Though your gardens and landscapes may be winding down this time of year, some weeds are just getting started for their last hoorah! Caring for your lawn in the autumn is a great way of knocking down weeds that germinate this season and survive winter or put seeds down to restart the cycle in the spring.
Many of the dormant weeds you may see growing in your lawn today re-started their growth process in the late summer when temperature dropped and moisture levels increased, and will continue to grow throughout the fall and through the winter warm spells that are becoming all the more common. These same weeds still be around in the spring, too, if you don’t take up arms against them.
It’s a good time to treat your lawn against dandelion and clover growth, as well as other broadleaf specimens like chickweed and annual bluegrasses, to maintain a healthy lawn through the winter and bolster its life for the duration of autumn.
Selective Vs. Non-Selective
Weeds found growing in the lawn can be tedious to remove by hand and spot treatment of non-selective weed killers will kill turf indiscriminately. Selective weed killers, on the other hand, target the weeds you want out without harming the turf you want in. Choose a selective option to eliminate weeds without damaging your lawn.
Non-selective weed killers can be useful too, however. Non-selective weed killers typically work faster and more thoroughly than their selective cousins, but they will burn down anything they touch. Choose a non-selective option for removing weeds around driveways, walkways and patios or when looking to burndown an entire area for reseeding.
After trialing several different products over the years, we’ve come up with a great option in both categories.
Fiesta Selective Weed Killer
Two years ago, the experts at Green Earth Ag & Turf started testing of Fiesta® Selective Weed Killer against other natural products. Fiesta is an iron-based herbicide that targets broadleaf weeds and can be used on existing turfgrass. As a selective weed killer, Fiesta will not harm turf while it does its work on unwanted weeds.
Our professional clients have found Fiesta to be highly effective and their feedback has been tremendous. Based on their experience and the consistency and efficacy we have seen with Fiesta over the years, we have stopped carrying all other selective weed killers altogether.
Nothing beats actual field trials by turf experts and applicators, however, Fiesta was also recently tested and mentioned in a newsletter by Dr. Frank Rossi at Cornell University.
(Scroll right to the last paragraph to see how Fiesta was received by Dr. Frank Rossi, turfgrass specialist at Cornell and one of the pre-eminent turf experts in the Northeastern US.)
Fiesta works fast—showing results within a few hours—and can be used all year round so long as temperatures remain below 85°F.
Fiesta is labelled for and targets:
- Quack Grasses
- Barnyard Grasses
- Curly Dock
- Annual Bluegrasses
- Orchard Grasses
- Catch Weed
Not only does Fiesta knock out unwanted weeds, because of its iron-based formulation it can actually have the effect of greening up turfgrass. This makes it a great option for fall application.
Finalsan Non-Selective Weed Killer
The experts at Green Earth Ag & Turf now recommend Finalsan® as the top non-selective organic weed killer ever available, and for use in the same areas as one may use the synthetic non-selective Round-Up® or other glyphosate-containing products. Finalsan is an organic alternative to synthetic herbicides with a higher efficacy than other non-selectives on the market today at about a quarter of the price.
Finalsan is made with organic an ammonium soap of fatty acids that break down the waxy cuticle protecting plants causing dehydration and plant death without staining brick, concrete or pavements. Finalsan is completely biodegradable, making it safe to use around woody areas like the base of trees and bushes. It can be used safely by vineyard keepers, hop growers and homeowners alike. Best of all, Finalsan has been approved by the EPA and the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).
Pulverize Weed & Grass Killer
Not to be confused with Pulverize Weed Killer, Pulverize® Weed & Grass Killer is a non-selective weed killer that uses the same formulation as Finalsan in convenient sizes. Finalsan is cheaper by the ounce and more concentrated than other organic non-selectives on the market. Now that we can offer it in sizes smaller than 2.5 gallon jugs, you can see those savings more directly!
Note: Due to the name change, Pulverize Weed & Grass Killer is not OMRI listed like Finalsan is.
- 32 oz. Concentrate – Covers 1,500 sq. ft.
- 1 gal. Concentrate – Covers 6,000 sq. ft.
- 128 oz. Ready to Use Pump Sprayer – Great for spot treatments all over your property.
- 32 oz. Ready-to-Use Spray – Use this version to treat small areas that need extra attention.
Pre-Emergent Weed Killers
For a complete regimen of weed protection, you may want to apply the third type of weed control in the spring for a one-two punch before and after germination. Pre-emergent weed control products act like a barrier against weeds that have yet to come up. They use ingredients like corn gluten, certain proteins and polypeptides to restrict the germination of weed seeds.
We have been testing ICT’s Gluten-8 for liquid application and Branch Creek Safer Play 10-0-2® for granular use for several years. Both have great uses for spring pre-emergent application.
Branch Creek Safer Play 10-0-2® provides the benefit of fertilizing and applying weed-preventing proteins to turf, offering selective pre-emergent protection and springtime fertilization.
Gluten-8 provides pre-emergent weed control in a liquid option while the Safer Play has the benefit of fertilizing while applying weed-prevention to turf in a natural “weed-and-feed” approach.
We have received tremendous feedback regarding the quick turf green-up provided by Safer Play. It has one of the highest nitrogen percentages available to a non-synthetic fertilizer.
We have found both products to offer fairly effective weed control when soil temperatures are correct at treatment time. Nevertheless, we have not found better pre-emergent options on the market.
Gluten-8 is a 25(b) FIFRA exempted product by the EPA, so it can be used on school grounds.