Weeds. They’re ugly. They’re hard to kill. They thrive under the worst conditions known to man. They seem to always find their way back into our lawns every spring. Other than that, they’re great. Okay, so they’re not so great. This article will teach you how to get rid of weeds once and for all.
So what can you do to get the upper hand on weeds?
8 Strategies to Battle Weeds
1. Grow an amazing lawn.
Your best defense against weed invasion is a thick, lush lawn.
When you have healthy soil, proper seed selection (watch out for imposters) and placement, and a good fertility program, you are taking the right steps in fighting off weeds.
It’s kind of like staying healthy – eat right, exercise, get plenty of rest, and take your vitamins.
So, start off with these basics:
- test your soil (if you never have)
- choose the best seed for your particular situation
- commit to a regular fertilizer schedule
These three things will get you 90% of the way to where you want to be.
2. Never skip crabgrass preventer.
Crabgrass is a summer time grassy weed. Over the course of a year, it can drop thousands of seeds – which will then become more crabgrass in your lawn next year. Crabgrass starts to germinate when soil temperatures reach a consistent 55 degrees, so it’s important to apply your crabgrass preventer at the right time.
The most susceptible areas to crabgrass infestation are the areas of your yard that are in full sun and any part near a sidewalk or blacktop driveway.
Applying crabgrass preventer is one of the easiest ways to get a head start on fighting weeds in the spring. Get them before they get you. Don’t even give them a chance to penetrate the surface. Stop them before they get started.
Pictured below are three examples of crabgrass preventers. The first two bags contain both fertilizer and a herbicide. The last bag (yellow) is strictly a herbicide – in other words, it will not feed the grass; it will only stop the crabgrass from germinating. Read the descriptions and decide which product is the right one for you.
Obviously, there are many choices in the marketplace today. However, the choices listed below are products that are found in independent retailers all over the country. The company has been around since 1968 and has been producing quality lawn and garden products all that time.
Apply this product early spring or fall 2 to 3 weeks prior to seed germination to obtain control of grassy and broadleaf weeds. You can use this product on warm and cool-season grasses.
Not only will this product control crabgrass, but it also works to fight a whole bunch of other weeds, including Henbit, Oxalis, Poa Annua, Chickweed, Foxtail, Purslane, Shepherd’s Purse, Prostrate Spurge, Knotweed, and others listed on the label.
The larger bag size will cover 10,000 square feet. Once applied, it should be watered in by 1/2 inch of rainfall or irrigation. This will give the best results.
This product will work to prevent summer weeds and grasses for 4 to 8 months, which is quite prolific. If you live in a fairly warm area, this would be a product for you to strongly consider.
This crabgrass preventer contains Dimension®, which is a herbicide that will prevent crabgrass germination for 3 to 4 months.
It also contains a slow-release fertilizer, which will feed up to 8 weeks.
Interestingly, you can actually apply this product later than other products, because it has post-emergent properties on very young weeds and grasses; in other words, it will kill some smaller weeds after they’ve already emerged out of the soil.
So, if you realize you’re getting a late start one year, there just might still be time to apply this product and still see some advantage.
Let’s say that you want to apply a crabgrass preventer, but you don’t want to fertilize your lawn at the same time – maybe you want to avoid excess mowing.
In that case, this is a product to consider. It contains the same active ingredient as the blue bag above, just without the fertilizer.
Consequently, you can also utilize this product in your flower beds, etc., to help eliminate excess weeding throughout the year. Of course, be sure to read and follow the label.
This is quite the versatile product.
A word of caution
Don’t apply crabgrass preventer to areas where you have already planted grass seed.
Crabgrass preventer containing these active ingredients not only prevents crabgrass from germinating, but it also prevents lawn seed from germinating as well.
Be sure to read and follow the label when applying crabgrass preventer.
3. Kill BROADLEAF weeds when they’re actively growing.
Broadleaf weeds are weeds such as dandelions.
When you see these things begin to appear in your yard, it’s important to deal with them quickly and decisively.
Why? They complete with your turf grass for much-needed nutrients and water. They will do a lot of damage to your lawn if left untreated – and they will spread to other parts of your yard.
There are a couple of options you have when looking to eliminate these weeds. You can apply either a granule or a liquid product.
Granule Weed Killers
First, let’s talk about granule products.
