By MARGAUX HENQUINET
It’s springtime, and gardens across Columbia are in bloom with flowers of all shapes, sizes and colors.
In neighborhoods including the Old Southwest, many lawns are in bloom, too. Scattered in with the greens of the grass are the yellows, purples and whites of flowering weeds.
Several of these plants are winter annuals, according to Kile Woods, owner of Mid Missouri Turf, which serves all of Boone County. They are low-growing plants that begin growing when the weather cools in the fall and stay healthy all winter, then bloom in spring. When the weather reaches a temperature that is too hot for them, they reseed and die before beginning the process again the following fall.
Two types of winter annuals commonly found in Columbia are henbit, which has purple flowers, and chickweed, which stands out against normal grass because of its olive green color and produces flowers that are off-white but often too small to notice.
The wild violet, pictured above, is a perennial, not a winter annual, meaning it is around all year, Woods said. Its flowers are deep blue or purple in color, and it has heart-shaped leaves.
Although these plants seem to grow as part of the lawn, mowing will not get rid of them; winter annuals will continue to grow back until temperatures become too high for them to survive. Woods said the weeds are best treated with a broad-leaf post-emergent herbicide. Winter annuals can often be killed with one treatment, but wild violets might require more, he said.
Homeowners don’t always need to call lawn-care services to get rid of them; the herbicides can be purchased at lawn and garden stores. However, it’s important to follow the directions carefully, or other plants may be killed in the process of removing the weeds, Woods said.
The best advice Woods has to prevent weeds from growing is to take care of your lawn with a good fertility program to keep it thick and healthy.
“All in all, the best defense against weeds is a thick turf,” he said.