With the high risk of having weeds occurring in every yard and lawn, it is crucial to learn a thing or two about controlling weeds on lawn if you have one. Note that it rarely becomes a problem if you manage the site well.
You need to prepare the area properly and select the best turf grass before starting to plant to ensure that your new lawn will begin healthily. Once you have established a healthy lawn, you must stop doing poor practices that may only weaken it and cause weeds to invade.
These poor maintenance practices are improper and incorrect irrigation, mowing, and fertilization. Learning how to control weeds is crucial so you will know exactly what to do when it happens.
What are Lawn Weeds?
Lawn weeds are plants that invade specific parts of your home, specifically your lawn, where you do not wish them to grow. These plants are those that you do not cultivate intentionally. In other words, they just come out without you actively growing them.
The problem with these weeds is that they tend to have vigorous growth. They grow so vigorously that they overrun and outpace desirable plants. Weeds include flowers that grow unintentionally on your lawn or grasses that grow without your approval in flower beds.
You can expect weed seeds to appear in almost every garden or lawn. They also tend to spread in several ways. You can see them being dispersed by water, wind, low-quality grass seeds, equipment used in the garden or lawn, animals, and soil amendments.
Several weed seeds are capable of staying dormant for several years. The reason is that they need to reach the surface of the soil and obtain the right amount of moisture and sunlight before germinating seeds and starting to grow.
Types of Weeds
There are various classifications or types of weeds in your lawn. Among them are the following:
You can easily identify the existing broadleaf weeds because of their flat and broad leaves. They are also not like other weeds that are needle-like and grassy. A few examples of weeds that fall under the broadleaf plants category are dandelion, plantain, henbit, thistle, chickweed, oxalis, and creeping Charlie or ground ivy.
You can identify the grassy weeds as they grow and look similar to grass. Each leaf resembles grass, specifically a grass blade. Some examples of grassy weeds are annual bluegrass, foxtail, quack grass, and crabgrass.
These weeds also look a bit similar to grass but are also different in that the leaves are often hollow and tube-like or triangular. You will also notice that they are not flat, making them different from grass blades. A few examples of weeds in this category are wild garlic, nutsedge, and wild onion.
Another basic classification is the annual weeds. They are the ones that naturally produce and grow seeds in one year. Annuals also die within just a year, though there are also a few weeds in this category that are capable of surviving up to two years, especially if they are in areas with warm climates. Generally, annual weeds are recognized for being the easiest to control and kill.
Based on its name, you can expect the biennials to live and survive for two years. Biennials can be expected to dedicate the first year of their life to vegetation development. In their second year, you will notice them developing flowers and seeds.
As for the perennial weeds, they are the ones that are capable of living from one growing season to another. Perennial grassy weeds also can produce and develop seeds annually.
The Most Common Weed Seeds and Lawn Weeds to Deal With
There are also specific names of lawn weeds and weed seeds that you will encounter. More than thirty types of weeds invade anyone’s lawn, in addition to their major classifications and types mentioned earlier.
Most of these weeds can actively grow in USDA zones 2 to 12. The most common names of weeds you will most likely encounter are:
- Creeping Charlie – This is an annoying lawn weed with clusters of purple flowers and scalloped leaves. This invasive creeping plant also tends to bloom in the early spring.
- Dandelion – This common weed comes with yellow flowers. It also features irregularly lobed, lance-shaped, and narrow leaves.
- Crab grass – This unwanted annual weed resembles a clump of grass, which is why it can make any lawn appear bumpy, untidy, and unkempt.
- Quack grass – This is one of the most persistent weeds you can find in your lawn or garden. The quack grass can be recognized for its creeping and rapid growth that is capable of destroying the look of a lawn fast.
- Oxalis – The oxalis falls under the classification of broadleaf perennial weeds. It frequently grows in gardens and lawns even if you do not desire its presence. You can identify this weedy plant with its yellow buttercup flowers and leaves that resemble that of a clover.
