Controlling weeds in your landscape in New Mexico
A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.
No one likes to pull weeds, and with unpredictable spring weather, why would one want to even start thinking of weeds? Well there some things that can be done about weeds NOW so that they don’t plague you later. You may have notice the Hilltop crews spraying in the last few weeks. We were spraying pre-emergent on the landscaping so that the weeds don’t come up as bad later in the year. That puts us at an advantage when they start cropping up in the spring and summer. Our crew is licensed by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. They are trained to do this work safely and apply the product according to label instructions. My spray crews read the label and we always keep public safety and the environment in mind. [Please note: We provide this service for existing maintenance customers.]
You might want to do the same thing to your yard. Go to the garden center and see what is available. They should be able to help you out with a product suitable to your particular need. Always read the label of any product you use in your landscape.
Contrary to popular belief, pre-emergent herbicides don’t sterilize the soil and keep everything from growing; they simply kill the weeds as they emerge from their seeds. Some seeds are known to last 50 years, so if the herbicide isn’t applied each year, weeds will grow.
The big question for pre-emergent herbicides is when to apply them. Pre-emergent herbicides only work if they are applied to your lawn or beds before the weed’s growth period. If applied too early, weather will dilute the herbicide and the weed will grow unencumbered. Too late and the “baby” weeds may be too big to be controlled effectively. Read the label.
Two Weed Growth Periods in New Mexico
According to garden experts from many regions of the U.S., the two dates to remember are March/April and September/October. Those are the two time of the year around which pre-emergent should be applied so that they activate before seasonal weeds make an appearance. There are two application dates because generally there are two types of weeds, winter weeds and summer weeds. This is especially true in regions that don’t completely freeze over in the winter.
The summer weed date is March/April, because that is usually when average soil temperatures reach above 50 degrees. Major summer weeds like crabgrass or clover will only emerge once the soil is consistently over this temperature. In warmer areas, the date will probably be earlier.
September/October is time is to catch weeds as they set new seed. This fall application will limit any late fall growth and hopefully begin weeding work for next year.
If you use pre-emergent herbicides, keeping these two dates in mind can help you get a head start in weed control. Read the label for proper use instructions.
Oh No! Weeds Are Already Out, Now What? Should I Nuke Them?
There are many post-emergent weed control options available. Your local garden center will be able to help you select the right weed control product. You might want to use a weed-and-feed fertilizer product on your lawns. These are very convenient for homeowners because they can be very effective when used properly. Use caution when applying broadleaf herbicides (dandelion control) in areas with trees as they may cause damage). Read the label and follow the instructions: not doing so may damage your landscaping.
For mulched areas in the landscaping, a non-selective herbicide such as Roundup® is very effective after weeds start growing. DO NOT USE ROUNDUP® ON YOUR LAWN!!! Care should be used to not allow the spray to contact desirable plants. If you’re using a pump sprayer, use it at low pressure to avoid “misting.” Any drift from a nonselective herbicide may injure your plants. Avoid the temptation to “drown” the weeds in herbicide; modern weed control products are very effective. More is not better. Applying too much is wasteful. Besides, we want to be good stewards of our environment. Always follow the instructions on the labels. Not doing so might result in damage to your landscaping.
Judicious use of herbicides will help keep your yard free of weeds and beautiful through the spring and summer months. Timing is important for some weed control products, such as preemergent herbicides and products that control crabgrass and spurge. Using herbicides will save you labor and backache later this summer. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: ALWAYS read the label, and follow the label directions.