It is a well-known fact - a thick healthy lawn is the best defense against weeds. Developing a weed-free yard or landscape is an essential step in achieving such a lawn. Strategies vary over the course of the growing season, as do the application methods and herbicides for controlling both broadleaf and grassy weeds.
Having a current soil analysis is essential to understanding the soil's current condition. Improving the soil with fertilizers or compost mixtures based on these results will promote lawn growth and thereby squeeze out weeds. The results of a soil test will define the frequency and volume of nutrients the soil needs to achieve a healthy stand of weed-free grass.
Prevent weeds from ever coming up in early spring by applying pre-emergent herbicides. Application timing is critical, as the herbicide works during seed germination. When soil temperatures reach 52 degrees F just below the surface, seeds will begin to sprout. Sometime between February 15 and March 15 is usually when this temperature is reached, depending on the location.
Poor soil condition is a hotbed for weeds. A thinning lawn, with exposed soil, makes room for lawn weeds. Aerating the ground every couple of years and adequately feeding and watering it will correct poor soil. The result is a healthier, thicker lawn that can choke out weeds.
Water only when the grass needs it, and then drench the soil throughout. By allowing moisture to penetrate down through the root bed, just below the roots, more water is available to the grass. Also, deeper watering will develop lawn roots that grow deeper in search of moisture. As a result, longer roots produce healthier, disease-resistant, lawns.
Sound mowing practices will help to ensure the lawn remains healthy and full. In doing so, weeds will have no opportunity for establishment. The primary guidelines to follow when mowing include:
- Never remove more than one-third of the total grass height when mowing; cutting more than this will weaken the grass over time.
- Always mow when the lawn is dry; mowing a damp lawn will cause lawn damage and make it more susceptible to weeds.
- Bag grass cuttings when weeds are present; spreading or mulching weed-infested clippings will only create more weeds.
Weeds are always looking for an opportunity to invade a lawn. However, following sound mowing practices will help to prevent them from ever starting to grow.