Truth About Weed Control


By Rick Orr 09/02/2009
St Augustine lawn without weeds next to a weedy lawn

From the Customer’s Viewpoint

A customer asked, "I see that the dollar weed is all but gone but what is the other weed that is infused with the Floratam (St Augustine turf) and what’s to be done?"

The question shows the good and bad side of weed control and the expectations of the customer – you killed some weeds – when will you kill the rest. There is nothing you can spray today and every weed will be gone tomorrow or gone in a week or even a year. Weed control is a complicated process resulting from the easier weeds go first and then the more persistent weeds linger until they too give up.

Using Herbicides is Complicated

There is no one solution for weed control. There are different herbicides for different weeds – one herbicide for this weed and another for that weed and nothing for some weeds. And herbicides can negatively impact (stress) the St Augustine giving a zero-sum result in the end – you killed the weeds but weakened the turf and the weeds rebound before the St Augustine can recovery and repopulate the space. So you are right back where you started.

Weed Science is a Philosophy

My success in weed control is attributed to my philosophy about weed control: Keep the St Augustine healthy and the weeds weak and dying. The end game is that there are more St Augustine and fewer weeds. Keeping the St Augustine healthy and weeds weak/dying is a process repeated every application, year after year.

Process not an Event

It is a never-ending process. Some years I win and some years the weeds win!  The customer noticed that I eliminated dollar weed from the lawn but other weeds remained. What he observed was the use of a specific herbicide to weaken and kill a specific weed. What he hasn’t noticed is over the past two years his lawn has become healthy and vigorous and he never saw the cornucopia of weeds that never flourished in his lawn because it was so healthy and vigorous (free from disease and insects).

Healthy Lawn has Fewer Weeds

So, what’s to be done? Staying the course of keeping the lawn healthy by maintaining the fertility medium to medium-high, killing the bugs and keep the weeds dead or dying with regular applications of herbicides (aka lawn spraying). When you keep the St Augustine healthy and the weeds weak and dying, the weeds will perish and the lawn will not only survive, it will thrive.

You Can help Control Weeds

A healthy lawn has fewer weeds and there is more to a healthy lawn than lawn spraying. To keep your St Augustine lawn healthy requires:

  1. The lawn be mowed at 3” or higher
  2. Water as much and as often as law permits
  3. A well-maintained irrigation system
  4. Protect your lawn from spills – pool overflows, detergents, etc.

Meanwhile, relax, weeds are not lethal to your lawn, they are merely cosmetic. Weeds do not destroy, choke out or kill a lawn. A weak dying lawn allows weeds to populate – a healthy St Augustine lawn dominates.

Rick Orr Owner-Operator APL Pest Control/Creator of ILOVETURF.COM
APL Pest Control

Since 1995, Rick Orr has worked in Pinellas County providing turf management and pest control. Rick Orr is a graduate of VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology) and the creator of

Since graduating from VA Tech in 1979, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts, and large communities. Rick has obtained certifications in arboriculture, landscape contractor, and irrigation contractor, and taught Environmental Horticulture at St Petersburg College. 

Currently, Rick is the owner and operator of APL Pest Control. APL Pest Control provides lawn care and pest control for all of Pinellas County.

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