Many times the granule product is used in conjunction with a “four-step” fertilizer program. In this case, you get both the fertilizer and weed control at the same time. This is what many people call a “weed n’ feed” product.
For example, with Fertilome Weed-Out Plus Lawn Fertilizer (show here), you get both an excellent fertilizer package and a potent weed killer combined. You’re killing two birds with one stone.
However, keep in mind that this application step is the most misunderstood and misapplied application in the lawn care industry. Why is this?
Because your lawn has to be slightly wet before application, and this is the only step that you don’t water in right away. In fact, you don’t want any water on it for 24 hours after application. This will allow the herbicide on the granule to stick to the leaf of the weed and not be washed off. That way the herbicide will actually get inside the weed and do its job!
How does this work out in reality? You will need to water your lawn BEFORE applying this “weed n’ feed” granular product or you will need to apply it early in the morning when there is a dew on the ground. And you must be certain that there’s no rain in the forecast for at least 24 hours.
All of this trouble has caused many people to switch over primarily to liquid weed killers.
Liquid Weed Killers
Second, let’s talk about liquid products.
One of the best products on the market is called Weed Free Zone.
The active ingredients in this product give it tremendous success against some very tough broadleaf weeds such as clover and ground ivy – plus so many others.
The key to success with these products is to be sure you’re using the proper amount. Be careful to avoid either over-applying the product or under-applying it.
The label will tell you exactly how many ounces per gallon of water to add for the type of weed you are targeting.
You’ll need a nice pump up sprayer to do the job.
If you’re not one to tackle mixing products, this product also comes in an easy to use hose-end RTS. You simply attach it to your hose and you’re ready to go.
Remember to always read and follow label directions.
4. Kill GRASSY weeds when they’re actively growing and small.
Grassy weeds are weeds such as crabgrass.
Most broadleaf weed killers don’t have a grassy weed label; in other words, they won’t kill a grassy weed. You’ll need use another product to get that job done.
Again, a grassy weed is something like crabgrass. It’s got a skinny leaf just like your lawn grass, only ugly. If you didn’t “prevent” your crabgrass seeds from germinating, you may have to formulate a plan to kill them later.
One such product that has been formulated for this job is Fertilome Weed-Out with Crabgrass Killer. While this will work on your broadleaf weeds, it also has an active ingredient in it that will also eliminate your grassy weeds.
By the way, don’t let them get big. Treat them while they’re young and actively growing. This will give you the best opportunity for success.
Be sure to read and follow the label when applying any grassy weed killer.
5. Make sure your lawn gets 1 inch of water per week.
Dry, parched ground is a wonderful home for weeds to thrive. If you’re not getting rain, give your lawn a drink once per week. Remember to water early in the morning. If you have a newly seeded lawn, getting enough water to it is extremely important. Check out how to that here.
6. Mow high.
Avoid the temptation to mow your lawn too low. Raise your mower deck. Don’t give those weed seeds a chance to see the sunshine. Keep your lawn between 3 and 4 inches tall to shade out those nasty weeds.
7. Use quality fertilizer.
Feeding your lawn a healthy diet of quality, professional fertilizer will help it stand up against weed pressure. If you’re looking to feed your lawn organically, there are starting to be more and more options for that as well.
8. Overseed in the fall.
This is a common practice for professional lawn care providers. Fall overseeding goes a long way to helping maintain a beautiful lawn. Just be sure you know how to plant seed the right way. It’s important to be sure that your soil is prepared the right way to receive the seed.
Overseeding in the fall is great. Usually, there is plenty of moisture and a lack of weed pressure. It’s also a great time to core aerate and fertilize.
9. Make it a priority to apply winterizer.
If you’re on a quality lawn program (see number 7), then winterizer will be part of that package. But keep in mind that winterizer should be applied in November, to help push those grass roots down deeper into the soil profile.
Fertilome Winterizer is a great choice.
Here’s what will happen when you apply a good winterizer to your lawn. The primary benefit is that it will help rebuild your lawn by providing the nutrients needed to strengthen the root system. The result is that you are left with a healthier, thicker lawn when the following spring rolls around.
What does that look like in specifics?
- Your grass will have a larger root mass.
- The stronger root mass builds a tolerance to heat and drought stress.
- And a healthy grass plant can withstand attacks from insects and diseases with greater success.
- Winterizer will also green up your grass without causing a bunch of top growth. You may even find that you don’t have to fertilize as heavily in the spring.