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How to Deal with Winter Lawn Weeds in Wisconsin & Minnesota

Winter is all about mittens and hot cocoa and sledding, right?

Can’t we take a break from weeds?

If it’s past October, yes, take a break. Here in Wisconsin and Minnesota, we don’t treat weeds past mid-October.

But realize your weeds aren’t always taking a break.

Can you kill winter weeds? Should you bother?

What the Heck are Winter Lawn Weeds?

Winter annual weeds germinate in the fall and grow through the winter. You might catch a glimpse of them when the snow melts.

Weeds aren’t only sneaky, they’re stubborn. You’d think they’d enjoy a chance to relax a bit after all the hard work of growing and annoying you all summer. But no.

The seeds of some weeds can lurk underground for years. They hang out like underground thugs, waiting for the right conditions to sprout and ruin your day.

Meet Poa Annua: the Most Common Winter Lawn Weed

Also called annual bluegrass, Poa Annua is one of the most common grassy lawn weeds, and a real weed super villain.

This winter annual germinates in the late summer/early fall once soil temperatures fall below 70 degrees, grows throughout the fall, then flowers the following spring.

The only real option to try to control this weed is to spray it multiple times with a non-selective weed killer while it‘s actively growing and then renovate these areas with grass seed.

But remember, it’s a super villain —it might still reappear, sprouting from seeds that are dormant in the soil beneath.

Other Weeds That Lurk in Winter

While you’re happily sipping eggnog this winter or catching up on episodes of Ted Lasso, some weeds are still out there, waiting to strike when the time is right.

Many of the peskiest spring weeds actually germinate in the fall. They’re out there now, laughing little evil weed laughs.

Dandelions aren’t technically an annual winter weed — it’s a perennial — but it doesn’t completely take the winter off.

It spreads through tiny seeds on those fluffy puffy seed heads.

Most people think dandelions originate in the spring, but dandelion seeds actually germinate in late summer and early fall.

Those seeds can last for decades, sprouting long after you blow on that puff ball. They’re likely in your lawn soil right now, waiting for the warmth of spring.

Crabgrass seeds hang around, too, ready to germinate in the spring. Even crabgrass seeds that don’t germinate right away can hang around to sprout in future years.

Should You Pull Winter Lawn Weeds?

Let’s say it’s a fairly mild sunny day midwinter, and you notice weeds poking through your dormant winter lawn.

Should you yank them?

Nah, don’t bother. This time of year they’re brittle, and would likely snap off above ground rather than pull out smoothly by the root. Then they’ll still need to be sprayed in the spring.

Relax and go spend some quality couch time.

The Spring Weed Attack

Once April rolls around, no more resting. It’s time for crabgrass pre-emergent. This timing is crucial. You want to target those weed seeds as they germinate and take root in the soil so they don’t become more seed-producing plants.

Here at RainMaster, you get two crabgrass treatments — one in early spring and another in late spring. This extends protection.

Next up, May, which means your first round of weed control. Your goal should be to have this first round done by Memorial Day.

But weed control isn’t a one-time thing. It’s a continuous process.

Different lawn weeds in Wisconsin and Minnesota are active at different times of year.

Choose a complete, proactive lawn care program that includes both preventative and curative treatments to target winter lawn weeds, spring, summer, and fall weeds.

Battling weeds throughout the seasons will be part of a great company’s plan for your lawn. Just as important is nourishing your lawn so it grows healthy and thick. A thick lawn can better crowd out those dastardly weeds.

Ready to Battle Weeds? Trust RainMaster

You have better things to do than worry about weeds invading your lawn.

If you’re reading this while snowy white drifts blanket your lawn, relax about weeds for now.

But let’s gear up to battle the invaders in early spring.

That includes creating a custom nutrition plan for your lawn, so the roots will be nourished, the soil packed with nutrients, and your grass so thick and healthy, lawn weeds will have a tough fight ahead.

But when they do show up, let’s be ready for them.

Are you ready to stop battling weeds on your lawn in Eau Claire, WI or the Minneapolis area? Request a quote today! We’ll review your options together so you can make a great choice. Then, you can finally enjoy your lawn and stop worrying about it.

How To Get Rid of Dandelions: Dandelion Control

Dandelions are one of the most common perennial broadleaf weeds that appear on lawns and landscapes. They can grow and thrive in any kind of soil and can spread over on lawns that receive full sunlight.

