Last spring, I noticed some weird weeds growing at the edge of my yard. I ignored them. This is my go-to strategy for most problems. When I found these strange weeds had worked their way across the whole back yard in two months and where working on invading my flowers, I knew I had to do something about these little buggers.
My first step was to find out what this weed was. In late August of last year, I took a sample (with roots, stem, leaves and flowers) to my local university extension office. In Wisconsin each county has an office that helps regular folks deal with plants, bugs, and stuff like that. Usually they are wonderfully helpful and have lots of information to solve your problems and even prevent many of them. I don’t know if all states have this service but I would think that most counties have something similar. A woman who clearly hated her job informed me that it was Creeping Charlie. And also informed me that I would never be able to get rid of it, I should have never let it get this bad, and in general I was a horrible person. I left filled with joy.
After some reading, I found I had a couple of choices. I could pull the stuff up by hand, I could use chemicals to kill it, or I could continue to ignore it. Since I didn’t have time to pull it all up by hand and I didn’t want to lose my flower beds to Charlie the Creeper, I figured my best solution was to find a better way of living through chemistry. The best time to do that is in the spring when the plants are actively growing so I had all winter to figure out what to do.
Now, you need to know something important here. I have a private pesticide applicator certificate. This means that I have passed the state of Wisconsin’s test to buy and apply restricted chemicals to my own farm. I cannot apply any commercial products to my home lawn but I do know how to read a chemical bottle sold to me (and you for that matter) at the hardware store. On with the story.
I thought the easiest way to deal with this problem was to have a professional do the job. So, I contacted a local branch of a national lawn care chain and asked them for prices, application schedules and the labels from the products they planned to use. After reading the labels and asking some questions of the local manager, I changed my mind. I am sure they would have done a great job. I am sure the guy I talked to was having an off day. I am sure I didn’t want them at my house. I could have tried a different service but time was ticking and I could almost hear ol’ Charlie spreading.
So, I went on down to a reputable landscape and greenhouse company on a weekday afternoon. I wanted to talk to someone who’s livelihood and reputation depended on keeping homeowners in the green, so to speak. I found a fellow who knew what he was talking about and he recommended 2 products to me. I thanked him, took the two bottles and plopped down on the floor and started reading. Here is what I was looking for:
What does it kill?
What doesn’t it kill?
How often can it be applied?
Does it need to be activated by rain?
Does it need a certain length of time before it can rain on it?
Is there any chemical it cannot be used with?
What is the RTI (reentry interval)?
How much of it will I need to treat affected area?
I bought a bottle of stuff that seemed like it would work and I measured and staked my lawn into sections so that I could tell what areas I had already treated and to help gauge how much I had applied to my lawn. I already owned a backpack sprayer so I mixed up the chemical according to the directions (MORE IS NOT BETTER HERE) and applied it to lawn.
I found that it worked pretty well! I still don’t have it all killed, but I am on the right track! Over all, what I want you to take from this post is that with a little information, a little time doing some reading, and a little elbow-grease a person can solve even the creepiest of their own yard problems.
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