Getting Rid of Weeds in Your Lawn

Weeds can be a problem for multiple reasons. Keeping your lawn and yard free of weeds makes your yard easier to maintain and more sustainable as well. This is a guide for getting rid of weeds in your lawn.
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January 13, 2016 Flag

I just read a lengthy ThriftyFun article on homemade weed killers. Each submitted recipe was thought to be best. Well, I'm sorry to say, none are best. The best weed killer is NO weed killer.

If you are fortunate enough to have a dense, lush carpet of grass, the last thing you would want to do is apply these non selective weed killers to your lawn. If they do in fact kill weeds, they would also kill grass. Granted, they may be ideal for a few weeds sprouting up through cracks in the driveway.

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The best commercially available weed killer is 2,4-D amine. It is selective in that it will kill most all lawn weeds without harming most established lawn grasses. If it is purchased with Dicamba added, it is very effective at killing clover, as well. It is a good product. I use it.

Now, hear this. There is another whole world down there. Terra Firma is teaming with life. We find some of these life forms very undesirable, such as the root knot nematode that killed my entire rose garden one year. Earthworms, on the other hand, are most beneficial to both the lawn and to us.

I am opposed to killing earthworms as well as the myriad of beneficial micro organisms dwelling in my lawn. Ample applications of both homemade weed killers and 2,4-D will do just that. The solution to this dilemma is the judicial and common sense approach to weed eradication.

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Prevention is best. There are products on the market known as pre emergents. They are effective at weed and crabgrass control in that they prevent germination of their seeds. The impact of these pre emergents on the soil and environment is considerably less than 2,4-D and many of the home recipes.

So, why would I use 2,4-D? A good example would be a few weeds in my lawn. These weeds may have long tap roots. The autumn blooming clematis is a good example. To get the entire weed could mean digging a hole a foot or more deep and a foot wide. Selectively painting each weed with 2,4-D is my choice.

Another good example is wild onions. I have literally ruined my lawn by trying to dig up these deep rooted invaders. No matter how large a hole you dig, and no matter how careful you are to get them all, you will inevitably miss a few. That coupled with unseen seed, makes digging useless. My choice here is to use 2,4-D, being as careful as I can to restrict it's application to the onions, alone.

To my knowledge, 2,4-D is much more effective than any home recipe and has the advantage of not harming most grasses. It is a chemical and it is unnatural to the earth. Therefore, it should be used as sparingly as possible. And as with any chemical, household or otherwise, all label instructions should be followed to the letter.

At the beginning of this post, I stated that no weed killer is the best. I stand by this. Where practical, I pull as many weeds as I can, by hand. Some find this a drudgery. I enjoy it. Imagine...the cool of the evening, a slight breeze blowing, a house finch singing a lovely song to his mate and children laughing and playing in the distance.

I don my straw hat, grab a tall glass of sweetened iced tea laced with lemon, an old fork with one tine missing, and head for the front lawn. I can drink in all life has to offer while weeding the lawn just as well as I can sitting on the porch twiddling my thumbs and watching traffic go by.

I'm a dreamer. Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where neighbors really cared about each other? In this world, people would keep their lawns mowed properly (another way to keep down weeds), so as not to allow weed seed dispersal to neighboring lawns. In this Utopia, neighbors get along well. They gather one Saturday afternoon at my home to engage in good conversation, and while conversing, help me rid my lawn of all weeds. The next Saturday, we're off to another neighbor's home to do the same.

Well, this is not Utopia and my lawn still has weeds. I will continue to pull them by hand. And on those deep rooted devils and dastardly onions, I will continue to use 2,4-D....and remembering my lowly friends, the earthworms; I will confine it's application as closely as I can to just the weeds.

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January 20, 20160 found this helpful

We are in the midst of a severe drought and the really eco-conscious are taking out their grass longs and putting in drought resistent,low water plants.

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June 3, 2016 Flag
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This is a guide about weed killer that won't kill grass. Only certain formulations of weed killers will work to kill weeds but not your lawn.

Hand spraying weed killer onto a largenweed that is in a perfect grass lawn

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August 25, 2005 Flag
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Question:

I live in the Maryland area and my grass is full of weeds. Currently we have not received a steady flow of rain for months. I would like to get rid of the weeds and put down more grass seeds. But because it has not rained much if I put down weed killer or grass seeds I will need to water them every day which will cause me to have a high water bill. Do you have any suggestions?

