Like grass, weeds are plants that grow the same way grass does. Weeds are tougher and have higher tolerance levels, enabling 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 a result of poor lawn maintenance practices. Cutting grass too short, compacted soil, and insufficient watering all encourage weeds in a lawn.
Why is your lawn full of weeds?
There are several 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 systems that will compete with grass for any available moisture. Inadequate lawn watering will encourage weeds to thrive at the expense of your grass.
- Compacted soil due to clay soil or heavy foot traffic inhibits the flow of water, air, and nutrients to the grassroots. Since weeds are hardy, 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 reasons you have too many weeds in your lawn.
How to get rid of a lawn full of weeds
Several ways can help restore the sanity of your lawn from the invasion of weeds.
- Start by examining your lawn to determine the weeds you are dealing with. This will give you an easy time choosing the right type of treatment to use. Herbicides and usually formulated for a specific type of weeds.
- Choose a weed control treatment formulated for your grass type based on weed category and its current stage. You’ll need a pre-emergent herbicide if you control weeds before the growing season or a post-emergent herbicide if the weeds are already established.
- Carefully read the instructions on the product label and apply directly on the weeds.
- Wait until the weeds die or as directed, and prepare to reseed your lawn if necessary.
- 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 on 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 quickly. Attack them while they are still young and before they set seed.
Weeds such as lamb’s quarters, chickweed, carpetweed, annual sedge, crabgrass, knotweed, and Japanese clover are annual. Hand-pulling them before they produce seed heads is a way to stay ahead of them. They are not a threat at this stage, 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 an 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, so they cannot return. Use tools like hoes, a 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 weeds. There are fertilizers designed for grass growth only, not 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 they have all grass’s nutrients for 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, keep it within the right amounts. Too much of it can kill the grass while nourishing the weeds. Use weeds 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, which 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. For example, a weed plant like a dandelion 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, discouraging weeds’ growth. Ground covers come in many forms, including grass clippings, compost, wood chips, bark, newspaper, and 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 the spreading of weed seeds from your garden to a lawn. Weed seeds will likely cling to your gardening tools and easily transfer from one point to another.
7. Weed-Free Perimeter
Pay attention to areas adjoining your lawn; they include gardens, flower beds, or pavers. Edge your lawn to create a weed-free perimeter that will prevent weeds from crossing into your lawn.
8. Dethatch your lawn
Excessive thatch and compacted soil prevent the flow of important supplies to the grassroots. 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 of 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. Sometimes you can tell from a spongy feeling when you walk on your grass.
9. Aerate your lawn
Many weeds thrive in hard compacted soil where turf grasses may not survive. They include dandelions, chickweed, Bluegrass, knotweed, and many more. Aerating your lawn will give your grass the much-needed nutrients, water, and air.
You will want to aerate yearly if you have high-traffic areas in your lawn or heavy clay soil. Do not wait until the grass becomes weak or thin. You will be inviting stubborn weeds into your lawn. Chere here for the best time to aerate and overseed a lawn.
10. Properly mow your lawn
Proper mowing keeps pests away and also encourages grass to spread faster. Mow your lawn regularly in spring and summer but be careful not to remove more than a third of the grass at a time. Mowing too short may also invite weeds.
Weeds find it difficult to invade a healthy, well-manicured lawn. Water properly, fertilize and mow your lawn accordingly; weeds will never be a problem. Take early control measures once you spot a few plants of weed before they flower and produce seeds. You may hire a professional lawn care service if this is too much for you.