- Annual bluegrass – The annual bluegrass is one of those weedy grasses. It comes in the form of bright green and short weedy grasses. Expect it to grow short and thin grass when the early summer and spring come.
- Broadleaf plantain – This broadleaf weed comes with rosettes of huge leaves. You will also notice seed stalks topping them during the summer. You can deal with it by applying broadleaf herbicides during the fall or spring. It is also possible to kill broadleaf weeds using a dandelion fork.
- Ground ivy – The ground ivy is a weed featuring bright green leaves with lavender flowers topping them during summer and spring. It is possible to control it using a broadleaf herbicide. You may also hand-pull it.
Importance of Controlling Weeds on Lawn
Proper control of the weeds in your lawn or garden is necessary as it is vital for the area’s overall health. Just like other unwanted things, weeds can look for a weak spot in your lawn or garden to access it.
It could be due to thinning turf, a poor level of nutrients, or any other reason. Regardless of the cause or reason, it is crucial to determine this weed problem as early as possible to prevent the pesky lawn invaders from gaining a foothold.
It is also a requirement to properly control weeds as they are:
This means they do nothing except suck out the life from your lawn. You can classify them as energy vampires, which means that they tend to drain all the nutrients present in your lawn so they can thrive. All that will be left for the others would be an extremely overwhelmed and exhausted turf.
Unpleasant and messy to look at
Undeniably, weeds are unsightly. Weed invasion may cause your lawn to become messy and unattractive. It can also make it look untidy. Aside from causing a mess on your lawn, the weeds may also overrun your once clean and attractive flower beds.
It makes it challenging to work on your lawn
Once weeds overrun your lawn or garden, you will have difficulty working in it. You will notice that managing your garden requires more time and energy than before. You may even experience a lot of frustration harvesting plants with weeds around.
Another reason you should take weeds under control is that they carry a lot of diseases. Their invasion can result in a disease outbreak that may hamper your healthy lawn or garden.
Weeds are also known for being aggressive growers, so there is a high chance that they will rapidly spread over your garden. This can lead to the quick spread of the disease they carry on your lawn. In addition, pests will also most likely hide beneath the weeds’ shade, further ruining your garden.
Some weeds trigger human health problems. Among them are the perennial ryegrass, parthenium weed, privet, and ragweed that may cause one to develop asthma and other issues in the respiratory system.
How to Get Rid of Weeds?
Now that you know the negative effects of weeds on your lawn or garden, it is time to learn some of the best ways to eliminate them. How can you control weeds and keep your lawn and garden free of them? Here are the common solutions:
Promote desirable plants
When planning to eliminate weeds, a vital element would be promoting the ideal environment to help grow the most desirable vegetation. It is crucial to deal with various garden and lawn conditions that may discourage desirable plants from actively growing that may also result in the potential increase in weed development.
Among these conditions are:
- Inappropriate and incorrect watering
- Soil compaction
- Improper fertilization
- Insect damage
- Poor drainage
- Excessive wear on your garden or lawn
- Inadequate sunlight
To minimize these problems in your lawn, it is advisable to mow grass at the correct height. Avoid mowing too short as it may cause even your healthy grass to be incapable of shading soil from the sun. This may further result in weed germination.
You can prevent weeds from developing and sprouting if you exert an effort in caring for your lawn and growing it healthily through adequate watering and proper mowing. In that case, hand-weeding is one of the best solutions for dealing with weeds in a small lawn.
It tends to work well in getting rid of annual broadleaf weeds. You should pull these weeds while they are still young, specifically before they get the chance to develop flowers and seeds. Doing so will help ensure that they will not spread that fast.
You also need to catch perennial weeds as early as possible. For instance, when dealing with dandelions, you have to catch and get rid of them early since they can develop taproots. When that happens, you will have an even more difficult time pulling them once they reach maturity.
When hand-weeding, it is necessary to hank the whole plant, even its roots. You should not leave any pieces of root underground. If there are remaining root pieces, they may trigger the growth and development of new plants.
