My Lawn is All Weeds! What to do

Just like the grass, weeds are plants and they grow the same way grass does. Weeds are tougher and have higher level of tolerance that enables them to thrive even in the least supportive conditions for plant growth. So, why is your lawn full of weeds?

Weeds growing on your lawn are usually as a result of poor lawn maintenance practices. Cutting grass too short, compacted soil and insufficient watering all encourage weeds in a lawn. Working on these problems should be the first step in your journey for restoring your once lush green lawn.

Why is your lawn full of weeds?

There are a number of reasons why your lawn is full of weeds:

  • Cutting grass too short encourages bare spots and poor growth of grass. Weeds will eventually take over the empty spots or grass thinning areas.
  • Most weeds have elaborate root system that will compete grass for any available moisture. Inadequate watering of your lawn will encourage weeds to thrive at the expense of your grass.
  • Compacted soil as a result of clay soil or heavy foot traffic inhibits the flow of water, air and nutrients to the grass roots. Since weeds are hardy plants, they don’t find it a problem and they will continue thriving as your lawn grass weakens.
  • Failure to weed your lawn early enough before the weed plants set seed heads and spread is one of the major reason why you have too much weeds in your lawn.

How to get rid of a lawn full of weeds

There are a number of ways that can help restore the sanity of your lawn from the invasion of weeds.

  1. Start by examining your lawn to figure out the kind of weeds you are dealing with. This will give you easy time in choosing the right type of treatment to use. Herbicides and usually formulated for specific type of weeds.
  2. Choose a weed control treatment formulated for your grass type based on weed category and their current stage. You’ll need a pre-emergent herbicide if you are controlling weeds before growing season or a post-emergent herbicide if the weeds are already established.
  3. Carefully read the instructions on the product label and apply directly on the weeds.
  4. Wait until the weeds completely die or as directed and prepare to reseed your lawn if necessary.
  5. Embark on a proper lawn maintenance schedule that will encourage healthy growth of grass while also preventing the growth of weeds.

How to Prevent Weeds in Lawn

Now you know what to do when you have a lawn full of weeds. Without embarking on a preventive strategy, it will not take long before weeds invade your lawn again. You can prevent weeds from taking over your lawn through the following ways.

1. Hand weeding

Even if they are just two or three weeds plants, do not be tempted to ignore them. Letting them grow alongside your grass is a huge mistake since they will take over your lawn within no time. Attack them while they are still young and before they set seed.

Weeds such as lamb’s quarters, chickweed, carpetweed, annual sedge, crab grass, knotweed, and Japanese clover are all annuals. Hand-pulling them before they produce seed heads is a way of staying a step ahead of them.  At this stage they are not a threat and you can add them to your compost pile.

The best time to hand-pull weeds is after a good rain or after a thorough watering. The soft ground will give you easier time. However, you should be careful when dealing with perennial weeds like dandelions, nut grass, Bermuda grass and bindweed. Which also spread by stolon, runners, and tubers underground.

You should dig them out of the ground completely so that they have no chance of coming back. Use tools like hoes, dandelion fork or a wide-bladed screwdriver to remove the entire weed including the root, rhizome, or other underground parts like tubers or bulbs

2. Use the right fertilizers

The kind of fertilizers you use on your lawn grass plays a critical role in the growth of the weeds. There are fertilizers designed for the growth of grass only, and not the weeds. Using the wrong type of fertilizer could encourage the growth of more weeds while suppressing the proper growth of grass plants.

Organic and compost fertilizers are the most recommended since these have all the necessary nutrients that the grass needs for its proper growth. Besides, they have fewer chemicals that would otherwise raise the pH levels of the soil, thus encouraging the growth of more weeds.

But even as you apply the right fertilizers, ensure to keep it within the right amounts. Too much of it can kill the grass while nourishing the weeds. Use weed and feed sparingly to control weeds without harming the turf. Make sure you water your lawn after adding fertilizer.

3. Allow grass to grow taller

Mowing your grass too short exposes the weak blades to intense heat and this could result in their death. Doing this also sets the grass against the unfair competition of nutrients and sunlight with the weed plants.

Allowing your lawn grass to grow taller, on the other hand, prevents the growth of weeds. This is because when the grass is taller, about 6 inches, it blocks sunlight from the weeds beneath it, thus killing them. This should be part of your first line of defense against weeds in your lawn.

4. Water your lawn deeply

Naturally, weed plants are stronger and more vibrant than grassroots. A weed plant like dandelion, for example, has tap roots that penetrate deep even into the compacted soil. Failing to water your lawn, on the other hand, places grass plants under intense competition for the few nutrients and water present in the soil.

At the end of the day, you end up with more weeds than grass on your lawn. To reverse this scenario, normalize watering your lawn more often and let the water settle deep into the soil. This way, you will have more healthy grass.

5. Lay down some mulch

Laying ground cover around your lawn grass can help prevent weeds because the cover blocks sunlight from reaching the soil, hence discouraging the growth of weeds. Ground covers come in many forms that include grass clippings, compost, woods chips, barks, newspaper, and any other organic matter.

The best thing is that this organic matter decomposes and breaks down to form organic fertilizer that enriches the grass, while at the same keeping weeds at bay.

6. Clean Tools

Clean gardening tools especially when you move from one area to another. This prevents spreading of weed seeds from your garden to a lawn. Weed seed are likely to cling on your gardening tools and they easily get transferred from one point to the other.

7. Weed-Free Perimeter

Pay attention to areas adjoining your lawn, they include garden, flower beds or pavers. Create a weed free perimeter that will prevent weeds from crossing into your lawn.

8. Dethatch your lawn

Excessive thatch and compacted soil all prevent flow of important supplies to the grass roots. This will weaken the grass and in the process weeds will take over. You should dethatch your lawn of the layer of dead plant materials under the grass excess 1/4 inch.

Do not wait to dethatch when your grass is already thinning or turning brown. There are many ways of telling if your lawn has excess thatch. Use a garden trowel or shovel to dig a small piece of your lawn grass and soil and check for thatch. Sometime you can tell from a spongy feeling when you walk on your grass.

9. Aerate your lawn

There are many weeds that thrive in hard compacted soil where turf grasses may not survive. They include, dandelions, chickweed, Bluegrass, knot weed and many more. Aerating your lawn will enable your grass to receive the much needed nutrients, water and air.

If you have high-traffic areas in your lawn or heavy clay soil, you will want to aerate every year. Do not wait until the grass becomes weak or thin. You will be inviting stubborn weeds in your lawn.

10. Properly mow your lawn

Proper mowing keeps pests away and also encourage grass to spread faster. Mow your lawn regularly in spring and summer but be careful not to remove more than a third of grass at a time. Mowing too short may also invite weeds.

Final Thought

Weeds find it difficult in invading a healthy well-manicured lawn. Water properly, fertilize and mow your lawn accordingly and weeds will never be a problem. Take early control measure once you spot few plants of weed before they flower and produce seeds. If this is too much for you, you may hire professional lawn care service.

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