The most common time of year that people focus on lawn weed control is in the spring time. People notice dandelions, clover, and plantains and want them gone. The bad side of this is timing. If you kill perennial weeds like this in spring, its likely that it will leave bare spots in your lawn. The timing will be perfect to give annual grassy weeds, like crabgrass, a spot to grow.

I came across this issue earlier this year. A client in Westlake just moved into a home where the lawn wasn’t well cared for. They lived in a higher end neighborhood where everyone has a lush weed free lawn. In spring, the dandelions started blooming and they were very concerned that the weeds would spread to the neighbors’ yards. I treated the lawn, it looked good. Over the summer though the crabgrass and the yellow nutsedge came up and spread like wildfire. There were voids where all the broadleaf weeds were and the remaining turf was not very thick and vigorous.
It might be difficult to suffer with dandelions in your lawn from spring until fall. Fall is really the best time to treat your broadleaf perennial weeds with herbicide. It gives the grass time in cool weather to get healthy and gain a foothold after the weeds are gone. In my opinion the longer you can give grass to recover without having the deal with crazy weeds and blazing heat and drought, the better. That’s why I also recommend seeding grass in fall.
Spraying in the fall also reduces the chance that you injure your flowers and vegetables with overspray or drift.
Not many people are aware that there are weeds called winter annuals. These weeds sprout in fall and bloom in spring. Henbit and chickweed are the two that grow in the Cleveland area. If the application is timed after they germinate, you can kill those too.
The main advantage for treating your weeds in fall is the effectiveness of control. When you treat weeds with herbicide, you want the chemical to be translocated to the root. That way the entire plant will die.
In spring, plants are moving carbohydrates, stored over winter in the roots, upward to generate new vegetative growth. This upward movement makes herbicide application unfavorable. In fall, the plant does the opposite. The movement of carbohydrates from the leaves into the roots for winter storage, supports the herbicides movement through the entire plant, providing better control.
The key to get good control of perennial weeds is to apply the correct herbicide for the specific weeds to be controlled. These herbicides also must be applied at the right time of year. The best time to apply these lawn herbicides is generally around the last time you mow and fertilize your lawn. This is usually sometime in November. It depends on the weather though. Just wait until the air temperatures are steady in the forties and fifties. Spray on a sunny day with no rain in the forecast for 24 hours.
The weeds won’t burn out with a fall application like they do in the hot summer sun. You probably won’t see the twisting and curling of the weeds that you see with earlier applications. You might not even think it worked until you go out in spring and see that your lawn is weed free.
Once you knock out the perennial weeds you can start putting the weed and feed products down the following spring. The fertilizer will help the grass fill in bare areas and the preemergent herbicide in it will stop new weed seeds from establishing themselves in your lawn.
These are just some things to consider when establishing a lawncare program. I will try to touch upon some other aspects in later blogs. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to call.