Few things are as frustrating as waging the battle against weeds. In its lifetime, a single dandelion plant can produce 15,000 seeds! This might make you wonder how anyone can win the battle against these pesky invaders.
Are weed-free lawns only the stuff of dreams? It might be a hard fight, but it turns out that you can tip the scales in your favour. All it takes is a little change to your maintenance schedule. Just follow these simple steps to get rid of weeds from your life and you’ll be well on the way to the lawn you desire in no time at all!
1. Use a Herbicide.
This is the usual approach taken to address extensive weed takeovers. Typically very effective if they are used properly, herbicides can eliminate weeds in just a few applications. But they must be used wisely.
Herbicides can be dangerous to people, pets, and even the lawn itself. If children (who are especially susceptible) will be playing on your lawn, we suggest another approach first. Cosmetic herbicide use, which is herbicide use on lawns as opposed to golf courses, soccer fields, and so on, has faced kickback in the last few years. This is largely due to its harsh impact on the local environment.
In fact, many municipalities have undertaken cosmetic herbicide bans. So, if you choose this method, make sure that herbicides can be legally applied in your area.
As well as risks to human health and the environment, herbicides have another downside. They do nothing to address the underlying issue: why are weeds invading your lawn in the first place? Believe it or not, you can take steps to make your lawn more weed resistant so that you can win the war against weeds in the long run.
2. Grow a thick lawn.
Dry, mangy, lawns are weed havens. A thick, healthy, lawn is the best way to control weeds. Dense turf crowds out weeds allowing their seeds no space or sunlight to grow. How do you grow a thick lawn? Find out below.
3. Change your watering schedule.
Watering your lawn will help your grass grow thick and full. But there is a wrong way to do it. Frequent watering encourages roots to stay close to the surface: why dig deeper when all the water you need is right there?
These thinner root structures are less capable of outcompeting weeds for precious water. Instead, they water infrequently and deeply. Whenever you water, be sure to really soak your lawn. This will encourage your grass to reach down in search of moisture.
You may live in an area where lawn watering is banned or restricted, temporarily or permanently. In this case, consider installing a rain barrel or two.
4. Choose grass seed for your area.
As part of the battle to grow a thick, weed resistant lawn, you will need to be conscious of the type of grass you are growing. Maybe your grass isn’t suited to your area. This might explain your weed problem.
If you live in a dry region, grow a drought-tolerant grass that needs less watering. If water is not an issue, plant a quick growing grass that will outcompete any neighbouring weeds.
5. Mow your lawn higher.
Another tactic in the quest for a thick lawn is to mow your lawn higher than you are right now. Choosing a higher cut setting for your lawn mower will leave grass thicker. This might mean more frequent mowing for you: but only a little more, we promise! Overall, it means less stress on your lawn. This allows your grass to shade out any weed seeds that might be lurking around, just waiting for a moment of weakness.
You can change the cutting head on most mowers by adjusting the height on the wheels. There is usually a lever near each wheel on a push mower. Riding mowers are a different story, however: follow your owner’s manual to see what you need to do.
As always, when working with lawnmowers or any power tool it is important to be careful. Make sure the mower is off before adjusting cutter height to be safe.
6. Fertilize as needed.
The last approach in creating a thick lawn is to fertilize. Too little fertilizer can be problematic. A sparse lawn will quickly lose the competition against weeds. But too much can also be a problem.
Over fertilizing can actually nurture certain weeds. Follow the application rates on the package you are using. Also, make sure to use a fertilizer with a high percentage of controlled-release nitrogen. This might include sulfur-coated urea, IBDU (1, I-Diueido Isobutane), or ureaform (which is a urea-formaldehyde blend). These ingredients will provide your lawn with a slow and steady supply of nutrients needed to grow good and thick.
How often and when you fertilize is also crucial to a healthy lawn. Both will vary depending on which type of grass you are growing and the length of your growing season.
For example, most northern lawns require one or two annual applications, one in fall and one in spring. Southern grasses, on the other hand, require three feedings: once in early/mid-spring just after the grass turns green, once in early summer, and once in early fall.
7. Pull the weeds.
Having a thick lawn will prevent future weed growth or undo minor weed problems. But moderate to severe weed issues will require you to address them first before your lawn can take care of itself.
If you opted against using a herbicide then you will need to remove the weeds mechanically. You can do this by hand if you wish but a hand tool will make this process much easier. A good, sharp hand weeder can be of real help. Remember, if you leave a part of the weed’s root in the ground, it will just grow back. You need to remove ALL of the weed, or your efforts are only temporary.
If you don’t want to bend over, there are many back-saving weeder options also available. A stand-up weeder is easy to use and, dare we say, fun. It’s amazing how quickly you can eat through weeds with a good quality mechanical weeder.
It’s a hard fought battle. But don’t lose heart. There really is a way to beat weeds so that they won’t come back. Sure, it will take a little work. But we’re here to help you plan your attack. Get out there. A weed free lawn is in your future.