Spring has sprung and so has the annual war to control weeds in your manicured lawn. If you don’t dominate early in the season, the weeds will become the persistent cockroaches of your yard. Your strategy should be maintaining healthy grass, using a minimum of weed killers, and good timing.
Different climates and grass varieties have different ideal cutting heights for good health and strong growth. When cut to the correct height and frequency, the grass will usually out-compete weeds as long as it’s also fertilized and watered properly. The chart below is the recommended cutting height for various climates and grass types.
You want to cut the grass when it’s one-third above the ideal cutting height. This means mowing every week or two, or every four or five days. By keeping it cut, you’re also cutting off weed seed heads before they can mature and seed your lawn.
You’re most likely to have either broadleaf weeds or perennial grassy weeds. Each type is treated differently. If you aren’t sure which type you have, you may need to take a sample to a garden center to have it identified.
Broadleaf weeds are easier to treat because the correct herbicides can be applied that rids your lawn of the weeds without attacking the grass. Still, you want to apply it selectively. If you only have a few small patches of weeds, use a small, trigger- controlled, pressure pump sprayer containing herbicide diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A single application bottle may come already diluted. For larger areas, use a 1- or 2-gallon tank sprayer containing diluted herbicide. If your entire lawn is being choked by weeds you may need to resort to a dial sprayer attached to your garden hose. Set the dial to the manufacturer’s recommendation before spraying the entire yard. The dial sprayer uses full strength herbicide that is diluted as water from your garden hose combines with it as you spray large areas.
By using the smallest applicator necessary, you’ll save time and money and avoid needlessly contaminating the environment with chemicals. Another word of caution – keep kids and pets out of the yard while you apply the poison and for several hours until it has soaked in or evaporated. Also, clear the yard of toys, furniture, and anything else that can be contaminated by overspray. Be sure to protect your flowers and bushes with plastic sheeting or cardboard. Remember that broadleaf killers will kill or harm anything with leaves.
You need to use a ‘non-selective plant killer’ for perennial grassy weeds. By its very name, it will kill all vegetation. So you need to use a more specialized application method. Quack grass is the most common example of a perennial grass that comes back year after year just like your lawn. These spread through seeds and extensive underground root systems that are unaffected by broadleaf killers. Pulling out grassy weeds only gets some of the roots and the remaining ones quickly sprout new plants. The most effective solution is using a nonselective plant killer like Roundup. You can apply non-selective killers with sprayers, but you’ll kill everything in the area including your lawn and nearby plants. The best way to kill these weeds without damaging surrounding plants is by wiping the grass blades with the non-selective herbicide. Wear an inexpensive cloth glove over a quality plastic or rubber chemically resistant (read the label) glove to protect your skin. Moisten the gloved hand into the herbicide and then simply grab the blades near the base and pull the herbicide over the grass blades. Don’t worry about coating every single blade. The chemical will absorb into the plant and make its way down to the roots to kill the entire plant. Most will die in a few days, but survivors may need more treatments.
This is a DIY project so you’ll need the correct tools. But in the end you’ll save time, money, and frustration while enjoying your weed-free lawn all spring, summer, and fall.
Please leave a comment if this article was helpful or if you have a question.
Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for 10 years. He also draws upon 30 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. With the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.