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Musk Thistle In Home Lawns and Gardens

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Musk Thistle

Musk Thistle is a weed which mainly occurs on acreages and roadsides in various parts of the country due to their preference for sparse or degraded areas of soil. However, they can and do invade the home lawn as well, which most often occurs when a lawn has become degraded due to a current or previous drought, or perhaps lack of care by a previous owner.

For homeowners wanting to return their lawn to a state of good health and to be weed free, they may also need to control and kill any infestations of Musk Thistle, which is a nasty, prickly weed which can re-rproduce in great numbers if not effectively controlled.

Musk Thistle Life Cycle

Musk Thistle is biennial, meaning it’s life cycle lasts over a two year period. It begins it’s life as a seedling in Spring, and will turn into a rosette as the season continues. The rosette stage will last for the first season of it’s life, and is recognizable by having many prickly leaves which spread out from it’s center, and which lay low to the ground.

After Musk Thistle over-winters in the rosette stage, it will emerge the next Spring and begins the next part of it’s growth by sending a vertical shoot up into the air which will eventually grow a flowers. This stalk is often called a Bolt. At it’s maturity, Musk Thistle will produce several Bolts from each weed plant, each with a prickly stem containing a prickly pink flower at it’s head.

The pink flowers can produce up to 20,000 seeds per plant, so it’s important that these weeds be controlled as effectively and as soon as possible. Sometime treatments for Musk Thistle may last for several years if there has been a prior infestation of seeds into the soil.

Controlling and Killing Musk Thistle

Musk Thistle only spreads and reproduces itself from it’s seeds. With this in mind, the greatest and easiest form of control is to never allow the Musk Thistle to create more seed heads which are formed from it’s flowers. This can be easily done by cutting off or mowing over the top of the bolts, and placing the waste into the bin.

If the weed is producing flowers and seeds, this means the weed is in it’s final year of growth and will die naturally, so there is very little else which needs to be done.

If it is noticed that there are Musk Thistle rosettes present, which are still in their first year of life, then a herbicide may be the best treatment method for the infestation. Herbicides are available for this weed, and manufacturers recommendations should always be followed for it’s use. The best time to apply these herbicides is in the Spring or Fall

If the infestation of rosettes is only small, then the easiest and most environmentally friendly way of killing Musk Thistle is to simply get a sharp knife and cut it off below it’s crown, which is the base of the plant, and the problem is solved.

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Weeds

Barnyard Grass

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Barnyard grass is a nuisance weed to most homeowners when it grows into our lawns creating a weed presence which is both ugly, and if left untreated will continue spreading throughout our lawn.

While Barnyard Grass can be a valuable crop variety for farm animals, this cultivation has lead to the grass becoming a weed for every other facet of society, from homeowners, to businesses with a garden frontage, to the environmental damage which occurs from this weed, it should be tackled as soon as possible.

Barnyard Grass is an annual grass variety which usually begins it’s growth cycle germinating in Spring, and in some years may even begin germinating in Winter.

As a young plant it will begin spreading along the ground with it’s leaves rolled into a bud like shape and having a dark red tinge to it’s leaves, as the weed begins to mature it’s leaves will unfurl and begin pointing upwards into the familiar shape of wild grasses.

When mature, Barnyard Grass will reach an average height of around 5 feet, with an abundance of grassy leaves and sending out it’s flowering seed heads from June through to October.

Barnyard Grass Treatment

Killing Barnyard Grass is best achieved using a pre-emergent herbicide which is applied to a known infected lawn before the grass re-emerges in Spring. Barring a pre-emergent treatment for Barnyard Grass, this weed can be controlled by a herbicide which is available at your local gardening store. Simply follow manufacturers instructions for application.

Preventing Barnyard Grass

The only real prevention for Barnyard Grass is to follow the Golden Rules Of Lawn Care, good continuous management of our lawns will always reduce infestation of unwanted weeds and diseases by maintaining a strong healthy lawn which can best fight off infestations naturally.

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Weeds

Crabgrass

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Crabgrass is a weed that most homeowners are well aware of, and a weed we all universally despise. It is an Annual grassy weed which proliferates very quickly once it becomes established in a lawn, so it is always best practice to try and remove it as quickly as possible after it is first noticed.

Controlling Crabgrass

Crabgrass, like many other weeds in the lawn can be effectively controlled over the long term with good management practices and lawn care routines which should be the foundation of all our lawn care.

Regular lawn mowing is important as it removes the majority of the seed heads the weed produces. This is important when we consider that Crabgrass can send out thousands of seeds throughout the entire Summer. Mowing regularly simply removes all these seeds as they are being produced.

Mowing at the correct height for the lawn type is also vitally important as this will allow the lawn to flourish and stay in peak health which can then out-compete many weed infestations. When choosing a lawn mowing height it is always better to mow at a higher height for your lawn type.

Pre-emergent Herbicides For Crabgrass

Crabgrass can be controlled most easily with a pre-emergent herbicide which is applied before the Crabgrass has germinated. The pre-emergent herbicide will have little or no effect once the leaves of the new weeds begin to emerge.

You will need to take note of the exact germination times for your region, as the germination of Crabgrass will vary depending on the exact location and weather of where you live. If you are still unsure about when this may be, simply check with the knowledgeable staff of your local garden store, or consider having a professional come to your property to apply the herbicide, but this will need to be arranged at the end of Winter in order to get a booking for early Spring.

Pre-emergent herbicides should be watered in lightly so it reaches down past the thatch layer and onto the soil surface, usually a 1/2 inch of watering is sufficient.

Some important aspects to remember when using these herbicides is not to apply it to newly laid sod or seed until the lawn is fully established, and never to seed a new lawn for around 3 months after the use of these herbicides.

Killing Crabgrass With Post Emergent Herbicides

If the window of opportunity to kill Crabgrass with a pre-emergent herbicide was missed, this grassy weed can still be controlled and killed with a post-emergent herbicide. These herbicides may have to be applied several times over the season as each new generation of weeds germinates.

There are several different types of herbicide available, all with different active ingredients, and some are more effective than others. But if we always try to kill Crabgrass when the weed is still young and immature, most of these herbicides will kill crabgrass and other grassy weeds very easily.

Crabgrass and other weedy grasses become far more difficult to kill once these weeds become more mature and established. Once this happens, the homeowner may have to look at some of the more expensive herbicide options in order to effectively control the infestation.

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Weeds

Controlling Violets In Lawns

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Violets can become a nuisance weed in some home lawns, often preferring slightly shady conditions they quickly establish, take hold and spread, ruining our lush carpets of green turf. Luckily for the homeowners affected, Violets are now rather easy to control.

Violet Control In Fescue – Zoysiagrass – Ryegrass – Bentgrass

Herbicides with an active ingredient called Triclopyr are now readily available to the homeowner for use on lawns. Triclopyr is an excellent herbicide for treating and killing Violets, as well as wild strawberry and ground ivy.

Application should always be as directed on the product label, and results should be seen within 3 weeks.

Caution: Triclopyr should not be used on Centipedegrass, St. Augustine or Bermudagrass.

Violet Control In Bermudagrass – Centipedegrass – St. Augustine

Controlling and killing Violets in these warm season grasses should be done with herbicides containing Atrazine as the active ingredient. There are many options, brands and products open to the homeowner with this herbicide, many of which may also be labelled as killing Oxalis, Clover and Chickweed, or marketed as a 3 way weedkiller.

Application should always be as directed on the product label, and results should be seen within 3 weeks.

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