Getting Rid of Weeds in Your Lawn

Category 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 page for getting rid of weeds in your lawn.
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August 25, 2005

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.

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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.

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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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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. Also, if possible you want to remove the whole weed and its roots.

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There are a number of tools on the market that can help you remove even the most stubborn weeds. Some of them can be used by standing, while other are smaller hand tools that require you to be down on the ground.

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Questions

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September 12, 2013

I live in Loudoun County, Virginia and my 1/2 acre lot is 20% covered with weeds. Should I kill and remove the weeds before I aerate and overseed my lawn? At what point should I fertilize the lawn? I have an underground sprinkler system, how often and how long should I water the lawn and when? How low should lawns be cut? What tips can you provide that I can follow that will enable me to maintain great lawn care and proper lawn maintenance throughout the year?

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By Robert R.

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