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November 24, 2018


What kind of grass is this and how do I get rid of it? 

Picture of kylinga


While the weed does resemble a grass, it is actually a sedge called kyllinga and is closely related to nutsedge or nutgrass.   It can be difficult to control.  There are several products which can help including: SedgeHammer (halosulfuron) which is a good sedge control choice because it is effective on the common sedges, comes in a small package and has surfactant added to it, plus it is safe on all turfgrasses.  HiYield Nutsedge Control also contains halosulfuron. Ortho Nutsedge Killer for Lawns (sulfentrazone) is a quick acting herbicide that is fairly effective on most sedges and safe on most lawn grasses. Repeated applications will be necessary throughout the growing season.


October 20, 2018


I emailed you last year about ways to eradicate the lespedeza weed from our centipede grass.  We followed the procedure with Weed B Gon; however, our spring where we live was so wet by the time we could get into our yard to spray, it was getting late in the spring.  Once the rain stopped, the 90+ degree days hit hard.  As a result, we were only able to do one application and couldn't do the second one 30 days later for fear of distressing the grass. We knocked it back some, but with the heat and humidity it thrived in the summer.  My question is, once we're below 90 degrees this fall, would we be able to do the treatment or does this have to be completed in the spring only?  We were wondering if we could treat it this fall then follow protocol next spring as well. 



I would definitely try a fall application as the lespedeza is happy and healthy right now.



September 1, 2018

QuestionAbout 4 years ago we helped install a large flower bed on our local golf course. It is quite large; around 1800 sq. ft. We planted loropetalum, pampas grass, some Lilies’, some spiraea; & edged with liriope. The bed has matured well but we did lose some young plants in the first year. The problem we face the most is weeds.  We added topsoil and have added mulch each year. We have even spot sprayed with Roundup. Do you have any suggestion on how we can get control of these nasty weeds & creeping Bermuda grass in this bed?     


Perennial weeds including Bermuda grass are the most difficult to control in flower beds.  Make sure you have a distinct border between lawn and bed to help keep the grass from encroaching.  I try to hoe out or pull as many weeds as possible then lay pieces of cardboard on top of the soil underneath the mulch.  Cardboard is breathable so water and oxygen make it through, but it helps suppress weeds.  I repeat this process each spring and it definitely helps with weeds, but the key is to start as clean as possible. 


August 25, 2018


Just wondering if you know what this bush is.  A dear friend had this climbing over an arbor in her yard and the birds loved to perch in it.  It did spread through her lawn but was kept at bay by mowing the sprouts.  She called it "Arkansas Traveler", but I can't find anything by that name.  We got a cutting when our friend passed and now it’s in our yard.  We call it the "Jetta" bush after our dear friend.

Picture of peppervine


Sometimes you need to be careful about what you plant. The vine in question is a weed, commonly called peppervine – Ampelopsis arborea.  It can spread aggressively by underground runners and by seeds. The prolific grapelike vine produces compound leaves, inconspicuous pale green flowers followed by small fruits which ripen in the fall.  Birds do eat them, and drop the seeds which helps disperse them.  It is a native vine, but prone to becoming invasive.  If it has sentimental value, then continue to grow it, just monitor its spread



Can you identify the attached plant, please? There is an orange-red color on a few of the leaves. I can't find it in any of my books.  Thanks.

Picture of annual poinsettia



The plant in question is commonly called wild poinsettia or fire on the mountain, Euphorbia cyathophora.  It is an annual plant that reseeds itself and can become a bit weedy, but I think it is an interesting plant for the garden.  It is related to our holiday poinsettia plant.

August 11, 2018

QuestionCan you identify this plant? It came up voluntary in a new flower bed. Thought it might be a Paulownia that you featured a couple of weeks ago but leaves are different. Buds start out with a small bit of yellow but open up as black spiked balls.

Picture of Velvet leaf     Picture of velvet leaf

AnswerThe plant in question is an annual plant commonly called Velvetleaf - Abutilon theophrasti. Some consider it a weed, and some consider it a wildflower, however it is native to India.  According to Wildflowers of Arkansas by Carl Hunter, the seed heads were once used to pattern the edge of pie crusts! Another common name is Pie Maker.  It produces a lot of seeds, so if you don’t want it returning, you may want to start pulling. 



May 26, 2018


This clover like weed it taking over my Lawn. What is it and how do I get rid of it?
I am new at this lawn stuff!
Picture of lespedeza

AnswerThe weed you have is lespedeza.  It tends to be more of an issue in weak lawns with low fertility, and it is very drought tolerant.  Have your soil tested, and consider fertilizing based on the results.  If you choose to try to kill it, 2, 4-D alone will not control lespedeza. Ortho Chickweed and Oxalis Killer (8% triclopyr) is a good choice for homeowners, but read the label directions as to temperatures for application.  Do not use this product on centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass or bermudagrass lawns. 


April 7, 2018


We tried to grow moonflowers a couple of times many years ago here in Union County, but they never survived. They are a desert plant (we grew them in Tucson), so I don’t know if it’s too wet here or if the soil is not alkaline enough. Last year we had a moonflower come up mysteriously in a spot next to the house where we have never before tried to grow one. I have no idea where it came from. But it grew about 2 feet high, had a couple of flowers, but did not set seed. It finally died down. I just noticed this morning that it has come back. Should I get something to make the soil alkaline (like what?) or is there something else that can be done to make our environment more accommodating? 


