December 1995 - Volume II, Issue 12

Winter Weeds - A Different Kind of Plant

David M. Kopec, Extension Turfgrass Specialist

Many homeowners wonder about why they have weeds in their lawn in the winter? You'll hear most about this from homeowners in the low desert regions who do not overseed their lawns (brown bermuda) or from those at high elevations where it is cold enough to discolor bluegrass, fescue and ryegrass lawns. In these cases, the lawns are "off color" and the weeds tend to show up nicely.

For effective weed control, the proper identification of the weed is essential. Weeds that show up in most lawns this time of year are as follows.

Low Elevation Bermuda Lawns

Winter Annuals

Brome grass (grass) Mediterranean or six week Schismus (grass)

Annual bluegrass (grass) Burrclover (broadleaf)

Mustard (broadleaf) Sheperds purse (broadleaf)

Wild celery (broadleaf) Cheesweed/mallow (broadleaf)

Perennials (more active in winter)

Oxalis/creeping charlie (broadleaf) Dandelion (broadleaf)

White clover (broadleaf) Various thistles (broadleaf)

High Elevation Lawns (Kentucky bluegrass, fescues, ryegrass)

Winter Annuals

Bromegrass (grass) Black medic (broadleaf)

Annual bluegrass (grass) Chickweed (broadleaf)


Clovers (broadleaf) Henbit (broadleaf)

Dandelions (broadleaf) Plantains (broadleaf)

Thistles (broadleaf) Fescues-in bluegrass lawns (grass)

Oxalis/wood sorrel (broadleaf)
Weed Control

Grassy weeds can be controlled with Round-up or Finale in dormant bermudagrass at low elevations. However, it will be slow to work. Grass control at high elevations areas will be even slower using Round-up or Finale. Spot spray the weeds only. Broadleaf weeds can be sprayed with 2,4-D containing products or mixtures with other phenoxy-type products which include 2,4-DB, mecoprop, and or DICAMBA. For those who wish to remove brodleafs by cultivation or hand pulling, either irrigate the lawn or pull them right after a rain. Weeds like plantains, mustards and even young thistles are easily pulled out when the ground is wet! Annual bluegrass is controlled with selective acting post herbicides, but these are not available for the homeowner.

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