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Gardening comes with a host of rewards and challenges. Some of the biggest challenges
faced by gardeners are weeds and pests. No matter how bad weather conditions get for
growing plants, weeds seem to grow undaunted. Weeds are tough performers able to survive
and thrive in a wide range of growing conditions.
Summer weeds can be divided into annuals and perennials. While the annuals are just
here for one season, they often aggressively set seeds providing an unhappy return
the next season. Perennials can also set seeds, but they come back from their root
system as well, often making them more difficult to kill. Below is a list of common
While Bermudagrass is a desired lawn grass, when it escapes into flower beds and vegetable gardens,
it is a tenacious weed. It thrives in hot, dry conditions in full sun. It does not
compete well in the shade. Bermudagrass spreads by rhizomes and if left unchecked,
can outcompete flowers and vegetables. Make sure to give yourself a buffer zone of
6-12 inches between where your lawn ends and your vegetable and flower gardens begin.
Preplant ControlMake three or four applications of 41% ai glyphosate or higher at 2 to 3 quarts per
acre overthe growing season (May, July and September). Wait for regrowth before making the
next application. Using this method does not guarantee complete control. Tank mixing
with 24 fluidounces per acre of Fusilade II may improve control. Do not seed for 30 days after
Selective SuppressionIn zoysiagrass or tall fescue, use Fusilade II (fluazifop) at 6 fluid ounces per acre
plus Turflon Ester at 32 fluid ounces per acre to suppress bermudagrass. Begin around June 1 and
repeat every four weeks unless the zoysiagrass has not recovered from the first application.
(Photo:bermudagrass in zoysiagrass. Click to enlarge.) In centipedegrass, Segment
(sethoxydim) may be used at 24 fluid ounces per acre to suppress bermudagrass, bahiagrass and other weedy grasses. Do not apply Segment sooner than three weeks after green
up and more than twice per season. Do not tank mix sethoxydim with other pesticides
Chambers Bitters is the rabbit of the weed world. This annual weed doesn’t get growing until the soil
temperature warms up, but when it starts, stand back. The compound leaves resemble
a miniature mimosa tree.
The plant begins to flower and set seeds at a young age. The seeds are produced on
the undersurface of the leaves. The plant grows upright and can get as tall as 4 feet
or more if left untouched. It has a strong taproot, which makes it quite drought tolerant.
The key to controlling this weed is to catch it early.
View our reference desk Q&A from Janet Carson
Crabgrass is a summer annual grassy weed that germinates when soil temperatures are approximately
60º F for 3-5 days. It begins flowering and setting seeds some years by late May and
continues until a frost. Crabgrass is a common weed in lawns and flower beds which
can quickly generate a seed stalk in between mowing.
In lawns, the most effective way to control crabgrass is to create a dense, healthy
turf and/or use a pre-emergent herbicide. We typically don’t recommend using a pre-emergent
herbicide in flowerbeds or vegetables, since these products can inhibit vegetable
and flower seeds as well. It is shallow-rooted so pulls out easily or can be uprooted
with a hoe.
Greenbrier is a vining perennial weed that is covered in thorns. It has a deep root system which
makes it quite difficult to kill. The plant is both heat and cold tolerant, but goes
dormant with a killing frost.
ControlIf you can wear protective clothing and pull it out from the root system it will help,
but rarely will you kill all the roots, and it will sprout back.
Spot spraying at the base of the plant with a glyphosate product (Round-up) can help.
It will grow in sun or shade, and often intertwines with shrubs in the flower bed.
Common lespedeza is a very common summer weed that can easily choke out thin lawns.
Lespedeza is a low growing annual weed with tough, wiry stems that forms a mat-like
growth. It has dark green trifoliate (arranged in threes) leaves. Lespedeza has a
semi-woody taproot and grows close to the ground, making it difficult to cut with
a mower. It flowers in late summer with tiny pink to purple, single flowers found
in leaf axils. Lespedeza is often an indicator of insufficient nitrogen fertilization.
Control2,4-D alone will not control lespedeza or white clover. Products containing metsulfuron,
fluroxypyr or triclopyr are very effective on most legumes. Escalade II, Confront
and metsulfuron (Manor, Mansion or Blade) are good lespedeza control products. When
using threeways (2,4-D + MCPP + dicamba), repeat applications are usually needed.
Celsius (thiencarbazone + iodosulfuron + dicamba) should be effective on lespedeza.
Ortho Chickweed and Oxalis Killer (8% triclopyr) is a good choice for homeowners.
Do not use this product on centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass or bermudagrass.
Mulberry Weed is so named because the weeds look like tiny mulberry trees; however mulberries have
smooth stems, while the weed has prominent hairs on the stems and the leaves. This
annual weed forms a taproot and easily grow to three feet or more in height and produces
flowers at the nodes, which quickly turn into seeds. Similar to the copious seeds
on the chambers bitters, if left unchecked, it can easily set enough seeds to take
over your garden.