There are two plants commonly called moon flower.  One is the annual moonflower vine which is a morning glory - Ipomoea alba.  I think the plant you are referring to is the moonflower datura --Datura inoxia.  The datura is in the same genus as jimsonweed. All daturas are poisonous.  Another common name is angel trumpet—which is also the common name for brugmansia, whose large trumpet shaped blooms hang downward.   The moonflower datura has large, fragrant white blooms that open at night and close when the sunlight hits them.  They are a short-lived perennial and should come back from the root system for a couple of years, but they can also set some spiky seed pods. There are also some purple and double purple and white varieties.


March 31, 2018


The moss is winning and that is fine with me. Actually I love it but there are weeds (not grass) in it that make it necessary to mow now and then. Is there a weed treatment that would not harm the moss? 


Hand weeding would be the safest bet, and then try to encourage the moss. I have read that moss is somewhat resistant to Round-up, but have never actually tried it.  I too am encouraging my moss.  If you want to try it, do a small test strip.  Make sure the moss is well watered and healthy before you attempt this, and do a very small test strip. Wait at least two weeks to see what happens to your existing moss before branching out and spraying more.


September 9, 2017


I have a gravel driveway and have been battling this ground-covering weed all summer.  It spreads quickly if left unchecked, but is easily controlled with glyphosate.  Can you tell me what it is?

 Picture of spurge in driveway


The weed in question is prostrate spurge. A very hardy annual weed, prostrate spurge can germinate and grow in pavement cracks, dry and compacted soils, and disturbed sites--it is more common where there is little competition. This weed forms a ground hugging mat, up to two feet in diameter and has a central tap root. Stems and foliage exude a milky sap when injured.  The flowers are tiny, but it blooms all summer long, setting copious seeds to help it return again next year.


July 15, 2017


Attached are pictures of two different plants:  one a "mystery" tree we haven't identified and the other of a weed that is taking over our centipede lawn.  Can you help identify these species and how can we eradicate the weed from our lawn.  Our neighbor has the same problem we were told to use "weed and feed" and it would get rid of it.  It didn't.

Picture of weed lespedeza



The tree in question is one I get asked about frequently because it just appears in the garden.  It is commonly called an empress tree or royal paulownia – Paulownia tomentosa.  As you can see in the photo it produces woody seed capsules that will pop open in the fall, scattering the seeds.  Many of the seeds germinate and when young, the tree can grow quite rapidly and have huge leaves.  As it ages, the leaves get normal size.  Then it will begin to produce beautiful clusters of purple blooms in the spring, followed by the woody capsules. It grows fast, has weak wood and thus falls apart with age.  I classify it as a trash tree because of the afore-mentioned things plus the fact that it can be somewhat invasive. Your weed is lespedeza.  This weed can be difficult to control, particularly in a centipede lawn since centipede is more sensitive to weed killers than is Bermuda or zoysia.  When you have lespedeza in the lawn it often indicates you have insufficient nitrogen fertilizer.  Two applications of a product such as Ortho Weed B Gon at the rate for southern grasses is the best you can do. Make them 30 days apart starting now, but watch the temperatures.  It would have been better to do when it was a bit cooler.


May 1, 2017

QuestionI have a bottle of an herbicide for broad leaf weeds that I bought last year.  The label with the instructions was a small pamphlet attached to the bottle.  I have misplaced it.  Can you tell me what the rate should be for Trimec, applied to Bermuda grass?  I would hate to have to buy another bottle just to get the directions.


We do not give rates for specific products, since there are so many formulations of each product.  Look on the product bottle.  There should be a phone number for the manufacturer and they can send you a label or give you the correct rate over the phone. They should also have a copy of the label on line.




May 13, 2017

QuestionEMERGENCY!   I no longer have a fascination-or the physical ability to do weeding.   Can Roundup be used on daffodils and iris?  Though I spray in November with roundup before the daffodils are up, now vetch and rye/winter grasses are taking over.  Accidental over-spray of native spider lilies never bothered them but cleaned out all of the grass, etc.  Any advice?  Poast will work on killing grasses but will not hurt broadleaf weeds or desirable broadleaf plants.


I don’t recommend spraying Round-up on anything other than what you want to kill.  While it may not have killed your native spider lilies it should at least damage them.  Once you cut the foliage off on your daffodils and you no longer see any signs of the foliage, spraying with Round-up shouldn’t hurt, but they need to be totally dormant.  If you spray as soon as you cut the leaves they will still absorb the chemical and could have damage.  Using a grass-specific herbicide such as Poast or Fusilade will kill grasses but not broadleaf weeds.  A good hoe is still the best recommendation for the broadleaf weeds.


November 19, 2016


We have St. Augustine grass in our back yard and Centipede in the front.  Both are infested with several weeds that come up in the spring.  We would apply Scott's Halt in the spring to stop germination, but wonder if a fall application would be helpful, and if so, what the right time to apply is.  Can you help us?

AnswerWe do have two seasons of weeds—cool season which are sprouting now and getting established and warm season weeds which are setting seeds and dying now.  It is too late for a fall application, which is normally applied in late September to early October.  For now, just watch winter weeds and control with a post-emergent product labeled for use on St. Augustine.


 August 13, 2016


I recently read that you spread weed killer or something on stickers in the yard in the fall to kill them.   Please advise if that is correct and what type product we need to use.   Would we do it each fall for a few years?  This is on a large yard in Cabot if that matters.   


Simazine or atrazine will provide pre and post-emergence control of spurweed if applied early. For best results, apply between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If your yard has been covered in the stickers, check to see if any weeds get established and you can use Metsulfuron (Manor, Mansion or Blade) or three-way herbicide (MCPP + dicamba + 2,4D) as a  postemergence control of spurweed in late winter to early spring, before the grass is fully green and the stickers are set. Always read and follow label directions and make sure the products you are using are labeled for your lawn grass.

