The days may be getting shorter but if your weeds are getting taller, take heart. Fall – specifically September – is the perfect time to start working toward having a weed-free lawn next spring. Many experts consider fall weed control to be more effective than waiting to tackle weeds in the spring for a couple of reasons:
It takes advantage of the weeds’ seasonal patterns. After summer’s heat and occasional dry spells, fall’s cooler temperatures encourage both lawn and weed growth. Meanwhile, to store energy for winter, weeds are busy moving nutrients down to their roots. When herbicides are used in the fall, weeds carry those down too, efficiently poisoning the plant.
- It makes it harder for weeds to regrow. Digging up or hand-pulling weeds gives them less chance to grow stronger and deeper. Take advantage of this slower grower season. Weeds will multiply faster in the spring and become more difficult to control.
Using an herbicide (preferably one with two or more active ingredients) in the fall will get rid of most perennial broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, plantain, clover and black medic. If the weeds aren’t too thick, you may not need to treat the entire yard. Instead, pop them out individually. You may not see the results of your work right away, but most of the weeds will disappear after the winter.
Applying fertilizer between Labor Day and early October is also a good weed-control tactic, especially for cool-season grasses. Fertilizer will improve turf density as well as strengthen the grass’ root system. Your lawn will be better able to fight off next summer’s weeds, making next year’s weeds less challenging to control. Another bonus: Your lawn will also be more tolerant to the summer heat and dry periods.