We all want to enjoy a healthy, lush, green lawn, however there are times when uninvited guests, such as lawn weeds, can ruin this beauty and will try to dominate your lawn. Remember that without your help, these unwanted and opportunistic guests always win!
Weeds are plants that are out of place or are unintentionally grown. There are approximately 8,000 species of weeds worldwide which makes it impossible to keep them at bay. Weeds can attack even a well-tended lawn and can become rampant which results in a huge problem if measures are not taken to stop them.
Different kinds of weeds
Annual weeds may die in a season but will leave seeds behind to continue the legacy while perennial weeds come back year after year from their roots and distribute new seeds to start up. These invasive weeds steal water and essential nutrients from the soil that your grass could be receiving, and their less-than-lovely heads distract from the beauty of your lawn. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent these plants from growing or to get rid of existing weeds and help prevent regrowth.
The best way to get rid of weeds is to prevent them from growing. Maintaining your healthy lawn and using pre-emergent herbicide will help you with this.
Maintaining a healthy lawn
Having healthy grass in your lawn is the best weed killer. Low-mowed grass, compacted and infertile soil, and undernourished turf can all create perfect opportunities for weeds to grow. Just like your beloved grass, weeds need sunlight to germinate.
Different types of grass have ideal heights for strong growth. Grass cut in a short height allows sunlight in for weeds to sprout. Taller grass shades the ground, keeping the soil cooler, and impedes lawn weed seed germination, and shades out any newly deposited weed seed. In the case that the weed seeds already sprouted, longer grass screens so they don’t have as much sunlight as they need for hardy growth.
Compacted and infertile soil combined with overwatering or underwatering lead to weak and undernourished turf. Lawns with sufficient moisture will develop deep and drought-resistant root systems which help your grass to thrive. Appropriate watering is a must!
Fertilization, overseeding, aeration, and dethatching activities may be needed to promote your best lawn possible. Healthy and thick grass can out-compete the weeds and even hinder weed seed germination.
When applying weed control herbicide, timing is everything. It will also depend on what type of grass you have and the type of weed you want to control. You can pick a pre-emergent and post-emergent herbicide with a broad label and confirm that your grass type is on the label to avoid killing your lawn.
Pre-emergent herbicide soaks down a couple of inches into the soil and creates a protective barrier so when the weed seed begins to germinate, it hits the chemical barrier. This herbicide then disrupts cell division in young plants which will eventually kill them.
As mentioned above, timing is everything. You will need to apply this herbicide before the soil temperature starts to reach 55 degrees and before the weed emerges or starts to grow.
Keep in mind that this will also include your grass seed, so do not to use pre-emergent when you are seeding or overseeding, these two don’t go together. Dithiopyr is a recommended pre-emergent herbicide for its early post-emergent activity.
This herbicide is used to kill weeds after they have germinated or have already grown. The chemical is applied to be absorbed by the plant to completely destroy its entire structure or by destroying the leaves and stem of a weed so that it cannot continue to photosynthesize. This herbicide is applied when the soil temperature has been above 55 degrees and weeds are actively growing above the ground.
If you have decided to use herbicides, always read and follow the label instructions completely. Again, identify the type of weed you want to get rid of and use the herbicide that has your type of grass on the label.
When you are done applying your pre-emergent or granular post-emergent, make sure to water your lawn to get the herbicide down to the soil. Do otherwise if you chose to spray so the chemical won’t be washed out.
Wait at least two days after applying before watering and mowing. Another thing to remember is that the effect of using herbicide won’t happen overnight, it might take days or weeks. Patience is a virtue.
Hand pulling weeds
This is also one of the best, yet toughest ways, to get rid of weeds in grass. Tug them out yourself! Just be advised that for this to be effective, you need to pull out the plant with its roots to prevent regrowth.
Most of the weeds in grass look like they are covering a lot of area when in fact, it is just one weed that spread out, so you can pull one root and take a big chunk of weed. It is recommended to hand-pull weeds after you water your lawn or a rain shower, because when the ground is dry, you’ll likely snap off the weed above the root which will cause regrowth. Moreover, the whole weed is more likely to come out by the roots when the soil is moist.
All you have to do is just reach into the ground and if you feel that the root is pretty tight on the ground, loosen up the soil around it. Dig out the soil around the root ball with a knife or a screwdriver then gently pull the weed. Do your best to take as much of the roots as possible. For weeds with shallow roots, you can just hold the plant by its stem and pull it gently.
If hand pulling weeds left your lawn with a bare spot, add a fertile topsoil on it and overseed the area. As discussed earlier, thick and healthy grass can out-compete weeds.
Non-toxic weed control
There are also non-toxic ways to get rid of weeds in your grass like using vinegar with five percent or more concentration, rock salt, or boiling water. However, aside from the fact that these methods take a bit of time to become effective, they should also be done directly to the unwanted plant. These methods will not only kill your prized grass, but will also destroy the quality of the soil and can become inhospitable for future growth in that area.
These are best done to kill the the weeds or unwanted grass that come up between patio bricks or blocks where you do not want any vegetation at all..
The measures mentioned will do a lot of the work in warding off weeds in your lawn, however, it is good to remember that the best form of weed control is a thick, healthy and well-fed lawn so keep your yard healthy through proper watering, fertilizing, mowing and aeration.