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Winning lawn wars - how to control weeds in lawns

lawn wars

Are you tired of constantly battling weeds in your lawn? Learning how to control weeds in lawns effectively is the key to achieving a lush, green, and healthy outdoor space. In this article, we will explore a variety of methods to combat pesky weeds, from prevention and organic solutions to chemical treatments. Say goodbye to unsightly invaders and hello to a beautiful, weed-free lawn so you can jump on your small riding lawn mower with pride!


Understanding Weeds

Before tackling weeds, it's essential to know what you're dealing with. There are several types of weeds, and knowing which ones are invading your lawn can help you choose the right control method.

Types of Weeds

There are three main types of weeds:

  1. Broadleaf weeds are characterized by wide, flat leaves and include dandelions, clover, and plantains.
  2. Grassy weeds resemble grass and are difficult to distinguish from the actual lawn. Examples include crabgrass and quackgrass.
  3. Sedges are grass-like weeds with triangular stems, such as yellow nutsedge and purple nutsedge.


Common Weeds in Lawns

Some of the most common lawn weeds include dandelions, crabgrass, clover, and creeping Charlie. Identifying the specific weeds in your lawn will help you choose the most effective control methods.


Effective Weed Prevention

Preventing weeds is the best way to maintain a healthy lawn. The following strategies can help keep weeds at bay:

Proper Mowing

Mow your lawn at the correct height, usually between 2.5 and 3.5 inches, to encourage dense grass growth and discourage weed growth. Taller grass shades the soil, making it more difficult for weed seeds to germinate.

Watering Techniques

Water your lawn deeply and infrequently, aiming for about 1 inch of water per week. This helps promote strong root growth in grass while minimizing weed germination.


Use the right type and amount of fertilizer for your lawn. Over-fertilizing can lead to excessive growth, which can weaken the grass and make it more susceptible to weeds.


Organic Weed Control Methods

Organic methods can effectively control weeds without resorting to chemicals. Here are someoptions to consider:

Hand Weeding

For small infestations, hand weeding is a practical option. Remove the entire weed, including the root, to prevent regrowth.


Mulching your lawn with organic materials, such as grass clippings, leaves, or straw, can help prevent weed growth by blocking sunlight and making it harder for weed seeds to germinate.

Corn Gluten Meal

This natural byproduct of corn processing acts as a pre-emergent herbicide, preventing weed seeds from germinating. Apply corn gluten meal in early spring before weeds appear.


Chemical Weed Control

Sometimes, chemical control is necessary for stubborn weed infestations. Here are some chemical options:

Selective Herbicides

These chemicals target specific types of weeds, such as broadleaf or grassy weeds, without harming the surrounding grass. Follow the label instructions for proper application.

Non-selective Herbicides

Non-selective herbicides, such as glyphosate, kill all plants they come into contact with. Use these chemicals sparingly and carefully to avoid harming your lawn.

Pre-emergent and Post-emergent Herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides are applied before weeds germinate, while post-emergent herbicides target established weeds. Choose the appropriate product based on your lawn's needs.


Using Weed Barriers and Landscape Fabrics

Weed barriers and landscape fabrics can be used in garden beds or under pathways to prevent weed growth. They allow water and air to penetrate while blocking sunlight, creating an inhospitable environment for weeds. Be cautious when using these materials near your lawn, as they can also inhibit grass growth if not installed correctly.


Maintaining a Healthy Lawn

A healthy lawn is your best defense against weeds. Here are some maintenance practices to keep your lawn in top shape:

Soil Testing and pH Adjustment

Test your soil to determine its pH level and nutrient content. Adjust the pH and add any necessary nutrients to create an optimal environment for grass growth.


Aeration and Dethatching

Aerate your lawn annually to reduce soil compaction, which can contribute to weed growth. Dethatch your lawn as needed to remove excess dead grass and organic matter, allowing water and nutrients to penetrate the soil more effectively.


Overseeding and Reseeding

Overseed thin or bare areas of your lawn with the appropriate grass seed to create a dense, weed-resistant turf. Reseed any damaged areas to prevent weeds from taking over.



Controlling weeds in lawns requires a combination of prevention, organic and chemical treatments, and regular maintenance. By understanding the types of weeds, using effective prevention strategies, and maintaining a healthy lawn, you can keep your lawn looking its best and free of unwanted weeds.



How can I control weeds without using chemicals?

Organic methods such as hand weeding, mulching, and corn gluten meal can be effective in controlling weeds without chemicals.

How often should I mow my lawn to prevent weeds?

Mow your lawn regularly, typically every 7 to 10 days, to maintain the ideal grass height of 2.5 to 3.5 inches. This helps prevent weed growth by shading the soil and encouraging dense grass growth.

Can I use vinegar to kill weeds in my lawn?

Vinegar, particularly horticultural vinegar with a higher acetic acid concentration, can be used as a natural, non-selective herbicide. However, it will also damage grass and other plants it comes into contact with, so use it with caution and only on targeted weeds.

Why are weeds still growing in my lawn after applying a pre-emergent herbicide?

Pre-emergent herbicides are not effective against all types of weeds, and their effectiveness can be reduced by improper application, insufficient coverage, or heavy rainfall. Additionally, pre-emergent herbicides don't affect established weeds, so post-emergent treatments may be necessary.

How can I prevent weeds from returning after removing them?

After removing weeds, focus on maintaining a healthy, dense lawn through proper mowing, watering, and fertilization practices. Overseed thin or bare areas to establish a thick turf that discourages weed growth. Regularly monitor your lawn for any new weeds, and address them promptly with hand weeding or appropriate treatments.

By implementing these weed control strategies and maintaining a healthy lawn, you can create a beautiful, weed-free outdoor space for you and your family to enjoy.

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