Having a beautiful lawn in the Salt Lake area can be a sometimes challenging task. With our unique climate and range of weed species, it can be difficult to keep your outdoor space looking great. To help you better understand and approach this challenge, we have compiled this comprehensive guide on lawn weeds in Utah. Let’s dive right in so you can have a healthier, weed-free lawn in no time!
What Are Lawn Weeds?
Weeds are plants that grow where they are not wanted, typically in grassy areas like yards or parks. For homeowners, you will inevitably find weeds in your lawn at some point throughout the spring and summer, so it is important to know what you are looking for! Weeds compete with desirable turfgrass (and other plants) for resources like sunlight, water, and nutrients in the soil, leaving less of these important elements available for the green things you actually want to have growing in your yard. Most types of weeds grow and spread more aggressively than healthy grass, which will create an undernourished lawn if you do not know how to properly identify and control the various types of weeds you are likely to encounter.
What Do Lawn Weeds Look Like?
There is no clear, definitive characteristic that can be used to identify all lawn weeds. Weeds come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, depending on the type and specific species of weed. Though these are by no means a guarantee, you can usually be confident that you are dealing with some type of lawn weed if the following characteristics are present:
- Leaves that have different colors than surrounding grass blades
- Leaves that are shaped differently than the surrounding grass blades
- Stems or stalks that rise above the height of neighboring vegetation
- Flowers or seeds growing at times when they shouldn’t
- Flowering petals with brighter colors or unusual patterns
- Shallow roots that spread out from the base of the weed
- An occasional odor emanating from certain weeds
- Rapid growth compared to other plants in the vicinity
Types Of Lawn Weeds
To truly identify common lawn weeds, you have to first understand the difference between the two main categories of weeds: broadleaf and grassy. Weeds that belong to one of these categories do have distinct characteristics that differentiate them from weeds in the other category. Let’s take a closer look at what makes weeds in these categories different from one another so you can confidently identify any troublesome plants in your lawn and yard!
Broadleaf weeds are identifiable by their famously thick and wide leaves (hence the name) that vary in color from the surrounding plants in your yard. Depending on the species of broadleaf weed, the plant may produce a single flower or cluster of flowers. Broadleaf weeds can grow annually, biennially, or perennially, making their growth and control needs difficult to predict. These weeds are known to multiply quickly, utilizing a mixture of both rhizomes and seeds to sprout new shoots. Broadleaf weeds can have a very shallow root system near the surface of the soil, or they can have deep central taproots.
Common Broadleaf Weeds:
- White Clover
- Spotted Spurge
- Field Bindweed
Grassy weeds are much more difficult to identify because they share many physical characteristics with desirable grass species. The best way to differentiate between grassy weeds and healthy turfgrass is to look for patches in your lawn that are not uniform with the color and growth habits of the rest of the grass in your lawn. Depending on the type of grassy weed, you can sometimes identify them by their rolled or folded leaf shape, which is usually different from that of turfgrass. Many grassy weeds have notoriously shallow roots that easily steal nutrients from the rest of your lawn. Though some grassy “weeds” can be used to create an entire lawn, it is when they pop up in existing lawns unexpectedly that they pose a threat to the surrounding grass.
Common Grassy Weeds:
- Annual Bluegrass
- Creeping Bentgrass
Where Do Weeds Come From?
Weeds can come from a variety of sources, such as wind, water, animals, contaminated soil, etc. Some weeds are even spread by people themselves through activities like gardening or landscaping work. Weeds that produce a seed head often disperse their seeds whenever they are physically contacted, or even if there is just a particularly strong gust of wind. This is often how weeds find their way into an otherwise-healthy lawn or garden. Once established, many weeds can also spread via runners and underground rhizomes that expand their invasive roots.
Any type of weed will need certain conditions present in order to thrive, just like any other plant. Unfortunately, weeds are such a nuisance because they are often capable of surviving conditions that would kill healthy grass or plants, such as poor soil quality or extreme weather conditions. Weeds tend to seek out poorly performing lawns to ravage, so be aware of the following conditions that could lead to a weed invasion in your yard:
- Poor Drainage: Poor soil drainage and low fertility create an ideal environment for weeds to grow, as many types thrive in overly moist soil.
- Overwatering: Too much water can create a soggy environment, which encourages weed seeds to germinate.
- Inadequate Mowing: Mowing too low or infrequently can weaken grasses, allowing weeds to take hold.
- Improper Fertilization: Fertilizer helps to promote healthy grass growth, but too much or not enough nitrogen is an open invitation for weeds to invade.
- Excess Sunlight: Some sunlight is necessary for all plants, but too much sun exposure can weaken turfgrass and leave it vulnerable to weeds.
- Soil Compaction: Compacted soils have less oxygen and nutrients available for roots, which favors the shallow roots of many weeds.
How To Remove Lawn Weeds
The best way to remove lawn weeds is by using a combination of techniques, as not all weeds (and roots) are the same. Keeping your lawn healthy all season long is the best defense against weeds, and it is the most effective way to keep weeds from developing in the first place. But… we get it. Life gets busy, and yard work can not always be a top priority. In these situations, we humbly request that you call Holmes Lawn & Pest for all your weed control and lawn care needs, because your needs ARE our priority!
We will leave you with a list of some great ways you can prevent and control weeds in your lawn, ranked from most effective to least effective.
1) CHEMICAL HERBICIDES
- Pre-emergents create protective barrier
- Post-emergents kill emerged weeds
- Improper application can damage grass
- Should be professionally applied
2) DIG ROOTS
- Ensures the entire plant is removed
- Minimizes chances of regrowth
- Allows all fibrous fragments to be removed
- Safe and chemical-free
3) HAND PULL
- Central taproots can pull right up
- Not recommended for fibrous roots
- Easy and effective after irrigation
- Allows grass roots to grow
4) INSTALL MULCH
- Blocks sunlight from weed seeds in the soil
- Retains water so seeds can’t germinate
- Adds nutrients to the soil for stronger plants
- Physically blocks weeds from emerging
5) MOW HIGH
- Blocks sunlight from weed seeds
- Helps keep weed seeds out of the soil
- Tall grass means deep grass roots, which means less weeds
- Thicker, taller grass can crowd-out weeds
6) NATURAL REMEDIES
- Vegetable oil
- Boiled water
- Hand soap