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Express-News Weekly Article
Saturday, March 19, 2005
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Conservation Director, and Horticulturist
Weeds, Leaves, and Birds
Weeds are seasonal. There are cool weather and hot weather weeds. The cool weather weeds began germinating in September and will die from the heat in May. In the meantime they will do everything possible to produce a seed crop for next year.
All of the rain made it possible for the weeds to prosper and it also made it hard for us to keep them under control. The lawn mower is the best weed-fighting tool, but when it rains for over seven (7) weekends in a row, our mowing opportunities are limited.
It may seem an impossible task but a lawn mower and string mower can make up for missed mowings if you can accomplish one complete mowing. There is room for debate as to whether mowing enough to prevent seeding of the weeds result in less weeds, probably not in the short run. It only takes a few plants to mature seed to provide plenty for next year’s crop of weeds. There is also a reserve on the ground from previous years that will germinate next year in the absences of a new crop of seed, and there are always the neighbors who let their weeds mature seed. Nevertheless, it is desirable to limit weed seeds by mowing before the weeds grow large enough to produce seed.
It is possible to kill the weeds with a contact herbicide such as Weed Free Zone or Weed be Gone. Read the directions before you buy the herbicide to make sure it is the product you want. Do not waste your money on Weed and Feed products. They will not kill the mature weeds and the fertilizer does not do the lawn any good because it is not growing enough to pull the nutrients up. Fertilize with a slow release lawn fertilizer like 19-5-9 in a month to six (6) weeks from now. I always apply my lawn fertilizer on or about May 1.
In addition to the fast growing cool weather weeds, the warm weather weeds like crabgrass, sand burs and chickweed will be germinating soon. To reduce the number of weeds in your lawn this summer, apply a pre-emergent herbicide like Amaze, XL, Balan or Betasan as quickly as possible.
Live Oak leaves have been falling all winter because of leaf funguses, but the last two weeks has been the largest leaf fall.
The leaves may look untidy on your lawn now, but they are a valuable commodity. Use them to the best advantage. The easiest way to use live oak leaves is to mow them on the lawn (at the same time you mow the weeds). They will decompose in a short time and add back valuable nutrients to the soil.
It is simply unacceptable to bag your leaves for the garbage men. Valuable material is being wasted, the leaves fill precious landfill space and our tax dollars are paying the tab to haul away something that should be recycled in every landscape.
I have written about the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center in the column several times. You are probably familiar with walkathon pledges. Supporters pledge at .25 or .50 per mile that the participant walks. The money goes to a good cause. Mitchell Lake is going to hold a Birdathon. Support the Wildlife Refuge by pledging .25 or .50 per bird that I spot on a birdwatching visit in late April. My expectation is to see 40 birds.
Please call SAWS at (210) 704-7527 to make the pledge.
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