July 24, 2016


I just read an article about growing clover as a lawn substitute for grass. Can clover be grown here in Arkansas as a lawn?


Some people have lawns that are comprised mainly of weeds and they still call it a lawn.  I do have a small stand of white clover that has come up in my lawn and it gets mowed along with the rest of the grass, so you could seed it and establish a clover “lawn”.  There are numerous clovers out there, and many gardeners want the crimson clover as a groundcover when they see it blooming along the interstates in the spring, but it would not be a lawn alternative, since it is an annual and dies with hot weather.  The only clover that I think would be suitable is white clover (Trifolium repens) which is a durable perennial.   I would over-seed your existing lawn next spring. Time period would be March to very early April.  Scalp your existing lawn—getting as low as possible, and then broadcast the white clover seed. If you are planting for clover foliage and flowers (for pollinators) then opt for ‘Durana’ or ‘Resolute’ varieties.  If you just want the green coverage there is a micro or mini white clover variety that would be more suitable as a lawn but it does not bloom well.  The main downside would be if you have neighbors who strive for a totally weed-free lawn.

 April 23, 2016


You have mentioned Annual Bluegrass and what to use to control it before, but I can’t remember.  This year has been the worst ever for this weed.  Three years ago we weren't bothered with it.  What over the counter herbicide do I need to use and when to apply it?


As you can tell by the name annual bluegrass is an annual, and should be dying soon with warm weather.  It is difficult to achieve complete control of annual bluegrass with a single pre or post emergent herbicide application. You may need to use both a pre and a post emergent product if you have heavy infestation, but it is too late this year.  To try to prevent the seeds from germinating, you can use a pre-emergence produce with herbicides such as Specticle (indaziflam), Barricade (prodiamine), Pendulum (pendimethalin) and Dimension (dithiopyr).  These would need to be applied on August 15 and watered in immediately.  Monitor your Bermuda or Zoysia lawn next fall and early winter and if you see any weeds emerging, you can use one of the following post-emergent products: Revolver (foramsulfuron),TranXit (rimsulfuron) and Monument (trifloxysulfuron).     If you have a Bermuda grass lawn you can use glyphosate (Roundup) while Bermuda grass is completely dormant—but this can only be used on a Bermuda grass lawn—not zoysia.

 November/December 2015

QuestionHow can I get rid of and/or stem the growth of Bamboo which is coming into my yard from a neighbor's? I don't want my  yard taken over by this growth.

AnswerI wish I had a dollar for every time I have answered this question.  It is a common complaint, but unfortunately not an easy remedy.  Running bamboos can spread prolifically and the better the soil and the care, the faster they spread.  If you can eradicate the bamboo on your side of the yard and then put down a deep trench between your neighbors yard and yours that can prevent it from coming in.  A metal or sheet of steel or even poured concrete can help. If you both decide to tackle it at the same time and remove as much as you can, then remain diligent on pulling suckers for the next year, you can eventually kill it, but if they like it and continue to grow it, it will try to escape into your yard.  Have you considered moving?! LOL.  Good Luck!

 October 17, 2015

QuestionI have a fern-like plant growing wild in my garden.  The stalks are rather thick and sturdy, with feathery offshoots.  It developed tiny purple flowers you had to be right up to the plant to see.

AnswerYou actually have two plants growing together.  The wispy plant with ferny leaves is a common weed called dog fennel - Eupatorium capillifolium.  It can grow quite tall and has a white flower.  It can be aggressive, and is better pulled out and destroyed, even though it does have a nice texture.  I think it is growing in a very leggy chaste tree or vitex.  This plant can be grown as a small tree or a large shrub, with compound leaves and a purple flower spike.   

 October 2012

QuestionI really enjoy your columns and now have a question of my own. I have received conflicting answers on this. I have faithfully put yard clippings in a mulch pile consisting of leaves and mower material. Because of the overwhelming amount of weeds, etc this year, I have been told not to use this around my flowers and shrubs. The threat is presenting a never-ending buffet for weeds to grow.   You get the tie-breaker--yes or no..

AnswerHome compost piles typically don’t generate enough uniform heat to kill weed seeds. Have you ever had a wild squash or gourd sprout magically in the garden—the vegetable seed wasn't killed either. If you had a lot of weeds in your lawn, you could be incorporating them into your flower beds via mulch. I think the prevalence of the weed chambers bitter had to come in via mulch or nursery stock in many home gardens. So my answer would be no as a mulch. If you do use it, just be on the look-out for weeds—the smaller they are the quicker they can be killed and your chance of establishment is less.

December 2012

QuestionWith the crazy weather we have had this year, we have a yard full of stickers. Don't remember ever seeing them this time of the year. Would it be ok to spray them now? If yes, what would you recommend?

AnswerThe sticker weeds are normally here this time of year, but this year they are growing faster than normal. The sticker weed is called spurweed and it germinates in the fall, grows all winter and dies in late spring. If you already have stickers, then it is definitely ahead of schedule, since the stickers are the seeds that are produced after it blooms. Pick a mild day with little wind and spray with a broadleaf herbicide containing 2, 4-D. You don't have to spray the entire yard, just where the weeds are. Luckily it is an annual weed, and if you can kill it before too many seeds have set it will reduce the population for next year, but if allowed to grow unchecked, you will have more and more stickers each year.

October 2012

QuestionI really enjoy your columns and now have a question of my own. I have received conflicting answers on this. I have faithfully put yard clippings in a mulch pile consisting of leaves and mower material. Because of the overwhelming amount of weeds, etc this year, I have been told not to use this around my flowers and shrubs. The threat is presenting a never-ending buffet for weeds to grow. You get the tie-breaker--yes or no.

