Weeds are a problem for every gardener. They show up whenever they like, they’re tough to deal with and they make a really good job of undoing all your hard work throughout the season. They’re a real pain but if you want to have a great looking lawn then they are just something you’ll need to tackle head on otherwise they’ll just get worse and worse.
To ensure a weed-free lawn make sure you follow all of my tips, hints and advice throughout this post.
When should you start?
The best time to treat weeds is when they are actively growing which is anytime between April and late September/early October (depending on the weather). But don’t rush to the weed killer right at the beginning of spring, the weather can still be cold during this time so some weeds will not surface right away.
Cold weather usually means poor growth which usually leads to poor results so just wait until you see strong and consistent growth – probably sometime in May. Even if you were still too early for some of the weeds to surface then you’ve still got plenty of time before the cold weather comes round again.
But in saying this a good time to deal with the weeds is actually in late August/September. During this time the weed seeds from spring should have germinated, the weeds should be easier to remove than compared to spring and it means your lawn should stay weed-free until the next April. Although this is only suitable if you intend to apply one application per year and if the weather is still warm.
How to remove them
Before you go to remove the weeds by hand or grab the weed killer, there are actually a number of things you ought to try that might be just as effective.
- Treat the lawn properly by feeding, aerating and scarifying it when appropriate. This encourages strong and vigorous grass growth which makes it much more difficult for weeds to grow
- Rake and then mow over the lawn to discourage creeping weeds
- Applying garden lime if you have acidic soil can help deter weeds such as sorrels and field woodrush.
- Avoid close/short mowing as this can weaken the grass which frees up space for the weeds to grow in
As you probably already know there are two ways to deal with weeds, non-chemical (manual removal) and chemical (weed killers). To decide on which one to use you need to assess how bad the problem actually is, if there’s only a couple growing here and there then manual removal will be fine, but if they’re scattered all over the lawn then you’ll need to use a weed killer.
To manually remove your weeds there are a couple of things you can do:
- Hoeing: Run a hoe over a bed or between rows to kill most weed seedlings. If you choose this then try to do it on a dry day as the seedlings will dry out on the surface of the bed rather than re-rooting into moist soil
- Hand-pulling or hand-weeding with a fork: Hand weeding is easiest on lighter soils and should only be attempted where it will not disturb the roots of garden plants. Further pulling may be necessary with persistent weeds such as bindweed or couch grass where small root sections left behind can re-grow into new plants
- Weed knife: A weed knife has a hooked end and is a useful tool for weeding between paving slabs and along path edging. Various other hooked, narrow-bladed or spiral-type tools are available for specific weeding jobs like digging out dandelions on a lawn
- Repeated cutting: In large weedy areas, repeated cutting to ground level over several years will weaken and even kill some weeds
Make sure you buy a weed killer that is compatible with your lawn otherwise it won’t be effective – it’ll say on the label.
First you want to read the instructions so you know how much to apply, if you don’t follow them then you’ll be risking your safety and the health of the lawn. There are various types to choose from, sprays tend to be easier to use but they can be difficult to judge how much you’re spreading whereas granules probably will take longer but are spread much more accurately.
If you have small areas of weeds but still choose to use a weed killer as treatment then you need to be very careful with dosage. If you spray too much then you’ll just kill the grass and will be wasteful, instead be precise and make sure you’re getting only the weed.
To get the best results try mowing at least 3 days before you plan to apply the weed killer and then wait for another 3 days to cut afterwards. This gives the chemicals enough time to cover a good area of grass and to travel down the plant ensuring an effective kill.
Selecting a weed killer
To be effective in controlling weeds it is best that you know and identify which types grow in your garden. This is because some makes of weed killer are better at and designed for treating specific types of weeds.
Make sure you check out this post on the RHS website, it has all the types of weeds you’re likely to encounter, how you should treat them and which types of weed killer work best for them.
Preventing them for next time
To prevent the weeds from appearing again the best thing you can do is keep care of your lawn properly. With strong and healthy grass growth you’ll give the weeds almost no room to squeeze itself through to the surface, and if the seeds can’t get to the soil then chances are they won’t be able to grow ever again.
To keep your lawn in the best knick possible here are few things you can do:
- Mowing. Mowing your lawn too low can weaken the grass and lead to bare patches – which are most likely to be overthrown with weeds. You also need to make sure that you are mowing a little and often as this encourages better grass growth.
- Feeding & fertilising. Make sure you are providing the lawn with the nutrients it needs in order to build up strong and thick grass. Just make sure you don’t overdo the fertiliser as this can encourage thatch build up and cause other diseases.
- Scarifying & Raking. Make sure you’re removing any and all thatch from your lawn to encourage good growing conditions. This again makes for more vigorous grass growth and therefore poorer weed growth.
- Watering. Make sure your lawn is kept wet during times of dry weather, the last thing you want is to lose grass because of a lack of water as it’s easily preventable and presents an ideal opportunity for weeds to take over.
- Aerating. For us the UK we know this all too well, your soil can become compacted during times of wet weather and makes for poor growing conditions as the grass roots don’t get the access to water and air that they need. If not treated properly the lawn will become weak and unhealthy – the perfect opportunity for weeds to invade.
Weeds really are a nuisance so I hope that I have gave you the information and advice needed to keep your lawn weed-free for the seasons to come ;-)
If you found this post interesting then maybe you’d like to see some of my other content, like my robomower reviews? If so then head over to my Robot Lawn Mower Review Page, I’ve reviewed various models all designed for different purposes so if you’re in the market there won’t be a better place to go than here!