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I wanted to ask your opinion on fertilizing my lawn. I have so many weeds this year that I don't know what to do. The lawn is currently being fertilized by a company that comes out every 2-3 months. I started using them at the end last summer but maybe I selected the wrong company. Could you give me a recommendation on what to do to cut down on the weeds? Should I switch to a different company or do you recommend fertilizing myself? Thanks, Ryan

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A

Weeds are more a function of watering practice than fertilization. If your lawn is in good health and you water properly, weeds are much more easily controlled.  Water lawns only as often as absolutely necessary. By allowing the top one inch of soil to dry between irrigation, you are killing any weed seeds that are sprouting immediately after the irrigation. Train the Turfgrass to grow deeper roots by wetting the soil at least 8 inches deep every time you irrigate. (Test it by digging a hole and looking at the soil or by poking a long screwdriver down into the lawn - when you meet resistance, that is where dry soil begins).

Thatch buildup creates a good place for weeds to germinate, because this spongy layer between grass blades and the soil retains water longer than soil would. If thatch is thicker than one-half inch, core aerate this fall or late summer (once hot temperatures subside). Too much nitrogen fertilization can lead to thatch buildup, because grass is growing faster than the clippings and dead roots can decompose.  Also, don't forget to raise the mower deck so that the soil surface is more shaded (this will discourage weed growth there). And, taller grass plants grow deeper roots, so you can go even longer between irrigations (thus allowing the soil surface and/or thatch layer to dry out and kill weed seed that may be germinating).

Review the USU Extension publication "Basic Turfgrass Care" and make sure that your lawn care company is following the maintenance guidelines therein. You can download that publication at

 

http://extension.usu.edu/files/gardpubs/hg517.pdf

 

 

 

 

Posted on 1 Aug 2007

Maggie Wolf
Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

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