Turfgrass Weed Control - Best Way to Get Rid of Weeds

Looking for the best way to get rid of weeds? It seems to be one of the most popular concerns when desiring the best looking laws. Weeds are one of the more noticeable pests of the landscape, which not only detract from the aesthetic value of the home, but also waste water and fertilizer, harbor insects, and reduce the overall health of the lawn.

There are a number of cultural and mechanical practices to help reduce weed populations. Many do not require herbicides.

Cultural Control

The fact is a healthy vigorous lawn will out-compete most weeds and prevent them from coming in. Some common cultural practices that can reduce weeds and keep the lawn healthy include:

  • Good Mowing Height - You should Mow the lawn 2½ to 3 inches high. Taller grass shades out some weeds, and develops deeper, healthier roots.
  • Proper Watering - Most cool season lawns require 1½ to 2 inches of water per week during the peak growing season.
  • Consistant Fertilizing - Most lawns need nitrogen fertilizer every 6 - 8 weeks during the growing season. Over or under fertilizing makes a lawn more
    susceptible to weed infestations. A good rule is to apply about one pound of actual nitrogen/1,000 square feet
  • Annual Core Aeration -  Soils will compact over time and may develop a thick thatch layer. Annual core aeration reduces compaction, and minimizes the thatch
    layer. Aeration promotes water and fertilizer penetration, stimulates root growth, and can reduce some annual weeds.
  • Maintain Secondary Water System Filters - Be careful as they can bring in weeds to a lawn. It is a good ideas to regularly clean and maintain filters to prevent some weeds infestations.
  • Clean Lawn Care Equipment - Weeds can be spread from one lawn to another by mowers, string trimmers, or aerators. It is important to give them a proper cleaning if sharing between lawns. Be sure to take extra precaution when working on weed infested areas or where the weeds have gone to seed.

Mechanical Control

Although proper cultural practices listed above should eliminate most weeds from your lawn, a few persistent weeds may need to be removed mechanically. This can be done using some of the following methods:

  • Pulling Weeds -  If there are only a few weeds in the lawn, you might consider using a simple hoe, puller, fishtail, spudding, or other tool to manually remove weeds (roots and all). This is best and easiest to do right after the lawn has been watered. The roots come out much easier, and cause less harm to the existing grass.
  • Plastic (Solar) Treatment of Annual Weeds  - Some annual weeds can be killed by simply placing a clear plastic over the weedy area for one or two days. The heat that is generated by this burns the annual weeds and the tops of perennial grasses. This destroys many annual weeds, but perennial grasses quickly regrow. This option may be good for a backyard or other less visible area. The grass might take two weeks to fully recover.

Chemical Control

Herbicides can also help eliminate some weeds in turfgrass. Using checmicals should be thought out well before using them, and selected very carefully. As with all pesticides, be sure to follow all label direction, and read the entire label before mixing and applying - especially around pets and children.

Herbicides can be used as a tool aloing with cultural and mechanical methods. They should not be used exclusively as the only method of weed control. There are two basic types of herbicides used to control weeds in turfgrass: preemergent and post-emergent.

  • Pre-emergent herbacides - are applied prior to the appearance of weeds. They are often used to control annual weeds such as crabgrass and spurge. Most have little or no effect on established perennial or annual weeds and have a short residual in the soil, lasting from 30 to 90 days. Pre-emergent herbicides are most effective when applied directly to the lawn recently after mowing. Irrigate the area immediately once the product is applied.
  • Post-emergent herbicides are placed directly on the lawn or soil after the weeds have begun to appear. They are generally used on perennial broadleaf weeds, but a few are available for specific perennial grass weeds. They are the most effective when applied directly to young, small weeds that are actively growing. Fall may be the most effective time to apply many of the post-emergent herbicides, before the first heavy frost.

The best way to get rid of weeds depends on your particular situation. For some, simple mechanical pulling is all that is needed, for others a more intense approach is needed. Turfgrass weed control is something to keep control off.  After all, you don't want someone telling that the grass is greener on the other side.

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