AnswerHome compost piles typically don't generate enough uniform heat to kill weed seeds. Have you ever had a wild squash or gourd sprout magically in the garden—the vegetable seed wasn't killed either. If you had a lot of weeds in your lawn, you could be incorporating them into your flower beds via mulch. I think the prevalence of the weed chambers bitter had to come in via mulch or nursery stock in many home gardens. So my answer would be no as a mulch. If you do use it, just be on the look-out for weeds—the smaller they are the quicker they can be killed and your chance of establishment is less.

September 2012

QuestionDue to health and age we down sized last fall and moved to Beebe. We have a weed that is over taking the lawn. Some call it Johnson Grass. Can mow one day and by the next day it's already big again. Is there anything I can do this fall that will prevent it from coming back next spring?

AnswerIf it truly is Johnson grass it is a perennial so a pre-emergent herbicide won't work. Since we lost MSMA as a herbicide, weed grasses are tougher to eradicate, but there are a few options for use during the growing season. Quinclorac is now used and is often mixed with 2,4-D as a broadleaf weed and grass killer. It is tough to kill, so good luck.

June 2012

QuestionWe used a pre-emergent herbicide on our lawn this year and it did not stop the progress of the weed called crabgrass. Is there something I can do to rid my yard of this grass?

 AnswerThe standard herbicide for crabgrass control for years was MSMA and it is no longer on the market. We now have products that contain quinclorac for control. However most homeowner products are combined with another herbicide –many have 2,4-D (a broadleaf weed killer) which could burn warm season grasses when applied during the hot summer months –trade names include Weed-B-Gone Max, Weed Stop plus Crabgrass Killer and All in One Lawn Weed and Crabgrass Killer. Some products are combined with sulfentrazone—a sedge killer; trade names include Image Kills Crabgrass or Sedge and Grass Killer. Make sure if you are applying herbicides that you read the label beforehand. Follow recommended rates and read if there are any temperature restrictions and that it is safe for the type of lawn you are growing. Many herbicides are not recommended for use on St. Augustine or Centipede lawns. Also, make sure that the lawn has ample moisture before applying chemicals or fertilizers or you could damage the lawn. Don't spray on a windy day and don't treat the entire yard if you just have a patch here and there—spot spraying would be much safer.

April 2012

QuestionI have a major dilemma in my yard - running bamboo! My husband planted it several years ago (he is no longer my husband... not because of the bamboo!) and it has, of course, gone nuts and sprouts into the neighbor's yard. Who could you recommend I call to help me remove all of the bamboo from my yard and my neighbor's?.

AnswerI don't know, planting bamboo could be grounds for divorce! It is a tenacious plant with a far spreading root system. Unfortunately removing running bamboo isn't easy. I can't recommend individuals, but do contact your local nursery and ask for references. Get a couple of bids. I doubt they can totally eradicate it in one day. If you can, cut it to the ground, then backhoe or till the area, rake up all the runners and roots, and then when what is left behind starts to sprout, hit it with roundup. Good luck!

April 2012

QuestionCan you tell me what the attached plant is? Is it family to the weeds?


 AnswerIt is a common thistle, which is a member of the aster family. While they do have pretty flowers, the thorniness of the plant coupled with the invasive qualities of the plant make it less than desirable. I would try to get it out of your yard.

April 2012

 QuestionWhat I thought was crab grass in my yard has been identified by a yard professional as Dallas grass, which I had never heard of. Apparently, it doesn't grow from a seed. My questions are: where does it come from and, short of digging it up, how do I get rid of it?

AnswerDallisgrass is a perennial grass. While it does bloom and set seed, which it can germinate from, it comes back from the root system each year, making it a more tenacious weed than the annual crabgrass which comes up only from seed each year. You didn't say what type of lawngrass you are growing. If you have Bermuda or Zoysia grass, then wait until the Dallisgrass and lawn have fully greened up and treat with the same herbicides you would use to kill crabgrass—two brand names include Weed-Hoe or Weed-B-Gon Crabgrass Killer for Lawns. It may take more than one application, but you can control it.

April 2012

QuestionI have monkey grass in my yard and I think I read recently that you could use roundup on it. I don't have the paper anymore and want to verify this is right.

AnswerMonkey grass or liriope can be killed, or at least knocked back with glyphosate or Roundup, but be sure to spray only what you want to kill, as it is a non-selective herbicide. If you are growing the running form of liriope—Liriope spicata, it will take more than one spray to slow it down.

March 2012

QuestionI have fought the Bermuda grass battle in my beautiful Iris bed for years. I am about ready to throw in the towel. Can you tell me if there is anything that can be used to kill the grass without harming the Iris?.

AnswerGrass tends to be the most common weed in iris beds because we plant the iris rhizomes in full sun and cannot mulch them. Lack of mulch allows the grass free reign. I often think Bermuda grows better where it is not wanted versus in our lawns! I would recommend getting in there now with a sharp hoe and scrape off any dormant grass. Then pay attention this spring. As new growth begins and the grass begins to run, that is when you can use a grass specific herbicide such as Grass-b-gone, Ornamec, Over-the-top or something similar. It will say it kills grass within flower beds. It works quite well on Bermuda, but timing is important. It can kill a lot of grass at the end of the season, but then you are left with a lot of dead grass growing in your iris beds—which is not attractive either. Good luck.

February 2012

QuestionI have weeds every year in my lawn that seem to get worse each year. I can’t get rid of them. What should I use? I have attached a picture of them.

AnswerThe weed in question is henbit, which is in the mint family and a winter annual. You can kill it now with any 2,4-D based herbicide. Most brand names will include broad leaf weed killer in their title. If you have Bermuda grass as a lawn, you can use a glyphosate product (Round-up) but it is only safe on dormant Bermuda--not any other lawn grasses. I have seen henbit blooming already--a nice purple flower. If you have blooms, you will have seeds, which will come up again next fall.

