Spring Weeds

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 2 September 2020 

After a dry Autumn and a relatively wet and cold winter, weeds are out in full force this Spring. So what can you expect by way of weeds as the seasons change?

In the comming weeks, you can expect weeds like winter grass and soursob to disappear by themselves whithout you having to do anything simply because they are annual weeds and only grow when soil temperatures are cold.  In their place, you'll most likely see a new group of weeds emerge and most of them will be broad leaf weeds. 

How do you identify the weed types you have?

Sometimes it isn't easy to identify the exact type of weeds you have. Even if you know what they look like when they are mature, they often look quite different when they are juvenile. Fortunately when it comes to controlling weeds in home lawns, it isn't as important to know the exact weed you have as it is to know the group it came from. This is because the selective herbicides you buy to control them will target a specific group rather than just one weed. Essentially there are three groups of weeds, those being boadleaf, summer grasses and winter grasses. The one at hand right now is the broadleaf group. 

Broadleaf weeds:

This group is characterised by the presence of leaves as opposed to blades. It includes weeds like clover, bur-medic, doc, dandelion, creeping oxalis, bindie eye, chick weed  and the like. Some of these weeds are easy to control such as dandelion and chic weed and others are not such as creeping oxalis, clover and bur-medic. 

How do you control weeds in lawn?

Weed control can be approached using organic methods or chemical control. For more information on organic methods, click through to my blog on Chemical free weed control. The alternative way, and the one I'll address in this blog is by way of selective herbicides. There are many herbicides that will selectively control weeds in lawn. The type you choose and the methods you employ depend on the lawn you are spraying and the weeds you are targeting. Typically, there are herbicides for winter grasses, summer grasses and broad leaf weeds, each of them registered to selectively kill weeds without killing your lawn. 

Choosing the right chemical

It is important to apply the right chemical. If you choose the wrong one, it won’t target the weeds you are trying to kill. Worse still, it may be toxic to the lawn variety you have. Some lawns (such as buffalo) are more sensitive to chemicals than others so make sure you do your research. Have a look at the table below for some help getting this right.  Avoid buying chemicals with an active ingredient called Dicamba. It’s a common ingredient in broad leaf selective herbicides but can be very damaging to your garden’s ecosystem.


Weeds Controlled

Which Lawn?

Control type


Broadleaf weeds such as Clover, creeping oxalis, medic, thistle etc.

Couch, Kikuyu, Buffalo, Tall Fescue, Ryegrass

Post Emergent

Wintergrass Killer


Couch, Buffalo

Post Emergent

Paspalum Kill

 Crabgrass, Nutgrass, Summer Grass, etc.


Post Emergent

Pendi Pro

 Wintergrass, Summer grass and Crabgrass

Kikuyu, Couch, Ryegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Bent grass, 


Pre-Emergent (Kills the Seeds)


Winter grass

Couch, Kikuyu and buffalo


Always apply chemicals exactly as per the directions on the label. Avoid the temptation to make your spray mix stronger by adding extra chemical. It won’t make it work better and will most likely damage your lawn in the process. My last tip here is to apply a small amount of wetting agent to your mix just before putting the lid on your sprayer. This will help break the surface tension of the spray droplets which will result in better contact with the leaf of the weed. It will also help stick the chemical on for longer.

What if they simply won’t die?

We often hear of people who have used selective herbicides and gotten poor results. There can be many reasons for this. Following are some tips to ensure best results:

  • Ensure you have the right chemical for the job
  • Make sure you apply the chemical at the right rate. Stronger is not better!
  • Don’t apply when there is going to be rain or dew within 12 hours
  • Pick a warmer day rather than a cold one
  • Spray the whole lawn rather than spot spraying – It’s easy to miss weeds when you spot spray
  • Use a concentrate and mix it with water in your own sprayer rather than using a weed and feed type applicator. Hose on applicators don’t do a very good job at applying the chemical at the right rate.
  • Be prepared to spray a number of times rather than just once as there are many types of weeds that take a number of applications to achieve control. For example. mature weeds are harder to kill than seedling weeds and creeping weeds (like creeping oxalis) are very persistent.   In these instances, a programmed and repetitive approach is required. Be prepared to spray 3-4 weekly until the weeds die. Some weeds can take a few seasons to knock them out completely. 

What if they keep coming back?

Some weeds are easy to kill but they are hard to stop coming back. This is because weeds have a nasty habit of dropping their seeds into your soil. As you kill the weeds, more weed seeds germinate making it look like you’re losing the battle. Persistence is the key. Keep spraying on a 3-4 week cycle until the weeds disappear. 



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