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Spotted spurge is taking over my lawn. What can I do now, in these hot August temperatures, to knock back this weed problem?

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Spurge, and most other weeds, tends to grow in exposed soil and areas where lawn turfgrass is not growing well. I encourage you to first analyze why your lawn is not able to compete against this weed.  Are you watering too  requently? Was the soil contaminated with de-icing salts? Are you mowing with the deck too low?    If the weed is infesting a flowerbed, cover the bare soil with mulch.  This will greatly retard weed infestations.   Eliminating the weed habitat will make lawn and garden maintenance easier in the long run.  

 To get immediate control, you could pull the spurge (wear gloves since the milky sap can be irritating to some people)or cut it off at the soil line with a hoe. There is an herbicide that controls spurge and has no high-temperature constraints. It's a blend of triclopyr and clopyralid; one brand name is "Confront". There may be other brand names available, too.    USU Extension's publication titled "Yard and Garden Weed Control" is a useful tool in selecting weed management strategies. You can download it from this website:
   http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/HG508.pdf

 If you choose to use an herbicide to help control spurge, be sure to follow all the label directions and restrictions. Specifically, there are directions on the "Confront" label for avoiding use where this chemical might contaminate groundwater.

Posted on 15 Aug 2007

Maggie Wolf
Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

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