I remember going fishing when I was young. My grandparents pond was easy to access, had plenty of fish and Grandma really liked for us to fish in it. We would catch the fish and clean them and then Grandma would sell the fish to the neighbors.
My dad would take us fishing in Briar Creek. This would usually mean an adventuresome drive on some back road followed by dragging the boat by hand into a remote landing.
The landings had neat names like Blanches Landing or Wards Bluff. Once we were in the water, dad would paddle.
This is probably because he was the only one who could handle the fully loaded boat in the current. Our job was to avoid dropping things overboard and to catch the fish.
We would have adventures like breaking the paddle while trying to kill a snake and then having to navigate with half a paddle. Then, there was the time we ran into a wasps nest. My brother, Mike, got stung about 14 times while I got stung only once. For some reason he does not seem to want to go fishing with me in the creek again.
One part of fishing was very similar no matter where we went -- the snacks. We had to take soft drinks, cookies like Stage Plank and cheese crackers and some candy. This was almost as important as the bait.
Fishing meant planning ahead for the best possible trip. This is true in lawns as well, especially when it comes to weed control.
Homeowners probably see a good many weeds in their lawns now. Summer weeds are large and well established. These weeds are producing seeds that will germinate in the years to come. Since these weeds are so large, it may be difficult or impossible to kill them now. Large weeds require more herbicide to kill them than small weeds. Sometimes, if we apply enough herbicide to kill the weed, it will also damage the lawn.
Not all herbicides will kill every weed. Also, some herbicides are meant to be used on certain type lawns. To select a good herbicide you must know the type of lawn you have and the type of weeds you want to control. Your local Extension Office (800-ASK-UGA1) can often help you identify a weed or a lawn grass. You can also see photos of Georgia weeds at the website georgiaturf.com.
You can try to kill existing weeds now if you like, but do not be overly concerned about the summer weeds you see now. Begin thinking about preventing the winter weeds that will be coming up soon and giving us problems from February through April.
Weeds come in two types: winter and summer. The summer weeds generally come up in the spring, grow through the summer and die with the first frost. The winter weeds will begin coming up in the next few weeks, grow through the winter, bloom in the spring and die in next summers heat. These winter weeds are the ones you need to prevent now. Weeds are usually easier to prevent than kill once they are growing.
Early September is probably the best time to apply winter preventative herbicides. Since these chemicals only last for a while, apply them once again 45-60 days later.
For centipede and St. Augustine lawns, I like to recommend Atrazine to prevent winter weeds. It prevents many of the weeds we will see this winter -- henbit, annual bluegrass, spurweed and more. Atrazine (and every other herbicide) must be used carefully according to the directions on the label.
Atrazine cannot be used on green Bermuda grass and some zoysia lawns. If you have Bermuda, you can wait until after the Bermuda is brown to use Atrazine, or you can use a different chemical. Waiting to apply the Atrazine allows some weeds to emerge, so expect less weed control if you wait. Alternately, you could use a chemical containing one of these active ingredients: benefin, pendimethalin or dithiopyr. Atrazine would probably control more types of winter weeds, but these chemicals also prevent weeds and should not damage Bermuda or zoysia.
Plan ahead to prevent the weeds that will trouble you in winter and spring. Read and follow all label directions when using any pesticide.
Willie Chance works with the University of Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture.