This time of year when the weather is warming up and we start experiencing our spring storms, we can easily notice weeds throughout the lawn. This is because weeds grow twice as fast as grass, especially after watering or a good rain.
Is your lawn a breeding ground for weeds?
Lawns weaken in the winter when they are in a dormant state. This allows weed seeds to germinate and take over weak areas as spring arrives. If soil conditions are not ideal, weeds can quickly begin starving the grass roots resulting in the grass dying and weeds multiplying.
When soil is compacted, the grass roots can’t breathe well or absorb water when needed. Therefore, it has difficulty growing and becomes weaker. This benefits weeds as they are able to absorb water and grow easier under these conditions.
So, how do you keep weeds from multiplying?
There are several ways that can keep your lawn weed free. Lawn preparation and continued routine maintenance will keep your lawn looking good this year. But how do you prepare?
Preparation begins in the fall with a pre-emergent treatment, aerating the lawn, and mowing to a correct height for winter.
- A pre-emergent treatment helps stop weed seeds from germinating over winter and as your lawn begins to wake up at the end of winter/start of spring. If adding grass seed to the lawn, wait 4-6 weeks before applying pre-emergent. Pre-emergent stops seed growth. Allow grass to establish first.
- Aerating your lawn loosens the compacted soil and allows your grass roots to breathe and absorb water easier throughout the next year.
- The last mow of the season (before first frost) should be shorter than normally kept. Lowering the height by ½” to 1” will reduce the chance of winter disease. 2.5” is an ideal winter grass height. Do not scalp the lawn. This could cause stress on the grass and may not survive the cold winter temperatures.
As the winter ends and spring arrives, grass begins to come out of its dormant state. This is also when weed seeds begin germinating. Because weeds grow faster than grass, you may see green weeds in your lawn before the grass has had time to green up and grow.
Do not pull the weeds! This will cause weak areas in your lawn and an invitation for more weeds to take over in its place. If you must pull the weeds, it’s important to get the full weed, including the root, then reseed area. Do not apply herbicide or pre-emergent for 4-6 weeks after reseeding.
Spring brings multiple types of weeds. Broadleaf weeds are the most common weed that appears first. Dandelions, crabgrass, thistle, and clover weeds are examples of a broadleaf weed. Broadleaf weeds have leaves that are wider than grassy weeds have. Grassy weeds have grass-like blades. Dallisgrass, nutsedge, and tall fescue are a few grassy weeds. Crabgrass is often referred to as a grassy weed but because of its broad leaves, it is classified as a broadleaf weed.
Why are weeds growing in your yard and not your neighbors?
There can be many answers to this question.
- Weed seeds have made their way into your lawn. Birds can drop them, lawn equipment, clothing and shoes, can transfer seeds, and they can be carried in off the wind from next door or miles away.
- Your lawn has weak areas of grass that invites weeds to move in and occupy the bare or weak spots.
- Improper lawn maintenance. Lawn fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide treatments will reduce weeds and help strengthen your grass. Mowing at a height of 3-3.5” will keep it full and thick to keep weeds out. Fertilizer gives your grass nutrients it needs to thrive, herbicide kills the weeds, and pesticide will help eliminate the insects and pests that can damage your lawn.
- Your neighbor applied a pre-emergent in the spring and fall to keep weed seeds from germinating and you didn’t.
- Your soil is off balance. Soil pH levels should be checked if the weed population doesn’t improve or increases after several rounds of treatment. Soil can become toxic and damage the roots of your grass allowing weeds to take over.
- Improper watering. Lack of water and nutrients in compacted soil can have a difficult time reaching grass roots. Weed roots will have an easier time absorbing water and nutrients before they reach grass roots, thus weakening the grass for more weeds to invade.
- Soil is compacted from extensive pressure over a long period of time. This can include foot or machinery traffic, drought, rain, and water. Ways you can tell if your soil is compacted: water pools up, poor drainage, hard to shovel, thin or patchy grass areas, and trees with shallow roots. Aerating your lawn in the fall will loosen the soil so your grass roots can breathe and absorb water and nutrients easier.
Now, we have an idea why your lawn has weeds. Following these helpful tips will improve the strength of your grass so it can choke out the weeds and thrive year after year.
- Apply pre-emergent in the fall and spring.
- Aerate the soil in the fall.
- Mow at a height of 3-3.5” until the final mow of the year then reduce to 2-2.5” for your grass type.
- Schedule a lawn maintenance program for fertilizer, herbicide, and pesticide.
- Dethatch the lawn at the end of winter.
- Water properly for your grass type.
- Hire a professional.
Safe Earth Pest Control can help you rid your lawn of weeds. Contact us today. We have plans to fit all your lawn and pest control needs. 214-321-2847