Derrick from WA

Answer:

Derrick,

There are several things you can do to get rid of weeds and give your lawn a facelift. If your lawn contains less than 50% weeds, instead of looking for ways to combat the weeds, consider trying to create better conditions for grass to grow. This time of the year, lawns naturally go through a dormant period corresponding to the hot dry conditions of late summer. Improving your lawn in the fall and spring will work with the natural growth cycle of grass and take advantage of seasonal rains.

Prepare for fall by aerating your lawn now. This will help to reduce soil compaction and allow nutrients to get down to the roots of the grass. Ideally, you should try to do this a couple of times before the end of September.

In the fall, fertilize by adding a 1/2 inch of organic matter in the form of compost. Spread this evenly over the lawn and then water it thoroughly. Use a slow release fertilizer to increase the likelihood that the nutrients will be used for root growth. Root growth is the main activity of grass in the fall-strong roots being necessary for vigorous blade growth next spring.

Next spring, over seed with a grass variety appropriate to your growing area. Keep the seed moist by watering in between spring rains. You may need to over seed more than once before you see a significant change in composition.

During the summer months, maintain a grass height of at least 3 inches. This allows the roots to go deep (blade length is proportional to root length) and allows grass to become well established-eventually choking out most weeds. Leave the grass clippings on the lawn as fertilizer. They are a great source of nitrogen (the most important grass nutrient).

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August 15, 20050 found this helpful
Top Comment

Cut your lawn at 3 inches and you will not get so many weeds and won't have to water as often. I hate to see people use chemicals just so it can run off into the drain systems. Try non-chemical solutions first. Thanks

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August 14, 20050 found this helpful

July 16, 2013 Flag
0 found this helpful

Both of these weeds get into my fescue lawn this time of year. Is there anything I can do to rid my lawn of these weeds? Weed killers or weed preventors kill the weeds, but also cause the grass to die and it is then hard to regrow.

By H. Gerber

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July 18, 20130 found this helpful
Best Answer

I don't know what you're doing wrong, but weed killers such as 2-4-d amine when properly applied, will not harm established fescue grass. Crab grass killer, on the other hand, can hurt fescue grass.

The best way to get rid of these weeds is to prevent them in the first place. Halts is a very effective pre emergence. It will prevent the germination of the seeds of these two annual weeds. It should be applied twice each year. Check with your local county agricultural agent for the best times to apply Halts in your area.

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September 17, 2007 Flag
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We just bought a new house on a 1/2 acre and it is over run with weeds. Lots of sticker type weeds also. In the front of the house I wanted to do a big lawn.

So my neighbor brought his tractor over and tilled the front area we then threw down grass seed and began to water,and water and water, the grass started to grow and sprout up here and there and we got excited but then the weeds sprouted up and over ran the area we planted. We tried lawn weed killer and it did nothing!

Is there anything I can do to get the lawn not the weeds to grow? If I start over whats the best way to get the lawn to grow and get rid of the weeds for good? I read all the vinegar and salt articles but I want to be able to grow a nice front lawn and I don't have lots of money so it need to be somewhat inexpensive also?it seems the more i water the faster the weeds grow!! and I'm new to this so I'm clueless! Please Help!

Hardiness Zone: 6a

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September 18, 20070 found this helpful

It sounds to me like your lawn is too big to use boiling water, vinegar, or pulling by hand methods of weed control. By tilling, what you have done, is germinate all the weed seeds that have been dormant for years along with all the ones that were growing in the yard when you tilled. Head over to this web site: www.douggreensgarden.com/gardening-newsletter.html. Sign up for his newsletter and look through all his articles on gardening and lawn care. Doug has great ideas to grow a lawn organically without using chemicals. The main thing is to compost and build a healthy lawn that will choke out most weeds. It won't happen overnight, but you will be rewarded with a beautiful healthy lawn before you know it!

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September 20, 20070 found this helpful

Look online for information written by a man named Jerry Baker. He has many good ideas for problems such as yours.

Be sure to keep your mower blade set on the "high" setting. Dont cut the grass too short. When the grass is taller, it shades weed seeds and prevents them from sprouting. also, grass thats cut too short is only stalk and no leaf to the plant.

Best of luck,

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September 20, 20070 found this helpful

i covered my area with black plastic, that killed all the weeds and seeds. then i put the seeds in.

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March 1, 20080 found this helpful

August 11, 2011 Flag

Because I have children and dogs, I do not like to use chemicals on my lawn to get rid of weeds. I find that the best way is to remove them by hand. It is important to remove weeds before the seed, especially dandelions.

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March 9, 2012 Flag
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This weed is coming up in circular clusters. It has white flowers, needle like seeds (that pop off when mature) that are one half inches long and needle shaped. The leaves are oval shaped in maturity and have three points at the end when first appearing. The stems grow up to six inches tall. It has a thin root system and spreads by it's root system. The weed remains green thought the year.

