Weed control is one of the most important services you can provide to your lawn, and the pros at Holmes Lawn & Pest want to make sure you know how to take care of those invasive weeds this growing season! Your lawn will become thin and nutrient-deficient if weeds are allowed to invade. The following sections will walk you through which techniques are best used to either prevent or kill common weeds in Utah.
Preventive Weed Control
The best defense against weeds is preventing them from ever existing in your yard. The methods described below will work to stop weed seeds from germinating and emerging while simultaneously improving the quality and thickness of your turf.
One of the easiest ways to prevent weed growth is installing mulch in your gardens and flower beds. Mulch is loved by landscape enthusiasts for its versatility and its aesthetic benefits. When it comes to preventing weeds, mulch is effective at blocking sunlight and airflow from invasive weeds that are trying to germinate and sprout, and it also provides a layer of protection from weed seedlings blowing into your yard’s soil from elsewhere. A layer of organic mulch laid around your existing plants will not only suffocate harmful weeds, it will also improve nutritional intake and soil quality for those existing plants, which further strengthens them in the fight against weeds!
People have mixed feelings about mowing over existing weeds, but the preventive weed control that naturally comes from proper lawn mowing is undeniable! A solid rule of thumb for lawn mowing is not to remove more than the top ⅓ of grass length, and keeping your lawn just a bit taller than normal length will help choke out pesky weeds. Your turfgrass competes with weeds for nutrients, so allowing your lawn to grow around 3 inches (or just slightly taller) will help block sunlight from seeds attempting to germinate, and it will be harder for both weeds and seeds to absorb nutrients as your lawn grows thicker and stronger. Proper mowing practices go a long way in weed prevention.
Many weeds thrive in struggling lawns, and bare spots caused by improper watering will quickly fall victim to weed growth. Quick and/or frequent watering sessions could result in your lawn developing shallow roots, making it susceptible to invasive weeds. Deep, developed root systems are what you want for your lawn, and that has to be achieved through careful and thorough waterings. Making sure your entire lawn has coverage and gets evenly distributed attention will help ensure that no areas of your turf become weaker than the rest, which would invite weeds to spread to those undernourished areas. If you need help with your sprinklers this summer to make sure your lawn stays hydrated, be sure to check out our sprinkler services in Utah.
If your soil is not properly fertilized, weeds may be about to sprout at any moment. Using a balanced fertilizer throughout the growing season is the best way to make sure your turf gets the nutrients it needs to thrive. If you are not fertilizing your lawn in any way, there is a good chance that your lawn will lack proper levels of nutrients. White clover, for example, is a very common weed in Utah, and it is especially invasive in nitrogen-deficient soil. Fertilizing and watering your lawn regularly will give your grass the best possible chance it can have at overpowering weeds.
Apply Pre-Emergent Herbicides
Many products combine fertilizer and pre-emergent because a well-fertilized lawn will enhance the effects of herbicides, and pre-emergent herbicide will help prevent weeds from ever sprouting in the first place. Pre-emergents basically work by creating a barrier just below the soil surface. The barrier prevents germinated weed seeds from sprouting, thereby stopping the spread of weeds before it ever even starts! Always make sure you apply herbicides as directed, as too much of any product can damage your lawn and plants. When applied properly, pre-emergent weed control is a safe and highly effective option that will affect only weeds, not your lawn!
Curative Weed Control
If preventive measures fail and your weed problem is becoming too widespread, these curative weed control methods will help save your turf! If existing weeds are ignored, the problem will only get worse until corrective measures are taken. Whether you are dealing with perennials, annuals, broadleaf weeds, or grassy weeds, these methods will help you get rid of them!
Mow Immature Weeds
According to some people, mowing over sprouted weeds is a cardinal sin and only spreads weeds across your lawn. While it is true that mowing over mature weeds may spread weed seeds, cutting down weeds that have not yet flowered will actually damage and help eradicate those weeds! Weeds that have not developed flowers have not yet had a chance to set seed. Mowing regularly will prevent weeds from maturing and setting seed, and the plant will become more damaged and nutrient deficient each time it is cut, eventually leading to its death. It is also important to remember that you MUST use a mower bag when attempting to mow over weeds in order to catch any clippings that may contain weed seedlings.
Pull Weeds By Hand
Tried and true, and as simple as it sounds, pulling weeds by hand is the easiest and fastest way to control existing weeds, but doing so improperly will not produce lasting results. It is very important to make sure you pull out the entire root of the weed to prevent the plant from regrowing. Effective hand-pulling also needs to be done before the weeds set seed, or you will simply be delaying the problem rather than eliminating it. Annual weeds with shallow roots, such as annual bluegrass, crabgrass, and goosegrass, are the most receptive to hand-pulling. Remember to wear gloves, and grab the weeds as low to the ground as possible to make sure you remove everything under the soil.
Dig Out Roots
Thistles, violets, and dandelions are 3 common weeds in Utah that are often removed by digging because of their hardy root systems. Digging out the roots of weeds essentially performs the same function as pulling, but some roots are too strong to remove fully just by yanking on them. For those situations, tools like hand trowels or other weeders can be used to dig around and under the roots of weeds, which is the best way to treat weeds with stronger or more complex root systems.
Apply Natural Weed Killer
Though professionally applied products are effective and safe, some people prefer to use natural remedies and products to eradicate weeds. While everyday, household products aren’t always guaranteed to kill every weed in your yard, some have proven quite effective. Vinegar, hand soap, salt, and boiling water are frequently used as natural weed killers, though it may take several applications of these in order to see lasting results. Even when using natural remedies like these, make sure that they are only applied to the weeds and not your lawn. Just like many herbicides, these methods of weed control can not differentiate between grass and weeds, and they will damage whatever they are applied to in your yard.
Apply Post-Emergent Herbicide
When weeds have completely overtaken your lawn and yard, there is no substitute for a post-emergent herbicide. Weeds spread quickly, and struggling lawns that are riddled with weeds do not stand a chance without a quality post-emergent treatment. It is not realistic to expect household products or hand-pulling/digging methods to effectively treat lawns that are severely overtaken by weeds. Spraying a high-quality post-emergent is the best solution for widespread weed damage.
For the best weed control results, we recommend utilizing the services of a professional lawn care company. At Holmes Lawn & Pest, for example, we offer expertly applied weed control treatments, and we always use industry-leading products and strategies that are difficult to replicate at home. Call Holmes today at (801) 616-5296 for more information on all your weed control questions!