Weeds in your lawn can be frustrating. More importantly, they can inhibit grass growth and deprive your lawn of the nutrients it needs. But chemical herbicides can harm your grass and your soil health, and they don’t always work.
So what’s going on, and what’s the secret to keeping weeds at bay?
The short answer is regular and seasonal maintenance that addresses soil health and early season growth are the keys to weed prevention. In fact, you can even keep most weeds away with fully organic weed control for lawns. The secret is incorporating lawn fertilization and weed control services throughout the year.
Weed control for lawns doesn’t have to be difficult.
Here are 5 of the most common reasons weeds take over and how to control weeds in your lawn.
Your Soil Density Needs Attention
Some homeowners experience the frustration of late season weed growth, even after the lawn has had a healthy green summer. Likewise, some lawns have healthy, weed-free seasons one year and seem to be plagued with weed overgrowth the next. These two scenarios might have the same cause: heavily compacted soil.
When soil is heavily compacted, the new soil density prevents nutrients from deeply penetrating the soil. Instead, they remain near the surface of your lawn and fewer reach the grass roots below. Because roots cannot grow well in hard soil, it becomes difficult for grass to grow and remain resilient.
The good news is that there’s a very simple, chemical-free solution for this problem: incorporate aeration into your fall lawn care routine annually.
Soil becomes more compacted throughout the summer months when you, your family, your pets and wildlife are enjoying your lawn the most. Aeration is the act of perforating the soil surface, exposing a greater surface area to the air and rain. This allows nutrients therein to travel deeper into the soil, reaching your grass roots. It also creates looser soil that grassroots can grow more freely in.
You can purchase aeration tools to help you aerate your lawn, or you can hire a lawn care professional to aerate it for you.
The best weed control for lawns starts early and starts with aeration.
You Chose The Wrong Seed
All grass seed is not created equally and applying the wrong seed is another common reason for weed invasion. Using the wrong seed might also result in bare or brown spots, so do your research before you buy and apply.
When looking for the right grass seed, consider whether your lawn is shaded or highly exposed to the sun, and read the packaging to choose the appropriate seed. Seed labels also typically include grow zone labels for your reference, so make sure you choose the most appropriate seed types for your climate.
Choosing the wrong seed might mean planting a grass type that has trouble establishing roots or meeting its nutrient requirements, which can encourage weed invasion.
You’ve Skipped Fall Lawn Care Basics
Fall is one of the most important times of the year for lawn care, because you’re preparing your lawn for the dormant winter months followed by explosive spring growth. To maximize your grasses’ chances of establishing strong roots, reaching the nutrients it needs, and evading weed takeovers, fall prep is crucial.
So what should fall lawn care look like?
Remember that aeration is a crucial first step for fall lawn care to resolve too much soil compaction. Another best practice is to overseed your lawn in the fall so that seeds get buried deep in the freshly aerated soil and remain protected throughout the dormant winter. Overseeding in the fall is a good way to ensure your spring lawn care steps are already started when the weather begins to warm and snow is beginning to melt.
Skipping these steps in the fall means you’re leaving compacted soil to further compact throughout the winter. This creates better conditions for perennial weeds in the spring, whose seeds will have an advantage already if you haven’t overseeded. Give your grasses a fighting chance in the spring by giving your lawn attention in the fall.
Beyond aeration and overseeding, different lawns may have certain additional needs. Check out our Fall Lawn Care Packages, including our lawn restoration services, or continue reading to see how you can restore other deficiencies that cause weed overgrowth throughout the year.
Your Soil Lacks Nutrients
Let’s assume you’ve been a homeowner for some time and have aerated and overseeded your lawn each fall. You mow and water your lawn regularly and still grass struggles to compete with common lawn weeds. What’s going on?
Sometimes nutrient deficiencies in the soil can prevent grasses from establishing strong roots and resiliency. Nutrient deficiencies in your soil can be due to harsh chemicals introduced to the lawn’s care in the past, if you live in a climate prone to extreme weather conditions including excessively cold temperatures, flooding or drought, or if your soil’s pH is imbalanced (more on that below).
If your soil is lacking nutrients that grasses need to grow, you can replenish those nutrients through regular fertilization. In addition, organic compost top dressings are a great way to replenish organic matter in the soil and should be applied at least annually as part of your fall lawn care routine. All lawns benefit from a regular fertilization program throughout the season. Your lawn fertilizer and weed control are more closely related to healthy soil than you might think.
There are also dozens of nutrient-dense fertilizers that you can buy online or at your local home improvement store. However, when it comes to fertilizing we always recommend calling lawn care professionals since there are a lot of products in the market and they do not all work the same. If you decide to fertilize yourself, do your research and buy from a trusted source. Big box stores are not all the same and a cheaper product is usually an indication that it is missing vital nutrients. Like other products, check the label for ingredient lists and other product compatibility information.
You Have A pH Imbalance
Last but not least, the pH of your lawn can determine whether weeds take root and invade or avoid your otherwise healthy lawn. Ph balance is important to support the grass’s ability to absorb nutrients that plants take from the soil, including zinc, iron and potassium.
If your soil’s pH is too high, plants can become deficient in a number of important nutrients, thus weakening them. Weak grasses make room for stronger, more resilient weed seeds to take root. That’s why pH balance is important to address.
To address a pH imbalance, a professional lawn care company can test your soil conditions and determine whether the soil is too acidic or basic. To adjust pH, there are a variety of naturally occurring nutrient sources you can apply to your lawn. For example, aluminum, sulfate and sulfur can decrease your lawn’s pH (making it more acidic) and potassium and calcium-rich sources like wood ashes can increase your lawn’s pH.
Again, you can find products to address your lawn’s pH imbalance online or at your local hardware store. Or, you can hire a local lawn care expert to handle proper lawn care for you. You can browse our lawn care packages here.
Things To Consider
When addressing the overgrowth of weeds, there are some secondary considerations to keep in mind. To begin with, if you’re caring for your lawn for the first time, it may mean that previous homeowners used harsh chemical products on your lawn, the wrong seed, or some other product that may have introduced elements to the lawn that prevent growth. Be patient with your lawn and address one aspect of soil health at a time.
Always check the ingredients and warning labels for lawn care products before use, no matter what products you choose. Don’t handle products without proper protective equipment if the label calls for it.
Store lawn care products outside of the home and according to their labels.
Lastly, if you need help, we’re here! Get in touch with us if you have any questions about our services or product recommendations. We’re your local lawn care professionals and we’re ready to grow with you!