Foxtails are grass-type weeds that have bushy flower heads, which fascinate birds and children. The broad leafy blades of these weeds stand out among the turf and finer grasses long before their flowering plume appear. They only live for a year, but high seed production may make them come back. Many species of foxtails shed their seeds in the fall and germinate in the spring. However, some seeds germinate once they hit the ground. In sunny, the foxtail outweighs the number of weaker plants. For instance, a foxtail plant may yield thousands of seeds in one summer.
Foxtails are found in disturbed building sites, ditches, farmland, roadsides, and where natural soil has been disturbed. Not only do they harm lawn owners, but also they can be dangerous to animals that come into their contact, as the hairs and spikes can get into their ear canals and nostrils. This can be very disturbing to the animals, which in the worst case can lead to death. If you find foxtails growing on the lawn, there are ways to get rid of them. By following the step-by-step instructions and using professional advice, you can quickly and inexpensively remove foxtail from the lawn.
How To Get Rid Of Foxtails
a) Use Glyphosate or Comparable Products
Foliar fertilizers do not work against foxtails because they are grasses. If you need to use the chemical control method, you need to look for herbicides, killing grasses. The ready type is the chemical known as glyphosate.
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, which kills almost anything in that area where it is used. For the best results, spray glyphosate over the whole area. While other plants are prone to dying, this is the fastest and most efficient way to get rid of foxtail.
b) Apply several times
You can use the herbicide at least 2 to 3 times before you wipe the foxtail entirely. Wait for the foxtail to reappear before using any other application. Then wait up to two weeks before applying the herbicide again, primarily if you use a strong product like glyphosate.
c) Combine Organic Herbicides and Chemical Herbicides
Since chemical herbicides can solve many problems, relying on particular organic control methods between applications can help get rid of foxtails faster than usual. Apply the herbicide for 7 to 10 days, then turn to the dead plant residues. If you are planning to fix the soil, do it now.
2. Organic way
a) Turn the soil
You need to dig and turn under the foxtails, place the plants underground, and pack them in a dark and hot environment. This can inhibit growth and assist in getting rid of these grasses. Work in the moonlight, at dusk or dawn. Turning the soil over is supposed to expose the foxtails to a powerful flash of light, thus stimulating the plants and making them grow faster. Also, turning the ground at night rather than during the day can help to reduce this effect by 78%.
b) Pull up or dig the weeds
You can pull up or dip the weeds one at a time and dispose of them elsewhere outside the contaminated area. Remove the whole plant, including the roots. First, remove the seed heads to stop them from repopulating or spreading in the place with more foxtails. After that, you need to dig under the plants to reach the long roots using the slender weeding tool.
You can easily remove weeds during the wet period, and when the weeds are young, foxtails are not exempted. Remove the foxtails from their base by pulling. This means you need to wear thick garden gloves to protect your hands when working. You can try a weed wacker or mower to cut off the flower heads and tops of the foxtails. However, it is necessary to prune them consistently throughout the season as the plant can send out a second bloom throughout the summer.
If you decide to use a weed wacker or mower, be sure to clean the blades afterward to prevent any accidental foxtail seed propagation. Also, you should rake the grass to remove the buds. By following these steps, you will increase your chances of getting rid of the foxtail with just a surface mowing.
c) Apply vinegar
Given that you like the effectiveness of herbicides but don't want to use dangerous chemicals on the foxtails, you can apply vinegar. Vinegar is a relatively tame and natural acid, but it is known to remove foxtails effectively. The usual USDA-approved vinegar contains 5% of acetic acid. It would be best if you poured it directly into the foxtails at the soil level. The main reason is to get close to the roots.