November 2011

QuestionYou had a recent article about how to prepare dormant veggie garden and what kind of plastic covering to use. I cannot find the article. My garden has been tilled, fertilized and weeded and now I want to cover it for winter. What kind of covering is best?

AnswerEarlier in the year I discussed solarizing soil with clear plastic to kill weeds, diseases and insects. That only works when it is hot outside—during the months of July, August and September. You can still use plastic to smother out winter weeds and prevent them from growing this winter, but you would want to use black plastic to prevent light from getting through. Black plastic also
warms up the soil earlier in the spring which can allow for earlier planting. Clear plastic used in the winter acts as a mini greenhouse and allows weeds to continue to grow.

February 2011

QuestionWhat can I use to get rid of nutgrass?


 AnswerNutgrass or nutsedge is a warm season weed, so it should be totally dormant now. When it emerges in late spring, you can control in fairly well with Sedgehammer in lawns and flower beds. Spot spraying with a glyphosate product works ok too.
Pre-emergent products don’t work on it, because this weed is a perennial and comes back from a small nutlet yearly. The grass herbicides also are not effective because it is not a true grass but a sedge. It is quite tenacious, and you will not get rid of it with one application of anything.

February 2011

QuestionLast spring I planted bugle weed (chocolate chip variety) on steep slopes at each end of our house. They didn't seem to get a great start. I feel the hot, dry summer was a factor, even though I watered regularly to get them started. The winter weeds have been rampant now and other weeds have popped up. Due to my age and arthritis problems and the steep slopes, I'm not able to hand weed them. Is there a spray I can use to kill the weeds and not do damage to the plants?

AnswerBugle weed or Ajuga reptans ‘Chocolate Chip’ is a great groundcover, but I would suspect that last summer took its toll, especially due to the slope combined with heat and drought. Unfortunately, ajuga is a broadleaf plant, and anything that would kill the weeds that you have which are broadleaf plants too, would also damage the ajuga. If Bermuda grass or other grasses comprise the base of your weeds, then there is a grass specific herbicide that would kill the grass (once it is green and growing) without hurting the ajuga. Many of the winter weeds are annuals and will die with the heat of summer. See if you can get some mulch in there around the ajuga to help exclude more weeds, and fertilize it to get it kicked into gear this spring.

September 2010

QuestionI tried to ID this plant using lots of Web resources with no luck. I'm sure you know the identification. Lots of these plants popped up late in my flower bed this year. They are attractive so I took no action..

AnswerUnfortunately, you should have taken action. The weed is called Chambers Bitters and it is INVASIVE. If you look on the underside of each leaf, you will see tiny white flowers and then tiny little seeds. One plant can produce hundreds of seeds, so a few weeds this year means thousands next year. I never had the weed 5 years ago, and now it is almost a ground cover in some of my beds and I pull it out constantly! Good luck!

September 2010

QuestionWe have a small dark berry growing on the fence line at our home. The leaves are small and jagged and the berries are growing in clusters like a grape. I have tried to find them on the internet, but have had no luck. Are they poisonous? I hope you can help me out. They are plentiful and I would like to make jelly..

AnswerThe plant in question is Ampelopsis arborea, commonly called Pepper Vine. Although it is in the grape family, the fruit is inedible. The plant can be somewhat weedy in its growth habit.

August 2010

QuestionWe would like to plant an acre wildflower meadow and haven't been able to find information for the central Arkansas area. We have questions on soil prep, planting time and killing grasses. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer The best time to plant wildflowers is in October. Start preparing your site now. Have your soil tested, kill out the grass and weeds and amend the soil if needed with compost. Round-up or a glyphosate product works well to kill the existing vegetation. Then this fall, broadcast the seeds -- use a mix of annuals and perennials, so that you will have flowers the first year. Then lightly cover with mulch or roll the seed to make firm contact with seed and soil. Water and wait for spring.

March 2010

QuestionThere are tiny little five-petaled, star shaped pinkish purple flowers blooming all over my yard. I would love to know what these are. I've seen them covering whole lots and lawns and they are really pretty. Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

AnswerBelieve it or not, this weed/wildflower is a North American native called spring beauty (Claytonia virginica). A member of the purslane family, it does have beautiful little flowers, but it can become quite invasive. A few flowers one year turn into more each season. The plant is a spring ephemeral, here today and gone with the heat of summer. It reproduces from a tiny bulb-like structure
called a corm, which Native Americans actually used as a food source. Depending on how weed-free you want your lawn determines whether you call it a weed or a wildflower.

April 2010

QuestionI live in west Little Rock on a very secluded lot with lots of trees and a small stream in the front. My beds are a mess! There are weeds everywhere and they continue to come back no matter how many times I pull them or spray them with Round Up. I have tried a pre-emergent, to no avail. The shrubs are overgrown and I have WAY too many trees just growing on top of each other. I need help along with information and education. Where do I start? A landscape architect? A nursery? A tree/lawn service? I am so overwhelmed that I am paralyzed! I am hosting an outdoor wedding party on June 19 and I break out in a cold sweat every time I think about it, which is hard to do considering I am in a constant state of hot flashes! I would GREATLY appreciate any advice you could give me or any names you would recommend that I contact. My lot is a little over an acre and what seemed like the perfect situation at the time we bought the property, but has doubled the trouble, we also own the lot next door that is empty except for TREES!

