Tips for Ridding Your Lawn of Pesky Weeds

When your home is your castle, it’s important to keep the outdoor areas of your property looking just as lovely as the indoors. One way to do this is to ensure your lawn looks its best at all times. While it is important to keep up with maintenance such as mowing your lawn, don’t forget to keep an eye out for pesky weeds that can take over, too. If you want to clear out the unwanted lawn guests, read on for the lowdown on three of the most common weeds that pop up and some tips you can follow to identify and then eradicate them today.

Identifying and Removing Common Weeds

Crabgrassgets its name from its leaves, which spread out low across the ground in a tight, crab-like circle from a central root. An annual weed, crabgrass often becomes an issue during the summer months because the hot, dry conditions help it to grow quickly. However, note that both overwatering and underwatering this weed (which tends to crop up in super short, bare, or weaker areas of lawn) can make it grow vigorously.

Before it dies in the fall, a single crabgrass weed can spread thousands of seeds that will then sprout in the following spring. As such, it is important to treat this pesky plant in the spring so that it can’t become a problem in the summer. To get rid of crabgrass from your lawn, it is best to apply a pre-emergent weed killer specifically designed to stop the pest in its tracks.

Chickweedis another common annual weed that becomes noticeable in lawns when they are looking thin and far from good health. The plant also tends to thrive in lawns with poor drainage, and in shady, moist, fertile soil, although chickweed seeds will sprout in dry soil, too. To identify chickweed (which comes in numerous varieties, including the most often-occurring“common chickweed”), look for a small plant with shiny leaves on multiple stems. These produce a single white flower each.

Because the plant structure of chickweed is quite weak, with a fine root system that can be easily broken, you can often simply pull out individual plants. It can’t re-grow after losing the top leafy part of its plant, so by stepping on the stems to crush them slightly, this will help to kill the weed off. From there, look at sprinkling some lawn fertilizer over the damaged plants since the nitrogen is bad for them; and/or use pre-emergent herbicide in early spring and fall if you have a heavy infestation. This will help to prevent seeds from germinating.

Purslane is a hardy, summer annual weed with both a taproot and fibrous root system. As such, it can be tough to get rid of because it has multiple survival methods, and while you may think you have removed it, it can often crop up again. You can identify this pest by looking for a succulent plant with a distinctive thick, reddish stem and green fleshy leaves. It grows outwards, close to the ground, in a circular shape. The plant’s flowers are yellow and star-shaped.

Purslane spreads by its stem fragments or seeds which can root and establish in your soil. As such, it is best dealt with while the plant is young. It is typically found in spare, underwatered lawns with clear, uncultivated soil or that which has been recently cultivated. If you want to avoid this weed, it is best to steer clear of spring seeding for cool-season grasses. As well, if you remove it by hand (a single plant can cover a large area), make sure you pull out the whole thing and gather all of the stem fragments. Don’t put the weeds into your compost bin, as they can still mature and throw their seeds into the soil of your garden.

General Maintenance Tips for Getting Rid of Weeds

On top of following the guidelines listed above, there are also some general maintenance steps you can take to look after your lawn and keep weeds at bay. For starters, it is necessary to keep your lawn grass healthy. Doing this will give it the best defense against weed invasions, because so many of them pop up when lawns are looking sparse and uncared for.

You should mow regularly, but at the recommended mowing height for your type of lawn, as this will help to promote healthy root growth and increase the strength of your grass. You only want to remove around a third of the length of your grass blades in a single mow. Avoid cutting your lawn too short, as this can promote some types of weeds. When mowing, always cut based on how much growth there is, not on a particular calendar date you set.

To keep your lawn strong, healthy, and weedresistant, make sure you keep it well watered and fed with quality fertilizers. Watering once or twice per week is generally appropriate (although this depends on the season and location), and can be better than too-frequent watering.

James G. Craig
 

James G. Craig is a gardening enthusiast who splits his spare time between growing vegetables, preening his flower gardens, and blogging about his experiences at the Gardener Corner.

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