The golf season is winding down, and now fall is here. This time of year presents many busy days of course preparation for the upcoming winter season. Besides the usual tasks and projects at this time of year, controlling broadleaf weeds should be at the top of the list. The turf is recovering and thriving with ideal temperatures and timely rain, but so are the broadleaf weeds. Some weeds are hard to notice at this time of year because they have finished blooming for the year. Fall is a critical season for broadleaf weed control as it’s the ideal time to target these invasive plants before they go dormant for the winter. By addressing broadleaf weeds in the fall, gardeners can prevent them from overwintering and ensure a healthier, weed-free landscape come spring.

Perennial broadleaf weeds, including dandelions, clover, ground ivy, and black medic, are best controlled in the fall. When applying summer herbicide applications, the weeds are only affected by the top growth of the plant. In many cases, it is not effective at killing the whole plant. It will typically take two to three herbicide applications to control perennial plants, and most times, they will come back later in the year. The broadleaf weeds are beginning to prepare for winter by moving sugars that they need for energy from the above part of the plant to the roots to store for the coming year.  This movement of sugars and nutrients provides plenty of time for a herbicide to move to the roots and kill the weeds. Applying a herbicide when the leaves on the trees turn color to when the ground reaches freezing is the best time to apply. This period for the best results typically is early September to early November.

Many products on the market are effective at controlling broadleaf weeds. The following herbicides would be effective in the fall applications: Three-way herbicide (Vessel), SureZone, and Defendor. Please follow each product’s label for the proper recommended rates. Spraying should occur when the daytime high is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days. Apply the herbicide on a clear and sunny day so it dries on the plant for at least 24 hours to allow the chemical to be taken in by the plant. The area of turf that you are making the application should be clean of leaves to make sure the plant’s leaf is sprayed and not the leaves. Wind drift can be a concern, so try to make the applications with little or no wind when possible. A surfactant is also recommended with the herbicide when targeting any weeds with a waxy coating on their leaves. If you have any questions on herbicides and their rates, please get in touch with your local Advanced Turf sales representative. They will be happy to assist you in any way.

With the cooler temperatures in the fall, the pleasure of seeing the effects of the herbicide slows down. This makes it more difficult to witness the curling, browning, and shriveling caused by the herbicide application. Over the winter, the weeds will just die and melt away into the healthy turf that will be there in the spring.