Weeds in the winter? It sounds like a misnomer. But the truth is that weeds can, in fact, pop up in the colder months. Winter annuals germinate in the late summer and early fall and can crop-up during random warmer winter spells, which do often happen in Ohio. Because weeds compete with your lawn for nutrients and water, and crowd out desired turfgrasses, it’s always important to get a handle on any weed problem you may be facing.
Here are some of the most common winter lawn weeds in Ohio and how to deal with them.
Common Winter Lawn Weeds in Ohio
The vast majority of weeds you’ll encounter in your lawn will be those that thrive in the warmer spring and summer months. However, there are a few winter annual weeds that can present an unpleasant surprise even after the weather turns chilly. These weeds can invade a lawn and be prevalent in the early spring after the right winter conditions.
The first step to dealing with winter lawn weeds is identifying them. The following weeds are those that are most common in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area and can begin cropping up in late fall and throughout the winter.
One of the most common winter lawn weeds in Ohio, Henbit, is characterized by slender pink flowers growing on its square stems.
This winter annual produces fibrous root systems and can grow as high as 12-16 inches. It can invade quickly, especially in turf that is thinning.
This weed grows best in shaded areas and is identifiable by its small white flowers. Its small, fleshy leaves have an egg-like shape as they come to a point.
Both wild birds and insects often feed on chickweed and it’s also commonly used as an ingredient in birdseed, hence its name.
Wild Garlic and Wild Onion
These pesky winter perennials emerge in the late fall from underground bulbs and can grow throughout the winter.
They both produce clumps of grass-like foliage. Although both thin, green, waxy leaves, a distinguishing characteristic is that wild garlic has leaves which are rounded and wild onion’s are flat.
Star of Bethlehem
Another bulb-based culprit, Star of Bethlehem is a grassy weed with a star-like flower which is its namesake.
Though the flower is quite pretty, the stems grow in clumps that can look very undesirable in a lawn. It is also incredibly hardy and therefore difficult to get rid of once it pops up.
Winter Lawn Weed Treatments
Weed treatment programs in Ohio typically cease in late November or early December. As temperatures drop and plants are no longer aggressively growing, weed control materials are no longer as effective.
Fortunately, a lawn program that is designed to knock out weeds in their entirety, regardless of the time of year, should keep potential winter lawn weeds at bay. However, not all lawn care programs are created equal. Most lawn care programs use the same approach to every single lawn and wind up playing an endless game of Whac-a-Mole. Weeds continuously pop up throughout the entire year and you end up paying for a lot more treatments since the heart of the problem was never really addressed, only to start the same cycle over again the next season.
The true secret to solving weed concerns year round is a lawn care program that is focused on promoting your soil’s health. Instead of trying to put down a winter lawn weed and feed treatment, the truly ideal solution to winter weeds is a healthy lawn. Nothing will choke out weed growth like thick, healthy grass.
A lawn care program like ours is focused on regularly introducing beneficial microbiological organisms into the soil to allow the lawn to naturally thrive. With this kind of treatment, the biological life will be restored to the soil to help it naturally defend itself against many disease issues as well as naturally prevent weeds.
Ideally, a program that focuses on soil health and a healthy lawn will also lead you to need less product over time and is the best winter lawn weed treatment. Contrary to popular belief (and what some lawn care companies may tell you), more product does not always equate to better health.
A Healthy Lawn is More than Weed Control
Though getting rid of weeds is likely at the forefront of your mind, the truth is that a healthy lawn requires a program that goes beyond just weed control. While spot treating stubborn weeds is always going to be needed on some level, it can’t be the only focus. A program that focuses solely on weeds and the continual application of product is how many companies get you stuck in that Whac-a-Mole cycle without ever making progress toward long-term health.
At Oasis, we look at the big picture. By focusing on soil health and building the thickness of your turf naturally over time, in addition to using top quality products to address weeds as they emerge, our Lawn Health Care service provides the best short and long term solution to tackling the tough weeds on your lawn. And, when necessary, it means applying product in the early spring to reduce weed seed production in mid-spring. Of course weeds like wild onion that are bulb-based can return. Still, a healthy lawn is best suited to naturally deal with these stubborn invaders.
It’s also important to note that our technicians are trained to spot problems early on. Achieving optimal results on difficult to control weeds may also require an aeration and overseeding in the fall, and our technicians recommend this lawn-thickening service for properties that will be prone to a winter weed invasion. Diligent and timely lawn care treatments paired with technicians that always have a keen eye on your property, doesn’t give winter weeds much of a chance.
This kind of attention gives our clients a lot of peace of mind as the winter approaches. Winter weeds should be one less thing you have to worry about.
If you’d like to find out more about how Oasis Turf & Tree can keep your lawn healthy year round, contact us or call us at 513-697-9090.