Photo courtesy of Anne J Macinty
You Ask, We Answer: Help! My Yard Is All Weeds. What Can I Do?
Summer is in full swing, and whether you’ve recently moved in to your dream house or are a veteran homeowner, chances are, your yard figures prominently into your summer plans. But looking out onto your yard and seeing a lawn full of weeds can be discouraging at best, and overwhelming at worst. There’s no need to give up your dreams for a lush, healthy lawn, however. You’ve asked how to combat an overgrowth of weeds, and we’re answering—with some expert advice and our top tips for regaining control of your yard. Read on for what you can do to get rid of weeds in your yard, and enjoy a lush lawn for years to come!
Take a Good Look at Your Lawn
First thing is first, says Justin Donovan, owner of LawnPro Pest Controls & Fertilizer, who grew up working at TurfMasters, his family’s—and the region’s largest— lawn care business: Understand that not all weed situations are created equal, and each situation will have a unique course of action to help rid your lawn of weeds. “Check your lawn, particularly where grass is not growing,” Donovan suggests. “What do you see?”
If you see dirt and weeds:
A lawn full of dirt and weeds probably does not have severe limiting factors—it most likely needs a weed treat-ment first and foremost. Donovan suggests clearing up weeds using an herbicide this summer, then heavily seed-ing your yard in the fall, when grass is most likely to take hold and be healthy for next year. “Seeding is the most important thing you can do for a lawn full of weeds,” he explains, “because where there is healthy turf growing, it will prevent weeds from taking hold. If you’re seeding and watering enough, you actually don’t need a lot of pesti-cides. I actually use the least amount of pesticides on the best lawns.”
If you see dead, tan or brown grass:
Dead, tan or brown grass or weeds that are summer annuals can be an indication that your lawn has a severe thatch buildup. “Thatch is made up of roots, top growth and other plant material that has accumulated over time, and it can’t hold moisture,” Donovan explains. “A lawn that has a heavy thatch layer needs to be addressed or the grass won’t take.” This may be the time to consult the experts, as a long-neglected thatch layer will need to be tackled with a heavy duty de-thatcher or even a sod cutter. Once the thatch layer has been addressed, you can move on to seeding your lawn in the fall.
If you see “low pH” weeds:
Red sorrel, moss or clover are some of the “low pH weeds” which indicate that your soil pH must be addressed before healthy turf can grow and thrive in your yard. To balance a low pH, you’ll need to apply lime aggressively at 50 lb/kg, most likely twice a year for a couple of years. Pair this with an herbicide for the weeds, then seed in the fall. Lime maintenance will need to continue annually to ensure your soil is optimal for turf growth.
Looking Ahead to Autumn Lawn Care
While most of us want instant results when it comes to treating our lawns, it’s important to remember that weeds are plants—and nature has its own timetable. Planning to treat your weeds now so you can seed your lawn in the fall will ensure it grows into the lawn you’ve dreamed of in the future.
In late summer or early fall, begin by aerating your lawn before spreading grass seed. This will help break up compact soil, creating holes to help water, air and nutrients reach grass roots when they begin to grow. Make sure to aerate your lawn the day after a rainfall, when the soil is moist—but never when it’s wet.
Once your lawn has been aerated, you can begin overseeding it, spreading evenly and then concentrating on areas that need extra coverage. The cool nights and mild days of autumn will help grass to germinate; plus, this will give grass a month or so before the first frost to take hold so it can grow and flourish in the spring and summer. Make sure to gently water your lawn immediately after overseeding, and if you’re going to use fertilizer, wait about 6 weeks after you’ve planted to do so. Don’t forget to water your lawn daily if water levels allow.
And last but not least, don’t be afraid to consult the professionals if you have questions or concerns about how to treat the weeds in your yard; they can offer natural or nontoxic alternatives, or walk you through how to safely and effectively utilize pesticides and herbicides to grow the lawn of your dreams!