Dandelion is typically spotted on lawns by their large, bright yellow flowers which gradually turn into puffy white seed heads when the weed is ready to reproduce. Dandelion taproots are thick and long, growing to a length of 6 to 18 inches in length.

In the early spring, new dandelion sprouts will emerge from the taproot, which can be 2 to 3 feet deep in the soil. This makes pulling the dandelions by hand largely ineffective. Even though dandelion dies when fall arrives, the taproot is able to survive in the soil, ready to grow back out when Spring returns. In order to prevent dandelions from being a recurring issue, you have to kill the plant down to the root.

If you are dealing with dandelions on your lawn, our DIY treatment guide can help. The guide below has been put together by our lawn care experts and will show you how to properly kill Dandelion and ensure that it doesn’t return.

Identification

It’s important to first identify a problem weed to help you to determine what herbicide works best to kill it. The good thing about dandelion is that most people are familiar with how it looks and can spot it with ease when they are growing on a lawn.

  • Dandelions germinate in the spring, growing between 2 to 18 inches tall. They have leaves grow in a rosette arrangement with jagged edges that point inward toward the center of the plant. Multiple stems will grow from the plant, but each stalk with have a single yellow flower.
  • When dandelion is ready to reproduce, the yellow flower will become a white puffball. The fuzzy white parts are actually dandelion seeds.
  • The dandelion seedheads can easily be blown off the stem via a gust of wind, or famously by taking a plant and blowing it. Wherever these seeds lie will result in a new dandelion growth.
  • Dandelion has a thick and hearty taproot that can be lodged quite deep underground. If you uproot a dandelion, you will usually see a taproot that is 6 to 18 inches long.
  • Plants like catsear, chicory and hawkweed look very similar to dandelion but you can differentiate dandelion from its hollow stem, production of milky fluid when the stem is broken and only grows one flower per stalk.

Use the description above and the images to help you to identify dandelion. If you are not sure, contact us with an image of your weed and we will help you correctly Identify the plant as well as offer control suggestions.

Inspection

Once you have confirmed that you are dealing with Dandelion, you can then move on to inspection. During this phase, you will locate the areas where Dandelion is growing and observe the conditions that are allowing the weed to thrive. This will help you to determine where to focus your herbicide applications to treat Dandelion.

Where to Inspect

Dandelions are strong weeds that can grow anywhere in the United States in most types of soil. They will also grow in-between cracks in cement, like driveways, sidewalks, and walkways. Dandelions tend to grow in spots that see a lot of sunlight, but they can oftentimes be seen in shady areas. Walk around your lawn to check where dandelion is growing and how severe of an infestation you have.

What to Look For

Chances are if you have dandelion, they won’t be hard to miss. Dandelions stick out like a sore thumb on your lawn among your desired grass and vegetation. Depending on the time of year and which stage of development the weed is in, you may be looking for different signs. Keep an eye out for the patches of broad, jagged leaves, the yellow flower on a single stem (if it a stem has branches with multiple flowers, it is not a dandelion), or the white puffball of seeds for when it has matured.

Treatment

Dandelions are a creeping invasive perennial weed that can be difficult to manually control without the help of chemicals. This is primarily because of its extensive taproot which can grow underground up to three feet. This means that if you try to hand pull it, the Dandelion will just grow right back because it can easily break off and just start up growing once again, regenerating.

Always make sure you have on the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for safety (glasses, gloves, mask) before mixing or applying and herbicides. Our top recommendation for controlling dandelions is msm turf herbicide. MSM Turf Herbicide is a post-emergent herbicide and has a broad label. It is also easy to mix and apply while also being cost-effective. For dandelions that are growing in paved areas like cement, we recommend eraser herbicide.

Step 1: Apply Weed & Feed Fertilizer (in early Spring)

*Note that applying Weed & Feed is not a prerequisite to later dandelion herbicide applications. This is a just helpful and effective step to perform if it is early in the growing season so that you can stamp out dandelions before the invade.

Because dandelions germinate in late winter and early spring, an effective first step is to nourish your lawn while killing the emerged dandelions. Do this with Solutions 15-5-10 Weed and Feed.

Our Weed and Feed is a special fertilizer blend with 15% nitrogen, 5% phosphorus, and 10% potassium (potash). This NPK ratio is great for spring because the relatively high nitrogen content will nourish your lawn by greening up and strengthening your grass. When your grass is tall and green, it will crowd and choke out fledgling dandelions before they have a chance to really take hold.

