This article is by Lawn Doctor
Summer is nearly here, which unfortunately means weeds are coming too. Dandelions, crabgrass, and other unwanted plants can overrun your yard quickly if you don’t take the right precautions. Weeds plant seeds as soon as they pop up, so there will be more generations the longer you wait.
Weeds are, in many ways, signs of the mistakes we make in trying to care for our lawns. A lawn will have fewer weeds when mowed with a sharp blade at the right height and frequency; watered infrequently and deeply; and fertilized at the proper time.
When these practices fail to produce a quality lawn, we are either trying to grow a poorly adapted grass species, or a lawn in an environment where grasses don’t grow well, such as a very shaded location.
Although it’s virtually impossible to permanently avoid the appearance of weeds, there are ways to prevent them from growing. Learn how to get rid of weeds naturally with the following tips:
Apply Mulch around Your Plants
Weeds need sunlight to thrive. If you have a garden area, putting down some mulch around your plants will keep weed seeds from getting enough light. About two inches of mulch will smother dandelions and similar weeds, while retaining moisture for your plants.
A few words of caution: certain mulch mixes are laced with weed seeds, so make sure to buy from a reputable brand. Your local garden store can help you choose the best mix. You also don’t want to apply too much mulch, as three or more inches deep will prevent the soil from getting enough oxygen.
Use Proper Mowing Habits
The height at which you mow has major consequences on your lawn’s health. Cutting grass too short allows weed seeds easy access to sunlight, whereas longer grass blocks this light from getting to the weed sprouts. Mow your grass no more than a third of its length at a time; it’s better to have longer grass than shorter grass.
When you mow, leave the clippings on the ground. This strategy, known as “grasscycling,” can also work to snuff out weed seeds while providing valuable nutrients to your grass. You get to do less work, and your yard will be better off! Don’t grasscycle shortly after rainfall though, as the wet and clumpy grass blades can lead to lawn disease.
Water Deeply and Infrequently
Irrigating your lawn as needed promotes deeper roots and healthier grass. Abundant, vigorous grass overpowers weeds and denies them the nutrients they need to grow. Not only will proper watering choke out existing weeds, but it will also prevent weeds from growing in the future. See our list of lawn watering tips for advice on keeping your lawn properly quenched.
Get Your Lawn Aerated
Compacted soil has a negative effect on your lawn, but weeds thrive in it – that’s why you’ll often see weeds in unkempt parks and ballfields. Aeration loosens the soil and provides passageways for oxygen, water, and nutrients to reach the grass roots. Healthy soil leads to healthy grass—both of which are bad news for weeds. For more details on aeration and the types of aerators available, consult a local lawn care specialist.
Right now, there are no sustainable choices of organic (natural) products when it comes to weed control. There are, however, a variety of weed control services and products that available. Pre-emergent weed control and post-emergent weed control can drastically improve your lawn’s appearance. Consult a local lawn care specialist to learn more about your options.
In the meantime, remember to keep tabs on any weeds currently growing in your yard. Weeding by hand is only effective if you remove them by the roots. Use your time wisely, as resilient weeds like dandelions can easily grow back if you simply clip off the heads.