Winter is upon us, and it’s been a fairly brutal one, with the Northeast suffering near-blizzards and even Texas – a state known for its typically arid climate – suffered power outages and water shortages. With such freezing temperatures, one would assume that gardens were safe to leave dormant. But those with a green thumb know the importance of killing weeds in the winter.
Firstly, even in the freezing months, lawns are just aesthetically more pleasing without weeds. When the Springtime finally arrives, the lack of weeds ensures plenty of room for your more beautiful and healthy plants to grow. They’ll also thrive much longer.
Weeds in winter are particularly problematic for areas with slightly warmer climates, capable of growing anywhere they please. And killing them isn’t always an easy process. For one thing, it can often be difficult to target them directly. Fortunately, we’ve cooked up some simple, direct plans of attack that will do away with pesky weeds even in the most difficult conditions.
But before we unveil our strategies, we need to get a good sense of what we’re dealing with.
Considerations for Killing Weeds in Winter
Any good General knows the adage, “Know your enemy.” And what holds true in real warfare fits, in this instance, for garden warfare. Here are a few important factors to consider before deciding on a viable plan of attack.
As we mentioned, a warmer climate means weeds can and will grow in winter anywhere they see fit. If you live in such an area, your method of combat will likely be more active than passive. Products like herbicides or preventative granules will help.
If you live in colder weather, the frost that naturally develops on your lawn is a great weed inhibitor, so such products aren’t necessary. You’ll benefit from self-pulling and using natural remedies. You can use these gloves for pulling weeds.
Selective Vs. Non-selective
Deciding on what kind of product to use is also going to depend on where the weeds are growing. If they’re in your lawn itself, then a selective weed killer that won’t harm your grass is your best bet. If, however, the weeds are growing in gravel, non-selective treatment is recommended.
The size of the treatment area is also a key factor in deciding what product to use. Large areas tend to require a granular weed-and-feed approach or a killer concentrate. In smaller areas, usually all you need is weed killer with a trigger.
What type of weeds you’re fighting makes a huge difference in the product. Some weed killers are made specifically for crabgrass, for instance. However, most weed killers, unless they specify otherwise, kill up to 200 different kinds of weeds in one all-purpose formula.
6 Ways to Kill Weeds in Winter
Taking care of weeds in Winter is a vital part of lawn care. Doing so yields a healthier, more beautiful yard and the most robust plants. The key to killing any weed is getting down to the roots; in the Winter, this can be more difficult than usual. But these simple, eight solutions will help you keep your lawn looking its best.
Preventative Granule With Fertilizer
Areas with only mild winters are ideal for using preventative granule with fertilizer to knock out pesky weeds. Not only will it eliminate weeds, but the fertilizer also gives you a head start on the spring.
Apply the fertilizer, a small layer of compost, then the granule. This lets the nutrients soak into the soil of your lawn while the grass is dormant, ensuring it will grow in nicely in the spring.
If you leave your lawn unattended in the Winter, weeds will spring up wherever they can, taking up unplanted areas where you want to install new greenery. But weeds, like everything in your garden, depend on the sun. This is precisely what adding mulch in the winter is for.
Just a thin spread over the surface of your soil will block the weeds from sun exposure. And any weeds that do manage to grow are easy to pull, as the mulch keeps the soil loose and moist.
Once again, the size of your yard is going to determine what type of mulch you want to use. For larger areas, bark, chopped or shredded coarsely, is ideal. The bark decomposes slowly and is unlikely to just blow away with the wind. Thicker layers of sawdust also prevent weeds from growing because they will consume the nitrogen in the soil.
Smaller areas can benefit from cedar chips, pine bark or rubber mulch.
Using a Homemade Solution
Some yards in the Winter don’t have a lot of weeds to deal with. If you’re one of these lucky people, there’s a cheap, easy solution for what weeds do exist. Sometimes, all it takes is a little vinegar and water. Homemade solutions are an excellent fast way to take care of just what you see on the surface.
For optimal effect, mix:
- One gallon of white wine vinegar
- One cup of salt
- One tablespoon of liquid dish soap.
Put the ingredients in a spray bottle with a trigger and spray at the sunniest hour of the day.
Spot Touch Formula
Using a spot-touch formula is another great option in the winter months for both lawns and landscaping beds. These simple sprays will kill crabgrass, clover and dandelions down to the root.
Concentrates are perfect for killing weeds in large areas, as previously mentioned, but you must read the label before using them. Know what plants might be vulnerable to the concentrate tells you which ones to avoid.
Pull By Hand/Tool
Pulling weeds by hand is a little old-fashioned, but we’re not entirely against the classic ways, especially if you only have a small amount of them growing. However, there’s a trick to doing it right. Since nearly all weeds grow back with just a tiny bit of their root remaining, you have to be sure you’re getting it all. But some weeds are incredibly stubborn.
It’s all a matter of patience. Careful, controlled pulling will stop the weed from breaking apart. Try to pull slowly, but firmly. It’s also advisable to pull after a rainstorm, as the soil will already be looser, eliminating the need for a spade or other tool.
Finally, once you get the weed out, examine its root to ensure you got it all.
The Winter months may seem like a vacation from lawn care, but there are still some basic, easy steps you have to take to ensure a healthy, beautiful lawn when the Spring rolls around. Fortunately, it never requires the same care and attention as the growing season, but one should never leave a lawn completely dormant in Winter.