You might think winter means a halt to lawn care for a few months, but there’s actually a lot you can do. In warmer regions that get little to no snow, killing weeds in winter can be the best time for active weed control. Because your grass goes dormant in the winter, cool-weather broadleaf weeds stick out like a sore thumb. Spot-treat these weeds with your weed killer of choice. Another good method for winter weed control is to apply a weed and feed fertilizer. Apply these tactics and by the time the spring months roll around, you’ll have a weed-free yard.
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How to Kill Winter Weeds
Even in regions with relatively mild winters and warm-season lawns, it’s a good bet you don’t want to spend hours outside in the cold, battling winter annual weeds. Here are some great low-effort, high-reward ways to kill weeds in winter.
Spot-Treat Broadleaf Weeds
Many cool-season weeds are broadleaf weeds. Dandelion, henbit, and many others will remain green and growing through winter in temperate areas, even when the grass is brown and dormant. This means weeds will stick out as green patches in your yard, making them easy to find.
Spot-treat these winter weeds with natural weed killers such as vinegar-based solutions or citrus-based organic weed killers. Although they won’t kill weeds down to the roots, they will make spring weed treatments a lot easier.
Because most natural weed killers are non-selective (they kill any plant or flower they’re sprayed on) they can be risky to use near the grass. The best time to use them on your lawn is during winter when you can really single out weeds.
Can You Spray Weeds in Winter?
If you choose to use a selective chemical herbicide, like Roundup, to kill winter weeds and keep grass safe, be careful about what ingredients are in your weed killer. Sprays that include Dicamba as an ingredient are safe for most grasses but may be harmful if your lawn is buffalo grass.
Because winter is typically a wet season in southern states, be careful about when you spray for weeds. Choose dry days with low wind for best weed-killing results.
Go All Out Against Invasive Winter Grasses
Most areas with warm winters are planted with heat-tolerant grasses that flourish in summer and go dormant in winter. However, these same regions are often infested with invasive grasses that flourish in colder weather and brown in the summer.
Invasive cold-weather grasses like rescuegrass and poa annua contribute to ugly brown spots in your lawn in summer. However, because they can handle cooler temperatures without going dormant, they are often green spots in your lawn in winter.
This makes winter the ideal time to spot invasive grass and tackle it. Not only does the invasive grass stick out, but it’s also more susceptible to weed and grass killer. Dormant grass is actually resistant to weed killers, so the best time to spray vinegar and other grass killers on pest grasses is during the winter. There’s a lot less risk of harming your desirable lawn grass! It’ll come back strong in spring and the invasive grasses will be dead.
Try Winter Weed and Feed
Regions with mild winters can often benefit from a winter application of fertilizer or a winterguard weed and feed product that fertilizes grass at the same time it kills weeds.
Apply the fertilizer, a small layer of compost, or weed and feed during the winter months. This allows time for the nutrients in the fertilizer to soak into the soil while the grass is still dormant, meaning your lawn will burst into life in spring.
If you choose a weed and feed product for winter application, you can wipe out your winter weeds at the same time you strengthen your lawn for spring. Unlike many weed killers, which should be applied on a dry lawn, winter weed killers, like weed and feed, work well in damp winter conditions. This is because weed and feed contains bits of peanut husk soaked in weed killer. Damp conditions allow the peanut husk to stick to plants and release the winter weed killer they carry, more effectively killing weeds.
For southern state lawns with wet, mild winters, weed and feed is the secret trick of winter weed control.
Killing Weeds in Winter
Winter can often be the best time to kill weeds in mild regions of the country. As your heat-tolerant grass goes dormant, cold-resistant weeds and invasive grasses are easy to spot. Spray invasive broadleaf weeds with a selective broadleaf weed killer or experiment with an organic weed killer that works in cold weather. Tackle invasive grasses with vinegar and other grass killers while your lawn grass is dormant. Finally, consider using a weed and feed product during winter; it will feed your lawn for spring and kill all the cool-weather weeds in your lawn.