Weed Control in Lawns
Send a link to a friend
[May 09, 2014]
Don’t let lawn weeds get the best of
you. These opportunistic plants find a weak spot in the lawn,
infiltrate and begin the take over your grass. Take back the lawn
with proper care. Your lawn will not only be greener and healthier,
but good for the environment.
The grass and thatch layer act as a natural filter, helping to
keep pollutants out of our groundwater and dust out of our
atmosphere. They also reduce erosion, decrease noise and help keep
our homes and landscapes cooler in summer. And a healthy lawn is the
best defense against weeds.
Start by identifying the unwanted lawn invaders. Use them as a guide
to improve your lawn’s health and beauty. Weeds appear and spread
when the growing conditions are better for them than the grass.
Correct the problem to reduce the weeds and improve the health of
your lawn. Killing the weeds without fixing the underlying cause is
only a temporary solution. Unless the cause is eliminated the weed
problem will return.
Here are a few of the more common weeds, the cause and possible
solutions for managing them out of the lawn.
High populations and a variety of weeds mean you need to adjust your
overall lawn care practices. Mow high and often, removing no more
than 1/3 the total height of the grass at one time. Leave the
clippings on the lawn in order to return water, nutrients and
organic matter to the soil. This along with proper fertilization
using an organic nitrogen slow release fertilizer with non leaching
phosphorous, like Milorganite, can greatly reduce weeds.
Knotweed and plantains often found growing next to walks and drives
or other high traffic areas can also be found in lawns growing on
heavy poorly prepared soils. These weeds thrive in compacted soil
where lawn grasses fail. Reduce soil compaction and improve your
lawn’s health with core aeration. Aerate lawns when actively growing
in spring or fall. Or replace grass in high traffic areas with
permeable pavers or stepping stones to eliminate the cause.
Nut sedge is a common weed in wet or poorly drained soils. Improve
the drainage to manage this weed. It may mean core aerating the lawn
and topdressing with compost, regrading or the installation of a
rain garden to capture, filter and drain excess water back into the
Clover and black medic mean it’s time to get the soil tested and
adjust fertilization. Both thrive when the lawn is starving. Clover
was once included in lawn mixes because of its ability to capture
nitrogen from the atmosphere and add it to the soil. If these weeds
are present, boost the lawn’s diet starting this spring with a low
nitrogen slow release fertilizer. It feeds slowly throughout the
season, promoting slow steady growth that is more drought tolerant,
disease resistant and better able to outcompete the weeds.
[to top of second column]
Creeping Charlie, also known as ground ivy, violets, and
plantains usually get their foothold in the shade and then
infiltrate the rest of the lawn. Take back those shady spots by
growing a more shade tolerant grass like the cool season grass
fescue or warm season St. Augustine grass. Mow high and
fertilize less, only 1 to 2 pounds of nitrogen per growing
season, than the sunny areas of your lawn. Or replace the lawn
with shade tolerant groundcovers. Adjust your overall care to
reclaim and maintain the rest of the lawn.
Crabgrass and Goosegrass are common weeds that follow a hot dry
summer. Mow high to shade the soil and prevent many of these
annual grass weeds from sprouting. Corn gluten meal is an
organic pre-emergent weed killer that can help reduce these and
other weeds from sprouting. Apply in spring and fall
applications to reduce weeds by as much as 80% in three years.
And, when mowing this year, consider an electric or push mower
to manage your lawn in an even more eco-friendly manner.
[By MELINDA MYERS]
Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers
has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written
over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening
and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts The Great Courses
“How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated
Melinda’s Garden Moment segments. Myers is also a columnist and
contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site,
offers gardening videos and tips.