Bindweed, crabgrass, chickweed, dandelions, and other weeds require individual strategies to eliminate, but there are ways that you can make it harder for all of these plants to take root. These tips will help you stop the spread of weeds and make them easier to remove from your lawn or garden.
Usually, only the seeds in the top two inches of the ground will sprout weeds, but if you cultivate, deeper seeds will be brought to the surface where they can grow. Try not to break ground unless it’s absolutely necessary, and expect to fight off weeds if you create a new garden plot or dig holes for fences and landscape features.
Use Ground Cover
Mulch makes it hard for new weeds to reach the surface, organic mulch supports crickets and beetles that will eat weeds, and nutrient-rich ground cover stops the growth of weeds that thrive in poor soil conditions. When applying mulch, keep the layer less than two inches thick to let oxygen reach the root systems of established plants.
Likewise, a thin layer of thatch can make it hard for new seeds to sprout, while boosting the activity of worms and insects that will feast on problem plants. However, too much can cause growth and nutrient problems. If the layer is over ½ inch thick, or you need to overseed, the thatch layer should be removed. Excessive thatch is caused by soil compaction and alkaline soil. Once these issues are corrected, your lawn should form a thin, protective thatch layer requiring minimal care.
Make Physical Weed Removal Easier
If the ground is soft from rain or watering, it will make physically removing weeds a lot easier. An old fork is perfect for pulling out tough roots. Keep a plastic sheet nearby to collect the weeds and dispose of them before they can reconnect with the soil.
Can’t pull out weeds by hand, or find the task too time-consuming? Keep them trimmed. This forces the plant to expend resources on growth instead of making seeds.
Squeeze Them Out
If your lawn is looking thin, consider overseeding to fill in the spaces. Temperate zone lawns can benefit from overseeding both warm and cool season grasses to extend the growing season, while new grass will fill in the spaces left by mature plants.
Spacing recommendations for bushes and other plants are based on keeping them from touching when mature. If you’re adding plants that don’t suffer from foliar (leaf) diseases, you can plant them up to 25% closer than recommended to increase ground cover.
Apply Herbicides According to Schedule
Pre-emergent herbicides kill plants before they have a chance to sprout, so they need to be applied before the plant shows up. These should be used if you know you have an ongoing problem with a particular weed. These chemicals also halt the growth of new grass, so they need to be applied a few weeks before overseeding.
Contact herbicides only kill the parts of the plant they touch, while systemic herbicides are absorbed so they can kill the entire plant. Contact herbicides work quickly, but the remaining root system may be able to grow back its leaves. Systemic herbicides may take weeks to kill weeds, but they’re more thorough. Give systemic herbicides time to work before you switch to a different weed control strategy.
Know When to Choose Granular or Liquid Herbicides
Liquid herbicides can coat everything, which means they’re more effective at killing weeds. However, wind can move the herbicides to areas you don’t want, killing off sensitive, desirable plants. Granular herbicides don’t get full weed contact, but they stay put, and they can be applied with an overseeder or broadcast spreader.
If you’re a professional landscaper, opting for liquid application is the obvious choice: with a spray attachment or stand-alone sprayer, you can recoup equipment costs quickly through decreased labor. However, for gardeners and homeowners, it may be cheaper and easier to stick with granular herbicides, using spray bottles of liquid herbicide to kill individual weeds.
Whatever You Need, Shank’s Lawn Has It
If you need equipment to halt the spread of leaves, keep your lawn green, or do anything else landscape-related, visit Shank’s Lawn Equipment. We’re an authorized dealer for most major equipment brands including Troy-Bilt, Scag, Shindaiwa, Exmark, and Jrco. We also have a massive parts warehouse and repair everything we sell so we can keep your equipment working. Visit our shop at 4900 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, PA, one mile East of I-81 Exit 10.
Need parts or accessories for your equipment? We ship OEM replacements across the U.S. and Canada. To order, visit our website, www.shankslawn.com.