Nutgrass is actually not a grass but a sedge, nutsedge to be more precise. Although it looks
grass-like, nutsedge has a triangular stem, while grass stems are hollow and round.
This is a tenacious perennial weed that forms a small underground nutlet or bulb-like
structure. We have both yellow and purple nutsedge, along with a close relative Kyllinga.
These plants thrive in moist soils with full sun. Shade is a limiting factor. Eradication
is difficult, so if you spot a new patch, don’t ignore it, but dig it out from the
root system. They are a pest in lawns, flower beds and vegetable gardens.
Nutsedge, Purple ControlThis is the most difficult sedge to control. Repeat applications will be needed. Monument
(trifloxysulfuron), Certainty (sulfosulfuron) and Dismiss South (sulfentrazone + imazethapyr)
provide temporary suppression of purple nutsedge. SedgeHammer+ (halosulfuron), while
slightlyless effective, is safe to use on all turfgrasses. Image 70 DG (imazaquin) is an effective
herbicidefor suppressing sedges in warmseason turfgrasses. Image may cause stunting of turfgrasses.
Nutsedge, Yellow ControlNot usually a problem in lawns. It is more common in ornamental beds and vegetable
gardens. SedgeHammer+, Image, Certainty, Monument, Dismiss and Dismiss South are all
effective for yellow nutsedge.
Pigweed is the common name for several annual species of weeds in the amaranth family, which
are more of a problem in a vegetable garden than in lawns. These plants grow quickly
and form tall bushy plants. They thrive in hot, dry weather and quickly respond to
the fertilizer you are putting out for your vegetables, often out-competing the vegetables
you are trying to grow.
They produce a prolific amount of seeds -a single large plant can mature 100,000–600,000
seeds, and can begin to set seeds within 6 weeks of emerging in your garden. If you
allow them to bloom, you can be assure of seeing them next year.
Poison Ivy is a terrible perennial weed that pops up in lawns and gardens across the
state. This perennial vine or woody plant can take on a wide range of leaf shapes,
but the leaves are always in groups of three. The entire plant is poisonous since
all parts contain an oil called urushiol, which is what causes the irritating rash
on folks who are allergic to it. Gardeners often overlook the plant in the winter
when it is dormant, but dormant tissue still contains the oils in the roots and stems.
Do not burn the remains of poison ivy! This can be dangerous since the oils can escape in the smoke, and people who are
highly allergic can suffer tremendously. Learn to recognize this plant and try to
get it out from the roots, being sure to clean your gloves or tools after working
around it, as the oil can be transferred from objects just like it can from the plant.
For more info visit our page on poison ivy identification, treatment and control
Spurge is a large family of plants in the euphorbia family, which exude a white, milky sap
when the leaves are cut. Prostrate spurge is a mat forming annual weed that can spread
up to two feet across from a central taproot. While it is a common weed across the
board, it is even more prevalent in exposed, compacted soil in the sun, often appearing
in the crevices of sidewalks and driveways. Although the flowers are small, the plant
blooms continuously from late May through frost, setting plenty of seeds to come back
ControlManor, Mansion or Blade (metsulfuron) is the best spurge control treatment. Use only
in bermudagrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and zoysiagrass.
Virginia buttonweed is a common perennial weed in lawns that often resists chemical control. The plant
forms a thick matted growth that is particularly aggressive in moist areas. It is
a spreading broadleaf perennial with opposite leaves that often have a mottled, yellow
appearance due to a virus that commonly infects the foliage, but doesn’t slow down
its growth. It produces showy white star shaped blooms above ground, and uniquely
it also has another set of flowers it produces below ground. Virginia buttonweed produces
deep taproots and rhizomes that often start at the nodes. Rhizomes can be found as
deep as several feet below the soil. If you spot this weed, the sooner you can control
it, the better.
ControlHerbicides provide only temporary suppression of Virginia buttonweed. Products containing
fluroxypyr or triclopyr such as Escalade II or Momentum FX2 seem to be more consistent
thanthe standard threeways. However, multiple applications of threeway (2,4-D + MCPP
+ dicamba) herbicides at intervals of three to six weeks do a fair job of suppressing
Virginia buttonweed. Consult label to determine the maximum number of applications
allowed per year.
There are a whole host of weeds which live and thrive in Arkansas gardens and lawns.
Learning to recognize them and get rid of them when you see them is step one.
Some sound management practices will also be a step in the right direction:
No matter how good a gardener you are, no garden will ever be weed free 100% of the
time, but ignorance is not bliss, it will simply allow your weeds to take over. So
be diligent and watch for problems and handle them as quickly as you spot them.
For more information, download our publication on turfgrass weed control