike Virginia buttonweed, it doesn't have any seeds underneath the stems like the Virginia buttonweed does. So it's not as aggressive. It's not as prolific, but it still warrants control and concern. And it can be controlled relatively easy with the product Trimec.

So we are going to next talk about chamberbitter. This is chamberbitter, and a lot of people say it looks like a miniature Mimosa tree which, if you know what a Mimosa tree looks like, it kind of has leaves like a Mimosa. It has a stem here with all these little oval leaves sticking out of the stem. Chamberbitter is very prolific. And let me just pull this and show you why. So they're fairly easy to pull out of the ground and you can, most of the time, get the root. They don't have spreading roots. They have a central root system for each plant, but underneath, most of the seeds on this one are gone, but you see that seed right there? You can see an attachment point where there were several seeds on this one stem. Like over here, there's three seeds attached to this stem. There were several seeds attached to this stem. Each stem in this plant produces several seeds.

So, literally, one weed can produce hundreds of seeds. That's what makes it so, so prolific. And so, when chamberbitter gets started in your lawn, you can have just a small patch. And, if you don't do anything to control it, every time you mow, you're spreading those seeds around your lawn, and the seeds just grow more. And then, those plants produce more seeds. And, by the end of the growing season, your whole lawn can be full of chamberbitter. Chamberbitter is also a very adaptive plant. Like I mentioned with dollarweed, if you mow your grass at two inches or whatever you mow your grass at, it'll stay short just like this, and it'll grow close to the ground. If it is growing in a natural area that's not mowed and it's competing with taller plants, this plant will grow up, and it'll grow up tall and compete with sunlight with other plants around it. So it adapts very well to its environment. And it's very, very challenging to control.

However, if you do it right, you can control chamberbitter. It's best to control chamberbitter by using both pre-emergent and post-emergent products. Chamberbitter is a late germinator. It doesn't germinate until usually around May. So, in order to prevent chamberbitter from germinating, it's best to apply a pre-emergent herbicide around late March or early April and have that herbicide in place when all these seeds that fell off the plant from the previous year are laying in the ground and the soil temperature's warming up and those seeds go to germinate. If there's a pre-emergent weed product in place, then those seeds will not germinate and when they begin to germinate, they'll die, and they won't turn into adult plants that will reproduce.

Now, if you have active chamberbitter growing in your lawn, the only product that will control chamberbitter is the product Celsius. We mentioned Celsius earlier when talking about Virginia buttonweed, which we have some Virginia buttonweed right here, but Celsius will control chamberbitter as well as Virginia buttonweed. But it may take two or three applications of the Celsius in order to control or kill the chamberbitter. It's a good idea to keep a treatment of post-emergent or pre-emergent weed control on your lawn throughout the growing season if you have a problem with chamberbitter. So every month or two, it's good to booster your pre-emergent weed control because, once you stop suppressing this weed with pre-emergent weed control, those weeds are going to germinate, and it's going to start propagating in the lawn any time. The season for chamberbitter is usually between May and October. So any time during that time, it's good to keep a constant suppression of it by applying a booster treatment of the pre-emergent weed control.

While we're here, let's talk about this weed right here. As you can see, some people may refer to these as sandspurs. They're actually not sandspurs, but this is called globe sedge. These little balls on here are not prickly. They're soft. So that's one of the ways you can tell the difference between sandspur and globe sedge is that the little balls are soft on the sedge. Sedge is actually a category of plant in and of itself. It's not a grass. It's different than a grass. And one of the ways you can tell the difference between a grass and a sedge is the stems. I don't know if you can see here, but the stems of a sedge are actually triangular. And, if you take the stem and rub it, roll it back and forth between your fingers like that, you can feel the three different sides on the stem. And that way you can verify that this is a sedge and not a grass.

Sedge grows in clumps. It usually has a central root, and you can grab it and pull it up. And you usually have a big glob of root that comes with it when you pull it up. And there is one product that works really well on controlling most types of sedges, including this globe sedge, and that's a product called Sedgehammer. It works specifically on sedges and not on any other types of weed, but, if you have sedge growing in your lawn, Sedgehammer is a really good product to use.

So what we have here is we have spreading crabgrass. Crabgrass, actually, can be controlled a couple different ways. One of the best ways to control crabgrass in the lawn is to use a pre-emergent weed control in the early spring. And, if you do that, you can eliminate most crabgrass in your lawn. However, if you end up having crabgrass in your lawn after the spring and you need to treat it, there's a couple different products that you can use depending on the type of grass you have. If you have a centipede lawn, there is a product called Grass Getter that you can spray the crabgrass with, or many other types of grassy weeds. And you can spray it over the centipede grass, and it won't hurt centipede. However, you cannot use it on any other types of grass, such as centipede, Zoysia, Bermuda, because it will kill those types of grass, but it won't kill centipede.

Now, if you have Zoysia or Bermuda, there's a product that we've already talked about called Quinclorac that you can use on Zoysia or Bermuda, that controls torpedograss. It'll also help control crabgrass. You can spray it on Zoysia or Bermuda. However, if you have St. Augustine, I'm afraid you're out of luck because there is no product available at this time that will kill crabgrass without killing the St. Augustine. There used to be a product years ago that could do that, but the EPA took it off the market. They weren't happy with it environmentally. So they deleted that product. So since then, nobody has been able to come up with a herbicide that will kill crabgrass in St. Augustine without hurting the St. Augustine grass.

This little guy right here, and there's one here, and one here, these are, technically, they're weeds because... By the way, we didn't talk about the technical definition of a weed, but the definition of a weed is a plant in the wrong place. So, if you have a plant that's not supposed to be there, if you have a plant in your grass that's not supposed to be there, then technically it's a weed. But this weed is actually a baby tree. It's a baby popcorn tree. Popcorn trees are also known as Chinese tallow trees. They were imported here back in the 16, 1700s because they produce wax that people would actually melt down and make candles out of. Problem is they become very invasive.

And this property that we're walking around here at one time had literally hundreds of popcorn trees around it. And, actually, the state of Florida has outlawed nurseries from selling popcorn trees. People liked to plant them because they grew very fast and produced shade, and they did have some positive qualities, but they became very invasive and everywhere where there was a popcorn tree, it produced hundreds of seeds and hundreds of these little saplings like this. So I just wanted... You may or may not see these in your lawn. If you do, this is actually a baby popcorn tree that if you don't cut it down, if you don't keep it cut down, say with your grass, it'll eventually grow in into a full-grown popcorn tree. They can get up to 20, 30, 40 feet high. And once they get that big, they'll start sending out seeds and propagate all kinds of baby popcorn trees around.

Oh, and by the way, the reason they're called popcorn trees is in the fall, when the seeds develop, they're white, and they look like popcorn. So they're just little white seeds that look just like popcorn. So that's what a popcorn tree is. You don't need to spray it. As long as you keep it cut down, it won't ever grow. It won't thrive or even survive at the same height that you cut your lawn. So if you see them growing, unless they're in a natural area that you're not mowing, then cut them down or just don't worry about them.