AnswerI can’t make specific suggestions on who to hire, but there are many qualified landscaping folks out there who could come and help get your yard in order. I would start with some of your local nurseries and ask them who they recommend to do work. Ask for references and see some of the work they have done and then choose. From the pictures you sent, it doesn't look that bad—just very natural. A good layer of mulch will go a long way in helping to keep weeds down. Pre-emergent products only work on annual weeds, not perennials, and from the looks of things, that seems to be more your problem. I saw poison ivy and Virginia creeper in several of the shots you sent. Regardless of what you do this year, more weeds will follow, that is the nature of the beast. A good layer of mulch and a few rounds with the hoe or herbicide will help annually. To make your life easier, concentrate your efforts for now on where the wedding party will be and don’t try to tackle the entire yard at once. Bring in some beautiful containers and judiciously spread them out and your party will be a success!

April 2010

QuestionI've heard that wild violets can take over flower beds. Will they hurt azaleas? I've also heard that azaleas don't like to be disturbed. Is it ok to pull weeds under the azaleas or should I just keep them trimmed?

AnswerWild violets are tenacious and can spread quite rapidly. Many folks enjoy the colorful flowers in the spring, but despise the foliage all summer. I really don’t think violets will hurt your azaleas that badly, although a few this year will multiply to many more next year. Violets along with any other weed can compete for water and nutrition, but they are shallow rooted. That is probably why you heard azaleas don’t like to be disturbed, their shallow roots make them more susceptible to damage from groundcovers or other plant competition. Violets have a small underground corm or bulb which aids in their spread. Pulling them out or hoeing would be better than just trimming and would not hurt your azaleas.

April 2008

QuestionI'm looking for organic ways to control weeds around tomato plants. Is it okay to put mulch (i.e., cypress, hardwood, pine bark) around these plants? If so, is one type of mulch better than another?.

AnswerI think all gardens should have mulch in them. Not only does it keep weeds down, mulch also maintains soil moisture levels, moderates soil temperature and prevents erosion. When using mulch in a vegetable garden it is preferable to use
something that can break down readily. The bark mulches can be used, but you would not want to till them into the soil at the end of the season. Shredded leaves, newspaper or shredded paper, or straw would be a better choice to work in. Some gardeners do use plastic as a mulch in the vegetable garden, laying it down early to help warm the soil in the spring as well. Plastic is ok, but make sure you have a way to get water underneath it and possibly add some organic mulch on top to cool things down in the heat of summer.

June 2006

Question  I have a field behind my house which we hydro-seeded with weeping love grass. The weeds have taken over and I am losing my patience. Will a common weed and feed kill them, or will that kill the weeping lovegrass too?

Answer  Weeping love grass can be treated almost like a lawn grass in many respects. Weed and feeds can be either fertilizers with a pre-emergent herbicide, or fertilizer with a post-emergent herbicide. The pre-emergent herbicide prevents weeds and would be of no use now. If it is a true weed killer—post-emergent type, see what type of weeds it is labeled to kill. Some will kill broadleaf weeds, some will grassy weeds. If you have both types of weeds, you are probably out of luck. Broadleaf weeds will be easier to kill than grassy weeds. If it is a grassy weed killer, make sure weeping love grass is not labeled as one of the weeds it will kill. This is a good example of why good site preparation is important prior to seeding or planting groundcovers or lawns.

March 2005

Question  Weeds are everywhere in my lawn! I seem to have some of everything in bloom it seems. I have not taken care of my lawn in a few years, but the weeds have never been so bad. Is there a reason, and what should I do to kill them now?.

Answer  Winter weeds started early this year, and with warmer weather, they kick into high gear. If they are blooming, they are entering the last phase of their life cycle. Winter annual weeds germinate in the fall, grow all winter, begin blooming in late winter/early spring, set seeds and die. If you can keep them mowed to prevent seed set, that can reduce populations next winter. If you can get a move on it, and spray soon, you can still use a broadleaf weed killer with 2,4-D. The smaller the weed, the easier they are to kill. Try to avoid spraying herbicides when your lawn begins to green up. Grasses are much more sensitive during the transition period from dormancy to active growth, and again when they go from active growth to dormancy in the fall. So, use caution and spray as early in the month as possible. One of the reasons weeds may be worse in your lawn is that you haven’t been taking care of it. A thick, lush lawn tends to have less weed incidence than one that has gotten thin. If soil is exposed to sunlight, weeds take over. If you practice good maintenance this year, with proper fertilization, watering and mowing, your weed problems may lessen in time. Some people look at these early winter weed blooms as wildflowers. You know what they say “one man’s weed is another man’s wildflower!”

February 2008

QuestionMy good friend does have serious problems with sand spurs. I told her that I thought you said you have to treat for sand spurs in the fall of the year, but that was about all I remember. Can you give us guidance on how to rid her yard of sand spurs? I have stepped on them before and I hate them.

AnswerI think you are referring to spurweed. This is the winter annual weed that is very low growing. It grows in the fall and winter, blooms with tiny white flowers in late winter to early spring, then sets the seed which is the noxious sticker. Sand spur is a summer weed which grows on a taller grassy plant with larger stickers. This is the season to control spurweed. By now, the weed should
have germinated. Look closely at your lawn and if you have what looks like miniature parsley growing, spray with a broadleaf weed killer with 2, 4-D. If you can kill the weed before it blooms and sets the stickers, you should be in good shape.

June 2009

QuestionWe have a very unique, 25 years or so old yaupon holly (trimmed and shaped many times) on a terrace with a row of azaleas. The yaupon has "gone ape" among the azaleas, sending out seedlings or sprouts at the soil line which are outgrowing the azaleas. If we can protect the azaleas, can we use Roundup (or your choice) to try to kill them out without affecting the tree? Would painting full-strength Roundup do any good where we cannot spray the foliage and cut back to the ground? We hope to not lose the tree -a conversation piece.

