Identifying Winter Annual Lawn Weeds

Annuals, Biennials, Perennials oh my! Did you know that those pesky dandelions you see in the spring can continue to live for more than 2 years? Dandelions are considered a biennial or a perennial. Weeds, among other plants, can be categorized by their life cycles. You may find yourself wondering, it’s winter, why would I need to be thinking about weeds? Believe it or not, even though your lawn is in hibernation and the growth rate has significantly decreased, weeds can and will still grow during the winter.

Annual weeds will germinate from seed, grow, mature, and die in less than 12 months. They can be further classified into 2 different categories: summer and winter. Winter annuals germinate in the fall, overwinter as plants, mature in the spring, flower, set seed and then die during the summer. Weeds can be further classified as either grassy or broadleaf weeds. For example, while annual bluegrass is the most common winter annual and can be considered a grassy weed in certain kinds of turf, Henbit and Chickweed are examples of winter annual broadleaves. Here is some more information on how to identify these weeds:

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Henbit is a winter annual that reproduces by spreading seeds and can grow up to 16” tall, although in maintained turf it gets mowed down and tends to grow lower. It usually has pink to purple flowers, with hairy upper surfaces on the round-shaped leaves, with “scalloped” edges. You will typically see this weed in the early springtime with seeds maturing from April to June, but then typically disappearing under high-temperature stress later in the summer.

Chickweed, another winter annual, also spreads by reproducing seeds and can grow up to 16” tall also, but like Henbit in a maintained lawn, it is much shorter. It has tiny oval-shaped leaves and will produce tiny white flowers throughout the growing season and then die off once temperatures begin to rise.

The best method of control for these winter annual weeds comes in late winter or early spring. ExperiGreen Essential and Premier Lawn Care programs offer not 1 but 2 pre-emergent treatments (in most cases) in the spring to ensure winter annuals and other grassy weeds do not overtake your lawn as the temperatures warm up. This paired with post-emergent treatments for weeds that may breakthrough or cannot be controlled by pre-emergents and monthly visits all season long will ensure your lawn remains weed-free and healthy. Click here to learn more about our maintenance program and how you can save with our Early Bird special for 2020.

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