Many kinds of plants can be seen growing in some lawns. A lot of them could be called weeds, but this may not be true if a weed is a plant growing where it's not wanted. If you remove them all, the ground would be here, and weeds may be better than nothing.
At this time of the year the crabgrass has gone. The first frost kills it. In its place, two winter annuals, chickweed and henbit, and two perennials, dandelion and wild garlic, have appeared.
Seeds of chickweed and henbit germinate in autumn. The plants grow in late fall and winter, develop seeds from April until early summer, then die. On warm days even in midwinter, the starry white flowers of chickweed and the reddish-purple ones of henbit may be found in full bloom, and in April, when few other things are in bloom, they really stand out.
The dandelion is a pernicious weed with a long, fleshy taproot that will inaugurate new growth if it's not killed; but on the credit side, its roots furnish a useful drug, its leaves are good to eat as greens and its flowers make an acceptable wine.
There's nothing good that can be said about wild garlic. The difficulty is the bulbous base produces myriads of secondary bulbs or bulblets, each one capable of producing new shoots the following year. Pulling the plants by hand will multiply rather than decrease them.
With a fairly good lawn, these so-called weeds should be removed. They compete with the grass for water, light and mineral elements. Although most will survive in poor soils, they take more than their share of nitrogen and other available nutrients.
A measure of control can be achieved with chickweed and henbit by using the lawnmover. But that would be much more trouble than spraying to kill them.
Either Dicamba or Silvex is effective against chickweed, henbit and dandelion, according to Virginia Tech specialists. November is one of the best times to apply it.
The sprays will elimate these weeds without harming grass, but keep them away from broadleaf plants such as azaleas. Directions on the label should be read carefully and followed closely.
While Dicamba does no harm to grass, it can be hazardous in areas where tree roots are growing.
Wild garlic looks a lot like the cultivated onion. The big problem with getting rid of it is in the bulbs underground. Pulling or digging it out is certain to leave most of them behind.
Treating the foliage in the fall for three or four years usually results in the death of these weeds. The top, which produces the food for the plant, is destroyed by the spray, and eventually the bulbs starve to death. Dicamba is the best material to use.
When using these weed-killing chemicals, instead of treating the entire lawn, spray only the places where the young weeds are.
If fertilizers containing broadleaf weed-killers such as 2, 4-D, Silvex or Dicamba are used, they should be applied with extreme caution. Keep in mind that the roots of established trees and shrubs extend far beyond the drip line of their branches. Additional caution should be exercised when applications are made on sloping areas, because the chemicals can be washed downhill by heavy rains.