KC Gardens

If you’re using herbicides to kill lawn weeds, here’s what not to do

Johnson County K-State Research and Extension.

I am not sure how being environmentally friendly became politically charged. Maybe it’s another example of the division in this country.

As this is a gardening column, I will focus on what I do best — discussing the best practices for a beautiful landscape. We can all agree that clean water, air and soil are vital. Here are a few tips to help us achieve these goals as we start our spring chores.

Reduce spray drift

As the weather warms, the weeds will pop. Herbicides are often applied for a weed-free lawn.

While these products are effective, many can unfortunately drift in the breeze and damage non-targeted plants including trees, shrubs and vegetables. Reduce herbicide drift by following these simple practices.

Avoid spraying on a windy day. The calmer the air, the less the product will float in the wind. Your actions could damage not only your landscape but also your neighbor’s down the street.

Discharge the spray nozzle close to the ground using larger water droplets. This dramatically reduces evaporation and drift.

Herbicide drift is the number one plant ailment our office sees in late May, all the result of applications to control dandelions, henbit and other spring weeds.

Don’t leave it on the ground

A healthy lawn is like a sponge. Fertilizers and pesticides properly applied are held by the lawn and do not move into our water.

Fertilizers and pesticides that reach our local streams are a result of misapplication.

When the product falls onto hard surfaces such as driveways, streets or gutters, rain washes the pellets into the storm drain, which takes them to the closest pond or stream. The result is often unsightly algae growth or, in a few cases, the death of fish and other animals.

After applying any product to the lawn, be sure to sweep or blow the pellets from the hard surfaces back onto the lawn.

These are just a couple of tips to help you be a little greener. It’s not politics, just personal responsibility.

Healthy Yards Expo

To learn more tips on how to care for your lawn, come to the 10th Annual Healthy Yards Expo on April 6 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Shawnee Civic Centre in Shawnee.

The expo is a free home, lawn and garden event featuring vendors, city representatives and nonprofit agencies. There will be seminars on a wide range of topics including vegetable gardening, native plants and gardening for wildlife. Stone Lion Puppets will present Frog Prints for the kids and have simple crafts.

Information on cost-share programs for Johnson County residents for implementing water quality landscaping will be available. And don’t miss the native plant sale featuring the best locally grown plants for our sun and shade conditions.

Complete information can be found at www.johnson.k-state.edu.

Dennis Patton is a horticulture agent with Kansas State University Research and Extension. Got a question for him or other university extension experts? Email them to garden.help@jocogov.org.

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