If the weeds start actively growing new sprouts, make it a point to pull them right away and repeatedly. This should help you starve and kill weeds.
One more thing you should remember about hand-weeding to kill weeds is that it is easier to do when you have moist soil. You can also use tools for this method, such as the dandelion digger, which can probe deeply into the ground or soil, allowing you to reach the roots.
Once you have already removed the weeds, make sure to reseed any bare area right away. This will prevent new weeds from filling in.
Herbicides are also effective for weed control, though it is advisable to use them only as your last resort. This means that these weed control solutions should only be used if the natural methods for killing weeds do not work or when you notice your lawn being fully overrun by the weeds.
When using herbicides, make it a point to carefully follow their directions. The incorrect use of these weed control products may only lead to you killing or injuring the turf and the beneficial and desirable plants.
Also, when planning to use herbicides for weed control, pick one with a label stating that it is safe for use on the kind of turf you intend to grow. It should also be proven effective in fighting the weeds in your garden.
Make sure to check the label for information regarding the perfect time and conditions to utilize this weed control product. The reason is that while some herbicides only work within a specific temperature range, others only tend to work effectively if you apply them at a certain time of the year.
You also have to familiarize yourself with the major categories of herbicides. That way, you can pick one that can truly help you control and kill weeds. In this case, you can find herbicides based on their primary categories. Pick the perfect weed killers from these categories and classifications based on how you intend to handle and manage weeds.
- Systemic herbicides – These are weed killers that can penetrate the entire plant via the leaves and roots. They also tend to move and spread throughout the inner parts of the plant.
- Contact herbicides – Contact herbicides are also great choices as they can kill lawn weeds from the outside and inside. You can expect them to attack the plant’s exposed parts. With that in mind, contact herbicides are truly effective in killing weeds by making them incapable of feeding themselves.
Based on the two categories, you can also classify herbicides as either non-selective or selective. Both selective and nonselective herbicides kill various types of weeds with strong and effective formulations.
Pick a type or classification based on the goal you intend to accomplish. You also have to choose a weed killer based on the location of the weeds – whether they are close to desirable plants or not.
By applying a selective herbicide based on the exact directions of the manufacturer, you can expect them to kill only specific plants. One example of this herbicide is the lawn weed killer specifically made to remove broadleaf weeds.
This particular product can help eliminate weeds without the risk of killing your established lawn, the one where the weeds grow. Note, though, that this herbicide is still prone to getting sewn and young grass. The reason is that it still did not get the chance to be fully established.
As for the nonselective herbicides, you can see them being made in a way that they can kill all plants they encounter without any discretion. This means all plants that come across this herbicide will risk dying.
For instance, if you apply this nonselective herbicide to a clover you are actively growing in your garden, the product will kill it. The good news is that it will also kill weeds and unwanted lawn grasses it comes with. This particular capability is why this herbicide is an effective grass and weed killer.
You will be able to find the nonselective herbicide even more useful if you prepare a spot for planting or at any time you wish to establish or create a new lawn. Using this herbicide, every living vegetation, particularly plants classified as problematic, can be eliminated. This can give you a clean slate where you can work.
In addition to the already mentioned classifications, herbicides may also fall under the post-emergent and pre-emergent types. This classification is based on the timing of applying the product. Apply it too early or too late, which may result in wasting the herbicide and your time and effort.
The post-emergent herbicides refer to those that can attack and fight growing and established weeds. One example of this herbicide works effectively as a crabgrass killer. Post-emergent herbicides are useful upon seeing the weed sprouting in your garden or lawn.
Every contact weed killer you can find in the market falls under the post-emergent type. It would be ideal to use this herbicide later during the growing season. This is specifically after the weeds have already become established before they go to seed.
The pre-emergent herbicides refer to chemical weed killers you must apply to the weeds you target before germinating. This makes them effective as a preventive weed control solution.
An example of a pre-emergent herbicide is the crabgrass preventer. One advantage of the pre-emergent herbicide is that it can form a chemical barrier without killing established plants while effectively preventing the successful growth of weeds.
