WHAT, WHY, HOW

Lawn Weeds

WHAT, WHY, HOW

Lawn Weeds

Some lawn weeds such as daisies and clover have attractive flowers, but this does not mean lawn lovers will welcome them. Whatever your view, all weeds can compete with the grass and need careful management.

Lawn weeds thriving in the grass

What are lawn weeds?

All weeds are “plants in the wrong place” and some are beautiful in their own right. Not all lawn weeds are easy to spot unless they flower, but they can all be a nuisance in a high-quality lawn. Here are the main lawn weeds to look out for:

Are lawn weeds bad for the lawn?

A healthy lawn simply doesn’t leave much space for a great many lawn weeds, so if you have a lot, then it tells you that your lawn is in need of some good routine lawn care. Allowing a few flowering weeds as an attractive addition will not harm the grass, but eventually weeds can multiply and become the dominant species – a weed lawn with some patches of grass! And of course, if you allow weeds in and then leave them to flower and form seeds, you have to expect more weeds next growing season.

Should I try to kill lawn weeds?

This depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Killing a few weeds will not magically improve your lawn. You need to look at it the other way round. Weeds invade when the lawn is not as healthy as it could be. So, they will only return if you don’t diagnose and rectify the underlying problem(s).  

Above all, a few weeds will be all but invisible, even in a healthy, striped lawn. Weeds should not be seen as intrinsically “bad” and unless you have a full-on invasion you might want to tolerate a few. And realistically can you really hope to remove every single weed? Using herbicide responsibly is a perfectly acceptable action, but other than discrete spot-applications, should still be a last resort in modern lawn care AFTER making the grass stronger and healthier.

Are lawn weed chemicals safe, and how do they work? 

Today’s garden chemicals do not always deserve their bad reputation, being much less toxic and harmful to the environment than in the past. However, the less you need to use them the better, and when you resort to them, you should aim to use as little as necessary.

Herbicides work by being absorbed into the plant’s leaves.  Because the herbicide is actually a growth hormone, it accelerates the growing cycle of the weed, leading to premature wilting and dying. So, if your weeds seem to continue growing after using weed killer, don’t worry – this is intentional. 

How do I use lawn herbicides?

You’re using chemicals, so the most important thing is to use only what you need. This means choosing both the right product and the right means of applying it.

In your local garden centre you will find the 4-in-1 products – these contain only a small amount of herbicide and will be of little use. Spreading this over the entire lawn for what may be a few dispersed weeds is simply not good for the environment. A much better option is the spot-sprayer type of herbicide product (and you have much better control over the quantity you use too). Using a watering can to apply your herbicide is also NOT a good idea as a lot of the liquid immediately washes off the weed’s leaves and so you end up applying far too much.

Be patient with herbicides! Doubling the amount you use will not double its efficiency – but it may kill the grass. And even if spot-spraying, treat the weed just once and then wait for up to 3 or 4 weeks before deciding whether a second application is necessary.

If you have a serious weed problem, consider using a reputable and trained lawn care company. They will probably do an initial all-over spray, but it will be done efficiently and correctly.

What else can I routinely do to control lawn weeds?

The best form of attack is the most enduring form of weed control – healthy grass.  However, in Spring you can also prevent newly germinated annual weeds with a simple application of iron sulphate, having scarified first. 

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