Answer  I think your best bet, while not the easiest, is to dig up the sprouts and/or seedlings. If you knew for sure they were coming up from seeds, then a herbicide might work, however they could be root suckers which are attached to the mother tree and could damage it as well. Make a cut beneath the soil line where the plants are coming from the ground line up, mulch and watch for reappearances. Since it is a standard yaupon, they can outgrow your azaleas quite easily.

October 2008

QuestionWe have so many vines in our backyard including poison ivy, honeysuckle and briars and I don’t know where to start in getting rid of them. Is there a commercially available product on the market that helps to kill pesky vines? Or can you recommend any other options?

AnswerPerennial woody vines are not easy to kill, and it will take time and diligence to completely eradicate them from your yard. Fall is actually a good time to do the work, because they will store more of the chemical in their root system as they prepare for winter. Cut back as much of the top growth as possible and dispose of it. Then treat what is left with either a glyphosate product (Round-up) or a brush killer containing Triclopyr. Make sure you direct the spray on the vines, and try to avoid getting either product on desirable plants. Make sure the plants are healthy and not overly stressed before you spray to kill them, so that they will absorb as much of the chemical as possible. Pay attention next spring and try to get a handle on any that begin to grow again. If you are covered in vines, one year’s treatment won’t be enough.

May 2010

Question What is the safest way to control weeds and grass growing in a vegetable garden? The garden is approximately 30' x 40' - therefore, not easy to apply mulch to all. We till, but weeds and grass will return.

AnswerThe Santa Clause method—hoe, hoe, hoe is actually the safest and most effective way to control weeds in the vegetable garden. While there are some herbicides that are labeled for gardens, they are usually not recommended for all vegetables, and the waiting period may be too long for you to use. Hoeing is actually preferable to the tiller. Tilling is easier, but actually brings up more weed seeds from down below, which leads to more weeds. Cutting the weeds off at the surface and then mulching is the best thing you can do for your garden. There are lots of mulch options. Spread down newspaper, shred your junk mail and lay that down. It doesn't have to be as aesthetically pleasing in the vegetable garden as it does in ornamental beds. Mulching that large of a garden may seem like a lot of work on the front end, but the amount of weeds it will cut down will make it worth the effort.

July 2010

QuestionI made a mistake about 3 years ago - I planted a vine to run over a trellis on my patio. It has not only run over the trellis, but this year sprouts are coming up all over my flower bed around the patio, under the block of my air compressor, even between the brick wall and the concrete step off the patio into the house. I don't know the name, but it is very invasive (like wisteria), and has orangey tube type blooms that are absolutely beautiful, but a nuisance. I understand that humming birds love it, but I have seen none feeding from it. It is in full bloom at this time. How can I get rid of it? Due to my age and physical condition, digging it up is not an option.

AnswerSounds to me like trumpet creeper, Campsis radicans. While often touted as hummingbird vine, many consider it a common weed. It can sucker from the roots, root where the vine touches the ground, and comes up from seed pods. Cut back as hard as possible and spray with a glyphosate product- Roundup for example. Direct the spray just to what you want to kill, and don’t expect one application to do the trick.

June 2010

QuestionWe live in Mena. Our side lawn was pretty much destroyed by the uprooting of a dozen mature trees by the April 2009 tornado. In November 2009 we replaced the lawn with Zoysia turf. The adjoining front lawn has St Augustine. Bermuda grass is prevalent on all sides at the edges and interspersed in places. It moves aggressively into bare spots. In order to fill in areas where here is still no turf I am encouraging the Bermuda grass. THE QUESTION: Is Bermuda grass the turf of champions as it is so often portrayed or the invasive weed that my wife would like to ban from the lawn so as to protect her gardens? How would Zoysia, St. Augustine and Bermuda grass coexist? We both recognize its aggressive nature -I as a benefit; she as a liability. I do not believe that I would be willing or able to ever gain complete control over it, so would prefer to take a "if you can't fight it, join it " attitude..

AnswerBermuda grass is the most aggressive grass when grown in full sun. It is the least adapted to shade. If you have full sun, I would encourage it, since it will grow nicely and would be hard to kill. It will blend in nicely with Zoysia, but St. Augustine is much more coarse in texture and actually doesn't like competition or traffic. I would make sure you keep a buffer zone between the lawn and the flower beds to help manage its spread and keep it from becoming a problem in the flower beds.

May 2010

QuestionIs there anything short of dynamite to remove Star of Bethlehem from my yard? If there is not, can you tell me where to buy dynamite? 

AnswerStar of Bethlehem is one of those wildflowers gone weedy! It can take over a lawn or garden quite quickly. If there is any saving grace, they do disappear when the heat of summer sets in. Herbicides can give you limited control, but not complete control. Spot spraying with a glyphosate product can give you some control as can applications of 2,4-D repeated annually, but for total eradication, digging them up one by one is your best bet—and not an easy task.

May 2010

Question I know that recently, Arkansas has banned the sale and possession of water hyacinth. I also know that any that I
purchased prior to the ban is okay for me to have, but that I won't be able to buy anymore, because it's now illegal for nurseries to sell it. I have a small - 350 gallon - pre-formed pond in my back yard in which I have always placed water hyacinth. The plant will not survive the winter in the pond, because it's not deep enough, only about 30" at the greatest depth. If I take some of the plant
and over winter it in a tub in my house to put back in the pond next spring, am I in trouble? 