One important thing to note, though, when using this herbicide is that the protective barrier it forms tends to break down within 6 to 8 weeks. This makes proper timing necessary in using the pre-emergent herbicide. It is crucial to apply it early in the season.
Another important consideration is the pre-emergent solution’s ability or tendency to damage a few desirable turf grasses and ornamental plants. You can prevent such damage by ensuring that you read and strictly follow the instructions when using it.
Use Weed and Feed Products
You may also find weed and feed products useful for effective weed control. These solutions for weed control are available in liquid and granule forms. The products also contain a weed killer and lawn fertilizer in one.
Such elements are made so that they will be released at the appropriate times. To get the ideal weed and feed product suitable for your lawn or garden, read the label and the packaging thoroughly. Take note of the weeds it treats and the specific grass it is designed for.
Make sure to read and research the perfect time for application, too. Ensure that you stick to it and follow the instructions for use.
Use a Weeder
You may also want to use a weeder to pry the weeds. Although it is not a standard process for weed control, businesses and households with controllable turfs still make it a point to use it.
This method involves pushing down the handle of the weeder as you yank the turf upward with the other hand. The handheld weeder features a fulcrum, which allows you to leverage the movements and flow of the unit.
Digging deeper into the soil may also be necessary for removing weeds that have roots, particularly those deeply anchored to the ground.
Apply the Scuffle Hoes
A scuffle hoe may be quite labor-intensive and demanding to use on your lawn, but it does the job effectively. This tool works by cutting through your target weed’s roots. In most cases, the scuffle hoe features adjustable cut depths, which makes it possible to adjust the tool so it can cut almost all types and sizes of weeds.
Note, though, that the scuffle hoe is not the ideal tool for controlling weeds if the one you are targeting has rooted again into the soil. It may not also be that effective for weeds that have already developed underground components.
Eliminating Weeds in Grass
The best way to handle weeds in the grass would be to ensure that your lawn remains thick and healthy. Note that cool-season grasses, bluegrass, tall fescue, and ryegrass tend to survive in moderate temperatures and above freezing (around 40 to 85 degrees F).
As for warm-season grasses, you can deliver them to perform and survive well in warm environments, like those around 60 to 95 degrees F. These types of grass tend to attract various weeds depending on regional and environmental challenges.
To deal with them, follow the right mowing height. This should help prevent weed germination, so they won’t get established in household lawns. The ideal mowing height for grasses that thrive in cool seasons is around 2 and ½ to 4 inches.
On the other hand, warm-season grass can be expected to grow at mowing heights of around 1 to 3 inches.
Additional Tips for Controlling Weeds
To guide you even further in fighting weeds, you may want to follow these additional tips:
- Determine the type of weed – You need to find out if you are dealing with grass-like, broadleaf weeds, or any other type of weeds. This way, you can choose the best products to fight them.
- Pick the right treatment – As much as possible, choose natural solutions and herbicides capable of treating weed problems. Ensure that the chosen treatment is suitable for the right kind of grass or weed.
- Strictly follow directions – If you plan to treat your lawn with the aid of a product, ensure that you follow the directions closely. Also, regardless of your chosen treatment, you must apply it when the soil temperatures are 45 to 90 degrees F with minimal to no wind. There should also be less chance of rain.
- Care for your lawn properly – It is also crucial to give it proper care and maintenance. Among the things you can do are watering deeply and mowing higher to prevent dealing with compacted soil or extremely low grass.
Doing these steps can prevent the growth of weeds in the future and ensure that the weed treatments will be longer-lasting.
Using the right steps, products, and techniques is the key to controlling weeds on the lawn. As much as possible, try to prevent the development of weed problems before they become a huge problem. This means tackling them as early as possible.
In this case, you may want to give your lawn pre-emergent weed care. Give this to the area every 6 to 8 weeks to ensure that weeds will not emerge, thereby keeping your lawn under control. This can help you grow a lush and green lawn or garden without weeds.