I was looking on Facebook the other day and came across a question from a plant group I am a part of. The question was “how do I control sticker burr weed?”. To my surprise many of the responses were to fertilize. This statement has some truth but there is more to it than just fertilize.
The first response should have been to remove the burr weed by either means of mechanical removal or by chemical removal. Simply fertilizing your yard will not get rid of any weeds. Weeds need the same nutrients desired plants need. They need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, commonly abbreviated N-P-K.
By applying N-P-K to your yard or garden area when weeds are present it will encourage the weeds to grow just like the desired plants. Weeds do not know they are not to absorb the nutrients from desired plants, they want to live and thrive just like any other plant. The first step in weed control is weed removal by your desired method.
Now for the truth part of the fertilize answer, once the weeds are in control, healthy soils will promote desired plant production. If soils are healthy and desired plants are vigorously growing adding fertilizer will greatly reduce weed growth because the desired plants will out compete the weeds for the nutrients.
The best way to find out what is going on with your soils is by getting a soils test. A soils test kit can be obtained from your local extension office. Doing a soil test is very simple to complete and will give you valuable information.
Once you have picked up a test kit you will need a shovel and a bucket. You will go to the area you are wanting to test, dig down 3-4 inches and collect the soil without any roots in the sample and place the sample in the bucket. Repeat those steps throughout the area you want tested. Usually about 5-10 samples, mixing all samples together in the bucket. Then from the mixed soil sample in the bucket fill up the plastic bag that comes in the soils test kit. The soils test kit will come with three plastic bags you can use. This will allow you to test up to three areas. Example: garden, front yard and back yard. Be sure to label each bag accordingly.
Once you have filled up and labeled the bags, fill out the paperwork that accompanies the test kit. The paperwork will ask you what you are trying to grow in the different samples you have sent in. The test results will take a week to ten days to be completed and returned to you. The results will tell you the proper amounts of N-P-K that will be needed and if any lime or sulfur should be added.
The important thing to remember about lime is it does not work instantly. It takes lime a minimum of 3 months to work completely and as long as 3 years. You may not see pH levels change enough if lime is applied at the planting of a garden or for grass production for upcoming year.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 318-927-3110.
It is the policy of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service that no person shall be subject to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, or disability.