As the saying goes, "One person's weed is another person's flower." However, many plants exist that almost everyone would call a weed. Not only unattractive, weeds choke the life out of the desirable plants in the garden and they attract insects that munch on your lawn and flowers. Some people find weeding therapeutic, but most people view it as an unpleasant chore. Regardless of how you feel about weeding, one thing for sure: If you don't get the roots while weeding, you're getting nowhere.
Consider anything you don't want in your lawn or garden a weed. Perennial weeds come back every year due to the abundance of seeds they sow. You may see some of these perennial weeds growing in your lawn: beggar's tick, chickweed, crabgrass, knot-weed, lamb's quarter, pig-weed, ragweed, wild oats wild mustard and
shepherds-purse. Some weeds grow runners, rooting along the top of the soil: creeping buttercup, devil's painted brush, ground ivy, milkweed, stinging nettle, plantain, poison ivy, quack grass and thistles.
Weeds can invite other problems, such as insects. These insects may be the reason for the brown or bald spots in your lawn: armyworms, darkling beetles, grasshoppers, slugs, aphids, crickets, earwigs, lygus beetles, stink bugs, leafhoppers, cutworms, flea beetles, snails, thrips, and scale.
Pulling weeds by hand eliminates weeds quickly, is chemical-free and is faster than other organic methods, such as vinegar or pepper. Think of it as good exercise for getting your abs in shape. A weeding tool looks like a large condiment picker with two prongs on the end. Ask for one at any home and garden center. The weeding tool works well for getting the weeds with taproots.
The taproots on dandelions grow large. You can recognize dandelions by the yellow flower it produces which eventually turns fuzzy. When it turns fuzzy, that means it has gone to seed. Get dandelions before they go to seed, because those seeds easily disperse with the slightest breeze, and kids love to pick them, make a wish and blow on them. That means new dandelions for the lawn. While holding up the leaves of the dandelion with one hand, shove the weed tool down in the ground as close to the base of the plant as possible. Push straight down so you don't sever the taproot. Use a prying motion to loosen the dirt around the root and pull the weed out. Make sure you get all of the weed--any piece of the root left in the ground grows into another dandelion.
Crabgrass, another stubborn weed, needs digging up with the weed tool. Crabgrass is a grassy plant that lies flat branches out like crab legs. These branches take root in the ground. Carve all around the base of the plant, loosening the dirt. It usually comes out easily with roots and all. Clover quickly takes over a lawn and produces white flowers. You can easily pull clover with your hands. Check to make sure you got all of the roots. For weeds that trail over the top of the ground, pull up on the runners and use the weed tool to pry out the base plant.
Once you've gotten rid of visible weeds, make sure the weeds don't come back. Cutting the lawn too close exposes sun-loving weeds to their source of energy. Raise the lawnmower height to 2 1/2 to 3 inches to keep weeds shaded. Keep your lawn healthy by using a fertilizer specifically for lawns and watering thoroughly. Light, frequent watering encourages weed growth and seed sprouting. Mow often during spring and summer. Check the lawn every day for any new weeds that sprout and pull them immediately. Reseed any bare spots in the lawn. If the grass seeds don't get there first, the weed seeds will.