An additional benefit of using Solutions Weed & Feed is that it is also formulated with the herbicide, Trimec. This will actually target and kill the dandelions (and other labeled weeds) while feeding your grass.

Apply the weed and feed between 3.2 to 4 pounds of weed and feed per 1,000 square feet. We recommend using a push broadcast spreader for ease of application.

Broadcast half the weed and feed fertilizer in parallel lines once across the area. Then broadcast the other half at a perpendicular angle to cover the area entirely. Once the product is laid out, water it in. This will help push the fertilizer granules deep into the soil so that it can feed the grass and attack the weeds.

You can apply Solutions Weed & Feed 30 days after your initial application, but do not go over the maximum annual rate of 8 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

Step 2 – Mix MSM Turf Herbicide

Due to the pervasiveness of dandelions, you may see some emerge and grow several weeds after your previous weed & feed application, or if you missed your early fertilizer application. This is where using an herbicide like msm turf herbicide comes in.

MSM Turf Herbicide is a broad spectrum, selective post-emergent herbicide. This weed killer is a selective herbicide, so it is labeled to use on many different turf types to target broadleaf weeds, like dandelions, and some grassy weeds without harming the grass around them.

MSM Turf Herbicide comes as a dry granule that can treat up to 43,560 square feet (1 acre). This product can be applied as either a broadcast application over the whole yard or as a spot treatment for a targeted application. For dandelions, we are going to use msm turf herbicide as a spot spray. For acerage, apply 0.25 to 0.33 oz. of product. Determine your lawn’s size by measuring (in feet) and multiplying the area length times the width (length x width = square footage).

Place the measured amount of msm turf herbicide into your pump sprayer and fill the sprayer to capacity. We recommend using a 1 gallon sprayer. Seal the sprayer and shake to ensure it is well mixed.

Step 3 – Apply MSM Turf Herbicide to Control Established Dandelions

Directly spray your dandelions using low to medium pressure. You are spraying the weed to wet, not to the point of runoff. Be sure to spray on calm days when wind speeds are low and keep all people and pets off the treated area until dry.

You should start to see your dandelions die out within 1 to 2 weeks. For resilient dandelions, you can reapply your msm turf herbicide 4 to 6 weeks after the initial application.

Do not apply msm turf herbicide to fruit or vegetable gardens or where roots of desirable trees and woody bushes may be laying.

Step 4 – Treat Dandelions in Cement Cracks with Eraser

To get rid of dandelions (and other weeds) from cracks in cement, use eraser 41%. Eraser is a glyphosate-based, non-selective weed killer. This means that it will target and kill nearly all common weeds and grasses that it comes into contact with. This has no soil activity, which means that it will not leach into the ground; it must come into contact with a plant’s foliage for it to work.

Because of its powerful, non-selective formulation, eraser is great to use in driveways, sidewalks, and walkways for weed control. Eraser is not recommended to use on lawns or other turf areas and flower beds because it will severely damage or kill your desirable vegetation.

Be sure not to use the same sprayer that you used for the msm turf herbicide application to prevent cross-contamination. We suggest labeling your sprayers with something like “selective” and “non-Selective” to help you keep track.

2.5 oz. of eraser can treat 1,000 sq. ft. area. Mix 2.5 fluid ounces of eraser in 1 gallon of water in a pump sprayer and then spot treat the dandelions growing in your paved areas. spraying to the point of wet. Apply when wind speeds are low and keep your spray nozzle close to the weed to minimize drift.

Keep all people and pets away from treated areas until dry.

Prevention

After you have successfully eliminated the dandelion, you want to make sure the weed doesn’t return. The best defense against dandelion is a thick lawn that is well fertilized and maintained. Here are a few cultural practices we suggest to keep dandelion from returning.

Dandelion Puff

The Dandelion Puff is the secondary form of the dandelion, (yellow) a type of weed. Dandelions become dandelion puffs (white) after a few days. Similarly to the clover, it does not affect the town’s environment or affect the town rating.

Dandelion puffs, unlike most flowers which are worn, and unlike its primary form as a dandelion which can be worn or displayed as furniture, can be held as a tool in City Folk and New Leaf, or displayed as furniture in a house. Upon pressing “A” the player will blow the seeds (termed achenes) which will fly away. In the direction the player blows the puff, in a few days there will be dandelions in that general area. In New Leaf, the player can blow at the 3DS and their character will blow the seeds of the dandelion puff.