Ah, weeds. One of the most common and seemingly unavoidable homeowners’ predicaments. Sometimes, it can feel like a mystery why one lawn is entirely free of weeds, while the neighbor next door struggles constantly with unruly and invasive plant species. Luckily, lawn experts have narrowed down the top reasons why your lawn has weeds and how to prevent them.
What Are Lawn Weeds and Why Do They Grow?
Basically, weeds are any unwanted plant species that grow uncontrollably if left to their own devices. Most types are either annuals, such as crabgrass and bluegrass, or perennials, like the all-too-familiar dandelion. Lawn weeds are a tricky bunch – they’re actually the same plants that can potentially pop up in your flowerbeds, but cannot easily attack heavily mulched and non-selectively sprayed areas. Why do they grow on your lawn? Weed seeds travel and are implanted easily via animals, wind, soil amendments, lawn tools, and even your feet. What’s more, soil inherently contains weed seeds which can remain dormant for decades before sprouting. So, it’s not just a matter of preventing the spread of seeds, but knowing how to control them once they do decide to make themselves known.
Why Does My Lawn Have So Many Weeds?
Just because every lawn is susceptible to pesky weed seedlings does not mean you need to admit defeat. Bare spots and weak areas on your lawn are particularly good places for weeds to grow, since they have virtually zero competition. Mulch and a thick, healthy lawn can work wonders, acting as weed kryptonite.
The height of your lawn’s grass, too, has a profound effect on the germination and growth of weed seeds. At the proper length, grass will overshadow the soil, keeping temperature and exposure to sunlight below natural levels for weed seed germination and growth. A suggested time to mow your lawn is when the grass becomes about one-third above the proper cutting length. Different types of grasses have their own ideal cutting lengths, however, so check with your landscaper to determine the correct height and mowing schedule for your lawn.
Finally, it’s important to identify the types of weeds that grow on your lawn because each must be dealt with differently. As a basic guideline, the three main categories of lawn weeds are unwanted grasses, sedges, and broadleaf plants. Your weeding tactic, herbicide choice, and lawn care routine are entirely dependent of the type of weed you’re dealing with – which, by the way, is likely more than one. Consult with an expert landscaper to get a better scope of the situation.
How to Prevent Weeds From Taking Over Your Lawn
Weeds are a lawn’s worst enemy, but the fight doesn’t need to be everlasting. How to prevent your lawn from having weeds? Let’s recap:
- Keeping a weed-free lawn is a “survival of the fittest” game, so be sure to plant a competitive landscape. Consider native plants.
- Mow your lawn on a consistent schedule for ideal grass length. The right cutting height keeps weed seed germination and growth at bay.
- Learn to identify your weeds. Different species call for different elimination techniques, so these details are crucial.