(ISU photo)

Iowans who would love a lush, green lawn next spring need to get on the stick and start spraying those pesky weeds, pronto.

Aaron Steil, a consumer horticulture extension specialist at Iowa State University, says it you want to kill broadleaf weeds like dandelion and creeping Charlie, it’s much more effective to hit them now, in the fall. “They are starting to go dormant this time of year and in that process, they are pulling carbohydrates down from their leaves into their root system,” Steil says. “So if we treat them with a herbicide this time of year, which is absorbed through their leaves, that also gets more efficiently and effectively pulled down into the root system.”

There are plenty of weed killers for sale out there, both in liquid and pellet form, but Steil says be sure to read the label carefully and see what you’re buying. “Look for those that contain the active ingredient 2-4-D or Triclopyr,” Steil says. “Both of those can be more effective than maybe some of the others, but you’re likely going to have to make two applications. Late September-early October would be good for the first one, and the second one can be done about a month later.”

Iowans who took part in “No Mow May” events may be striving to use fewer — or no — chemicals on their yards. “Most of us don’t need a lawn that looks like a golf course fairway and letting plants like Dutch clover, violets and dandelions mingle with the grass in your lawn can provide a lower maintenance lawn,” Steil says, “because you’re not spreading as much chemical, you’re not needing as much irrigation, and it provides a food source for pollinators.”

Letting some of those non-grasses grow can add interest and colorful blooms throughout the year, he says. Plus, the blooms are particularly prolific in early spring when many other plants haven’t started to bloom, making them even more desirable to bees.

Radio Iowa