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Weekly Gardening Guide: Not so Dany-Lions

May 10, 2017


Bryan's Lawn Tips: 

Everything is green right now thanks to all this rain; it's making it pretty easy to spot the bright yellow dandelions! The often repeated question "The best weed killer??"... well if I'm honest with you, as much as I'd like to sell you some expensive herbicides, your best weed killer is a butter knife to stab below the surface and your 2 fingers to rip the plant out by the root!! (Don't forget to replace the hole with soil and seed!). Do what Sarah and I do... pull 10 weeds a day when you get home from work, before you sit down for dinner. In no time you won't have any weeds left to pull! 

But taking this goofy (and oh so flattering) picture of Sarah reminded me of another important point:

Have you ever wondered why in the dead heat of summer your lawn will go brown but your weeds will still be growing like ... well... weeds? 

I hear people say things like "the weeds in my lawn are choking out the the grass" and "weeds must be sucking up all the water from the grass"... this just isn't true. In fact the roots of a broadleaf weed have a far smaller surface area and thus a much lower ability to harvest moisture and nutrients from the soil than the densely fibrous root system of turf grasses. 

The reason weeds look green, and continue growing during the dead of summer is simply that their roots are deeper. So when the top 5-6" of soil dries out or becomes depleted of nutrients the weeds are still feeding on the soil below (8-10" in some cases). This is not the case for all weeds, but for all dicot (taproot) plants, namely dandelions, thistle, plantain and other notorious lawn-ruiners! 

To summarize: 
- broadleaf weeds don't have a stronger root system, just a deeper one! 
- grasses are better competitors for space as long as they are nourished and hydrated! 
- maintaining healthy grass is a balance between over and under watering, but this is best done through "deep and infrequent" watering. Between Mother Nature and your sprinkler or hose, grass needs about 1" of water per week, ideally soaking in slowly over one or 2 applications. DONT WATER EVERY DAY! Overwatering is typically more harmful than under-watering. 

It may not seem like it now, but in the coming months your grass will get thirsty! You don't need to water before then, but be able to Recognize signs of drought stress: 
- wilting, thin looking blades of grass 
- a dull sheen over all or patches of the lawn. 
- colour changes, blue-ish first, then purple, then brown
- try the footprint test - step on an area that you think might be wilting, if it doesn't perk back up and leaves a flat footprint it doesn't have enough turgor (water) pressure anymore. It's drying out. 

Water is your best friend in fighting weeds by having a thick healthy lawn - but be careful not to give it too much of a good thing!! 

Happy Weeding! 

Bryan


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