It is not affected by any lawn weed killer; I have tried. And Round Up takes more than a single heavy application to cause its demise.

It is not chickweed. How can I get rid of it?

By Chuck

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March 9, 20120 found this helpful

You might want to dig up one of the plants and after zipping it into a freezer bag to avoid spreading the seeds, take it to a plant centre for advice.

You can also see if the Master Gardeners are having a plant clinic near you and take the sample plant to them for some free advice on what the best herbicide is going to be for that particular weed. They usually set up at the library in spring, there should be a notice in the newspaper or on the library door saying when the MGs will be around.

Or you can Google to find the website for your local extension service-they run the Master Gardeners programme in the US and will have a notice on the site as to where and when the MGs are having clinics; the extension service will also have pages online with all kinds of good information-pics and advice for eliminating all kinds of garden pests including weeds, plant information, and loads more. Every serious gardener should have that site bookmarked:)

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March 9, 20120 found this helpful

I have heard vinegar works great on weeds.

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March 12, 20120 found this helpful

It is probably something called "filaree" which grows all over California. It is very hard to get rid of, but I have found that Round Up works pretty well if you use it on the really young plants. It is best to either kill or pull up the plants before they start to bloom so you don't have the seeds spewing all over the yard.

I use the Round Up concentrate and mix it a little stronger than what they suggest on the back of the bottle. A squirt of liquid soap or detergent in the mix will help it cling to weed leaves.

It might also help to spread a pre-emergent in that area. It will help prevent the seeds from germinating.

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August 5, 2010 Flag
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In the front of my home I have grass together with my neighbor, they never clean weeds on their half of the grass, and the wind blows the weeds seeds on my part of the grass. I have had the problem for four years, I am tired of cleaning weeds, please help me. What should I do? My neighbor does not care about the weeds; their part is completely covered with weeds.

Hardiness Zone: 4b

By Krystyna

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August 5, 20100 found this helpful

Just mow their strip of lawn while you're mowing yours. It's easier than pulling weeds later. I had to do this with one of my neighbors because of her weeds also. it only took me a few minutes, and it looked 100% better.

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August 7, 20100 found this helpful

I do the mowing thing too and then I get the comment from the neighbor, "Was that a hint?" I say I had to do a turn around strip and that was where I started. It is interesting when you can live on the same property 25 yrs, have 4 neighbors in that time. The latest do not trim their trees hanging over my property/gardens, do their weeds, pile their weeds and dirt when they do against my fence in the back as if it were a compost, and now challenge the fence line established for us when we bought the place. The then next door neighbors established the line for us when they moved so they had a legal line. We are not anal about our yard but we are gardeners, mow weekly, have a handy dandy clothes line (must be 60 years old) established along the fence line too. When I take care of the weeds in their yard along my gardens they get touchy. They don't see them around an out building so why should they care if I take care of them! Except for this neighbor, we are neighbors who take care of each other, share flowers, garden produce, visit over fences and on stoops, swing on the porch swings, kids play in the yards and do chalk on the sidewalks. The June Cleaver type of neighborhood.

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August 19, 20130 found this helpful

Krystyna,

I think the best you can do is apply a pre emergent to stop those seeds from germinating. Follow label directions and if you have any questions be sure to contact an ag agent with your county cooperative extension service.

Good luck.

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May 6, 2012 Flag
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I have a huge yard and I would say that 90% of it is weeds of some sort. I have two kids and a dog and I want them to be able to play outside with no shoes and have a thistle free yard for them to do so. The grass that we do have is being over taken and we have such great grass that feels good to sit and walk on. I want the weeds gone. I have clover, thistles, dandelions, weeds with small yellow flowers on them, and we have many more that grow right along with them. Someone please help me!

By lost

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May 7, 20120 found this helpful

With regards to weeds, I have only had luck with the use of vinegar or salt and digging up the thistles, myself. I do sympathize with you about the weeds. About the children going barefoot, I would be hesitant about that. Long before you ever lived there, someone else was on that land and may have had broken glass on the property. This glass does not go away always, even when overturned. It could even be in new topsoil. Perhaps they could wear some flip flops on their feet :)

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May 7, 20120 found this helpful

I think the best and fastest answer would be to start laying carpet in the yard. Many people use old carpet, flipped upside down to make weed free paths thru their veggie gardens and it lasts a very long time. Start watching craigslist freebies or freecycle sites in your area for used carpet.

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April 20, 2011 Flag
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How do I get rid of chick weed, it's taking over the lawn?

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