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Whack Weeds the Old-Fashioned Way

If you’re thinking about running to the store for some product to rid your yard of recently thriving weeds, don’t. Weed and feed will not help your situation now.

It’s too early to prevent summer weeds, which won’t germinate until spring. And, it’s too late to prevent the germination of winter weed seeds because your grass is in winter dormancy — the fertilizer in the product will only feed the weeds and likely make your situation worse. The solution: good, old-fashioned elbow grease.

Pulling out individual weeds like thistle is very effective, especially when soils are moist after a rain. Wear thick garden gloves for protection. Pull gently from the base of the weed and with a little luck, the entire weed and root will come out.

Also, you may be seeing something that looks like clover in the grass or bedding areas. Actually, it’s most likely oxalis, which has none of the nitrogen-enhancing properties of its look alike. It is also challenging to pull out. If it’s in beds, you may be able to chop off the top of it with a weed eater or mechanical hoe. Then apply a fresh layer of mulch on top to discourage re-growth.

In areas where your turf did not have a chance to recover from drought before the cold weather crept in, keep the weeds mowed regularly. Although they may not be ideal, the weeds will hold the soil in place and prevent mud until spring. If you still have patches of grass, give them a chance to fill in once spring warms the soil. Once grass becomes active again, it may take over and crowd out those weeds if you keep mowing regularly.

Karen Guz
Karen Guz
Karen grew up taking family vacations to national parks and scenic rivers. A one-time kayak river guide in her home state of Pennsylvania, she got herself to Texas as fast as she could. Now as the vice president of Conservation for SAWS, she is responsible for meeting San Antonio’s long-term water conservation goals by leading a high energy, creative team of conservation planners. She first worked for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service providing a variety of horticulture and 4-H educational programs to the community before joining SAWS in 2000. When she’s not helping San Antonio live up to its reputation as a national leader in water conservation, she enjoys the outdoors as an avid hiker…continuing the tradition of luring the rest of her family to national parks and ranger talks.
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