How to Prevent Lawn Weeds



It can feel like a constant battle to get rid of lawn weeds, which can be labor intensive and time consuming. However, there are things that you can do to prevent lawn weeds from taking over your lawn and landscape.

Why are weeds hard to control?

Lawn weeds are hard to control because it’s easy for their seeds to spread and germinate throughout areas of your lawn. If your turf is not dense and healthy, then its condition welcomes weeds to take over. When that happens, they often consume the majority of nutrients and water from the soil so your turf suffers.

It’s critical to practice preventive practices so weeds do not take over your lawn. If you have an uncontrollable weed problem, we recommend you contact a professional for treatment.

What are the most common types of lawn weeds?

Proper identification and knowledge of how and why weeds are present in your lawn is the first step to planning a weed control strategy. Here are some common lawn weeds that you may find in your lawn.

Dollarweed

A broadleaf weed that appears in wet areas in landscapes. This weed is low to the ground with one leaf per stalk. Sometimes the leaves can grow up to the size of a silver dollar (hence the weed’s name…).

Dollarweed typically grows in areas that are over-watered or naturally wet.

Crabgrass

Crabgrass has thick blades that can be 1-2 inches long and their seed heads can have two-to-six “finger-like” spiked branches. This weed grows in areas of the turf that are weak. This is a warm-season weed that is dormant in the winter but will likely return as warm weather returns. Once you have crabgrass, it’s difficult to eliminate it.

Chickweed

This particular lawn weed is active in the winter throughout Florida. It’s actually one of the most widespread types of weeds in the world and is commonly found in Europe, North America and Asia, according to the University of Florida.

Chickweed can be recognized by its smooth leaves and star-shaped flowers. It thrives in cool, moist and shaded areas such as gardens, shady lawns and under trees and shrubs.

Do lawn weeds have life cycles?

Lawn weeds do have a life cycle, which can be defined as the period between seed germination and plant death. Knowing the life cycle of weeds that are in your lawn and landscape can help you plan for their elimination and prevent them from returning.

There are three different life cycles which are dependent on the type of weed present in your lawn:

  • Annuals – life cycle is completed in one growing season. Summer annuals complete their life cycle from spring to fall. Winter annuals complete their life cycles from fall to spring. According to the University of Florida, summer annual grasses are generally the most troublesome weeds in turf.
  • Biennials – life cycle is completed in two growing seasons; vegetative growth in the first season and flowering in the second
  • Perennials – life cycle is completed in three or more years

How can I prevent weeds?

The first and BEST method of preventing lawn weeds begins with making sure you have proper management practices in place that help to support a dense, thriving turf. Having healthy turf is critical as it shades the soil, which means sunlight can’t reach the weed seeds that are ready to germinate. Below are additional tips to help prevent weeds.

1. Having the proper turf grass in your lawn

You may have heard that having the right plant in the right place is critical for its health. The same goes for turfgrass. Some grasses, such as bermudagrass or bahiagrass, don’t grow well in shaded areas. According to the University of Florida there are no grasses that perform well in heavily shaded areas, and an alternative to turf, such as groundcover, should be considered.

2. Proper cultural practices

In order to have and maintain a dense and healthy turf, you should practice proper fertilization, watering, mowing and pest control. If you do too much or too little of these practices, it can lead to a weakened turf which will attract lawn weeds.

3. Traffic control

Turf can get damaged by foot and vehicle traffic. When this happens, the turf will weaken which then invites weeds. Try to minimize too much traffic across your grass.

4. Pest control

There are plenty of pests that look to invade your home but there are also pests that look to invade your lawn and landscape. If pests are damaging your grass, it will become more susceptible to weed infestations because the insect damage is creating space for the weeds to grow and reducing the turf’s competitive ability to stop it. Some lawn pests include mole crickets, chinch bugs, white grubs and sod webworms.

5. Sanitation

A good practice is to wash off lawn mowers and trimmers that you used in weed-infested areas before proceeding to mow and trim in weed-free areas. Additionally, yard clippings containing weeds should be disposed or composted to reduce the chances of your turf being contaminated. These practices will prevent weed seeds from spreading across your lawn.

In order to prevent weeds, it’s extremely important to prevent the introduction of weeds into your lawn. If you can prevent weeds, then control practices aren’t necessary. Keep in mind that areas that are hard to mow and trim, such as fence rows or ditch banks, are places that can support weed populations. Don’t forget to include these areas in your preventive practices.  

Should I get pre-emergent treatments?

Pre-emergent treatments can help prevent weeds before their seeds germinate and try to take over your lawn. Pre-emergent treatment works by stopping the growth of weed seeds and keeping them from sprouting; however it’s vital that it’s applied before seeds begin to sprout. Within two days of the application, it’s critical to water as it helps with the preventive treatment.

If you typically have weeds in the winter, then you should consider having pre-emergent treatments in the fall. If you have weeds in the summer, then you should consider treatment in the spring.

Preventing and controlling weeds can be difficult. As we mentioned before, there are several small things you can do to avoid weeds from taking over your lawn. The best thing you can do is ensure your lawn is dense and healthy. Lawn care can be time consuming and without knowledge of horticulture, it can make it frustrating.

At Massey Services, our trained and educated professionals can evaluate your lawn and tell you exactly what it needs so weeds don’t take over. Fill out the form below for a free inspection today.

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