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Perennial Beds and Lawn Weeds

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

With the recent showers and some cooler temperatures, a return of green can be seen in the lawn and that has generated questions directed to our Master Gardeners about weed control yet this summer. Before you use a lawn weed control product, the lawn really needs to be actively growing or you will just be trading one weed for another in the same spots. The lawn needs to be able to fill in those open or thin spots, competing well with the weed seeds just waiting to germinate. It will take more rain or watering on your part and continued cooler temperatures to bring Kentucky Bluegrass lawns completely out of dormancy to a state of active growth. If you have to mow your lawn regularly again, I would say you are there and a weed control program can begin. Besides the water, feeding the lawn by topdressing with organic matter such as a quality black dirt or compost is a great way to encourage new growth. If you are using inorganic material, be sure to follow application rates so you do not apply too much. If you topdress, you are also providing a good base for any overseeding you may need to do. Grass seed needs good seed to soil contact to begin the germination process. Bluegrasses can take up to 7-10 days before we see any results from our efforts, so don't give up too early thinking something went wrong. Keep the soil moist but not overly wet. Grass seed does not come treated with a fungicide and can rot easily if too wet too long.

Perennial flowers have suffered this summer with the heat and drought. Daylilies for example started the season robust and full and now are there with a lot of dried dead leaves and only a fraction of the size they started out with this spring. Normally this is the time we would be dividing our plants and resetting them in the beds. You may not want to do divisions this year unless you really have to. The plants you have are really stressed and by dividing and transplanting them, we are stressing them further. Plants available at the end of the season at Garden Centers may be the better perennial this year as they have received good care to keep them looking good, especially if you have not been able to water in your yard. I have seen many beds this year with major cracks from lack of moisture so adding organic matter to the soil if you are dividing or purchasing plants will be a great benefit to the divisions or transplants. Work the organic matter in several inches as perennial plants will be there for several seasons before needing to be divided again. If you are planting a lot of spring bulbs and are digging out the entire planting area for ease of placement, mixing the organic matter back in with your back fill soil is another easy thing to do and will make a great difference in bulb performance.

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