Use sufficient vinegar to wet the soil under the foxtails. It doesn't have to be soggy, though it is supposed to look wet. Wait for one to two weeks after the initial application and observe the effect. A dying or dead grass must be pulled immediately. The foxtail, which continues to grow even after using vinegar, must be soaked in a new spin. Reapply it if necessary. Note that vinegar tends towards being more effective when used on the foxtails at the early stage.
d) Use urine
Urine is a highly alkaline organic substance that can get rid of foxtails like the chemical herbicide. Since the ideal of spilling urine onto the lawn or other vegetation area can cause cringe, this can be effective as vinegar. You need to buy the predatory urine products, which are often used as repellants or deterrents against small garden pests, though they can be used for weed control.
A cheaper and more effective solution is to use human urine. This involves collecting the urine in the bucket and then pouring it directly into the foxtail's bottom, targeting direct contact with the roots. Like with other control methods, it may be necessary to use multiple urine applications or use organic herbicide combined with a physical eradication method. Remove the foxtail clumps with the garden hoe or by hand if you notice they are dying.
e) Use a mulch
If the foxtails are young enough, get rid of new growth quickly by covering them with mulch. Mulch helps to prevent air and sunlight from reaching the foxtails, depriving the essential nutrients and light needed for growth. These weeds need to be cut close to the soil before using mulch to get rid of them.
If you have other vegetation that you would like to prevent them from spreading, apply mulch between them and alongside the rows. Likewise, make sure it covers the foxtails. Organic mulch like wheat straw, wood chips, and shredded leaves work well. Apply approximately 5cm of mulch. Also, you can place a layer of wet black ink sheet directly under the mulch to increase its growth inhibition.
3. Future prevention
a) Try the pre-emergence herbicide
If you're okay with the chemical treatments, the pre-emergence herbicide can be used in the garden just before the new growth formation. This is crucial if you had problems with foxtails there before. There are some standard chemical alternatives, which include Dacthal, Pendimethalin, and Balan.
Try a corn gluten meal before making the organic pre-emergence herbicide. Spray the product after the new lawn starts to grow to inhibit foxtails and other vegetation from taking root. Please do not use it before beginning fresh grass because it can also impede the lawn growth of your choice.
Apply the pre-emergence herbicide in spring. However, if you use it very early, it can lose its effectiveness. For the best result, apply it as soon as the weather stays warm and warms up. Place it on the ground just before you expect the foxtails to pop up.
b) Monitor the soil pH
The soil must be fit for other crops. If the other crops blossom in the ground, they can absorb more nutrients, making it difficult for the foxtails to get enough nutrients for survival. The exact pH of the soil depends on the vegetation type found there. Fertilizers and other amendments from the ground used in the area can affect the pH level.
Keep in mind that these amendments tend to significantly affect pH if they're incorporated into the soil rather than dispersing to the surface. Herbicides can also affect pH. Usually, adding acid to the herbicide balances it with the alkaline substance and vice versa. Perform a pH analysis for the soil sample in the laboratory.
c) Fill the area with new growth
Once the land is overgrown, some plants will inevitably die as the roots start to compete for resources and nutrients. It is also possible to entirely replace grass with sod. When choosing crops to plant in a particular area, choose a resistant crop such as grass or legumes.
When planting other types of lawns in the area, you need to keep the lawns as lush, healthy, and dense as possible. Row crops like corn and soybeans provide plenty of ground space and do not effectively inhibit foxtail growth. Also, thick grass can be helpful against foxtail growth.
d) Trim the area
Regular trimming can keep your garden healthy, and this cannot promote the growth of foxtails. At the same time, it is crucial to keep the area trimmed and do not leave it exposed either. Keep the minimum height of the grass 5 to 7.6 cm.
Foxtails are weeds that are known for spreading in the pastures, backyards, and other grasslands. They spread when they get out of control quickly. The heads are full of seeds, which spread and grow when spread by air or carried by pets, wind, and people to new places in the garden. Although they may seem beautiful and harmless, these plants can cause serious health problems to pets. You can get rid of foxtails using chemical, organic, and preventative methods, but you should take precautionary measures to protect the place from future foxtail threats.