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Scott Eckert: Weeds are the enemy

Scott Eckert
The Kansan

Weeds are the enemy! They are opportunistic! They will invade your lawn when you are not paying attention!

Why do we have weeds? There are many reasons why weeds invade your lawn.

• Improper mowing. Mowing too low and too infrequently thins the turf, allowing weeds to get started.

• Improper watering. Frequent watering encourages weed seed germination, disease, thatch, and a shallow-rooted turf that is less competitive with weeds for soil moisture and nutrients.

• Improper fertilizing. Fertilizing too much, too little or at the wrong time may benefit weeds more than grass.

• Insect and disease injury. Weeds rapidly invade lawn areas that are thinned by insects and diseases.

• Compacted soil. Soil compaction is a hidden stress on the turfgrass root system. The grass is unable to compete effectively with weeds. Clay and silty soils are especially prone to compaction.

• Excessive wear. Turf areas that are used for recreation and sports are subjected to wear and compaction. Weeds become a problem in these areas, requiring intense weed control and turf management.

• Wrong kind of grass. The wrong kind of grass for the location will gradually decline and be invaded by weeds.

• Environmental stress. Weeds often take over a lawn after it has been weakened and thinned from weather-related stresses.

• Thatch. Excessive thatch causes shallow-rooted grass and contributes to insect and disease problems, which are followed by weed invasion. Thatch also can reduce the effectiveness of some soil-applied weed control chemicals

Most of these things can be controlled by the homeowner, so be on the lookout for causes of weeds.

— Scott Eckert is a Kansas State Research and Extension agent for Harvey County. Horticulture is his specialty. He can be reached at 316-284-6930.