Trying A Blue Spray Pattern Indicator - With Creeping Charlie Spray
Out in the backyard, we have what I'd call a real work-in-progress when it comes to the lawn. Well...a work-in-progress when it comes to everything back there including the landscaping and trees and mulch and what-have-you. But this post is about the lawn in particular. The past two seasons, I've done what I'd call the minimum in terms of working the lawn. I put down a synthetic crabgrass preventer with early feed, a weed and feed and a Summer feed. I also put down a synthetic grub treatment and last season put down an organic insect killer that was supposed to treat for ticks and ants and other things. But, I mostly left the weeding to chance.
When we moved in, we sodded about the first 100' of grass, then seeded the next 50 or so feet and left the balance to just be how it was. There were plenty of weeds, crabgrass and clover back there. The problem with weeds in the lawn is that they don't just stay in place. They colonize! They grow. They move and take over.
This year, with a more proactive posture towards the lawn, I started to take a few new steps. First, I started to consult soil temperatures and tried putting down a pre-emergent that didn't have any lawn food in it. Then, I went out and picked up a few bags of Milorganite - an organic fertilizer. That's what the Lawn Care Nut uses.
And most recently, I took a stand against the Wild Onion in our yard and started to yank it out one spade-full by one spade-full of dirt and bulbs.
This week, I took on a new enemy: Creeping Charlie. If you have a lawn, you know this pesky enemy. It is a ground vine that grows and grows. According to this piece, if you have just a little bit, you can yank it out. But who has just a little Creeping Charlie, right? The way to get rid of A LOT of Creeping Charlie is through the use of herbicides.
If you are not opposed to using chemicals on your lawn, there are herbicides that will kill creeping Charlie. Look for a broadleaf herbicide that contains the chemical triclopyr or dicamba.
Proper timing is the key if you want to kill creeping Charlie with herbicides. Creeping Charlie is most susceptible to herbicides when it is flowering and when it is preparing to go dormant in the fall. Make an attack on your creeping Charlie in the fall, right around the time the first frost is expected, or right after the first frost.
If treated at this time, the plant will store the herbicide, making it even more effective. Then in the spring while the creeping Charlie is flowering, hit it again with herbicide.I don't love the use of synthetic herbicides in the yard because of the kids running around back there. But, there aren't any viable organic options that would do the job. The one that seems to come up over and over is this Weed B Gon Chickweed, Clover and Oxalis Killer for Lawns. If you look on the Ortho site, the product listing also includes this little nugget:
On the actual product page (here), there's no actual mention of Wild Onion. Instead it lists the weeds that it addresses and Wild Onion isn't listed. It claims to treat:
Unless Wild Onion is classified under one of those, I'm not sure the claims match.
But...that's ok. The Wild Onion treatment is simply a bonus. If the stuff works on Creeping Charlie.
Back to my lawn situation. If you read through the timing, the experts out on the Web said to spray when the Creeping Charlie (oh...I also have Wild Violets, so this works for them, too!) is growing and flowering. It mentions both the Spring and the Fall. Welp...the stuff is kind of flowering now, and I didn't want to let it grow any larger/take over more lawn, so the time was now to attack it.
I bought a bottle of concentrate and took out my herbicide sprayer. I've sprayed a little bit before in our old house and one of the things that bothered me was that I could never figure out what my coverage looked like in terms of the right amount and if I hit everything I wanted to hit.
In my deep-dive into the Lawn Care Crazyperson Community (I think that's what it is officially called - and I'm now a Pledge in the Spring 2019 Pledge Class there), I came across the idea of a spray pattern indicator product.
At my favorite place in the world Menards, it turns out they carry such a product. They sell Liquid Harvest Lazer Blue Spray Pattern Indicator in 8 ounce bottles for $5. You can also get it from this Amazon Affiliate Link for a few bucks more. The bottle indicates that you should get 16 gallons of spray out of the 8 ounce bottle. That means that for my two gallon sprayer, I am supposed to put in about one ounce of the blue dye.
I have to say: this stuff is really neat. Yes, it is super messy and you need to wear gloves. Not to mention dealing with the dye when you are outside only. It *will* get all over you and your clothes.
I grabbed my Creeping Charlie Weed B Gon, my sprayer and this little bottle of Lazer. I mixed up the cocktail and went to work. I think I went a little too heavy on the blue dye because I ended up only making 8 gallons of the stuff and went through about 2/3rds of the Lazer, but that's just fine because I wanted to see how it would work.
Once dried, the blue dye is supposed to fade in the Sun in just a few hours. In most spots, it did. In a few others where I applied liberally, it stayed for about 24 hours.
I wanted to see what things looked like from above, so I went up to our second floor and shot this photo through the window (and screens). You can see in the photo below the *darker* area in the middle-left of the photo? That's where I applied the blue dye. And the Creeping Charlie herbicide.
And go back up and scroll all the way to the top of this post. That's a closeup of the blue spray pattern indicator on top of the Creeping Charlie. You can really tell where you sprayed and how much you sprayed and that provides more than peace-of-mind. I think it gets me much closer to ensuring that I'm attacking the Creeping Charlie as best I can using the tools I have.
48 hours after I hit the Creeping Charlie with the spray, the blue has faded. And the Creeping Charlie looks different. It almost sticks out from the lawn a little bit. I think I injured it. Killed it in some spots. But mostly injured it.
The product listing claims that I should try to reapply in 2-3 weeks. I'm hoping that will be the knockout punch. The first application wounded it and made it more vulnerable to application number two.
With the Lazer Blue Spray Pattern Indicator, I'll know that I hit every patch of the stuff. Go get yourself some from Amazon or Menards.
(BTW...in neither the original yard to-do list for 2019 nor the addendum did I address the idea of getting 'serious' with the lawn back there. I'm thinking that when I make the update to the addendum, I should include the lawn work and claim credit for it, right?