You have spent all Spring getting your lawn into good shape after this brutal winter and you and your loved ones would now like to reap the benefits and spend a nice afternoon out using it. And there is nothing worse than being out on your pristine lawn and finding a big patch of Foxtails ruining your hard work. Foxtails are an invasive grass-type weed known to spread in yards, pastures, and other grassy areas. You can use both chemical and organic methods to get rid of foxtail, but you should also follow either one with preventative measures to protect the area against future foxtail threats.
Part 1 of 2: Chemical Herbicides
Use glyphosate or similar products. Broadleaf fertilizers will not work against foxtail since foxtail is a grass. If you want to use chemical control methods, you should look for an herbicide that can kill grasses. One of the most easily accessible types is a chemical called glyphosate.
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, so it will kill just about everything in the area you apply it in. For best results, spray the entire area with the glyphosate. Even though the other vegetation there will likely die, this is the quickest and most effective way of getting rid of fox tail.
Drexel Imitator Plus Glyphosate 1 Gallon Jug w/ 15% Surfactant
Harvest King/Chapin, Professional/Deluxe, 4 Gallon Backpack Poly Sprayer 61705
Apply several times. You will probably need to apply the herbicide two to three times, at minimum, before it wipes out the foxtail completely. Wait until after the foxtail reemerges before using another application.
You should wait until two weeks or so pass before re-applying the herbicide, especially if using a potent one like glyphosate.
Combine chemical herbicides with organic weed-control methods. While chemical herbicides can take care of the majority of the problem, enlisting the help of certain organic control methods can help in between applications, making the extermination process go quicker overall.
Seven to ten days after you apply the herbicide, turn under the dead plant residue. If you plan to amend the soil, do so now.
Part 2 of 2: Organic Solutions
Turn the soil. Dig under the foxtail and turn the plants under the soil, packing them down into the dark, hot conditions. Doing so can impede growth and help kill off this pesky grass.
Work by moonlight, at dawn, or at dusk. There is some speculation that turning the soil exposes the foxtail to a bright flash of light, thereby stimulating the plant and making it grow faster. If you turn the soil at night instead of during daylight hours, though, you can reduce this effect by as much as 78 percent.
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Pull or dig out the weeds. Alternatively, you could dig out the weeds one by one and dispose of them elsewhere, away from the contaminated area. Make sure that you remove the entire plant, including the roots, and not just the top portion.
- Remove the seed heads first to prevent them from spreading and repopulating the area with additional foxtail.
- After removing the seed heads, dig beneath the plants using a long, slender weeding tool to get at the long roots.
- Note that weeds are easier to pull when the soil is wet and the weeds are young. Foxtail is no exception to the rule.
- Pull the foxtail from its base if working by hand. Wear thick gardening gloves to protect your hands as you work.
- You could try using a mower or weed-wacker to cut off the tops and flowering heads of the foxtail. You will need to continually re-trim the foxtail throughout the season, though, since the plant will send up another flowering head as the summer progresses.
- If you do opt for the mower or weed-wacker option, make sure that you clean the blades afterward to prevent the accidental spread of foxtail seed. You should also rake the lawn to remove all the heads. Taking these additional steps will improve your chances of removing the foxtail with only a surface mowing.
Apply vinegar. If you like the ease and effectiveness of herbicides but do not like to use harsh chemicals on your vegetation, you can use vinegar instead. Vinegar is a natural and fairly tame acid, but it has been known to be effective in the removal of weed-type grasses like foxtail.
- A typical USDA-approved vinegar is five-percent acetic acid.
- Pour the vinegar directly onto the foxtail at the ground level. The basic idea is to get it as close to the roots as possible.
- Use enough vinegar to soak the soil beneath the foxtail. It does not need to be soggy, but it should be damp to the touch.
- Wait a week or two after the first application and monitor the effects. Dead or dying foxtail should be pulled as soon as possible. Foxtail that is still growing even after you use the vinegar should be soaked with another round.
- Reapply the vinegar as needed.
- Note that vinegar tends to be more effective when used on fox tail at the seedling state. It might not help quite as much on mature plants.
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Smother the area with mulch. If the foxtail is still fairly young, kill the new growth as soon as possible by covering it with some form of mulch. Mulch can prevent sunlight and air from reaching the foxtail, essentially depriving it of the nutrients and light necessary for growth.
- The foxtail will need to be trimmed close to the ground before you can apply mulch and use it as a way to get rid of the weed.
- If you have other plants and vegetation that you are trying to preserve, spread the mulch in between the plants and along the rows. Make sure that it covers the foxtail.
- Organic mulches like wheat straw, shredded leaves, and wood chips work well.
- Spread about 2 inches (5 cm) of mulch.
- You could also layer damp black-ink-only newsprint beneath the mulch to improve its ability to inhibit growth.
Premium Cypress Mulch 2 Cubic Feet