AnswerFor clarification, I checked with my friends at the Arkansas State Plant Board who regulates such matters. Plants contained on the prohibited plant list present such a danger to the natural ecosystems in the state that they are prohibited. This means they cannot be sold or used in plantings in Arkansas. Water hyacinth multiply like rabbits, and can clog up waterways. If you had the plant in your garden this season, you were allowed to keep growing them, since they were just added to the list. But from now on, you can’t have them, so the answer to your question is no, you can’t save them. Add them to the compost pile and find a new water plant. There are many to choose from. Other plants on the prohibited list include: purple loosestrife, giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta), water hyacinth and Japanese blood grass. Japanese Blood Grass was just added along with the water hyacinth. This red-tipped ornamental cultivar, Imperata cylindrica ‘Rubra,’ is extensively promoted as Red Baron, or Japanese Blood Grass. It has been sold and grown as an ornamental for some time, and can turn a beautiful red color in the fall. However, they have found that it can revert to Cogon grass: Imperata cylindrica which has been ranked as one of the ten worst weeds of the world.

March 2005

QuestionWe moved here 5 years ago and bought a home with a beautiful landscape. The former owner planted (on the advice of her landscape architect) a few clumps of that monster called "Monkey Grass". We have been told that it is a form of liriope or mondo grass. We have plantings of true liriope that simply stay in nice, self-limiting clumps, however, the other one, the monster, spreads wildly by subterranean runners and is unbelievably invasive. We ruthlessly dug up all we could see, but it just seemed to relish it. It is coming up inside all the major azaleas, ferns, hostas, etc. Can you suggest a herbicide that will kill this monster? We tried numerous chemicals, including Round-Up, but the monster responded as it if were fertilizer. We can't tolerate it. Should we just move? We hate to contemplate it, but our outdoor living area and our gardens are our life, and if there is no cure for the monster, we would rather just take the punishment and the financial loss and move on. In passing, we would like to suggest that any landscape architect (certified or novice), developer, or plant and/or garden center, no matter how small, recommending, or even offering, this horrible plant be automatically committed to some small, very cruel, Central or South American jail for a very extended stay with unspeakable punishment.

 AnswerOccasionally everyone makes a mistake, and sometimes what seems like a great plant, takes over. Think about kudzu, Japanese honeysuckle and common privet. They were all planted intentionally at one time, and then took over! There are two basic types of monkey grass or liriope. The one most people want is Liriope muscari--the clumping form. Unfortunately, I think the one you have is Liriope spicata--the running form, and run it does. It spreads by underground rhizomes, and can be quite vigorous—(as you have learned), and unfortunately--hard to kill. Moving is by far the easiest method to fight it, but should you let a plant beat you? No, I didn't think so. Cut out as much of it as you can. If you can get a tiller in the beds, till it up, and then use a heavy lawn rake and rake out as much of the root system and crowns as possible. Then wait for new growth--which is inevitable. Then spray with a glyphosate (Round-up) product. I know you have tried it in the past, and didn't have good results, but use it on the young growth, wait two weeks and spray again. Repeat as needed. There is nothing else you can use around other plants without injuring them--use caution even with the Round-up--only spraying what you want to kill. If you are diligent this season, you should be able to conquer it--but don't turn your back on it, or it can reappear!

December 2005

QuestionI know you said to put a pre-emerge herbicide on at this time of year for the stickers that look like carrot tops but I don't remember what kind to get.

 AnswerSince many winter weeds are already germinating, you may simply want to wait until January or early February and apply a post-emergent herbicide containing 2,4-D. This should kill most broadleaf weeds, including the spurweed --the sticker weed. The key is to control these winter weeds while they are young.

December 2005

QuestionHELP!! About 2 weeks ago, I put out 3- 40 lb bags of Weed and Feed. It said it would kill henbit and sandburs and other weeds. Unfortunately, I did not save a bag to see exactly what all it said. Now my weeds are so beautiful and green and nothing is dead or dying. They look healthier than ever. The last two years the weeds have gotten worse and worse and I have got to nip them in the bud. But this has backfired and I have spent a lot of money and still have weeds. I saved an article out of the paper from last year from a lady who battled henbit, (even picked it all out by hand) and your advice to her was to put this stuff out in January, (which I did). I now have green weeds and nothing dying. I am beginning to not care if I have a lawn, just so I don't have weeds. I have partly St. Augustine, which in one part of lawn is so thick; I don't have a problem with weeds. In another part of the lawn there is a mixture of Bermuda and St. Augustine -- that is where the weeds are taking over. I live in the middle of a pasture on 137 acres. Years ago, when we had cows, we sprigged a hybrid Bermuda grass called Alicia. It is great for cows and hay but not for flowers or gardening. It grows 12 foot long runners and when you fertilize your flowers or garden, the Alicia grass just goes wild. So I have mostly gone to shrubs and trees around my house because I like to do other things besides battle grass. The only thing to tame the Bermuda is Round-up. Is that what I must resort to for killing the weeds?

 AnswerI wish you still had the bag. Many weed and feed products are a pre-emergent herbicide coupled with fertilizer. Pre-emergent herbicides are used to prevent weeds from germinating not kill those already growing. The product you applied can prevent your summer weeds -- which include sandburs and crabgrass, but won't have any impact on those winter weeds which are already growing. To prevent winter weeds you must use a PRE-emergent in November. As you noticed, you may have actually helped the winter weeds grow with that "feed" portion, which is fertilizer. For now, you can use a product containing 2,4- D -- Trimec is one such product but there are many other brand names. Look for a broad leaf weed KILLER not PREVENTOR. Be sure you find a product that says it is safe to use on St. Augustine. There is nothing that would kill Bermuda without also killing the St. Augustine. Bermuda is a much tougher lawn than St. Augustine, and if you have sun, you may want to convert—giving yourself a weed free zone of mulch between lawn and flower beds. Good luck!

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