I have been a grass warrior lately. Grass persists in
exploring and establishing in areas I don’t want it: under shrubs, twined in
flowers, out of the edges of the lawn, under the trees, in the field and so on.
As a grass warrior, I have employed various attack
strategies from hand-digging, weed-whacking and mowing with three different
mowers – a riding mower, a small area electric mower, a rough area mower and
finally, a tractor. Thank goodness I have my own mechanic living with me who
keeps all the equipment in excellent working order or grass would take over my
Being a grass warrior requires tenacity, doggedness and
endurance because grasses never give up. The prolific annual grasses flourish
early. However, because they complete their life cycle within one year, they
are shallow-rooted and easy to pull.
The perennial grasses are another story. They grow year
after year putting down strong roots. They are difficult to pull, generally
requiring a shovel rather than a trowel to get them out. In addition, any roots
left behind re-sprout, growing multitudes of new plants.
I avoid herbicides these days in order to maintain a healthy
soil biome, which then allows plants to thrive. However, some folks resort to
herbicides. I’m often asked if the active ingredient, glyphosate, which is in
750 products including Roundup, is a
good grass control.
Glyphosate is a non-selective,
post-emergent herbicide. This means it kills almost all actively growing plants
when it is applied to leaves or freshly cut stems. If you spray it on grass
growing in your flowers or shrub beds, you probably will kill the flowers as
well as the grasses and shrubs. If you spray it on your lawn weeds, it may kill
them, but also the lawn. There is a lot of controversy about glyphosate these
days with some research saying it is carcinogenic (cancer-causing) and other
studies saying it isn’t.
There are selective post-emergence herbicides that target only grasses but also other monocots, such as irises and lilies. These include various products with one of the active ingredients fluazifop, fenoxaprop or sethoxydim.
Products may come pre-mixed or require the addition of a
surfactant or sticker-spreader ingredient to water in a tank sprayer. Before
buying or using an herbicide, READ and understand the LABEL.
Since I will continue to avoid herbicides, I will remain a constant
digger, mower or weed-whacking grass warrior. Are you one too?
JoAnne Skelly is associate professor and Extension educator
emerita with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. firstname.lastname@example.org.