Is there anything more satisfying to the eye than a well-kept, fresh lawn? It’s a simple pleasure, but one that fills every gardener with joy.
It’s also one of the most difficult things that a gardener can try and achieve! Not only does a good lawn require constant attention and maintenance, but you’ve also got to stay vigilant for weeds. Because once they get their roots into your lawn soil, they’re a nightmare to try and get out.
So, what exactly do you do if you’ve, say, just bought or moved into a home that has a lawn that is infested with weeds? Or perhaps, you’ve decided to take up gardening, and want to treat that long-abandoned lawn that you have?
You start from scratch, right, tearing the entire top layer of soil and grass out, and start from the ground up, quite literally in this case?
Well, hold on a second, no need to get that extreme right off the bat. If you have the right tools and methods, then treating your weed-infested lawn doesn’t need to be so drastic.
This guide will show you the best methods for treating an infested lawn.
Why Your Lawn Is Full Of Weeds
It’s important to understand why exactly your garden is full of weeds, rather than the luscious grass or other plants that you may be looking for.
This is generally the reason that lawns start to grow too many weeds. As we said at the beginning of this guide, lawns generally require a lot of time and energy to maintain the monoculture of grass.
Not giving your lawn enough nutrition, not allowing the grass seeds to grow, and simply leaving your soil to the elements, are all incredibly fast ways to let weeds take over your garden.
However, while this is often the biggest cause for weeds growing in a lawn or garden, it is mainly an issue that leads to one of the following causes that cause real damage to your green patch.
Sub-Par Grass Growth
Grass might be one of the most common plants on Earth, but that doesn’t mean that it naturally grows everywhere. Just like every other plant, it requires the ideal conditions to grow, which many lawns simply don’t have.
As we’ve already said, lawns take a ton of energy to upkeep, and not giving them that can mean that the grass growth in your garden is either patchy or too thin.
This gives those weeds ample opportunity to grow between those blades of grass, turning what was already a patchy garden into a weed-plant paradise!
Another issue that gardens can have is the quality of the soil. In this case, how loose it is.
Many plants, from bushes to trees, to grasses, grow best in soil that has a decent amount of compaction, but with enough loose soil to allow roots to take hold and absorb nutrients as they grow deeper.
If too much of the soil is compacted, then there’s simply no room for the grass seeds in your garden to grow. Meanwhile, weed roots can grow much easier in these conditions, leading to a weed-filled garden.
Not Enough Water
It’s a basic rule of nature. Like the sun rising, and the cycle of life, all plants on Earth need water to grow. The only question is how much.
While grass is a relatively drought-resistant plant, they still need quite a lot of water to grow. Certainly, more than weed plants need.
If you’re not watering your plants enough, then most of the water that is left in the soil will be absorbed into weeds before it comes close to nourishing your grass.
Combine this problem with the compacted soil issue that we just mentioned, and you have some of the worst growing conditions for grass imaginable, but some of the best conditions for weeds to thrive.
Common Lawn Weeds
Before we can start to tackle the problem, you’re going to need to know what kinds of weeds tend to grow in your lawn. After all, many weeds have wildly different anatomies and biology, so they often require different means of eradication.
One of the most common weeds in the world, dandelions are easily recognizable by their yellow flower with feathery petals, to the iconic seed head that grows in late summer.
While we can’t deny that there is a certain charm to them, we also know that they can wreak havoc on your soil quality, killing the grass that is growing around it. The fact that their roots burrow incredibly deeply also makes them a pain to cut back and stay back, much less get rid of!
Another common flowering weed, daisies are best known for their central yellow disc, thin white petals with purple tips, and their small size. Again, they’re charming to some, but very difficult to get rid of for other gardeners, and break up a uniform patch of grass.
One of the most common weeds out there, plantain can be identified by its broad leaves that often grow over and kill the surrounding grass, and its tall, pointed flowers.
Their tough, fibrous roots also make them an absolute nightmare to try and cut back, so getting rid of them a must, but a frustrating must.
Crabgrass can often look very similar to grass, but grows from a single, messy cluster in all directions in a tight circle, looking like the body of a crab.
These clumps both ruin soil quality, and often kill surrounding plants, making them an unsightly plant to get rid of for most gardeners.
Similar to crabgrass, ragweed is known for its tough roots that both deprive the grass of water content, and for its thin stems and pointed leaves.
This particular weed, with its high pollen count, is also known to cause some nasty bouts of hay fever in sufferers, making it a kill-on-sight plant for many gardeners.
Treating Your Weed-Infested Lawn
So, with all of that information out of the way, we can now get to the part of this guide that many of you have been waiting for: Treating your weed-infested garden!
The methods that you’ll see us explain here are often broken down into three main categories, usually because of a defining feature that the method uses to cut back weed growth and encourage grass and other, more desirable plant growth. They are:
- Natural Weed Control
- Spring-Time Weed Control
- Chemical Weed Control
Natural Weed Control Methods
Natural weed control is probably something that you are already familiar with, or even tried yourself. Even if you weren’t aware of the name, exactly.
This collection of methods refers to landscaping and manual labor methods of treating and maintaining lawns without needing to resort to more drastic methods, such as the use of pesticides.
