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Weed Watch - Early Spring

April 18, 2018

When it comes to weeds in the garden, most of us just want to know when they'll be gone.  But they say "know thy enemy" for a reason.  Learning a little bit about the weeds in your garden will help you make better choices on how to control them.  This will result in longer lasting and safer control.  It may also give you a certain begrudging respect for these persistent little buggers!   

A Note on Weed Killers
Here at O'Toole's, we carry all kinds of weed control products.  The selection can be a little overwhelming, but all of these products can be both safe and effective when used correctly.  So, here's a brief overview to help you figure out which one to choose. 

We generally break down weed controls into three categories - pre-emergent, selective and non-selective.

Pre-emergents inhibit seeds from germinating, preventing new weeds from sprouting.  They are typically used in lawns or around established perennials, trees and shrubs in the early spring.  Pre-emergents will stop all seeds from sprouting, so don't use it in the veggie garden, on a lawn your planning to re-seed or anywhere you might want to plant seeds.  Pre-emergents include synthetic products like Bonide Weed Beater and Bayer SeasonLong and organic, corn-based products like Heathy Grow Corn Gluten.

Selective weed killers kill broadleaf weeds that are actively growing, but they won't harm grasses.  This makes them perfect to control weeds that are growing in the lawn area.  Selective weed killers include 2, 4-D based products like Bayer SeasonLong and iron-based organics like Natria Lawn Weed Control.

Non-Selective weed killers tend to be the strongest weed control products.  They will kill any plant they come in contact with, so they should be used with extra caution.  Non-selective weed killers are best used in rock or bark areas, on sidewalks or driveways or around foundations.  Non-selectives can be glysophate-based synthetics like Kleen-Up or herbicidal soap type products like Natria Grass and Weed Killer.  

*With any weed control products always, always, always read and follow all the directions carefully.  If you have any questions about what you should use, stop by the store and we'll be happy to help you pick out just what you need!

Here are some of the most common weeds we've been getting questions about this month, along with some suggestions on how to get rid of them for good.    


Lamium amplexicaule

It’s easy to ID this annual weed by its little, purple flowers.  Henbit also has distinctive leaves that attach directly to its purplish, square-shaped stem.  This weed got its common name when people observed chickens snacking on it in the barnyard.  In fact, henbit is a member of the mint family and is edible for people, too.  Some gardeners even harvest it and use it as an herb.

Growth Habit
Henbit is a winter annual.  With the slightest warm up in the spring, henbit seeds are ready to sprout.  They grow and bloom during the early spring, drop their seeds and die off by the early summer. 

Since Henbit propagates mostly from seed, it can be effectively be controlled with a pre-emergent weed killer.  Henbit plants that are already growing can be dug up, hand pulled or treated with a selective or non-selective weed killer.