Tips on Controlling 6 Common Winter Weeds in Your Central Texas Lawn
As summer fades into fall, you’ll need to prepare your lawn for winter. Your grass will become dormant, making it crucial to take action against weeds that thrive in colder weather. Fortunately, multiple products you can apply will minimize your winter weed growth once you know what weeds have infiltrated your lawn.
Texas has several common winter weeds that you can easily identify. If your lawn is already in good condition, using a few treatments before winter will stop them from germinating beneath the soil and becoming a problem.
Common Central Texas Winter Weeds and How to Control Them
Winter weeds are identified based on their life cycle and whether they are grass or broadleaf. The life cycle is essential because perennials and biennials require different control methods. Understanding these factors can help you identify and control their growth in your yard.
Chickweed germinates in the fall and has a low-growing habit. Unfortunately, it can take over significant portions of your yard. You can identify this weed by its small, oval-shaped leaves. Its shallow root system makes it easy to hand-pull it from your lawn.
You can control chickweed using a broadleaf herbicide. It will target the plant but leave your grass unaffected. The best time to apply an herbicide to chickweed is in the fall or early spring when it is actively growing.
You can identify henbit by its square stem and leaves arranged in opposite pairs. This weed produces small, purple flowers that easily spread in the wind. If you can identify these plants before they flower, you can hand-pull them, preventing them from germinating.
Using a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall creates a barrier above the ground. They do not pass the germination phase as they begin growing because the herbicide kills the weed.
3. Annual Bluegrass
Many lawns throughout Central Texas grow annual bluegrass. It is light green and can blend in with the surrounding turf. This camouflaged appearance makes it tricky to treat. However, using a pre-emergent herbicide to target the seeds before germination will effectively control annual bluegrass. Apply the herbicide in the early fall or late winter when the plant is actively growing.
Nutsedge thrives in moist areas of your lawn. The stem is triangular, and the leaves are in sets of three. It produces tiny, brown seeds that get carried away with the wind, spreading to additional areas of your yard.
You can control nutsedge with an herbicide. Because it targets the plants, your grass remains unharmed. Applying the herbicide to this plant in the summer is best.
It’s not uncommon to see dandelions growing in many yards in Central Texas. These plants have deep roots and leaves that grow 12 inches wide. The recognizable yellow flowers become floating seed heads that easily spread, whether via a gust of wind or a child making wishes.
Controlling dandelion growth is easy because you can pull them by hand or apply a broadleaf herbicide. The herbicide must be used in the fall or early spring when the plant is growing to be most effective.
You can find crabgrass sprouting in warm, well-lit areas of your lawn. It is known for spreading and quickly taking over large sections of the yard. Crabgrass has light green leaves with a distinctive shape resembling crab legs.
Controlling crabgrass requires the application of a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent seeds from germinating. You can also pull this weed by hand or use a post-emergent herbicide that will eliminate the plant after it has started growing.
Guidelines for Using Pre-Emergent Herbicides
The most practical way to manage winter weeds is to treat your property with pre-emergent herbicides. These are labeled “weed killers” and must be sprayed before the seeds begin germinating.
When using a pre-emergent herbicide, you must understand the best time to apply it. Pre-emergents are ineffective against weeds that have sprouted. The chemicals work best when applied before the weeds appear and at the ideal soil temperature.
In Central Texas, the most useful time to use pre-emergents for winter weeds is near the end of August and the beginning of September. Mowing your lawn before applying the treatment ensures the chemicals reach the dirt surface.
Don’t Ignore Winter Weeds
There is no off-season for lawn care in Central Texas. It is a year-round activity if you want to keep your grass healthy. Ignoring winter lawn weeds won’t make the problem disappear. You need careful lawn care solutions that stand up against weeds and protect your beautifully cultivated grass.
Winter weed control must begin early with pre-emergent herbicides that minimize the chances of weeds growing. Following up with routine applications creates a foundation for healthy grass. Weeds are a constant battle in lawn care, but year-round attention will give your turf the best chance, even throughout the winter.
Grass Works has been providing Expert Residential & Commercial Local Lawn Care Services in Central Texas: Austin, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Avery Ranch, Bee Cave, Lakeway, Steiner Ranch & West Austin since 2007! Need help with your landscaping? Get a free estimate today!
Ferris MyCue is the founder and owner of Grass Works Lawn Care, LLC located in Leander, TX. As a former firefighter who maintained yards on his days off, he saw a need for a dependable, local maintenance company that knew the hill country climate and could deliver quality landscaping services for a reasonable price. Since 2007 he has used his leadership to grow the company into one of the top landscape maintenance companies in Austin and surrounding areas offering landscape maintenance, design, and irrigation services to both residential and commercial clients. Ferris is also a member of the Seasonal Employment Alliance (SEA) and an active participant in advocacy efforts to help promote cap relief.