Battling lawn weeds is an age-old effort

I've noticed that some of our weeds are taller than what's typical for this time of year. It's not a big deal, though, unless you're superstitious minded — like me — because legend has it, tall weeds forewarn of snowfalls that are as deep as the weeds are tall.

So please get rid of your tallest weeds — and be thankful that this chore is much easier than it was decades ago.

Weeds have forever challenged farmers and gardeners, and for centuries setting fields on fire, or spreading salt over fields, was the best way to control weeds, when tilling was an out-of-the-question option.

During the first century B.C., though, an ancient Roman scholar, Varro, inadvertently created the first synthetic pesticide when he accidentally discovered that the remains of crushed olive seeds killed weeds, as well as insects and rodents, when they were spread over farmer's fields.

Today we know that a good way to suppress lawn weeds is to not cut grass below 3 inches, because most weed seeds require sunlight to sprout, and taller grass blades cast denser shadows.

But if you already have weeds scattered here and there throughout a property, a second good way to remove them is to lift them out with a long-handled weeder.

Long-handled weeders are hand-held rods tapered into forks. I prefer to use the foot-long models. But for folks who want to limit stooping, some types can be operated while standing.

Still another way to control weeds is to apply lawn-weed herbicides. At this time of year, the best ones to use are post-emergent, broadleaf herbicides labeled for lawn weeds, since these are formulated to kill established lawn weeds without killing lawn grasses.

Except before you purchase one, make certain the targeted weeds are susceptible to the herbicide. Then follow the product's directions.

Which reminds me: I also use pre-emergent herbicides. These are designed to kill weed seedlings and weed seeds prior to sprouting. Although they won't kill established weeds, and are more effective when applied in the spring before new weeds sprout, they too can be applied now.

We've come a long way since the first weed herbicide was created by Varro, and an even longer way since fields had to be set on fire to control weeds. So now please do your part to mitigate the weed-related, snowy forecast.

This week in the garden

I've noted where crab grass is growing, so I can kill the seeds in March with a pre-emergent herbicide.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad