The welcome arrival of spring heralds the end of a long winter. The ushering of warmer weather gives way to the first flush of grass growth and a helping hand to its unwelcome neighbour, the 'weed'.
Mark De'Ath, Operations Director for Headland Amenity Limited, goes into details of how to combat them.
Springtime over the last few years, in most parts of the UK, has been relatively dry. However, last year's cold and snowy weather (the second coldest on record!), meant that the application of early weed control started later than normal.
Contrast this with the early drought we saw in 2012 that then gave way to torrents of rain in early April, you can see that there is no 'right' time to commence selective Spring herbicide treatments.
Decisions to apply or not can only be made in accordance with observed current weather conditions rather than the calendar.
Weeds in turf appear at different times of the spring. They don't all come at once and a number of weed species will not have emerged at the start of Spring, so too early an application could mean extra applications later on in the year.
Those weeds that may appear by early March usually comprise of slow growing, over-wintering species and make good control difficult. When weeds such as daisies, dandelions and plantains appear, they are generally well controlled by the use of a broad spectrum, selective herbicide such as Headland Relay Turf.
Another early weed, Slender Speedwell, will require a more specialist herbicide such as Cabadex.
Usually, by early May, the old favourites such as White Clover, Trefoils and Yellow Suckling Clover emerge. At this time, weeds are at their broadest range and, therefore, it becomes one of the best times to control them. They are growing rapidly and the applied herbicide will be strongly taken up.
To ensure you get the best possible weed control, you want to have everything on your side - correct timing is as important as ensuring the correct water spray volume is used (consult the product label).
Too low a water volume may not only be illegal, but will give inadequate spray coverage of the target weeds. Spraying at higher water volumes will help when weeds are large, but get it too high and the water volume can cause spray run-off and give poor weed control.
It is as important to make sure your spray equipment is maintained in good order. Use the winter period to get it serviced, or check the unit over yourself and make any repairs.
The spray nozzles should be regularly calibrated and checked for wear, replace them if required as new nozzles can save a lot of money on herbicide.
Much of the water in the UK is hard and contains calcium, magnesium and bicarbonate ions. These are known to react with a number of herbicides making them less available and therefore less effective.
Use of a water conditioner, such as Transport Ultra, will help lock up these ions to prevent reaction with the herbicide.
And you need all the extra help you can get with difficult to control weeds such as Speedwells and Yellow Suckling Clover.
Transport Ultra added to the spray tank is a relatively low cost conditioner that will give you that extra edge at a low cost per treated area.
At the same time as treating weeds, the grass could be given a feed as well.
There are a number of liquid and water soluble fertilisers that can be mixed with selective herbicides to provide a weed and feed, '2 in 1', treatment that will save on labour, water and fuel.