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BlufftonSC

Lawn weed control in yard full of palms

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BlufftonSC

Hi, just a little frustrated here. I'm supposed to have a lawn of lush centipede grass, but because I've avoided using weed killers (in dry fertilizer or through spraying) in order to protect the palms in my yard, I've got half grass and half weeds and each year the weeds take over a little more. It's now WAY beyond pulling them all by hand. Is there a way to treat the weeds that minimizes damage to palm roots? The palms in the most problematic areas of my lawn are: W. robusta, S. causiarum and P. canariensis. I have pine straw mulch underneath each that extends out to the drip line of each palm.

Thanks for input!!!

Jeff

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Stevetoad

most weed killers work by entering the weed through the leaves not the roots. i spray round up often right next to my palms with no damage at all to the palms. i wait until theres no wind to keep any over spray from landing on the palms.

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Kim

Products like Weed & Feed should have no detrimental effect on your palms. Be sure to select the right product for your type of lawn. Read the label carefully and follow instructions, and your lawn will improve over time. These products are most effective in early spring as weeds germinate, so you could apply now, and again later. If the weeds are that out of control, it's going to take several sequential applications, but if you keep at it, in 18 months it should look dramatically better. Good luck!

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MattyB

Another, non chemical, idea is to overseed 1 to 2 times a year. Overseeding is simply apply more grass seed down on top of an existing lawn. If it's crazy crazy with weeds you might need to apply 'weednfeed' first to knock back the weeds.

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Tomw

Products like Weed & Feed should have no detrimental effect on your palms. Be sure to select the right product for your type of lawn. Read the label carefully and follow instructions, and your lawn will improve over time. These products are most effective in early spring as weeds germinate, so you could apply now, and again later. If the weeds are that out of control, it's going to take several sequential applications, but if you keep at it, in 18 months it should look dramatically better. Good luck!

Kim,

We were fortunate enough to have Timothy Broschat come and speak at our palm society meeting about Nutrient Deficiencies of Landscape and Field-grown Palms in Florida. During his research he found that weed and feed fertilizers can have undesirable effect on palms and he recommends not using weed and feed fertilizers. Broschat recommends only using palm fertilizer on grass and ornamentals basically everything in a South Florida yard, I have been practicing this in my yard for a few years with great success and my grass is the greenest on the block!! In fact I was skeptical about the ill effect of weed and feed fertilizers, but given his credentials and research I took him at his word. That was until I seen it for myself in one of my neighbors yard.

Jeff,

So, what I do is this: I fertilize my grass/palms with a good palm specific fertilizer with all the micro nutrients with a broadcast spreader around 4 times a year. I then have a lawn service spray for weeds once a year maybe twice a year if necessary. The results for this regiment a very hard to beat!!

Edited by Tomw
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Gonzer

The main problem with Weed 'n Feed fertilizers is that 90% of the time folks don't read the directions where it states; "desired grasses/weeds should have WET surfaces before applying". If the herbicide does not attach to the leaves it will be watered into the rootzone.

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DoomsDave

Jeff:

For what it's worth, I once managed a garden shop (here in So-Cal), and helped many people with lawn care issues, including choices of fertilizer, etc.

According to this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eremochloa_ophiuroides centipede grass is a spreading type, which means that it should grow densely enough to choke out weeds and other grasses. It does not appear to like too much shade.

I've never had c-grass, and it's not raised out here because of its high water requirements. That said, I remember that many chemicals, including most weed-and-feeds, urge caution or even non-use on St. Augustine and Centipede Grass, because of the possibility of injury. It appears that not using weed and feed was a good idea, though not for the reasons you thought.

In particular, I remember that 2-4-D, a major weed killer, is to be used with caution on c-grass.

If the weeds are as bad as you describe, you'll have to engage in a sort of mini-war to get it back from them. I offer an approach:

A. Pull out any big weeds you can. These are the monsters you can just yank. This won't get everything, but it will make your warrior heart happy, with that big pile, and, hopefully, at least a bit fewer weeds.

B. See what's left: is it broad-leaved weeds, or grasses, or both? This is important, if you use chemicals, because different chems are used in different ways for different weeds.

C. Maybe do another round of pulling, the large weeds that remain.

D. If you're left with bare patches and a lot of weeds both, you could apply round up to the remaining weeds only, keeping in mind that it will kill c-grass you get it on. If you have a lot of other kinds of grass, like bermuda grass, you'll have to hit it with roundup.

E. C-grass is supposed to spread fast, but it appears easy to over fertilize as well. If bermuda grass has invaded, you may want to let it take over. It's much tougher (we grow it out here) and it takes traffic well; it's only drawback is it hates shade.

F. It appears that you can overseed or plant stolons of C-Grass in bare patches. The problem is that you may get a big crop of baby weeds from seeds left behind from plants you've pulled or killed chemically. The best thing is to keep an eye and pull. Sometimes it's a lot of pulling.

Shoot me a PM if you like. There are no stupid questions. Always happy to help.

As the others pointed out, weed killers generally work by getting on the leaves of plants after which they're absorbed. Keep the weed killer off the palms' leaves and you should be fine. Ditto for trunks. On the other hand, baby palms can be sensitive to overspray, especially weed killers that kill grass.

Hope this helps.

P.S. You can do what I did, which is take out the grass and have nothing but palms. Half an acre's worth. Though I suspect that others in your household might disagree . . . . :)

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BlufftonSC

Thanks, guys, for taking the time to reply and for all of the helpful tips.

TomW, that's an interesting concept I've often wondered about. I've got a row of robustas in my front yard beside the driveway. It's a narrow strip of lawn with grass growing right up to the trunks. In early July I broadcast some Lesco palm special fertilizer all around the palms, and, of course, the grass got it to. Interestingly, the weeds in that area don't look so hot now (yellowing out) and the grass looks great. Knowing what I know about over fertilizing centipede, I would have never thought to use the palm food on the entire lawn, but this chance experiment, and your post, is making me rethink my approach. I imagine your soil is a lot like mine... mostly sand and some other swampy black stuff. Obviously, the centipede would have more successfully overtaken the weeds if it were healthier. I think your guest speaker is definitely on to something. I bet there are great things in the palm fertilizer that my grass needs, as well. Thanks for the tip! I'll repost at some point and let everyone know how this turns out.

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Kim

I was quite surprised to read you can't use pre-emergents on St. Augustine or centipede grass, because I have used it myself. There is more than one type of product. You simply have to select the correct product tailored to your type of lawn. I went to the source and read the label:

http://www.scotts.co...itemId=cat50044

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