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4 steps to weed control using integrated pest management

by Karen Lawson, All About Lawns Columnist

You've spent the winter making plans for bringing your lawn back to its summer glory, but nuisances including crabgrass, dandelions and other weeds can rapidly turn your lawn from an emerald carpet to an unsightly spread of irregular color and texture. Insects and diseases affecting turf grass can cause bare spots, discoloration and loss of lawn density. The U.S. National Arboretum uses integrated pest management (IPM) for preventing and controlling pest and disease infestations in its turf grass areas and gardens. Here are the basic concepts associated with using IPM:

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  • Make it greener
  • Eliminate patches
  • Less weeds
  • Make it thicker
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  1. Order a soil test prior to applying any weed control products or insecticides to your lawn. Soil test results can determine which adjustments are needed and to what degree they must be made. Soil with poor pH or lacking nutrients can cause your turf grass to become susceptible to invading weeds, bugs and diseases.
  2. Inspect and prepare your lawn mower for the growing and mowing season. Adjust your lawn mower for mowing between 2.5 and 3.5 inches. Mowing your lawn high helps with preventing weeds from germinating and growing in your lawn. Sharpen mower blades to prevent gouging and tearing grass. Grass cut too short allows more light to reach weed seeds and sprouts. This causes weeds to germinate and grow faster.
  3. Aerate and over-seed your lawn in fall -- the best option -- or spring. Thinning grass allows crabgrass and other weeds to invade your lawn. Aerating increases air circulation to roots and reduces problems associated with water accumulating in the soil surrounding the roots of your grass.
  4. Apply pre-emergent herbicides before March 31: Pre-emergents don't work on weeds and crabgrass that are already sprouting, and the product must be fully absorbed into the ground before weeds germinate.

A healthy and vigorous lawn is your best defense against lawn and garden problems. Contact landscaping companies or your local university cooperative extension service for regional lawn care advice.

About the Author
Karen Lawson practices high desert gardening at her home in northern Nevada where her dogs assist with digging holes for planting. Karen earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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