Historically the month of May marks the start of South Florida’s “rainy season” and if you were able to speak to my lawn about it, the turf would say that it is dying for the afternoon thunderstorms to begin their daily deluges.
It amazes me that even though my St. Augustine grass could be mistaken for toast, the weeds are not bothered by the lack of precipitation. One of the weeds in particular, Desmodium incanum, known as Creeping Beggarweed or Spanish Clover/Tick-Trefoil is a major annoyance. If you have pets that go outside or if you walk around your yard, you know about the Creeping Beggarweed seeds and the hassle involved in picking these Tag-A-Longs off your pants or brushing them out of the fur of family pets.
Desmodium incanum is a perennial weed with a large taproot and many long extensively branched runners which root at the nodes. The leaves contain 3 leaflets which vary in size but are generally elliptical and hairy. The stem is erect; flowers range in color from pink to deep rose but are often small and inconspicuous. The fruit forms with six or eight rounded segments which when ripe break off easily from the plant and due to tiny Velcro-like hairs -- stick tenaciously to any rough surface such as socks and animal hair. Reproduction of Spanish clover can occur by seed, stolons, and broken taproots which make this a very difficult weed to control in the lawn. Using an herbicide for broadleaf weeds may be useful to control this aggravating weed, but be careful to read the label and follow instructions. It is important to find an herbicide that will not damage your lawn grass.
I mowed my lawn this weekend because the Tag-A-Long seeds were driving me and my Rough-haired Doxie crazy. Cutting the grass was a terribly uncomfortable job. The lawn was so dry that the lawnmower was throwing out clouds of dust -- so much of it that I imagined that this is what it must feel like be in an Sahara dust storm. I should have worn a cloth over my face to protect myself from breathing so much dust, but was worried that the neighbors might think I was Al Qaeda and call the law on me. So, instead I will sit here for the next few hours sneezing my head off and blowing odd dark colored brown stuff out of my nose. Yuck!
According to the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), we are in a record-breaking dry season. If collaborating evidence is required, check out the U.S. Drought Monitor map. If you need more data, click over to the Keetch-Byram drought index (KBDI). KBDI basically estimates the dryness of the soil. The index increases for each day without rain (the amount of increase depends on the daily high temperature) and decreases when it rains. The scale ranges from 0 (no moisture deficit) to 800.
Now if you live under the management of the SFWMD and your grass looks better than mine does – you are cheating! Check out the Water Shortage Restrictions and adjust your irrigation accordingly. I would sure hate to call the “water police” on you. ;-)
Learn more about gardening in the month of May in South Florida at May in the Florida Garden.