Grass that is well-managed and vigorously grows will have weeds, but these are not a problem. To give your new lawn the best start, it is important to prepare the site and select turfgrass before you plant. Poor maintenance practices, such as improper irrigation or fertilization, can weaken a lawn and make it more susceptible to weeds. Compaction can also cause turfgrass stress and make it easier for weeds. Here are some weed management tips you need to know.
A weed control program that is integrated can help reduce weeds to a manageable level and eliminate large, unsightly patches. For most lawns or park turfgrass, total eradication is neither realistic nor necessary. However, with the right maintenance and care a lawn can become virtually free of weeds.
Knowing the life cycle of weeds is essential for lawn care. In lawns, weeds can be divided into three general categories: grasses and sedges, broadleaves. Be sure to differentiate weedy grasses and similar-looking species of lawn grass.
Weeds can invade turfgrass that has been over- or underestimated in water, fertilized incorrectly, improperly cut, or is highly compacted. Weeds can also invade lawns that are weakened by insect pests or plant diseases. This is because the open spaces in these lawns make it easier for them to grow. The majority of weed invasions are preventable with good lawn maintenance and can be remedied by overseeding. Turfgrass-invading weeds are usually associated with certain conditions. Identification of weed species can give a clue to the problem that is causing the infestation and what you can do to reduce it.
Weed Management Before Planting
Prepare Your Site
The foundation of a healthy lawn is a site that has been properly prepared. Remove existing vegetation before planting and prepare the area. Irrigate the area to encourage weeds. Repeat this process with a shallow cultivating or application of nonselective (described below) herbicides such as clove oil or glyphosate. When using seed or sod, this is crucial.
Choose the Right Turfgrass for Your Area
Turfgrasses vary in their tolerance to extreme temperatures, shade, and drought as well as the amount of wear. The grasses are divided into cool-season and warmer-season grasses based on their preferred temperature and active growth periods.
NEWLY PLANT LAWNS: WEED MANAGEMENT
Even if the planting site is carefully prepared, weeds are likely to develop on a newly laid lawn. As soon as weeds appear, remove them by hand. It will stop them from reproducing seeds and spreading the invasion. Weeds can be controlled by timing irrigation, mowing and fertilization. Turfgrass roots are relatively short in the first few weeks following planting. They only reach the top few inches. Lightly water the roots to avoid soaking the soil. Water deeply and infrequently once the turfgrass is established to encourage healthy root growth. When the roots of the new lawn are well-established in the soil, mow it for the first time. Make sure that the soil is dry enough to prevent the turfgrass from being ripped out of the ground.
WEED MANAGEMENT FOR ESTABLISHED LAWNS
Many lawns have been watered in the wrong way. Weeds can invade turfgrass if irrigation is not done properly. Poorly irrigated grasses are home to weeds such as crabgrass, annual bluegrass, dallisgrass, and nutsedge. For a healthy lawn to be maintained, it is important that the water is evenly distributed. Sprinkler heads that are damaged, blocked, or placed too low or high can’t reach all parts of the lawn, and this may result in dead or dry spots.
The height of mowing varies depending on the turfgrass species. Too short mowing can cause turfgrass to weaken and encourage weed growth. If some grasses do not get mowed, they can cause the thatch to build up and reduce water penetration, weakening turfgrass.
When grasses are growing, mow them more often. Standard guidelines suggest removing no more than 1/3 the blade of a leaf at a time. It can take a while for the grasses to recover if too much is cut at once. Weeds will have a chance to grow if this happens.
Follow fertilization guidelines to maintain a healthy grass. Start a regular program of fertilization approximately six weeks after the planting. Lawns should be fertilized four times per year, while they are growing. However, the amount of nitrogen applied per application must not exceed 1 pound per 1,000 square foot.
Regular thatch removal can help your lawn stay healthy and compete with weeds. Thatch is an organic layer that forms between turfgrass blades. It is perfectly normal to have a thin layer of thatch. This can even be beneficial, as it helps limit the germination of weeds.
Over time, heavy traffic can compact the soil. Compacted soil restricts oxygen, water, and nutrients from reaching the roots. This causes turfgrass to grow slower and is more susceptible to weed infestations. Aeration can help reduce soil compaction. Aerating lawns that are on clay soils, or those with heavy foot traffic or equipment may be necessary several times per year. Lawns with less activity might only require aeration once or twice a season.
Hand pulling weeds is not always necessary, if you maintain your lawn regularly and properly. Hand weeding can be very important in preventing infestations such as creeping woodsorrel, nutsedge, dandelion spurge, dallisgrass and bermudagrass.
Herbicides are not usually needed if your lawn is well maintained. Use them in conjunction with a good maintenance program and an integrated management plan. Not all herbicides are suitable for all lawn types. Before choosing an herbicide, you must first identify the weeds and turfgrass species that are causing problems.