It’s effectively just good lawn-keeping, but it’s also a great family of techniques that can have great long-term benefits for your lawn’s health.
The downside? Well, it is a lot of manual labor work, so expect to build up a good sweat when using these techniques for yourself!
Aerating The Soil
This method is a perfect solution if you’re worried about compacted soil in your garden lawn.
We’ve already mentioned plenty of times how compacted soil is both great for weeds and bad for growing grass. So, the simple solution to this problem would just be to find a way to help loosen up the soil for grass seeds to grow.
This is where aeration and aerating tools come into play. Using long spikes, these tools help reintroduce proper airflow back into the soil and help break up the compacted soil a little more, allowing grass roots to properly grow into it.
These holes also allow nutrients to be reintroduced back into the deeper soil, encouraging even more root growth from grass.
If you’re looking for any products, in particular, to do this with, we recommend trying out this handled tool with 15 iron spikes. Alternatively, getting spiked attachments for the soles of your shoes is also an effective measure, like this product here.
Pulling Weeds Out
Of course, there is always the simplest solution that you can do. Why not simply pull weeds out from the soil of your lawn manually? After all, it’s cheap, incredibly simple, and incredibly environmentally friendly. Why wouldn’t you try this one out for yourself?
Well, trying to de-weed an entire garden lawn, especially a large one, takes a lot of time and physical effort. Time and effort might be more than one person can do by themselves, especially in a single sitting. There’s also the issue of leaving small parts of the root behind, which may try to grow back, so be thorough!
Still, if you have that energy and spare time on hand, then this might be the way to go for your lawn treatment. Plus, pulling these roots up can help free and disturb the soil, giving your grass room to root. The weeds can even be turned into mulch or compost for your soil later on, adding nutrients back to your garden lawn.
Overall, it’s a method worth considering.
Did you know that you can make a decent herbicide for your garden at home? All it takes is some water, a kettle, or hob heat, and voilà… you have boiling water, a proven and easy way of killing back weed plants and their roots!
Simply watering the leaves and stem of the plant will boil and burn the plant, causing it to die back, and make it easier to pull out, freeing up space on your lawn, and allowing more grass to grow back.
Plus, it leaves no nasty chemicals in the soil, making it environmentally friendly for your lawn too!
Dousing In Vinegar
For a low-cost solution to weeds, spraying vinegar on their stems and leaves is a great way to cause these plants to die back. Repeating the process over a month or so is perfect for helping the roots die back, making pulling from the root much easier.
However, if you do plan on using this method, make sure that you’re only spraying the weed plant with the vinegar, and not the surrounding grass or soil.
The high acidity of the vinegar will make it very difficult for these plants to grow back in places that have been heavily sprayed with vinegar.
Cover In Mulch
Mulch isn’t just a great way of providing nutrition to plants. Covering smaller weed plants with mulch is also an effective way of stopping weeds from growing, smothering the plant, and preventing it from getting any sunlight.
Springtime Weed Control
These next weed control steps are very time-sensitive methods. As their name suggests, they are best, and perhaps only, feasible during the early spring, before many plants start growing again.
While pre-emergent herbicides don’t kill plants off, they do stop them from growing or maturing, making them very good at preventing weeds from spreading. However, the same is also true for many other plant species, such as grass.
This is why the time of year and temperature of the air and soil are so important for this step.
Applying your pre-emergent before spring and the growing seasons start can help stop weeds from emerging in your garden, while still having little to no impact on your grass growing when spring and summer arrive.
However, this is a treatment that will need to be repeated annually, so it’s not a one-and-done solution. This will need to be something to keep in mind at the end of every winter, so make sure to add it to your diary!
Chemical Weed Control
This type of treatment, as the name implies, relies on using chemicals such as pesticides to kill back weed plants. It’s simple, often very effective at its job, and one of the first ideas that pop into people’s minds when thinking of treating weeds.
The main downside, of course, is that these same chemical treatments can also be very harmful to your grass and other plants that you’re trying to help. So, make sure to consider if these solutions are right for your plants and garden, and make sure to check the exact chemical makeup of any products that you do use.
Weed & Feed
This strategy is exactly what it sounds like. You weed the nasty plants out and feed the plants that you want to stay.
This method uses one-part herbicide, for the weeding component, and one-part fertilizer agent, for encouraging growth back from the plants that survive.
While this can be damaging to plants other than weeds, grasses tend to survive this method quite well, making it perfect for treating lawns. At least, as long as you don’t overuse it. No amount of hardy grass species can survive too much herbicide!
Like with all herbicide/fertilizer solutions, it’s also a method that will need to be repeated semi-regularly, whether that’s every year, two, three, and so on.
Post-Emergent Herbicide Treatment
As the name suggests, post-emergent herbicides are a great way to stop weeds from growing back once they have been rooted out.
These types of solutions can be both bought from official brands, or even made at home, with combinations of soap, vinegar, and even salt being usable.
So, as you can see, weeds aren’t a problem that is going to go away easily. It’s going to take time, patience, and probably a little money too, if you’re looking to be effective.
That said, follow these strategies, and your lawn will be weed-free in no time! Then it’s just a matter of keeping up with maintenance, but the good news is that prevention is far easier than the cure.